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Your Uplfiting Sunday Message

February 7, 2010 Leave a comment

From Albert Jay Nock’s Our Enemy, the State:

What we and our more nearly immediate descendants shall see is a steady progress in collectivism running off into military despotism of a severe type.  Closer centralization; a steadily growing bureaucracy; State power and faith in State power increasing, social power and faith in social power diminishing; the State absorbing a continually larger proportion of national income; production languishing, the State in consequence taking over one “essential industry” after another, managing them with ever-increasing corruption, inefficiency and prodigality, and finally resorting to a system of forced labour.  Then at some point in this progress, a collision of State interests…will result in an industrial and financial dislocation too severe for the asthenic social structure to bear; and from this the State will be left to “the rusty death of machinery,” and the casual anonymous forces of dissolution will be supreme.

We’ve survived 75 years since this was written back in 1935 when lovers of liberty already thought we were doomed.  Are we too far down the road to serfdom or can we still reclaim our nation?

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Democracy, Progressivism and Decivilization

February 1, 2010 1 comment

Over the last couple of days I came across two striking articles, one in the American Thinker and the other in the National Review on the destruction of our republic due to the concepts of democracy and progressivism.  The authors come to different conclusions.  On the one hand, Mark Hendrickson concludes in his AT piece that “The republic they gave us has been corrupted and possibly lost forever.”  Alternatively, Matthew Spaulding end his NRO piece: “The American people are poised to make the right decision. The strength and clarity of the Founders’ argument, if given contemporary expression and brought to a decision, might well establish a governing conservative consensus and undermine the very foundation of the unlimited administrative state. It would be a monumental step on the long path back to republican self-government..”  These are the two fates we face, and it is the job of conservatives, libertarians and regular Americans to determine which way we go.

On Mark Hendrickson’s piece, there is much fodder for any fan of The Law by Frederic Bastiat.  Hendrickson argues that there has grown a dichotomy in the notion of democracies since our founding:

The gulf between the founders and contemporary Americans stems from very different usages of the word “democracy.” Benign “democracy” connotes the empowerment of individuals and a corresponding freedom from tyranny and oppression.

Further according to Walt Whitman, government was to “make no more laws than those useful for preventing a man or body of men from infringing on the rights of other men.”

My interpretation of democracy is simply a system in which 50% + 1 of people can vote away the rights of the other 49% of individuals.  While this may be semantics, I would argue that Whitman believes in individual liberty, as opposed to democracy, secured by a severely limited and divided government.  Clearly, Hendrickson concurs, and argues that Whitman’s so-called democratic ideal is best served by a:

constitutional republic…premised on the primacy of individual rights. It sought to restrain governmental power in order to protect those rights…Democracy, by contrast, is a theory of power: What the majority wants, the majority gets. The founders — great students of history and human nature — understood that individual rights could be trampled by democratic majorities as readily as by individual tyrantsThe founders knew that if America’s constitutional republic ever degenerated into a formal democracy, then Americans’ rights and Whitman’s democratic ideal would be lost.

This is essential.  Tyranny by the masses is no less evil than tyranny by a king.  Hendrickson rightly notes as I have argued that the socialists encouraged democracy as a means to their end.  He argues:

In The Communist Manifesto, Marx wrote that the way to attain socialism was to “win the battle of democracy.” The cold-blooded Lenin taught, “A democracy is a state which recognizes the subjection of the minority to the majority.” The democracy that the founders loathed and that the communists coveted is a political system in which government ceases to protect individual rights and instead annihilates them.

True enough.  Further,

In the words of British archeologist and historian Sir Flinders Petrie, “When democracy has attained full power, the majority without capital necessarily eat up the capital of the minority and civilization steadily decays.”

The end result of the push towards democracy has been decivilization, where various interests plunder various other interests overtly.  In our current system, the wealthiest financial interests (with all the capital) have stealthily (and sometimes not so stealthily) expropriated the wealth of the middle class in their bailouts and Fed-induced inflation and cartelization, whilst the lower classes have made use of the legislative branch and the courts through the unions and community organizing groups to further bilk the middle class.  Those with the most capital and those with the least have feasted on those in the middle.  Generally, as I have argued time and time again, the masses have been practicing legal plunder for well over a century.  The end result of this system however is that you run out of productive people to rob at the point of the legitimized gun of government.

Ultimately, Hendrickson laments that

politicians and jurists have ignored Washington’s wise counsel and undermined liberty by ignoring or defying (thus, usurping) the clear language of the constitution in pursuit of their ambitions.  The rule of law lies in tatters. Our political degeneration has progressed to the point where Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid write major legislation behind closed doors and order their partisan minions to approve their proposals before they even read them. In the name of democracy, the national government has become blatantly undemocratic.

The founders’ misgivings about democracy were spot-on. The republic they gave us has been corrupted and possibly lost forever.

Matthew Spaulding recounts the systematic destruction of our rights over time which has left us in this predicament.  There is much worthy of analysis here.  Spaulding notes the incestuous relationship between government and society:

Americans are wrapped in an intricate web of government policies and procedures. States, localities, and private institutions are submerged by national programs. The states, which increasingly administer policies emanating from Washington, act like supplicants seeking relief from the federal government. Growing streams of money flow from Washington to every congressional district and municipality, as well as to businesses, organizations, and individuals that are subject to escalating federal regulations.

It makes you question, given the fact that our lives are so heavily regulated; that business seems to serve at the leisure of government – how there is any innovation and advancement…how the human spirit remains free when all around it the walls close in upon it.

Spaulding argues that this system has as its origin,

the theories of Thomas Hobbes, who wanted to replace the old order with an all-powerful “Leviathan” that would impose a new order, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who, to achieve absolute equality, favored an absolute state that would rule over the people through a vaguely defined concept called the “general will.”

While true, I might add that given Plato’s view of an ideal society growing not through organic spontaneous order, but under the direction of an elite class, we can trace the roots of the tyranny of elite control back much further.  This split is also embodied amongst the founders in the difference between Jefferson and Hamilton.

Progressives were the ones to implement a system completely anathema to that created by the founders.  As Spaulding puts well:

American “progressives,” under the spell of German thinkers, decided that advances in science and history had opened the possibility of a new, more efficient form of democratic government, which they called the “administrative state.” Thus began the most revolutionary change of the last hundred years: the massive shift of power from institutions of constitutional government to a labyrinthine network of unelected, unaccountable experts who would rule in the name of the people.

The great challenge of democracy, as the Founders understood it, was to restrict and structure the government to secure the rights articulated in the Declaration of Independence — preventing tyranny while preserving liberty. The solution was to create a strong, energetic government of limited authority. Its powers were enumerated in a written constitution, separated into functions and responsibilities and further divided between national and state governments in a system of federalism. The result was a framework of limited government and a vast sphere of freedom, leaving ample room for republican self-government.

Progressives viewed the Constitution as a dusty 18th-century plan unsuited for the modern day. Its basic mechanisms were obsolete and inefficient; it was a reactionary document, designed to stifle change. They believed that just as science and reason had brought technological changes and new methods of study to the physical world, they would also bring great improvements to politics and society. For this to be possible, however, government could not be restricted to securing a few natural rights or exercising certain limited powers. Instead, government must become dynamic, constantly changing and growing to pursue the ceaseless objective of progress.

This belief in an administrative state in my view is really just a nice way of saying a centrally planned or authoritarian state.  As we have seen, the results of states based upon these principles have always failed because central planning fails.  This process leads to chaos, bloodshed and decivilization.  There is also a major fallacy that somehow because there are rigid principles that confine the spheres that government can influence, and the extent to which it can influence them, that this stifles “change.”  In fact, only a system that constrains government and thus maximizes individual liberty, built on bedrock principles can create a fertile ground for dynamic development, technological progress, widespread prosperity and peace.  Government’s effort to create these outcomes ensures they can never be reached.  The progressives have halted progress, and will push us backwards as a people through moral debauchery and economic servitude due to their subversion of the Constitution through the legislative, judicial and executive branches of our Leviathan central government, with the help of the media and academia in brainwashing the American people into either blind ignorance or delusional belief in the fatherly state.  The great advances of man have always been attributable to the individual, never the collective.

Spaulding notes that in the permanent administrative class created by the Progressives,

bureaucrats would address the particulars of accomplishing the broad objectives of reform, making decisions, most of them unseen and beyond public scrutiny, on the basis of scientific facts and statistical data rather than political opinions. The ruling class would reside in the recesses of a host of alphabet agencies such as the FTC (the Federal Trade Commission, created in 1914) and the SEC (the Securities and Exchange Commission, created in 1934). As “objective” and “neutral” experts, the theory went, these administrators would act above petty partisanship and faction.

The progressives emphasized not a separation of powers, which divided and checked the government, but rather a combination of powers, which would concentrate its authority and direct its actions. While seeming to advocate more democracy, the progressives of a century ago, like their descendants today, actually wanted the opposite: more centralized government control.

So it is that today, many policy decisions that were previously the constitutional responsibility of elected legislators are delegated to faceless bureaucrats whose “rules” have the full force and effect of laws passed by Congress. In writing legislation, Congress uses broad language that essentially hands legislative power over to agencies, along with the authority to execute rules and adjudicate violations.

The objective of progressive thinking, which remains a major force in modern-day liberalism, was to transform America from a decentralized, self-governing society into a centralized, progressive society focused on national ideals and the achievement of “social justice.” Sociological conditions would be changed through government regulation of society and the economy; socioeconomic problems would be solved by redistributing wealth and benefits.

On this so-called ruling class of bureaucrats, there are a few things worthy of note.  First is the principle that there is a certain elite that should decide things for everyone else; that there are some who by the grace of G-d are preordained to rule, while the masses must follow.  This is an immoral and non-progressive principle.  Aren’t the progressives supposed to be all about freeing the oppressed from tyranny?  Further, the argument that the end goal was more centralized government control in my view merely touches on a means to an end which is power for the elite class.  Regardless of what they feel is the proper role of government vis-a-vis the masses, deep down control is about power and stoking one’s ego; the elites lust for power over their perceived intellectual subordinates.  Ayn Rand sums this relationship correctly: “where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master.”  It is no surprise then that Barack Obama so stresses service and sacrifice, and even seeks to make it a permanent requirement for all citizens.


Additionally, on the belief that “Liberty no longer would be a condition based on human nature and the exercise of God-given natural rights, but a changing concept whose evolution was guided by government,”  this again reminds me of Yuri Bezmenov’s video on ideological subversion.  He describes a condition in which the people are so numbed to morality, and the sanctity of their natural rights that they support causes completely averse to their livelihood.  In addition, as Hans Herman-Hoppe argues in his Democracy: The God that Failed, in a system in which definitions of essential principles constantly sway at the whim of public opinion, it becomes highly difficult for positive human action to occur.  Uncertainty and constantly changing rules and regulations again undermines progress.  As Spaulding notes, FDR adviser Charles Merrian argued that “The question is now one of expediency rather than of principle.”  Expediency over principle is a surefire way to destroy the rights of the people.

Spaulding adeptly notes the changing view that the progenitors of the welfare state like FDR began to take on under policies such as those enumerated in the

Second Bill of Rights” that would “assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.” Roosevelt held that the primary task of modern government is to alleviate citizens’ want by guaranteeing their economic security. The implications of this redefinition are incalculable, since the list of economic “rights” is unlimited. It requires more and more government programs and regulation of the economy — hence the welfare state — to achieve higher and higher levels of happiness and well-being.

In other words, FDR, his predecessors and followers believed in legalized plunder to ensure “equality in the pursuit of happiness.”  Instead of ensuring a playing field in which all could seek to attain what they subjectively defined as the good life, or the happy one, under the guise of equality, FDR and the others believed that they could socially engineer the American people in order to provide “economic security.”  This economic security is nothing more than a system of wealth transfers that create moral hazard and cause the American people to cease to strive to create wealth; rather, it leads people to use politics to grab it.  The modern welfare state was an edifice created to make the people parasitic, lazy sheeple dependent upon the facilitator of expropriation of government.  If the people understood this they would surely not stand for it.

The genius of the progressives is that once they began to radically expand government, it became almost impossible to stop politically, especially when these expansions often occurred because of crises perpetuated by government that purportedly only government could fix.  A politician doesn’t want to alienate one constituency or another by scrapping it of its government-granted privileges.  In addition, entitlement programs in particular as laws are difficult to repeal, continuously grow and become politically almost impossible to defeat because the public has gotten so used to them as rightful fixtures of the state.  How can you expect the American people to accept at face value that they should no longer expect Social Security or Medicaire, even if you can rationally explain that in the long run a state devoid of these programs will prove better for them.  Immediately, opponents will say that you want old people to be broke in retirement, or sick children to die.

Yet again, Spaulding is optimistic.  He notes:

There is something about a nation founded on principles, something unique in its politics that often gets shoved to the background but never disappears. Most of the time, American politics is about local issues and the small handful of policy questions that top the national agenda. But once in a while, it is instead about voters’ stepping back and taking a longer view as they evaluate the present in the light of our founding principles. That is why all the great turning-point elections in U.S. history ultimately came down to a debate about the meaning and trajectory of America.

In our era of big government and the administrative state, the conventional wisdom has been that serious political realignment — bringing politics and government back into harmony with the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — is no longer possible. Yet we are seeing early indications that we may be entering a period of just such realignment. Perhaps the progressive transformation is incomplete, and the form of the modern state not yet settled — at least not by the American people.

This creates a historic opening for conservatives.

Growing opposition to runaway spending and debt, and to a looming government takeover of health care, doesn’t necessarily mean that voters want to scrap Social Security or close down the Department of Education. But it may mean that they are ready to reembrace clear, enforceable limits on the state. The opportunity and the challenge for those who seek to conserve America’s liberating principles is to turn the healthy public sentiment of the moment, which stands against a partisan agenda to revive an activist state, into a settled and enduring political opinion about the nature and purpose of constitutional government.

To do that, conservatives must make a compelling argument that shifts the narrative of American politics and defines a new direction for the country. We must present a clear choice: stay the course of progressive liberalism, which moves away from popular consent, the rule of law, and constitutional government, and toward a failed, undemocratic, and illiberal form of statism; or correct course in an effort to restore the conditions of liberty and renew the bedrock principles and constitutional wisdom that are the roots of America’s continuing greatness.

The American people are poised to make the right decision. The strength and clarity of the Founders’ argument, if given contemporary expression and brought to a decision, might well establish a governing conservative consensus and undermine the very foundation of the unlimited administrative state. It would be a monumental step on the long path back to republican self-government.

If nothing else, this is an inspiring and hope-filled message.  While there are signs that the masses are awakening, I do not believe that a slowdown in the growth of government will set us straight.  The man on the street does not realize how rotten our system is to the core — that we require fundamentally transforming America by scrapping the entire welfare state and returning power to the people.

One of the principle institutions symptomatic of our problems both in terms of the increase in government and the diminution of the individual is the Federal Reserve.  It facilitates infinite government growth in part through wars, robs people of their income and savings and allows government to stealthily tax.  But try to explain to the average person why they should care about the Fed and most Americans (likely with good reason) will probably either stop listening or be unable to comprehend the magnitude of its evilness.  Amongst the “elite,” they will default to either Keynesian arguments or ad hominem attacks.  They can’t imagine that the foundation of the economy is a mirage.  They can’t imagine that a group of unelected Fed governors has such a great effect on our prosperity, liberty and peace.  They can’t believe that much of our government is pure fraud.

In general, people do not want to believe that government efforts to help people almost always end up hurting them, and that institutions that have been for a long time may be inherently corrupt and/or cease to be (just look at the investment banking houses).  People pray at the altar of the status quo because it is easier to accept things as they are instead of critically questioning and radically reevaluating the world.  It took me until these last few years to do so myself.

It is our job if we are to revive the tattered law, refound the relative paradise of republicanism that Hendrickson mourns and realign the country according to the principles that Spaulding espouses to open the eyes of the public to our view.  Ironically, progress requires a radical return to “reactionary” principles.  Civilization hangs in the balance.

Statists and Power

January 7, 2010 2 comments

Most businessmen will do anything they can to preserve their position.  This extends to people in all realms.  Whether manufacturers, farmers, financiers, academics or politicians, those who wish to preserve their power will promote as many measures as necessary to do so.  In the case of those in the latter two fields, they impose the same anti-competitive barriers as those in the former ones.  For the statists of the academy and the capitol, they put up barriers to entry by stifling debate in marginalizing anti-statists such as the Tea Partiers, imposing punitive tariffs in engaging in ad hominem attacks against opponents and peddling their products in the marketplace of ideas by sophistry, obfuscation and at times fraud.

More generally, given that in most cases one need be accepted by the elite in order to enter academia, the political realm and even many industries, this creates another superficial barrier to entry.  This is well-depicted when one considers that while the Austrians seem to be the most accurate economists, most all professors of the subject are evidently blacklisted from the most prestigious institutions, and in the fact that there are so few Ron Paul’s in Congress.

Those wedded to the state – be it the politicians or their propaganda arms in academia and the MSM further cement their power by creating a permanent underclass via their policies.  This would explain why the most liberal urban areas are afflicted with the most widespread poverty, crime and education problems.  It is the policies of the statists that make these areas fertile for these conditions, but the people, imbued with the notion that the state is there to help them with their plight given its coddling from day one remain even more wedded to the paternal politicians the more desperate their situation.  The politicians throw their impoverished constituents crumbs, but at some point the pols will run out of crumbs when they plunder those who produce them to a large enough degree.

The slums of America reflect the ultimate end of statist policies, and the reason is as follows.  Statists remove the incentives to produce by encouraging failure, extending largess and attacking mutually beneficial exchange in free commerce.  The economic and political environment of urban America destroys the values that led to the creation of wealth squandered on the welfare state in the first place.

Ultimately, my sense is that those in power today, radical Cloward-Piven and Alinsky-ites that they are are not so much concerned with developing a socialist Utopia.  Contrary to this, I think they are using the socialists in academia, and the elites, former students brainwashed by academia, CNN and the New York Times as useful idiots.  They have institutionalized their progressive ideas over the last hundred years so that those with the most influence in society know of nothing else and more disastrously lend credence to their policies.

They are at peace with their yielding a hellish country like the ones incubated historically by leftists replete with widespread poverty, chaos and violence to reach their goal.  The goal of this administration and most all in government is power.  They will usurp our freedoms stealthily or outright in order to preserve and enlarge it.  Most evil in my view is the man bankrolling the whole operation, George Soros, who will push the country to the brink with his puppet politicians running the show, for his own profit.

In sum, I urge you to understand that ideology is a mere means to an end – secondary to all those who use the state as an instrument, be it the One-Worlders, Greens or Marxists.  Do not be fooled, their concern rests with one thing and one thing alone: power.  With every state encroachment, their power increases whilst individual liberty is extinguished.

A Call to Arms

November 2, 2009 5 comments


American populist angst has been rising for some time now. The optimist in me hopes that the Tea Party movement, and with it the rekindling within Americans of the vision of the founders and the defense of our Constitution can “fundamentally transform the United States of America” to coin a phrase from our old socialist pal in the Oval Office.

Yet while my heart tells me that there is a chance to turn this ship around, the overwhelming evidence that I have documented in my more sober if not brutally honest moments speaks to just the opposite. The progressives have been hammering away at our freedoms for well over a century, aggressively indoctrinating the citizenry with their perspicacious propaganda campaign. While our ideas are better, we have not adequately defended them.

Today it occurred to me that the perturbed conservatives I saw on Ailes’ evil news network harping on the blasphemous spendthrift blowhards in Washington were missing the point in blaming our politicians for their actions. Sure I am just as outraged as the next fellow at the spending of taxpayer money on projects fraught with waste and corruption, the sheer arrogance of our leaders in running roughshod over our economic liberty and in general the out of control growth of the nanny state.

But just as it was these political leaders who were the great enablers for the bankers in the financial crisis, through the gobs of cheap government credit provided by the head of the banking cartel – the government’s Federal Reserve, through their implicit guarantees of too-big-too-fail taxpayer protection and through their push along with the ACORN thugs for providing housing for even the least creditworthy among us, so too was it the American people that have enabled this government.

James Madison said of democracies that they “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” Perhaps more prescient, Marx posited that “Democracy is the road to socialism.” But alas, this is the system that we allowed to take hold though the Constitution never once mentions it, and we the people, who were supposed to vigilantly defend our liberty, have allowed our government to devolve into an instrument whereby each group plunders each and every other group. And what is this instrument of plunder of government but a representation of the people?

Herein lies the problem with blaming the politicians. It is we that have elected these scallywags. Their sole goal is retaining power in office, future of the nation-be-damned. Like for the bankers, though they know the system to be unsustainable in the long run, what matters to politicians is reaping the rewards before the storm. It is the American public that has let them continue to be irresponsible, leaving us with over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. We have condoned the profligacy and pillaging of our rights.

Throughout history in this country there has been a constant battle waged between those who espouse liberty and those who would sooner trade liberty for tyranny than live in a society based on self-reliance, merit and morality. Even if we have voted against the bad apples, we are complicit in having not convinced our fellow citizens to do so. Instead, we allowed the so-called elites, the political entrepreneurs to take over Washington, D.C., promising the people healthcare, housing and the rest of the hogwash spelled out in the Second Bill of Rights. They debauched our great nation by our sanction.

Now let me turn from criticizing us Americans (I am as complicit in this lack of vigilance as all my Libertarian brethren), lest I start to sound like Barack Obama. What we must do as the antidote to the growing Leviathan is to fight the intellectual fight for liberty on every street corner, in every classroom and through every other media possible. We must infiltrate corrupt and destructive institutions and reveal the truth to our fellow countrymen. We must seek out candidates with no interest in political power – no desire to cut deals but a sheer wish to restore America to its rightful place in the world; to serve as honest and capable stewards aiming to leave a better country for their children and children’s children. We must seek people willing to take unpopular positions with a firm and steadfast resolve, equipped with the knowledge of and confidence in the tenets of classical Liberalism. A good start would be to seek out those who have no desire to hold office.

Good government requires a populace that seeks good government. Further, it requires representatives with the courage to fight for prudent policy, not the petty politics of payoffs and plunder. Most importantly, it beckons those who wish to honor the vision of our Founders, in which the liberty of the most important minority, the individual is protected, in which free market capitalism is advanced through the protection of private property and contract rights and in which the defense of our citizenry and by extension the securing of our freedom is the highest priority of government.

Demoralizing as our situation as a nation may be as a result of a government that we have allowed to run amok, I should say that in some ways I am optimistic no matter what direction this country takes. Should we rally to fight the fight against the socialist sophists and begin to roll back the last hundred-plus years of disgraceful governance, we will succeed. On the other hand, if we continue to hurtle towards the day of reckoning of default and/or hyperinflation in von Mises’ “crackup boom,” the welfare state will collapse of its own weight, and those of us armed with the right ideas will be able to step out of the darkness and help lead the country back to peace and prosperity.

Either way, we must fight on every front to advance the ideals of liberty and engage the leftists (many Republicans included) in debate. We can no longer blame our politicians, but must heed our own advice and take the individual initiative and personal responsibility to ourselves battle to make this country once again a shining city upon a hill. Nothing less than the future of the nation depends on it.

From FDR to Obama – the Destruction of Our Rights

May 26, 2009 1 comment


Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed a “Second Bill of Rights” during his State of the Union Address in 1944. He noted that while “under the protection of certain inalienable rights…our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness….true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.” He argued that we “cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.” Under the auspices of “economic security and independence,” FDR laid out the following list of rights for the American people:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

During and after FDR’s presidency, many programs were taken up to establish these so-called rights. The US government implemented a minimum wage with the hopes of providing people with a baseline level of income to be able to pay for life’s necessities, and created unemployment insurance so that people would have sufficient money to purchase goods when they lost their jobs. They created agricultural subsidies to protect farmers. They implemented all sorts of regulations and restrictions to stop (certain) companies from dominating their competitors. They created HUD and devised the CRA to force lenders to finance housing for those who were less well off, to ensure the “American dream of home ownership.” They provided healthcare for the old and poor. They created Social Security to allow the old to receive checks after they were retired. They expanded public education and pushed for everyone to receive a college degree. They empowered the Federal Reserve to flatten the business cycle and protect against recessions.

Today, King Obama looks to be finishing off the dirty work of the progressives of the last century. He is pushing for “fair” credit card charges, universal healthcare, onerous governmental control of business under the guise of environmental protection, government control of college loans and empathetic justices who understand the concerns of everyone who is not white, male or wealthy.

Essential to the justification for this platform is FDR’s argument that there be equality in the pursuit of happiness, and that “individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” What those like FDR and Obama mean is that there is not equality as an outcome of the pursuit of happiness, i.e. equality of condition. By economic security and independence, FDR and the King mean that people need safeguards so that they can keep their jobs, pay for products and be comfortable in retirement.

All of the ends that these progressives seek seem admirable, but the means to achieve them end up making it impossible for the ends to be obtained. Nobody wants to see masses of unemployed, sickly or uneducated people. But the government policies implemented to protect against these problems – to guarantee the “rights” listed above – end up leaving people unemployed, unhealthy and uneducated. They impoverish the citizens by destroying the inalienable rights that even FDR admits allowed the US to gain its strength as the world superpower.

It was not economic security or independence that allowed our country to thrive, but a system in which people voluntarily traded and had the opportunity to innovate and take entrepreneurial risks. Failure, not economic security, had to be a motivator because there was no safeguard against it; no notion of being too-big-to-fail. If you failed, you simply had to pick up and try again. The Federal Reserve in attempting to protect against failure ends up leaving the people economically insecure by decreasing their purchasing power and savings through inflating the money supply, and by incentivizing people to allocate resources improperly through the manipulation of money and credit which leads to the painful boom and bust cycle. The moral hazard created by providing safeguards against failing, be it in business or in one’s own life ends up weakening the people.

Economic security and independence come as a result of our rights to life, liberty and property, not the other way around. The best thing the government can do to ensure these rights, the rights that lead us to maximum wealth, the fullest employment for those who seek it, the best and cheapest medical care and the most practical and affordable education is simply to protect its citizens from attacks on their individual rights. Individual rights, not entitlements. Entitlements beget more entitlements. Entitlements breed laziness in the citizenry. Entitlements cause people to take things for granted. Freedom is the one thing that cannot be taken for granted. As Reagan put it, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

If you disagree with this in principle, then look at the results of the governments’ policies, those policies representing the antithesis of freedom. The US populace is probably dumber than it has been at any other time in history, even though a greater number of people are graduating from public high schools and attending colleges than ever before. Our economy teeters on the brink of collapse. Our government is larger, more intrusive and more corrupt than it has ever been. It is also effectively bankrupt minus its monopoly power to print money; interesting that it can have this monopoly power while also protecting people from “unfair business competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad.”

Other examples of government failures abound. Amtrak is a money-loser, as is essentially all public transportation. If public transportation is not a money-loser, then I would venture to guess that it still isn’t as cheap or efficient as private alternatives. The US postal service is nowhere near as effective as FedEx. The DMV is a joke. The purchasing power of our dollar has decreased by over 95% since being under full control of the Federal Reserve, and we have had more frequent recessions than prior to the Fed’s creation. In countries with nationalized healthcare, we see that the price of better-quality, private healthcare increases, while public healthcare services leave people waiting sometimes for months on end for essential medical procedures. People flee to the US if their lives are in danger with good reason. If King Obama gets his way, they will have nowhere to flee anymore. Ironically, when it comes to almost every sector of our economy, while economists would have you believe that government corrects market failures, it appears that we would be far better if markets corrected government failures.

In the final analysis, there is not one good or service that the government provides that is cheaper and better than the equivalent one in the private sector, with the caveat that in terms of defense, only the government can coordinate the forces necessary to effectively protect us. And even then, the government outsources weapons development and certain tactical supports to private defense companies. And even then, the government screws up at times in the way it carries out its wars.

I want to reiterate that only the market can provide the people with the best goods and services at the best prices. This is the same for credit as it is for housing as it is for healthcare. If you take the market out of the equation and try to centrally plan, in the end you impoverish society and leave a nation to anarchy and revolution. Through a dictatorship, which is what the Second Bill of Rights effectively creates (a tyrannical government), you create the unemployed and the hungry that FDR speaks of.

With the burgeoning deficits at the state and national levels, the impending tsunami of inflation and the undermining of the rule of law and protection of life, liberty and property by our leaders, it looks as if in their quest to grant us the Second Bill of Rights, they have also destroyed the rights granted to us by an authority higher than that of our politicians, our natural ones.

This Isn’t About Democrat vs. Republican Anymore

April 20, 2009 5 comments


In light of the recent Tea Parties, Janet Napolitano and her cronies labelled many people like myself as right-wing extremists. Now, I’m kind of used to hearing this by now given that I grew up in New Jersey and go to a university where only global-warming-fear-mongering, jihadist-appeasing (largely anti-Semitic), Marxistsympathizing, military-hating, sovereigntysacrificing chaps are considered moderate, but the fact that the people that defend the rights of these vitriolic parasites to protest against our right to exhale carbon dioxide and eat trans fats were labelled as threats to the peace is downright offensive.

Sure, most of the folks that came out that day might be registered as Republicans, but the line as to what determines a Republican and a Democrat to me at this point no longer exists. Practically all politicians in these parties are the same, differing only by degree of pathetic-ness (not a word according to Google, but it should be).

Thus, I have been thinking about how to describe the split between the two sides of the debate in America right now. The words that I think best summarize the political divergence are individualism versus statism or collectivism. Jonathan Hoenig lays it out pretty well here:

If you find yourself identifying with the values of the former word or phrase below, then you fall into the camp of the individualist, while if you find yourself identifying with the ladder, then you probably identify as a statist. The dichotomies that I see are as follows:

merit vs. favoritism
liberty vs. tyranny
individuality vs. the mob
personal responsibility vs. collective irresponsibility
your happiness vs. the happiness of 50%+1
free speech vs. censorship
strength vs. weakness
long-term planning vs. short-term wishful thinking
national sovereignty vs. internationalism
prosperity vs. impoverishment
freedom vs. control
property protection vs. plunder
city on a hill vs. Gulag in Siberia

To be sure, in this society, labeling anyone is touchy. At this point I don’t know if I would consider myself a Lockean, a Constitutionalist, a Goldwater conservative, a fiscal and social libertarian but strong on defense dude, or just a lover of my nation. Nevertheless, the split that I see that encompasses the most fundamental of beliefs is individualism versus collectivism. You be the judge as to which ideology is superior.

On the Notion of Sacrifice

January 23, 2009 2 comments


One of the central messages of President Obama’s inaugural speech was that Americans now must sacrifice in a time of great hardship. This sounds noble, but also is rather vague. What kind of sacrifice is Obama talking about?

It would be fair to venture to guess that sacrifice for Barack Obama means a number of things that our forefathers would have shunned. Sacrifice means higher subsidization of the masses by those at the top of the economic scale through increased taxation. Sacrifice means imposing the will of the government on the people in the name of “fairness,” “equality” and “justice.” Sacrifice means that everyone must be required to bail out the few who are reckless and irresponsible. Sacrifice means coercive taking of our life, liberty and property for the “greater good.”

At root of all of this is collectivism. How did we end up here? We had an economy that was mixed as opposed to a true, free-market one. We had a small republican government that grew to be a massive democratic one. We had a society built on success and failure, that gave way to one of success and protection against failure. We took the middling path, which inevitably led us to this socialistic mentality. I posit that democracy mainly paved the way for this collapse, but that will be addressed in a post in the near future.

Prior to the Great Depression, we lacked a government-imposed social safety net because of the sacrifice of individuals. Some voluntarily chose to provide for those who were less fortunate, not always with just a handout, but for some like Rockefeller by providing an education for those who showed aptitude in the hopes that they could better themselves. Our forefathers fought for our country, sacrificing their lives so that they could build a society where they would not need to sacrifice their liberty and their property. They sacrificed so they could establish a country built on the natural rights granted to them by G-d, not the rights so determined by the new Messiah, Mr. Obama.

People labored in steel mills and coal mines not out of the goodness of their hearts, but out of self-interest, and this work helped pave the way for unprecedented economic growth. It all brings to mind Adam Smith’s line in the Wealth of Nations, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”

We did not achieve our prosperity from forced sacrifice, but from voluntary trade predicated on the self-interest of individuals seeking to better their lot. People could dispose of their wealth for the most part as they so chose. Universities, libraries and medical institutions were established by wealthy folks, and charitable institutions were able to provide (probably much more efficiently than the public) services for those who were needy. But this charity again was voluntary.

You have to wonder why it was the case that the government stayed out of the business of charity. Was it because individuals knew that politicians would only use these programs out of their own self-interest to gain votes? Was it because of the belief in a government with limited responsibilities? Was it because of the belief that it wasn’t the job of all of society to take care of those who were broke?

I think it was probably a combination of all of these things. Also, I think that while individuals may have acted out of self-interest in giving charity like politicians (be it for PR purposes or for religious reasons), they were still making this decision unto themselves, not forcibly requiring all others to sacrifice as well. There just is not this sense of individualism anymore. It is one for all and all for the banks. We all own a piece of Wall Street, we all own a piece of Fannie and Freddie over on Main Street and we all own a piece of Detroit too. Of all cities, I mean come on…Detroit?!

We did not build the most prosperous nation in the world through sacrifice and collectivism. We built it through the self-interest of the skillful, visionary individuals that immigrated to this land. Our forefathers did not sacrifice themselves during the Revolution for more sacrifice; they sacrificed themselves for freedom. To forget this fact would be to tarnish their efforts.