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The New Moderate’s Annual Vigilance List — 2012 Edition

June 18, 2012

What do moderates have to worry about? Plenty. If you’re a moderate, trouble comes at you from both directions. I’ve been updating this list each June to reflect our current jitters. It’s my personal list, of course, but I hope it’s an instructive one that reflects your own concerns. The list has grown from its original 15 items to 19 this year. And now, for the first time, I’ve actually suggested remedies for each of the issues. See if you agree or think I’m dreaming.

1. Perpetual recession. (Last year: #1; formerly “The Great Recession”). Our current recession is like nothing else in recent memory: an ongoing economic slump without government or private-sector remedies and, increasingly, without hope of a cure. Private-sector hiring has inched upward this past year, but corporations are still exporting jobs with impunity and Americans are sinking deeper into debt. The stock market is stagnant, real estate is kaput and there’s nowhere else to grow our assets these days. We’ve already endured a Japanese-style “lost decade” (and then some) since the Crash of 2000. At this point we might just be witnessing the American future: prosperity for the few, unending financial woes for everyone else. And let’s not even think about Europe. Trend: In a holding pattern, and all the more alarming the longer it lingers. Remedy: More hiring of Americans by corporations currently sitting on piles of cash… NOW, not later. Barring that… short-term federal work programs à la the New Deal (sorry, libertarians) that would put money in Americans’ pockets and contribute to consumer confidence, which in turn would funnel revenue into American companies and (we hope) inspire them to boost hiring. (Call it the trickle-up effect.)

2. Plutocracy. (Last year: #4) Let’s face it: the United States is a nominally democratic republic currently ruled by a small, self-entitled, self-perpetuating elite based in Wall Street and K Street (home to Washington’s lobbyist community). The Supreme Court’s inexcusable Citizens United decision (sorry, money is NOT a form of speech!) gave powerful corporations and plutocrats carte blanche to elect their favorite politicians, and that influence has revealed itself in spectacular fashion during the 2012 presidential campaign. Super PACs? They have no place in electoral politics. Trend: Approaching a stranglehold. Remedy: Prompt action in the form of a new Constitutional amendment to drive money out of American politics once and for all. If that fails, concerned Americans need to call for a new Constitutional Convention. (Yes, it’s legal). Think of it as Revolution Lite.

3. Conservative obstructionism and refusal to compromise. (New this year.) Last summer’s hair-raising debt crisis persuaded me that America’s conservative Republicans are essentially political sociopaths: they’d rather send the country to perdition than compromise their rigid free-market fundamentalism or (God forbid) raise taxes on the rich. The rise of the unelected Grover Norquist as Republican godfather also gave me the willies: why are so many Republicans terrified of defying this man’s ban on raising taxes? Simple: he has the power to drive them out of office. All Republican candidates must kowtow to the conservative base if they want to win their primaries, and good old Ike wouldn’t recognize today’s GOP. Trend: Increasingly disturbing and sinister; these people are like religious cultists. The possibility of today’s zombie Republicans controlling the House, Senate and presidency should send a chill through all thinking moderates. Remedy: A long shot — marginalize ultraconservative Republicans by forming a moderate third party that would attract both Republicans and Democrats who can no longer identify with the extremists in their respective parties. With broad-based support, it could become the new majority party.

4. Potential class warfare. (Last year: #12) The old American class hierarchy with its nearly invisible boundaries is splitting, like some great ice sheet, into upper and lower castes as mid-status jobs trickle away. Downward mobility is already becoming a way of life for most of us, thanks to corporate non-hiring and the mass destruction of middle-class wealth by reckless Wall Street bankers. Last year’s Occupy Wall Street movement may have been a ragtag affair, but it finally called attention to the sharp resentments bubbling under the facade of our purportedly democratic society. Trend: You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Remedy: The banishing of big-money interests from government (see #2), along with federally-imposed financial reforms that would restore the more equitable society of the late 20th century: greater regulation of Wall Street and higher (but not punitive) taxes on the rich, plus elimination of most tax shelters and loopholes.

5. The Great Demographic Shift. (Last year: #11.) It’s official: people of color now account for more than 50 percent of American births. This shift is more than cosmetic; while many blacks and Latinos are finding their way into the middle class, many more of them simply aren’t.  School dropout rates and community social problems will doom a hefty percentage of these new babies to poverty. At the other end of the age spectrum, Americans are living longer than ever and will require decades of Social Security and subsidized medical care. How will a shrinking middle class support all these needy Americans and still provide enough funds to maintain our infrastructure? Trend: Increasing steadily. Remedy: Anything I suggest would sound like eugenics, so I’d simply encourage middle-class and wealthy Americans to procreate more freely. (Hey, it’s fun!) But I’d also recommend drastic cuts in foreign aid and military spending to open up resources for urgent domestic needs.

6. Polarization. (Last year: #14). The 2012 presidential campaign has exposed the rift in American society as never before: blustering, Bible-believing, gun-loving, government-hating Middle American conservatives pitted against predictably snobbish, well-educated urban progressives who seem to regard their opponents as a lower form of humanity. Trend: Increasing, at least during the presidential election year. Remedy: A vocal (even radical) moderate movement that can make itself heard above the noise and even reconcile the two warring factions. That means outspoken moderate voters as well as pundits and politicians.

7. Obama’s inaction on the economy. (Last year: #2) The president claimed recently that the private sector is doing just fine. But laissez faire is no longer an option. The federal government needs to intervene — should have intervened back in 2009 — with job creation programs, because the private sector simply isn’t doing it. Where’s the man who promised hope and change? Branded as a socialist by the right, he’s turned out to be the ultimate elite establishment liberal: nominally progressive but a little too comfy-and-cozy with big-money interests. Caution can be a virtue in a leader, but not when people’s lives and futures are unraveling. Trend: The moment for action was three years ago, so our economic woes are looking more like the “new normal.” Remedy: Obama is understandably reluctant to play into the hands of the socialist-baiters on the right. But I’d like him to invoke his inner FDR, risk the ire of conservatives and unions alike, and propose 21st-century versions of the WPA, CCC and other alphabet-soup programs that will put unemployed, underemployed and sporadically employed Americans to work at steady jobs until we gain some broad-based economic momentum. (That means not just the rich getting richer.)

8. The federal deficit. (Last year: #3) The crisis may have passed for now, but nobody is doing anything about the underlying problem: the government is spending far more than it’s taking in. (Greece, anybody?) Where will the money come from when we’re already in hock up to our national armpits? Trend: Not going away. Remedy: Here’s a start: slash military spending and foreign aid. Dramatically. (In an economic crisis, the needs of Americans must come first.) The government would also be wise to start trimming those plush federal pensions, starting with members of the House and Senate. The IRS needs to busy itself collecting a fair share of taxes from huge corporations. No loopholes. Stop state-sponsored corporate welfare (like reimbursing Goldman Sachs for 100% of its investment losses). And yes, it’s time to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich. No compromises, Mr. President… just do it.

9. Perpetual war and other foreign entanglements.  (Last year: #7; formerly “multiple endless wars”) At least we’re no longer fighting on multiple fronts this year, but we’ve been at war for over a decade now. How can we justify risking more American lives in dead-end conflicts? We still haven’t learned that guerrilla fighters never surrender; they have no infrastructure to bomb and no capital to occupy, so we’d have to gun them down to the last man. And when we can’t trust the “legitimate” government we’re fighting for, it’s time to cut the cord. The United States simply can’t control and fine-tune all world events to its specifications. Trend: Easing up a little, but without any underlying shift in foreign policy. Remedy: A foreign policy that shuns Neocon interventionism for rational vigilance, with an occasional drone strike to keep our enemies off balance.

10. Outsourcing and downsizing. (Last year: #9) Sure, let’s export all our manufacturing and white-collar jobs to help the struggling populations of developing nations. How altruistic of our big corporations! Meanwhile, all those jobless Americans won’t have the money to buy all those imported goods.  As for downsizing, it’s time we abandoned the warped perception that corporations exist solely to make money for their investors… they need to honor their stakeholders (including employees), not just their shareholders. Trend: Still unchecked. Remedy: We need to reward companies for keeping their jobs in the U.S. and punish them for going abroad. I’d gladly pay slightly higher prices for U.S.-produced goods, wouldn’t you? Corporations also need to include rank-and-file employees on their boards (by federal mandate if necessary) to counterbalance the inclination to shed jobs for a quick score on Wall Street.

11. “Community”-based allegiance. (Last year: #17) It used to be that nearly all Americans identified themselves as Americans, plain and simple. Yes, we came from a multitude of backgrounds, and we honored our ancestors, but our allegiance to the Stars and Stripes trumped everything else. It also used to be that a community was the place where you lived. You made your home in your community and enjoyed the cozy feeling of belonging there. No longer: now we’ve splintered into a motley assemblage of special-identity “communities” based on race, politics, gender, religion and sexual orientation. We identify primarily with our group and its interests, which are generally one-sided, frequently narcissistic and increasingly oblivious to the fact that all of us are Americans.  Trend: Rapidly rising, what with all the overheated rhetoric about gay marriage, racial profiling and the “War on Women.” Remedy: An invasion from space would bring us together in a hurry, but short of that, we simply need to think more about our common humanity and values. Favor the uniters, not the dividers. Whatever we do, let’s not start thinking of ourselves as members of the “moderate community.” Agreed?

12. Racism and racial tension. (Last year: #16) The Trayvon Martin killing revealed that race is still a sore point for millions of Americans.  The U.S. is far too race-conscious as a society, and we’re much too inclined to close ranks with our skin-brothers when trouble is brewing. Few of us, black or white, are entirely free of prejudice. It’s human nature to instinctively favor our own group, but it’s also time to override our instincts and think about impartial justice instead. End of sermon. Trend: Back in the spotlight now after a cooling-off period, which seems to be typical. Remedy: It might be that we’ll never eradicate race problems in America until we all mingle our genes through intermarriage. Barring that, we just need to step back from gut reactions, befriend individuals of other races and try to see the world through their eyes.

13. Student woes. (New this year.) College tuition has increased so insanely out of pace with inflation that higher education is becoming an unaffordable luxury for most Americans. Middle-class and working-class whites, the vast majority of whom have no access to affirmative action admissions and scholarships, face two unacceptable choices these days: 1) forgo a college education or 2) incur a staggering burden of debt that effectively eliminates any thought of buying a house, enjoying discretionary income or sending their own kids to college. More subtle, but just as damaging, is the increasing pressure on college students to ditch the liberal arts and major in practical subjects that will repay the huge investment. Only the moneyed elite can now afford to study philosophy, French or history. Trend: Increasing, with no end in sight. Remedy: Set up a panel to determine why tuitions have been escalating so dramatically, and do something to rein them in. Divert public money from defense and foreign spending to grant federal scholarships to deserving students. It might be that fewer Americans should be going to college in the first place, but nobody should have to incur a lifelong debt for doing so.

14. Environmental destruction. (Last year: #12) Americans tend to overlook the ongoing destruction of remote rainforests, coral reefs, rivers and wetlands (not to mention the wild creatures that inhabit them) because most of it is taking place far from our back yards. Developing tropical nations like Indonesia and Brazil account for much of the destruction as they convert forest to farmland. Eventually we’ll realize that we’ve ransacked a wondrous planet, but by then it will be too late to do anything about it. (And we’re not equipped to start colonizing distant planets just yet.) Trend: Increasing, with no end in sight. Remedy: We need to work with other governments toward establishing and enforcing international environmental regulations, because the Earth belongs to all of us.

15. Radical Islam. (Last year: #6) The good news is that the radical Islamist leadership has been decimated, and that vast numbers of Muslims (and especially young Muslims) aspire to the freedom and liberality of Western cultures. The bad news is that the “Arab Spring” is struggling to prevail in more benighted corners of the region, and that the anti-establishment insurgencies include numerous Islamists. But the Islamic world is no longer a monochromatic picture of reactionary religious fanaticism, and that’s cause for celebration. Trend: Set for a long-term decline despite predictable (and increasingly isolated) flare-ups of Islamist fervor. Remedy: Escalate the decline by supporting moderate Muslim movements through non-military means.

16. Illegal immigrants. (Last year: #8) The mass incursion of undocumented Hispanic immigrants through our southern border appears to have slowed to a relative trickle, but the question remains: what happens to the 10-15 million illegals who have already settled here? Given the disparity in birth rates betweeen the native-born and Hispanic immigrant populations, the U.S. could increasingly take on the attributes of a Latin American nation. That means a less-educated populace and an ever-widening gap between rich and poor, with the added element of cultural friction between Anglos and Latinos. (On the plus side, at least we might get into the salubrious habit of taking siestas.)  Trend: The number of new illegal immigrants has declined, but their population within the U.S. continues to grow at a rapid clip. Remedy: Make the U.S. less appealing as a destination for illegal immigration. (This is already happening on its own as our economic fortunes decline.) And, as President Obama has proclaimed (though he shouldn’t have done so by fiat), provide a pathway to citizenship for the children of illegals who have behaved blamelessly and who express a desire for higher education.

17. Cultural degeneracy. (Last year: #10) Movies, TV, pop music, video games, high art and everyday behavior have combined to forge a decadent culture that worships all the most loathsome and idiotic ideals. Do I believe in having fun? Absolutely. (This isn’t The New Puritan, after all.) But we also need to restore respect and affection for the nobler virtues, or we’ll crumble, as the Romans did, from internal and external assaults that we’re too weak to withstand. Do I sound like an alarmist? You bet. Trend: Still increasing, but bumped down the list by even more urgent issues. Remedy: Beats me. Sometimes I think Western civilization at its apex was simply too demanding and rarefied for our species to maintain for any length of time. We’re slowly reverting to our simian roots, which may be lamentable but probably suits our natures. Still, if you have standards, don’t surrender them!

18. Manmade global warming. (Last year: #13) When we have to navigate the streets of New York and London by gondola, maybe the skeptics will finally believe. Unfortunately, this subject appears to be owned by zealots with a vested interest in promoting their faith.  Still, the empirical evidence is convincing enough: steadily retreating glaciers, earlier spring blooming seasons and crazy-violent weather (like the catastrophic 2011 tornado season). Trend: Heating up, just like the planet. Remedy: We need to hear unbiased, purely scientific opinions on the subject, if such a thing is possible… then take prompt international action based on those findings.

19. Political correctness. (Last year: #15) For a while it looked as if the PC police were a resurgent force in our polarized red-blue culture. The melodramatic liberal-left overreaction to Arizona’s immigration law was a case in point. The sensitivities of militant special-interest “communities” still tend to stifle our freedom of speech, inadvertently or not. And of course the world of academia, at least in the liberal arts, still falls under the dominion of dedicated multiculti leftists. But given all the other hot issues on our Vigilance List, I’ve had to drop political correctness to the bottom. Trend: Still with us, but hardly worth any loss of sleep at this point. Remedy: Dare to speak freely but without malice.

I’ll let you choose your own #20. (If you think your choice should rank higher on the list, that’s fine, too.) Feel free to take issue with any of my choices, of course. I’d like to hear from you.

46 Comments leave one →
  1. pearows permalink
    June 19, 2012 9:20 am

    Oh, Rick, you knew I was going to quibble with #3. First of all, leaving aside the breathtaking fact that the Democrat party was in total control of the legislature for 2 years and never even presented or voted on a budget ( well, ok, Obama did propose a joke of a budget, which was unanimously rejected, but nothing from the House or Senate), and the fact that most potential compromises during that time were summarily rejected by the majority party, which did not need a single Republican vote to get anything passed, so did not seek compromise…..and leaving aside that the President and his party have redfined “rich” to include any person or business making over $200K, thereby making “tax hikes for the rich” a very different proposition than the type of tax reform proposed by Republicans, which would eliminate deductions and subsidies for those who are currently wealthy enough to utilize them…..and leaving aside the fact that Grover Norquist is really no more influential on the GOP than a number of similar organizations are on the Dems……and leaving aside the fact that Obama walked away from a debt ceiling compromise because he was unwilling to accept any real spending cuts or entitlement reform…..

    Leaving aside all of that, don’t you think that blaming the minority party – that is, the party that is out of power – for “obstructionism” for voting for/against the things that their constituents elected them to do is a bit…….UNFAIR? (not to mention that the #3 ranking seems kinda high in any case)

    And, just as an aside….your proposed solutions for illegal immigration pretty much mirror the GOP’s. Of course, now that Obama has ruled by fiat – oops, I mean, “executive order” that illegals under 30 will get amnesty – the long-term legislative solution is back in limbo. 😉

    • pearows permalink
      June 19, 2012 11:52 am

      As if on cue…from today’s news:
      “A growing number of Senate Democrats are signaling they are not prepared to raise taxes on anyone in the weak economy unless Congress approves a grand bargain to reduce the deficit.

      At least seven Democratic senators have declined to rule out supporting a temporary extension of the Bush-era income tax rates, breaking with party leaders who have called for

      letting the rates expire for people earning more than $1 million per year.”

      Plus, Senator McConnell, the minority leader of the Senate, said today on CBS news that he is willing and prepared to do a “grand bargain” that will address both tax increases and spending cuts.

      My point is not that there are good guys or bad guys here….most of us would agree that politicians all lean a bit to the “bad guy” side by virtue of their occupation. But the economic crisis in which we are mired will not be solved by raising taxes on millionaires, and, while there may be a need for the most conservative Republicans to address tax increases, there is also a need for Democrats to acknowledge that they have not put forth any valid reason, aside from the class warfare argument, to raise income taxes on the people who already pay the most.

    • June 19, 2012 3:33 pm

      Priscilla: OK, you caught me on one point: in retrospect, I don’t think GOP obstructionism deserved to be ranked at #3. A 7 or 8 probably would have sufficed. Still, you can’t really dismiss the charge of obstructionism simply because the Democrats muffed their chance at passing significant legislation during Obama’s first two years. The fact remains that many if not most Republicans would do anything short of assassination to ensure that Obama is a one-term president. This hyperpartisan attitude isn’t new, but it’s the most extreme case I can remember. (Remember that plenty of Democrats supported Bush II’s Iraq misadventure.)

      I still don’t understand how anyone can justify the current low tax rate on the “rich” (OK, let’s call them the 1%). We had higher tax rates during the Clinton years, and everyone seemed to be enjoying unprecedented prosperity. I don’t have to remind you that the net worth of middle class families has been declining while those at the top are still piling it up. I’m not saying we have to punish them, just have them bear a little more of the burden… the way they did before the (supposedly temporary) Bush tax cuts. (They WERE supposed to be temporary, weren’t they?)

      • pearows permalink
        June 19, 2012 11:42 pm

        Well, actually, they were not supposed to be temporary. But the Democrat’s idea of “compromise”….or, actually, obstruction – made it necessary for the GOP to include a sunset provision in order to get them passed. The GOP, fools that they are, agreed to the compromise.

        I also disagree that Republican and conservative zeal to make Obama a one-termer is any more enthusiastic than Democrats’ Bush hatred in 2004 and 2008. That’s partisan politics and that is how it is played. Certainly, Rick, you recall the hyerpartisan anger at Nixon and, later, at Reagan. And Lyndon Johnson was not spared, even after enacting the Great Society.

        We have a very progressive tax rate. The problem is that very rich people – the 1%, if you must – have been allowed to get away with a ridiculous amount of deductions and shelters. That has to end. But let’s not just keep raising tax rates to compensate for the fact that the mega-rich are able to buy their way to lower taxation. Comprehensive tax reform, not class warfare, is the way to go. I actually think that you and I probably agree on that, we just articulate it differently.

      • June 22, 2012 12:06 am

        If the coming election goes as I suspect it will, are you going to be praising or denouncing the majority of democrats who are engaged in precisely the same political tactics that the GOP employed in 2009 and 2010 ?

      • pearows permalink
        June 22, 2012 9:03 am

        I am not a fan of political tactics that are designed to enhance re-election prospects at the expense of the public welfare, or in spite of legislative requirements and guidelines, regardless of which party employs them – and both routinely do. It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between ‘political tactics’ and ‘standing on principle’, although the most egregeous examples of political gaming – for example, the refusal of the Congress to pass a budget – are pretty obvious in their origin.

  2. Rob Anderson permalink
    June 19, 2012 1:51 pm

    Noting from “adavis”?! I’m ASTONISHED!

    • June 19, 2012 3:14 pm

      You mean asmith? Give him a little time, Rob.

    • pearows permalink
      June 19, 2012 11:20 pm

      Haha, I agree. I expect to hear from Dave shortly.

      • June 21, 2012 3:25 pm

        Hmm… where IS Dave? My traffic is suffering in his absence. 😉

  3. June 20, 2012 2:16 pm

    Kudos to Rick for having the cojones to actually include some suggestions for dealing with the problems identified. However….talk about political correctness.Re: the great demographic shift–do you really believe the answer is for middle class white people to make more babies? How about government policies that discourage people who can’t afford to raise a child, from having one? Re: potential class warfare–kinda lame suggestions about monkeying with a tax system that requires a total revamping, i.e.. the Fair Tax. Don’t just go by excerpts you read about it. Read the book, it’s well thought out, and protects the poor as well. Re: Student woes–set up a panel to determine why tuitions are escalating? Let me save you the money–it’s for two reasons. The progressive myth that everybody should go to college, and the availability of government money to finance it through scholarships and loans (sounds a lot like the cause of the housing bubble,doesn’t it). I know you know this stuff, Rick, why not say it like it is? p.s.: pea rows is pretty smart!

    • June 21, 2012 3:18 pm

      RP: If I came out and said that poor people should have fewer children (which of course is the right solution), I’d be attacked as a proponent of eugenics and a racist (because elite liberals assume that poor = black). In any case, I don’t know how we’d enforce it without sterilizing welfare recipients… and even from my un-PC perspective, that would be a pretty drastic measure. For whatever reason, poor people just seem to want more children than they can afford. Maybe it’s one of the few things they can create in this life, or maybe it’s the extra welfare benefits.

      I’m no expert on taxes, but it seems pretty plain that we need to boost revenues. And we can’t boost them by lowering taxes on the rich. I’ll have to take a look at the Fair Tax… maybe it will change my mind.

      Good points about the tuition bubble… increasing demand for college education, plus all that available “free” scholarship money. But something still has to be done: the demand for college education doesn’t increase the cost of running a university… maybe the government needs to impose tuition caps. (I know… first government-run health care, now government-run education.) But a college education shouldn’t be treated like a marketplace commodity.

      • June 22, 2012 1:05 am

        What i find most interesting is that your argument against limiting the children of poor people is not that you inherently think it is wrong. But that it would appear racist. that the problem with sterilizing welfare recipients is not that it is wrong, but that it is just too drastic ? So if we could find a less drastic way of preventing poor people from having kids that would be ok ?
        If we only sterilized poor white people that would be ok ?

        Why is it obvious we need more revenue ? Where is the point at which government has consumed enough of our wealth and we get to keep the rest ? The Federal government is nearly 25% of GDP. Since WWII it has only exceeded 20% very briefly once.
        Total government spending is near 50% o GDP – that is about where Sweden is.

        Why isn’t a college education a marketplace commodity ?
        Name a marketplace commodity without significant government intrusion that has not decreased in price and increased in quality over any period longer than 5 years ?

        The laws of supply and demand say that increased demand naturally results in increased supply. This is why prices go down

        When have price controls worked ? They did not work for FDR. They did not work for Nixon. Are air travel and freight more or less expensive since they have been deregulated ?

        Even if you could actually come up with an instance of price controls that had worked – the record of price controls is abysmally bad.
        Even if you could come up with an instance of a free market good or service that has increased in price over the long term. It would still be the exception rather than the norm.

        So if we know that price controls fail most of the time, and we know that free markets drive prices down and supply up most of the time.

        What special reason do we have for believing that government price controls for college tuition are going to work better than price controls have before ?

  4. Andy Tonti permalink
    June 20, 2012 3:46 pm

    Rick, I have another issue (#20) to add to your 2012 Vigilante List:

    The Bio-Genetic Engineering of our Foods –

    Giant agri-businesses are now altering the genetic structure of seeds for vegetables and wheat to produce insect and drought resistant strains. The resulting crops that get to our dinner tables will have chromosomal alterations of which “0” research or study findings
    have been undertaken. We as the consumers, are literally the test subjects for these
    hybrid food products. No one knows their effects on both adults and children, and fetuses, for that matter.

    I believe this to be a critical issue for vigilant scrutiny from our moderate brethren.

    • valdobiade permalink
      June 20, 2012 6:47 pm

      “Giant agri-businesses are now altering the genetic structure of seeds for vegetables and wheat to produce insect and drought resistant strains.”

      Not that I defend modification of genetic structure, but some corporations have to make profits from increasing human population. They worked so “hard” to give us “new” genetic structure of seeds that the famished Africans won’t refuse.

      Organic and unaltered genetically food will be just for the “upper class” that reached the Adam Smith “unlimited wealth”.

      • June 22, 2012 2:12 am

        You have it backwards. The luxuries of the rich from one generation are the affordable necessities of the rest of us in the next generation.

        Any possession of the uber rich that is not also extremely expensive to maintain, will be on the shelves in Wall Mart soon enough.

        Look arround you. What do you possess that was not a luxury item only available to the rich at some time ?

        i am also not quite sure I grasp your remarks about famished Africans.
        Are you suggesting that profiting by helping them survive, flourish and grow is greedy and evil, but allowing them to starve is good ?

        Before you can effectively criticize and idea you must actually understand it – not just think you do. The entirety of the economic system of free markets and capitalism that you wish to rant about, grow from a limited number of core principles of individual liberty, and human behavior. Free markets markets are a natural consequence of individual liberty. If you have freedom, you will have free markets, conversely if you do not have free markets, then you do not have freedom either. Freedom allows each individual to aspire to their greatest potential Whether an entrepeneur or artist. Our potentials are not equal. That may not be fair, but blame nature not me – life is not fair. Each of us has different talents, Nor does everyone acheive their potential. but society as a whole, does better

    • June 21, 2012 3:24 pm

      Andy: You’re right that GMOs are an important issue… one that most of us still barely know about (because the huge agribusiness companies need to keep us in the dark). And Valdo, it’s already happening: for example, shopping at Whole Foods (organic supermarket chain) or, better yet, a food co-op, is a marker of socially superior enlightened-progressive status, at least in my neck of the woods.

    • June 22, 2012 1:46 am

      Then don’t eat them.

      Genetic Modification was formally conceived of and first practiced about 200 years ago by an Augustinian Friar named Gregor Mendel.

      More informally, we have been working on it since we domesticated wolves and cows.
      Do you believe that modern dogs, milk cows, or chickens and turkeys are actually natural ?

      There is nothing being done in laboratories today that could not be accomplished by the more traditional genetic modification technique called “breeding” albeit in centuries rather than days.

      Corn is essentially a genetically modified crop developed over three millenia – most of the advances in the last couple of hundred years.

      India would be starving but for the development of genetically modified wheat half a century ago. Today despite quadrupling its population, India is exporting wheat to Iran.

      Most everything you eat is genetically modified and has been for some time. Get over it. Unless you are prepared to return to agriculture methods of the time of Christ, you are stuck with Genetic modification.

      All you have to object to is the recent methods that speed up the process.
      I guess we should go back to relays and vaccuum tubes because transistors might not be safe.

      Modern burn patients receive skin grafts of their own skin grown using the same type of laboratory techniques. Soon enough livers, kidneys and other organs and tissues will be produced in laboratories from your own cells. Or when your Kidney or liver fails, would you rather wait on the chance that some young idiot who checked the donor box on their drivers license discovers that motorcycles lose in collisions with trucks ?

      And just wait until they start seriously growing food in laboratory factories ?
      Oh the moral dilema ! Roast Beast without cruelty. Can a vegetarian eat steak if no animals were killed in producing it ?

      Greedy rich corporations are poisoning our air, our water, and our food, yet somehow we are living longer than ever before.

      As with every single advance in technology there will be mistakes. some people might even die or otherwise be harmed. But the net result will be greater quality of life for more people.

      Besides I am pretty sure that if you won’t eat that Genetically modified Tomato, that I and a couple of billion other people will be happy to save you from it.

      Just recently a patient received a new artificial heart. Smaller better safer more reliable than anything that proceed it. It was designed, manufactured and installed in the US.
      The first one going into a US patient a few months ago, as it has just received FDA approval, but only for patients with no other hope of survival. it has been in regular use in europe since 2007.

  5. dhlii permalink
    June 21, 2012 11:22 pm

    The Senate voted 53-46 to defeat a measure to end sugar subsidies.

    So what does this have to do with Rick’s tirade ?

    The republicans and democrats trying to end sugar subsidies and other forms of corporate welfare, are the ones demonized in Rick’s tirade as obstructionist plutocratic lackeys. Those voting to continue them are the same politicians Rick thinks are the voice of the people and of moderation.

    This is just one of a plethora of glaring contradictions in this rant.
    Is George Zimmerman a white racist ? But isn’t he part of that emerging non-white multi-cultural majority ?

    Most of the items on Rick’s vigilance list are self refuting.
    Our political views are no longer supplied predigested from olympus by the pundits of ABC, NBC & CBS. This political season is likely to see the greatest variety of political expression outside the control of the candidates and parties ever before.

    James Joyces Ulysses was considered so culturally degenerate and pornographic nearly a century ago that it took more than a decade to get published in the US. Each generation maligns the degeneracy of the next. In the end the wheat separates from the chaffe and we move on.

    College is more expensive than ever, but more of us are attending and more of us are graduating than ever.

    We are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have fought a new war in Libya, and may be preparing to fight in Syria. Guantanamo is still opened, military tribunals are quietly continuing, and CIA agents are still free to torture suspects with White House approval – despite electing the president who promised to end that.

    If you are angry that statists on the left and right have not given you what you want, why do you keep buying into statist solutions to problems ?

  6. June 21, 2012 11:59 pm

    1. Malthusianism. Despite more chicken littles than ever, the sky is not falling. The world has not ended in fire or ice – but the cold war has. Kruschev’s USSR is burried, not the US. Outside any myopic perspective everything for nearly everyone is throughout the world is improving – as it has for atleast 4 centuries.

    2. Magical thinking. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” Albert Einstein. We are doing what FDR and Hoover did, what we did in the seventies, what europe has done, what Japan did – why should we expect a different outcome ? Consumption does not create wealth. No has has spent themselves to prosperity – nations are no different.

    3. Things that can not continue forever – don’t. Whether it is gasoline, education or healthcare, prices can not continue to rise forever unless our wealth rises too. Every single crisis we face or think we face will resolve itself. There are few if any processes in nature or man that are not self regulating. Neither mankind nor nature itself could exist if that were not so.

    4. spring, summer, fall, winter, .. spring. birth, life, aging, death, … rebirth. The never ending endless cycle of the universe. All parts are essential. death and destruction are a prerequiste for birth and life. Progressives have conducted their experiment. It has failed, it is time to move on. We can take a day or a decade to clear the failure from the system. We can pull the abscessed tooth quickly and move forward to healing and growth. Or we can pretend it does not need pulled and allow our jaw to become septic.

    5. Splitting the baby. Compromise is frequently a bad end. Bad choices fail, compromise preserves bad choices in weakened for forever. Driving half drunk is not driving sober. Cutting out half your heart is not better than cutting it all out. Principles matter. Principles matter even when we are wrong about them. We learn more from failure, than success and nothing from compromise. Compromising your principles is more damaging, than changing them.

  7. June 22, 2012 12:09 am

    Which among all your problems and all there proposed solutions can be accomplished by ordinary individuals acting within their own lives ? Those are the only ones that will be accomplished. No matter how greatly you increase government power, it will never be able to accomplish what you expect.

  8. June 22, 2012 12:49 am

    I can not make any sense of your views on immigration.

    On one hand the hordes of “illegal aliens” entering our country are somehow steelling something from the rest of us. Do you actually believe people have a right to a job. How do you reconcile your elation that the increase in Hispanic Americans might tilt the political spectrum, with hostility to those outside our borders ?

    I am glad you grasp that executive fiat does not justify even good ends. But if you want to make this nation as unattractive to illegal immigrants as possible, then why do you also want to allow young illegals to remain ?

    Where is the crystal ball that allows you to tell which illegal immigrants we should be sympathetic towards and which we should condemn ?

    The influx of illegal immigrants drives the average and median standard of living in this country down, but it is also true that the standard of living of nearly every individual is higher than before. You have accurately grasped the first point, but you are blind to the second. The median standard of living has actually been increasing despite the significant influx of immigrants legal and otherwise, simple math should tell you that all that crap you here about “income inequality” is exactly that. The typical american advances through atleast two quintiles during their lifetimes, typically finishing down slightly from their middle aged peak. Birth, life, aging, death. It is inexorable. If millions of young people and immigrants are entering society at or near the bottom, and median incomes are not declining significantly, mathematics requires almost everyone to be moving strongly upward.

    The US born children of illegal aliens are already citizens. And the President most explicitly did not create a path to citizenship for young illegal aliens – that is still outside his power. All he did was temporarily and conditionally decide not to deport them.
    A significant executive over reach that likely made actually solving the problem harder.

    If young illegal aliens should be allowed to remain in this country if they pursue a higher education, then how is that different from allowing more legal immigrants in to pursue a higher education ?

    Regardless, what is the moral rational that makes a young illegal immigrant seeking to further their education less illegal than the one who does not ?

    If jobs are zero sum aren’t we better off with illegal aliens taking the jobs at the bottom rather than encouraging them to get better educated and take the “good jobs”.

    Either you really believe protectionist ludite idiocy that jobs are zero sum – in which case all foreign imports – including all immigrants legal or not, are bad, Outsouring of jobs is bad, ….

    But the instant that you grasp that our ability to create wealth and therefore jobs is limited only by our resources – natural, capitol and human, then all of those presumptions reverse. New sources of labor – no matter where they enter the ladder are beneficial. Every 5 illegal aliens employed in construction, agriculture, menial jobs creates 1 better paid job for someone else. Cheap imports free up resources to produce more valuable goods and services in this country. Outsourcing does the same.

    Regardless, the most extreme Patrick Buchanan American First conservatives atleast have the benefit of being logically consistent, even if wrong. There is no position on immigration between that extreme and open boarders that is not self contradictory as well as fallacious. Again compromise assures making the wrong choice, and then being stuck with it.

    • Andy Tonti permalink
      June 22, 2012 10:19 am

      I understand from your analysis above that the immigrants you are examining are largely
      unskilled and un- or undereducated, and are unable to converse in English for the most part.

      But what about the educated professionals that arrive it legally, complete their education here, and enter the professional, technical workforce, competing against US native-born peers for a limited number of job opportunities. My argument is that these foreign-born professionals most often decide to practice their skills here, and never return to their native
      lands which, in many cases, desperately need their talents and abilities to develop their own national wealth and resources. In a sense, the U.S. offers safe passage to these immigrants to escape from a lessened social status and level of prosperity if they practiced in their lands of origin. I’ve observed this particularly in occupations such as medicine,
      engineering, research science, government. I wonder how we as a sovereign nation would feel if we were the ones experiencing this brain drain, perhaps something like the way we feel
      when our jobs and careers, are indiscriminately outsourced abroad.

      • June 22, 2012 11:04 pm


        My remarks were intended to show that there are really only two positions on immigration that are not SELF-CONTRADICTORY, that of isolationists and Amerca-firsters. And that of essentially open borders. The Buchananite position is wrong and rife with fallacy, but it atleast does not contradict itself.

        I was mostly not advocating for a position – though I favor essentially open boarders. I was trying to reveal the logical contradictions in Rick’s views.

  9. June 22, 2012 2:15 am


    So has your traffic improved ?

  10. June 23, 2012 11:42 am

    People who struggle to find enough food to eat are poor. The World Bank’s poverty line is an income of less than $1.25 a day.

    By the world bank definition no one in North America or western Europe is poor.

    Is poverty relative or absolute ?

    Using any absolute measure of poverty or wealth, there is less poverty then there has ever been. Recent economic growth in some of the poorest nations in the world has resulted in significant increases in the numbers of the very rich, yet absolute poverty has decreased even more.

    Wealth is not zero sum. It is not in China, and India. nor in the United States.

    The relative system of measure driven by the progressive myth of equality and fairness run at odds to all human history.

    There is only one measure by which we are all equal – we are equally free. There is no concept of fairness in nature. Our efforts to achieve equality of fairness, will always create greater inequality, and unfairness, to the extent they reduce our freedom.

    The gargantuan decrease in absolute poverty – whether across the world, or within the already rich nations is the direct result of a single factor – greater freedom.

    Every nation, every economic scheme rooted on any principle such as – fairness or equality rather than freedom has failed.

    The absolute wealth – the ability of individuals to meet their needs and wants of every person on this planet, regardless of class is greater than it has ever been in the entirety of human history.

    Is there anyone that questions that the recent gains in China and India are the result of small increases in freedom ?

    The continued increases in wealth for everyone rich and poor alike, are not cast in stone. As they have always been they are rooted in freedom. Much of the world is still far less free than we are, and we are far less free than we could be.

    China or the US could chose tomorrow to limit freedom to reduce income inequality, or in the interests of fairness, or …. If the loss of freedom is small it may go unnoticed – though we will still all be both less free and poorer.

  11. June 23, 2012 12:32 pm

    Examining poverty in absolute and relative terms produces a vastly different picture.

    The same is true of the roots every other issue in Rick’s vigilance list.

    It is true that a significant influx of illegal immigrants from south and central america has reduced our median income, reduced out standard of living, and cost some people their jobs. It is true that opening the floodgates to even more would increase every one of those losses.

    It is also true that despite a decline in the standard of living, and median income, that wealth of each individual has risen. Those illegal immigrants now living in abject poverty by our measure, are doing two or three or more times as well as they were before. Despite the influx of tens of millions of illegal immigrants, and the decline in median income/standard of living that must cause, Median incomes and standard of living has continued to rise. That is only possible if the median income of non-immigrants rose significantly.

    Grasping the real meaning of numbers and statistics is important.

    Britain defines poverty as a household income less than 60% of the median.
    They recently passed a law requiring the reduction of the number of children living in poverty to below 10%. As laudable as that goal might be, it is mathematically unattainable without revising the definition of poverty or prohibiting the poor from having children.

    Most progressive rants suffer the same innumeracy.

    In 1988 James Hansen presented congress with 3 future scenarios. In the best case, human release of CO2 ceased by the year 2000. We can argue about whether the planet has warmed since 1998, but every record of global temperatures, GISS, HadCrut, Berkley, UAH, RSS all have actual temperatures below Hansen’s best case scenario.

    Whether AGW is real, or not, by the measure offered by warmists in 1988 we are doing far better than we would have had we adopted draconian and expensive measures.

    This does not prove or disprove AGW. But in addition to many other facts, it proves that we do not come close to understanding the behavior of the planet well enough to make accurate projections.

    The statistics on income inequality that progressives rant about reflect incomes to the beginning of this recession. But it is also true that the measured wealth of the lower class doubled over the same period There is a real mathematical improbability, but as the increase in wealth is observably real, the most likely problem is that inflation adjusted income is too low (prices have declined more than incomes reflect). But even ignoring this. If the poor are twice as wealthy today as they were what does income inequality matter ? Also absent in statistics about average incomes withing social classes, is that the average poor person 30 years ago, is no longer poor. From household formation through retirement the average household migrates upward through two quintiles.

    Essentially the entire progressive income inequality rant is that over three decades the income of those just entering the workforce has improved little – but their prospects over time have improved radically.

  12. June 23, 2012 1:00 pm


    Budgets are submitted by the president and approved by congress.
    Though debt ceiling legislation has largely abdicated that responsibility, the authority to increase the debt of the federal government rest solely with congress.
    The executive authority to spend as authorized by congress is independent of its authority to borrow. Just as it is with your credit card. That your bank issued you a credit card and permission to buy whatever you wished with it, was not the same as permission to borrow forever with no intention of repayment. The bank can rescind the privilege of going further in debt at its pleasure.

    Noting the difference between political tactics and principles is important. Much of what occurs in our government is more tactical battles for political advantage between parties having nothing to do with principle. Each side paints their position as one of principle, and there are principled actors within the process, but regardless of the arguments the purposes are tactical.

    The new found sense of fiscal responsibility within the republican party is as deep and long lasting as this recession. With few exceptions the differences between republicans and democrats on spending are between binge drinkers and addicts.

    Does the weakness with which most republicans adhere to principles of fiscal responsibility mean they are not principles ? Do we not encourage drunks to periods of sobriety ? Should we not make the right principled choices because the motives of those driving those choices are weak ?

    15 democrats and Bernie Sanders voted against the Senate Agriculture bill. Unfortunately 16 republicans voted for it – including one Tea Party favorite.

  13. June 23, 2012 1:11 pm

    “Suppose Congress passed legislation – upheld by the Supreme Court – mandating that only five percent of redheaded Americans may own real property in the U.S. This legislation allows each year a small percentage (say, two percent) of non-property-owning redheads to apply for and win – according to a byzantine set of rules – eligibility to own real property.

    If, in response, a number of redheads dye their hair to hide its true color, would real-property purchases by such hair-dyed natural redheads be law-breaking of a sort that should be condemned?

    If, in response to this legislation, another number of redheads simply took ownership of real property in defiance of the legislation – and in reliance upon the fact that almost no non-redheads in their capacities as private persons care enough about redheads owning real property to take private action against such ‘law’-breaking by these scofflaw redheads – would these property-owning redheads be properly described as lawbreakers? Would the fact that many more redheads than are permitted by statute actually own real property be evidence of lawlessness? Would the social fabric be threatened by such “lawlessness”?

    Because the prospect of any randomly chosen, not-yet-propertied redhead to win official permission to own real property would be excruciatingly small – approximately a two-percent chance each year – what would you think of a defender of this anti-redhead legislation who, posing only as a champion of the rule of law, demands that redheads who aren’t yet officially approved to own real property simply “wait their turn” and “obey the law”?

    Would you be surprised if, in response to the predictable violations of such a piece of legislation that arbitrarily aims to prevent countless mutually advantageous capitalist acts among consenting adults, Uncle Sam starts requiring realtors and sellers of real property to ask for and be shown official papers proving that prospective buyers of real estate are in fact officially eligible to own real estate?

    Would you sympathize with the tiny handful of natural brunettes and other non-redheads who, plausibly explaining how they gain (financially or otherwise) from strict limitations on redheads owning real property, plead for government to crack down on the “problem” of “illegal redheaded real-property ownership”?

    Would you worry – in light of the massive law- legislation-breaking activities of “illegal” redheads actually acquiring (almost exclusively through peaceful exchange) de facto ownership rights over real property – that America’s real-property law and other institutions of real property are “dangerously insecure”?”



  14. June 24, 2012 10:08 pm

    Why legislators have little need for corporate payouts. Because they can make their own.

    “One-hundred-thirty members of Congress or their families have traded stocks collectively worth hundreds of millions of dollars in companies lobbying on bills that came before their committees, a practice that is permitted under current ethics rules, … The lawmakers bought and sold a total of between $85 million and $218 million in 323 companies registered to lobby on legislation that appeared before them, according to an examination of all 45,000 individual congressional stock transactions contained in computerized financial disclosure data from 2007 to 2010. Almost one in every eight trades – 5,531 – intersected with legislation. The 130 lawmakers traded stocks or bonds in companies as bills passed through their committees or while Congress was still considering the legislation. The party affiliation of the lawmakers was almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, 68 to 62.” Dan Keating, David S. Fallis, Kimberly Kindy and scott Higham, ‘Legislators traded millions in stock they could impact’, The Washington Post, June 24, 2012

    • pearows permalink
      June 27, 2012 11:29 am

      Hard to believe that this has not started a firestorm of criticism. It’s certainly bipartisan and an example of extreme conflict of interest on the part of legislators. I marvel at the ineptness of so-called journalists…..they breathlessly cover, in minute detail, the trial of sleazy John Edwards, who broke no laws, and ignore scandals like this and Fast & Furious……I know that sex sells, but has every paper become the National Enquirer?

    • June 27, 2012 1:07 pm

      Dave: Is there any way we can persuade you to condense your comments so I can reply to them? I simply don’t have the time to peruse every comment and take notes on the longer ones (and most of them are long). That’s a shame, because you make plenty of cogent, well-informed points… even if I disagree with them.

      • June 28, 2012 10:07 pm

        Most of my comments are replies to others.
        Generally the comments that introduce new material are short.

        Just as I am not obligated to replay to every point you or others make, you are not obligated to respond to every one i make.

        If some point interests you, just reply to that point.
        How does the volume of my writing limit your ability to reply ?

    • valdobiade permalink
      June 27, 2012 7:48 pm

      If the traded stocks are in any way linked to corporations that provide for the US Defense department, then I don’t see what you’re criticizing.

      Maybe you’re upset that you did not invest in Haliburton when Dick Cheney attacked Iraq?
      Or maybe you don’t know which are corporations that make missiles, tanks, bombs, etc. so you can invest and get unlimited wealth from the next war?

      • pearows permalink
        June 27, 2012 10:06 pm

        As Speaker, Nancy Pelosi purchased thousands of shares of Visa stock, which were selling low, due to imminent legislation that would hurt credit card companies….2 days later, she announced that she would not bring the bill to the floor for a vote and Visa stock soared in value, securing Speaker Pelosi a nice windfall. Her GOP counterpart, John Boehner, after meeting with Henry Paulson to discuss the terms of the 2009 stimulus, drastically rearranged his stock portfolio, selling thousands of shares of stocks from companies that he knew would not benefit from bailouts. There is a lot of evidence that congressional staffers make money on insider trading as well. Maybe even trading on Halliburton 😉

        If insider trading is illegal for businessmen it should be illegal for congressmen as well, no?

      • June 28, 2012 10:14 pm

        Rick is fixated on the beleif that political contributions corrupt politics.
        I am pointing out that the majority of congressmen (and their staff and aides) have found their own way to profit from the business they regulate. Further, they can profit just as much by punishing them as by rewarding them. This is far more egregious than a corporation paying for political adds .
        We have just recently convicted some wallstreet executives of a far more obscure form of insider trading.

        In point of fact i can make a credible argument that even if insider trading were legal, this would still be illegal.

        This may not be trillions of dollars, but it is serious political corruption.
        Further it is practiced by members of both parties.

        It should be something non-controlversial here.

      • June 28, 2012 11:29 pm

        Dave: The reason I’m so militantly opposed to big-time corporate campaign spending is that it generally involves a quid pro quo… the recipient of the corporate gift feels obligated (or, in extreme cases, is literally obligated) to repay the kindness with favorable legislation. It’s a thinly veiled system of legalized bribery, and it needs to be stamped out.

        Insider trading by politicians, while just as corrupt and technically more criminal, at least doesn’t affect legislation… it simply adds to the personal coffers of the politicians who engage in it. This practice needs to be stamped out as well, but I think you can see why I might be more concerned about big-money contributions to elected representatives (who, ideally at least, are supposed to be representing their constituents, not their donors).

  15. June 27, 2012 12:59 pm

    “…has every paper become the National Enquirer?

    Afraid so, Priscilla. They have to compete with tabloids, reality shows, Twitter and Facebook for our attention. Yes, this kind of insider trading should cause a scandal… though for me, the real elephant in the room is the continued ability of representatives to take money from interests they’re supposed to be regulating. Both this and the insider trading are bipartisan issues that could unite the country in outrage. Why isn’t it happening? Too mahy distractions in our lives, probably… we’ve all acquired ADD to some extent.

  16. valdobiade permalink
    June 28, 2012 3:57 pm

    Priscilla wrote: “If insider trading is illegal for businessmen it should be illegal for congressmen as well, no?”

    Sure, but the fact that government is making decisions that influence the stock market is unavoidable.

    Anyway, it seems that Visa and “bail out stimulus” are small fish compared with stocks that are linked to corporations that supply the Defense. You know very well that hundreds of billions dollars are spent for Defense. So, to defend the US, corporations are working with the government. Asmith is calling this cronyism.

    Why not call it a source to get wealthy? When the Bush/Cheney corp. started two wars, it seems that it was the moment to invest in oil and weapons production stocks. Republican benefit more from wars than Democrats.

    I remember a time when some Democrats wanted better bullet proof vests for soldiers. Of course they would buy stocks in this company that produces these vests, but Republicans at that time said that it won’t be necessary to invest in that because “Mission Accomplished”…

    • pearows permalink
      June 28, 2012 4:12 pm

      Why not just mandate that active legislators place all of their holdings in blind trusts, anonymously managed, huh?

      (Come one valdo, you need to move on from the Bushitler War for Oil phase into the present! After all, didn’t Obama personally kill Osama bin Laden. “Mission Accomplished.”)

      • valdobiade permalink
        June 28, 2012 6:20 pm

        Bush was just an example of a rich seeking governmental power. In California was Meg Withman, a billionaire seeking to be California governor. Why are the rich spending millions to get a position of power in government? Just to place their holding in blind trusts? Come on…

        I guess Rick should write something about Supreme Court health care decision in a country that is the world’s richest nation, and it is the only industrialized democracy that does not provide health care coverage to all its citizens.

        Asmith would say that we don’t need health when we seek wealth 🙂

    • June 28, 2012 10:19 pm

      Judges make decisions that influence the markets too. They routinely recuse themselves when their own interests intersect with cases they must decide. There was actually a significant supreme court reversal just on the appearance of a conflict. Most of the judiciary holds their investment in blind trust.

      Though i think you have numerous facts related to defense screwed up, I would still be happy to slash defense spending. And yes, in nearly every instance I would insist that free market competitive processes applied even to defense spending rather than political or corporate cronyism.

  17. June 28, 2012 10:38 pm


    There are very few industrialized democracies that provide healthcare.
    There are many that mandate private health insurance for everyone. It is not the same thing. Further even among those that mandate private health insurance most also require patients to pay a sufficient portion of the costs to avoid medicare style demand bubbles.

    Asmith would say that Health is one form of wealth that we are free to seek.
    That each of us is free to decide for ourselves which forms of wealth we will pursue, and to enjoy the benefits or consequences of those choices.

    Regardless, why stop at Healthcare ? NYT is arguing over whether Air Conditioning is a modern right.

    Both the left and the right get thoroughly confused over issues of rights and freedoms.
    There are or should be very few limits on our freedom. Mainly the social contract prohibits us from initiating aggression against others. Anything else we should be free to do.
    Conversely rights come from nature not government. Government does not have the power to create rights. A right is something you posses merely by virtue of existing. There is not even really a positive right to life, only the negative right not to have others take life away.

    Healthcare is not even a need. It is a want, a desire. Certainly we benefit from it. But we do not die – atleast not immediately without it, and we will die eventually even with it (there are also some excellent studies that strongly suggest that outside very narrow limits, most health insurance actually has no real health benefit.

    Personally I am trying to figure out the APACA decision. It is a mess. A majority of the court has for the first time imposed a serious limitation on the commerce clause. A different majority has taken well established (even if bad) constitutional law on taxation and made a mess of it that they are going to spend decades cleaning up. The effects of the state/medicare portion of the decision may also be dramatic, both as a matter of constitutional law, and in terms of impact.
    There are also broad political implications.
    At the same time, though on occasion such as CU scotus comes close to getting it right. In general our courts including the supreme court have failed to grasp that the laws of nature, logic, mathematics, and even human nature are outside their jurisdiction. So though I have a personal fascination with supreme court decisions, I have very little respect for them.

  18. June 28, 2012 11:03 pm


    My posts like everyone’s contain opinions. But many of my observations are also facts. Often times these facts come with complications.

    The fact that numerous studies on taxes, spending, regulation, public jobs have found them significantly net economically harmful, does not mean that the next dollar of tax, spending, regulation, or public hire will be net negative, nor that every past one has been.

    The fact that the majority of government programs have not only been ineffective but net negative to their desired ends, does not mean that all are, or that the next one will be.

    But history places the burden of justifying increased taxes, spending, regulation, public employment, and government programs on those proposing them.

    It is not sufficient to have identified a problem. It is not sufficient to have what appears to be a good idea for solving it – myriads of failed programs had apparently good ideas at their roots. At the minimum by a pragmatic moderate ideology – one based on reality, an extremely high does of skepticism should be required.

    The one institution we have that is not allowed to fail is government. This is a major argument for limiting it.
    But a related argument is that government should not engage in tasks that it is not required to because we should not increase the risk of government failure.

    While I beleive the current economic mess – as well as all large scale economic disasters are always driven by government. Businesses do in fact make mistakes and fail.
    It is part of the natural order of things. There are risk changes that occur with increasing scale, that are both positive and negative for big businesses. bu ultimately even big businesses eventually fail.

    As I have pointed out repeatedly, the only difference between government and any corporation is that corporations are entirely voluntary. you can sell your stock at any time. Government has the exclusive right to initiate force. That the only distinguishing characteristic of government. How is it that that attribute makes government immune to failure ?

    The success of the entire rest of our society rests on the success of government.
    No business can presume it can survive a failure of government. It can not be insured against, there can be no practical credit default swap against government failure.
    The entire financial system and the value of everything rests on the beleif that government will not fail.

    So why is it you are so all fired inspired to spend more when we already know the odds of your getting much of value from government spending is small, to tax more when we know increasing taxes can not bring the money you want and will not bring the money you expect. Regulate more when that will not make you any better off, but will certainly make you poorer, and higher more public employees, that will also not improve your life any but will increase your burden.

    How can any of this be moderate ? How can it be rational ?
    Need I repeat Einsteins definition of insanity ?

  19. AMAC permalink
    July 9, 2012 4:53 pm

    I know I am a little “late to the party” on this post, but how about my proposed #20! #20. True Representation. We have representation based on regions. We track it by race, religion, etc. You can find these statistics anywhere. True representation would be to include middle class nominees for legislative offices. I would like to see either party go after candidates from the middle class to represent the middle class. I don’t disagree that a degree in Jurisprudence would be helpful in the legislature, but that should not be as important of a qualification as it appears to me to be. I would like to see some choices for elected office that come from outside the top income bracket. Maybe some individuals from the middle class might know what is best for the middle class.

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