Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Losing Our Liberties Bit by Bit

Walter Williams has recently written a book "Liberty vs the Tyranny of Socialism: Controversial Essays" defending the idea that we must return to our constitution if we are to remain a viable country guided by the ideas of our Founding Fathers who fought a war to defend their liberties and invented the idea of LIMITED GOVERNMENT. Today in 2009 we are a long way away from limited government and seem to be on the road to serfdom with our ever bloated government getting bigger and bigger.

But what part do we have in all this? Aren't we just sitting on our fannies and allowing our government to get away with things that are continually chipping away at our freedoms? We are betraying our Founders by allowing these politicians in Washington to continue to rule our lives in every imaginable sphere of endeavor from our banking to our wages to our associations. When will it be enough before we reclaim our liberties? Or are we so dumbed down by our abysmal schools that we can't even recognize that we are less free than our forefathers were?

Have we become sheep that allow government to print paper money out of thin air, bailout failed businesses like General Motor and demand banks to give loans to credit unworthy people? How dare they use us as slaves to work and work so that politicians can scheme how to use our money and ruin our country?

We the People can fix this by demanding that government go back to doing their only constitutionally legitimate job and that is to protect us against aggression be it internal or external and then stay out of the way! Following is an excerpt of Mr. Williams new book where he describes the efforts of Representative John Shadegg of Arizona to introduce a measure called the ENUMERATED POWERS ACT.

It goes without saying that the three branches of our federal government
are no longer bound by the Constitution as the framers envisioned;
what is worse is the American acceptance of such rogue behavior. If it
were ignorance on behalf of the American people and their representatives,

I would be optimistic because ignorance is curable through education,
but I think it is design. Strong evidence of this is a measure that
has been repeatedly introduced by Representative John Shadegg of Arizona
called the Enumerated Powers Act that reads “Each Act of Congress
shall contain a concise and definite statement of the constitutional
authority relied upon for the enactment of each portion of that Act. The
failure to comply with this section shall give rise to a point of order in
either House of Congress. The availability of this point of order does not
affect any other available relief.” Simply put, if enacted, the Enumerated
Powers Act would require Congress to specify the basis of authority in
the U.S. Constitution for the enactment of laws and other congressional
actions. Each time the Enumerated Powers Act has been introduced, it
has received little or no support by members of Congress. That leads to
the conclusion that members of Congress have no wish to be bound by
their oath of office to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.

Americans do not want their elected officials to uphold and defend
the Constitution. Doing so would mean that one American could not
live at the expense of another in the form of spending programs such as
government Social Security, Medicare, aid to higher education, farm subsidies, food stamps, and other programs that make up close to two-thirds of a $3 trillion-plus federal budget for which there is absolutely no authority in the U.S. Constitution. What taxing and spending authority the Constitution grants Congress is mostly spelled out in Article I, Section 8 of the document. (Read).

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The American Can-Do Spirit Will Outlast This Too

Guy Sorman has a great article at City Journal about the American spirit of enterprise and how we will come out ahead after this financial meltdown just as we always have. The reason as presented by Sorman has to do really with the American versus the European way of looking at society - American leadership is radically different from European version and he uses the examples of Google, IBM, and Nanodynamics.

In early-nineteenth-century Western Europe, still dominated by the nobility, aristocratic consumers set the tone for the whole economy, and they wanted beautifully handcrafted (and expensive) goods. In the United States, by contrast, egalitarian-minded citizens wanted access to cheap goods—and mechanization and standardization fulfilled their wishes, leading to the Industrial Revolution and the world’s first mass market. To a degree unknown in Europe, standardization became the economic manifestation of the Jacksonian age. Nearly two centuries later, the same practical rationale—standardizing products to meet popular demand—underpins the U.S.’s continued economic leadership. Despite much talk about American decline and the recent Wall Street crisis, the U.S. economy continues to set the pace for the world.

To better understand this sustained American leadership, I visited with executives from three representative firms: Google, in Mountain View, California; IBM, in Yorktown Heights, New York; and Nanodynamics, in Buffalo. Though different in many respects, the three companies share an adherence to democratic principles, a dedication to collaborative relationships with universities, an understanding of the economic phenomenon of creative destruction, and a commitment to cultural diversity.

The author finishes the article with the following:

...Does Suvankar Sengupta of Nanodynamics feel nostalgic about Bengal? “As a land of opportunities,” he says, “the U.S. remains unchallenged, while you are never criticized for taking risks. Moreover, when you are good at what you do, nobody in America asks you where you come from.” (READ the rest here).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pigs at the Feeding Trough

Obama's promise of a "stimulus" make-work project scheme is enticing the pigs to come out to the trough to feed from the hand of the tax-payers or the funny money being printed at the treasury. Welcome to the land of the La-la vision where government "projects" takes the place of real work created by the private sector. Don't you just love politicians who can so easily entice a gullible people? Read Bridges to Everywhere at the WSJ.

President-elect Obama's transition team is promising that its $700 billion, or $850 billion, or $1 trillion, or whatever it now is "stimulus" won't include pork-barrel spending. They must not have talked to the nation's mayors, who recently responded to Mr. Obama's request to compile their priority list of "shovel-ready" projects.

...By all accounts, the $73 billion wish list may be the largest collection of parochial spending projects in American history. Strolling through the 800 pages, we found such beauties as: $1 million to upgrade the Los Angeles County Convention Center elevated "catwalk" for cameras and lighting; $350,000 for an Albuquerque, N.M., fitness center; $94 million for a parking garage at the Orange Bowl in Miami; $4.5 million for Gretna, Florida, to bottle water with recyclable bottles; a $35 million music hall of fame in Florissant, Missouri, and $3.1 million for a swimming pool in Tulsa. The other truth about most of these projects is that they don't come close to representing an economic "stimulus." They may put a few people to work for a while, albeit while taking money out of the private economy to pay for them. But the test for a useful public project should be whether it contributes to a net increase in productivity after accounting for that lost private investment.

The Obama team may try to cull this list to remove the most egregious pork. But Congress is quickly figuring out that "stimulus" is the greatest spending cover since "homeland security." This mayors' list is a preview of the lobbying free-for-all that Mr. Obama's epic spending bill is already kicking off. Poor Ted Stevens must be the saddest man in America. The Alaska Senator and legendary earmarker lost his seat a mere three months before this spending opportunity of a lifetime. (READ)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Shakedown of Bank Of America-The First of Many to Be

Because we have sat quietly while the government has invested itself with the terrifying power to decide which companies will continue existing and which will not, we now have the chance to see what our politicians are doing with this power. And Obama is involved - surprised? Not really. (Read article at Investor's Business Daily).

The Bank of America was the victim of a concerted shakedown that may soon be replicated around the country. Even President-elect Obama supported this new example of Chicago blackmail.

One of the casualties of the faltering housing market is Chicago's Republic Windows & Doors, whose line of credit was cut off by Bank of America.
Amy Zimmerman, Republic's vice president of sales and marketing, admitted: "Banks are in the business to make money, and at some point they have to make a business decision, and that's what this is."

In the first week of December, Republic laid off its workers and closed its doors. The company was supposed to give two months' notice, with continued pay and benefits. So the employees launched a sit-in.

Getting laid off before Christmas isn't any fun. But no one was obviously to blame for Republic's failure, and these days Republic employees aren't alone in their economic distress.
Bank of America was a handy scapegoat. Since the institution received tax dollars, Republic's employees argued that BofA had an obligation to bail out Republic.

Said Leah Fried, an organizer with the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America: "It's shameful that a bank that got $25 billion in bailout money turns around and shuts down a factory by cutting off their credit."

The sit-in provided an irresistible photo op. Gov. Rod Blagojevich showed up before his indictment, as did the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., "Senate Candidate No. 5" in the Blagojevich case.
Obama said of the workers, "I think they're absolutely right," adding that "these companies need to follow through on those commitments."

Blagojevich announced that Illinois would withhold its business from the bank. Fifteen Chicago aldermen proposed an ordinance cutting off business with the bank and limiting any zoning changes for its properties. Cook County Commissioner Michael Quigley promised to introduce similar legislation...(READ).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Republicans Deserved Their Defeat: But How Can They Make an Honest Comeback?

John Lewis has written a definitive piece at Capitalism Magazine (excerpted from The Objective Standard) about why the Republican party self-destructed and what it has to do to get back in the game of politics. There is no better explanation of why they were so thoroughly defeated in November. Read this article and see if you agree: Reason or Faith: The Republican Alternative by John Lewis.

Rights are not gifts from “God,” who demands payment for his generosity by calling for the continual violation of those rights. Nor are rights gifts from the state to be created or destroyed by majority vote, constitutional convention, or pragmatic jurisprudence. The source of rights is neither faith nor feelings but facts.

Individual rights are moral principles arising from the requirements of human life in a social context. In order for people to live, they must be free to think and act on their own judgment. Rights specify this fact and prescribe government protection for each individual against those who seek to infringe on his freedom.

It is right to value one’s own life and to think and act by one’s own judgment; thus every individual has a right to life and liberty. It is right to keep what one produces and to trade with others voluntarily; thus every individual has a right to property. It is right to act for one’s own benefit; thus every individual has a right to pursue his own happiness. It is right to restrain, and if necessary destroy, those who attack us; the right to self-defense is a corollary of the right to life. All of this is true, because it is right to live, to love one’s life, and to prosper—by one’s own effort.

Rather than placing each of us under an injunction to serve others, the moral principle of individual rights sets each individual free from such unfounded “duty.” Rights enable each individual to pursue his own happiness by his own thought and effort, neither sacrificing himself for others nor sacrificing others for himself. The only purpose of government, on this account, is to protect the freedom defined by man’s rights. When these facts are recognized, politicians cease to be collectors of sacrifices; they become protectors of life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

"Economics Is Too Important Just To Be Left to the Economists."

There is a fallacy among economists which says that "what might be a good course of action for an individual can lead to disaster if widely adopted by members of the larger group. In this case, disaster could be the result if there was too strong a preference for savings over consumption." Andrew B. Wilson in his column today at the Wall Street Journal ("Thatcher Wouldn't Have Gone Wobbly on Detroit") says that what is good for an individual in these times, saving his capital, IS good for the country. And he sites the example of Margaret Thatcher and how she saved Britain's economy with her good sense and basically told the "economists" to take a hike.

While the automakers are clamoring to take out more loans for their bankrupt industry, Americans are using their common sense and trying to STAY OUT of bankruptcy. Our government - Obama - is also talking of: "...spending hundreds of billions on public works with the hope of creating some jobs, but remember: 93.3% of Americans, though shaken, already have jobs." What's going on here? Where is common sense? But then politicians never did have common sense just the desire to get reelected again and again. Read this column.

It reminds me of the open letter that 364 economists addressed to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1981, condemning her for daring to cut public borrowing in the midst of a recession, which was contrary to the Keynesian orthodoxy at the time. They did not accept Mrs. Thatcher's reasoning that too much public-sector borrowing and government-directed investment could only crowd out private-sector borrowing and risk-taking.

They also implicitly rejected Mrs. Thatcher's strongly held belief that both governments and individuals must be guided by fundamental rules of common sense and frugality, in good times and bad. The economists described her thinking on this score as naive.

Mrs. Thatcher spurned the collective wisdom of the 364 economists, seeing their advice as just more of the same failed interventionist policy prescriptions which the country had followed for over three decades.

...But Thatcherite principles remain as valid as ever. The freedom of the marketplace is still the only effective mechanism for eliminating poor business practices, identifying productive investment, and providing long-term growth.

...Yet by sticking to her policies of lightened regulation, reduced trade barriers, privatization of a raft of publicly owned companies, reduced taxation, and the adoption of laws to prevent abuses of union power, Mrs. Thatcher achieved something few if any of today's economists have begun to consider. She achieved a genuine, productivity-led recovery that transformed Britain from perennial basket case into the Europe's most improved and vibrant economy.

What we need is a Mrs. Thatcher who is not afraid of the medicine we need to take to cure the symptoms of decades of abuse of our economy. Obama, the pragmatist, IS NOT that person.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Another Boondoggle funded With Our Money

Are ALL politicians corrupt or are we Americans just too stupid to realize how we are being had. Watch this video about the desire of a few Alaskans to build this bridge to connect two points that are nowhere and lead to nowhere besides the fact that it's not needed. What's going on?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Socialism: Done Many Times and Always Failed

With Obama's "$700 billion in New-Deal-style "public works" boondoggles" and his wanting to appoint a Car Commissar and inject more billions into our failed auto industry it appears that what we voted for in November is pure Socialism.

America! We the people are NOT socialists. We are individualists. When will we learn the lesson that Socialism is a failed system and that all it brings is poverty and chaos? How many times will we have to "try" it in order to understand that the government is not good at directing the economy. Government is force and needed to maintain order. It cannot plan the economy - individuals planning their own businesses and work make an economy work. We don't need to reinvent this wheel all we need to do is study history. For goodness sake, Mr. Obama, don't lead us down the old road of central planning. Will you ruin this country before we have time to rediscover the fact that Capitalism works because it is the individual making thousands of decisions based on what is beneficial for his life that works. Robert Tracinski explains this in his article "Car Commissar" at The Intellectual Activist.
...The real story of the bailout of the Detroit auto industry is not simply the waste of taxpayers' money on failing enterprises. Rather, the real news is Congress's apparent confidence that the way to revive Detroit is to impose central planning on the auto industry. This would be done by appointing a "car czar" empowered to "act as a kind of trustee with authority to bring together labor, management, creditors and parts suppliers to negotiate a restructuring plan. He or she also would be able to review any transaction or contract valued at more than $25 million."
The term "car czar" is not quite right. As a metaphorical description of the bailout, it evokes the right location—Russia—but the wrong era. "Car commissar" would be much more exact. Perhaps he will begin his work by issuing a five-year plan for the revival of the Big Three.
The Christian Science Monitor describes this as a comeback for "industrial policy." "The notion that government would pick economic winners and losers gained support among Democrats in the early 1980s, when it appeared that Japan, with its well-developed industrial policy, was America's No. 1 economic rival. The approach later lost its luster as the Japanese economy settled into a deep slump." And yet, here we are trying it again.

"Industrial policy" was always just an evasive euphemism used to describe the latest variation on the old theory of central planning. But central planning and nationalization of industries was a dead end when the old Soviet Russians tried it—and it is still a dead end now that Russia is
trying it again.
The 20th century experimented with every possible variant of socialism. We had democratic socialism in Western Europe, totalitarian socialism in Eastern Europe, and fascist socialism in South America. We had atheistic socialism and we had "liberation theology." We had the "scientific socialism" of the Soviet central planners and the chaotic jungle socialism of the Khmer Rouge, who executed anyone with an education. We had "socialism with Chinese characteristics" and socialism with African characteristics and socialism with Hindu characteristics.

We tried it all, and every time it led to poverty and oppression. Those results have been proven with scientific thoroughness. There is no excuse for trying it all again.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Will America Ever See the Last of the Clinton's?

Why has Bill Clinton refused to disclose the more than 200,000 donors to his Presidential library and foundation? Apparently to get Hilary confirmed he needs to do this and we should demand that he does. I mean what kind of ties does he have to arab sheiks and the Lippo group in China. This couple know and rub elbows with all sorts of shady characters around the world. Obama should be free of all taint of monetary influence when deciding US foreign policy!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Giving Thanks to Human Ingenuity

Thanksgiving has always been a time for me to give thanks for living in the current century and not back when mankind was still struggling to get out of its animalistic mode of living.  When I was young I used to go through the motions of believing in a god but there was always conflict in this for me as I could not reconcile the fact of a world of good contending with a world of evil and god just sitting there allowing it to happen.  It just did not make sense.  It is not often that you read an article about Thanksgiving from an atheist point of view and so for this holiday I give thanks to Heather MacDonald for her article A secularist’s thoughts on Thanksgiving.

...The problem for the nonbeliever is not that there is no one to thank for our good fortune but that there are more targets of gratitude than we can possibly acknowledge.

God does have the advantage of being a centralized receptacle for thanks, but is otherwise quite flawed as an object of gratitude, in my view.

I am indebted every day to human ingenuity that I could not possibly replicate on my own. I live on the 15th floor of an apartment building—a remarkable situation! Within this marvel of engineering, I have electricity, clean water, protection from the elements, and now, the internet, that miracle of knowledge aggregation that gives individuals more power than anyone has ever before possessed. Humans created all these wonders through tireless, loving, and patient empirical observation and experimentation.

I give thanks for the centuries-long development of limited government and to our Founding Fathers who created the most flexible and stable written constitution yet devised. As a secular conservative, I am particularly grateful for the free market system that supplies America’s cornucopia of goodies, an accomplishment that the current financial crisis in no way discredits.

But there are elements of my good fortune that are not the product of human effort—such as the facts that I a citizen of the United States and not, say, the Congo; that I was born with a sound body; and that the laws of nature work as they do. Do I need a God to account for those windfalls? In the first two cases, definitely not. I accept without discomfort the massive role of randomness in the distribution of benefits and handicaps; the alternative—that they represent deliberate judgment–is too horrible to contemplate. Were I to thank God for my extreme luck in being born into a society where people do not routinely massacre each other, I would have to explain why I deserve this happy outcome, whereas those millions of individuals who are not so fortunate in their birthplace do not. Likewise, if God is responsible for my healthy physical constitution, I would have to explain why he allows thousands of innocent children to be born with painful and sometimes fatal birth defects while sparing me.

Coming up with such explanations, in my view, requires either narcissism or the torture of reason. Most believers seem oblivious to the solipsism entailed by their thanking God when their cancer goes into remission, say. But the problem remains: Why did God save you and let the patient in the bed next to you die? The results are no more satisfactory when a conscious effort is made to supply rationales for such disparate outcomes. Typical candidates include: It is actually a gift from God to be born with half a brain, you just lack the capacity to understand his mysterious ways; or, how dare you presume to judge him, you cringing worm?...(Secular Right: Reality and Reason)