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

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

21st Century Slavery

In Opinion on May 29, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Jesus did not teach dependency, he taught freedom.  Simple as that.

Christ was the first Objectivist – see Ayn Rand.

Christian charity does not create dependency, it is an act of love and compassion, meant to improve the lot of the recipient and benefactor alike.  We give to support life, because we love and value LIFE, our own and that of another man. Free men do not strive to be alone in the world, atop a pile of starved corpses. They seek to be surrounded by other men who produce and accomplish things big and small. That is our nature – to be acquisitive, collaborative and productive. We value that above all things, especially above death. Lives matter to free men. We know that free men produce more than they consume – for proof, just look around – all those things are from human effort, not magic.

State welfare encourages dependency, it robs men of control of their lives and empowers the state to tell the ‘beneficiaries’ how and where to live, what to eat and [soon] where to spend your federal grant for tuition. It says “if you want to keep getting this check/voucher, then you can’t work, you can’t move, you can only eat what we want you to eat and live where we tell you to live — oh, and by the way, if you don’t vote the right way, the check might stop coming.”

Why does that not-so-well-disguised version of slavery exist in Lincoln’s America?

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Immoral taxation of non-voters

In Opinion on May 29, 2011 at 11:27 pm

I’ve been thinking about spending and taxation lately.  It occurs to me that Americans pay exactly the amount of taxes we want to pay.  No more and no less.  Look at the history of taxes as a percentage of GDP – it’s very constant at about 18-20%, with spikes for wartime and valleys for low-growth periods, and otherwise very predictable.  One theory is that elections keep the politicians from over-taxing us – we’ll vote them out if they do.  I support that theory.

On the other hand, spending . . . we don’t really have any control, because we gave politicians the power to borrow money, and the political class is without discipline and can’t resist taking money from one group so as to give it to another group…to buy votes, perhaps?

Why do they get away with that?  Because the class of people from whom they are stealing – future tax-payers – can’t vote YET, since they’re either under 18 or not yet born.

Can we call that taxation without representation?

We need a better class of politicians – and SOON.

Ed “potty-mouth” Schultz and Laura Ingraham

In Opinion on May 26, 2011 at 12:06 pm
Calling Laura Ingraham a slut is not even in the Top 10 most offensive things Ed Schultz has said on TV or radio in the last 30 days.  Rants and insults are his stock-in-trade.  Given his history, to decide that “slut” is where one draws the line and suggest that for that act he should be sacked (or even suspended) is, as my 13-year old would say, random.  If you were his boss and had not yet fired him for his irrational, unhinged, dishonest and generally insult-laced commentary, you would not (and should not) fire him now.  The one-week suspension is a fig-leaf, and we know it.  He’ll come back to spread more lies and hatefulness, only with a veneer of shamefulness and consequent arrogance, as if apologizing for using the word ‘slut’ removes the smell from the rest of his verbal excrement.
 
MSNBC has an agenda – to spread the lie that all things conservative lack any merit, deserve disdain and rejection, and otherwise disqualify their political opponents from the debate.  Even now, if you watch, you’ll see that their self-promotion pieces (the little vignettes of their on-air talent pontificating about issue A or issue B) are political campaigns in and of themselves – all against a backdrop of screaming that Fox News is NOT news, merely Roger Ailes’s propaganda machine.
 
In that light, Mr. Schultz deserves a raise.  You’ll note that neither he, nor his network, has retracted or denied the meaning of his words – that Laura Ingraham’s work is unfit for consumption, that her views are retrograde and not worthy of consideration.  They have not suggested that the essence of the statement was unfair or unrepresentative of their opinion of the likes of Ms. Ingraham, just that they are sorry he used “vile and inappropriate language.”  He even he dragged his wife into his apology statement, as if that might make us forget that he’s a misogynistic blowhard.
 
I suggest that to demand his dismissal is to fall into the trap of thinking that the sin he committed was a poor choice of words – once.  Let’s also refrain from thinking that monitoring words or thoughts is within the purview of what should be controlled by public opinion – that bumps up against or leads to a temptation to limit speech.  And while you and I are certain we would not succomb to that temptation, I don’t want to tempt the likes of, say, Julius Genachowski or Harry Reid, in that way.
 
Instead let’s merely point out that several men like Mr. Schultz are paid handsomely [I would assume] by that network to spew this vomit over the airwaves.  Let’s express no opinion about how WE think the owners of that network should spend THEIR money.  Makes it less likely they’ll get any traction when the try to tell you, me, Rupert Murdock, or David Koch how to spend our money.
 
And we let the chips fall.

Obama Mid-East Speech – Line-by-line

In foreign policy, Opinion, Political Critique on May 20, 2011 at 1:43 am

On May 19, 2011, President Obama made a seminal speech on the Arab Spring (i.e., as he sees it, the long overdue end of colonialism in Northern Africa and the Mid-East) that reveals much more than his hostility to Israel’s interests in the region.

The Team

Did he really just say that?

Rather than praise Israel as the model for the rest of the region, Mr. Obama has Israel play the role of the provocateur.  The thinking of this man, when we read each line carefully, is unprecedentedly contrary to the idea that American ideals are universally true and best represented in that region by the example of our ally, Israel.  Indeed, the speech reveals a lack of depth in understanding the foundational principles of America – individual freedom and rights are lost amid a naive praise of democracy and self-determination – i.e. ‘majority’ rule unbounded by limits on government action.  That bodes ill for our country and the region’s future.

The most controversial point of this speech, it seems to me, has been missed.  Obama’s implicit point is that America’s interests in the region are now subordinate to the interests of “international order” and the unknowable interests of the unidentified instigators of the “Arab Spring” uprisings – the Muslim Brotherhood, the ‘street’ mobs, . . . who knows?  The mere hint of ‘democracy’ in a few previously, and now more, unstable, anti-Israel, Arab nations is to be used as pressure against Israel, the only free nation in the region, to subject itself to invasion and extinction for the sake of letting the people of its sworn enemies have a chance at freedom.  Never in history has a nation been asked to die so another nation might be free.  Is that the fate our president has in mind for  Israel?  Would it not be better to wait and see where the Arab Spring takes Libya, Egypt, Syria or Bahrain before the USA starts ordering Israel to make room for our new friends in their back lawn?

See my BHO mideast speech comments for a line-by-line – sometimes overly cynical – commentary on Obama’s May 19 presidential address.  It’s long – the speech was 45 minutes.  My comments are in red and inserted into the text of the speech as published on HuffingtonPost.com.

Does Steven Colbert get his own jokes?

In Opinion on May 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Read a great Wall Street Journal piece by Steve Simpson and Paul Sherman which delivers a punch [line] to Steven Colbert.

See story here

Mr. Colbert and his immature following will find their inattention to the serious matters about which they guffaw will lead to, well, serious problems.  A responsible commentator (even one disguised as a comedian on late night TV) would realize his error in judgment about the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United and make that known to the audience he pretends to be enlightening with his vast wisdom about matters of politics and law.

Gingrich vs Clinton, I mean, Ryan

In Opinion on May 18, 2011 at 11:37 pm

Have you studied Mr. Ryan’s ‘plan’?  I have.  It is akin to something Bill Clinton would have proposed in 1995.  It postulates a slightly smaller (maybe 10% in the extreme case) government 7-10 years in the future.  In the here and now, it sets the government spending level at just under 25% of GDP, approximately $111 billion dollars less than the current baseline ($3.5 vs $3.6 trillion) and then assumes a slightly less steep growth in spending thereafter.  Nothwithstanding the government’s control of 25% of the economy, the charts and graphs also assume steady, sustained growth in GDP, so that, voila, in 10 years the spreadsheets say that Mr. Ryan magically reduces government spending as a percentage of GDP.  That outcome is not possible absent a fundamental rethinking of the role of government in our lives, and NOWHERE in the document is such a shift in thinking evident.

The ‘plan’ is all about government and how it can make for better outcomes – – but only if the GOP is in charge instead of Barack Obama.  There is nothing radical in the plan, it is just a slightly different version of social engineering.  It presupposes a slightly different, and maybe a little smaller, government apparatus encouraging and compelling slightly different, but not voluntary, behavior patterns.  That’s not the country I want my two sons to inhabit or raise their children in.

Mr. Ryan and the GOP want to sit atop a government that spends $3.5 trillion.  Mr. Obama has the same goal, but ups the loot to $3.6 trillion.  There is no fundamental difference other than WHO is in charge, and in neither case is the answer THE PEOPLE! (See earlier C.U.R.E. piece here).

There is nothing radical about saying, as the Ryan Plan does, that we need to ‘save’ a system(s) that is bankrupting the country.  Social Security and the other entitlement, ‘safety net’ programs should not be saved or given another extension of life support.  They should be eliminated.  They are cancerous.  Their goals and purposes are [arguably] moral and their supporters ostensibly well-intentioned, but those goals and purposes are NOT properly within the purview of the federal government.  They encourage irresponsible behavior and imprison men and women who become dependent on the state for their lives.  Until someone crosses that line in the sand, we’re doomed.  Stealing [a little bit less] from Peter to pay Paul is no more sustainable or moral than what we’re doing today.  It certainly isn’t radical.

One highlight to make the point – in a discussion of farm subsidies, this bold statement is made in the Path to Prosperity document – “reduce the fixed payments that go to farmers irrespective of price levels, to reflect that soaring commodity prices are reducing the need for high levels of farm-income support.”  A radical, serious reformer might have used the word “eliminate” instead of “reduce”.  There is no such “need” for support for farmers or anyone else in a free country, is there?  The document is full of such hedging and calculated political fine-tuning.

America needs a better brand of politicians – ASAP.

ObamaCare Riddle vs the Power of Freedom

In Opinion on May 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I’m certain I can’t solve the riddle that is created by the rationale of the liberal defense of ObamaCare.

Problem [stated sneeringly and with moral approbation and disdain]:  There are too many free-riders  taking advantage of free care at hospital emergeny rooms at an estimated cost to Americans of $XX billion per year.

Solution [stated with deep compassion]:  So that we might do a more civilized job of taking care of the poor who need access to affordable [i.e. free] health care, we must tax [those same] Americans $XXX billion per year.

Riddle:  Do we resent the free riders or have pity for the poor?

Answer:  I’d prefer to keep paying my share of $XX billion, wouldn’t you?

I honestly don’t mind that the poor are sponging off of the health-care system that the rest of us have built with our hard-earned dollars.  I don’t mind that some people who pay no property taxes benefit from the fire department.  I don’t even mind that some people pay NO income taxes and still have a nuclear arsenal protecting their shores.

I am convinced that most Americans agree with me, and I’m almost certain there haven’t been any “STOP THE POOR FROM USING THE EMERGENCY ROOMS” riots, demonstrations, rallies or marches.

Free men and women are generous and beneficent.  Forcing them to take care of the poor or feed the hungry via government programs is unnecessary and, worse, destructive of that generous and beneficent spirit.

Leave us alone, please, Washington, DC.  You can keep the Army, the Navy and even NPR; just give us back the rest of the money you confiscate from us every payday, and we’ll take care of the poor with no help from the federal government.

Let the power of freedom cure what’s wrong with America; it’s that power that made us the greatest nation of all time.

Government Beats Freedom in a Shut-out; Film at 5:00

In Opinion, Political Critique on May 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm

It is reported that lines are drawn in the sand; each political party has staked out its respective position from which there will be no retreat.  The Democrats want to run the government, i.e.  rule the people, by taking from them $3.6 trillion dollars per year, and the GOP would prefer to starve the beast and support an annual spending figure of a measly $3.5 trillion – a whopping 2.777% delta!

Differences of opinion about immigration policy, spending on planned parenthood, and whether Osama bin Laden should have been captured or killed are trivial in comparison to the fact that BOTH national parties are on board for commandeering upwards of 25% of the nation’s economic output (not counting state and local government spending) so it can be distributed by 535 politicians and their enablers instead of allocated efficiently by free men and women in the free market.  Why do government-lovers think that money left in the bank accounts of the men and women who earned it, that wealth left in the control of its creators, will do either nothing or, they seem to believe, mostly evil?  Why do they have such an awful opinion of free people and their priorities – are they projecting?

There is no fundamental difference between the two parties so long as neither party stands up for FREEDOM by way of demanding that there must be a significantly smaller federal government – NOW.  If a majority of the public won’t vote for that party because a majority is already dependent on the largess of their fellow citizens – then so be it; let the train-wreck happen, and we’ll pick up the pieces and start a new nation after this one fails.*

But the GOP (or someone) should at least give it a shot.  Government spending must be controlled so that free men and women can do what they think is the right thing with their money – and that might not be the same as the demands of a mob led by Harry Reid and Barack Obama, with the armed power of the IRS to back them up.  The confiscation of wealth from America’s productive class and the expenditure of that wealth to buy the votes of multiple constituencies were not the intended outcomes of the taxation and general welfare clauses of the Constitution.  Those clauses can’t (OK, should not) be stretched to mean that the confiscation of all or half or even 1% of Bill Gates’s money is moral so long as a majority of Congress says so – theft is theft.  Even if one takes the position that the general welfare clause is Congress’s wild card, am I denied the right to attempt to elect men/women to serve in Congress who agree with me that government’s power has moral boundaries?  I believe that Bill Gates has no obligation to fund AIDS research, feed the poor, build bike paths in Arlington, VA, or fund NPR.  Those are not acts that promote the general welfare AND his right to equal protection is found in the very same document.

I spent my lunch hour on Wednesday with a DC lobbyist employed by a Boston-based firm that is vocal in their support of the candidacy of Mitt Romney, because . . . . drum roll . . . Mr. Romney’s from their world; they’re very closely associated with the former governor, so it helps them as they recruit new clients to say “we’re very close to the presumptive presidential nominee for the GOP.”  They’re not even quiet, subtle or embarrassed about it – “hire us and we’ll help you convince the government to do favors for you.”  That is the standard sales pitch for all of their cohorts and competitors.  It’s a cesspool and the government-power drug courses through the veins of every man and woman in the big business of politics.  The media, the consultants, the lobbyists, the fundraisers, the candidates, their staffers . . . all of them are addicted to the same drug and are complicit in the send-the-bills-to-the-taxpayers game.  Their food is bought and rent paid for with the power they wield over you and me, the power of taxation, limited, they are convinced, only by their appetite and their ability to assemble a majority for long enough to get arcane language buried in a legislative act.

We need a new brand of politician – a brand that knows freedom is a more powerful force for good than is a government run by men who covet power bought with tax dollars – and SOON.

_______________

* “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Top Five Oil Executives – FIRE them all!

In Opinion, Regulation on May 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I’m disturbed that not one of the oil company executives who recently were grilled by the US Senate had the courage to tell the truth about the proceedings in that hearing room.  Asking those honest business men to defend themselves against false charges, asking them to sanction their own public humiliation in front of a bunch of spineless politicos is disgusting and unAmerican . . . but so is not defending oneself when unjustly attacked.

I suspect that they think that their public/investor relations team is correct when they advised the CEOs to bite their tongue and take it.  But in the long run, they do a horrible disservice to their shareholders when they let the companies’ assets be confiscated by the government – little-by-little-by-little.  To stand by and watch, so long as their salary isn’t at risk, is grounds for termination.  They should all be fired immediately, if not sooner, and replaced by men or women who know that making a profit is not grounds for punishment or derision.

Dancing with the devil invariably strips one of the power to stand up to his duplicitous, self-serving criticisms.  These companies have become dependent on government largess, so they dare not bite back.  They’ve let the government dictate the rules of their business.  Government controls when and how they drill for, deliver, produce and refine their products, because the big guys have spent decades helping the government draft more and more rules and regulations that quell their competition – and then they act surprised when their master wants to slap them around to make the voters think the government is protecting them from an evil corporation.  But, they grin and bear it, because they know the pain will only last a news cycle or two.

We need a new brand of politicians – and a new breed of corporate leaders who thrive in the marketplace without government protections – and SOON.

Just Let Me Fish

In Economics, Opinion on May 11, 2011 at 10:52 am

Our government does a lot of things –  none of them are properly called ‘creating jobs.’

One popular government act that purports to stimulate job growth in the private sector is granting a tax credit or other similar gimmicks.  “Giving” tax preferences to small or large businesses can have no measurable effect on job growth.  Subsidizing new hires or new investments on the margin and otherwise trying to dictate or steer economic activity into more politically popular areas or industries ought not be the goals of good government policy.

A “tax credit” is not free, found money, a gift from the sky, with which a small business man is going to make some investment he otherwise would not make.  An entrepreneur invests in the future; letting him keep more of last year’s profit does not change his view of what will happen next year or improve his chances of success in his next venture.

These government acts are ostensibly intended to make capital available to businesses for investment.  Capital scarcity is not the problem our economy is facing – there are trillions of dollars of capital invested in stagnating businesses and industries just waiting to pounce on innovative, profitable opportunities – capital is fluid and mobile.  Further, good investment ideas are no more scarce today than at any other time in history.  What is scarce, what is missing, is the belief that an investor can trust that the rules will not change in a fashion that will make his planning and projections moot.  An entrepreneur willingly takes the risks that his customers won’t buy his product or that the cost of the component parts of his widget will increase beyond his control – those are the things he can assess and address with contingency plans, knowing that success or failure hinges on the accuracy of his judgments.  The risks he can not underwrite, the risks he will not take, are risks that at half-time the government will move the goal-line or decide that a touchdown is really worth only 4 points.

The uncertainties heaped upon business decision-making by the Obama regime are what paralyze the businessmen who would love to be making decisions that would require them to employ more workers so he can make a profit – that’s ‘job creation.’  Job growth is not a magic trick that works when the government says ‘Abracadabra’ or ‘pretty please.’  Job growth occurs if, and only if, a businessman concludes there is demand for a product or service at a price that exceeds his cost of delivering it, at which time he will hire hungry laborers to produce the product.  No amount of government action or encouragement makes those productive acts and decisions more likely to occur.  Instead, government inaction makes productivity inevitable, since man has a most acquisitive nature and an insatiable thirst for being productive – oh, and an empty stomach if he isn’t.  How do we know?  See “History, the advance of mankind.”

You know the old parable: “give a man a fish, he eats for a day.  Teach him to fish, he eats for life.”  I say “let me fish, damn it; just let me fish.”