Jeff Neal for C.U.R.E. - Certain Unalienable Rights Endowment

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

A Tank or a Little Girl? A Politician or a Leader?

In Opinion, Political Critique on February 28, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) appeared at the Tea Party Patriots’ National Policy Summit on February 26, 2011.

Without expressing any opinion about the rest of the weekend, the Tea Party in general, Sarah Palin’s fitness for office, or Barack Obama’s citizenship (I don’t really care where his mother gave birth) I will express an opinion about the modern political establishment, Democrats and Republicans, as exemplified by this portion of Mr. Barton’s remarks.  (Watch from 1:03 to 1:55)

[Rep. Barton compares majority and minority status with little girl and the tank in Tiananmen Square]

After a little nervous laughter, 800 people in the room went nearly silent, Rep. Barton paused, knowing his joke had fallen flat.  There was a fearful, sunken feeling deep in the gut of the group.  I’m not sure whether many of the crowd could have described the feeling, but it wasn’t admiration or respect.  I think it was shock.

Free men give our admiration, hearts and prayers to the little girl when we recall Tiananmen Square.  Americans don’t aspire to be driving the tank.  Emphatically we want no elected official to identify with the tank operator, even if he’s suggesting that the little girl symbolizes his or our political opponents.  We don’t think in those terms about ourselves, our neighbors, our opponents, our government . . . or anyone’s little girls.

Joe Barton prefaced this part of his speech by reminding the group that he is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. House of Representatives.  The portion of that long tenure that he chose to emphasize was the stark difference between his experiences serving in the majority versus in the minority status.  He grinned as he bragged about how fulfilling it is to be back in the majority, how important it is to have command of the tank again.

Of course he was speaking figuratively and was attempting humor, but the truth behind the bad joke is this: like every other member of our modern political establishment, Joe Barton relishes the power of his office and is seldom mindful of the individual liberty and unalienable rights of those he is privileged and paid to, uh, govern – One can’t call what they do “leading.”

We need a better brand of politicians.  We need men and women who don’t covet and are not seduced by power, who will not conclude that it is their mission to pass laws and regulations that dictate other people’s lives; men and women who don’t fantasize about driving a tank over their political opponents.

We will only find those men and women if we look beyond Washington and outside of the Republican and Democratic Parties.  We will find them if, and only if, we look for leaders who are proud to live by the creed that all men are created equal and abide by the law of nature that governments are not instituted to elevate or demote ANY man, or little girl.

Where is your heart?

Social Security is Wisconsin writ large

In Economics, Financial on February 24, 2011 at 9:25 am

The controversy in Wisconsin incidentally involves unions and teachers.  The core problem is what is euphemistically called ‘unfunded liabilities.’  In Tennessee we call it either broken promise or a fraud.

For years and years, government officials have promised to give Person A something (health care or retirement income) in the future.  We all know that the only way the government can do that is by taking Person B’s money from him (see earlier piece about government’s wealth creating impotence).  The promise made to Person A is just a (future) tax on Person B.

Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, unemployment insurance, ObamaCare . . . they’re all schemes manufactured by politicians to transfer wealth from Person B to Person A in exchange for Person A’s vote.  Looks like a sweet deal for Person A, because the payoff for him is immediate.  What all the Persons A (YOU!) don’t seem to understand is there are only so many Persons B (also YOU!).  And when the time comes to collect, everybody (well, every taxpayer – there are some net takers – about 1/2 the country, that is) is a Person B.  There is no free lunch, or to paraphrase Maggie Thatcher, evetually you run out of Persons B.

Among other purposes, the government our founders established had as its primary responsibility protecting free men’s rights and property from other men’s grimy hands.  Now the government is the theif with grimy hands.

Our Constitution worked while it was operative.  However, now our governments at all levels are run by men and women who routinely ignore the Constitution.  They proudly declare that their mission is ‘protecting’ this group or that constituency, and that protection is accomplished by TAKING money from someone else.  As charitable as they make it sound, as sympathetic as the recipient of the loot may be, it’s still theft.   That the man with the gun also has a badge or IRS i.d. card doesn’t change the nature of the act.  An unfunded liability perpetrated by the government is generational theft, it is taking one man’s future and giving it to another man to spend today.

We need a better brand of politicians.  Let’s find them and soon.

Freedom, not ‘who wins?’ in the Middle East

In foreign policy, Opinion, Political Critique on February 23, 2011 at 9:55 am

The President (and most of the rest of the pundits and opinion leaders) continue to hedge on the question of who should lead Egypt or Libya or Saudi Arabia.  That’s been our mistake for 30 years.  We should not be on the side of any regime or faction or mob.  We may have to deal with facts, but we don’t have to support evil.

Choose Freedom every time, then we’re right even if we don’t win a given battle.  The WAR is about freedom, not the next election or change in power in Egypt or China or Korea.  Ronald Reagan could not be sure what type of government Lech Walesa would establish in Poland, but he made it clear that a government that fostered freedom and individual rights would get support from the USA.

WE CAN DO BETTER

Wisconsin: Upon reflection, it’s not the Unions’ fault, is it?

In Economics, Opinion, Political Critique on February 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm

We need a better brand of politicians.

Let’s look at Wisconsin and the battle royale Governor Walker is up against.  Let’s finally place the blame where it belongs – vote buying, career-enhancing, perpetual politicians

For years, the governor’s predecessors had a cozy little thing going with the unions – they bought political support with tax-payer money in the form of juicy compensation for union members.  But since those same elected officials had promised voters they would keep taxes low, they had sold their souls twice.  Then the lies started to cover it up.

First, they gave the union workers IOUs instead of cash:  exorbitant pension benefits, ‘free’ health care, excessive paid vacation, sick leave, birthdays off,  etc.  The union bosses collected their dues up front, of course, and the union members took home the promise of gold in the future.  The second lie compounded the problem; those same politicians knowingly under-funded the pension plans to hide the cost of the IOUs from the voters.  Then they fudged the calculations when testing whether the ‘lock-box’ into which they were supposed to be putting the money would earn enough investment returns to cover the promises.  (Ergo the term ‘unfunded pension obligations.’)

Now, the promises have piled up too high, and the calculations can’t be fudged enough to hide the lies that have accumulated over decades of irresponsible (fraudulent?) management of the government fisc.  The fiduciaries of the pension funds – elected and appointed officials – have been caught in their malfeasance.  And, those perpetrators, having moved on to lucrative lobbying jobs or other post-retirement positions, have left the likes of Governor Walker to tell the voters and union members the cold, hard truth.

UH, we’re broke!

And that’s just the bad news.  The worse news is that the same thing is going on with Social Security (and Medicare, unemployment insurance, and Medicaid, too, by the way).  There is not a single lock-box, Al Gore.  Teachers, and the other union pensioners who are exempt from Social Security (yes, that’s correct – they have a separate system) are experiencing exactly what the rest of the US population is going to realize as soon as someone tells the truth.  One wonders, which politician has the guts to do what Governor Walker is doing when, instead of a few thousand protestors, it’s a few million people who are told ‘we can’t keep the promises we made to you.’  How many people will fit on the Mall?  How many gun-toting retirees does the Dome Room hold?

If that truth isn’t told soon, it will end this nation.

It won’t be easy.  Hell, it will be hellish.  Someone has to tell the truth soon.  I know where Americans stand in matters of truth or lies.  Where does you favorite politician stand when it comes to telling the truth?

More Wisconsin – Union Busting or Good Governance?

In Opinion on February 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post weighs in on Wisconsin and union busting.  (Link Here).  He suggests that Wisconsin’s budget crisis is but a fig leaf for Governor Walker meant to cover the governor’s true goal, to bust the public employees’ unions.  He accuses the governor of bad faith (renegging on settled contracts) and an almost violent intent (starving the union to death).  He’s wrong factually and philosophically.

My reply:

Dear Mr. Robinson,

A few points of contention.

1.  Ease up on the rhetoric!
2.  The genesis of a bad deal is not relevant. Irresponsible behavior by prior governmentt officials does not recommend the same, does it?
3.  The government is not renegging on a deal, they’re attempting to make a new, fairer deal.  But for marriage and a few others, no deal is forever and ever, is it?  Didn’t you ever ask Donald Graham for a raise?
4.  Are you sure you want to confess that the unions would starve for cash if their members were not compelled to join and to have their dues collected by the government out of their paychecks?
5.  Gov. Walker can’t accept the ‘concessions’ offered by the union officials.  I’ve heard him explain several times (aren’t you listening?) that the hundreds of local elected leaders have the responsibility to negotiate those contracts.  That is precisely why he’s holding firm on the collective bargaining issue. Otherwise the local officials are paper tigers in their negotiations with the local unions; they face the Hobbesian choice of (a) stranding local voters with no trash collection or ambulance services, for example, in the event of a strike or (b) caving-in to the unreasonable demands of the union bosses.

It is the battle (the first of many, I fear) between Individual Liberty vs Group rights.

Keep up the good work, Governor Walker.

What is Wisconsin all about? Hokey Pokey?

In Economics, Opinion on February 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm

The debate in Wisconsin degenerates by the day.  The left accuses the governor of endangering the middle class (“Collective bargaining is what has built the middle class in America”) and the right says its approach is the only way to keep the state out of bankruptcy, the only way to balance the budget.  The left is sometimes honest enough even to admit that if the unions lose the right to deduct membership dues directly from the paychecks of their members, the union will likely starve for lack of funds.  The governor, rather than replying “EXACTLY, I’m guilty,” demurs and says he is not trying to ‘bust the union, really and truly; some of my best friends know people in the union.’

The resulting back-and-forth is pointless, destructive and unworthy of public consumption.  Children fighting over a morsel of candy would accomplish more.  [Click BELOW to read more] Read the rest of this entry »

Freedom, George W Bush Redux

In foreign policy, Opinion on February 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

The Wall Street Journal makes the point at length HERE.

When former president, George W Bush, addressed the nation at the event of his second inauguration, (full text here) he spoke of a new era, an era that would be marked by a profound change in America’s approach to its foreign policy.  He said:

America’s vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time.

[Click BELOW to read more]

Read the rest of this entry »

I want to know, I really do. Why does smaller government offend some?

In Everyday Life, Opinion on February 20, 2011 at 9:56 am

What am I missing.  Why am I wrong.  Why am I the bad guy?  I honestly want to know.

At a big party recently a pleasant conversation with a friend of a friend turned political – government should or should not do this or that.  Her husband makes a good living (I’m led to believe) and is a Republican, while she is a Democrat, socially responsible and sympathetic to a variety of good causes.

I suggested to my interlocutor that government funding of [fill in the blank] good cause isn’t fair, because I [or her husband] or some other tax-payer might prefer that his money be spent other than the way Barney Frank wants to spend it.  Turns out, she was willing to let Barney and Nancy decide how her [husband’s] money should be spent.  I had no objection to that, but made clear that I wanted Barney no where near my financial decisions.  I think that’s where we started to disagree – seems that since SHE trusted Barney’s judgment, I was supposed to agree that he knew better how to spend my money.

After 2 or 3 minutes of what I would call a friendly debate, I suggested that she should have a higher opinion of her husband (and other taxpayers) and what he might do with his money absent government forced ‘charity.’  She disagreed (poor guy, her husband).  So, to make peace, I said that I would let her do whatever she wanted to do with her [husband’s] money – and that I would respectfully ask for nothing more than the same favor in return (to do as I please with my money – I don’t have a husband).

So she said something like “what about the poor woman who needs” this or that.  “Who should look out for her?  What’s a few [of my] dollars to help her?”

After explaining that I earn a finite amount of money, and my charitable priorities (not that one is required to have such) are likely to differ from hers or Barney’s, I said “anyone but the government” should take care of that woman.  She walked away, visibly disgusted.  It was as if I had suggested that her grandmother should be the victim of a death panel.  It was clear she had concluded I was unfit for polite company.

Why are people so willing to impose their personal preferences on me, while telling me in the next breath “you can’t legislate morality” or some version of that leftist tripe when it comes to, say, abortion.   Then, in the next moment, I’m told how my charitable inclinations should be forced and directed by the government.

Why is my ‘selfishness’ (“let me dispose of my money”) unacceptable while hers (“the government must take your money to do with it as I please”) heroic.  Please tell me.  I want to know.  What did I say that is so offensive?  I don’t want to say it ever again.

Givers or Takers? No third option.

In Opinion on February 18, 2011 at 9:48 am

Over the last few months, we’ve seen groups gathered in the streets, carrying signs and expressing their political preferences and shouting their opinions, mostly peacefully and without threats of violence.  Boiled down to their essence, each group’s message to the government is either:

–  Take less of my money from me

OR

–  Take more of his money and give it to me.

Which group has your favorite politician defended and which has he belittled?  Has that politician’s position in that debate given you a sense of where he thinks power should reside?  In that choice, can you discern where, in his hierarchy of good things, he places freedom?

In what group do you want to be?

Guest Letter – Reply to Elmo/Army

In Recommended Reading on February 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

A friend replied as follows:

“Like taking candy from a baby.”

The problem I’m seeing in the budget discussions occurring across the country is not so much that they undervalue children, but rather that they under value my children. Every special interest in the United States is standing in line to take more money from the government trough for their needs.  As a small business man/entrepreneur I have to write real checks to pay for these “needs”.  Money that I earned by the labor of my hands and the sweat of my brow; money I earned for the benefit of my children was taken from my children’s mouth by special interests who banded together to elect politicians who would take more of my money.  What I want to know from those who have practiced this and are now demanding that I not “give” less are, “Do you really think that your causes and children are more valuable than my children?”  If you do believe that, then say so. Other parents will figure out you don’t care about their children, and you will be deemed useless. If you don’t believe your children are more valuable than mine, then stop stealing my kid’s money.