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

Archive for January, 2012|Monthly archive page

Religion, the Bible and Freedom

In Opinion on January 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Today in The Wall Street Journal Aryeh Spero makes the point that the teachings in the Bible – the basis of what is generally called Western, Judeo-Christian civilization – are properly read to be supportive of the work ethic, personal responsibility, and the sanctity of a man’s right to own the fruit of his labor – his right to possess property.  Those sound like the pillars of American capitalism.  He begins with:

More than any other nation, the United States was founded on broad themes of morality rooted in a specific religious perspective. We call this the Judeo-Christian ethos, and within it resides a ringing endorsement of capitalism as a moral endeavor.

Regarding mankind, no theme is more salient in the Bible than the morality of personal responsibility, for it is through this that man cultivates the inner development leading to his own growth, good citizenship and happiness. The entitlement/welfare state is a paradigm that undermines that noble goal.

and the piece closes with:

God begins the Ten Commandments with “I am the Lord your God” and concludes with “Thou shalt not envy your neighbor, not for his wife, nor his house, nor for any of his holdings.” Envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it. Nations that throw over capitalism for socialism have made an immoral choice.

In an earlier post (God is a Capitalist) I made the point that when the government takes from one man for the sake of another, the government has done something immoral.  In doing so, the government has exercised a power it does not rightly possess, since it derives its power from the people and none of us has that power to delegate to the government.  Often, stating this position is followed by “so, you conservatives would let the poor starve and the elderly die homeless and hungry!”  For the record, it’s not true that conservatives want the poor to remain poor.  Instead, it is true that conservatives believe that federal government programs are the wrong approach to providing a safety net.  Self-reliance (with a local community designed and maintained safety net) is more powerful and effective than welfare as an anti-poverty weapon.  (See Welfare vs. Self Reliance)

Only people who don’t realize that Gordon Gekko was a fictional character believe that ‘the rich’ yearn for and aspire to a world in which they stand atop a pile of gold, overlooking a landscape littered with corpses of starved men and women.  Those people who think that is the goal of “the rich” should buy guns and take care of those evil men they think occupy corporate board rooms – how can they in good conscious let those bastards continue their crimes against humanity.  Rich-haters, have the courage of your convictions and put an end to the theft that you claim is the essence of business.

Neither I nor, by my reading, Mr. Spero are making the point that the Bible is dispositive about questions of economic policy.  Rather, the point is that the Bible does NOT say what liberals suggest about society’s responsibility of taking care of the poor (or other ‘social policy’ issues) through government programs.  The Bible is about men and women as individuals possessed of a free will and vested with personal responsibility.  There are no Ten Commandments or a Sermon on the Mount for politicians, and there are no recommendations about voting in elections.  The Bible speaks only to individuals, not to any group or power center.

I posit that the Bible teaches a Randian, egoist morality.  To wit: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  The highest moral standard we’re instructed to employ in our dealings with others is the way we treat ourselves.  That in no way can be read to give license to harm or cheat others as a means to our ends.  That would be suicidal, no?  Instead it tells us we’re all free, responsible for ourselves and have a duty to ourselves to care for others, lest we find ourselves alone, living without the benefit of the acts of other free men, living without Lipitor, FedEx and the iPhone; living without fresh meat in the fridge and ice cream in the freezer.

The Bible’s teachings, taken as a whole, tell us that only by mutually agreeable, voluntary acts by and among free men and women is progress possible in human endeavor.  Does that sound more like capitalism or socialism?

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Of Mice and Men

In Opinion on January 30, 2012 at 9:49 am

We the people are men and women.  The mouse in your pocket doesn’t count.

My life-long friend has a way with words and makes a profound point with a cute story.

2 minute video here.

Obama’s Education Policy and Death Panels

In Opinion on January 27, 2012 at 10:23 am

Today, in a campaign speech at the University of Michigan, the President will tell educators to get in line or lose federal support.  In a NY Times Preview of the speech he said: “Let me put colleges and universities on notice:  If you can’t stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down.” Reminds me of his speech to the business communities’ lobbyists, The US Chamber of Commerce, a few months ago, which I critique HERE.    Maybe a little ominous?

This does not bode well for anyone.  Remember, the feds took over (outlawed) the private student loan business a while ago.  Soon, strings will be attached to student loans and limits placed on tuition.  Where that leads, most likely, is a two-tiered tuition system. Pay with government loan dollars, your tuition is $X. Pay with your own money, it will be $2X.  Somebody’s gotta make up for the subsidy; might as well be the “rich.”

Costs will spiral out of control, limits will be placed on education costs, the government will have to step in to ‘solve’ the problem it caused, and Education Panels (No-Soup-For-You! or Death Panels) will be created to determine who gets a shot at President of the Law Review at Harvard and who attends Piedmont Community College (no offense intended).

And then it will be interesting to see Harvard’s and Univ of Texas’s Boards of Regents, mostly staunch BHO supporters, squirm and whine, as they fight to keep their enormous university endowments from being raided by the feds to help bridge the gap.  I can hear the sound bites now:

“Why should that poor, unemployed graduate have to pay off his student loan with his hard earned dollars when you have billions and billions to spare?  Give up your piggy-bank endowments for the benefit of the poor.”

“Why should all that endowment money be invested in hedge funds, off-shore accounts and real estate ventures.  You MUST INVEST it to prepare our kids for the future?!”

They’re blurring the meaning between ‘spend’ and ‘invest’ – the second one doesn’t mean what they think it means.

You’ve been warned.

Obama (Finally) Admits Support of Theft

In Opinion, Political Critique on January 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Earlier today in Las Vegas, after cracking wise about the wealth of Bill Gates, President Obama told us his views about ‘fairness’ in the tax code and in the fiscal policies of the USA.

This has nothing to do with envy.  It has everything to do with math.  It’s what I talked about earlier.  We’ve got to make choices.  Americans understand if I get a tax break I don’t need and a tax break the country can’t afford, then one of two things are going to happen.  Either it’s going to add to our deficit or somebody else is going to have to make up the difference.  [Or the government could spend less money?  Nah, no need to consider that.]

A senior suddenly is going to have to start paying more for their Medicare, or a student is going to have to pay more for their student loan, or a family that’s trying to get by, they’re going to have to do with less.  And that’s not right.  That’s not who we are.  Each of us is only here because somebody somewhere felt a responsibility to each other and to our country and helped to create all this incredible opportunity that we call the United States of America.

I guess he thinks it’s cute to personalize it (and remind us that he makes millions of dollars) but his policy agenda will affect more than Barack and Michelle Obama’s tax return.  Furthermore, I’m not sure, but I think that if the president told the Treasury to stop sending his $400,000 per year salary to him, they’d stop – just think how many people $400,000 of food stamps could feed, Mr. President.

But, here’s the point.  Look at his words.  He plainly, boldly and proudly admits that purpose of increasing taxes on ‘the rich’ is to give their money to other people.  Usually Democrats talk about taking money from the rich to fund a ‘program’ or to fulfill some laudatory objective (to provide relief, fund research or cure a disease).  Now they’re unafraid to be explicit about it.  See the bolded words above which are followed by: “And that’s not right.

Really?

Then, to top it off, he tells us the big lie that America is only here because of that way of thinking – ‘somebody somewhere felt a responsibility to each other . . .”  If there is any truth in that statement, it is only to the extent that free men and women decided of their own volition to work together for their mutual benefit.  American’s successes, America’s greatness, is not the result of the government acting as the arbiter of the right or fair amount of money one person is allowed to make before he’s informed that, as a matter of law, he must give 30% of the next dollar to the tax-man so the agent of fairness can determine which lucky third person should be rewarded by the gift of someone else’s money.

Frederic Bastiat warned us of legal plunder in 1850. *

But how is this legal plunder to be identified?  Quite simply.  See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong.  See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.

Then abolish this law without delay, for it is not only an evil itself, but also it is a fertile source for further evils because it invites reprisals.  If such a law — which may be an isolated case — is not abolished immediately, it will spread, multiply, and develop into a system.

Some have accused Mr. Obama and his supporters of being socialists, and they scream “NO WE’RE NOT!”  Some accuse them of “class warfare” with the same result.  His defenders are correct; this is neither socialism nor class warfare.  It is theft and plunder.  That the crimes are carried out by the government and is ‘legal’ does not make them just or right.  And, it has become a ‘system’ and it perverts the law.  That systematic, sanctioned plunder has pitted Americans against one another just as Bastiat predicted.  It has created two America’s – the looters and the producers, with the government purporting to be the arbiter of fairness between the two.

This cancer must be excised from our lives or our nation will soon collapse under the weight of so-called entitlements, something more accurately called, in Mr. Obama’s words “spreading the wealth” by stealing from one man for the benefit of another.

* See HERE for Frederic Bastiat’s The Law for more on legalized plunder.

Mitt Obama’s 28.3 MegaByte Tax Return

In Opinion on January 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Mitt Obama?  Of course you think I meant Mitt Romney’s return, but read on.  Maybe I meant that Irish fellow, Barack O’Romney.

First, The Wall Street Journal editorial board reported on January 19, that “[w]hen he recently visited the Journal, Mr. Romney all but said he didn’t think he could propose a tax reform with lower rates because he’d be attacked as a rich guy.”

And, then on January 22nd, Mitt Romney revealed his plans to release his 2010 tax return on January 24th along with an estimate of his 2011 taxes.  The left (and Rick Santorum) will scowl, scour and find in his return signs of ‘unfairness’ in the system along with innumerable ways the deck is “stacked in favor of the wealthy, the 1%.”  They will wax indignant and at length.

Then, in the next debate, Mitt will squirm, smile, nod, pause and then say “Well, ya know, I just followed the tax code as written by a bunch of Washington insiders, so if you think taxes are unfair, elect me and help me make taxes more fair for all Americans.”  Then remembering his consultants’ best line, he will add, “I won’t apologize for being successful.  I won’t apologize for the free enterprise system.”

So, what’s the problem?  Well, we know already that Mr. Romney is proud of himself and his accomplishments, and none of us begrudge anyone’s success.  The problem is that Mitt Romney doesn’t have enough pride (or money) for all Americans to be successful.  He has not proposed and will not (can not? – see above quote from WSJ) support policies that protect every American’s right to pursue happiness.  Mitt Romney wants to trim the hedges around the DC establishment’s playground, and they know he has no intention of taking away any of their toys.

Here’s how we know that.  Mitt Romney should have said, weeks ago, one of two things about his tax returns.

1.  “Screw it.  I’m not releasing my tax returns.  You know I’m wealthy and you can assume that I’ve filed every form and paid every dollar of tax the law requires.  It’s no one’s business exactly how much I’ve paid in taxes, given to charity or otherwise invested money that is mine.  If that means you will vote for someone else, so be it.”  It’s what he wanted to say, it would’ve been admirable, and it also would have cost him most of his votes.

 OR

2.  “My tax returns for the last 25 years will be on the web as soon as they can be scanned into the computer.  They will reveal that I have used umpteen dozen legal tax deferral and avoidance tactics.  They will reveal that I have an investment portfolio designed, at great cost by the best tax accountants money can buy, to minimize how much of my income is exposed to taxation and, then, at the lowest legal rate.  Critics will suggest that had I invested my money differently, had the code been written differently, more of my income would be taxable, and Uncle Sam would have taken more of what is mine.  They’ll suggest that the tax code that encouraged me to invest in projects X, Y and Z rather than projects A, B and C should be made more ‘fair.’  And, they’re right.  Every last one of the tax avoidance schemes I have used to minimize my tax liability for the last 25 years should be repealed, and I want you to elect me to make that happen.”

Right.  He’s gonna say that last part; and, I’m going to be in the NBA Hall of Fame!

Imagine the howling that would ensue.  That’s why Mitt Romney must not be the GOP nominee.  He can not lead a revolution against the establishment, because the establishment’s life-blood, their unifying mission, their raison d’être is their ownership and control of Title 26 of the US Code.  The Internal Revenue Code, the most powerful weapon ever known to mankind, gives the US government and its moochers the power to steal from the most free, most productive, most wealthy people the planet has ever seen.

Title 26 of the US Code was followed to the letter by Mitt Romney.  It was in place and subject to any change Barack Obama would have liked while the Democrats controlled the Senate and the House from January 21, 2009 through December 31, 2009, the last day on which the Internal Revenue code could have been changed to make Mitt Romney’s 2010 tax return more fair.  Why would the men and women who control the most powerful weapon ever give up their power?  Why would they give their weapon to Mitt Romney now that they know Barack Obama wants it to make it more powerful?  What incentive does Mitt Romney have to force them to give him the ability to take the bullets out of their gun – his accountants figured out how to dodge most of the bullets already?

This is where it becomes clear that Mitt Obama was not a typo.  Anyone who dislikes Mitt Romney’s 2010 tax return can send their complaints directly to one of three offices – The Oval Office, Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office, or former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.

It’s not just Mitt Obama’s tax return, it’s Barack O’Romney’s tax code, all 28.3 MegaBytes and 9,127 PDF pages of it.

Public Housing and Respect for Property

In Opinion on January 17, 2012 at 5:41 pm

The problem with public housing is that the residents are not the owners.  The people that live in the house did not earn the house, but were loaned the property from the true owners, the taxpayers.  Because of this, the residents do not have the “pride of ownership” that comes with the hard work necessary.  In fact, the opposite happens and the residents resent their benefactors because the very house is a constant reminder that they themselves did not earn the right to live in the house.  They do not appreciate the value of the property and see no need to maintain or respect it in any way.

The result is the same whether you are talking about a studio apartment or a magnificent mansion full of priceless antiques.  If the people who live there do not feel they earned the privilege, they will make this known through their actions.

So, what do all these photos have in common?

They all show a basic disrespect for the White House and its furnishings!

The Resolute Desk was built from the timbers of the HMS Resolute and was a gift from Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes.  It is considered a national treasure and icon of the presidency.

The White House belongs to the People of America and should be more revered than to use anything and everything for a foot rest!  What all these shots have in common is that they continue to prove that this man is out of place in that building.

SO HERE’S A MESSAGE FROM THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA:

Mr. Obama, you are no longer a community organizer hanging out in public housing in Chicago.  With all due respect, please get your Keynesian feet off our desk!

Bain & Co, Mitt Romney and Magic Tricks

In Opinion on January 14, 2012 at 11:31 am

Legend has it that Bain & Company spent a couple dozen years raiding companies, stripping them down, closing their plants, selling assets, loading them down with debt, syphoning cash out of their accounts and into Mitt Romney’s wallet, selling the carcasses to unsuspecting buyers or lenders, laying off workers and laughing all the way to bankruptcy court, seats reclined, on their private jets.  Vulture Capitalism.

In other words, according to Democrats, leftist pundits and others, Mitt Romney spent 20 or 25 years creating wealth by destroying it.  In other words, Bain and Romney are magicians!

Really?!  Maybe one time, perhaps two, a business person could get away with that kind of shenanigans.  But Bain purportedly used that strategy and those tactics to create billions of dollars in wealth in over 100 transactions over more than two or three decades.  Were they lucky, deceitful or magic?  I think they had to be wizards.  There’s no other explanation.  In my experience, luck usually runs out after you make the first billion or two, and deceit maybe after the third billion.  It takes magic to pull it off for a couple decades creating tens of billions of dollars while destroying every good thing in your path.

Rich Karlgaard of Forbes Magazine wrote on the 14th of January, 2012, in The Wall Street Journal, an interesting piece about the rise and fall of an iconic American corporation, Kodak.

My challenge to the Obama Team:  Since you seem to have uncovered Mitt’s magical ways, try it with Kodak.  Find a partner (try George Soros) and raid Kodak, if it’s still around.  Pull off the new trick you’ve learned by studying Bain and Mitt.  Raid Kodak, say the magic words, reap the profit, and distribute all the money to the laid off workers; show us, once and for all, who’s the better man!

Or STFU about “vulture capitalism.”

Are there any job creators?

In Opinion on January 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm

“Job Creation” is a myth.  No one ‘creates jobs.’

Some businesses generate a need for labor as a way to produce a product or service their customers desire.  As a result of that need for labor, they hire people.  To call that ‘creating a job’ is to misunderstand the purpose of the business.  The energizing purpose of a business endeavor is to provide a product for which someone is willing to pay more than it costs to produce or deliver it.  The purpose of any business is to fulfill a customer’s need and generate a profit – employing a person to do so is incidental.  If it can be done less expensively with a robot or a magic wand, it will and should be.

No one has any responsibility to ‘create a job’ any more than he has a duty to provide the product to the customer.  A business man does the latter purely out of self interest.  He wants the money in the customer’s pocket, and the customer wants the product.  And, each of them wants what the other has more than he wants what he contributes to the trade.  Consequently, when the voluntary trade is made, both participants are better off, both possess more wealth – thus the phrase ‘creating wealth’ – “win-win” is not a cliché, it is the only legitimate outcome of any business transaction.

Wealth creation is the result of the combination of billions and billions of such voluntary trades; that is, capitalism operating at the behest and on behalf of free men in an open market.  To minimize the amount of sweat and labor it takes to produce that wealth is moral and is the essence of good business, the essence of capitalism, and ought to be the primary goal of the human intellect, the part of us that separates us from beasts of burden.  In any endeavor, the higher the ratio of wealth production per unit of labor deployed, the more wealthy the world will be in the end, since the only inherently valuable and finite resource we possess is human labor/skill/talent/expertise.  No amount of gold, water, silicon, land or oil is of any value without the application of human ingenuity.  Using less of human labor to produce each incremental unit of wealth frees that saved labor to be used for something else, ergo the constant upward trend of human progress.

It was a mistake for Mitt Romney to sell his expertise as a ‘job creator’ since that is to misstate and misunderstand his strength – not to suggest that he’s qualified to be POTUS because of his business experience.  But there is no reason for him to be ashamed of or for anyone else to question the value of what he should be proud of – his role as a wealth creator.  Creating wealth by deploying capital more effectively is no more and no less admirable than inventing a better mouse-trap or giving strategic, political advice to Freddie Mac, Mr Gingrich.  A star football player creates wealth by pleasing his fans, as they want the pleasure of watching him perform more than they want the money they pay for the ticket or the time they sit TV-bound.  A chef creates wealth by combining ingredients and selling them for more than they cost him, because the diner wants the tasty dish more than the money in his pocket.  And so on.

A job creator, if there is such a thing, is a man who says “dig that ditch for me” when there is no useful purpose for the ditch.  We don’t want or need any such men.

On the other hand, wealth creators are the men who devise or envision a valuable purpose for a ditch, who collaborate with men who invent the diesel-powered back-hoe (and those who produce the fuel to run it, etc.) and who, in due course, create demand for the labor of one man as back-hoe operator.  That operator digs a ditch that would have taken perhaps 100 men armed only with their bare hands and a shovel, so the other 99 men may be employed elsewhere, by another wealth creator, doing something else productive.  And, back at the ditch, the man who benefits from the ditch pays the back-hoe operator something less than he would have paid 100 men, and likely something more than he would have paid the operator had he been one of 100 with shovel (depends on who owns the back-hoe).  Labor combines with ingenuity and capital and, voila, wealth is created – one man is employed, a useful ditch is dug and 99 other men do something of value for someone else.

So, no.  There are no job creators.  There are only FREE men and women who make their labor valuable by contributing it to processes that result in value to a man who has a purpose for a ditch.

And, to use 100 men where ONE will do is wasteful of human life, and I know of nothing more immoral than that waste.  God IS a Capitalist.

Is Mitt Romney our next President?

In Opinion on January 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm

In an interview with Chuck Todd, moments after walking off the stage on which he endorsed Mitt “Corporations are People” Romney, Senator John McCain said that the problem with politics, the cause of the negative ads, super-PACs and all the money awash in politics is “the Citizens United decision, one of the worst decisions ever made by the SCOTUS.”  Then, when asked if he would encourage his candidate, Mr. Romney, to distance himself from or discourage the behavior of the SuperPACs, he said, “No, that’s how the game is played.”  (Note: ‘Corporations are people’ is, while not literally true, correct thinking.)

The government-power machine operators are behind Mitt Romney, because they know that he’ll make the machine run better, and, further, he won’t take the keys away from them.  They are agnostic about his conservative credentials.  Conservative, Massachusetts Moderate . . . either way, they will own him, he will do as told.  He is not an agent of change, he is an agent of the machine.

How do I know?

Romney’s big complaint about Barack Obama is that he is incompetent, that he doesn’t know how the economy works, etc.  That’s exactly wrong.  The President does know how the economy works, that’s why he is so good at killing it in favor of government power.  He knows very well into which gears to pour the sand.

The United States’ government does not have the problem of incompetence, it has a crisis based on the philosophical groundings of the men and women who hold office.  Only someone who has faced power head-on and won can effect change.

None of the political class of today qualifies for the job.

The campaign in one Cartoon.

In Opinion on January 7, 2012 at 6:01 pm