This cartoon failed to note that the captions were written by a potential home intruder, who is increasingly safer the more difficult it is for his victims to protect themselves.
The Atlantic published a blog post a few days ago (shared on tumblr yesterday by azspot, and promoted to the #politics tag by politicalprof) claiming that “We Now Have Our Smallest Government in 45 Years.”
It shared this graph from the Hamilton Project:
Smallest government in years? Sounds like something to celebrate!
Alas, The Atlantic, Hamilton Project, azspot, et. al. are not celebrating.
Getting causation, correlation, and simple logic twisted around, The Atlantic’s Jordan Weissmann ponders “how badly [this has] actually hurt the job market.” The Hamilton Project, every bit as state-loving as its proto-Keynesian namesake, agitates that cuts in government have “worsened the current economic situation and the nation’s unemployment rate,” paying no mind that government spending must always come at the expense of private (see: consensual) spendings, savings, and investments. Indeed, Hamilton flatly assumes that if employment ratios were kept the same “employment would be 1.7 million jobs higher today,” absurdly assuming that these new jobs would be filled solely from the unemployed and absurdly assuming that funding for these jobs would have no adverse affect on the private economy and thus employment.
Truth ultimately requires, in my opinion, a deeper understanding of economics than they perhaps may be willing to acquire, so let’s just address the canard that government is smaller.
To begin, observe the metric used. Usually, statists (leftists, most often) will employ GDP figures (inherently flawed calculations, see here and here) to fluster at perceived drops in government spending, as if a growth in an economy (see: all interacting individuals within a given region) must be joined by a corresponding increase in government largesse.
This claim of a smaller government takes a different tract, by comparing the total number of government employees to the total population and having this be a stand-in for the “size of government” in general. To anyone with even a cursory understanding of the state of the economy, one flaw is immediately apparent: ”To Population” is not “To Employed Population.” Considering the extended recession-related unemployment, with more people often completely dropping out of the workforce altogether than new jobs being added, overall employment to population is the lowest its been in decades. Should government jobs - paid for by the productive taxpayers* in the private (see: consensual) sector - be maintained at greater costs while employment drops everywhere else?
According to BLS, total employment-to-population dropped from 62.7% in 2002 (a pre-recession high point) to 58.5% in January 2012. This means (accepting Hamilton’s government employment figures as correct as I have been unable to find supporting numbers at neither BLS or FRED for “Federal, state, and local government, including government owned schools and hospitals, and the US Postal Service” for any year outside 2011), that the decrease in the ratio of government employment to population is essentially the same at about 7.7% to 8%. So this is at least a more illustrative figure of what’s happened: government employment has dropped, but private employment has dropped almost exactly as much. The gap is a little wider when taken from mid-2009, when Hamilton claims the “recovery began,” but the overall picture remains: unemployment is everywhere.
Of course, when faced with tightening budgets, reasonable people cut expenses of least utility. In other words: the less necessary or desired something is, the more likely its consumption will be foregone. So a person with less disposable income than usual will more likely cancel his hockey season tickets than starve. And since “unnecessary government employees” are like “wet rain,” it seems reasonable that they should be more likely to go. Furthermore, as I’ve explained before, the politicians like to make those cuts hurt as much as possible by targeting those services the public find most appropriate and beneficial (either on principle or because government monopolies have crowded out alternatives). Therefore, police, teachers, emergency responders, and the like are always trotted out as martyrs for the cause of more taxes. This is why the Hamilton Project highlighted these jobs.
But, again, is total government employees actually determinant of the size of government? A ruthless dictatorship with no “employees” outside of its army would be small in total personell, but no one would actually call it a small government.
So let’s consider some more telling ways in which government is not, in fact, smaller.
For starters, we can look at money and spending. In 2002, total government spending for federal, state, and local governments was $3.7 trillion. In 2012, that figure rose to $6.3 trillion, nearly double. Over $2.5 trillion in stimulus spending - a net economic negative - in just the last few years. The federal debt was $6.2 trillion in 2002. It’s currently at $15.95 trillion, more than doubled in a decade. And it has grown even adjusted for inflation, though why should the figures be adjusted when inflation is the government’s doing anyway: the supply of money was $1.19 trillion in 2002 and $2.26 trillion today,
more than almost double.
Note that all those numbers got bigger and not smaller.
But spending is only one dimension on the size of the state.
The U.S. legal code is hundreds of thousands of pages long. Dodd-Frank alone started as 900 pages and is now nearly 9,000 pages of rules and regulations. Most of those laws and rules and regulations are ultimately unjust, as most represent interference in the peaceful interactions of free people.
We now have a government that can wage wars without declaring them, local police forces have drones and tanks and anti-aircraft weaponry, indefinite detainment and assassination of U.S. citizens without due process, intimate health decisions - and costs - fall under government purview after the passage of the Patient Protection (sic) and Affordable Care (sic) Act, federal raids of legal marijuana dispensaries have increased, immigrant deportations have hit record numbers, even limiting the size of sodas is being claimed as a proper role for government… We need licenses to braid hair and permission to get married. Students have to keep their speech segregated into government-designated zones. Governments claim the land of rightful owners in order to collect more tax money from the corporations who want to build on the land. Surveillance cameras are multiplying, the prison population has steadily exploded, internet activities are now closely monitored, we can’t fly to the next city over without getting zapped with unnecessary radiation or groped by agents of the state. Guitar makers are getting busted for profoundly stupid and arbitrary laws. Government helps the sugar and corn industries with subsidies and tariffs, making industries richer and all of us less healthy. The tax code is well over 72,500 pages long, steadily growing every year. Governments keep some of us from tinting our windows and others from protecting ourselves from armed thugs. Helpful drugs are kept from desperate patients. All while portions of our lives - our labor and wealth - is extracted through threat of force by governments who grant favors to their friends and corporate cronies.
Nearly every aspect of our lives is interfered with by the various states who presume to rule over us.
The idea that “we now have our smallest government in 45 years” is so fallacious that it necessitates the willingness of otherwise smart people to engage in outright sophistry.
The warfare state, the welfare state, the police state, the nanny state - the state is bigger in every way.
*(Note: government employees cannot be considered taxpayers. The taxes they “pay” are no different than an accounting gimmick. They are net tax consumers.)
I’ve brought up my disappointment with the persistent unseriousness of some of the posts promoted to the politics tag (see here, here, and here). (I also implored the other editors to “like” or “reblog” a post before or after promoting it in order to maintain transparency in the process - and maybe keep editors accountable for what they promote.)
Well, fellow editor Ryking, in addition to reigniting his obsession with slinging puerile insults in my direction, has lately been expressing disappointment as well, going so far as to petition his followers to demand Tumblr management remove whom he inaccurately calls “right-wing editors” from their posts:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask that the Politics editor who promoted this garbage to the Politics page (Hipster Libertarian) be removed from her post. Right-wing trolling of the POTUS by libertarian trash does not represent the “best that Tumblr has to offer,” which is what editors are told to look for by Tumblr.
Frankly, all of the right-wing Politics editors (LA Liberty, Jeff Miller, Hipster Libertarian, Alex Holzbach) need to be removed and replaced with new ones; this current crop lacks diversity, seldom perform their job, but play favorites when they do with the same two or three right-wing trolls (none of whom have anything insightful to say).
This is a sentiment he repeated yesterday while, in typical fashion, casting racist aspersions and hurling insults (unfit behavior for someone featured in spotlight and serving as a #politics editor, but that is a topic for another post perhaps): “all of Tumblr’s right-wing editors should be replaced,” claiming that “standards for promoting posts are ludicrously low.”
Seeing as how I was personally mentioned as one “to be removed and replaced,” I feel I must respond.
I’m not sure where he can infer that any one of us “lack diversity” (certainly not any more or less than anyone else). Yes, certain bloggers tend to show up more than others but that is because certain bloggers are more active, and is true for the leftist bloggers as well. In fact, two of the top three contributors right now are sarahlee310 (who replaced leftist motherjones from the top three yesterday) and think-progress, with the third being the more centrist dc-decoder. (edit: hipsterlibertarian reminds me that, as I’ve mentioned before, I regularly peruse the “everything stream of the politics tag as well as a good dozen other tags keeping an eye out for new and worthy content.)
Does “lacking diversity” mean not promoting from beyond our inherent ideological scope. I have and will promote leftist bloggers (usually with regards to war, ending prohibition, concerns about the police state, capital punishment, etc.), but not leftist posts that I would disagree with. And I know I’m not the only non-leftist editor to do so. I do this for good reason, as I’ve said in a previous post:
“I do not pretend to be impartial, nor do I feel that it is my role as an editor to be. The other more left-leaning editors are probably better suited to judge the positive merits of a leftist post and promote it accordingly than I am. I know I would find it odd/frustrating if, for example, another editor unfamiliar with austrian economics or privatization or anarcho-capitalist philosophy promoted a post advocating or explicating those topics and the post was intellectually unworthy or, worse, factually incorrect (something they may not know, being relatively unfamiliar with the topics).”
If instead he means we are not diverse as editors, I’d counter that from within the already narrowed subset of four “libertarian” or non-leftist editors, we (if I may be so presumptuous as to label my peers) seem to range from alexholzbach’s republican with some libertarian leanings, to jeffmiller’s mainstream libertarian, to hipsterlibertarian’s ultra-minarchist libertarian, to my anarcho-capitalism (edit: Though I suppose that for anyone who paints all non-Democrats with the same, wide brush of “right-winger,” such a distinction would be difficult to make). Perhaps he laments that a full-on neo-con is not represented?
Regarding the charge that we “seldom perform [our] job” - I can only speak for myself on this one but it’s certainly true, as I’ve previously explained, that I do not promote a high volume of posts. I don’t view being an editor as some kind of competition in which I try to promote the most posts in order to cram my ideology down another’s gullet. Which is why I have never been “Top Editor” (unlike Ryking who seems to have taken permanent residence at the top spot since becoming an editor). In other words, I am very selective about what I promote. I do not consider this a shortcoming.
In any case, Ryking has lately taken it upon himself to serve as quality control of sorts, calling out posts he deems unfit for the tag. Although there is one case in which I do agree with him that something should not have been featured on the tag (and perhaps the one that prefaced his calling for our heads as well), his objections seem to be on ideological grounds.
But here’s the rub: Ryking is the same editor who promoted this post:
Does this, to echo Ryking’s concern, reflect the “best that Tumblr has to offer”? Would this not qualify as exhibiting “standards for promoting posts [that] are ludicrously low,” and moreso than a post in which an ideological opponent disagrees with the politics or conclusions?
Let’s review some more wholly unserious, pointless, irrelevant, untimely, unintellectual, and sometimes even outright vile posts that have found their way to the politics tag the last few weeks[regularly updated since mid-November], most of which were seemingly promoted by Ryking, peterfeld (seems to be the by far biggest offender of nonsensical posts, and often promotes his own posts), and other left-leaning editors.
More Obama Apologetics (and the above image covers both major forms I mentioned in that link).
The way in which the left can shift blame is spectacular. Not surprising, though, since much of their platform is freedom from responsibility: welfare for the poor (unemployment, food stamps, handouts, medicaid, obamacare, etc.) and welfare for the rich (the fed, stimulus, bailouts, tarp, subsidies, tariffs, obamacare, etc.).
President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal responded to the Great Depression by establishing a safety net that could alleviate poverty and help the economy recover. The minimum wage, an essential labor right, is just as important now as it was then.
Raising the minimum wage only hurts minorities, the poor, unskilled, the young, and the old. So if one is a well-educated, self-absorbed white guy in your mid-thirties, I can completely understand why he would want to raise the minimum wage!
If, however, one is capable of at least semi-intelligent thought and cares about justice, productivity, and lowering crime and unemployment - one would call for the repeal of the minimum wage.
The DeVos Family: Meet the Super-Wealthy Right-Wingers Working With the Religious Right to Kill Public Education →
Look at that headline. To the left, wealthy + right-wing + religious = evil! It’s important to get the ad hominems in early.
The conservative policy institutes founded beginning in the 1970s get hundreds of millions of dollars from wealthy families and foundations to develop and promote free market fundamentalism. More specifically, their goals include privatizing social security, reducing government regulations, thwarting environmental policy, dismantling unions — and eliminating public schools.
What of the government agencies that extract billions of dollars - by force! - to develop and promote redistributive fundamentalism? More specifically, their goals include socialized entitlements, handouts to “green” corporations, eliminating the individual through enshrining of unions - and one-size-fits-all, no-choice state indoctrination?
Whatever they may say about giving poor students a leg up, their real priority is nothing short of the total dismantling of our public educational institutions, and they’ve admitted as much.
Not only are those two concepts (“giving poor students a leg up” and “dismantling… public education institutions”) not mutually exclusive, history has shown that the less competition involved in and more unearned money dropped into public education, the less successful and prepared the students become (copious links below).
Cato Institute founder Ed Crane and other conservative think tank leaders have signed the Public Proclamation to Separate School and State, which reads in part that signing on, “Announces to the world your commitment to end involvement by local, state, and federal government from education.”
But Americans don’t want their schools dismantled.
Let’s read those last two sentences again. This is classic leftist deflection/red herring, an often-used tactic that employs a failure in logic: the argument “end involvement by… government in education” is deftly changed to “schools dismantled.” Of course, one does not at all mean the other, but this is the crux of how statists win support.
You aren’t against teachers’ unions or state-sanctioned curriculums or no choice in what school your child can attend, you are against the students. You aren’t against theft for an ostensibly good cause, you are against [the children, the poor, the environment, minorities, single mothers, or other group or cause that few people are actually against].
So privatization advocates have recognized that it’s not politically viable to openly push for full privatization and have resigned themselves to incrementally dismantling public school systems. The think tanks’ weapon of choice is school vouchers.
I do not necessarily disagree with this, but it is because of the aforementioned dishonest propaganda that it has become difficult to have people understand that “separating school and state” will actually improve education.
Vouchers are funded with public school dollars but are used to pay for students to attend private and parochial (religious-affiliated) schools.
Religion! Voluntary association! Ahhh!
The idea was introduced in the 1950s by the high priest of free-market fundamentalism, Milton Friedman, who also made the real goal of the voucher movement clear: “Vouchers are not an end in themselves; they are a means to make a transition from a government to a free-market system.”
How do you make Milton Friedman scarier? Call him a priest.
And while the voucher system is absolutely a transitionary step, why is that - in and of itself - devious? Isn’t everything the left does out of the Cloward-Piven playbook meant to function as transitionary steps toward the goal of democratic-communism? Didn’t Obama’s close advisor and Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (aka Regulatory Czar) Cass Sunstein write a book called Nudge that talks about methods of influencing people, primarily through public policy, by nudging them and inching them toward making the choices that those who know better (the state and its favored corporations) would like them to make?
The difference between this and the DeVos family is that (1) donations are voluntary while taxes are not and (2) their “nudge” is toward a more voluntary society while the left pushes for state aggression.
I want a complete end in state involvement in education. I also want to end state social security (among other things). But to eliminate them outright and immediately is logistically inexpedient. There is no fraud in employing steps to achieve a goal, particularly when the steps and goal lead to a more cooperative, non-aggressive, voluntary society.
Jumping out a window may get you to the ground floor more quickly, but sometimes it’s best to take the stairs (though maybe two or three steps at a time).
The quote is in a 1995 Cato Institute briefing paper titled “Public Schools: Make Them Private.”
Joseph Bast, president of Heartland Institute, stated in 1997, “Like most other conservatives and libertarians, we see vouchers as a major step toward the complete privatization of schooling. In fact, after careful study, we have come to the conclusion that they are the only way to dismantle the current socialist regime.” Bast added, “Government schools will diminish in enrollment and thus in number as parents shift their loyalty and vouchers to superior-performing private schools.”
But Bast’s lofty goals have not panned out. That’s because, quite simply, voucher programs do not work.
The longest running voucher program in the country is the 20-year-old Milwaukee School Choice Program. Standardized testing shows that the voucher students in private schools perform below the level of Milwaukee’s public school students, and even when socioeconomic status is factored in, the voucher students still score at or below the level of the students who remain in Milwaukee’s public schools. Cleveland’s voucher program has produced similar results. Private schools in the voucher program range from excellent to very poor. In some, less than 20 percent of students reach basic proficiency levels in math and reading.
Just like having a gold standard would be far superior to the fiat currency of Federal Reserve banking but still inferior to free banking, so is a voucher system superior to our current geographical monopoly state-system but inferior to government out of schooling altogether.
The failure of public education should not be in question.
Using a sample size of 2,000 years, it has been shown that “the freest, most market-like education systems consistently outperform … state monopolies.” Indeed, standards were higher and more local a century ago. You can throw money at state schooling - as we have done - and still never find that it is enough. In the last forty years, public education employment has risen ten times faster than enrollment. In fact, while state spending in education has more than tripled since 1970, performance has either remained stagnant or gotten worse. Indiscriminately throwing money at education has only made things worse. The lack of competition naturally breeds complacency and corruption. In public education, bad teachers are protected by their union and the bureaucracy of government - and unpunished bad teachers demoralize the good teachers. It should come as no surprise that high levels of unionization in government creates greater difficulty in efficiently managing finances and other aspects of their operations. This public school nightmare only hurts students as its destruction of individualism and internal discipline is inherently anti-educational.
I’ve previously explained that a free market in education is “a win for students, a win for parents, a win for taxpayers, a win for the poor, a win for liberty, a win for good teachers and administrators, a win for society. The only losers are inept/harmful teachers and administrators, bureaucrats, and unions (aka the bad guys).”
And while vouchers are not themselves the answer to providing the education our children deserve, it’s a step in the right direction. And in places where voucher programs have been nurtured - instead of cut-off at the knees by unions and their cronies - they have seen great success. But here’s the rub: if a school is not succeeding, the parents can take their kids elsewhere. When there is no guarantee of income, when you must please students and parents with a safe, healthy, nurturing learning environment in order to receive any funds, then there is incentive to not be complacent.
Most Americans do not want their tax dollars to fund private and sectarian schools.
Right. Most people don’t want to fund things they don’t agree with - but that’s exactly what government does. This argument cuts both ways. Eliminate tax money going toward schooling and you eliminate this problem across the board.
As I’ve previously mentioned: “Completely private education means that if one set of parents wants their children to learn a little bit of everything like they do now, they can. But if enough parents would prefer their children to learn about environmental accountability and social justice, the market will fill that demand (though not where I’d send my children). If another set wants to their children to be taught strictly from the Bible, done. If some children are better at math or creative writing or computer programming, let them go to a specialty school. Some children are just not built for typical all-encompassing curriculum, so let them learn the basics that could lead to a trade; instead of promoting the cycle of failure that leads kids to turn to crime since their exposure to ‘responsible society’ has been a fruitless source of frustration.”
Since 1966, 24 of 25 voucher initiatives have been defeated by voters, most by huge margins.
And by “voters,” you mean “teachers’ unions.” Their salaries are a concentrated benefit to them while it’s a dispersed cost to everyone else, which means they have more incentive to vote than the average taxpayer. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the left’s red herrings have been so successful at duping a populace who has “educated” by that public school system to fail at logic.
Nevertheless, the pro-privatization battle continues, organized by an array of 527s, 501(c)(3)s, 501(c)(4)s, and political action committees. At the helm of this interconnected network is Betsy DeVos, the four-star general of the pro-voucher movement.
I know nothing about the DeVos family, but if this author wants to talk about PAC’s, non-profits, and special interests - her side is not short of them. In fact, public sector unions are one of the biggest special interest groups in the country, and 91% of their contributions go to Democrats (in fact, of the top 50 special interest groups by industry, 42 give more money to Democrats than Republicans - and Republicans aren’t exactly noble when it comes to palm-greasing). Teachers are a super-special interest, with unparalleled sway over Democrats especially, and an incredible ability to get money out of taxpayers.
The above author’s preferred tactics may be to demonize opponents and employ red herrings, but the fact remains: liberty is always the answer, especially when state education is such a disaster.
Perhaps it was the agreement between the Gates Foundation and the Pearson Foundation to write the nation’s curriculum. When did we vote to hand over American education to them? Why would we outsource the nation’s curriculum to a for-profit publishing and test-making corporation based in London? Does Bill Gates get to write the national curriculum because he is the richest man in America? We know that his foundation is investing heavily in promoting the Common Core standards. Now his foundation will write a K-12 curriculum that will promote online learning and video gaming. That’s good for the tech sector, but is it good for our nation’s schools? Oh, and one more outrage: The Gates Foundation and the Eli Broad Foundation, both of which maintain the pretense of being Democrats and/or liberals, have given millions to former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s foundation, which is promoting vouchers, charters, online learning, test-based accountability, and the whole panoply of corporate reform strategies intended to weaken public education and remove teachers’ job protections. …
Paying attention, folks?
If you aren’t a true Democrat and/or liberal who advocates for only government schooling and against school choice or you’re after evil profits or *gasp* you’re a foreigner, you cannot be handed our children’s curriculum (of which there must only be one and all children must learn from, regardless of their interests, needs, abilities, aspirations, or desires).
But if you are a true Democrat and/or liberal who doesn’t go anywhere near anyone named Bush, you make your fortunes from so-called non-profits, and you want unionized teachers who can’t be fired and advocate one-size-fits-all standards for all children who can only go to the school that happens to be closest, then you may set the curriculum and decide how every child must be
indoctrinated taught. Totalitarianism in education is not only noble but it is the primary objective, though only when it promotes the left’s ideals.
An outrage indeed.
Yes, the ‘Civil War’ was an atrocity. And perhaps there is a contingent of deluded and misguided folk that somehow cherish a noble notion of a Confederacy, sans any allusion to the evil of slavery.
Are you really casting the Confederacy as a just cause — the reason for secession was entirely predicated on the defense of the diabolical practice of institutionalized slavery. To claim otherwise is to be ignorant of history, or worse, submit to racist historical revisionism.
Speaking of “deluded and misguided”… that’s a pretty spectacular reframing of an argument. Though I must commend you on your ability to skip through a mindfield of truth and come out the other end unscathed, I cannot be surprised with the use of non-sequiturs.
Not once - not a single time - did I mention the word ‘Confederacy’ nor highlight it as a unified ‘cause’ (much less meritoriously or longingly so). The closest mention was of Southerners as separate individuals: “while slavery may have been a sticking point for many Southerners, it wasn’t the only reason for secession - nor was it the reason the North attacked the South.” Which mostly encapsulated what my piece focused on: that participation and association cannot be forced because that supposes the same dominion over another as slavery and that the North’s aggression was undue.
As quoted in the original, “for whatever reasons the Southern States had to secede from the “Union,” they had an inalienable right to secede.” That Confederates primarily or even wholly claimed slavery as their motivation for secession is irrelevant to the argument.
Just as a man may leave his wife for any immoral or ignoble reason, the South’s reasons were not what I was addressing - only (1) their right to freely associate and confederate in any manner they voluntarily wished and (2) the evils perpetrated by Lincoln under the guise of unity and ending slavery. If a man were to leave his wife, and his reasons were determined by his wife and the entirety of society as unjust, must he then be beaten and forced to remain with his wife irrespective of his volition?
And it’s not about “states’ rights,” another phrase you constructed out of words that, in my piece, were never neighbors. States don’t have rights, people do. And people, individuals, have an absolute right to voluntary association. The idea of secession must not be seen as a tool of oppressors, but as an exercise in liberty.
Since your reply is nothing more than continued non-sequiturs, there is no need to respond further aside from referring back to my original statements.
In Georgia 47% of Republicans are content with the Union victory, while 31% wish the South had won. Democrats (58/17) and independents (54/19) are both strongly supportive of the North, making the overall numbers 53/23.
In North Carolina GOP voters are almost evenly divided on the outcome of the war with 35% glad for the North’s victory, 33% ruing the South’s loss, and 32% taking neither side. Democrats (55/15) and independents (57/14) have similar numbers to Georgia but due to the greater ambivalence of Republicans about the northern victory, overall less than half of Tar Heel voters (48%) are glad the Union won to 21% who wish the Confederacy had.
In Mississippi no group of the electorate seems all that enthused about the North having won. Republicans, by a 38/21 margin, outright wish the South had won. Democrats (39/22) and independents (49/15) side with the North but compared to those voter groups in North Carolina and Georgia they’re pretty ambivalent. Overall just 34% of voters in the state are glad the Union prevailed to 27% who wish the rebels had been victorious.
These are simply crazy numbers, and I’d be shocked if the pro-Confederate respondents have thought through the implications of their views. That is, if these questions were rephrased, “Are you happy with the Union victory and the end of slavery?”, I would be floored if significant numbers voiced unhappiness with that outcome. In any case, this is a nice illustration of the Confederate sympathy that seems to be entrenched among a significant portion of Southern Republicans.
Being unhappy about the so-called Civil War or its outcome does not immediately imply a desire to categorize an entire race of humanity as property to be owned and abused by others. Conflating the two is simply a straw man meant to vilify political opponents by branding their arguments invalid for allegedly holding a despicable opinion.
The ‘Civil War’ was an atrocity that killed hundreds of thousands simply to involuntarily force a portion of the states into association with the whole. As I quoted recently:
For whatever reasons the Southern States had to secede from the “Union,” they had an inalienable right to secede. All people have a God-given right to associate or not associate with others, voluntarily. If the people of a particular territory want to separate from a federal union of states, they have every right to separate, just as the Founding Fathers had a right to separate from British rule. No institution or authority has the right to compel any individual or group into association or contract involuntarily. To believe that the federal government had any moral right to force the people of the seceding states to return to federal association involuntarily is to believe that some people with armed power have a right to claim ownership and control of other people, pure and simple.
We are all sovereign individuals. When anyone else, be he a king, a thug or a majority, demands anything of us (other than that we respect the libertarian axioms of property and non aggression), they are imposing upon us; they are invading us, and violating our rights. Secession is a necessary concomitant of liberty.
Further, while slavery may have been a sticking point for many Southerners, it wasn’t the only reason for secession - nor was it the reason the North attacked the South. In fact, Lincoln himself favored slavery and believed in the superiority of the white man.
Everything about this politically-correct fantasy [that the war was fought to simply free the slaves] is patently false, regardless of how many times it is repeated in the New York Times and Washington Post. Some Southern politicians did indeed defend slavery, but not as strongly as Abraham Lincoln did in his first inaugural address, where he supported the enshrinement of Southern slavery explicitly in the U.S. Constitution (the “Corwin Amendment”) for the first time ever. Coming from the president of the United States, this was the strongest defense of slavery ever made by an American politician.
Some Southern politicians did say that their society was based on white supremacy, but so did Abraham Lincoln and most other Northern politicians. “I as much as any man want the superior position to belong to the white race,” Lincoln said in a debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858. When Lincoln opposed the extension of slavery into the new territories (but not Southern slavery), he gave the standard Northern white supremacist reason: We want the territories to be reserved “for free white labor,” he said. The Lincoln cultists can quote Alexander Stephens’ “cornerstone” speech all they want, but the truth is that Abraham Lincoln, and most of the leaders of the Republican Party, were in total agreement with Stephens. White supremacy was as much (if not more of) a “cornerstone” of Northern society as it was of Southern society in the 1860s.
Lincoln did not fight a war to free slaves, in fact he would have been happy to keep slavery if it meant keeping the southern states from declaring independence.
[W]hen it came time to decide whether he’d rather preserve the Union or abolish slavery, the Union stamped on that scale like an elephant next to a feather. In an 1862 letter to the New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, Lincoln wrote: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it […].”
And a war was not needed elsewhere in the world to end slavery where it had been practiced for much, much longer - why is the assumption that without this war slavery would have continued in perpetuity?
Lincoln fought a war to centralize and grant himself the most dictatorial powers any president has ever wielded. This had long been his goal, as he spent “his 25-year off-and-on political career prior to 1857 championing the Whig project of centralized government that would engage in a kind of economic central planning, … [including] federal railroad subsidies, a tripling of the average tariff rate that would remain that high or higher long after the war ended, and centralized banking with the National Currency and Legal Tender Acts.“ He imprisoned and deported a Congressman. He wiped out swaths of Indian populations. As a response to the South killing a horse, he engineered a “culture of death” unlike anything any American president has even overseen:
Lincoln’s war ended up costing 620,000 battlefield deaths along with the death of some 50,000 Southern civilians, including thousands of slaves who perished in the federal army’s bombardment of Southern cities and because of its devastation of the Southern economy. By 1865 the Lincoln government had killed one out of every four Southern white males between the ages of 20 and 40.
To put these numbers in perspective, standardizing for today’s population of 280 million, that would be roughly the equivalent of 5 million deaths — about 100 times the number of Americans who died in the ten-year Vietnam War.
Lincoln famously micromanaged the war effort. Historian James McPherson writes of how he spent more time in the War Department’s telegraph office than anywhere else, and spent 41 days in the field with the Army of the Potomac. He was fully in charge as the commander in chief, and orchestrated the mass killing for four years. His favorite general, Ulysses S. Grant, was made top commander of the army because of his willingness to send tens of thousands of men into a slaughter pen, as he did in the Battle of the Wilderness and elsewhere.
From the very beginning, Lincoln’s war strategy involved waging war on Southern civilians despite the fact that such tactics were denounced by the Geneva Convention of 1863 and even by Lincoln’s own military code (the “Lieber Code,” named after its author, Columbia University law professor Francis Lieber). Federal soldiers plundered and pillaged their way through the South for four years. In 1861 federal commanders began taking civilians hostage and sometimes shooting them in retaliation for Confederate guerrilla attacks. As Colonel John Beatty warned the residents of Paint Rock, Alabama: “Every time the telegraph wire is cut we would burn a house; every time a train was fired upon we would hang a man; and we would continue to do this until every house was burned and every man hanged between Decatur and Bridgeport.” The town of Paint Rock was burned to the ground.
And believing so hardly makes me - a hispanic, son of exiles, resident of the West coast - some backwards hillbilly longing for the days of black slavery. In fact, libertarianism itself - the dual tenets of self-ownership and non-aggression - is emphatically and diametrically opposed to any force or coercion, especially such as atrocious as the forced enslavement of other human beings.
The Founding Fathers would be appalled and alarmed at such contempt for their handiwork. The Constitution’s crown jewel was the assignment of the war power to Congress. All of human history demonstrated the propensity of the executive to inflate danger or otherwise concoct justifications for war to aggrandize power or to settle personal vendettas. James Madison, father of the Constitution observed: “Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other…. War is the true nurse of executive aggrandizement.” The Founding Fathers knew that liberty was incompatible with constant war. Madison elaborated that “no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” The Constitution’s makers thus endowed Congress with exclusive authority to take the nation from a state of peace to a state of war (which legalizes murder). The legislative branch gains nothing from military conflict, and would be disinclined towards adventurism.
Among many reasons that the 16th and 17th Amendments were so disastrous is the loss of certain protections against frivolous wars. Before the 16th, any resources used in waging a war had to be collected by the states. States, therefore, had to individually decide whether their population would (1) want to engage in a war and (2) be willing enough to pay for said war by tolerating either increases in government fees and taxes or a loss of other programs. Other states would make different decisions and populations would ebb and flow naturally away from over-taxation and toward more responsible representation. And, since states cannot simply print money, there would be a more mature concern with fiscal solvency. Additionally, the 17th Amendment took away direct state representation and allowed for decisions at the federal level to circumvent state legislatures and executives beholden to only the residents of their state, again removing accountability to the people, their liberty, and their pocketbooks.
These two amendments are anti-liberty and - as the above quote eludes to - treats the Constitution’s carefully crafted separation of powers with contempt. As such, they must be repealed.
Scandalous as it may sound to the ears of Republicans schooled in Reaganomics, one critical measure of the health of a modern democracy is its ability to legitimately extract taxes from its own elites. The most dysfunctional societies in the developing world are those whose elites succeed either in legally exempting themselves from taxation, or in taking advantage of lax enforcement to evade them, thereby shifting the burden of public expenditure onto the rest of society.
Technically, the United States is a republic, not a democracy. Democracy is simply mob rule, and I thought leftists were big on the whole “just because you’re the majority doesn’t mean you’re right” stuff.
And the easiest way to keep “elites” from evading taxes is - aside from eliminating them altogether - keeping them low enough that it’s not cost-effective to attempt to evade them and to eliminate the corporatist-fascist relationship with government that grants the favors, exemptions, subsidies, protections, tariffs, and bailouts.
In other words, less government - as scandalous as it may sound to the ears of Leftists schooled in statist Keynesian nonsense.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs -- Why Nobody, Including Obama, Will Do A Damn Thing About Them (Plus Six Common-Sense Solutions) →
1) Shorten the work week. Start with a four-day work week. That means we can get 20% more people into the job market. With around 20% people currently out of work, or working part-time, that solves our jobless problem in one stroke. If that’s too big a wrench, cut down daily work hours at firms instead of firing people. That’s what they do in Germany, where they don’t have our job loss (they do everything better in Europe, but don’t get me started).
2) Launch a program of job-sharing. That means you’re allowed to share your job with someone else. They do something similar in Germany, too. So if you have a friend out of work, you can have her come in one or two days a week to share your job. Of course, you’re also putting her on your salary, so you will be earning less, but at least your friend will be earning something.
3) Slap an import tariff on all Chinese imports. Make it 20%. Suddenly, when Chinese imports become more expensive, American CEOs will have a big road-to-Damascus moment: hey, we can make our stuff here in America instead of in China. There are these people in America, they call themselves American workers, and they can actually work for us and make things. They’re like Chinese workers, except they actually live here in our country. Wow.
I know, it’s not free trade, but here’s one thing that free trade means: 60% of what we import from China is made by American subsidiaries there. So let’s agree about something: our livelihoods are more important than free trade, which has freed American corporations to export our jobs. Let’s fellate free trade with a mininuke. It’s not as if China doesn’t put up barriers against our exports to them either, chief among them undervaluing their renminbi.
4) Invest massively in green energy, like China and Denmark have already done (Denmark!? why are those damn Scandinavians always the first to do something sensible?). I mean MASSIVE investments in green energy, as massively and transformatively as the Marshall Plan that put a bombed-into-rubble Germany back on its feet, or the Manhattan Project that gave us the atom bomb, or JFK’s NASA that gave us a man on the moon in ten years. Obama already put $27.2 billion towards green energy in his February 2009 stimulus bill. But this was akin to a gnat piddling in a waterfall. A few hundred billions behind green energy: now that could solve our unemployment problem as quick and easy as you can overthrow some Arab dictators.
In fact, Obama got a second chance to do something big about green energy when the BP oil spill came along, and everyone walked around hating oil companies. But he blew that opportunity, too. Obama is a lot like what Abba Eban said about Yasser Arafat: Obama never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
5) Lower the retirement age. Yes, you read me right. The reason we need to lower the retirement age, say to 60 for a start, and maybe 55 later on, is to make room for new young workers to enter the job market. Those new workers coming in — they’ll be paying into Social Security so our retirees can retire early.
I know people are saying we should raise the retirement age to save Social Security, but that’s BS. Social Security is fully funded for the next 30 years at least. This is what it says in the flyer that Social Security sends out to Social Security recipients:
“Since the mid-1980s, Social Security has been collecting more in payroll contributions each year than it pays out in retirement, survivor, and disability benefits.
“Surplus funds are invested in U.S. Treasury bonds, which represent an implicit promise by the U.S. government to repay Social Security when and if additional money is needed to cover benefits.
“According to Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security Trust Fund holds more than $2.5 trillion in government bonds and is projected to grow to $3.8 trillion in 2020. This money will be sufficient, along with current tax revenue, to pay all scheduled benefits through the year 2043.”
In other words, Social Security will be fit and healthy right through the big bubble of the boomer generation collecting it. Plus, anytime you need to, you can get more money by raising the annual income limit beyond which you don’t pay into Social Security, now pegged at $90,000. Anybody who tells you Social Security is in trouble, is trying to steal your money so they can go play with it. It drives Wall Street absolutely nuts that there are all those trillions they can’t get their hands on. Their hands itch worse than Nietzsche’s foreskin when he was going crazy with syphilis. It drives retired Wall Street billionaire Peter Peterson so nuts, he’s spending a billion dollars of his personal stash to attack Social Security through his foundation and his America Speaks program.
6) Start a public works program a la FDR’s WPA (Works Progress Administration), which produced eight million jobs between 1935 and 1943. It worked great then. But today, it depends on Obama. And he ain’t no FDR. He likes to read books about Reagan, the poodle of the rich. FDR stood up to the rich. Obama can’t: he needs their money to get re-elected. It’s odd how everyone in America cops that our crumbling infrastructure needs fixing, while millions are jobless, but no one can muster the wherewithal to solve these two problems at one stroke. Not even Obama, whose job it is. We’ve got people who need work, we’ve got infrastructure that needs repair. Put the two together and voila! problem solved. Simple, right? But our common sense and our let’s-do-it gumption, and the nous of our President, are flying somewhere weightlessly in space like astronaut’s poop floating wherever the heck they deposit their waste.
Also known as “Why Slavery Allowed for 100% Employment of American Blacks from 1776-1865.”
Take away the ability of people to make free decisions for themselves and you can top-down all sorts of results favorable to bureaucrats and unthinking socialists. Why not outlaw emails? That will certainly create more postal worker jobs. Or shut down shovel factories and shovel imports. If everyone has to dig with a spoon, more people will be forced to dig the same size hole. Or how about we shut down all our power factories and instead employ tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of people to pedal stationary bicycles to create our energy. Now that is a massive job program that’s also clean and renewable! We’ll call it the Human Hamsters Unleash Green Energy project. I’m telling you, it’ll be “HHUGE.”
And why stop at 20% tariff on Chinese imports? If 20% is so good, 50% must be better! And since so many goods will be that much more expensive, no one (except the rich and politically connected) will be able to afford anything! Brilliant! And why stop at the Chinese? Let’s just put massive tariffs on ALL imports! Who cares what nations we piss off. Bastiat obviously didn’t know what he was talking about when he said “When goods don’t cross borders, armies will.”
And while we’re lowering the retirement age (and paying no mind how to financially support the suddenly more definitionally unproductive individuals who would be net leeches to the economy), let’s think about other groups of people we can discriminate against and keep from entering the workforce. How about Puerto Ricans? Or people with blue eyes? Or left-handed women? Or bi-sexual midgets? I mean, as long as the government is deciding who can or cannot work, what difference does it make if it’s on the basis of race, gender, age or any other arbitrary trait that is inconsequential to their ability to perform a job a willing employer would pay them to do?
This is one of the most economically ignorant things I’ve read since Al Gore invented the internet.