Posts tagged ‘Forward!’

High Horse

Tags: , , , , ,

Libertarian, Classical Liberal: Richard Epstein

Libertarians fall into two distinct groups: strict libertarians like Rand Paul and classical liberals such as myself. “Classical liberal” is not a term that rolls off of the tongue. Consequently, “libertarian” is the choice term in popular discourse when discussing policies that favor limited government. Libertarians of all stripes oppose President Obama’s endless attacks on market institutions and the rich. The umbrella term comfortably embraces both strands of libertarian theory vis-à-vis a common intellectual foe.

It is important to understand the differences in views between the strong libertarian and classical liberal position. Serious hard-line libertarian thinkers include Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess. Rothbard believes nonaggression is the sole requirement of a just social order. For Hess, “libertarianism is the view that each man is the absolute owner of his life, to use and dispose of as he sees fit.” There are large kernels of truth in both propositions. It is quite impossible to see how any social order could be maintained if there were no limitations against the use, or threatened use, of force to enslave or butcher other people, which Hess’s proposition of absolute self-ownership strongly counteracts.

Yet the overarching question is how does a group of people move from the Hobbesian “war of all against all” toward a peaceful society? Hess claims that stable institutions are created by “voluntary association and cooperation.” Again, strong libertarians are on solid ground in defending (most) private contracts against government interference, which is why Lochner v. New York (1905), reviled as it is by most constitutional thinkers, was right in striking down New York’s sixty hours per week maximum labor statute. Yet the hard-line libertarian position badly misfires in assuming that any set of voluntary contracts can solve the far larger problem of social order, which, as Rothbard notes, in practice requires each and every citizen to relinquish the use force against all others. Voluntary cooperation cannot secure unanimous consent, because the one violent holdout could upset the peace and tranquility of all others.

The sad experience of history is that high transaction costs and nonstop opportunism wreck the widespread voluntary effort to create a grand social alliance to limit the use of force. Society needs a coercive mechanism strong enough to keep defectors in line, but fair enough to command the allegiance of individuals, who must share the costs of creating that larger and mutually beneficial social order. The social contract that Locke said brought individuals out of the state of nature was one such device. The want of individual consent was displaced by a consciously designed substantive program to protect both liberty and property in ways that left all members of society better off than they were in the state of nature. Only constrained coercion can overcome the holdout problems needed to implement any principle of nonaggression.

The flat tax is preferred because it reduces private incentives to game the tax system and, likewise, the ability of government officials to unfairly target their opponents. The optimal theory of taxation minimizes the distortions created by the need to fund the government activities that maintain public order and supply infrastructure. The classical liberal thus agrees with the hard-line libertarian that progressive taxation, with its endless loopholes, is unsustainable in the long run. At the same time, the classical liberal finds it incomprehensible that anyone would want to condemn all taxes as government theft from a hapless citizenry. The hard-line libertarian’s blanket condemnation of taxes as theft means that he can add nothing to the discussion of which tax should be preferred and why. The classical liberal has a lot to say on that subject against both the hard-line libertarian and the modern progressive.

My Rand Paul Problem: Why classical liberalism is superior to hard-core libertarianism.

Acton Institute, Cato Institute

Wikipedia: Libertarianism | Classical Liberalism | Christian Libertarianism

Continue reading ‘Libertarian, Classical Liberal: Richard Epstein’ »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Obamacare Downfall cont’d

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Obamacare Video Contest Song

Tags: , , , ,

Egypt Spring and the War President

Egypt: Epidemic of Sexual Violence

Since 2006, Congress has sought to condition military aid to Egypt depending on its progress on democracy and human rights, but included a waiver that an administration can use for national security reasons. Then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice executed the waiver during the Mubarak years, even though the Bush administration had a robust human-rights agenda.

Both Clinton and John F. Kerry, the current secretary of state, have also signed similar waivers, even though Congress demanded that the secretary of state certify that Egypt was maintaining the peace treaty with Israel and “supporting the transition to civilian government including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association and religion, and due process of law.”

Kerry’s waiver, signed in May, was done so quietly it was not even announced. Human rights groups have denounced the waivers as undermining support for democracy in Egypt.

In other words, Congress handed possible leverage to the administration, and the Obama administration has declined to use it.

Obama’s claim that aid to Egypt was based on adherence to ‘democratic procedures’

Hope and change!

Continue reading ‘Egypt Spring and the War President’ »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Go to Medical School … and Become a Government Employee. Forward!

Central planing has worked out so well, therefore we just need better planning! And more centralization.

We are two-thirds of the way into the most incompetent presidency in our history. People everywhere are fed up. Even many of the so-called liberals who propelled Barack Obama into office have stopped defending him in the face of an unprecedented number of scandals coming at us one after the other like hideous monsters in some non-stop computer game.

And now looming is the monster of monsters, ObamaCare, the healthcare reform almost no one wanted and fewer understood.

It will be administered by the Internal Revenue Service, an organization that has been revealed to be a kind of post-modern American Gestapo, asking not just to examine our accounting books but the books we read. What could be more totalitarian than that?

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal warns the costs of ObamaCare are close to tripling what were promised, and the number of doctors in our country is rapidly diminishing. No more “My son, the doctor!” It doesn’t pay.

And young people most of all will not be able to afford escalating health insurance costs and will end up paying the fine to the IRS, simultaneously bankrupting the health system and enhancing the brutal power of the IRS — all this while unemployment numbers remain near historical highs.

No one knows how many have given up looking for work while crony capitalist friends of the administration enrich themselves on mythological clean-energy projects.

Is America in a Pre-Revolutionary State this July 4th?

Continue reading ‘Go to Medical School … and Become a Government Employee. Forward!’ »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Moral Preener in Chief

Moral Preener in Chief

I cannot recall, in the last five years, Barack Obama ever identifying the Iranians, Hezbollah, or the late Hugo Chavez as among our “enemies,” in the fashion that he once urged Latino leaders to punish conservatives at the polls: “We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.” If only the president would treat those who don’t like the United States in the same manner that he does those who do, he might bring great clarity to his now listless foreign policy. Indeed, why waste his rich vocabulary of teleprompted invective on fellow Americans, when there is an entire world out there that wishes the United States ill?

Continue reading ‘Moral Preener in Chief’ »

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Free Speech and Independence Day

Just as I cannot morally consent to give the government the power to take your freedom of speech or travel or privacy, you cannot consent to give the government the power to take mine. This is the principle of the natural law: We all have areas of human behavior in which each of us is sovereign and for the exercise of which we do not need the government’s permission. Those areas are immune from government interference.

That is at least the theory of the Declaration of Independence, and that is the basis for our 237-year-old American experiment in limited government, and it is the system to which everyone who works for the government today pledges fidelity.
. . .
The litany of the loss of freedom is sad and unconstitutional and irreversible. The government does whatever it can to retain its power, and it continues so long as it can get away with it. It can listen to your phone calls, read your emails, seize your DNA and challenge your silence, all in violation of the Constitution. Bitterly and ironically, the government Jefferson wrought is proving the accuracy of Jefferson’s prediction that in the long march of history, government grows and liberty shrinks. Somewhere Jefferson is weeping.

A Not-So-Happy Fourth of July

Continue reading ‘Free Speech and Independence Day’ »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Look! Squirrel!

If I could reach into the heart of humankind and pluck one flaw from its unknowable depths, it would be our seemingly irresistible desire to tell one another what to do. Think of the results! The Democratic Party would vanish in an instant. The federal budget would shrink to the size of a compact car payment. And all religions would be Christianity at its best. We could still continue to enjoy our pride, lust, greed and gluttony while feeling morally superior to our neighbors’ pride, lust, greed and gluttony. We just wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. It would be like — oh, I don’t know — like living in America again. Free country. To each his own. That’s what makes for horse races. And all that.
. . .
My point is that we are in the grips of a truly corrupt, abusive, incompetent, and philosophically unAmerican administration. If it were led by a white Republican, the media would be disassembling it brick by brick — and rightly so. But it is run by a black Democrat, so instead, reporters are lying, covering up, and shouting “Squirrel!” to distract us whenever the truth starts to emerge.

I understand how emotionally satisfying it must be to win court cases like this — I do. But gay Americans (who, after all, live in the same republic, the same economy, and the same world as straight Americans) ought to get hip to the fact that this time, they’re the squirrel.

Gay Squirrel!

Continue reading ‘Look! Squirrel!’ »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Praetorian Guard

Augustus created the original Praetorian Guard about 27 BCE to protect the emperor. It quickly came to exercise independent power, once even auctioning off the empire to the highest bidder. This outrage led the Roman general Septimius Severus to march on Rome and displace Emperor Julianus who had won the Praetorian bidding war. Severus disbanded the old Preatorian Guard only to set up a new Praetorian Guard, which quickly achieved a similar authority, power, and autonomy. The “intelligence community” of the US government seems to be playing a similar role today.
. . .
Because Congress has betrayed its democratic and constitutional duty, the “intelligence community” has acquired an authority, power, and autonomy comparable to that of ancient Rome’s Praetorian Guard. Throughout the Imperial period in the West, Rome had a Senate that provided honors and riches to its members while serving a largely ceremonial function in Roman politics. The real power in Rome was divided between the Emperor and the Praetorian Guard. Something similar has come true in the US today.

Congress Should Grow a Pair

Continue reading ‘The New Praetorian Guard’ »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,