Category Archives: Statist Overreach

Do conservatives hate the poor?

As the welfare roles expand to cover more than 100 million Americans and Moody’s contemplates downgrading America’s credit, the debate over what the government can and should do about an expanding underclass is hotter than ever. It’s a common trope among proponents of an omnipotent state that small-government conservatives and libertarians secretly feel the poor are getting what they deserve. If “progressives” are to be believed, peeling back every conservative’s exterior of independence and fiscal responsibility reveals a misanthropic miser who has no sympathy for the suffering of others.

This opinion couldn’t be more wrong. To those who realize that individual liberty is the path to prosperity that has catalyzed a steady march toward a better human condition since the drafting of the Magna Carta, nothing is more painful than watching as the most vulnerable members of society are marginalized and exploited by the elite. But the culture of dependency runs so deep in our society that most people fail to realize that government is the chief cause of urban poverty as we know it. Throughout history, the poor have demonstrated remarkable tenacity and intelligence in the ability to survive extreme hardship — a dynamic which in free societies leads to class mobility. But acting as the agent of upper- and middle-class do-gooders, the government is denying the modern poor opportunities and keeps them locked in a cycle of dependency and powerlessness.

Nothing better illustrates the way in which government bureaucracy makes living in poverty even harder than the zoning laws and building codes which exist in nearly every American city. Take homelessness: in the vast majority of cases, the homeless would like to have a place to live, and they used to have one, but their circumstances changed and they can no longer afford it. Put another way, they’ve been priced out of the housing market, and without cheaper options available, they end up on the streets, or if they’re lucky, sleeping out in a car.

For decades, government subsidized “affordable housing” has failed to solve this problem. But with one stroke of the pen, lawmakers could end it: simply relax the zoning codes across America that prohibit multiple families from living under the same roof, or specify a maximum occupancy that raises per-person rent levels above what the poor can afford.

Comfortable, more affluent neighbors may not enjoy seeing the family across the street double up during hard times. But is their discomfort really a reason to make someone else’s family sleep on the street? Proponents of these laws will say that they’re necessary to prevent unhealthy, unsanitary and unsafe conditions. But that argument is the perfect illustration of the disease of dependency perpetrated by the government — why would planners in a far distant capital be better at judging the risks and benefits than those who own the home themselves? What if the alternative is to put a single mother and her child out on the streets?

Laws that forbid people to make decisions about themselves, their families, and their property are always couched in benevolent rhetoric. We are told that the government is here to help those who are bullied into submission. But what can the weak give to those in government to make it worth their while to offer protection from the strong? The starry-eyed platitudes of progressives are all well and good, but what is there in the nature of man to make it so? Nothing.

Government has always been by the rich and for the rich. It is a tool of the elite. Now that tool is bankrupt and exhausted. It has proven that it cannot provide for the welfare of the people and the whole of society stumbles under the weight of its mistakes.

No one is hurt more by statist intervention than those who are most vulnerable. Isn’t it time to let people live free?

The Government Is the Only Thing We All Belong To.

According to the Democratic Party, the government is the only thing we all belong to.

Yep.  You heard it.  It’s not a government of, for and by the people.  You belong to IT!

This is the larger of the two major parties in America folks.  This is now mainstream thought in their circles.

When wealth is transferred, not created, only Washington wins

In America today, the best way to get rich is to masquerade as a “public servant,” deceive the people with promises you’ll never fulfill, and when anyone objects, condemn them as a greedy miser who won’t pay their fair share. It’s an idea so successful it built a city that’s more prosperous than Silicon Valley.

To wit, in Washington, D.C.:

  • “Construction cranes dominate the downtown skyline, and your average homeless guy can barely grab a stretch of sidewalk before yet another boutique store pops up to bounce his bedroll.”
  • “D.C. Leads List of Most Shopaholic Cities in America.”
  • “If you wanted to imagine what the economy might look like if the country were much better educated,” Leonhardt writes, “you can look at Washington.”
  • Key factors identified in the Bloomberg report include massive defense contracts, “federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000,” “the nation’s greatest concentration of lawyers,” and record-high lobbying expenditures.
  • D.C. gobbled up “more stimulus dollars per capita than any state.”

Meanwhile in Stockton, CA:

  • Stockton, California made history in June 2012 when it became the largest U.S. municipality in history to file Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
  • The city is on the hook for more than $800 million in unfunded liabilities for pensions and other post-employment benefits.
  • Stockton’s general fund, meant to be for basic city services such as police and fire, has been gutted by the poor fiscal decisions, resulting in a 26-percent reduction in city police. Last year, a record 58 murders took place in Stockton. This year, they’ve already had 34.

And yet here’s what Elizabeth Warren, candidate for US Senate, has to say from her cushy Washington, D.C. job as a “Special Advisor” to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

“You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for… part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

Can you smell the hypocrisy? Is anyone really taking these thieves seriously anymore? Or are we just doing what we’re told at gunpoint?

The state has bloated to a size far beyond what’s required for the good of society. Elected officials aren’t spending your taxes on civil services. They’re slopping at the trough while your hometown rots.

The Tolerance Enforcers

From San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee on the left coast to Boston’s Mayor Menino on the east coast, we have way too many public officials bullying a business for its CEO’s personal set of beliefs.  Now Chicago is threatening to make paperwork difficult to open a Chik Fil A in it city limits.  Because of health code violations?  Nope.  Discriminatory employment practices?  Nope.  Chicago’s public officials feel the company doesn’t mesh with its “values” (values like what….teen gang violence and political corruption?)  Is this America, or a Soviet state?  Mark Steyn chimes in.

Imagine a culture war in which conservative public officials condemn Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream for its support of Occupy Wall Street and Nabisco for it’s “LGBT Oreo” ad.

Bullying people into “good thoughts” only leads to tyranny.

Numbers Speak Louder Than Words

Conn Carrol, over at The Washington Examiner, has posted a commentary deriding the California Democratic Party’s governance of the Golden State.  The numbers he presents are frightening.

“Democrats have also enjoyed complete control of the state legislature since 1997. And they have governed exactly the way you’d expect Democrats to govern….”

“Spending has more than doubled, from $45.4 billion in 1996 to more than $92.5 billion today. Income, sales and car taxes have all been hiked. As a result, California has the most progressive income tax system in the nation, with seven income tax brackets, and the second-highest top marginal rate.”

“Even with all those tax hikes, California’s 2012 budget is still $15.7 billion in the red. So what does Gov. Jerry Brown want to do? Raise taxes again, of course. He has proposed a ballot initiative that would: 1) raise sales taxes on everyone and 2) raise incomes taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year (like Obama has proposed to do nationally). But even this $8.5 billion tax hike would still leave the state $7.5 billion short. Where will California get that money? Who knows?”

“At 10.8 percent, California has the third-highest unemployment rate in the country. There are fewer private-sector jobs in the state today, 11.9 million, then there were in 2000, 12.2 million.”

The numbers Carrol rattle off are appalling and depressing for sure.  What it illustrates should send a shockwave across the other 49 states all the way to D.C.  Keynesian-Statist spending schemes aren’t just vice grips on economic liberty, they also bankrupt the treasury while providing little if any relief to the citizenry.

History has shown again and again, whether in the 1920s, 1960s, or 1980s/1990s that economic liberty leads to prosperity.  The other side of that coin, statism, has a history of poverty and economic collapse.  An extreme example can be found in the authoritarian 5 year plans in the Soviet Union and early Communist China or more subtle examples can be found in the soft tyrannies of statist European social democracies.  The message is clear, liberty leads to prosperity while statism leads to depression and stagnation.

 

 

The New York Times endorses slavery

In an opinion piece straight out of bizarro world, Thomas Ricks proposes we solve the “Children Question” by reinstating the draft and sending America’s lackadaisical youth off to war.

Ricks’ reasoning: if we’re going to wage wars in far-flung hellholes, every American family should have “skin in the game.” Maybe the thought here is that if enough teens die abroad, Americans will realize what a senseless waste our overseas operations have been? Is there really no better way to drive that point home than conscripting every American and making families pay an even higher blood price for the government’s folly than they already have?

Or maybe we won’t actually put them on the front lines; Ricks reasons that paying decent wages to career soldiers is so expensive that it’d be better to use 18 year olds and pay them low wages to perform menial tasks like painting and mowing the lawn at the Pentagon. In fact, nearly half the text of the article is devoted to his point about how cheap these draftees would be to employ. At this point you begin to wonder whether this unabashed statist really wants to send the kids off to war, or has merely seized upon a way to disguise slavery as patriotism — ask not what your country can do for you, but whether the generalissimo wants his car waxed today, right?

Once he’s done indulging in this totalitarian reverie, Ricks returns to his central thesis in the final paragraph, positing that perhaps if more American sons and daughters had been at risk, we wouldn’t have gone into Iraq. Yes, it always seems to come back to Iraq with the liberals, as if there has never been a greater mistake and never will be. Even if we become a nation that forces its youth to do menial labor for government bureaucrats for pennies. Unfortunately the central premise of his argument is that we can right a wrong by inflicting a far greater wrong upon even more people. I can think of no stupider solution and no greater affront to liberty.

Source: New York Times (seriously NYT, are you trolling us with this one?)

“End the Fed” giving way to “Internet Freedom?”

Some interesting developments in the Ron Paul camp this week. The Pauls issued a document called “The Technology Revolution: A Campaign for Liberty Manifesto” and are saying that the cause of “Internet Freedom” will displace their campaign to end the Federal Reserve as their top priority. Full Buzzfeed article

Among the arguments made by the manifesto, which is a quick read:

  1. Apple created 500,000 jobs in 5 years without any help from the government.
  2. Privately owned broadband infrastructure should not be regulated by “net neutrality.”
  3. Private sector data collection practices should not be scrutinized and limited by the government.

So, it is basically a statement that the government should not be regulating tech companies. Quoting Ludwig von Mises: “When government seeks to solve one problem, it creates two more.”

I was hoping the document would contain some discussion of how we should combat threats to liberty coming from Big Broadband, Big Tech and Big Data, but I was disappointed.

Paul insiders say that this will be the key issue Rand will connect with the Paul supporters on (to date, he’s had some trouble rallying support from his father’s base, especially since he endorsed Mitt Romney). But I doubt that defending the liberties of big corporations will appeal to their libertarian base. Most Ron Paul supporters and most young, tech-savvy people in general are at least as wary of tyranny coming from big corporations as they are of tyranny coming from government. I am not sure they have their priorities straight — I despise tyranny in any form but remember that the government can compel you at gunpoint and a private corporation cannot — but it remains to be seen whether Paul’s base will it this way.

Either way, the Pauls are at least partially right — if it gets used at all, government intervention should be the last tool used against threats posed to liberty by technology giants. Who is so naive as to believe that if we give the government the power to regulate and control the owners of the Internet’s infrastructure, it will not eventually seek to expand its power? When has the government ever voluntarily reduced its power to compel and regulate?

But I would like to see more discussion of what we can do to ensure equal, unlimited, and unfettered access to digital services. Ultimately the private sector is going to deliver services that reflect consumer demand, so if consumers don’t understand why their online rights are important, the private sector service won’t value those rights. If the Pauls want to appeal to techno-libertarians, they need to turn some attention toward educating consumers and finding solutions that increase individual rights on the Internet — lest we trade one set of masters for another.

Drive-by of the day

“Perhaps Holder can have his folks give loaded guns to 6-year-olds and see what happens. They could call it “Potty Trained and Curious.” Or they could send teenage boys to a retreat with Jerry Sandusky and call it “Baths and Bi-Curious.” The list is endless of what our government officials can spend our money on, for stupid studies they did not get to finish in college while pursuing their humanities majors, yet they cannot apply common sense to pro forma the outcome.”

Source: OC Register

 

Arizonans To Vote On Initiative To Overrule Federal Actions

The Arizona Daily Sun is reporting of an initiative that would allow voters to overrule statist overreach by the federal government.

“The Arizona Constitution already says the federal Constitution ‘is the supreme law of the land.’ This measure, if approved in November, it would add language saying that federal document may not be violated by any government — including the federal government.

More to the point, it would allow Arizonans to reject any federal action that they determine violates the United States Constitution.'”

This would be huge.  Arizona seems to be a flashpoint in the war between statists and small government classical liberals.  Again and again the state of Arizona has attempted to defy a federal government it argues is not upholding federal law or constitutional mandate, whether on illegal immigration or the Affordable Healthcare Act.

Small government classical liberals like Thomas Jefferson often encouraged the practice of nullification, and the issue has largely remained dormant since the 1830s.  The results of this could mean 50 different states coming to several conclusions on the constitutionality of federal law.  What if statist-run states like California and New York abide by federal overreach while more conservative states like Alaska and Arizona declare such overreach as unconstitutional?

This is a can of worms, but any discussion of the unconstitutionality of the expanse of federal power is a discussion worth having.

Big Daddy Government Shuts Down Cigarette Rollers

Big Daddy knows what’s best for you.  Now I don’t smoke cigarettes, I don’t find them enjoyable and I know they’re poisonous.  However I do enjoy junk food and fast food, I find it enjoyable and I know…well they’re poisonous.  According to news reports, at midnight tonight a federal law will shut down “roll-your-own” cigarette operations nationwide.  The effects won’t be as massive as a federal crackdown on fast food or the entire tobacco industry would be, but no doubt jobs will be lost and customers will be angry.

Now what rolling your own cigarettes has to do with a highway bill is beyond me.  What does this have to do with transportation and roads?  Well nothing of course, but the federal government isn’t known for its richness of common sense.

I’m sure statists will declare that because tobacco comes mostly from the Carolinas and the south, it requires interstate commerce to get cigarettes to all 50 states. Thus the statist’s second favorite tool (first being the elastic clause), the Commerce Clause, will be invoked to allow the feds to regulate cigarette rollers in stores throughout the land.

Even if this travesty is somehow constitutional, is it right for the government to overreach like this?  Are we not tired of living in a country where the Environmental Protection Agency claims that ditches full of water on private property are “navigable waterways?”  Are we not sick of being told which light bulbs we must buy?  Are we not sick of the federal government telling us what kind of “low flow” toilets we have to buy?!

Federal overreach has been a growing problem in this country for the past half century, and it’s accelerated every time we have statists in elected positions.

In addition to our concerns about the Constitution being trampled on and civil rights violations by an increasingly powerful centralized government, expect to see more tales of extreme statist overreach.  Just pray you never have your property targeted by a federal bureaucracy!