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

Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

I Hate Poverty, Not Its Victims. Or, Let Capitalism Win

In Opinion on July 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Of late, I’ve heard a lot of commentary about entitlements and the dependency it engenders.  There is a rising level of resentment among the benefactors, a.k.a. tax-payers, a.k.a. the rich who are not ‘paying their fair share.’  Some of those free-loading tax-payers are expressing their resentment vocally and with vitriol – STOP TAKING MY HARD-EARNED MONEY AND GIVING IT TO A BUNCH OF DEADBEATS.  I WANT TO PAY LESS TAXES!!!!

That way of stating a public policy position insinuates that the payers hate the beneficiaries of government largesse.  Then the ‘other side’ spreads that misconstrued message, spreads that lie, so the payers get dismissed from the discussion as greedy bastards or some other lowly, evil being like a TeaBagger or a Fox News fan.  That leaves the beneficent government takers (Rs and Ds alike) in a monologue version of campaigning, and with their monopoly over the message and policy making, they buy votes with handouts we hate, paid for with the tax money they confiscate.

Clearly, we’re losing the debate; free Americans need to rethink our approach.  Free Americans don’t hate the poor; we hate poverty and it’s effects, direct and consequential, on life and lives.  Further, we know that the direction the governing elite is taking us invariably results in more poverty, so we’re pissed.  (Oh, and being pissed looks horrible on TV, so then we’re really, really the fat-cats who don’t deserve a voice, because we are the idiots who caused the mess in the first place with the bonuses and the private jets and the stock options and the derivatives and the vulture capital firms and and and.  “THEY GOT THE BAIL-OUTS, NOW IT’S OUR TURN!!”)

The people who are paying for the entitlement programs are not devoid of compassion, they just don’t want Harry Reid and John Boehner deciding what is or isn’t a good way to dispose of their goodwill.  Free men and women love life.  They do not seek to create more poverty, while yearning for the day when they’ve bested an ever-increasing number of downtrodden souls, standing astride a pile of corpses declaring “At last, no more poor people to bother me.”  Free men and women want the poor to be lifted out of poverty, just not by way of a government hand-out.  They want them to thrive, to live, to produce.

That desire to improve lives is not driven by compassion alone.  It is also driven by an abiding, innate and profound love of LIFE and what those productive LIVERs can do.  We love what they can do for themselves and, in turn, for US.  Everyone else’s freedom and success are at least as important to me as my own (see Frederick HayekThe Constitution of Liberty).  I would never have thought to create FedEx, cheeseburgers or the iPad.  I’m very glad other free men did, since no government bureaucrat would have thought to requisition any of those miracles into existence.  (See also Post Office.)

I think there’s a better way to conduct this discussion.  Let’s try.  It’s only a fight if two sides are fighting, and there are few Americans I want to beat and not a single one that I will hate, ever.  I won’t agree with, say, Barack Obama, because then we’d both be wrong, but I can win the argument without there ever being a loser or someone to pity.

We can win with the truth.  We win by assuming victory and living our lives accordingly – without subsidizing theirs.  We will shun the collectivists, socialists and progressives.  If they choose to organize their lives around those -isms, then they will inevitably either starve or soon join us, our welcoming arms open, since they will have learned the evil, inhumane, destructive nature of their philosophies.  Eventually they join us because the only man who ever voluntarily gave his life for a cause, died for freedom or for the love of someone without whom he could not bear to live.  Lies do not inspire risking one’s life.

The solution is not a political one, it’s this:  Let your freedom save liberty.

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The Second Amendment, Justice and Culture, Cain and Abel

In Opinion on July 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm

“Justice delayed is justice denied” once said a wise man.  MSNBC legal experts are reporting that it could be up to one year before we see the criminal trial of James Holmes, the Aurora, CO shooter.  The defendant was caught armed with multiple weapons, and there are dozens of eye-witnesses to his crimes.  His defense will be “insanity” – Well, DUH!

The misuse of our justice system and our national culture as laboratories for behavioral scientists is having its effect on our youth.  Look around – our pop-culture and the political left’s acts conspire to stretch the limits, challenge authority, suspect and abandon tradition, promote abortion as a ‘choice’ of convenience, spend millions to advertise the availability of food stamps to make poverty acceptable and less painful, remove the shame of misbehaving, demean achievement and undermine property rights (“You didn’t build that”). Read the rest of this entry »

You Didn’t Build That, Someone Else Did

In Opinion on July 20, 2012 at 11:59 am

I’ll return to Bill Cosby shortly, but first a little background.

An iconic American entrepreneur – Fred Smith, founder of Federal Express – I suspect is puzzled by our president’s recent pronouncements.  I’m sure that Mr. Smith knows he doesn’t deliver 7,500,000 packages per day by himself.  That’s why he pays over $9 billion (just under 40% of revenue) in payroll and benefits to almost 300,000 people to help.  No threat of jail time, no guns – he pays, they work.  That’s why he buys billions of dollars worth of airplanes and invests billions in hangers and terminals in every nook and cranny of the country – paying people billions of dollars to build those planes and facilities for his use.  Is that how government gets people to do what government wants them to do?  Is that how government gets someone else to do it for you?

Here’s where I’m going . . . The president made another speech yesterday in Jacksonville,  Florida in which he doubled down on his “you didn’t build that” mistake, non-gaffe of last week.  This paragraph caught my attention:

As Americans, we don’t expect handouts, but we expect hard work to pay off.  (Applause.)  We understand there will be setbacks, but we also know that responsibility should be rewarded.  We believe that if you put enough effort into it, enough elbow grease into it, you should be able to find a job that pays the bills — (applause) — you should be able the have a home that you call your own, health care that you can count on if you get sick.  (Applause.)  You should be able to retire with dignity and respect.  You should be able to provide your children with an education that gives them an even better shot than you had.  That’s what we believe.

At first glance, this is innocuous – and that’s what scares the S*^t out of me.

Why should the POTUS be the person telling a crowd that they should be rewarded if they work hard? Personal success and failure are not properly matters of political importance, unless the president is suggesting (implicitly or not) that, AS A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL, he can make one or the other happen – if he has the power to control or grant success, doesn’t he possess the power to impose failure?

That is not a power granted to any government instituted by and among free men and women. That is not the kind of republic that was constituted in 1789.  We need to put our government back in its cage.

Oh, and Fred Smith and Bill Cosby?  Federal Express operates as an airline and is one of the most regulated businesses in America.  They are under constant attack from UPS and the Teamsters, who spend millions lobbying the government to force FedEx to reorganize its operations in a manner that would cripple its ability to deliver “absolutely, positively” on time.  FedEx fights back with their own defensive lobbying efforts, wasting money to keep the government from imposing failure on their business.

Any guesses which side Democrats are on?  I guess the president and Harry Reid would say, as Bill Cosby said to his son, “I brought you into this world and I’ll take you out.”

Sounds sort of like “you didn’t build that” doesn’t it?

Is Barack Obama Banal or Profound?

In Opinion on July 18, 2012 at 6:13 pm

Our president is catching some heat over remarks he made in Roanoke, Virginia last Friday.  The Romney camp is suggesting that the comments were anti-business, anti-capitalism and border on an endorsement of socialism.  The Obama team, including its cheerleaders in the press, are shocked, and they are upbraiding the right-wing nuts for taking the remarks out of context and misconstruing a basic statement in support of the American ideal of teamwork and shared success for crass political purposes.

I’ve been wondering, and asking a few left-leaning friends, this question:  Can anyone restate what Mr. Obama said so that it (1) means the same thing as what he actually said and (2) can’t be misconstrued to suggest that he doesn’t understand free enterprise or otherwise misunderstood.

The answer I’ve gotten is “He was simply saying every successful business owner and entrepreneur gets help from many quarters.”

That means to me that, on last Friday, we got a load of banality from the man who is purportedly the greatest orator of our time.  But I find it odd that he made that trivial point over a 3 or 4 paragraph portion of a speech, whereas I can make the point in less than 10 words.  OH, and it’s part of a speech the theme of which was about the fairness of increasing taxes on the rich to help pay for a bigger government.  It was part of a speech in which he likened individual success and achievers’ debt to society to the collective effort necessary to pull off  projects like the moon shot, the GI Bill, Hoover Dam and the fire department.

Hmmm.  So, we’re to believe, I guess, that the president inserted the “we’re all in this together” paragraphs as a friendly, fatherly reminder of a trivial fact that has nothing to do with the rest of his [long] speech.

Yeah that’s what happened.  Harmless and meaningless words were shouted randomly, fingers pointing and arms waving, during a stem-winder of a stump speech to a roaring crowd at a campaign stop.  He wasn’t revealing anything about the way he thinks the private sector is beholden to the government.  He was merely making the obvious, innocuous point that Americans help each other a lot.

Got it.  Oh, and call me – I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’m trying to unload.

Go see for yourself and tell me that the ‘just making a point about working together’ explanation makes sense:  Text of Obama remarks

Free [Black] Men and the Left’s Ideological Plantation

In Opinion on July 12, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Fox News recently aired a disturbingly revealing bit of video exposing one of its contributors/pundits/hosts as a racist.  Bob Beckel, in his attempt to apologize for having called Congressman Allen West on a previous show, instead goes one better and tells the audience what he really thinks – that the congressman has escaped the plantation and, being the ignorant Negro [my words, Beckel’s insinuation] that he better get back in line before he gets his ass kicked.

Which part of West’s statements are untrue or ignorant?

Mr. West seems to be telling his audience that, in his personal experience, he has been told to march to the liberal drumbeat because, after all, he is merely an unthinking black man.  Blacks, he infers from his OWN experience, are expected and supposed to obey the liberal elite and take the scraps you’re given, Jesse Jackson.

So, Beckel responds with “he has the right to speak, even if what he says is ignorant.”

How can a man’s telling of his own experience be ignorant or wrong.  Has Beckel enough data and knowledge of West’s life to know that (1) West is hallucinating, (2) West is being paid to be an Uncle Tom, or (3) that West is unhinged and can’t properly interpret the signals that he receives from the white liberals he encounters?

No, Beckel is making the assumption that, since West is not parrotting what, for example, the NAACP says, he must be an ignorant black man.  Then Beckel doubles down and asserts his own moral superiority by suggesting that his participation in race protests and marches trumps whatever else West might have done ‘for blacks.’  That is Allen’s other, but unspoken, point.  West lives a life based on the belief that living a free life, serving his country, being his own man is at least as important as Beckel’s having protested on behalf of those helpless black folks.  West nor I would ever suggest that Beckel’s prior acts of patriotism do not count, only that they do not trump West’s actions, or make Beckel a better man or less of a racist.

Indeed, Beckel’s whole point is based on the premise that all black men and women need his and the government’s help.  That’s the most insidious, harmful race-based attitude of them all.  If any of the right-leaning TV pundits on Fox News (or any other media outlet) were to display such a blatantly anti-black sentiment, he’d be lynched.

Warren Buffett is a Tax-Dodging Scumbag and He Is Starving Sick Children

In Opinion on July 10, 2012 at 8:49 pm

The Huffington Post (among other news outlets) celebrates Mr. Warren Buffett’s recent $1,520,000,000 contribution to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  (Link here)

So, Mr The Rich Should Pay More Taxes is instead publicly giving his money to charitable foundations instead of paying it over to Uncle Sam – and he’s even encouraging other billionaires to do the same thing.  Damn it, doesn’t he know we have a deficit and the rich need to pay their fair share?

I’m reminded of the lesson that we should judge people by what they do, not what they say, especially when they’re behind a microphone or running for office.

I agree that Mr. Buffett should be free to do with his money as he pleases.  But, I wonder why he doesn’t seem inclined to grant you, me and other free men/women the same respect and freedom.  Why does he advocate that the government confiscate more of your money?  It’s likely that you, like I, do not have enough wealth to make it worthwhile to set up, and pay the overhead of, a tax-exempt foundation, contributions to which are tax-deductible and which can disperse your and your contributors’ wealth as you choose.  You and I are instead forced to give our money to Uncle Sam so that Nancy Pelosi can decide how to spend it.

Also notice that in recent months Mr. Buffett was reportedly alarmed and dismayed that he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary.  He let the Democrats brand a plank of their tax-the-rich policy platform as “The Buffett Rule.”  Most of the explanation for the difference between Mr. Buffett’s and his underpaid secretary’s respective tax rates is right there in the HuffPost article.  He sheltered approximately $1.78 billion of his 2010 income by donating that many dollars to various charities.*  Had he not dodged so much of his tax bill that way, his effective tax rate would have been much higher, yes? I am certain he didn’t pay his secretary enough to afford her the chance to give Bill Gates $1,780,000,000, aren’t you?

There should be no complaints about Mr. Buffett’s donations or his shameless sheltering of income to avoid $100s of millions of tax liability.  God bless him, and thank God that Mr. Buffett was blessed to have spent his life in a country where he was free to accumulate that much wealth over a life-time.  The complaint is that he wants a different set of rules for everyone else.  Or, did I miss the news story that reported how he is an advocate for disallowing the deduction of such contributions for purposes of calculating his personal tax liability?

The [NEW] Buffett Rule – Do as I say, not as I do.

________

* By the way, I’m no tax lawyer or accountant, but as I understand the law, Mr. Buffett did more than shelter $1.78 billion of income.  Since most or all of that donation was made in the form of Berkshire-Hathaway stock, he dodged capital gains taxes on the gain he would have realized had he instead sold the stock for, say, lunch money.  We don’t know his cost-basis in the stock he gave away, but it’s likely that it is very, very low, and I’d venture guess of savings in excess of $100,000,000 at today’s 15% capital gains tax.  Add that to 35% X $1,780,000,000, or $623,000,000 in tax savings, and you begin to wonder why the Democrats aren’t screaming something about his failure to pay his fair share!  Three quarters of a billion dollars that he took from the mouths of starving children on the streets of America.  Where’s the shame?  Where’s the outrage?

Newsflash! Power Sold to Highest Bidders in Government Auction

In Opinion on July 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm

 Not sure why this very simple fact is so difficult for some people to grasp.  Many big-government supporters simultaneously complain that political contributions influence policy decisions so that the law favors the rich.  Their solution is public financing of campaigns.  In other words, they want the same slimy politicians who sell their votes to also control who gets campaign money from the public coffers.

Explain that logic, please.

Previous post addresses Money and Politics in more depth.

Outsourced Compassion

In Opinion on July 5, 2012 at 3:28 pm

And, as applied to the current debate about how best to allocate health care services to a population of free men and women . . . no credit goes to anyone who forces a doctor to sell his talents and services or a drug company to sell its products for less than the price the market will bear.

I fear the day when I have a talent or a product a ‘majority’ wants badly enough to have the government come take it from me.  Do you share that concern?  Are you happy that it’s just the doctors and shareholders of insurance companies who get screwed under ObamaCare?  What about nurses?  What about the bricklayers who build hospitals?  What about the janitor who cleans the stalls in the hospital, the orderly who cleans bedpans, the guy who attends the parking garage . . . They are all part of delivering ‘health care’ and now the government, albeit indirectly, can determine the pay of every one of those people.

What about you and your livelihood?  Are YOU enough steps removed from the process of delivering health care that you feel safe?  If you think so, you’re a fool.  The majority is coming after YOU next, because they will have learned that you are not paying attention.  You won’t have a moral leg to stand on or argument to make when they tell you that you’re no longer free.  They’ll determine that the benefit others derive from your talents is more important than your right to earn a living with them.  After you accede to their ownership of the parking lot attendant at your hospital, they will conclude that you have no objection to such a servitude, and then it will be your turn to serve the public good instead of your selfish greedy self, you heartless bastard!

Of course, it will be for the ‘public good’ when they ask you to give up your life.  And, it will also be ‘Constitutional” . . . What will you say then about Chief Justice Roberts?

You’ve been warned.  What will you do about it?