A libertarian view of the state we’re in 2

John Stossel, in his plain-speaking, clear-headed way, deplores Obama’s failed economic policies:

President Obama sure is consistent. His State of the Union address sounded like his other speeches: What I’ve done is great! America is in a much better position. We’ve created a manufacturing sector that’s adding jobs. More oil is produced at home. I cut deficits in half!

Give me a break. The deficit is lower now not because of any prudence on Obama’s part but merely because the $800 billion stimulus spending blowout didn’t continue. All the president does is increase spending: free community college, free Obamaphones, free birth control, etc. Yes, our annual deficit is lower, but it’s still $488 billion! Our $18 trillion national debt increases by $3 million every minute!

Yes, more oil is produced at home, but that’s in spite of the administration. Oil production is down on public land.

Yes, the manufacturing sector added jobs, but that’s mostly because of cheaper natural gas created by fracking, which Obama’s cronies opposed. Also, America is finally recovering from recession. Obama’s policies probably slowed that recovery.

Does the President delude himself when he takes credit for oil production, lower deficits, etc.? Or does he mislead on purpose? I don’t know.

More recently he bragged, “I created the lowest unemployment rate in years.” He created it? He must know it’s “low” only compared to the 10 percent reached during the recession — and because millions have simply given up looking for work. This recovery is the slowest in 70 years.

Then he goes on to propose a very different speech from the one Obama gave last night:

If Obama gave the State of the Union address I’d like to hear, he’d say this:

I heard you, voters, in November when you took control of the Senate away from my party. I get it. I overreached. I was arrogant. I imposed Obamacare on a nation that was deeply divided about it. I ruled through executive orders instead of legislation. I threw money at “green” nonsense.

We’ve cut a bit out there, because at that point he pulled out the biggest bone of contention we have with libertarians like John Stossel: defense. He wants less spent on it – as Obama does – and  we want more spent on it. 

But on: 

I’ve been in government for years now. I know how badly it works. The last thing I should try to do is make it bigger. In fact, with Republicans now in control of Congress, it’s time I worked with them to shrink government. If we shrink it, we might even dig our way out of the debt hole we’re in. Heck, if we just slow the growth of government to 2 percent a year, we’d be in better shape.

But I didn’t even try to accomplish that. I pretended taxing the rich would solve our financial problems. But there aren’t enough rich people to tax.

That’s not what’s wrong with the idea. What’s wrong is the idea of redistribution itself. The right argument is against any form of redistribution by a central agency.

But on again:

I got drunk on the idea of promising voters “free” stuff such as low down-payment mortgages and guaranteed paid family leave. I told them that all good things come from government. That’s nonsense.

We should put an end to all bailouts. Businesses that screw up should accept the consequences, just like ordinary people who spend recklessly. Main Street should never again be forced to rescue Wall Street.

Instead of expanding government control of health care, we should phase it out. That includes Medicare. I know Medicare is popular, but it is unsustainable. Let current retirees receive their benefits as promised, but younger people should pay for their own health care.

People criticize the economic distortion created by welfare, but Medicare and Social Security are almost as bad. Both redistribute money away from the young and struggling toward those of us who have had decades to invest and save up.

To make these challenges a little easier to deal with, let’s make America richer by abolishing most regulations. They strangle opportunity.

The more I think about it, the more Congress and I could transform America for the better just by getting out of America’s way. The state of our union will be truly strong if the state – by which I mean government – is strictly limited.

That we would applaud.

Speaking of secession 18

The great divide between those who want socialism and those who want freedom is unbridgeable. The federal government is imposing socialism, the American people are determined to resist it. What remedies do the people have?

A year ago, Governor Rick Perry mentioned the possibility that Texas might secede from the union, but added that he “saw no reason why it should”.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry fired up an anti-tax “tea party” Wednesday with his stance against the federal government and for states’ rights as some in his U.S. flag-waving audience shouted, “Secede!”

An animated Perry told the crowd at Austin City Hall — one of three tea parties he was attending across the state — that officials in Washington have abandoned the country’s founding principles of limited government. He said the federal government is strangling Americans with taxation, spending and debt. …

Later, answering news reporters’ questions, Perry suggested Texans might at some point get so fed up they would want to secede from the union, though he said he sees no reason why Texas should do that.

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

Washington has continued to “thumb its nose” at the people. Now 13 [update, 18] states, including Texas, are suing the federal government over issues raised by the health care legislation it pushed through against the will of the majority of Americans. And there is talk of 37 states doing so.

Is secession again in the air?

The Tea Party movement is named to revive the memory of revolutionary secession.

Walter Williams, not for the first time, raises the topic of secession, considers the idea favorably, and comes close to advocating it – though he stops just short of doing so.

Ten years ago I asked the following question in a column titled “It’s Time To Part Company”:

“If one group of people prefers government control and management of people’s lives and another prefers liberty and a desire to be left alone, should they be required to fight, antagonize one another, risk bloodshed and loss of life in order to impose their preferences or should they be able to peaceably part company and go their separate ways?”

The problem that our nation faces is very much like a marriage where one partner has broken, and has no intention of keeping, the marital vows. Of course, the marriage can remain intact and one party tries to impose his will on the other and engage in the deviousness of one-upmanship. Rather than submission by one party or domestic violence, a more peaceable alternative is separation.

I believe we are nearing a point where there are enough irreconcilable differences between those Americans who want to control other Americans and those Americans who want to be left alone that separation is the only peaceable alternative. Just as in a marriage, where vows are broken, our human rights protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution have been grossly violated by a government instituted to protect them. 

The Democrat-controlled Washington is simply an escalation of a process that has been in full stride for at least two decades. There is no evidence that Americans who are responsible for and support constitutional abrogation have any intention of mending their ways.

You say, “Williams, what do you mean by constitutional abrogation?” Let’s look at just some of the magnitude of the violations.

Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution lists the activities for which Congress is authorized to tax and spend. Nowhere on that list is authority for Congress to tax and spend for: prescription drugs, Social Security, public education, farm subsidies, bank and business bailouts, food stamps and other activities that represent roughly two-thirds of the federal budget.

Neither is there authority for congressional mandates to the states and people about how they may use their land, the speed at which they can drive, whether a library has wheelchair ramps and the gallons of water used per toilet flush.

The list of congressional violations of both the letter and spirit of the Constitution is virtually without end. Our derelict Supreme Court has given Congress sanction to do anything upon which they can muster a majority vote.

James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, explained in Federalist Paper No. 45: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives and liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.”

Americans who wish to live free have several options. We can submit to those who have constitutional contempt and want to run our lives. We can resist, fight and risk bloodshed and death in an attempt to force America’s tyrants to respect our liberties and human rights. We can seek a peaceful resolution of our irreconcilable differences by separating.

Some independence movements, such as our 1776 war with England and our 1861 War Between the States, have been violent, but they need not be. In 1905, Norway seceded from Sweden; Panama seceded from Columbia (1903), and West Virginia from Virginia (1863). Nonetheless, violent secession can lead to great friendships. England is probably our greatest ally.

The bottom-line question for all of us is: Should we part company or continue trying to forcibly impose our wills on one another? My preference is a restoration of the constitutional values of limited government that made us a great nation.

What is to be done? 0

John Hinderaker of Power Line quotes Lawrence Kadish (writing in the Wall Street Journal, October 12):

It is the interest on the national debt that makes our future unstable. The exploding size of that burden suggests that, short of devaluing the dollar and taking a large bite out of the middle class through inflation and taxation, there is no way to ever pay down that bill. …

In stark but simple terms, unless Americans are made aware of this financial crisis and demand accountability, the very fabric of our society will be destroyed. Interest rates and interest costs will soar and government revenues will be devoured by interest on the national debt. Eventually, most of what we spend on Social Security, Medicare, education, national defense and much more may have to come from new borrowing, if such funding can be obtained. Left unchecked, this destructive deficit-debt cycle will leave the White House and Congress with either having to default on the national debt or instruct the Treasury to run the printing presses into a policy of hyperinflation.

It is against this background that Washington is now debating whether to create social programs it can’t afford.

He comments on this – and we agree:

It is hard to overestimate the danger to which the fecklessness of our current leaders in Washington exposes the nation.

But if  Americans are ‘made aware’ of the great danger they are in – and many of them are aware, as witness the tea parties and the 9/12 protest – what can and should they do about it? ‘Demanding accountability’ would not be enough, even if they got it.

The greatest of lies about government 1

Vasko Kohimayer writes in Front Page Magazine (an article well worth reading in its entirety):

Having incurred more than $65 trillion in obligations of various kinds, the federal government finds itself in an insurmountable fiscal hole. To give a sense of size, this amount is more than the annual economic output of the whole world and four times America’s Gross Domestic Product. It would be impossible to manage this even if our leaders suddenly came to their senses and began to behave responsibly. There is little chance of that, however. The larger our debt, the more eager they are to spend more.

Despite our leaders’ efforts to conceal the level of indebtedness, its reality cannot be evaded. The steady weakening of the dollar is one evidence of that. In recent months financial experts have even been discussing the unthinkable: The possibility that the American government may default… The deficit will end up being close to $2 trillion at the end of this fiscal year… The markets are growing increasingly concerned about the possibility of the United States failing to meet its obligations.

The question is how did America get into this position. What brought this country – once a citadel of financial stability – to such dire straits? The answer will become apparent when we look at the composition of America’s debt burden.

The federal government’s obligations consist of two main components. The smaller of the two is the one that is reported on more often. It is referred to as “public debt,” or “national debt,” or “sovereign debt.” This is the debt that the government has incurred as a consequence of its budget deficits over the years. It currently stands at $11.6 trillion, which is about 85 percent of GDP.

The public debt, however, only represents a relatively small portion of the government’s total debt. The rest is primarily made up of obligation connected with three large entitlement programs – Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. It is estimated that together their combined claims amount to roughly $55 trillion more than what the government will collect in designated taxes. At this point Medicare and Social security do not yet represent a net budgetary expense, because revenues (FICA taxes) exceed what is paid being out in benefits. To put it differently, these programs are currently running surpluses; this situation, however, will not last indefinitely. The social security surplus will end around 2018. The negative gap will then widen rapidly with each successive year… The $55 trillion question is: How will the government raise the cash once the surpluses come to an end?

There are two ways in which this can be done: by raising taxes or by borrowing. Neither seems like a good option under the circumstances. Taxes are already perceived to be high; bringing them much higher would be politically unpopular if not impossible. Furthermore, raising taxes would hamper growth, which would in turn decrease the tax base and thus defeat the purpose of the increase in the first place. As far as borrowing is concerned, it is almost certain that investors would refuse to finance additional debt given their concerns about its present levels. With no place to go, it is likely the federal government will do what governments usually do when caught in this situation: it will “meet” its obligations by printing money.

This, of course, is an easy way out, but it debases the currency and produces inflation. And since America’s huge debt load is far beyond the government’s ability to pay off with honest money, the level of inflation is likely going to be very high. It would actually appear that the government has already embarked on this path. There are even those who fear that the United States may eventually experience hyperinflation… The soaring inflation that will follow will have a devastating effect on the already fragile financial system and will inevitably lead to economic breakdown. This will in turn set off centrifugal forces in a troubled and divided society.

America’s impending travails are thus ultimately tied to fiscal mismanagement, particularly in the area of entitlements. It is as ironic as it is instructive that entitlements seek to confer the kinds of benefits the Founding Fathers thought the federal government should have no business of pursing. It was with this in mind that they drafted a constitution that sought to prevent the federal government from getting involved in those areas. They made it very clear that federal functions were to be few and  limited, confined primarily to protecting the life, liberty and property of Americans.

Ensuring people’s well-being through the provision of retirement income, healthcare and other such goods was not to be the government’s job.

It is to our detriment that we have betrayed both our founding principles and the Constitution. We have done this because we have fallen for that greatest of lies, which is that government is capable of providing for citizens’ material and social needs

Brainwashed by years of public education, many believe that ensuring the population’s material welfare is precisely what good government is all about. But no government has ever been able to pull this off

Those naive enough to rely on the government’s “guarantee” of a “dignified” retirement are bound to be bitterly disappointed… But if the only thing the government did was to fail to deliver on its promises, the situation would not be so dire. Unfortunately, it also did something else in the process – it has bankrupted this nation by saddling it with debts and obligations we cannot fulfill. This outcome is unsurprising. The old maxim is as valid now as it has always been. Government does not solve problems; it only makes them worse. Given the ambitious scope of entitlements, it was only to be expected that federal involvement would eventually create difficulties on an insurmountable scale…

Posted under Commentary, Economics, government, Health, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, August 24, 2009

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