Obama's "Balanced Approach" Proposal to Deficit Reduction: $6 in Tax Hikes for Every $1 in Spending Cuts →
Of course, “spending cuts” are mostly decreases to projected increases. (And a trillion dollars less than he promised last month.) Overall spending will not actually decrease.
Additionally, some of those “savings” come in switching to “Chained CPI” as the measure of inflation. This tends to rise more slowly than other forms of measuring price inflation. But the biggest impact in the long run of switching to Chained CPI is even more government revenue: “Currently, the cutoffs for different tax brackets rise with CPI-U, a non-chained measure of inflation. Chained CPI would cause the cutoffs to rise more slowly, pushing more and more people into higher tax brackets. That raises $99 billion over 10 years.”
The repeal of Prohibition was the real reason for FDR’s popularity. Historians credit the New Deal and World War II, but both were negative. The New Deal did not get us out of the Great Depression (neither did WWII) and WWII did not improve living standards, but instead led to massive deaths and destruction.
With Repeal achieved, the entire alcohol industry, including distilleries, breweries, and wineries, were back at work. Workers were rehired. Input suppliers like farmers could feel the surge in demand for their products and services.
Crime dropped; with the murder rate falling precipitously back to its pre-Prohibition level. Violent crime and crime in general dropped significantly. The source of money for bribery, corruption, and street gangs largely evaporated.
The people were happy for the first time in almost four years. Happy Days Are Here Again was FDR’s campaign theme song, and now it is the Democratic Party theme song, but few remember it was written for a movie to celebrate the imminent repeal of Prohibition. The song would appear in 42 other movies during the 1930s.All levels of government (federal, state, county, and local) reinstituted taxes, licenses, and fees on the alcohol industry, but prices for consumers still dropped substantially. Beer was once again available and whiskey became drinkable again.
President Obama should learn this lesson from FDR. Freedom and prosperity are what makes people happy. The cause of FDR’s popularity may have been obscured by court historians, but picking on sick and dying people and prosecuting potheads is no way to build your legacy.
Some interesting reading I’ve come across while sitting on a chair in the sky…
- Lew Rockwell’s manifesto of peace.
- Aeon Skoble’s thoughtful contributions to the subject of libertarianism and war.
- Glenn Greenwald on the endless war on terror.
- Has the Left made peace with the warfare state?
- John Whitehead on the war on terror and the surveillance state.
- Jeffrey Tucker on the dangerous “witchcraft” of central banking.
- Hunter Lewis on the essence of Keynesianism.
- Walter Williams notes that taxes destroy transactions and thus jobs.
- The Minimum Wage: An Unfair Advantage for Employers
- The Minimum Wage Harms the Most Vulnerable
- “Economics isn’t rocket science; it’s a lot harder. We should admit as much and when asked to measure things we cannot measure, we should admit our ignorance.”
- Richard Ebeling: The Federal Reserve’s “Exit Strategy” is just more monetary manipulation
- George Smith defends the non-aggression principle: “Libertarianism is a political theory that deals with the concept of justice. It does not deal per se with establishing what is and is not “morally permissible.” That is the realm of ethics, or moral theory, which is a much broader discipline than political theory.”
- Tom Woods on progressive confusion of “society.”
- David Friedman on democracy, partisanship, rational ignorance, and why he believes things.
- Jonah Goldberg admits that the president probably didn’t ask the IRS to target political opponents - but they were an agency after his own heart.
- Tim Lynch and George Will offer some “empirical evidence” on IRS political manipulation.
- Doug Ross compiles a timeline on the IRS scandal and concludes: “1. Steve Miller lied to Congress, 2. Lois Lerner lied to Congress, 3. Barack Obama lied to the American people”
- Audit reveals disturbing new information on IRS abuse scandal.
- The IRS has a long history of political abuse.
- Obama apologetics in full force: New Republic blames the Tea Party for the IRS Scandal, NY Times claims that IRS targeting of Tea Party only proves Republicans are desperate, Nancy Pelosi thinks people are making a big deal about this because “the president is such a great president.”
- Mike Riggs shares the Drug Policy Aliiance’s “An Exit Strategy for the failed War on Drugs”, noting 75 ways in which to make the Drug War less awful (of course, there solution is much more simple: end prohibition of all peaceful activity. Period.).
- Shikha Dalmia on the Myth of the Scientific Liberal: “The core trait of a scientific mind is that when its commitments clash with evidence, evidence rules. On that count, what grade do liberals deserve? Fail, given their reaction to the latest evidence on universal health care, global warming, and universal preschool.”
- “[C]ollege students run up big bills to pay for educations unlikely to deliver payoffs to match the money invested. It’s no surprise that delinquency rates on those student loans are soaring. So, what’s the federal government’s response [included in Obama’s budget next year]? [I]t plans to expand a program that encourages students to take on debt with promises that taxpayers will assume the burden.”
- Americans who favor gun control incorrectly believe gun crime has increased.
- The case for legalizing horse meat.
- How zoning kills affordable housing.
- Read this if you still think teachers’ unions and educrats care about kids.
- Missouri Legislature Nullifies All Federal Gun Control Measures by a Veto-Proof Majority
- John Stossel notes: “Forty-three million Americans moved from one state to another between 1995 and 2010 — about one-seventh of Americans. … [They] have moved away from high-taxed, heavily regulated states to lower-taxed, less-regulated states. Most don’t think of it as a political decision. They just go where opportunities are, and that usually means where there’s less government.”
- How big business depends on big government.
Yes, President Obama has broken the law on multiple occasions. Despite clearly stating, in a 2008 questionnaire, that the commander-in-chief is not lawfully empowered to ignore treaties duly ratified by the Senate, Obama has willfully failed to enforce the torture treaty, signed by Ronald Reagan and duly ratified by the Senate, that compels him to investigate and prosecute torture. As Sullivan put it earlier this year, “what Obama and Holder have done (or rather not done) is illegal.”
Obama also violated the War Powers Resolution, a law he has specifically proclaimed to be Constitutionally valid, when committing U.S. troops to Libya without Congressional approval. …
Has he ordered the assassination of any American citizens in secret without due process? Did he kill any of their teenage kids without ever explaining how or why that happened?
Has he refused to reveal even the legal reasoning he used to conclude his targeted killing program is lawful?
Has he waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers?
Has he spied on millions of innocent Americans without a warrant or probable cause?
Does he automatically count dead military-aged males killed by U.S. drones as “militants”?
Did he “sign a bill that enshrines in law the previously merely alleged executive power of indefinite detention without trial of terror suspects”?
Yes. He. Has.
Amidst all the justified outrage over the apparent targeting of Tea Party and conservative groups by the IRS, not to mention the Associated Press phone tapping brouhaha, an important point is being lost: this is nothing new. The Tea Partiers may be shocked – shocked! – that the Big Government they have spent the last few years complaining about really is a threat to our liberties, but the government targeting certain political groups wholly on account of their views is hardly breaking news. …
The Tea Partiers’ problem is that their protests come far too late – because the legal and political precedents targeting dissident groups were established long ago, with the full complicity and even enthusiastic support of most of those who call themselves “conservatives” these days. The“Patriot” Act – passed with conservative support – gives the government the “right” to not only spy on such groups, it also gives them the means to spy on anyone, for any reason, as well as the prosecutorial “tools” to put them away forever. Law enforcement agencies have set up “fusion centers” in order to collect information on American citizens who might be considered a “threat.” A recent report on “right-wing extremism” issued by the Department of Homeland Security” listed groups local law enforcement should keep tabs on, including members of the Libertarian and Constitution parties, as well as Ron Paul supporters. Efforts by the FBI and local police to infiltrate and set up members of the “Occupy” movement have been widespread. …
This is the way our civil liberties are continually eroded, with virtually no pushback when the government singles out, demonizes, and tries to destroy a targeted group. When the government went after David Koresh and his followers at Waco, liberals were either silent or else actively cheerleading the slaughter. When the headquarters of MOVE, a Philadelphia black nationalist group, was bombed, and the entire neighborhood decimated, not a peep of protest was heard on the right. When the Tea Partiers complain about being targeted, and Rand Paul launches a filibuster conjuring up images of Americans being targeted by drones on American soil, liberals and their media megaphones descry the “black helicopters crowd” and talk about the “paranoia” of the “far right.” When it’s the liberals and the left warning about the dangers of an encroaching police state in the age of terrorism, conservatives start ranting about how “terrorist-loving” liberals and the ACLU are out to destroy America.
While right and left go at each other, the machinery of repression is being readied. The most recent – and chilling – example: a recent Pentagon-initiated change to the US Code would give military commanders powers equal to the President in wartime. As the revised language of the Code puts it:
“Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances.”
When is it “impossible” for the President to duly authorize military action? This is never defined. What is “temporary”? This, too, goes undefined. And what about the Insurrection and Posse Comitatus Acts which limit and regulate the manner in which the military may intervene in domestic affairs? The revised regulations eviscerate both acts, and throw the door wide open to rule by the military in an ill-defined “emergency.” And hardly anybody notices!
That’s the state of civil liberties in the US these days: the government is spying on reporters, IRS agents are harassing political activists, FBI agents are raiding antiwar organizations, and the Pentagon is busy getting the legal machinery up and running in the event they feel the need to impose martial law. The reason they can get away with this, politically, is because the right doesn’t care if the government comes down hard on the left, while the left openly agitates for the instruments of repression to be used against the right. There is no sense that we’re all in this together: that if the government can move against the Tea Partiers, then the antiwar activists are next. It’s all about whose ox is being gored – not whether our liberties are endangered by a regime emboldened by unaccountable power.
Very quotable speech by Don Boudreaux:
An economy is capitalist in façade-only if much of the direction of resources in that economy is governed by something other than the free choices of consumers and the genuine competition of producers – competition both for customers and for resources to be used to produce what producers anticipate customers will demand.
Likewise, a society is free in façade-only if it is capitalist in façade-only.
The modern “liberal” – in America we increasingly say “Progressive” – ethos features two propositions relevant to the subject of this panel. The first isthat government intervention is a pernicious threat to liberty when exercised over “personal” or “civil” matters such as religious belief, speech, sexual practices, or participation in politics.
The second is that our liberty is somehow enhanced – or at least not threatened – by strong state or collective intervention into the economy.
I believe that the first of these propositions is absolutely valid. I believe that the second – the one about the economy – is grossly mistaken. And it’s mistaken in a way that is inconsistent with the very reasons for why the first proposition is valid.
Two facts support my belief.
One, economic liberty cannot be compromised without creating government power that threatens to destroy personal or civil liberty.
Two, the very same arguments that justify personal or civil liberty as being essential for civilization apply equally to economic liberty.
The first fact is – or should be – obvious. And it is well-known – at least among us students of scholars such as F.A. Hayek and Milton Friedman.
To the extent that government controls the economy it controls – or has the power to control – those areas of life that are classified as “non-economic.”
An obvious example is the press: if the government owns the paper mills, or has discretionary power to determine the operation of the paper mills, the government has the power to prevent publishers from getting an essential input for spreading ideas through books, newspapers, and magazines.
A less-obvious example is the financial sector: if the government owns the banks, or has discretionary power to determine the allocation of credit, the government has the power to prevent publishers from getting an essential input for spreading ideas – namely, the financing that is often necessary to launch or to sustain a newspaper or an e-magazine.
These examples can be multiplied endlessly.
Political and personal freedoms require economic resources for their exercise. So to control the latter is to have at least the power to control the former.
The second fact supporting my insistence on the inseparability of ‘economic’ from ‘non-economic’ liberty is, I think, just as obvious as the first – although it is too-seldom mentioned. I break it down into four component parts, but in fact these four parts are all of a single piece.
First, liberty respects the dignity of each individual.
If the individual is not to be a tool of the collective or a pawn of the state – if the individual is not to be a mere means to some higher political or religious end – if the individual has standing as an individual moral agent to make his or her own “non-economic” life’s choices, then the individual has standing as an individual moral agent to make his or her own “economic” choices.
If your dignity is violated by the state preventing you from choosing your preferred form of birth control, your preferred sexual partners, or your preferred political candidates, your dignity is violated no less by the state preventing you from choosing your preferred working conditions, consumer products, retirement plan, or line of work.
Second, liberty respects the competence of each individual.
If the individual is competent to make political and personal choices, such as those involving reproduction, on what ground is he or she incompetent to make economic choices? I can think of none.
Note that it will not do here to assert that private economic choices have system-wide consequences beyond the individual – consequences that might be undesirable. Of course they do.
But the same holds true for political choices. Indeed, because political choices necessarily are collective, they are much more prone than are private economic choices to be made irresponsibly and in ways that generate undesirable, unintended, system-wide consequences.
I might not always decide wisely how to spend my own money, but I will much less often decide wisely how to spend your money.
Either way, though, we do not face a choice between imperfect private economic decisions and perfect collective ones. Both types of decisions are marked by imperfections. We cannot, therefore, assume that real or imagined imperfections in the private economic sphere necessarily justify intervention through the political sphere.
Third, liberty reflects a healthy suspicion of those who would play god.
On non-economic matters we recognize today, at least in democracies, that government officials overstep their bounds of competence when they interfere in many ‘non-economic’ spheres.
No one, for example, believes the government official who asserts that he should restrict the press because he knows the truth better than do reporters and editors and bloggers and readers.
Yet the same limitations on the knowledge, wisdom, trustworthiness, and competence of the government official who would regulate the press or regulate our sexual practices exist also for the official who would regulate our economic and commercial practices.
The unwise, mistaken-prone, or dishonest regulator of speech, thought, belief, and sexuality doesn’t become wise, honest, and superhuman when he turns to regulating the economy.
Fourth, liberty strengthens the dynamism and creativity of an open, evolving society.
If restrictions on entry into political elections, restrictions on the extent of the adult franchise, restrictions on political speech, restrictions on whom we may marry, and other restrictions on our political and personal liberties stymie the dynamism of democracy and the progress of civil society, then restrictions on economic activities stymie the dynamism and growth of the economy. We are made poorer as a result.
There is no more reason to be suspicious of competition, decentralized experimentation, and freedom of choice in matters economic than in matters political and personal.
The dogma that says that economic activities are somehow less important or uplifting than are non-economic activities is mistaken. And it is also dangerous because it helps to fuel the fatal and false distinction between economic and non-economic liberty.
Liberty is whole; it is indivisible. To treat it otherwise is to threaten it in full – to weaken it on all fronts. And the consequence will be anything but progress toward a more civil, more peaceful, and more prosperous society.
It’s always great when Jon Stewart calls Obama out.
This past week, we learned that the IRS has targeted for additional scrutiny the tax exemption applications of groups with whose messages it disagrees. We also learned that the Department of Justice obtained the personal telephone records of hundreds of reporters and editors employed by the Associated Press without a search warrant issued by a judge. And during this past week we learned that the White House, the Department of State and the CIA all engaged in a conspiracy of disinformation so that the official version of events of what caused the murders of four Americans at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, would not impair Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. The common threads in all of this government secrecy and lying are a general rejection of government’s moral obligation to tell the truth, a disturbing yet brazen willingness to evade and avoid the restrictions the Constitution has deliberately built around government, and a glib admission that the government can do as it pleases so long as it can politically get away with it.
This past week, we learned that the IRS has targeted for additional scrutiny the tax exemption applications of groups with whose messages it disagrees. We also learned that the Department of Justice obtained the personal telephone records of hundreds of reporters and editors employed by the Associated Press without a search warrant issued by a judge. And during this past week we learned that the White House, the Department of State and the CIA all engaged in a conspiracy of disinformation so that the official version of events of what caused the murders of four Americans at our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, would not impair Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.
The common threads in all of this government secrecy and lying are a general rejection of government’s moral obligation to tell the truth, a disturbing yet brazen willingness to evade and avoid the restrictions the Constitution has deliberately built around government, and a glib admission that the government can do as it pleases so long as it can politically get away with it.
The key point is that the last bit is always the truth: “the government can do as it pleases so long as it can politically get away with it.” Words on parchment can never restrain those who thirst for ever more power, nor hold them to any moral obligation whatsoever. Agents and cronies of the state only get away with what the acquiescent masses allow them to.
President Obama announced minutes ago that, in response to the revelation that the IRS discriminately targeted conservative-leaning groups for scrutiny, he’s asked for and accepted the resignation of Miller, the acting IRS Commissioner. The commissioner at the time of the targeting was Donald Shulman; Miller didn’t assume the post of acting commissioner until November of last year, after the probe ended. However, he did have knowledge in May that the probe had taken place.
[I]t is remarkable how media reactions to civil liberties assaults are shaped almost entirely by who the victims are. For years, the Obama administration has been engaged in pervasive spying on American Muslim communities and dissident groups. It demanded a reform-free renewal of the Patriot Act and the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, both of which codify immense powers of warrantless eavesdropping, including ones that can be used against journalists. It has prosecuted double the number of whistleblowers under espionage statutes as all previous administrations combined, threatened to criminalize WikiLeaks, and abused Bradley Manning to the point that a formal UN investigation denounced his treatment as “cruel and inhuman”.
But, with a few noble exceptions, most major media outlets said little about any of this, except in those cases when they supported it. It took a direct and blatant attack on them for them to really get worked up, denounce these assaults, and acknowledge this administration’s true character. That is redolent of how the general public reacted with rage over privacy invasions only when new TSA airport searches targeted not just Muslims but themselves: what they perceive as “regular Americans”. Or how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman - once the most vocal defender of Bush’s vast warrantless eavesdropping programs - suddenly began sounding like a shrill and outraged privacy advocate once it was revealed that her own conversations with Aipac representatives were recorded by the government.
Leave to the side how morally grotesque it is to oppose rights assaults only when they affect you. The pragmatic point is that it is vital to oppose such assaults in the first instance no matter who is targeted because such assaults, when unopposed, become institutionalized. Once that happens, they are impossible to stop when - as inevitably occurs - they expand beyond the group originally targeted. We should have been seeing this type of media outrage over the last four years as the Obama administration targeted non-media groups with these kinds of abuses (to say nothing of the conduct of the Bush administration before that). It shouldn’t take an attack on media outlets for them to start caring this much.
In a few short weeks, [the Obama administration has] managed to show that when [government] wants to do “good” things, [its] managerial competence falls somewhere between David Brent and a cat chasing a laser pointer. But when government wants to flex its more malevolent muscles, [it’s] fucking Iron Man!
Dr. Jeffrey Singer wrote this piece for Reason Magazine this week. His article explains why the number of Canadians fleeing to the United States for surgery may have peaked and might indeed be falling. As the Canadian system continues its death spiral, private health clinics and mini-hospitals operating on a cash basis are springing up all over the country, this new trend due to the heroic efforts of one physician, Dr. Jacques Chaouilli, profiled in Dr. Singer’s article.
Dr. Singer also clubs the U.S. system on the head and mentions the wave of private clinics and hospitals (The Surgery Center of Oklahoma amongst them) that are rising to meet demand and provide affordable and rationally priced care. He very appropriately lays the blame for the mess in the U.S. at the feet of the federal government and their corporate health cronies. Even the disastrous practice of hospitals employing physicians receives this article’s barbs.
It is very unusual for me to encounter an article like this where I agree with every single point the author makes. I do agree with Dr. Singer on all but one point and I would look forward to discussing this with him at some point…and here it is.
If the movement toward rational and transparent healthcare pricing continues, the resulting price war will bring prices down to a level where even those of modest means will be able to afford care, without government and even without insurance (catastrophic insurance will still have a place, I think).
Call me an optimist, but in the pricing trenches, I like what I am seeing so far. If the “state” intervenes, however, the dismal future of medicine Dr. Singer predicts where only the wealthy and connected will have access is likely, however. Let’s hope my optimism isn’t proven naive.
G. Keith Smith, M.D.
The law requires large employers offering health insurance to include part-time employees working 30 hours a week or more. But rather than provide healthcare to more workers, a growing number of employers are cutting back employee hours instead.
The result: Not only will these workers earn less money, but they’ll also miss out on health insurance at work.
As Don Boudreaux notes: “Wow. What a surprise. I’m shocked. Shocked, I tell you. Just shocked. It’s simply astonishing that employers don’t just pay these higher mandated costs out of their ubiquitous pots’o’gold.”
Libertarians often speak about what Bastiat called “the seen and the unseen” or the danger of what Sowell refers to as “not thinking beyond Stage 1.” These are the inevitable unintended consequences we warned of: diminished access and quality coupled with increased prices and other negative economic effects.
Naturally, the same economically-illiterate statists who caused this mess will blame “the market” and present us with a solution that is more of the same.
New documents from the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ offices paint a troubling picture of the government’s email surveillance practices. Not only does the FBI claim it can read emails and other electronic communications without a warrant—even after a federal appeals court ruled that doing so violates the Fourth Amendment—but the documents strongly suggest that different U.S. Attorneys’ offices around the country are applying conflicting standards to access communications content (you can see the documents here).