Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tired of Being Told You "Blame America" ?

In a foreign policy discussion with some supposed Tea Party members where I engaged with lots of historical facts, information and philosophy I got one of those Hannity told them to say this responses like, "you just hate and want to blame America" and your only purpose is to "...tear down America."

I've written before on America's interventionist foreign policy missteps and ensuing blowback with "A Message For Pro-Interventionist Conservatives and Liberals" and at the beginning of "Ron Paul, CPAC and Loathing by the Ideologically Unprincipled and Intellectually Dishonest"

But, that "blame America" retort is just smarmy and usually thrown out by someone working their hardest to either be willfully ignorant of the facts or to ignore them in favor of endorsing the idea of being the world's bully. Of course, the people who argue these points will always be the first to tell you that government ruins nearly everything it touches (it does), can't do anything right, can't do anything cost effectively, etc. But, they somehow always exclude foreign policy or military activity from their laundry list. It is somehow, magically immune?

So, the next time this comes up with a so-called Conservative ... ask some simple questions. Maybe like this.

You suggest I blame (the) America(n government) for a lot of our trouble with overseas nations and people. So, let me ask you ...


Do you "blame America" for ... 
for high taxes?
for high regulation?
for ignoring its own Constitution?
for our sour economy?
for our jobs going overseas?
for stealing form taxpayers to bail out corporations like banks and auto companies?
for its $15 trillion debt? [January, 2013 update: Now $16.5 trillion]
for threatening your right to self-defense?
for crony capitalism?
for screwing up the healthcare system?
for dishonesty in government?
for electing idiots, socialists or worse?
for insecure borders?
for not drilling for oil?
for the welfare state?
for Fannie and Freddie?
for ignoring state's rights?
Do you "blame America" for any or lots of other things?

So, let me get this right ... you are upset with me and call me anti-American because I "blame America", and really just its politicians and misguided policy makers, for just one more thing than you do?



Monday, November 14, 2011

The Conservative Intellectual Dilemma Over Who Has Rights

In an all too frequent political discussion on Facebook, this time with Brian Gaddie, one of my unashamed far left liberal friends, he kindly pointed out that he appreciated Congressman Ron Paul's opposition to torture. This prompted a quick thought I've had about rights. And, really, a lot of this discussion must ultimately rest on the nature of our rights as sentient, self-aware beings who value life with each of us being the legitimate owners of our own selves who take positive action to support or enhance that life.

There is an excellent write up at The Objective Standard regarding the nature of rights that I highly recommend reading, especially since it offers up a theory that does not depend on the existence of God. This is important, because if God cannot be proven than your rights cannot be proven if you solely rest the existence of them on its existence.

But, back to the point. Certainly, nobody in the United States would support kidnapping someone off the street, failing to give them due process, failing to find them guilty in any kind of trial but instead just sticking them in a secret room and torturing them just in case they might know something useful. This would be such a vast violation of rights and the character of who are SUPPOSED to be as a nation.

But, it did prompt me to post my comment from Brian's thread on a broader topic of the nature of our rights and why I think the typical Conservative has an intellectual dilemma that they either must resolve by becoming more authoritarian and deciding that we only have the rights our respective governments grant to us OR that all human beings have rights that come about by way of our existence as sentient, self-aware beings.


Brian - regarding torture. Conservatives have an intellectual dilemma that they must resolve.


Most Conservatives would argue that our rights come from our creator (God, the creative force of the universe or whatever mechanism by which we are sentient, self-aware beings). This is clearly stated in the Declaration of Independence as a founding principle of our country. That we have rights (life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness) that nobody, not even government - except as compensation for a harm done to another - can take away.


BUT THEN, in the same breath, they would suggest that immigrants, accused terrorists or other people not born here don't have the same rights.


This is intellectually inconsistent. Either our rights come from the creator OR they come from government by nature of which borders we are unlucky enough to be born between.


They must decide. And I appreciate Ron Paul consistently showing intellectual honesty in all matters, including torture as I very much appreciate you pointing out.



Friday, August 12, 2011

National Debt After Each Administration - 1976 to present

(note: this article is periodically updated just to keep the data current)

The national debt, per capita after each Presidential administration [election year] from Ford (1976) to Obama (Present):

(figures are approximate)

1976 After Gerald Ford  - $2,844
1980 After Jimmy Carter  - $4,352
1988 After Ronald Reagan  - $12,000
1992 After George HW Bush  - $15,875
2000 After Bill Clinton  - $20,121
2008 After George W. Bush  - $31,600

2012 After Obama (1st term)  - $52,300 [and still counting]

2014 Obama 2nd mid-term (Dec) -  $57,067      [total of $18.039 Trillion and still counting]
2016 Obama (Sep 2016) - $61,442 [total of $19.5 trillion an still counting, $160,000 per family]

The debt debate is nothing new. It is not an Obama problem. It is not a Democrat or Republican problem. The two major political cults (parties) have held hands in the spirit of "compromise" for decades to send us over this cliff.

And "compromise" is a code word that a lot of people like but it really means that both sides will "compromise" the principles of those that elect them in order to say they accomplished something.

Dave Ramsey was recently quoted in a snippet that went viral on Facebook, "‎"If the US Government was a family, they would be making $58,000 a year, they spend $75,000 a year & have $327,000 in credit card debt. They are currently proposing BIG spending cuts to reduce their spending to $72,000 a year. These are the actual proportions of the federal budget & debt, reduced to a level that we can understand."

I think it is important to point out that Dave left out the $2,000,000 mortgage that this family has (we get this by looking at the additional $90 trillion in "future obligations" that our government already calculates it has committed to).



Interest on the Debt Consumes Almost HALF of Personal Income Taxes

I attended Congressman Dan Burton's (R-IN 5th) town hall in Carmel this past evening and was pleased to hear him reference some cooperative efforts he has with Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) but he said something very early on in his talk about U.S. fiscal matters that caught my attention.

He made a statement basically saying that interest on the debt consumed 46 cents out of every tax dollar and that they then had only around 54 cents to spend on everything else like the military, social security, etc... Immediately this struck me as untrue but I knew he likely didn't pull that number out of thin air. But, it did get me to thinking and I worked out the math on the back of one of his political flyers.

We are quickly approaching the point where annual debt service is around $500 billion (one half trillion dollars).

The Federal government budget is around $3.6 to $3.7 trillion.

Federal tax receipts are in the $2.15 trillion area.

Of that $2.2 trillion, a little less than $1 trillion is Personal Income Taxes.

So, interest payment on the debt, will likely run well over $450 billion for the current fiscal year.

$450 billion is:

...about 12% of the total Federal budget.

...about 21% of all expected 2011 Federal tax receipts.

...about 46% of all expected 2011 Federal PERSONAL INCOME taxes.


So, there you have it. Out of every dollar in PERSONAL INCOME TAXES almost half of it now goes solely to pay interest on the national debt. So, the only error the Congressman made was in not being specific enough in his language. He was, basically, correct in his statement. Anybody with two brain cells to rub together still need a wake up call?

The Federal Government is too big and it costs too much. Repeat until it sinks in.


All Good Things: Thank You to Abdul In The Morning

Friday morning was the final “Abdul in the Morning” show on WXNT Newstalk 1430AM in Indianapolis. I had started to listening to WXNT in the mornings when Greg Browning had the morning slot and I was a bit skeptical, but intrigued, when they announced that a “conservative, black Muslim from Illinois” was taking over the morning show. I still remember I was driving my toddler daughter (now nine years old) to her aunt's house in Brownsburg before going into the office that morning when I heard of the upcoming change.

Very quickly. Abdul's show became my favorite on radio not only because of his excellent coverage of local and state politics, cutting a different path than most that focus on the easier national issues, but because he did it so well and so fairly to all involved. I have to say I was amazed and impressed at how quickly he was able to establish himself as a fixture amongst all things political in Indianapolis. His show quickly became a daily must listen to event for anyone interested in staying up on government affairs in Indiana.

The next few years evolved in such a way that I became not just a listener to the show and sometimes caller, but a sometimes guest on tax policy, libertarian politics and as a candidate for public office. Eventually, I even got the opportunity to act as a guest co-host along with good friends like Chris Spangle (the current Executive Director of the Indiana State Libertarian Party and a former producer of Abdul's show). My loyalty to WXNT and Abdul's show even prompted me to advertise on their station a couple of times.

I remember sitting in my office one day when a gentleman named Tom Hervey walked in and introduced himself as being in radio sales with WXNT and I told him that any friend of the Abdul show was a friend of mine. Tom has also always been a class act. Somewhere along the way Abdul, miraculously, even managed to find a beautiful, charming woman who could tolerate his (and Abdul would say this himself) ego and was willing to marry him.

I think that ultimately, while Entercom had to make a financial decision, they may have shot themselves in the foot with the loss of Abdul's show. I like some of the other shows they have on WXNT but without Abdul anchoring the station with a friendly local presence, fresh locally significant content and his outreach to the community that they may have lost the biggest reason to keep 1430 AM as a featured pre-set in the car. If Abdul lands somewhere else on the local dial he is sure to take his audience with him. And his reporting and commentary can still be picked up at his Indiana Barrister BLOG site or his upcoming new site Indy Politics.

Abdul's last show can be heard at my friend and political ally Chris Spangle's web site http://www.chrisspangle.com/. Impressively, those calling in or stopping by to say thanks and wish him well included:

  • Governor and almost was Presidential candidate Mitch Daniels (R)
  • Congressman Mike Pence (R)
  • former Marion County Libertarian Party Chair Tim Maguire
  • Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller (R)
  • former Indiana Libertarian State Chair Brad Klopfenstein
  • Libertarian Party of Indiana Executive Director Chris Spangle
  • Speaker of the Indiana House Brian Bosma (R)
  • Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard (R)
  • Indianapolis City Councilor Ed Coleman (L)
  • Congressman and former Secretary of State Todd Rokita (R)
  • and, of course, Larry

You know you have made an impression and a positive impact when your list of friends and well wishers includes that esteemed group of folks.

So, let me say thank you to Abdul for his service to the community, his friendship and the opportunities he afforded me and others in being a guest on his show from time-to-time. Let me also say thank you to Andrew Lee, Brian Moore, Chris Spangle and everyone at WXNT that was involved along the way. I know there are a lot of us out there who look forward to Abdul's next broadcast media endeavor(s) – Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy and IPS Superintendent Eugene White not being among them.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Keynes vs. Hayek: Round 2 - Smarter than Gaga, Better than Cee-Lo

Every once in a while something comes along that is so tremendously beautiful that you wish everyone could appreciate it. Many, many months ago EconStories put together a really well done rap featuring the dueling ideologies (and characters) of John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Hayak, the author of The Road to Serfdom. The sequel was released today. I first saw it when Indiana liberty advocate Amy Hagerstrom posted it on Facebook [link to my Facebook page]. It had around 3,000 views at that time. This evening it us up over 81,000.

Not only is this music video very, very well done but the message is educational. The combination of such a well done presentation of the opposing ideas of two leading 20th Century economists is absolutely beautiful to behold. So, please listen to and enjoy this and appreciate the differences these two gentlemen and their economic ideas represent. One has a preference for top down, central government planning and the other for a bottom up, each person controlling their own decisions approach. I've put transcribed lyrics below courtesy of HayekCenter.org. [Bold emphasis is mine]


Keynes vs. Hayek Round Two: The Fight of the Century
Round 2





KEYNES: Here we are. Peace out. Great Recession. Thanks to ME. As you see. We’re not in a depression. Recovery. Destiny. If you follow my lesson. More Keynes. Here I come. Line up for the procession.

HAYEK: We brought out the shovels and we’re still in a ditch. And still digging. Don’t you think it’s time for a switch from that hair of the dog. Friend the party is over, the long run is here, it’s time to get sober.

KEYNES: Are you kidding? My cure works perfectly fine. Have a look. The recession ended in ’09. I deserve credit. Things would have been worse. All the estimates prove it. I’ll go chapter and verse.

HAYEK: Econometricians, they’re ever too pious. Are they doing real science or confirming their bias? Their Keynesian models are tidy and neat. But that top down approach is a fatal conceit.

KEYNES: We could have done better if we’d only spent more. Too bad that only happens when there’s a world war. You can carp all you want about stats and regression. Do you deny that world war cut short the Depression?

HAYEK: Wow. One data point and you’re jumping for joy. The last time I checked wars only destroy. There was no multiplier. Consumption just shank as we used scarce resources for every new tank. Pretty perverse to call that prosperity. Ration meat. Ration butter. A life of austerity. When that war spending ended, your friends cried disaster. Yet the economy thrived and grew faster.

KEYNES: You too only see what you want to see. The spending on war clearly goosed GDP. Unemployment was over, almost down to zero. That’s why I’M the master. That’s why I’M the hero.

HAYEK: Creating employment is a straight forward craft when the nation’s at war and there’s a draft. If every worker were staffed in the army and fleet we’d have full employment and nothing to eat.

HAYEK: Jobs are a means, not the end in themselves. People work to live better, to put food on the shelves. Real growth means production of what people demand. That’s entrepreneurship, not your central plan.

KEYNES: My solution is simple and easy to handle. It’s spending that matters. Why’s that such a scandal. Money sloshes through the pipes and the sluices. Revitalizing the economy’s juices. It’s just like an engine that’s stalled and gone dark. To bring it to life we need a quick spark. Spending the life blood that gets the flow going. Were it goes doesn’t matter. Just Get Spending Flowing.

HAYEK: You see slack in some sectors as a general glut. But some sectors are health only some in a rut. So spending’s not free, that’s the heart of the matter. Too much is wasted as cronies get fatter.

The economy’s not a car. There’s no engine to stall. No experts can fix it. There’s no “it” at all. The economy is us. Put away your wrenches, the economy is organic.

KEYNES: So what would YOU do to help those unemployed? This is the question you seem to avoid. When we’re in a mess, would you have us just wait, doing nothing until markets equilibrate?

HAYEK: I don’t wanna do nothing, there’s plenty to do. The question I ponder is who plans for whom. Do I plan for myself or I leave it to you. I want plans by the many, not by the few. Let’s not repeat what created our troubles. I want real growth not a series of bubbles. Stop bailing out losers, let prices work. If we don’t try to steer them they won’t go berserk.

KEYNES: Come on are you kidding? Don’t Wall Street gyrations challenge the world view of self regulation? Even you must admit that lesson we’ve learned is more oversight is needed or else we’ll get burned.

HAYEK: Oversight? The government’s long been in bed with those Wall Street execs and the firms that they’ve bled. Capitalism is about profit and loss. You bail out the losers there is no end to the cost. The lesson I’ve learned is how little we know. The world is complex, not some circular flow. The economy is not a class you master in college, to think otherwise is the pretense of knowledge.

KEYNES: You’ve been on your high horse and you are off to the the races. I look at the world on a case-by-case basis. When people are suffering I roll up my sleeves and do what I can to cure our disease. The future’s uncertain, our outlooks are frail. That’s why markets are so prone to fail. In a volatile world we need more discretion so state intervention can counter depression.

HAYEK: People aren’t chess men you move on a board at your whim, their dreams and desires ignored. With political incentives, discretion’s a joke. Those dials are twisting – just mirrors and smoke. We need stable rules and real market prices so prosperity emerges and cuts short the crisis. Give us a chance so we can discover the most valuable ways to serve one another.



Friday, February 25, 2011

Tom Wood's New Book: Rollback

Tom Woods, the same New York Times best selling author that gave us "Meltdown" which explained the current financial crisis, the "Politically Incorrect Guide to American History" , "Who Killed the Constitution" and others has a new book out. He talks a little bit about the book in this video clip and criticizes the government is our savior and all that is holy mythology we are all taught in the 6th grade.



What the book is about in Tom's own words:

The book does two things. First, it lays bare the true fiscal position of the U.S. government, and shows why some kind of default is not merely possible but inevitable. But this is not a book full of numbers about the impending collapse. The collapse is merely the jumping-off point. By far the more central part of the book is this: the critical first step for reversing this mess and checking the seemingly unstoppable federal advance is to stick a dagger through the heart of the myths by which government has secured the confidence and consent of the people.

We know these myths by heart. Government acts on behalf of the public good. It keeps us safe. It protects us against monopolies. It provides indispensable services we could not provide for ourselves. Without it, America would be populated by illiterates, half of us would be dead from quack medicine or exploding consumer products, and the other half would lead a feudal existence under the iron fist of private firms that worked them to the bone for a dollar a week.


and some of the topics covered:

  • Could we survive without the welfare state?
  • Was the Industrial Revolution a disaster for workers, and evidence of the wickedness of the free market?
  • The market vs. global poverty
  • How the market, in spite (not because) of government, leads to higher living standards for everyone
  • How the market leads to improved working conditions and does away with child labor
  • Federal education programs: a critique
  • Doesn’t Sweden prove a large welfare state is compatible with lasting prosperity?
  • If government shrinks, won’t big business fill the void and oppress the public via predatory pricing?
  • Why it’s impossible to design a wealth redistribution program that does not cause net harm
  • The truth about "affordable housing" programs
  • Iceland and the financial crisis: a case study of free markets run amok?
  • California energy "deregulation" – proof that free markets don’t work?
  • The real record of Sarbanes-Oxley
  • OSHA and workplace safety
  • The FDA
  • Don’t we need to make an exception for government science funding?
  • A primer on the War on Drugs
  • Obamacare: the problems and the solution
  • Why "stimulus" programs make things worse
  • Are some firms "too big to fail"?
  • Did the "repeal" of Glass-Steagall contribute to the financial crisis?
  • The real story of "deregulation" and the financial crisis
  • The Pentagon’s impact on the U.S. economy
  • Has the Federal Reserve really made the U.S. economy more stable, as so many proponents try to claim?
  • What caused the bank panics of the nineteenth century? Are they evidence of the need for a central bank?
  • The separation of money and state
  • Do we need the Fed to protect us from deflation?
  • Regulation as an anti-competitive device
  • The book goes a long way to dispelling a lot of myths and conventional wisdom about the role of government, government and quasi-government agencies and easing a lot of distrust and fear about the free market.

    So, help keep your local Borders or Barnes & Noble in business by grabbing a copy or snatch one from Amazon.com.



    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Some Wisdom On The Patriot Act

    Excerpted from Rand Paul's Feb 15, 2011 letter to his Senate colleagues:

    In the words of former Senator Russ Feingold, the only "no" vote against the original version of the PATRIOT Act, "[T]here is no doubt that if we lived in a police state, it would be easier to catch terrorists. If we lived in a country that allowed the police to search your home at any time for any reason; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to open your mail, eavesdrop on your phone conversations, or intercept your email communications; if we lived in a country that allowed the government to hold people in jail indefinitely based on what they write or think, or based on mere suspicion that they are up to no good, then the government would no doubt discover and arrest more terrorists. But that probably would not be a country in which we would want to live. And that would not be a country for which we could, in good conscience, ask our young people to fight and die. In short, that would not be America."