Posts tagged ‘Big Government’

Statolatry and Philosopher Kings

LOL!

Government is just another word for our betters, philosopher kings and statists like Bernie Sanders, telling mere mortals what to do and how to live.

3 Reasons Why It’s Okay to Have 23 Kinds of Deodorant

This is a very old and thoroughly discredited idea, one that dates back to Karl Marx and to the anti-capitalists who preceded him. It is a facet of the belief that free markets are irrational, and that if reason could be imposed on markets — which is to say, if reason could be imposed on free human beings — then enlightened planners could ensure that resources are directed toward their best use. This line of thinking historically has led to concentration camps, gulags, firing squads, purges, and the like, for a few reasons: The first is that free markets are not irrational; they are a reflection of what people actually value at a particular time relative to the other things that they might also value. Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence. That is the first reason that this sort of planning leads to gulags. The second is that there are no enlightened planners; men such as Senator Sanders imagine themselves to be candidates for enlightened leadership, but put a whip in his hand and the gentleman from Vermont will turn out to be another thug in the long line of thugs who have cleaved to his faith. The third reason that this sort of planning always works out poorly is that nobody knows what the best use of resources actually is; all that the would-be masters know is that they do not approve of the current deployment of resources.

Bernie Sanders’s Dark Age Economics

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We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.

Newspapers are filled with stories (example) about how Russia’s Sochi Olympics construction has cost a lot of money due to “corruption.” I asked my in-apartment Russian experts what this might mean. It turns out that cronies of the government are getting paid more-than-standard-commercial rates to build stuff. So taxpayer funds are being transferred to the politically connected.

I’m wondering how this is different than the U.S. military, which is ridiculously expensive but not typically labeled “corrupt.” TIME reports that the cost of a USAF Boeing 757 (C-32A) is about $43,000 per hour to the taxpayers; Conklin & De Decker says that $12,000 per hour is about what an airline would spend to fly one extra hour in the same airplane. In December, I wrote about how the U.S. Army is planning to do primary helicopter training in $6 million Eurocopters (foreign militaries and private flight schools get this done in aircraft that cost about 1/20th as much)

Is Russia’s Sochi project more corrupt than the U.S. military?

Sochi cf. military industrial complex

‘What Eisenhower Said About the Military-Industrial Complex Is True’

“Politics itself is nothing but an attempt to achieve power and prestige without merit.”
P.J. O’Rourke

The War on Drugs, another disaster. A half century, billions of dollars, countless stupid laws, Mexico a war zone. Result? Every drug known to man, woman, or hermaphrodite is for sale at great prices in every high school in America. Another triumph of private enterprise over governmental regulation. If Washington tried to provide free drugs, it couldn’t come close. No one would be able to get so much as an aspirin.

Infinite Arrogance, Infinite Incompetence

Downsizing Government


Yeah! Studebaker!


Yeah! War on Drugs!


Yeah! Big government coalition!

Continue reading ‘We’re from the government, and we’re here to help.’ »

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What’s More Useful than the Federal Government?

This marble machine is more useful, much more beautiful, more entertaining, and much less expensive than the federal government.

Continue reading ‘What’s More Useful than the Federal Government?’ »

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Small-Government Republican Governors and Senators – Hahahaha

Nothing like campaigning against a know-nothing Congress on behalf of an imperial presidency.

But using fear talk in order to give the power of life and death to the federal security forces — and their natural antipathy to individual freedom — isn’t remotely conservative.

It’s statist.

Perhaps McCain and Graham hadn’t yet digested the sumptuous peace dinner feast Democrat Obama put on for them and 10 other Republican senators at Plume, a fancy gourmet restaurant in Washington.

A Senate battle between a libertarian whippersnapper, crotchety establishment

McCain and Graham are big government statists who happen to be Rs.

Is it just me or do McCain and his Boy Wonder sidekick Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) bear a growing resemblance to Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy from Sponge Bob Squarepants? Like the version of the GOP they represent, their best days are behind them. Which may well be good news for just about everybody else.

McCain: Are You a “Wacko Bird” Like Rand Paul, Justin Amash, and Ted Cruz?

If GOP members of Congress have finally (and mostly reluctantly) signed on to the reality of sequester cuts, the country’s Republican governors seem a lot more bent out of shape at the idea of losing various crumbs from federal coffers.

Continue reading ‘Small-Government Republican Governors and Senators – Hahahaha’ »

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Libertarians are not Conservatives and Libertarians are not Liberals

Libertarians believe in individual liberty, persuasion not coercion, nonaggression. Libertarians are leery of all forms of concentrated power, whether that power is wielded by the state, big business, big religion, a mob, big wheels, big political parties, big nonprofits, etc. As Lord Acton wrote: Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The real conflict in political theory … is not between individualism and community. It’s between voluntary association and coerced association.

David Boaz

Libertarianism is the fastest growing political creed in America today. Before judging and evaluating libertarianism, it is vitally important to find out precisely what that doctrine is, and, more particularly, what it is not. It is especially important to clear up a number of misconceptions about libertarianism that are held by most people, and particularly by conservatives. In this essay I shall enumerate and critically analyze the most common myths that are held about libertarianism. When these are cleared away, people will then be able to discuss libertarianism free of egregious myths and misconceptions, and to deal with it as it should be on its very own merits or demerits.
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Myth #1: Libertarians believe that each individual is an isolated, hermetically sealed atom, acting in a vacuum without influencing each other.
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Myth #2: Libertarians are libertines: they are hedonists who hanker after “alternative” lifestyles.
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Myth #3: Libertarians do not believe in moral principles; they limit themselves to cost-benefit analysis on the assumption that man is always rational.
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Myth #4: Libertarianism is atheistic and materialist, and neglects the spiritual side of life.
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Myth #5: Libertarians are utopians who believe that all people are good, and that therefore state control is not necessary.
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Myth #6: Libertarians believe that every person knows his own interests best.
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Conservatives and everyone else should politely be put on notice that libertarians do not believe that everyone is good, nor that everyone is an all-wise expert on his own interest, nor that every individual is an isolated and hermetically sealed atom. Libertarians are not necessarily libertines or hedonists, nor are they necessarily atheists; and libertarians emphatically do believe in moral principles.

Myth and Truth About Libertarianism, by Murray N. Rothbard

Libertarianism.org – from Cato

Libertarianism is, as the name implies, the belief in liberty. Libertarians strive for a free, peaceful, abundant world where each individual has the maximum opportunity to pursue his or her dreams and to realize his full potential.

The core idea is simply stated, but profound and far-reaching in its implications. Libertarians believe that each person owns his own life and property, and has the right to make his own choices as to how he lives his life – as long as he simply respects the same right of others to do the same.

Another way of saying this is that libertarians believe you should be free to do as you choose with your own life and property, as long as you don’t harm the person and property of others.

Libertarianism is thus the combination of liberty (the freedom to live your life in any peaceful way you choose), responsibility (the prohibition against the use of force against others, except in defense), and tolerance (honoring and respecting the peaceful choices of others).

Libertarianism.com

In my experience, many pro-life conservatives would consider themselves ‘libertarian’ were it not for the abortion issue. Once they learn that there are pro-life libertarians, they are happy calling themselves ‘libertarians’ rather than ‘conservatives.’ Many ‘conservatives’ realize that there are serious problems with their ideology, but do not realize that there is an alternative.

The first problem with conservatism is that it has been hypocritical in power. Under unified Republican control of the federal government, discretionary non-defense federal spending has risen faster than it did under Clinton (and such spending actually fell under Reagan).
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The second problem with modern conservatism is that it is internally incoherent. Modern conservatism comes out of the 1950’s anticommunist movement. On the one hand, it proclaims respect for the Constitution and for the system of limited government devised by the Founders; on the other hand, it celebrates an aggressive U.S. foreign policy and a powerful bureaucracy that gives the federal government the resources to intervene, through aid or invasion, in any part of the world.

Libertarianism versus Conservatism


Libertarians are not conservatives.

People who say they are socially liberal often call themselves libertarians and many libertarians call themselves socially liberal. But libertarianism and liberalism on social issues are not the same thing.

Your typical liberal Democrat says she’s liberal on social issues but that doesn’t make her in any meaningful way a libertarian. For instance, the vast majority of the libertarians I know hate things like speech codes, smoking bans, racial quotas, and the vast swaths of political indoctrination that pass for “education” today. They tend to oppose gun control, think fondly of homeschooling (if not always homeschoolers) and are generally split on the question of abortion. They do not, however, think that the government should be steamrolling religious institutions with Obamacare or subsidizing birth control. Liberals tend to loathe federalism or states’ rights (though there’s been some movement there) libertarians usually love the idea. The liberals who don’t like it fear that states or local communities might use their autonomy to live in ways liberals don’t approve of. Libertarians couldn’t care less.

Being ‘Socially Liberal’ Is Not Being a Libertarian


Libertarians are not liberals, although most libertarians would agree they are are “classical liberals”.

Libertarianism is a political philosophy concerned with the justified use of force. Libertarian law is guided by the non-aggression axiom, which stipulates that it ought to be legal for adults to do whatever they please provided they do not aggress against the person or property of another.

Illiberal Libertarians: Why Libertarianism is Not a Liberal View

To all of you who think that Ayn Rand is the dominant, or even one of the dominant voices in libertarianism right now, please feel free to leave the 1970s behind and join us in the 21st century. Indeed, even when Rand was at the height of her powers, she was still only one of several important voices in the movement. During the days of Rand’s greatest popularity, [Murray] Rothbard could certainly lay claim to being a far more important theorist within the movement, although he was certainly far less famous. Indeed, Rand was a novelist, so to keep referring back to Rand in an attempt to score points against libertarianism for its alleged devotion to egoism, only displays a lack of knowledge about the intellectual history of the movement.

Response to Mark Shea, re: Catholics and Libertarians

Libertarian and libertarian-leaning organizations include the Bastiat Institute, Mont Pelerin Society (web site), Acton Institute, CATO Institute, Reason Magazine, Reason TV, Reason’s blog Hit & Run, (Ludwig von Mises Institute, Independent Institute, Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), Hayek Institut, Institute for Humane Studies (IHS), Students for Liberty, and the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

The “first” Catholic libertarian was Lord Acton, and the Acton Institute is named after him. Contemporary Catholic libertarians include Rev. Robert A. Sirico, Andrew Napolitano (Reason writings), Michael Munger (blog), Thomas E. Woods Jr. (see “Why I Am a Catholic Libertarian“), Randy England (author of “Free Is Beautiful: Why Catholics should be libertarian” – review here), and Leonard Liggio.

See “6 Myths Catholics Tell About Libertarians,” by Ryan McMaken

Books about libertarian topics include Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, Ludiwg von Mises’ Human Action, Friedrich Hayek‘s The Road to Serfdom (illustrated edition), Randy Barnett‘s The Structure of Liberty and Restoring the Lost Constitution: The Presumption of Liberty.

Also see these lists of libertarian books: GoodReads | Wikipedia | Milton Friedman.

Also see A Conflict of Visions.

Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT) and to prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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Washington, DC = Boomtown

Fireworks by PES

Now on to the place where tribute is brought!

Why Laughter Is the Best Medicine for Politics:

When the Obama administration launched the We the People petition initiative—which lets anyone start a petition on the White House website—it set the response threshold at 5,000 signatures. In the digital era you can collect that many signatures for a petition to make navel lint the official textile fiber of the United States. So the White House bumped up the threshold to 25,000. Turns out that’s a pretty easy bar to clear, too. Just look at the Death Star petition.
Continue reading ‘Washington, DC = Boomtown’ »

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Big Government and Statolatry


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The government is huge, stupid, greedy and makes nosy, officious and dangerous intrusions into the smallest corners of life. . . .

Parliament of Whores, P.J. O’Rourke


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Why do you people love the state so much? It doesn’t love you.

Michael Munger


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Something has changed, even as our society has become wealthier. Sure businesses have to comply with regulations and millionaires need to pay taxes, but somewhere we’ve shifted from honoring success to envying it, from viewing government as a limited tool to achieve a few necessary things (infrastructure, enforcing the rule of law) to seeing it as the be-all and end-all of our society.

Why is it assumed by these moralistic Affluence Police that the rich are mainly greedy people who spend their money on luxury goods? Charities and non-profits are funded by wealthy people. Real capitalists invest millions of dollars into ideas and often create good jobs in the process. I have no idea what Mickelson does with his money, but it isn’t any of my business. Given California governmental attitudes, one can’t blame him for looking elsewhere.

For instance, during a recent Capitol press conference, the Orange County Register’s Sacramento reporter asked Gov. Jerry Brown about the spending increases in his supposedly austere budget. Brown joked about there being no hope for Orange County readers, according to a Register editorial. Then he mocked “this doctrine that government is the problem,” which he said is promoted by the “Orange County Register or whoever all these people are.”

At the Capitol, the free market is viewed as an arcane joke. Yet I look at everything government does—at all those programs and bureaucracies and entitlements that Brown and Obama prefer. I see enormous debt, corruption, abuses of power, union-enrichment schemes, shoddy services, terrible attitudes, and an endless sea of scandal and greed. Just read the newspapers.

How Big Government Undermines Freedom and Prosperity


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When did the government become a paragon of telling the truth?

Andrew Napolitano


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Feeling good about yourself is not the same as doing good.

Theodore Dalrymple

Ozymandias

Mockery and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline.

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Crony – and Relative – Capitalism and Big Government

Crony capitalism is capitalism in name only, and always involves corruption. And the political class almost always dresses up the growing government side of crony capitalism as “public service.”

[I]n terms of total compensation (salary plus benefits), federal workers earn 16 percent more on average than private-sector workers with the same experience, education, and responsibilities. They are paid out of your current and future taxes, not corporate profits. In what some have seen as an echo of the setting for The Hunger Games, the growing power of the federal government to dispense favors and direct whole industries has transformed the Washington, D.C., metro area into the nation’s wealthiest, boasting 10 of the top 20 counties for median household income.

Examine Inequality’s Causes Before Prescribing Solutions


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“Obama is Bush on steroids.”

In 2007, in the wake of the biggest lobbying scandal in decades, Congress limited the ability of family members to lobby their relatives in the House or Senate. But it declined to ban the practice entirely.

Since then, 56 relatives of lawmakers have been paid to influence Congress. More than 500 firms have spent more than $400 million on lobbying teams that include the relatives of members, according to a Washington Post analysis of disclosure forms.

In Congress, relatives lobby on bills before family members

From Capitol Assets, the Washington Post series


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The rest of us should consider the contemptible behavior of people like Hoyer as we watch the expansion of politics into every area of our lives. The government grows; the private sector diminishes; everything becomes a political act. Soon you will see the phrase “none of your business” become an antique aphorism, as quaint as telling someone to “dial” a telephone number. Everything is everyone’s business now. That’s what Big Government means.
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The expansion of government replaces competition with coercion. Free people lack coercive power, so they must compete with each other for business opportunities. Customers must be persuaded. Employees must be attracted. It’s messy sometimes, and the process must be policed for theft and fraud, but it’s generally constructive.

The Bitter Wastes of Politicized America


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As government gets bigger, crony capitalism and its culture of corruption and paternalism and nannyism grows hand in hand.

How did Harry Reid get so wealthy? Ah, right, “public service.”


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Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT).

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What Can’t Go On Forever, Won’t


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If you’ve been paying attention for the past four years, you’re not at all surprised that the Obama is on the same side of huge corporations seeking corporate welfare. But here’s what was surprising: Boeing and Obama actually faced some resistance in their fight for corporate welfare.

Bogardus attributes the resistance to the Tea Party. He’s partly right. I think he also should have mentioned Delta. You see, the U.S.-based international airline didn’t appreciate the Obama administration dedicating $40 billion in subsidies to Boeing exports, because those loan guarantees also amount to subsidies for foreign airlines — Delta’s competitors.

So, you see, the only time the special interests ever lose — or even encounter trouble — in their quest for government favors is when some other special interest distinctly stands to lose from the government favor.

How to beat the special interests: Get some special interests on your side

[A]ssuming the White House did stick this tax-break package — and my requests for White House comment, confirmation, or denial have met with silence – it clashes with Obama rhetoric on all sorts of fronts, including, as today’s excellent Wall Street Journal editorial points out, his calls for the wealthy paying their fair share and his professed desire “that the wealthiest corporations and individuals can’t take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren’t available to most Americans.”

But beyond that, it undermines Obama’s professed desire to close the deficit.

Think about this: just the business and energy tax extenders reduce federal revenue by $67.7 billion in 2013. The tax hikes on the rich Obama won — higher rates on those over $400,000 and reduced deductions on those over $250,000 — raise $620 billion over a decade. As far as I know, we can safely guess that this would be less than $62 billion in 2013.

Obama’s corporate tax breaks look bigger than his tax hikes on the rich

Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT).

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What’s More Dangerous for an Economy, a Nuclear Strike or Big Government?

It’s not Democrats that ruined Detroit. It’s big government. As shown by the Bush years, you get equally bad results when Republicans expand the size and scope of Washington.

So I guess the moral of the story is that if you want prosperity, free markets and small government are a much better combination than big government and nuclear blasts.

What’s More Dangerous for an Economy, a Nuclear Strike or Big Government?

There is now a near merger between Wall Street and K Street. During the financial crisis, the government and the Fed have kept Wall Street well supplied with bailouts and nearly free access to capital that allows them to literally print risk free profits by recycling in the free loans into interest bearing government debt, all while Main St. businesses and homeowners have borne the full brunt of a credit crunch, state and local governments fiscally starve, and infrastructure funds dry up. Finance industry insiders have now obtained a near lock on the position of Treasury Secretary. When a president like Bush dares to appoint someone with actual industrial experience, Wall Street’s displeasure is made manifest, and it generally succeeds in undermining him. New laws like Dodd-Frank strangle new entrants to the field while enshrining the privileged status of the too big to fail. The fact that it allows government to seize these “systematically important financial institutions” shows not the industry’s weakness but its strength, as big banks de facto function as instrumentalities of the state, but with profits privatized and losses socialized. Not a single major figure in the events causing the financial meltdowns has gone to jail or even been prosecuted (only a collection of ponzi schemers and insider traders who, despite their criminality, had no systematic impact – the crisis blew up their scams, their scams did not cause the crisis). The list goes on.

The geographic proximity of New York to Washington, with quick trips back and forth on the Acela, facilitates this.

Is the Acela Killing America? Has the finance industry trainjacked America?

As anyone who rides Amtrak between New York and Washington knows, the trip can be a dissonant experience. Inside the train, it’s all tidy and digital, everybody absorbed in laptops and iPhones, while outside the windows an entirely different world glides by. Traveling south is like moving through a curated exhibit of urban and industrial decay. There’s Newark and Trenton and the heroic wreckage in parts of Philadelphia, block after block of hulking edifices covered in graffiti, the boarded-up ghost neighborhoods of Baltimore made familiar by “The Wire” — all on the line that connects America’s financial center and its booming capital city.
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This model was flipped inside out as Wall Street and D.C. became central drivers, not secondary supports, of the nation’s economy. Now, on its route between them, the train passes directly through or near 8 of the 10 richest counties in the United States, but all of this wealth is concentrated near the endpointsof the journey: Manhattan’s satellites in northern New Jersey and the towns where lobbyists and government contractors live in suburban Virginia and Maryland. This is a geographic representation of a telling contradiction. For the past 30-plus years, through Republican and Democratic administrations, there has been much lip service paid to the idea that the era of big government is over. Long live free enterprise. And yet in the case of those areas surrounding the capital, wealth has gravitated to the exact spot where government regulation is created. Why? Because many businesses discovered that renegotiating the terms between government and the private sector can be extraordinarily lucrative. A few remarkable books by professors at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business argue that a primary source of profit for Wall Street over the past 15 to 20 years could be what I call the Acela Strategy: making money by exploiting regulation rather than by creating more effective ways to finance the rest of the economy.

Empire of the In-Between

Ozymandias

Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. We also need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT).

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