Saturday, July 30, 2011
Other than that, it's an interesting article. We'll be finding out very soon how this will actually go down. Less than 72 hours to go!
Friday, July 29, 2011
Revised numbers from 1st quarter: .4%
Pathetic. This economy is crap and has been long before the debt ceiling debate began. No doubt some idiot will try to blame these past events on current problems, completely reversing chronological order and the law of cause and effect.
Sadly, this 2nd quarter's numbers may be overrated and revised down three months from now. If nothing else, this Administration should give up all claims to knowing what the hell they are doing in terms of the economy.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I won't do that again. If this is their plan, screw it, let the August 2nd deadline pass. Force the Obama Administration to decide where the 44% of cuts will come from.
It is incredibly irresponsible not to deal with this debt problem. And the problem isn't the ceiling. It's the $14.3 trillion in debt we have, that is the problem. A clean debt ceiling increase does not address this problem.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
This is centrist bullcrap. Both sides have principles. I disagree completely with those on the Left, but that doesn't mean they are unprincipled in this case. To ask somebody to give up on some of their principles is to ask them to do something they see as morally wrong. This is different from haggling over a price at a yard sale, where morality is not an issue.
Of course, if you ask that centrist where, exactly, those babyish politicians should meet, the most likely response will be as partisan as anyone in Washington. The second most likely response is to have no clue. Centrists usually tend to be partisans in disguise. Actual centrists are the people who shouldn't be voting; they have no principles at all and tend to vote based on very superficial inputs. If you think I'm wrong, ask some questions about that Centrist's principles. You'll find a lot of wishy washy crap about "how we all ought to get along" or how "we all should do what's best for the country." Apparently, those who are not Centrists are not doing that? Again, I disagree vehemently with the Left about what is best for the nation, but I don't generally doubt their sincerity in their beliefs.
Anyway, screw centrists. Man up and fly your colors. If you don't know what your colors even are, stay home and don't hurt yourself.
Today's no different. I like how, because Jefferson supported creating the University of Virginia (for the brightest, not for everyone, a point not mentioned by Friedman), it somehow means Tea Partiers should support a federal government spending over $3,700,000,000,000.00 annually. Also, its ok to compare political opponents to terrorists now? What about Gabby Giffords? Have we forgotten Gabby Giffords and the lessons about violent political rhetoric (that, incidentally, had nothing to do with the shooting but were still blamed on Republicans like Sarah Palin)?
I would like to see Tom's idea as to how to shrink entitlement programs. People who receive money from them tend to believe they are...oh, yeah, entitled to that money. Progressives have been saying for years that recipients are entitled to other people's money. Good luck backtracking on that one.
The Tea Party is the only sane group in the bunch. They are the only one's pointing out that $3.7 trillion in federal spending is too much and that just because you use the mechanism of government doesn't make theft acceptable. Taxes are morally wrong, always. It is the use of force to take property away from those who it rightfully belongs to.
But I think the most telling error Friedman makes can be found right at the get go. His answer to our problems would be, of all things, a government commission to try to figure out what kind of world we live in. Any libertarian can tell you that the government will never have enough information to figure out how best to run the world. There are no philosopher kings, nor philosopher commissioners. The best way to create progress would be to let each person seek that out for himself.
Leave us alone, Tom. Leave us alone, statists. You don't know what's best, so stop using force to impose your wildly ignorant ideas on the rest of us. Give freedom a chance.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I'm going to say that the odds of another major economic meltdown are at 50%, while the odds of civil unrest are at a not trivial 20% over the next two years. There is plenty of cause, the only thing missing is a good spark.
Monday, July 25, 2011
I think it is safe to say this debt ceiling crisis is not working out to favor the President. Despite the predictions otherwise, nobody should really be surprised by this. The man is the Head Honcho; if things start hitting the fan, people don't go blaming the 535 legislators, they blame the one Executive. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans cannot find stable work. All of the excuses or ridiculous explanations as to why the Stimulus "worked" are not going to fool these people.
Anyway, if those numbers plummet into the lower 40 range, the Republicans could nominate a cigar chomping monkey and still win in 2012. I'm not enthusiastic about anyone in the Republican field, but I will vote for any of them before I vote to reelect the fool in office right now.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
You couldn't do that in my hometown. Somebody would shoot back. In fact, a lot of people would shoot back. Most shooting sprees tend to happen at schools, a place shooters know their targets are not allowed to have guns. I don't get involved with gun rights issues a lot, not being a gun owner myself, but I think this proves the saying true that if you ban guns, only the outlaws will have them. Not surprisingly, there are very few shooting sprees at NRA conventions, a lot more so at schools.
And 90 minutes because a socialist government couldn't find a helicopter? 82 people died in the meantime. I would rather have a gun at my side than wait for the police.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
UPDATE: How do I know Greece is screwed? Because I have to make an update on the same day as the original post to say Greece's two year debt is actually at 39% now. This may all come to a head before September. Be prepared.
Monday, July 18, 2011
Hmm, is it possible that the problem of our time is "unsustainable debt?" Could it be that we have borrowed against our future too much and that the "future" where we pay has finally arrived? I think some people got the idea in their heads that we can just borrow forever. The Austrian school of economics has their own peculiar theory on debt, and I tend to believe it is right. Deflation and a reduction in loans would suck in the short term, but so is using a fire hose on your living room. It is still preferable to letting the whole damn thing burn down.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
- At age 15-16, I would have been considered a hawkish American Liberal. I supported Clinton during the impeachment mess (I still think that was uncalled for), supported attacking Iraq and Serbia, and generally believed that the government should help out he less fortunate. The 2000 election result was the result of a political Supreme Court. Bush's tax cuts were a waste of money that could be better spent elsewhere.
- When I was 17, 9/11 happened. This was really the first time I was willing to consider Bush in a positive light. Foreign policy trumped all else in my mind at this time and I began to slide into the Republican camp. Similarly, I had begun a turn to Christianity that tied in well with preexisting social norms I possessed. My first encounter with Ayn Rand occurred by reading The Fountainhead for a scholarship essay; I loved the story but hated her philosophy.
- From then until about 24, I was a conservative. As I immersed myself into politics and history, I began to consider the economic side of politics, but foreign policy remained the most salient issue for me. To the extent that I cared about politics, it was to lower taxes and spending, but the Republican Party at that time wasn't particularly good about such things. At this time, government still looked like it could be a positive force in shaping society, and I found myself disagreeing quite a bit with Henry David Thoreau.
- At 21, I read Plato's Republic and Isaiah Berlin's The Proper Study of Mankind. This combination of books would ultimately put me on the road to being a Libertarian, as I learned that "good" is not a unified concept; there are many types of goods that can contradict each other. If that is the case, somebody must decide which goods to pursue and which to leave behind. The only question is, who decides, the government or the individual?
- At 24, I read J.S. Mill's On Liberty. Reread John C. Calhoun's Disquisition on Government and Locke's Second Treatise of Government. It begins to dawn on me that perhaps the government only exists to keep others off of me (and, of course, me off of others), rather than to improve anyone.
- At 25, in the wake of Obama's election, I picked up Ayn Rand again, this time reading Atlas Shrugged. I was enthralled by this book; its 1,000 plus pages is full of notes comparing her 1950's fiction with current events, with bailouts and stimulus spending and regulation of companies in favor of unions.
- Since then, I have picked up the likes of Hayek, Nozick, Rawls, Rothbard, and von Mises. I'm not an Objectivist because I do not believe most people have the same life goals as Rand did. Rather, I see each person's subjective goals as legitimate so long as they respect the life, liberty, and property of others. Though I disagree quite a bit with his analysis, Rothbard has done quite a lot to show me the connection between liberty and economics. The right to liberty and the right to "pursue happiness" or, as Locke put it, property, is not so easily separated. The idea of natural law is giving way to positive law as I wonder about the origin and nature of rights.
Looking back, it does not strike me as surprising that my thought would change. Politics and ethics are huge fields. Unfortunately, they also are matters of choice that reflect upon the person holding those views. As most people fundamentally see themselves as moral and ethical, they have a strong psychological reason for not finding out otherwise. The only way to be disabused of false notions is to have them proven wrong before your eyes, when the choice is to admit you were wrong and change your thought or continue unchanged but knowing you are wrong to do so. I put my thought out to be challenged. Unsurprisingly, it has been found wanting more than a few times, but in the end I have a more coherent political philosophy than most people. Many of the dead limbs have been trimmed off.
If we are to live in a successful democracy, more people need to be willing to do this. Hiding behind the "impoliteness" of discussing politics is ridiculous. I consider it far more of an insult for someone to intentionally be ignorant and make decisions over my life than to have a discussion. As the great philosopher Gregory House, MD, once said,
You know I get it if people are just looking for a way to fill the holes. But they want the holes. They wanna to live in the holes. And they go nuts when somebody else pours dirt in their holes. CLIMB OUT OF YOUR HOLES, PEOPLE!
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Democracy can be very dangerous.
Friday, July 15, 2011
None of this will be good for the world economy. The United States is hanging on by its fingernails to stay at the fairly miserable level we're at. Even if we have a deal on our own debt ceiling shortly, a hurricane like this from overseas might push us over the edge anyway.
The question isn't if this is going to happen, but when.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
I'm willing to make ideological sacrifices in order to get us past this hurdle. I'm willing to see taxes go up, even to the tune of a trillion dollars over the next ten years, on the condition that they are spread out over all Americans rather than just imposed on the rich. A great many people who pay no taxes at all see this as an opportunity to take more of other people's money. If everyone has to pay for tax increases, the demand for more taxes will likely as not go down.
So, there's one sacred cow partially sacrificed. I'm also willing to see large cuts to the military, say upwards of $100 billion per year.
Now, what is the Left willing to give up?
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
And oh, Europe is boned. Completely. I don't understand how anyone could think Greece is going to get out without defaulting, which will almost certainly take Ireland, Portugal, and Italy with it. If those dominoes fall, Spain falls, too, and Spain is a large part of the EU economy. China, for various reasons, has hitched its wagon to the Euro. So China, which recently announced that its debt has been understated by over half a trillion dollars, is on the hook with Europe as well.
The subprime mortgage crisis could look like the good ol' days very shortly. A lot of sparks flying around a bunch of powder kegs.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
This will not end well. Ask Greece.
Friday, July 8, 2011
To those of us who are dying to find decent work and strongly questioned the value of the Stimulus, this is enraging. And that's not hyperbole; I'm freaking seeing red over this.
The same government, in fact, the same people who brought us this chart also told us ObamaCare would pay for itself. Do you still believe those people? The evidence, provided by the Obama Administration itself, shows that we would have lower unemployment had the Stimulus never been passed. Nearly $800,000,000,000.00 that we don't have was spent to make things worse.
The difference between where we are and where it was predicted we would be is nearly roughly 2.5% of the workforce. That's approximately 3,825,000 people who would have jobs. Mind you, that doesn't include the millions who have just flat out given up hope and dropped out of the workforce.
Clearly, this "Stimulus" is an unmitigated failure. Unbelievably, the Administration is still trying to sell it as a success. We may be unemployed, Mr. President, but we're not stupid. The numbers don't lie.
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Of course, this is not actually the author's point. He says:
New York State notwithstanding, the argument over marriage will and must continue, because it touches first principles of democratic governance — and because resistance to the agenda of the gay-marriage lobby is a necessary act of resistance against the dictatorship of relativism, in which coercive state power is used to impose on all of society a relativistic ethic of personal willfulness.Er, no. This sums up why I no longer consider myself a conservative. I believe that there are a multiplicity of goods, rather than one concept of "the good." Those goods can be mutually exclusive. Different things will make different people happy at different points throughout their lives; there is no objectiveness in what is good for people. That said, people should be left alone to do as they like, so long as they respect the life, liberty, and property of others.
Allowing other people to do as they like does not impose anything on me, or you, or the author, or anyone else.
The task of a just state is to recognize and support this older, prior social institution; it is not to attempt its redefinition. To do the latter involves indulging the totalitarian temptation that lurks within all modern states: the temptation to remanufacture reality.
The task of the just state is to protect our natural liberties. It strikes me as insane to believe the state exists to continue social institutions. The institution of marriage as society sees it has changed to include homosexuals. It is the opponents of gay marriage who are attempting to remanufacture reality and indulge a totalitarian temptation by imposing their understanding of marriage on others.
Government exists no more to reinforce outdated social institutions and mores than it exists to impose new ideas. Government ought to impose no ideas on peaceful people but rather let them go and live their lives as they see fit.
More than anything, I am amused by the author's indignation at libertarians for not opposing this "relativism." Clearly, he has never read Hayek, or von Mises, or Rothbard, or John Stuart Mill, or any of the other leading lights in the libertarian camp. The entire reason liberty is important is because there is no objective, proven way of living life best. Liberty gives each of us the breadth of decisions to make our own lives according to our own subjective goals.
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I don't like token individuals mentioned because of their race or some such nonsense such as Crispus Attucks. Yes, a black man died in the Boston Massacre, but so did four white people, and their names were...oh, yeah, not covered. Attucks isn't mentioned because of the Boston Massacre; he is mentioned because he is black. If I were an African American, I would find it offensive that "being shot" qualifies as an accomplishment worthy of remembrance. I think Harvey Milk would be treated in much the same way. Apart from being gay and shot (and, I suppose, being indirectly involved with the Twinkie Defense), what exactly were Milk's accomplishments?
Anyway, I was going to make a list of the 25 Americans every U.S. history class should cover in some detail. Turns out that's basically impossible. Rather than attempt it, I'll make a list based on reasons those people should be known. This is probably the best way to weed out the token individuals; if you can't think of anything specific that person did that stands out, then odds are we don't have time for it in class. I wouldn't say this is an exhaustive list by any means. Nor would I say these are the people actually covered, though many of them are. In my ever so humble opinion, every American citizen should be familiar with the people listed below.
- Presidents. Easily the most remembered group.
- Supreme Court Justices- Woooo Article III! Seriously, these people are overlooked, given their immense importance to our understanding of our government and our law.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
- Members of Congress. Some of the more prominent:
John C. Calhoun
- Generals, Admirals, and other military folks. Pretty self explanatory; we wouldn't exist without our military.
John Paul Jones
Ulysses S. Grant
Robert E. Lee
James Longstreet (way underrated, certainly more important than Stonewall Jackson)
- Authors/Reformers/Other Politicians. I'm placing them in the same category because often the latter were also the former. This list in particular is far from complete.
Henry David Thoreau
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Harriet Beecher Stowe
John Brown (for the lack of a better place...may need a category for crazy people)
Susan B. Anthony
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
W.E.B. Du Bois
William Randolph Hearst
Martin Luther King
Alexander Graham Bell
That is a lot of people and this is a very incomplete list. I only listed 10 people into the President's category and one of them was the President of the Confederate States. There are a great many more who could be added. Each person on this list was important in his or her own right and had a significant impact upon the nation. There are no token individuals here, placed not because they made a significant impact on our world but because they happened to belong to a race or class outside of the heterosexual WASP. We could put a Crispus Attucks or Harvey Milk on this list, but they would stand out for their lack of personal achievement. And, frankly, there are more important things to cover. California politicians may gain by this sop tossed to their homosexual constituents, but students are certainly not served.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
In talks led by Vice President Joe Biden, negotiators had tentatively agreed to reduce discretionary spending, which covers everything from space exploration to pollution control, by between $900 billion and $1.3 trillion over 10 years, according to aides from both parties.I think this debt limit deadlock is a bigger problem than the media has let on. As I've pointed out, no, if a deal if not reached by August 2nd the United States will not go into default as we have enough money coming in from taxes to cover all incoming debt obligations. What we don't have is money to cover much else. That kind of shock could be catastrophic on our weak economy (no, not on the "recovery" that doesn't exist).
But here's the problem. Biden's deal offers Republicans and libertarians a $90-130 billion cut per year. That would be a 2.5-3.6% cut of all Federal spending. Now, this same Administration has raised Federal spending by over 30% over the last two years, not including the upcoming spending on ObamaCare. That's not even remotely good enough. We have a $1.5 trillion deficit for this year alone; those proposed cuts would equal about 1/15th of that deficit. Also, most of those cuts come in the future, which is assuming future Congresses will be more likely to take political damage for cutting spending programs for specific constituents than our current Congress is. This agreement cannot actually bind Congress in 2019 from not following it.
In effect, Democrats are offering us cuts "in the future" without any assurance that those cuts will in fact be made. And those cuts are not enough. Republicans should continue to press for more cuts in the immediate future; Democrats can either accept that or deal with the very sudden 44% cut in spending come August. I'm not certain a deal is going to be forthcoming; I actually have to hope not if this is the best defenders of liberty and property rights can get out of the statists.
Monday, July 4, 2011
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
My fairly quick primer from last year on what this document means can be found here. That second paragraph is probably the single most important thing ever put down on paper. A happy Fourth of July to all; may we remember and defend what makes our nation great so that it may remain so for all of our days.