Category Archives: Thinkers

To Whom Success Is Due

Recent statements by Obama have gotten a lot of (well deserved) attention already. As usual when Obama tells us what he really thinks, we Conservatives are just too stoopeed to comprehend the point, or we are taking the remarks out of context. Right. Well, what does Obama mean when he says “You didn’t build that”? Apparently his point was simply that people cannot take all the credit for their own success. But such a statement is totally vacuous if it is not meant to make a political point. So what is the political point? The political point is that successful people owe their success to the fact that the government made their success possible, and, therefore, they have a special obligation to pay the government for the services it provided them. This point is still vacuous, however, because it is basically an argument for a progressive income tax which, in case you haven’t noticed, is the existing government policy. In terms of what Obama would like to do with that policy, he has said that the wealthiest should pay more: in other words, according to Obama, the wealthiest are not currently paying income taxes in proportion to the extent to which they benefit from the services that government provides. But that is false: those with the highest incomes pay a greater portion of the overall revenue from income taxes than their share of the national income. The other possible political point is that the government needs to provide certain services. Again, vacuous: the government can provide necessary services, it also might “provide” many unnecessary ones. What services that only the government can provide does Obama want? Which ones are the “bad guys” trying to do away with? The answer to both questions is none. There are a great many unnecessary services that the government “provides” and many such services that Obama wants to create or expand (or has).

But, let’s deal, in a philosophical manner, with these points in a bit more detail. Obama says people owe their success (at least some of it) to great teachers or roads and bridges. These are government services, it is surely true that people may benefit from these services. But do the successful disproportionately benefit from these services? Put another way, why is life unfair? I have t0 admit I am a bit amused to learn that Leftists do not believe that some people succeed and others fail because of a cruel and angry God in whom they do not believe. It turns out it’s teachers. Yes, teachers choose to make some people successful and others not; in fact we may make a general statement that government services discriminate systematically to make certain people successful and others not. One has to wonder, if government services are so profoundly biased and unfair, why we would want the government to be the provider of services at all. Well, either that or one cannot attribute a few people’s success to services provided to people who failed, too. But on a less facetious level, it is worth noting that, in a capitalist economy, one would not have obligations to those who have provided services or goods for one’s use. One pays the price the offerer asks for their services-or one demonstrates how little one actually desires the service by not bothering. It is by forcing some services to be done through the government that you create a situation where someone “owes” another party for their services, but does not pay. Who are the greatest beneficiaries, and to whom is the most owed? The answers are, the government’s friends, and the governments enemies. Are there services which only the government can provide? The first that springs to mind is national defense. But every person benefits equally from that crucial service, and yet about half of the people pay nothing for this service (crucial point here: for this service. While Social Security and other things that payroll taxes pay for are arguably not necessary services, such taxes are in-arguably not supposed to pay for national defense). I would certainly agree that people should pay for services they receive. If such services cannot be provided by private entities (cannot does not mean the same thing as “currently not” as Leftists inevitably interpret this) the solution to this problem is called user fees, or in the case of services which a person may not choose to forgo a head tax-not a progressive income tax. In point of fact, however, Leftists do not agree with the principle that people should pay if they receive a service-they strongly reject this proposition as unfair when it applies to making those people who they like pay for things Leftists think should be given to them for free. But a more fundamental problem is that, even if they were being serious in proposing such a principle, the Left believes a great many things must be done by the government, that frankly don’t need to be. We might be able to maintain true fairness (those who benefit, pay), if we adopted the aforementioned principle and then had the government provide most services, but never as well as the private sector could. In fact in many cases it would only remain “those who benefit, pay” in the sense that many would not benefit at all and therefore have no obligation. But more importantly, people would not decide for themselves if they were in the group of those who benefit, and pay, as in the capitalist economy; the people who would benefit, and pay, would be arbitrarily determined by the government-the only difference from the current situation being that the government cannot make those who benefit and those who pay two different groups of people. The real alternative is capitalism.

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

~Frédéric Bastiat

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Filed under Common Sense, Conservatism, Dumbasses, Economics, Election 2012, Freedom, Liberals, Thinkers

Employer Provided Healthcare IS a problem

I’ve said before that I do believe there is a problem with the Healthcare system-namely that, by having it as an insurance based system-especially employer provided insurance-disconnects consumers from the price system. Without the information conmmunicated by prices, consumers don’t behave in their normal way-rather than seek out the affordable Healthcare, they diliberately seek the most expensive care-the highest quality-because they don’t even see what the costs are. Without price competition, there is no effort to reduce prices to attract consumers-only to spare no expense. Well, frivilous law suits also contribute to rising costs, as does Medicare, which creates an even greater rift between the consumer and the price system. Well, it turns out that (H/T Pat) Charles Krauthammer has a plan which would eliminate the disconnecting effect of employer based Healthcare.

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Filed under Economics, Healthcare, Thinkers

Are we really Jeffersonians?

I have long thought that Jefferson was one of the greatest men in American history-I have always thought that he exemplified the ideals I believe in-having a political philosophy of Liberty a limited government as so many classical liberals did, Jefferson appealed to me as a kind of hero. Well, interestingly enough, Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has sent an email to Daniel Hannan explaining my he thinks that the real Jeffersonian was…John Adams? Well, interestingly enough, it would restore some continuity to the classical liberal tradition in US History. I previously tended to think that it went something like this: The Jeffersonian Democratic Republicans were the proponents of Liberty, and they sort of passed the torch to the fire breathing Jacksonian Democrats-the Whigs, their opponents later spawned the Republican party which had a mixed record but when compared to a party which was increasingly about being proslavery, quickly became the “liberals”. After Grover Cleveland, the Democrat’s last gasp of classical liberalism, the became more or less the insane Socialists they are today-except a little more religious-with William Jennings Bryan at the helm. During the Progressive Era, classical Liberalism was absent from both parties-it was killed in the Republican party when that bastard Czolgosz, killed McKinley and made that wacko Roosevelt President. Once again going through a rough patch in the New Deal era, after the disaster of the Progressive Hoover, classical liberalism was on life support to be tended to by Eisenhower. Another firebrand Progressive Republican would nearly kill it again, while at the same time giving the party a huge boost long term-his name was none other than Richard Milhouse Nixon-but while that was going on the classical liberals started to revive outside of politics, with the emergence of William F Buckley and National Review (also Reason). Ultimately modern classical liberalism would emerge from their efforts and get back into the White House with Ronald Reagan-and we’ve been in another period of wane ever since (if history is any indication we may be in for a “long slumber”)…

BUT, I’m beggining to rethink the early part of that history. I will admit that I have always had a sort of schizophrenic view of Jefferson’s view of the French Revolution (on the one hand, I applaud the idea of promoting liberty abroad, on the other, I mean seriously, how could he not see it for what it was?). I was troubled to learn of his admiration for Rousseau, whose philosophy I have always found to be disgustingly illiberal. I am not a wonk as Adams apparently was, so I’m not so into all the Montesquieu stuff etc. apart from the fact that I like how the Founders put his ideas into practice. I tend to be more abstract, so unlike either of them I look way back to Locke for my influence. I tended to think of Jefferson as a Lockean classical liberal, but-maybe I was wrong? Dunno. What I do know is that all these men were complex figuresthe all exchange ideas with one another, and they were all fundamentally more classically liberal than almost any politician today. I don’t think I agree with Myron that FDR and Jefferson were so alike-maybe that chain smoking Corporatist fancied it that way, but then again he fancied himself a kind of God, too.

What I’m taking away from this personally is that the liberal in practice was Adams, in theory, Jefferson. And I like theory better anyway. 😉

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Filed under Conservatism, Freedom, History, personal, Thinkers

Pessimism..or Realistic Optimism?

Pat has a post discussing the idea of John Derbyshire that the only way Conservatives will succeed is to expect failure 😉 -Well, what to make of this? Is it a good idea? A bad one? I tend to think that outlook does not matter all that much-but Derbyshire seems to be offering a choice between failing utopianism and bitter cynicism. What about realistic optimism? The recognition that the world cannot be made “perfect” but that it is better to think positive than negative? The belief that failures such as The Department of Education should be abandoned, but that thinks that the world is a (mostly) decent place that will get better?

“For myself, I am an optimist — it does not seem to be much use being anything else.” ~Winston Churchill

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Filed under Blogs, Conservatism, personal, Thinkers

Over reacting-and someone else’s poor sense of history…

So Pat was discussing an article about how the Young Republicans have apparently elected some racist to lead them…and I reacted a little less than maturely. Well, okay, you got me. I hear certain words, and, like a trained dog, I bite. Needs work. But whatever! Let’s take a moment to more soberly analyze the issue.

Are there any adults left in the GOP?

Well, maybe not…however, that begs the question, are there any adults left anywhere? I kinda doubt that, too. And if there are adults, it ain’t at the Beast.

Thirty-eight-year-old Audra Shay’s campaign to become the next chairman of the Young Republicans went from obscure to infamous over the past week, after The Daily Beast revealed details of posts of her Facebook account. Specifically, a thread where one of her friends posts that “Obama Bin Lauden [sic] is the new terrorist… Muslim is on there side [sic]… need to take this country back from all of these mad coons… and illegals,” and Shay responds eight minutes later with: “You tell em Eric! lol.”

Following those revelations, several Young Republican colleagues urged Shay to remove herself from tomorrow’s election at the group’s convention in Indianapolis—a request Shay, the favorite going in to the vote, has pointedly refused.

Naturally, the rub is: she won. I’m not going to defend these statements, but I want to point out a couple of things:

Following those revelations, several Young Republican colleagues urged Shay to remove herself from tomorrow’s election

NO WAI! Some Young Republicans were made uncomfortable by her remarks? Who would have thought? Good for them.

a request Shay, the favorite going in to the vote, has pointedly refused.

This is ballsy. Respectably so. But you can be ballsy and still bad-and if I may exercise PREJUDICE, what she said looks pretty damn bad.

Well, okay, nothing really offensive just yet. Nothing to react about. What set me off? Well, for one thing, I doubt most of her supporters were even aware of the fact that she did what she did-to characterize all young Republicans as racist would be stretching it. To their credit they don’t yet explicitly say so. Let’s keep going though…

Seen against a recent trend of racist emails sent by grassroots Republican politicos and the historic trend of Southern conservatives’ realignment into the GOP, it is evidence that the GOP is becoming the Party of Lincoln in name only, a role reversal that has placed the right wing on the wrong side of history.

Anyone feel like the first line is just plain made up? Well, I digress…Note the subtle implication-so subtle you probably would miss it, but really stingingly obvious-maybe not intentional, but the comment is then not offensive but stupid-that all Southerners, simply by virtue of their geography, are racist. Note the whiggish historiography, too. And note the buzz word “party of Lincoln”-the party of restricting slavery from entering new territories, or the party of tariffs, or the party of infrastructure projects, or the party of abolition or..well, what “Party of Lincoln” are they speaking of? Lincoln was many things, but far from perfect (and note that I’m hardly anti-Lincoln-see here starting at10 for a discussion between me and a libertarian about Lincoln). Well, okay, moving on.

To understand why this really is a big deal, you have to have a sense of history.

And as we shall see, in an attempt to make a much bigger deal out of this than it really is, Beast either betrays their ignorance of history, or willfully distorts it.

and what needs to be done to address its now-gaping diversity deficit and rebuild a big tent that lies in tatters today.

I’m going to say something “racist”: Diversity doesn’t matter. Or it shouldn’t. Who cares how “diverse” you are? You can be a “diverse” group but it will have no positive or negative impact on whether your group’s ideas are right or not. There is no inherent value to being “diverse”-in fact, anyone who thinks otherwise has a-dare I say PREJUDICE?-bias against homogeneous groups. Racial homogeneous groups are called “races”. Dare I say it? Those who whine that a party isn’t “diverse” enough are-dun dun DUN-RACIST! But I don’t look at the world that way. I see individuals-they either want to be free, or they don’t. If only white male southerners want to be free, well, that is, how you say, unfortunate…

The Party of Lincoln was founded on the principles of individual freedom and national unity. But it has become the party of the Southern conservatives it was founded to confront.

Yes my Southern friends. By virtue of your geography being the same as some slave owners and segregationists in history, you are racist. For an article which supposedly eschews racism, there is a lot of group guilt being thrown around…But were the Southerners who succeeded from the Union “conservative”? They were their opponents “liberal”? No. Not that it matters. History is not a crime that can be pinned on subsequent generations. BUT-much of the anti-slavery movement was founded on religious sentiment-something that, apart from environmental fervor, the left rejects. Similarly, Southern slave owners could only claim “classical liberalism” by rejecting the idea that slaves were human and thus had no fundamental Lockean rights-a point which I’ll get back to when I criticize the Beast’s mention of abortion, since it is eerie how similar the situations are (HINT: Pregnant women aren’t the slaves in this metaphor). Moreover, the Southern “conservatives” defended slavery with an explicitly authoritarian communist response that slaves, who were cared for and fed by their nanny state owners, where better off than Northern “wage slaves”- The North far more resembled conservative industrial progress than did the South-cotton pickin’ has a low carbon footprint, ya understand 😉 But not everything GOP in that time should be praised. The New York Tribune’s foreign correspondent was none other than Karl Marx.

Social conservatives are engaged in a domestic culture war against modern individual freedom movements, ranging from gay rights to reproductive rights.

Apparently gays are the new slaves. Oh, and pregnant women, too. But, in point of fact, at least in regard to abortion the Beast gets things backwards! Abortion on demand is an “individual freedom” movement? You mean arguing for one person’s freedom to control another? Just like the slave owners? OH SNAP! Yes. I went there. But how can the Beast get away with framing the issue this way? Simple. In the words of Lincoln himself-“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.”

All this can be traced to a Faustian bargain Republicans made precisely 100 years after President Lincoln was re-elected. Between 1860 and 1960—the Civil War and the civil-rights era—contemporary red and blue state maps were entirely reversed, with the South voting solidly Democratic.

No. But, hey, they Myth of the Solid South is pervasive. So debunking it never gets old. In the presidential election of 1928, Moderate Republican Herbert Hoover made major inroads in the South over Al Smith. In fact, there is some truth to there being an inversion, however. The map IS almost exactly the opposite of this map-which may explain the later insinuation that Goldwater was “racist”. But then, what about ’76? Carter got votes extensively from the South. So Jimmy Carter is a conservative racist? But why pick the end of the glorious era at 1960? Well, 1960 bears some resemblance to 2008, I’ll give you that. One could argue that on moderate-ness and his anti-Kennedy arguments Nixon resembles McCain. One could also argue that on charisma and appeal points, JFK resembles Obama. But the clearest point of realignment is in fact the ’72 election-not just the South but the whole country went Republican. And remember, that makes one of the most successful Republicans electorally Richard Milhouse “Southern [i.e. racist] Strategy” Nixon. 😛

Lyndon Johnson signed civil-rights legislation that Republican conservatives like Barry Goldwater opposed. In return, Goldwater won an unprecedented five Southern states in 1964 as the conservative Republican nominee, including 87 percent of the vote in Mississippi. With the realignment of Southern conservatives, Republicans’ belief in individual freedom morphed into support for states’ rights, the longtime banner of secessionists and segregationists.

That is, Barry Goldwater, a liberty loving Republican, is blamed as the racist instigator of the “morphing” of the GOP into supporting the Tenth Amendment. By the way that Bill of Rights thing? That’s a banner of secessionist and segregationists. Thought you ought to know.

African Americans got the message

Socialism pays. It really does.

while this shift helped Republicans achieve seven out of 10 presidential victories between 1968 and 2004, the country is now decidedly more diverse and it ain’t going back. If the GOP had stayed true to its roots, it would be perfectly positioned to benefit from this demographic evolution. Instead, it is facing not only a diversity deficit, but a demographic nightmare.

Huh? Well, sure, we face demographic problems, but if we had lost seven out of ten of those elections, or worse, all of them, by “staying true to our roots” and supporting welfare and affirmative racism, would we be “positioned to benefit from this demographic evolution”? No. We wouldn’t be around at all. And maybe we wouldn’t deserve to be.

In 1999, there were 13 Republican congressmen from Teddy Roosevelt’s home state of New York, now there are only two.

Quick comment-Teddy was a Republican HOW again?

only 19 percent of Americans born after 1977 identify with the GOP.

Yes but young people-as the Beast, Shay, and many other examples demonstrate-are stupid. So what? Now if you are born Democrat you die Democrat? But wait, I thought Republicans were racist because they used to be Southern Democrats!?!?! I can’t follow this anymore! My head is spinning!

Even the term “big tent”—a banner advanced by Ronald Reagan—is dismissed as code for “squishes” or closet liberals.

Reagan good, Goldwater bad? But, wait, Beast forgot guilt by association!

The Republican Party must return to its roots as the Party of Lincoln to revive over the long run. It must reach out to different regions and not just play to the Southern conservative base. It must actively recruit candidates who reflect the full diversity of our country—by articulating an alternative entrepreneurial philosophy of how best to rise out of poverty and achieve the American Dream. It can find common cause with independents and centrists on the issues of fiscal responsibility and national security. But to connect with a new generation, it must resolve the core contradiction at the heart of modern conservatism—the rhetoric of expanding individual freedom is at odds with strident social-conservative policies that alienate anyone with libertarian impulses. The reality is that all young voters are less conservative on social issues ranging from gay rights to the role of religion in politics. Applying narrow social litmus tests to the active exclusion of all others will only further isolate the party.

The Beast’s prescription is OK. I reject the very idea of a “contradiction at the heart of modern conservatism” but I’m all for reaching out to more libertarian minded voters. The way to do it is not to say “Yeah, golly I sure hate religious nuts and love killin’ babies and gay sex and what not.” Who is trying to apply a litmus test again? I have no problem with the Beast’s alleged libertarian beliefs. They clearly have a problem with social conservatives and it isn’t merely that “reality” is working against them-it’s a deep-seated hatred-like the dictator Bismarck before them and like Stalin to the Trotskiites, they are engaged in a Kulturkampf, a war to “purge” those nasty social conservatives from the Party-who, ironically, just want to be let alone (how’s that for libertarian-oops, it’s secessionist too isn’t it…)-and who are being made into a caricature of bible thumping creationists who want to ban condoms and sex altogether rather than people who happen to think that fetuses have rights too, that religion should be legal in public, and that schools shouldn’t decide whether your children learn about sex for you-so as to marginalize them so people see no problem purging them, throwing the unborn babies out with the bathwater, so to speak.

My real problem is not so much with Beast-and certainly not with Pat-In fact, a major issue I have is that I AGREE in large part with the pill they want us to swallow. But they are going about it all wrong. More importantly to me, their view of history is all wrong. I know that because so much of what they say grates on me, lesser mortals will fail to see the good in them at all. I suggest they clean up their act. Shays too.

And things aren’t as bad as they seem either.

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Filed under Blogs, Conservatism, Freedom, General, History, Liberals, Republicans, Thinkers

Michael Ramirez is brilliant

He has been on fire lately.

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Filed under humor, Thinkers

Recommended Article of the Day!

It’s a must read.

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Filed under Blogs, Fascism, Liberals, Thinkers

The Farce of Climate Policy

Over at Master Resource, Chip Kappenberger has been doing a series of posts showing what the potential effects of the Waxman-Markey Capn’ Trade bill would have on future climate. It turns out that it is totally ineffectually and even getting the whole world to take part doesn’t help much. The idea of “stopping” climate change is so farcifal it is really a wonder that anyone actually believes it. But then again, some people believe stupid things…


Filed under Blogs, Klimacht, Thinkers

Slow down a bit and run that by me again….

I’m a huge Jeb Bush fan (best governor ever) so I was at first disturbed by the apparent thrust of this article. Well, I did a double take and my knee jerk reaction was unnecessary. The GOP would not be “leaving Reagan behind” by sticking to its principles but becoming more forward looking anymore that it would be abandoning Locke or Jefferson. Reagan articulated, in that era, a conservative message which predated him by almost exactly two centuries, and which has even deeper intellectual roots. But to elevate any single man to a position of a political god would be as bad as the Democrat Obama worshiping. There are in history times when certain men become “indispensible” but that is transient. It is ideas which remain indispensible forever.


Filed under Conservatism, Republicans, Thinkers

Richer and Greener-Yes, That’s The Way It Goes

Here’s a great article by John Tierney in NYT(!) today. Love the visual aid from Tierney Lab:

Xiang Dong Qin, 1998 Each line is an environmental Kuznets curve for a group of countries during the 1980s. The levels of sulphur dioxide pollution (the vertical axis) rise as countries becomes more affluent (the horizontal axis). But then, once countries reach an economic turning point (a gross domestic product close to $8,000 per capita), the trend reverses and air pollution declines as countries get richer. In this analysis by Xiang Dong Qin of Clemson University, the green line shows countries with strong protections for property rights; the red curve shows countries with weaker protections.

The best course of action should be pretty clear (notice how the countries with weak property rights protections (communist/socialist/fascist type countries) have a curve which goes much higher?) ; Unfettered economic development invariably leads to a world which is environmentally better off. The idea that we need to “de-develop” or reverse our endless growth paradigm for the sake of the environment is nonsense.


Filed under Economics, energy, Freedom, Klimacht, Thinkers