The Intransigent Conservative
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
View the story "Tuesday's Tidbits (2/19/13)" on Storify
Tuesday's Tidbits (2/19/13)
· Tue, Feb 19 2013 17:26:22
Victor Davis Hanson
) writes that history has shown that a government slicing up a shrinking pie breeds class envy,
The gradual decline of a society is often a self-induced process of trying to meet ever-expanding appetites
, rather than a physical inability to produce past levels of food and fuel, or to maintain adequate defense. Americans have never had safer workplaces or more sophisticated medical care — and never have so many been on disability.”
“Given our unsustainable national debt —
nearly $17 trillion and climbing
— America is said to be in decline, although we face no devastating plague, nuclear holocaust, or shortage of oil or food.
Americans have never led such affluent material lives
— at least as measured by access to cellphones, big-screen TVs, cheap jet travel and fast food. Obesity rather than malnutrition is the greater threat to national health. Flash mobs go after electronics stores, not food markets. Americans spend more money on Botox, face lifts and tummy tucks than on the age-old scourges of polio, small pox and malaria.”
By any historical marker, the future of Americans has never been brighter
. The United States has it all: undreamed new finds of natural gas and oil, the world’s pre-eminent food production, continual technological wizardry, strong demographic growth, a superb military and constitutional stability.
Yet we don’t talk confidently about capitalizing and expanding on our natural and inherited wealth
. Instead, Americans bicker over entitlement spoils as the nation continues to pile up trillion-dollar-plus deficits.
Enforced equality rather than liberty is the new national creed
. The medicine of cutting back on government goodies seems far worse than the disease of borrowing trillions from the unborn to pay for them.”
HANSON: Why do societies give up? - Washington Times: http://wtim.es/W5uTipWashington Times Op
Richard W. Rahn
, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and Chairman of the Institute for Global Economic Growth (
), writes that big capitalist economies like ours, the United Kingdom and France are rapidly becoming more government-controlled, with high debt-to-GDP ratios and no economic growth. “
Rich countries do not naturally become poor. They only become poor when they have poor leadership
“An upside down world. Here I am, in my London hotel room, watching an English-language financial program being broadcast from Moscow on RT (Russian TV). The program host is correctly berating the heads of the major Western central banks for acting like socialists in setting interest rates and ignoring the fact that free markets will do a better job. He notes that both China and Russia are on a gold-buying spree in order to strengthen their currencies, while the Europeans, Japan and the United States are in a race to weaken theirs.
Finally, he goes on a rant against the Western governments for their continuing fiscal irresponsibility
“The United Kingdom, France and the United States do not have a credible plan to bring their deficits down to a level below realistic expected growth rates,
which is what is needed to avoid a financial meltdown
. The three governments have what they politely call a ‘
’ for spending, deficits and economic growth.
The moving target is one that never gets any closer
“Many of the central banks are trying to do the impossible:
To increase inflation while keeping interest rates very low
. They want to raise inflation to erode the real value of the debts their governments have been creating, but they are fearful that raising interest rates will make the costs of servicing both private and public debt unmanageable.”
“What do you think President Obama will do if the Chinese, Japanese and others suddenly stop buying U.S. bonds and private buyers start demanding far higher interest rates?
Do you think he will accept the responsibility for his own economic mismanagement, or will he find some group to demonize and then try to take their assets?
Rich countries do not naturally become poor. They only become poor when they have poor leadership. http://j.mp/XirnEGCato Institute
, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, writes that we need to focus on the nature of America’s political “
” – specifically those who voted for Obama and those who did not bother voting at all. “If those voters are not receptive to the Republican message,
it doesn’t matter much how brilliant the messenger or the packaging of the message
“Nearly 3 months after the presidential election the Republicans are still trying to fix what they think went wrong. A popular culprit is the Republicans’ alleged failure to communicate forcefully or persuasively a message that would move voters presumably receptive to conservative policies and principles.”
Only the stupid or willfully inattentive haven’t heard that we face a financial abyss waiting at the end of our entitlement road
, that entitlements need to be reformed, that we have an exploding debt and deficit crisis, that a ‘tax the rich’ policy only produces chump-change for solving that problem, that Obama’s economic policies have bloated the federal government at the expense of jobs and growth, and that Obama himself is the most left-wing, duplicitous, partisan, and incompetent president in modern history.”
“The fact is,
many voters know full well this dismal catalogue of failure
, and they either don’t care, or they believe the fatuous rationalizations, lies, excuses, and economic magical thinking offered by the Democrats.”
“If you disagree, remember what happened to Paul Ryan last year. He identified the problem of entitlement-driven deficits and crafted a response that made a modest start at reform. But after several months of demonization by the Democrats that included an ad with a Ryan look-alike pushing an old lady in a wheelchair over a cliff, the only narrative with traction by election day was the lie that Republicans ‘want to end Medicare as we know it’ and ‘shred the safety net’ and keep the ‘rich’ from ‘paying their fair share.’
You could have resurrected Ronald Reagan and had him deliver the counter-message and the outcome would’ve been the same
“Dig deeper into the ideas behind the policies and you’ll find out why the Democrats’ narrative is so much more appealing to such voters than is that of the Republicans.
The conservative message is predicated on beliefs about ordered liberty, self-reliance, equality of opportunity, individualism, limited government, entrepreneurship, and all those other virtues and principles that indeed have made the United States the wealthiest, freest, most open great power in all of history
. But those virtues necessarily entail a tragic view of human life. Individual freedom requires as well personal responsibility and accountability for bad choices. Equality of opportunity is no guarantee of success. Talent, character, initiative, brains, and luck are not evenly distributed among people. Limiting government means individuals, families, churches, and communities must see to their own needs and wants and find some way to pay for them. Many businesses are going to fail, but that is part of capitalism’s ‘creative destruction’ that has made free-market economies so successful. We can’t have every good we want without paying a price or making a trade-off or accepting some level of risk… In short, a flawed human nature, the law of unforeseen consequences, and the limits of human knowledge all mean that we have to accept an imperfect world in which life isn’t fair:
there are no winners without losers, there’s no free lunch, and we can’t eat our cake and have it
“The progressive Democrats, in contrast to the timeless wisdom even an illiterate peasant once understood, endorse a therapeutic view of human life…
Contrary to those cranky ‘mean’ conservatives, there is such a thing as a free lunch, and we can eat our cake and still have it
“So what if history shows that
every attempt to create the progressive utopia has ended in disaster and failure
, so what if the math says the entitlement state ends in bankruptcy, so what if our national character is being insidiously corrupted by getting something we haven’t earned but think is a human right, so what if, as Tocqueville warned 170 years ago, empowering the state to achieve these utopian boons comes at the cost of our freedom and autonomy.
We want our free stuff now, and somebody else can pay the cost, whether the ‘rich’ or our grandchildren
“Better messages and better messengers
are not going to overcome human nature
. The melancholy truth is that our debt, deficit, and entitlement problems will not be seriously addressed until
a critical mass of citizens
feels the pain of these self-interested, shortsighted, catastrophic policies.”
“[P]rofessional marketers start by understanding their target audience. Music companies don’t spend a lot of money trying to sell rap music to senior citizens, and denture cream manufacturers pretty much ignore the 18-35 demographic.
When it comes to politics, we forget this critical dimension of marketing
. We just assume that a critical mass of voters, including the millions who voted for the other guy, want to buy our product.”
“Starting with the earliest critics of democracy, the tendency of voters to put their private interests over the long-term well being of the state was a consistent criticism… [T]he American Founders shared the ancient view of human nature
as motivated by passion and self-interest
, and similarly feared democracy as the form of government that gave the widest scope to those passions and interests.”
“Our problem today is that our government has evolved to something closer to ancient Athenian democracy than the Founders ever imagined… So unless one believes that human nature has evolved beyond passion and self-interest so that today a critical mass of voters will consider principle and the good of the whole even at the cost of their own interests,
we still face the same problem that troubled earlier critics of democracy
“[T]his doesn’t mean that conservatives should adopt the fatalistic attitude that there’s nothing to be done. By all means, identify talented leaders, and think about more effective ways to communicate.
But let’s not pretend that it won’t take the folly of progressive policies hitting hard people’s material interests and political freedom
––which will happen, without question, under Obama and the Democrats–– to make voters receptive to those messengers and messages.”
It’s Not the Message, It’s Not the Messenger, It’s the Voter: The nightmares we face won't be ad... http://tinyurl.com/al98mxd #news #politicsFrontPage Magazine
Messengers, Messages, and Voters, Part 2At their retreat in Williamsburg a few weeks ago House Republicans continued the post-mortem of November's debacle. A big topic was how t...
Steve Forbes, a two-time candidate for the Republican nomination for the Presidency, writes that this year marks the unfortunate centennial of the federal income tax (Feb. 3rd) and the Federal Reserve System (Dec. 23rd), “
both of which today are doing immeasurable harm
“Income taxes punish the very things we want more of:
productive work, risk-taking and success
. We can’t say this enough: A tax on income is the price you pay for working; a tax on profits, the price you pay for success; and a tax on capital gains, the price you pay for taking risks that work out.”
“[T]he justifications for punitive rates have been demolished. The literature undercutting the rationales for absurd levels–that they produce more government ‘investment,’ that they don’t hurt economic activity–continues to grow. The truth is that on the national level those higher taxes are slowing down an already sluggish economy.”
“Research by Art Laffer and other economists has demonstrated that over time states that have no income tax perform better than states with high income taxes… Before the enactment of the 16th Amendment, which permitted Washington to impose an income tax, states were in the vanguard of putting taxes on income.
Today they are doing just the opposite
“Republicans must begin to realize that they should don
an optimistic pro-growth mantle
instead of sounding like dyspeptic accountants.”
“The harm the Federal Reserve does is less appreciated but no less real. Amazingly, our central bank
has no concept of the proper role for such an institution
, which is to give us a stable currency and deal with financial panics quickly and decisively.”
“When the dollar is weakened, investment is misdirected. Less goes into financing productive activities and more into defensive hard assets.”
“[T]he Fed’s interest rate activities are suppressing the availability of credit to smaller businesses. Bank loans to unincorporated businesses–which are huge job creators in a normal economy–have actually declined during the last two years. Meanwhile, the federal government gets all the cash it wants at virtually no cost.
Call it deficits without tears
See my piece, Two Awful Anniversaries: Income Tax and Federal Reserve - Forbes http://www.forbes.com/sites/steveforbes/2013/02/13/two-awful-anniversaries/2/Steve Forbes
Bradley R. Schiller
, emeritus professor of economics at American University, writes that Congress is
not good at not spending
“Uncle Sam spends more money every year than he takes in. The resulting budget deficits are financed by issuing more Treasury bonds (IOUs), adding to the pile of debt. Annual deficits balloon when wars or recessions cause spending to surge and/or tax revenues to decline.
Deficit spending makes debt reduction impossible
. Opinion polls suggest Americans want government to stop the deficit spending, so Washington is now fixated on deficit reduction. The CBO says the current debt trajectory will shave 1.7 percent off GDP by 2022.
“The U.S. Senate hasn’t passed a budget in four years. Congress sidesteps fiscal responsibilities by passing continuing resolutions that provide ‘temporary’ and ‘emergency’ funding for Uncle Sam. Without those budget Band-Aids,
the government would have to shut down
, as it did on 17 occasions from 1976 to 1996.”
Congress has proven to be incapable to reduce deficits through regular annual budgeting, requiring budget enforcement/deficit reduction mechanisms like sequestration,
the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act of 1985
the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990
, and the debt ceiling.
“Persistent budget deficits keep pushing the debt against that limit, which means Congress either must raise the debt ceiling or shut down the government.
It always raises the debt ceiling
. It has done so 77 times since 1962.
“The ultimate budget enforcement mechanism is
a constitutional amendment that forbids deficit spending
. Economists warn that such a budget straitjacket is unenforceable and potentially disastrous. Still, it has enormous popular appeal. If two-thirds majorities of both chambers pass it, it goes to the states for ratification with a three-fourths majority.”
“The public is fed up with soaring debt and Congress‘ inability to exercise fiscal restraint.
People have near-zero confidence in Congress
, which spills over into their perceptions of the economy. They see runaway deficits, soaring debt and a complete lack of fiscal leadership. These perceptions restrain investment spending, deter consumer purchases, constrain bank lending and slow foreign investment.
The end result is slower economic growth and persistently high unemployment
SCHILLER: A history of the national debtAlexander Hamilton, America's first secretary of the Treasury, issued the first U.S. Treasury bonds on Sept. 18, 1789. The Continental Co...
Amity Shlaes (
), who directs The 4% Growth Project, shares an anecdote that Calvin Coolidge had two lion cubs sent to him from an admirer in South Africa, which he named Budget Bureau (a forerunner to today's Office of Management and Budget) and Tax Reduction.
Many historians rate Coolidge as a weak president
, but he held back the Progressives for 5½ years and had the determination to advance the fiscal policy that conservatives would like to see today.
“A New Englander and former Massachusetts governor, Coolidge came to Washington as vice president and moved into the White House only in 1923 after the sudden death of President Warren Harding. He later won the office himself and served until 1929. The 30th president cut the top income-tax rate to 25% (lower than the 28% of the historic Reagan cut of 1986).
Coolidge reduced the national debt and balanced the budget
. When he departed the White House for his home in Northampton, Mass.,
he left a federal budget smaller than the one he found
“Three factors gave Silent Cal the ability to cut as he did, each suggesting a governing approach that would be useful today… The first advantage was a gift from his predecessor, President Harding:
the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921
… The second advantage was one Coolidge himself supplied: the discipline to use budget tools, new and old… Coolidge's third advantage was insight into what might be called fiscal trust. The president understood that ambitious budget cuts would be accepted if he could ‘align’ them with ambitious tax cuts.”
“Coolidge and (Treasury secretary Andrew) Mellon carefully underscored the technical evidence, and there was plenty, that greater revenues might follow tax rate cuts.
But they still insisted on twinning tax cuts with budget cuts, so voters and markets would never be betrayed
“President Reagan recognized Coolidge's achievement, and upon taking office in 1981 he had a neglected Coolidge picture restored to a place of honor near Lincoln and Jefferson in the Cabinet Room. It is too much to hope that President Obama would take Coolidge's example to heart.
But those who are even now pondering presidential runs for 2016 would do well to heed Silent Cal's deeds
Amity Shlaes: The Coolidge Lesson on Taxes and Spending http://on.wsj.com/ZbQmbSOpinion & Commentary
Robert A. Levy
, chairman of the Cato Institute, writes that two of the three steps in the battle for gun rights have been accomplished; the Supreme Court has decided the meaning of the Second Amendment and where it applies, and the next major task
is to determine the scope and limitations of those rights
“The Second Amendment does not guarantee a 12-year-old's right to possess a machine gun in front of the White House when the president is walking on the lawn. Some persons, some weapons and some circumstances may be regulated…
Reasonable persons should be able to fashion reasonable restrictions
—a framework for gun control in the aftermath of Newtown—without violating core Second Amendment rights.
“Here is the key principle: Both Heller and McDonald corroborated that the right to bear arms is ‘
’; i.e., it is implicit in the concept of ordered liberty and deeply rooted in our nation's traditions and culture. Consequently, the Constitution establishes a presumption of individual liberty. That means
government bears a heavy burden
to justify any regulations that would compromise the right.”
Levy examines several of the current proposed concepts, like banning high-capacity magazines, re-enacting an assault weapons ban, increasing background checks for private sales at gun shows, legalizing drugs, detecting/treating mental illness earlier, and hiring armed guards at schools (or allowing volunteer teachers/principals to access weapons).
“If regulators can show that the benefits of banning high-capacity magazines exceed the costs, I have little doubt that such a ban would survive a Second Amendment court challenge.”
“Evaluation of an assault weapons ban, like that of a magazine ban,
should be based on empirical evidence
… The task is to identify those firearms or attachments that are not commonly used or needed for self-defense, and would improve public safety if they were banned. The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban went too far; but a better-crafted, limited version might be warranted.”
“Gun control advocates occasionally misuse the phrase ‘
close the gun-show loophole
’ to urge that all private sales be subject to background checks. Two clarifications: First, sensible proposals to extend background checks would not reach all private sales, but only those at gun shows. Second, most sales at gun shows are through licensed dealers that already have to conduct such checks.”
“Here are the figures for a recent year: The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) denied 79,000 would-be buyers. Of those, 105 were prosecuted and 43 were convicted.
That's a conviction rate of 5/100ths of one percent
. Either the remaining denials were false positives – legitimate purchases unjustly blocked by NICS – or, if the denials were proper,
then 99.95 percent of the 79,000 rejected applicants escaped punishment
. Neither conclusion offers much hope for an expanded system of background checks.”
“The single most effective option—which is not being discussed at all—would result in a huge reduction of gun violence: Legalize drugs… [B]ecause drugs are illegal, participants in the drug trade cannot go to court to settle disputes and enforce contracts. As a result, disputes are resolved by force.”
“I do believe that early detection and treatment (of mental illness) can be a legitimate function of government. It's part of a state's police power to protect residents against rights-violating activities, such as the criminal use of firearms.”
“In the United States, there are approximately 100,000 public schools, so staffing should not be prohibitively expensive. About 28 percent of those schools already employ security officers who carry firearms. For the remaining schools, retired police and military personnel would be obvious recruits. The focus should be on entrance security, which reduces manpower requirements…
Gun-free school zones have been a magnet for the mentally deranged
“With just two exceptions, every public mass shooting in this country over the past 60 years has taken place where citizens are banned from carrying guns.”
“Our framers intended that the states serve as experimental laboratories.
Residents who disapprove can vote with their feet
. Even the indisputably anti-gun Washington Post editorialized: Armed guards are ‘not unreasonable where local schools feel they need [them].’”
While I disagree with Levy on drug legalization, I do agree that there is no reason why we cannot rationally debate and have another look at our gun laws. An unemotional, fact-based process should be our guide, keeping in mind that random multi-victim killings are a minor fraction of murders, there is no reliable evidence that gun control regulations reduce violent gun crime, and gun ownership is already heavily regulated.
“Overall, I am skeptical about the efficacy of gun regulations that are
imposed almost exclusively on persons who are not part of the problem
… With regard to further regulations, the Supreme Court has directed government to certify two essential points: First, the proposals will make us safer. Second, the same ends could not be attained without unduly compromising individual rights that are secured by the Second Amendment.”
Reflections on Gun Control by a Second Amendment Advocate http://j.mp/X2LWFc by Robert A. LevyCato Institute
Andrew Malcolm reports that the Obama administration “has been buying and storing vast amounts of ammunition in recent months, with the Department of Homeland Security just placing
another order for an additional 21.6 million rounds
“According to one estimate, just since last spring
DHS has stockpiled more than 1.6 billion bullets
, mainly .40 caliber and 9mm.
That's sufficient firepower to shoot every American about five times
. Including illegal immigrants.
“To provide some perspective, experts estimate that at the peak of the Iraq war American troops were firing around 5.5 million rounds per month.
At that rate, DHS is armed now for a 24-year Iraq war
“The lack of a credible official explanation for such awesome ammunition acquisitions is feeding all sorts of conspiracy theories, mainly centered on federal anticipation of some kind of
ICYMI Why are the feds loading up on so much ammo? http://dlvr.it/2wGZ1d #TCOT Bookmark--> http://Investors.com/AndrewMalcolmAndrew Malcolm
Chuck Raasch reports that retailers are seeing rising demand for ammunition from gun owners who are stockpiling bullets due to potential gun control legislation, and customers are now competing over the supply with the federal government.
Prices have more than doubled over past year in some shops
, retailers are putting limits on the amount a customer can buy, and some common types of ammunition, such as .22-caliber long rifle shells, are hard to get.”
“[R]etailers say much of the demand is from gun owners who are stockpiling in case certain weapons are banned,
who believe that economic chaos may be coming
, or who are driven by rumors of inevitable background checks or rising taxes on ammunition.”
“The run on ammunition comes amid Internet discussion about recent purchases of ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration.”
Gun dealers report shortages of ammunition http://usat.ly/Wz2cfW via @USATODAYChuck Raasch
Jim VandeHei & Mike Allen write that Obama “is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House” with old tricks on steroids. The White House uses softball interviews, weekend document dumps, restricted access to administration officials, mastery of “scrutiny avoidance,” and even bullying to influence the media coverage.
“The results are transformational. With more technology, and fewer resources at many media companies,
the balance of power between the White House and press has tipped unmistakably toward the government
. This is an arguably dangerous development, and one that the Obama White House — fluent in digital media and no fan of the mainstream press — has exploited cleverly and ruthlessly.”
“The president has shut down interviews with many of the White House reporters who know the most and ask the toughest questions. Instead, he spends way more time talking directly to voters via friendly shows and media personalities.”
“Obama boasted Thursday during a Google+ Hangout from the White House: ‘This is the most transparent administration in history.’
The people who cover him day to day see it very differently
“The way the president’s availability to the press has shrunk in the last two years
is a disgrace
,” said ABC News White House reporter Ann Compton, who has covered every president back to Gerald R. Ford. “The president’s day-to-day policy development — on immigration, on guns —
is almost totally opaque
to the reporters trying to do a responsible job of covering it. There are no readouts from big meetings he has with people from the outside, and many of them aren’t even on his schedule. This is different from every president I covered. This White House goes to extreme lengths to keep the press away.”
Obama’s aides are better at using technology and exploiting the president’s ‘brand.’
They are more disciplined about cracking down on staff that leak, or reporters who write things they don’t like. And they are obsessed with taking advantage of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and every other social media forums, not just for campaigns, but governing.”
“Conservatives assume a cozy relationship between this White House and the reporters who cover it. Wrong. Many reporters find Obama himself strangely fearful of talking with them
and often aloof and cocky when he does
. They find his staff needlessly stingy with information and thin-skinned about any tough coverage. He gets more-favorable-than-not coverage because many staffers are fearful of talking to reporters, even anonymously, and some reporters inevitably worry access or the chance of a presidential interview will decrease if they get in the face of this White House.”
“This administration loves to boast about how transparent they are, but they’re transparent about things they want to be transparent about,” said Mark Knoller, the veteran CBS News reporter. “
He gives interviews not for our benefit, but to achieve his objective
w/ @JimVandeHei, "Obama, puppet master": Golf is the least of it -- Quotes @MarkKnoller, @PeterBakerNYT #POLITICObtc http://politi.co/Y5okhiMike Allen
Share to Twitter
Share to Facebook
Share to Pinterest
Balanced Budget Amendment
Post a Comment
Post Comments (Atom)