Ron Morley's Freedom Blog

This is the place where I do my little bit to explain the evils of the State.
Why "Conservatives" aren't necessarily good for America

I've just finished reading Richard A. Viguerie and Mark S. Fitzgibbons recent pamphlet titled Reclaim the Constitution: A Pamphlet of Principles, Purpose, and Proposals for Constitutional Conservatives and must say that I am very impressed with the effort. One of the things which I am glad to see that the authors did was to disclaim any copyright of the document. This will allow it to be copied and distributed by anyone who wishes to do so. The document is released in PDF format and I've taken advantage of that to make my own comments about what has been written. I plan on sending the annotated document out to my mailing list of people whom I am concerned about. That list is not solely inhabited by constitutional conservatives. There are several liberals on the list and it will be interesting to see what they have to say about the pamphlet and my comments.

But it's the "conservatives" who may be most dismayed to read my comments. The fact that I am a libertarian drives some of my conservative friends batty. However, I have good reasons to be leery of the goals of the conservative movement in general, although those who declare themselves to be constitutional conservatives don't bother me as much. The reason for my differentiation is that so-called “conservatives” such as Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Bill O'Reilly and others of their ilk is that they are, based on statements they have made in the past, ready and willing to use the power of the Federal government to enforce a particular moral code upon Americans. For instance, those mentioned, and many more like them, have no problem with the Federal law called the “Defense of Marriage Act” -- which defines an “official” marriage to be only that state-sanctioned relationship of a man and a woman. No gays, transgendered, transexuals, or lesbians need apply. According to the moral code of conservatives the Federal government should legally exclude any other type of relationship from coverage of insurance, survivor's benefits, and any other financial and legal items that members of a traditional marriage can count on.

Such an outlook is simply wrong. For starters it is, on the face of it, unconstitutional. Nowhere in my multiple copies of the Constitution do I find anything related to marriage among the powers granted to the Federal government. Conservatives were (and probably still are) angry over Attorney General Eric Holder's decision not to defend the “Defense of Marriage Act” against suits brought in Federal court. The thing is, that is about the only constitutionally-defensible decision that the Obama regime has made. The AG is correct when he says that there is no constitutional justification for the act. It is the willingness of many conservatives to use the coercive power of the Federal government to enforce a particular moral code which makes me concerned about having any of them elected. After all, we've reached the point at which the Federal government pays little or no attention to the Constitution; a situation which conservatives generally ascribe to ill-will on the part of liberals and what they consider to be “activist” judges. What is it that makes them believe that their proposed exercise of government power is different from what they so detest liberals for doing? The answer is, nothing. Neither side is acting constitutionally in such matters. It seems to me that those who call themselves simply conservative have not really understood what the struggle to restore America to its position as the envy of the world for both our economy and our liberty is all about. The problem is that the Federal government is not only the nation's greatest law-breaker, but that its power continues to grow because of the efforts of statists, both Republicans and Democrats. People who propose to use the power of the government in order to enforce some particular way of acting, whether that is telling people not to drink corn-syrup sweetened sodas, not to eat salty snacks, not to marry someone of the same sex or not to ingest certain drugs are espousing expanding the power of the government.

It is by conflating social responsibilities and concerns with those of government that we have arrived at the current condition of government out of control at all levels. It is no legitimate concern of the government's whether or not gays marry. Indeed, one can go down the list of social concerns, ills, and wishes and find some element of governmental interference in the majority of them. It was a concern for the poor of this nation which began the Great Society drive of President Lyndon Johnson, though the groundwork of government involvement in social issues was laid long before. And, indeed, who could argue with the goals of the program: better education for children in impoverished areas, the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid as a way to help Americans afford better medical care, among other things? Where people went astray was with the assumption that “only the Federal government has enough resources and power” to attain their desired ends. That was not true then and it is not true now. All that results from reliance upon a faceless and increasingly soulless government bureaucracy is an ever-expanding list of things that people cannot do. It is only by establishing limits on human activity that bureaucrats can hope to write rules which may apply to everyone.

Of course, as soon as the rules writing begins, those who want some advantage or other under the government program begin lobbying for special treatment. When others eligible for the program see this they begin to worry that their share of the new government largess will be reduced and they marshal their forces in the form of demonstrations, ad campaigns, lobbyists, and all the other tools that the professional looters of the common purse have come to know so well. Some “worst-case” example is trotted out before the TV cameras and the sob-story is told, the underlying message being, “How can anyone object to helping this person/group?” In the end, whatever program is adopted, more money than originally advertised is spent and more restrictions are placed on the activities of those wishing to take advantage of it. Americans as a whole become poorer and less free while the government becomes stronger and more intrusive. And once the program, whatever it may be, is in place those who benefit from it fight to not only keep it in place, but expand it despite any counterproductive effects it may have on the budget, the supposed beneficiaries of the program, or the nation as a whole.

I'm not going to try to produce an exhaustive list of government projects which began small and, like Topsy, grew over the years into small empires of their own within the Federal government. However, I will note that virtually every one of which I'm aware began with a mis-reading or mis-interprtation of the Constitution. For instance, the now defunct Interstate Commerce Commission, was built on the idea that transportation is somehow commerce – in spite of that never being mentioned in any English Dictionary of which I'm aware. But the constitutionality of the ICC went largely unchalleneged. Why? Because the railroads realized that they could use the commission to do the dirty work of reducing competition for them; by the simple expedient of establishing barriers to entry for new roads which wanted to engage in interstate transportation of goods and passengers. And so it has gone with every other Federal regulatory agency – the “regulated” businesses soon figure out how to use the regulations to their advantage, generally to keep competition out of the field, and soon capture the regulatory agency by providing it with “expert” help in drafting the regulations. Regulation which cost an established business several million dollars a year are generally treated as just the cost of doing business. Those same regulations for a start-up often inflict insuperable costs upon the would-be new enterprise and it soon either drops out of the field or is bought out by one of the existing companies. The American people suffer both a loss of choice of products or services and, also, end up paying higher prices than they would in a free market because new, more efficient competitors are never allowed to get started. The irony of this is that many of the Federal agencies were established so as to ensure “fair prices” or “efficient services” or both: and they end up ensuring that neither goal is achieved.

”Crony capitalism” is a direct result of the growth of the Federal regulatory agencies. Every such agency has its share of lobbyists representing the various interests affected by the regulations promulgated by the agency. Because most of those regulations deal directly with businesses and industries most consumers are hardly aware of their existence. That lack of attention allows the “regulated” businesses to work with and “advise” the agencies, and the legislators responsible for the creation of ever more obscure agencies, on ways to make the regulations manageable or reduce their costs. But the American people pay the costs because of the reduction in market freedom and the limits placed on new entrants to any given established fields of endeavor. In the meantime, the businessmen who help make the rules become richer because they know how to manipulate those rules to their advantage (often with the connivance of the government “regulators” who are supposed to be overseeing them) while imposing new costs on competitors and the American people. Crony capitalism can only exist where the power of the central government is sufficient to reduce market freedom and the liberties of the people themselves. Reducing the size of the Federal government will automatically result in a reduction in the amount of crony capitalism which goes on behind the closed doors of Washington conference rooms, and the corruption which goes with it. If the American people force the Federal government to operate strictly within the bounds set forth by the Constitution, most of the problems of corruption and crony capitalism will go away. After all, no businessman is going to bribe a legislator who can't do him any favors because the government itself is strictly limited in what it can do.

The same would be true with the vast majority of our social problems. Those who truly care for the poor, the ill, and the downtrodden would soon come up with non-governmental solutions to those problems if the money flowing through the public trough were cut off. That's how Americans used to handle social problems, before the Progressives began preaching the “benefits” of an “active government” and that's how they'll do it again when the “active government” is forced to abide by the Constitution. Does anyone really believe that the nation whose people are always in the lead when it comes to giving for world disaster relief, or food programs, or disease eradication would deliberately turn their backs on those among them who are hurting? I, for one, have more faith in the American people than to think that, allowing them more freedom would turn them into a nation of Scrooges. The opposite is far more likely the case. The stories of men who were down on their luck only to have some stranger buy them a suit of clothes and start them on the path to prosperity are not merely folk-tales. Such things did happen in the past, which is why the stories exist, they happen today (as we sometimes hear from the news media), and they would happen in an America which is free of the opportunity-stifling rules and regulations which our governmental overseers insist we obey – for our own good, of course.

Would a freer America be a Utopia? No. But then, the path of socialism we've been on for close to one hundred years has led us only deeper into debt, produced a number of social problems which seem intractable, and, worst of all, destroyed the liberty and independence of millions of our fellow citizens. Surely, we owe it to ourselves and our posterity to put this nation back on the path it was on earlier in its history when we truly were the envy of the world – the place where everyone wanted to come, not becausse of our military might or our “survival net” of social programs, but so that individuals might pursue their own dreams in the way which seemed best to them. Yes, some people got left behind and didn't prosper, but that was largely the result of choices they made in deciding how they wanted to live. Looking at the numbers of people who are totally dependent upon the Federal and state governments for all of life's necessities I can't believe the situation would get worse. Only those who lack faith in the goodness of most of their fellow citizens find it necessary to place limits on how those people may act, force them to live as the government decides, and force them to spend money in places and on projects with which they disagree. Only those who believe that they know what's best for everyone espouse the creation of yet more rules restricting the liberties that America's Declaration of Independence proclaimed and which our Constitution sought to guarantee the continuation of. Both “conservative” Republicans and “liberal” Democrats who seek to use the power of the Federal government to coerce people to act in ways they favor are acting to destroy the very thing – liberty of individual action – which made America great. Only by sending those who would further extend their control over us packing, come election time, can America be restored to its place of greatness in this world. It's paradoxical but true – reducing the power of the government increases the power of the people; which, in turn, makes the nation itself stronger as it serves as an example of hope to millions around the world. Let's hope that the American people have the wisdom to vote in favor of freedom this coming November.

Why the OWS isn't the Tea Party

There is a lot of talk amongst the learned pundits, who occupy chairs of importance, within the Mainstream Media about how the new “Occupy Wall Street” movement is the leftist, excuse me, I meant liberal, equivalent of the constitutional conservative-spawned Tea Party movement. There are indeed some superficial resemblances, but the differences are far greater than the similarities. Let's consider the similarities first. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement is, indeed, a movement which is made up of people who are tired of getting the same old story from the power-brokers in Washington, D.C., as is the Tea Party movement. But that's as far as the similarities go.

The differences begin with the approach to government action which the two groups take in general. The OWS people see crony-capitalism as an evil of our system of government and they have that right. Where they go wrong (and it's only the greatest of the things which differentiate the Tea Party and the OWS movements) is in their call for yet more government-enforced rules and regulations. The new rules are to be designed – in their fantasy-castle world of socialist harmony – to prevent such things “from happening again.” That's always the mantra of the liberals – make more rules so that “this”, whatever “this” is today, will “never happen again.” You see, it's the conceit of liberalism that man is perfectible, if only enough rules are made and laws passed to prevent individuals from doing wrong. It never occurs to them that it is the proliferation of rules, and the multiplying of government bureaucracies which brings most of what they see as wrongs into being. The truth of the matter, and this is where the Tea Party movement has it right, is that it is government itself which is the problem. A Federal government which no longer bothers to even give lip service to the Constitution under which it is supposed to operate – let alone pay any real attention to the basic law of our land – is at the heart of most of our nation's problems. In almost every instance, which I can think of, in which some social ill is concerned you find, at the bottom of the dung heap of rules and regulations so beloved by liberals, a Federal government which has overstepped its constitutional limits. The OWS people see crony-capitalism as a Bad Thing, and I happen to agree with them. It is one of the great evils of our society. But whereas the OWS mobs call out for more government regulation, maybe combined with a cathartic riot or two, I see a problem with the Federal government at its root.

How can this be so? Are not the Federally-controlled bureaucracies which oversee the most minute operations of our financiers, banks, and corporations supposed to guard us against the evils which we see in our midst? Yes, they are, but human nature assures that the arrangement will not work as desired. The current situation is a reminder of how wise this nation's Founding Fathers were in creating a central government with only enough power to guarantee freedom to its citizens, guard the borders of the country against foreign military aggression, and ensure that interstate commerce rules were identical wherever one went in the nation. But, that system has been gradually perverted out of all recognition. In its place liberal do-gooders (for I don't believe that most of them are deliberately malevolent) have created a monster which will surely devour every individual liberty and bankrupt our country to boot. And the process began long ago – well before the reign of Franklin Delano Roosevelt – whom many conservatives see as the epitome of “liberal” evil (not that they're wrong). The growth of government began to really take hold in the 1880s when the Interstate Commerce Commission (see; was set up to oversee and ensure the “fairness” of railroad freight rates. What began as a small operation grew in size and in the complexity of its regulations. The passage of the Hepburn Act (see: during the administration of Teddy Roosevelt gave the ICC much more power. By the late-1960s the ICC with its plethora of rules, regulations, hearings, and other trivia so beloved of bureaucrats slowed the railroads' ability to respond to economic and technological changes so much that it brought about the bankruptcies of most of this nation's eastern railroads. That event resulted in the birth of Conrail (see: ), a corporation created and controlled by the Federal government until well into the 1980s (a constitutionally doubtful act). The result of Federal regulation of the railroads was the loss of tens of thousands of jobs, and the destruction of huge amounts of capital investment (the Penn Central bankruptcy (see: ) – at the heart of the eastern roads' failures - was the largest in the nation's history to that point). The creation of the ICC brought about the growth of a bureaucracy which was effectively destroying the very industry it was supposed to be regulating for the common good – the goal at the heart of what the supporters of the ICC's creation told everyone in the late 1800s. The simple fact was that the ICC was a constitutionally dubious creation, as multiple lawsuits filed by the railroads tried to establish. But the Supreme Court said it was legal for the Federal government to take control of how private enterprise priced its services – a classic example of how the Federal government gives itself permission to violate the Constitution.

After passage of the Hepburn Act the ICC continued its meddling with the operation of private industry. Its bureaucrats went so far as to tell the railroads what lines they had to keep open, whether or not they made money, and the level of service the roads had to provide on their lines. With the growth of power needed to enforce its many decisions came an arrogance that has become commonplace in Washington, D. C. What was the railroad industry's response? It was to use the ICC's regulations as a way to put in place barriers to entry of new competing railroad companies. The railroads also learned how to use the Federal bureaucracy to slow growth and change in their already existing competition. It was one of the first examples of regulatory capture, wherein the industry being regulated convinces the regulators that the rules need to be constructed and interpreted in ways convenient to existing firms. The fact that the rules added extra expense to start-up companies, thereby lowering the amount of competition within the railroad industry was an intended side-effect. The railroads had a good thing going by the early 1900s, but they were beaten by a new form of transportation provider - the trucking industry. Of course, the truckers were helped along by extraordinary amounts of government subsidies in the form of a system of highways which the trucking companies didn't have to pay to use. The railroads were burdened by the need to pay property taxes on every inch of their rights of way, and also had to pay for any improvements they made themselves. By the end of the 1970s it was doubtful whether the railroad industry could continue to be operated as private enterprise. Luckily, the Stagger's Act came to the rescue and railroads are now strong and profitable, again. Now, I've simplified the tale, but I think I've made my point – the Federal government overstepped its Constitutional limits and created a mess, which resulted in the government being called on to undertake yet more regulation in a misguided attempt to correct the situation it created. Politicians of both wings of the “Big Government” party love it when such things happen as it opens up new opportunities for them to perform “constituent services” - a polite way of saying rigging the game to benefit those who pay bribes in the form of campaign donations.

Correcting this problem is, theoretically, easy. All that is required is to make the Federal government abide by the Constitutional limits on its power. But those who benefit from the system as it is will fight hard to prevent that happening. One of the ways in which they do that is to use what magicians call misdirection. The statists who benefit from the tremendous growth of Federal power are primarily from the left side of the political spectrum, although the leadership of the Republican wing of the Big Government party have been glad to help out with growing federal power when it was of benefit of their friends. As good little socialists, the statists who have control of the levers of power make sure that it is difficult for the public to see through their power-games by educating the people to think of the government as a benevolent entity. That's right, the government is concerned only with what is best for the people. Meanwhile those in power gain money and more power by ensuring that groups such as the OWS make a ruckus calling for the aggregation of yet more power in Washington – all to help the “little people” don't you know. And it all stems from allowing that first usurpation of power by the Federal government back in the 1800s (and the ICC wasn't the first such, merely one of the best known). The OWS movement complains about corruption in a government dominated by crony-capitalism and yet fail to see the direct link between increases in government power and increasing corruption. The simple fact is that, if we force the Federal government back into its constitutional box, from which it has escaped, the amount of corruption will automatically be decreased. You see, no one will undertake to bribe a politician who has no power to grant them favors – and that's the system as our Founding Father's intended it to be. All we have to do is to take back the Constitution and force the Federal government to obey its own laws. For that's what the Constitution is: the fundamental law of this nation, the law which governs government and it is flagrantly violated every day by the Federal government. It will be a long fight, and not for the faint of heart, but victorious we must be if our children and grandchildren are to have any chance of enjoying true freedom from government interference with their lives.

Osama's Death Changes Nothing

The Obama administration and many Americans are celebrating this evening upon hearing the news that terrorist leader Osama bin Laden has been killed in a strike by U.S. special forces several days ago. The news was only released this evening because U.S. authorities wanted to wait until the body was in U.S. hands and had been definitively identified as bin Laden. President Obama has made a short speech in which he thanked the Pakistani government and U.S. military and intelligence personnel for their work in removing this blot on the escutcheon of mankind. The President noted that the tip regarding bin Laden's whereabouts was received last August and it took this long to not only confirm the data but, also to work out the details of bin Laden's removal with the Pakistani government.

Many Americans will be hoping that the threat of terrorism has been greatly reduced because of the death of this man. However, as President Obama noted, there is a chance that the Al Qaeda organization will stage some sort of attack in retaliation for the killing of their leader. Indeed, I think that the U.S. government made a mistake in not taking bin Laden alive and trying him as a common criminal. Instead, the radical Islamist subculture will declare that bin Laden died a “martyr” and will use his death as a recruiting tool. After all, what young radical Muslim wouldn't want the chance to die as a martyr and receive the reward of many virgins upon his entry into paradise?

Obviously, I am not privy to information regarding how the raid which killed bin Laden was conducted or what rules of engagement the special forces unit was operating under. However, I cannot help but think that bin Laden's death will result in even greater fear of terrorist activity among the governments of the world. Capturing bin Laden alive and bringing him to trial as a common criminal would have gone far to remove the status (and glamor) of “soldier” from those who kill unarmed civilians in random acts of senseless violence. I've said it before and I continue to believe that the worst mistake the Bush regime made in its efforts to suppress terrorism was to call it a war; which elevates criminal acts to acts of war; which places the perpetrators in the position of being soldiers, who are supposedly acting under the legal orders of some legally constituted authority. In Islam, being considered a criminal remains a bad thing and conviction of criminal acts often brings on what we in the West consider to be draconian punishments – such as having one's right hand cut off upon conviction of theft. If the Bush regime had spent more thought on handling the public relations aspect of the 9/11 attacks instead of declaring “war”on terror (don't get me going on the stupidity of making war on an emotion) we might now have more criminals housed in Federal prisons. However, rather than charging those responsible for the 9/11 attacks as criminals – which is what was done in the case of the bombing which Timothy McVeigh perpetrated in Oklahoma City – the Bush regime shoved the PATRIOT ACT down the throats of the American people, followed by the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Both of those acts – supplemented by numerous Executive orders - have, done more damage to the American way of life than was done by the 9/11 attacks. Without denigrating the great personal losses suffered by many American families, the U.S. government has done more damage to the American way of life, with its tremendous increase in police powers compounded by the utter disregard for the Constitution shown by the Bush regime and continued under the Obama regime. It is not terrorists who force airline travelers to submit to physical search by TSA goons – it is the U.S. government. It is not terrorists who have put in place full-body scanners which provide other TSA goons with detailed views of the bodies of those seeking to travel by air – it is the U.S. government. It is not terrorists who routinely violate the fourth amendment's prohibition of unwarranted search by eavesdropping on the electronic communications of Americans – it is the U.S. government. It is not terrorists who began the fruitless, illegal, and unjustified war against Iraq – it is the U.S. government. It was not terrorists who have announced that they may legally assassinate any American citizen – it was the current President of the United States. It is not terrorists who set up a concentration camp outside the legal limits of U.S. soil so as to be able to evade Constitutional requirements for speedy and fair trials, along with the public announcement of the charges on which the camp prisoners are held – it is the U.S. government. It is not terrorists who urge Americans to spy upon each other and report “anything suspicious” to the police – it is the U.S. government which is seeking to make informers of U.S. citizens. It is not terrorists who have done more to erode governmental respect for the Constitution in the last decade than in the previous century – it is the U.S. government.

In short, it is not terrorists who have shredded the provisions of this nation's Constitution – it is the U.S. government which has chosen to react to terrorist attacks by destroying the rights of American citizens. It is the U.S. government which chose to disregard the rights of the American people in reaction to the criminal acts of a small group of madmen. The truth of the matter is that the Bush regime seized upon the destruction wrought by disciples of Osama bin :Laden as an excuse to radically alter the relation of the U.S. government to the citizens of the United States. Why were the attacks on 9/11 treated as an “act of war” when the destruction of a Federal office building by Tim McVeigh was considered a criminal matter? Why the double standard? The simple truth is that government's find it easier to justify radical expansions of their police powers when it is an act by “one of them” which triggers the government's reaction. It's harder to justify the destruction of civil liberties when the perpetrator was “on of us”. It's the same reason that government's seek to reduce opponents in war to simple representations of evil – people are much more willing to allow for increases in government power in response to a simply-defined external threat than for a domestic problem. I’m afraid that none of the U.S. government's illegal actions will be rolled back now that the nation's number one enemy is dead. In fact, President Obama, in his short statement about the death of bin Laden, said as much. Indeed, we may well see more expansion of secret police power because of the “threat” of some sort of retaliation on the part of Al Qaeda. Nothing really changed tonight. The U.S. government will continue shredding the Constitution, spending money we don't have, and carrying on wars which are doing no one any good – to say nothing of being illegal as Congress has never declared war on either Iraq or Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the terrorist criminals will continue to plant their bombs in order to carry out cowardly attacks on innocent civilians around the world. The old threat is dead, long live the new threat!

Here's an interesting video that one of my readers sent in. I think people will find it interesting. . I'd like to thank Marissa for this link.

Liberty died in America today

I'm watching the results of the mid-term election as I write this and I am afraid that freedom died in America tonight. There have simply not been enough incumbents defeated to make an impression upon the entrenched elites who control the Big Government party which runs this nation. Yes, the House of Representatives has gone over to the Republicans, but those of us who were looking for the majority of that body to be composed of new people are disappointed. Yes, some of what the liberal mainstream media has taken to calling the “Tea Party” candidates have won their races. But their numbers are few, miniscule really in comparison to the total of 435 seats that were up for grabs. In order for those of us who believe in the principles of the Founding Fathers to claim victory at least two-thirds of the incumbents in the House and Senate, regardless of party, would have had to lose their campaigns for re-election. As it is, not enough true believers in the principles held so dear by the men who founded this nation have been elected to matter. It is apparent that the majority of the American sheeple do not care about personal liberty; do not care about reducing the role of the Federal government in their lives; do not want to make the hard choices that will be needed in the next few years if this nation is to avoid bankruptcy; and do not care about the gross violations of this nation's Constitution which those who rule us from Washington, D.C. make every day.

Liberty died tonight in America and the nation will be the worse off for it. The leaders of the Republican party will make noises about how the American people have demonstrated their desire for smaller government and a return to so-called “conservative principles”. However, those in the leadership positions of that party have not changed and those leaders have shown themselves incapable and/or unwilling to fight for those principles when they had control of the Congress and G.W. Bush was openly gutting the Constitution and spending this country into an amount of debt that was unbelievable until President Barak Obama spent nearly three trillion dollars to surpass it. These men will not change their course, because not enough incumbents, of both parties, lost their seats today. Only the loss of more than half, at least, of incumbents, regardless of party, would have sent a loud enough message to the entrenched power-mongers of Washington that the American people are tired of the course this nation has been on for most of the last century. I have no confidence that those who have spent their lives accruing power to themselves and to the Federal government will change their way of doing business because a few “radicals” were elected. If nothing else, at least four or five of the Republicans who won seats in the House tonight are merely returning to their former seats. They will resume business as usual, because they will see their return to office as vindication of their previous policies.

Liberty died tonight in America and the world will be worse off for it. The American Empire will carry on as it has for the last half-century. Our military presence in over one hundred countries around the globe will continue. Our many treaty obligations will continue to threaten to engulf us in wars across the world, in areas ranging from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, to the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, and the Asian nations of Japan and South Korea. Wars in any of these areas do not pose an existential threat to the United States, but our leaders have seen fit to ignore George Washington's advice to avoid entangling foreign alliances and have put the lives of this nation's citizens, the accumulated treasure of our nation, and the very principles upon which this nation was founded at risk – simply to prop up countries and regimes that have no strategic significance for this country. Our military and its associated budget will continue to expand. People around the world will continue to see the United States as militaristic, expansionistic, and willing to take unilateral military action whenever its leaders sense some threat to their position of power. It is this perception of a United States which solves its foreign relations problems by throwing its military weight around, which makes our nation so unpopular with many people and nations around the world. This will not change because the American people showed today that they have no real interest in changing the destructive course this nation is on.

Liberty died in America tonight and most Americans don't care. The results of this election clearly show that the majority of the American people have no desire to preserve their civil liberties. By returning a majority of the House of Representatives to their seats the American people showed that they approve of the course that has been set for this nation by both the “Republican” and “Democratic” wings of the Big Government party which controls this nation. Americans had an opportunity to “throw the bums out” tonight and they failed to take advantage of it. There can be no clearer demonstration that the average American, in spite of the hopes of patriots, is not interested in forcing the Federal government to return to governing by the rules set down in the Constitution. The American people have shown themselves to be uninterested in removing the larcenous fingers of the Federal government from around their wallets; or removing the ears of the many secret Federal police agencies from their phone conversations; or removing the eyes of those same police from their emails; or removing the ability of the multitude of Federal regulatory agencies to put in place new regulations which result in the loss of millions of jobs and millions of dollars; or repealing Obamacare; or putting education back in the hands of local people who know best what the needs of their children are; or doing away with any of the multitude of Federal programs and policies which have no constitutional validity. Instead, Americans showed today that they will happily go along with continued growth of the monster of the Federal government; with all of its abuses of civil liberties. The American people have shown today that they have no interest in reducing the role the Federal government plays in their lives: no interest in reducing the confiscatory taxes imposed by the Federal government;no interest in taking responsibility for their lives; no interest in ensuring that their children will live in a free country. The American people supinely surrendered their birthright of freedom today and we are all losers because of it.

Health insurance nationalization - here we come

When the history of the United States is written the date Monday, October 26, 2009 will be one which those seeking to trace the growth and intrusiveness of the Federal government will note for marking the start of the nationalization of the American health care system. The date is important because on that day Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that he was introducing the so-called “public option” into the Senate's version of President Obama's horribly mis-named “health care reform” bill. According to Senator Reid his version of the public option will allow individual states to “opt-out” of participation in the plan. Details of the opt-out provision have not been finalized but, given the Federal government's propensity to withhold funds from states which fail to act in the manner that our Grand Masters desire, it is likely that funds for some other portion of the reform plan will be withheld so as to encourage states to do the right thing. In the long term it likely won't matter as private health insurers will succumb to the competition from the government-subsidized health insurance plan.


We are told that the “public option” will act to increase competition between private insurance providers. This assumes that competition in providing private health insurance is somehow lacking. Those who maintain that this is so often point to the similarity in prices offered for similar insurance coverage. This is a fundamental error in defining competition and, like so many other fundamental errors that the parasitic class makes, this one is going to end up costing a lot of money. The error which is being made is the confusion of similarity of the prices quoted for the same sort of coverage from different companies with a lack of competition. It is the same thing as asserting that there is no competition between WalMart and Target based on the fact that the prices of the vacuum cleaners they sell are close to each other. For example, I checked the insurance quotes for health coverage for two adults, both non-smokers, with no resident children. The policies I looked at had $5000 deductibles, 20% coinsurance rates, and $30 office visits, along with allowing me to keep my current doctor. The prices I got back ranged from a low of $280.55 to $303 per month – not a significant differential in price, but there were ten companies included in that spread, plenty of competition from where I sit. And there shouldn't be much of a difference in price for the simple reason that health insurance pricing is based on statistical expectations of health outcomes across a broad spectrum of the insured. A large disparity in price would be indicative of either substantially different internal costs or important divergences of coverage – the “fine print.” The fact that I was able to obtain quotes on roughly one hundred disparate policies, issued by more than ten companies, tells me that competition for my health care dollar is alive and well. The lack of a wide price spread for similar coverage is also an indication that the companies involved have roughly the same costs of doing business – costs undoubtedly increased by governmental interference in what is left of what was once a free market.


Unfortunately, the level of economic education in this country is such that most people are not capable of seeing through the fog of the statist propaganda that is being disseminated about the “public option.” This makes them susceptible to the argument that introducing a government run (and subsidized) health care insurer will increase competition and result in lower insurance prices. The sad fact is that a government-subsidized health plan will be less expensive, for the insured person, than will similar coverage from a private company – the politicians will see to that. The Federal government will simply subsidize the public option to whatever extent is necessary – raising taxes and hiding the costs as needed – because to do otherwise would be to expose the lies about how the public option will actually work.


As time goes on the subsidized nature of the public option insurance will ensure that it will gradually drive private insurers out of the market. Besides the subsidies offered the purchasers of public option insurance, the Federal government is sure to impose further regulatory burdens upon private companies – regulations that the government itself will be exempted from. The added costs of the regulations will act to force private companies to raise their prices in order to remain profitable. The Federal government is also sure to impose new minimum requirements for health insurance policies regarding the type of coverage they must meet – minimums the public option insurance will either be exempted from or which taxpayers will find themselves footing the bill for. This sort of action on the part of the Federal government will act to drive non-state actors from the health insurance stage.


Even if some states do opt-out of the public option there will come a time at which it will no longer matter. Sooner or later the market for private health insurance will shrink to the point at which it will not be sustainable. For private insurance to be viable the market for the product needs to be large enough that affordable policies can cover the cost of the occasional catastrophic illness on the part of some of the insured. I don't pretend to know how large that market need be but it is likely to be bigger than the populations of states that might choose to opt-out; states such as Wyoming, Montana, and Arizona – to name some of the states that sometimes show signs of resisting Leviathan's continued growth. In any case, at some point in the future there will no longer be private health insurers and the nationalization of yet another piece of the United States' economy will be complete. And it will all have started on October 26, 2009.

Class warfare in America

We all know that anger is a powerful emotion. Politicians know this well and often work to deliberately fan the flames of anger in order to attain their own goals. Some, such as Adolf Hitler, Hideki Tojo, Mao Tse Tung, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, attain mastery of the art of manipulating emotions to lead their countries into war, or campaign against supposed internal enemies to increase their personal power. There is another political figure who is showing that he is a master of this art and is working to not only increase the power of the State but, also, his own influence, prestige, and power. This man has changed the aim of his country's internal politics and has radically altered the economic and legal foundations of that nation in less than a year in office. That man is none other than American President Barak Obama.


Mr. Obama, for all his veneer of impassiveness and his soothing speeches in which he proclaims his desire for everyone to live in peace and harmony, fails to match his actions to his words. He is accomplishing this by fanning the flames of class hatred and resentment with his constant repetition of what has quickly become the official myth of the current economic crisis with which all of us are living. In almost every speech, interview, and press conference which he gives the President is at pains to repeat the same distortions, omissions, and outright lies about the causes and course of our economic problems. That in itself would be bad enough, but President Obama, as part of his propaganda offensive, is urging banks and other financial institutions to continue with many of the same policies that have caused all this trouble in the first place. He is putting banks in a damned of they do and damned if they don't position – for they will be the first ones blamed, again, when the next round of economic trouble comes our way, as it must when all of the hundreds of billions of dollars that the Federal Reserve has created out of thin air begin coursing they way through the economy. Chances are good that all of that new fiat money will trigger a round of inflation that will make that of the the late 1970s and early 1980s look like small potatoes. But I digress.


The President has launched what amounts to a class war by repeating that the cause of our current mess is attributable, in large part, to the actions of grossly overpaid, greedy bankers, hedge fund managers, and other banking and investment professionals. He goes on to compound the deceit by asserting that those same greedy people are refusing to loan money to supposedly deserving businesses and individuals in spite of having received hundreds of billions of dollars in TARP funds in order to avoid bankruptcies. According to what has become the gospel according to Saint Obama, misguided Federal policies such as the Community Reinvestment Act, the demand for more and more mortgage backed securities on the part of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, combined with market distorting, artificially low interest rates set by the Federal Reserve have nothing to do with our problems. Indeed, the Federal government is cast as the hero of the drama because of its selflessness in acting to provide untold billions of dollars in taxpayer-backed funds to bail out the short-sighted greedy bankers and financiers, takeover AIG, GM, and Chrysler and prevent what is portrayed as an economic cataclysm. By acting as it did the Federal government has supposedly protected us all from that dread phenomenon – market instability, whatever that is – and enabled most Americans to continue life as usual.


By making use of a willing left-leaning mass media propaganda machine the American people have been subjected to a nearly continuous barrage of misinformation. This has resulted in many Americans becoming ever more angry with the “greedy bankers” who are supposed to be at the heart of the mess which has cost millions of ordinary citizens their jobs. And President Obama has not been slow to take advantage of the emotional storm which he has had a large part in creating. He is proposing to slap a bunch of new regulations on banks and financial markets. This is to be expected from a Democratic President elected on a platform promising some sort of undefined “change.” The new part of the proposed policy changes involves using the power of a now nearly-unrestrained Federal government to set limits on the pay of executives in the banking and financial sectors whose companies partook of TARP funds. Little did these people realize what a poison pill they were being handed when then Treasury Secretary Henry “Chicken Little” Paulson brought them the bailout money that he had frightened our spineless Congresscritters into giving him. The President's new proposals are certainly not part of any deal they thought they were signing up for.


This is not the first time that a misguided economically-illiterate president has imposed wage controls. It is the first time that wage controls have been targeted at a single group of employees and certainly the first time they have been introduced without even the poor excuse of fighting inflation (which was used during WII and later by Richard Nixon in the early 1970s). This move represents the opening shot in a class war: carefully aimed at a group which has been painted black by the State's propaganda machine for more than a year. Those cheers you hear in the background are coming from the throats of American citizens who have not only been unable to see through the State's propaganda smokescreen, but are also unable to see that this assertion of Federal power marks a precedent which will some day be applied to them. President Obama is openly proclaiming that this wage cap is being adopted only to punish an unpopular class. What will happen to the next class that displeases him – say small business owners who fail to provide whatever the Federal government should decide is needed as part of the president's health care reform effort? How about the doctors and other health care professionals who “make too much?” After all, we've already been told many times that those who make more than $250,000 a year are wealthy and, by socialist definition, have too much money.


The Federal government under President Obama has already shown that it does not care about enforcing contract law – as is evident from the many demands from both the White House and Capital Hill that bonuses, contractually owed to former Merrill Lynch employees, not be paid by Bank of America – which didn't want ML in the first place. (See: partway down the page with the title “Threats and Secret Promises: Bank of America's Merger with Merrill Lych”). This government has no concern about passing what amount to ex post facto laws (forbidden explicitly by the constitution) when it comes to dealing with the economic crisis we find ourselves in, particularly when those laws apply to those greedy bankers. President Obama and his team of merry men, ably assisted by Congresscritter Barney Frank and his fellow clowns on the House Financial Services Committee, have no problem with unilaterally changing the rules of the game, after the other side has already started playing by the rules as originally written down. (See:, and Not content with limiting the pay of executives whose companies took advantage of TARP funds the president and his allies are seeking to extend these limits across the spectrum of financial service companies.


Now, I'm not defending the actions of the Wall Street bankers who helped bring about the current mess, they do have a fair share of the blame for not having had the sense to see that Federal government-induced market distortions were bound to come back and bite them in the ass. Nor am I defending the incredible salaries some of them have gotten over the years, although there is at least some economic justification for disbursing billions of dollars in bonuses for good performance. The truth of the matter is that the bankers and financiers are not blameless and, if they had any sense of honor, at least some of them should be seeking to give back some of the money they received for making decision which, in the long run, have turned out to be horrible mistakes. If they can live with their consciences I, as a good libertarian, am not going to try to coerce them into doing anything they don't want to do as regards their levels of compensation.


But I am concerned with where Mr. Obama is taking this nation. In less than a year in office he has made changes in this nation's economic structure which would bring smiles to the faces of Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin, and Mao Tse Tung – taking over large parts of the economy directly with the takeovers of GM and Chrysler and making other sectors dance to his tune, as with Wall Street and, soon enough, health care. The changes that FDR wrought upon this nation's economic structure are but pimples compared to those of a man who has never run a business, has never had to adhere to a budget, managed to vote “present” more than anyone else in Illinois history when he held office in that unfortunate state, and now is in charge on what was once a vibrant national economy. His continued calls for more regulations to be placed on America's financial sector are meeting with wide acclamation and, most likely, will be put in place – complete with salary caps for executives in that arena. Little does he realize that in doing so he will be adding costs to financial transactions performed in this country – costs which are not found in many other places which would love to have the business we will be losing. Barak Obama has shown that he is a master at crowd manipulation – especially when that crowd consists of people convinced that life “owes” them everything from a place to live, to food, to health care simply because they exist. Class warfare is alive and well in the United States. We can only hope that it will not become physical in nature.

The Police State that is America

The many recent calls for further regulation of financial markets and institutions in the United States are but one manifestation of the left's infatuation with the idea that humans and their society are perfectible if only enough rules and regulations are put in place to control their actions. They also mark one more step on the road to totalitarianism in the U.S. We have been told many times in recent months that it is necessary to place further restrictions, on what is already a market over-burdened with Federal regulations, in order to “ensure that this [the current financial crisis] never happens again.” President Obama has not only called for more regulation of the U.S. financial markets, but, also, seems to agree that some sort of international oversight of those markets is necessary. Given that the Federal government has apparently won the propaganda war over who is responsible for the recent “meltdown” of financial structures around the world –- it was unregulated bankers and financiers who brought the calamity upon us – it is virtually a certainty that more onerous restrictions will be placed upon the evildoers in order to prevent them from causing such damage again: all to the cheers of a poorly educated and informed populace.


The apparent success of the Obama regime's drive to further control the nation's banking and financial infrastructure is another step on the road to making the United States a police state. As the Federal government moves to place caps on the remuneration of those who work in the banking and finance fields all Americans lose yet more of their freedom – the majority simply haven't yet recognized that fact. Given President Obama's recent speeches in which he declares that the banks which were bailed out by the Federal government are not loaning enough money to businesses and consumers it will probably not be long before policies will be put in place which will define how much money banks and other financial institutions must loan to various classes of customers; likely, whether or not they would ordinarily qualify for those loans. Despite the President's many disclaimers that he doesn't want the Federal government involved in the day-to-day management of such areas of the economy as the auto industry and Wall Street his actions say otherwise. Given his recent calls for banks to return to the good old days of loaning money willy-nilly it is obvious that he has not learned anything from the lessons of the current economic troubles – indeed, he wants to force banks back into the very practices which helped get us into this fix in the first place. Each time the Federal government puts in place more regulations, every time a Federal or state prosecutor decides to bring criminal charges against bankers and financiers for actions that were not crimes when they were made, every time Federal and state prosecutors are allowed to conflate civil law infractions with criminal actions (as is often the case with so-called “conspiracies” whose members are brought to trial) the United States takes another step on the road to becoming a police state.


One of the signs that one is living in a police state is an increased unwillingness on the part of most citizens to say or do anything which might be construed as opposing the State. The State seeks to attain this goal in several ways. It starts by introducing young people to the vision of the State as a benevolent entity –- one which is concerned only with providing citizens with the best possible life; at the low, low cost of sacrificing a few civil liberties which don't matter all that much anyway. For those who have already passed through the State's education system the mass media (which are always required to obtain licenses from the State in order to operate) are enlisted in the propaganda effort. This is particularly true when socialist programs and policies are being discussed There is an increase in the number of puff pieces published or aired which seek to portray the leadership of the State as wise, enlightened individuals who desire nothing more than to make the citizenry happy, well-fed, and willing to join the leadership in bettering the nation internally and strengthening it against all external and internal enemies. During the period of Nazi rule in Germany this mode of operation was known as “working toward the Fuhrer.” Citizens are encouraged to inform the State's police agencies of any “unusual” activities on the part of their neighbors. Everyone, young and old, is encouraged to be alert for anything which might threaten “national security.” The police are increasingly used to monitor the political actions and speech of the citizens: various types of “thought crime” are defined and viewed as, in many cases, more serious than plain, old-fashioned crimes such as assault and larceny. In an effort to make certain that everyone is made aware of the many threats facing the State and thus the Nation, and the people arrests are made and trials held. Many times the information that leads to the arrests is provided by informants –- often in the pay of the State –- to the State's increasingly politicized and militarized police agencies. This serves to reassure the mass of citizens that the State is ever on guard to keep them safe, while also introducing an element of doubt about what constitutes a crime, as many of the alleged plots never get any further than discussing or “planning” some alleged outrage against the State. (Check out the books The Tyranny of Good Intentions and Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything , both available through Amazon for more details than I can go into here). The fact that, in many cases, no overt actions need to be taken in order to commit a crime causes many citizens to cease even talking about perceived shortcomings of the government and its leadership. This results in the State being able to declare that the vast majority of its citizens are happy and content with the policies of the government –- which is very convenient whenever someone does actually complain.


The United States is rapidly approaching this state of affairs. Much of the mass media is dedicated to feeding the populace intellectual pablum. Look around at the magazines and newspapers which line the check-out lanes at supermarkets. It is unusual for any of these publications to print anything of a political nature and when they do the articles are almost invariably rehashed “talking points” in favor of whatever new program the current regime is touting as a way to cure some perceived societal ill. The airwaves, with the exception of so-called “conservative talk radio”, are likewise almost devoid of serious discussions of political issues – the shouting matches of such programs as the “O'Reilly Factor” cannot be considered to be reasoned discourse. In most cases even those media outlets which purport to oppose the proposed action by the State are themselves pushing for some increase in the power of the Federal government: it's only that the power will be exercised in a different manner or in an alternative area of life.


The current debate over health care “reform” is but one example of this phenomenon. The Democratic proposal is to place some Federal bureaucracy in control of all aspects of health care. They would mandate that everyone purchase health insurance –- whether it makes sense in the individual case or not. The insurance policies will have to meet certain government-defined criteria in order to be considered legal. The current Federally-controlled health care system –- Medicare -– will be required to scale back the services it will pay for (to the detriment of those participating in the plan) in order to partially pay for the new program. What is left of the free market in medical services will be killed and buried beneath tons of new Federal regulations and guidelines.


The Republicans, rather than pushing for reducing the role of the Federal government in health care, also want to increase its power in this area. Rather than the Democrats' “public option” (State-subsidized health insurance) the Republicans wish to put in place something called “co-ops”. Though no one really knows how they would operate the safe bet is that they will be another way of increasing the Federal government's involvement in health care. One can work one's way down the list of Republicans' objections to the Democrats' proposal and find similar things. All the Republicans' substitutions still result in the growth of the power, size, and intrusiveness of the Federal behemoth: they do not act to reduce the influence of the Federal government in this field.


In like manner, one can go through the list of issues confronting this country and see much the same thing. Democrats want to use the power of the Federal government to legalize “gay marriage”, while Republicans seek to use the same power to forbid them. Democrats want to use Federal power to not only allow women the right to an abortion -– they wish to force medical service providers to perform the procedures no matter the feelings and beliefs of the workers. Republicans want to use the power of the central government to ban abortions altogether. The list goes on and one is hard-pressed to find an issue on which one side or the other wants to reduce Federal power in the area under discussion, let alone act to eliminate that power entirely. Through all of this the Constitution is more and more viewed as an antiquated obstacle to enabling the growth of Federal power. No longer do the vast majority of our U.S. Representatives, Senators, and members of the Executive branch take their oaths to “preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution” seriously.


As time goes on the power of Leviathan waxes and fewer citizens move to oppose the growth. Even now there are few areas in life that are not subject to some form of Federal regulation. As the State's intrusiveness has grown so has its police powers: necessary in order to ensure compliance with its wishes. The United States is effectively a police state; it's just that in most cases we call our police “bureaucrats” or administrative law judges in order to disguise their true function and make their intrusions more palatable to the masses. Until now they have remained largely non-violent in the exercise of their vast powers. We cannot count on that to continue and only the foolish wish to see that power increased. What is left of free political discourse in this nation is rapidly disappearing. If the Democrats get their way and the FCC once again imposes the so-called “Fairness Doctrine” the presence of voices opposing the growth of totalitarianism on the airwaves in this country will be mostly silenced. In the meantime those who dispute the need for, or the legality of, the continued growth of the monstrosity that our Federal government has become are labeled as miscreants who represent a small minority of the populace and who are motivated by racist hatred of the new President's policy initiatives. It is anyone's guess how much longer these voices of dissent will be tolerated by the Obama administration or, for that matter, any administration which replaces it. The State's power continues to grow and most Americans ignore the threat it poses so long as they can keep up with who gets kicked off the island next.

Michigan's Governor Granholm has no clue

The Michigan state legislature has avoided another shutdown of the state government by passing a budget resolution that gives them another month to craft a budget that meets the needs of the state. The Republicans are holding firm on not raising taxes while cutting a lot of the social programs that have grown like mushrooms over the last thirty years or so. Meanwhile, Governor Jennifer Granholm and the Democrats are casting about for more ways to lay hands on the money that the few remaining employed workers in Michigan manage to bring home. Governor Granholm is campaigning hard to not cut any of the funds allocated to K-12 education and college scholarship programs. Her reasoning on this is that Michigan needs to “create a favorable business environment” and that the way to do that is to have a well-educated population ready for high-tech manufacturing jobs, such as putting together wind turbines, one of her favorite hobby-horses. And, we all know that the government run education system is a model of efficiency and has no place to save money.


Granholm and the state's Democratic leaders are attempting to portray themselves as being concerned about the decline in Michigan's unemployment numbers and overall economic situation and, by their lights, I suppose they are. However, as with the crowd in Washington, the folks in Lansing have little concept of what it takes to make a state attractive to new businesses. Rather than looking for ways to cut taxes and lower the numerous barriers to entry for businesses in Michigan, the state's Democrats are taking the opposite tack. Governor Granholm proposal:


• Raises the tax on a pack of cigarettes from $2 to $2.25 and taxes other tobacco products at that new effective rate to raise a combined $135 million.

• Applies the state's sales tax to professional and college sports tickets, and concerts, generating $87 million.

• Places a penny tax on each bottle of water sold in Michigan to raise about $18 million.

• Generates $8 million by reducing the value of state credits for film production.

• Gathers $83 million by limiting next year's proposed increase in state earned income tax credits for low-wage workers.


. Along with the increased taxes the Democrats are also pushing for a variety of new regulations and interventions in the marketplace for energy. For instance, on a trip to Japan in September of 2008, in an attempt to get Japanese wind turbine manufacturers to open new factories in Michigan she said


“a legislative agreement will require DTE and Consumers Energy to shift at least 10% of their power from renewable sources such as wind power. She said Michigan stands to create as many as 60,000 jobs in renewable energy industries, but that the state needs a mandate for renewable energy.” (from “Granholm pushes for energy mandate to interest Japanese firms” (see:


The governor is also pushing to tighten state regulations on coal-fired power plants, in spite of the lack of enough “environmentally friendly” renewable energy sources to meet the state's increasing energy demands.


“In Michigan, for instance, Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm is talking about tightening environmental regulation when it comes to coal-fired power plants. Republicans don't have the votes to impose less regulation. “ (see:


And it's not only the energy generation sector of the economy which is attracting the governor's attention. She is also seeking to impose further regulation on auto insurance companies doing business in the state.


“Gov. Jennifer Granholm has threatened penalties for any insurance carriers that do not go along with a freeze on rates for a year.

The insurance consumer advocate, Melvin Butch Hollowell, in a 335 page report, claims auto insurance has become unaffordable for too many. He is calling for lawmakers to change state law to require that insurers obtain the insurance commissioner's approval before raising rates and they they consider allowing a low cost auto policy with reduced benefits. Those are among the 10 changes he is recommending.” ( see: )

In making these charges the governor conveniently overlooks the fact that it is state government requirements that are acting to drive up the cost of auto insurance for Michigan's drivers. For starters, the state requires that all auto owners must purchase a no-fault insurance policy in order to be able to own a vehicle. The state also does not allow the insurance companies to vary the cost of their product based on where a driver lives. This has amounted to requiring out-state drivers to subsidize the insurance of those who live in the Detroit area – raising their rates, but keeping them “fair” for the Detroit area, which, surprise, surprise, votes heavily Democratic. Talking about the increase in insurance rates gives the governor an opportunity to castigate businesses for responding to a situation caused by the intervention of the government into the marketplace.


So, on the one hand the governor talks a good story about how to improve Michigan's sagging economy, but with the other she erects barriers to entry of new firms, or expansion of existing ones. This is typical of those who believe that only the government is capable of making the “correct” decisions regarding what needs to be done to improve the prospects of Michigan's economy. Is it any wonder that new businesses are not exactly lining up to open or expand in this benighted state? Given the governor's approach to solving Michigan's economic problems I can only hope that the Republicans stick to their guns and force the Democrats to make serious cuts in social programs that, in many cases, have not been in existence many years, and which we used to get along fine without. Failure to make real cuts to Michigan's budget and take steps to keep it from growing like Topsy once the economy does manage to turn around will only delay that rejuvenation of the economy of a state which has been suffering from the effects of recession for most of the last decade. Unless businesses are convinced that Michigan will become, and remain, a good state in which to operate we will not see the type of growth that is necessary to put Michigan back near the top of the economic heap, as it was when I was growing up.

Will Congress disobey the Consitution, again? Yes, if it passes Obama's health care "reforms"

One of the things which has gotten less attention than it needs in all the noise that has been generated by the debate over health care reform is one that is fundamental to not only health care, but the very manner in which our country is governed. Simply stated it is this: can the Congress legally mandate changes to our health care system and then turn the operation over to bureaucrats? According to our Constitution the answer is also very simple: No. The reason lies in the very first line of the Constitution proper where, in Article I, Section 1 it says: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. “ And yet, turning legislation, that is the making of the laws under which we all live, over to an ever growing Federal bureaucracy is exactly what the proponents of “change” wish to do. You see, once the Congress passes the law enabling changes to how the nation's health care is provided, the details of its implementation – the actual writing of the rules, that is the laws, defining how things will work – is turned over to some Federal agency.


I realize that I'm out of step with the times on this issue, but this is certainly not what the Founding Fathers intended for our government to be. You see, not only do bureaucrats make the rules but they also, via the mechanism of so-called “administrative courts” decide how those rules are to be enforced. In effect they get to act as law makers, law enforcers, and judges. Combining these three functions under one roof is certainly not what those who spent considerable time and effort figuring out how to separate them intended for our nation. Our Founding Fathers set forth the principles of separation of powers not because they wanted to make our government complex but because they recognized that doing so would help to prevent the rise of tyranny. They counted on the greed for power that is present in the heart of every politician to maintain that separation: they believed that the Congress would act as a check on the President and the Courts would act to check the power of both. They did not dream of the possibility that the three branches would collude to increase the power of all of them so as to be able to kill the liberty and freedom that they had struggled so hard to obtain and pass on to future generations. But that is precisely what has happened.


For many years our Constitution worked pretty much as intended. While it did so Americans not only saw their country grow in size, but also in economic power, so that by the time of WWI our nation was the largest economic power in the world, having overtaken Great Britain in the 1880s. In a space of less than 150 years our country went from being so feeble that its very continuation in existence was in doubt for many years, to a position of world leadership – all under the basic structure that had been laid down in the summer of 1787. There had been a few deviations from the intent of the Founding Fathers, but they were few and far between and, as yet, the power of the Federal bureaucracy was still very limited. All this happened during a period of change in technology, science, and the arts such as the world had never seen before – a period which saw the average American's yearly income rise considerably even though there were millions of people immigrating to this country. Not everything was perfect, understandable as we are dealing with humans here. But, in any case life got better for the vast majority of people over a considerable period of time under a Federal government that remained small and which by-and-large lived according to the rules set up in the Constitution.


Things began to change some in the early years of the 20th century with the growth of the so-called “Progressive” movement – a movement which held that people would be better off under a government which was run by an expert bureaucracy: a system which allowed outside third parties to make the decisions about how others should act, because they supposedly knew what was best for them. The movement made some progress and managed to establish such now monumental bureaucracies as the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. On the whole, though our system of government still worked as the Founding Fathers intended it should. The executive, legislative, and judicial functions of government were kept separate and people were still largely able to live their lives free from the interference of the government.


All that changed with the coming of the Great Depression and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He was elected in 1933 on promises to bring a “New Deal” to Americans; a government which cared about them as individuals, one which would bring order and stability back into their lives, one which would provide them jobs, certainly not one they should fear. And Americans bought it as they valued economic security above freedom and liberty. FDR, for his part, kept his promises, pushing a veritable deluge of legislation through the Congress in his fabled first 100 days in office. He created a forest of Federal bureaucracies with a plethora of initials to go with them: the NLRB, NIRA, CCC, WPA, and a host of other agencies and programs came into being.


The Supreme Court held back the tide of socialist legislation finding that many of Roosevelt's new agencies and laws were unconstitutional – mainly on the grounds that the Congress was delegating its legislative powers. At that time the Court recognized what most Americans seemingly did not – that allowing the consolidation of legislative, enforcement, and interpretive powers to reside in one agency was a sure path to the destruction of the liberty and freedom which made the United States unique among the nations of the world. The Court realized the truth of Benjamin Franklin's old adage about giving up a little liberty for a little safety and losing both in the long run.


FDR was furious that the Supreme Court would dare to stand in the way of his schemes to vastly expand the power and reach of the Federal government and launched his infamous attempt to pack the Supreme Court with justices who would rule in his favor. It was at this point that a couple of the judges on the Court, fearing more for their future job security than they did for the Constitution, had a change of heart and began to rule in favor of the Administration on many of the contentious issue of the day. The lack of the courage of their convictions on the part of two or three men in 1937 has doomed Americans to lives in which the wishes of unelected Federal bureaucrats count more than our own in many areas of life.


And it's all built on a legal fiction. The fiction is that the Congress hasn't really delegated its legal authority to make the laws because it continues to exercise some type of “oversight” of the powerful bureaucracies it has created. The fact that Congressional oversight, certainly in its ability to control the day to day operations of our multitude of Federal agencies, is a farce, doesn't keep the courts from insisting that it exists. A few Congresscritters holding hearings into some matter whenever the public outcry becomes such that they fear for their own re-election, particularly when no individual is held accountable for his or her actions, is not oversight: it is political theater designed to keep the masses happy. This is another insistence in which clever politicians and lawyers have subverted the clear meaning of the Constitution to the detriment of the American people. Yet most people don't even stop to think about it so ingrained has the apparatus of oppression become in our lives.


Now, the President and his supporters wish to expand the reach of the government into the one area in which its control has been, to this point, relatively controlled. The supporters of the President's scheme to “reform” health care are at pains to point out that there really in no difference between having health care decisions made by lackeys of the State or employees of health insurance companies. They fail to realize that there is a critical difference – if a health insurance company too often abuses its customers it finds that those customers begin taking their business elsewhere – an option that will not be available once Federal bureaucracies are set up to make health care decisions for us. The private insurers are not perfect. It is important to realize that some of their policies are brought about by Federal government regulations that are already in place concerning rates of reimbursement for procedures and limits on lifetime expenditures for things such as durable medical equipment. It is doubtful that putting more power into the hands of unaccountable minions of the State will improve the overall quality of health care in this nation.


The American public needs to wake up and realize that it is the results of policies, not the intentions behind them that are important in the final analysis. I may want to set up a government-mandated wage structure that insures everyone who works a decent wage. But if the result of the policies that I put in place to achieve that goal is that many marginally employable persons lose their jobs because businesses can no longer afford them at my new higher wage rates I have actually achieved the result of consigning more people to the welfare rolls or life on the street. Certainly I would not expect to be rewarded for having brought about such a debacle, but that is exactly what happens when Americans continue to return the same old faces to Congress election after election. Given the lengthy track record of policy failure that the Federal bureaucracies have it is doubtful that they will do any better if they are given the power to directly govern the course of health care in this nation. And that's what will happen if Congress passes such a law because the Congress will give up its legislative power as part of the deal, even though out Constitution says that it cannot do that. Federal employees will have the power to make the laws, enforce them, and interpret what they mean (becoming judge, jury, and, in some instances literally, executioner). If you think our current health care system is a mess give it a few years under the gentle ministrations of an all-powerful bureaucracy – it will get worse.

Health insurance? We don't need no steenking health insurance!

I've been listening to NPR's coverage of the national debate over the supposed health care crisis in the United States. This evening's report mentioned hearings that were held today by a Senate committee that is trying to come up with a bill that will garner enough votes to avoid a filibuster by opponents of the measure. One of the items that was being discussed, and which seems to be locked in to all versions of the reform bills under consideration, is a mandate that all Americans purchase health insurance or face fines and/or other punitive measures designed to ensure compliance with the wishes of the State.

And it seems as though no one dares to point out what an incredibly stupid thing such a mandate would be. Let's leave aside for now the libertarian objections to such a provision and look at this on its own merits for the time being. Bear in mind that one of the goals the reformers are aiming for is to achieve a reduction in the cost of health care. And one of the first things these altruistic power-brokers want to do is put the coercive power of the State to work ensuring that every person in the United States is covered by health insurance; for their own good, of course.

Though arguing from analogy is, necessarily, a difficult thing to do as no two situations are identical, there is one area from which we may get a good idea of what lies ahead on the path of mandating the purchase of health insurance. Auto insurance is a field from which we can certainly get some idea of what will happen when the State requires everyone to be covered by some form of health insurance.  If what has happened here in Michigan with mandatory auto insurance coverage is any indication the results of a Federal health insurance mandate are going to be anything but pretty. Michigan is one of several states that bought into the argument that our court systems were being overwhelmed by the numbers of auto accident suits being filed and that auto insurance was getting too expensive.  So the state's legislators enacted something known as “no fault” automobile accident insurance. The idea is that a person's own auto insurance provider will cover the costs of damages, health care, and so on. Whenever a policy holder is involved in an accident the insurance provider simply pays the bills and life goes on. Not only was this scheme supposed to lessen the load of civil lawsuits working their way through the court system, but auto insurance costs were supposed to go down because insurance companies would no longer need to pay for expensive lawyer's fees associated with all of those court cases: at least that was the theory.  To ensure that everyone benefited from this wonderful new idea the Michigan legislature mandated that everyone purchase auto insurance, at certain specified minimum levels.

The reality has, surprise, surprise, been considerably different from the roseate picture that was painted by the proponents of the original measure. For one thing mandating the purchase of auto insurance handed the insurance companies a captive group of customers; customers who had to buy their product regardless of the cost. Unsurprisingly, the cost of auto insurance in Michigan has done nothing but increase since the “no fault” law was put in place back in the 1970s. Among the conclusions reached in a 2005 study by The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights are these:

          Premiums are 19% higher in no-fault states than in personal responsibility states.

          States with some form of no-fault insurance are consistently the highest priced in the nation.

         Auto insurance premiums rose 92% faster in no-fault states than in personal responsibility states between 1998 and 2002.

(see: for more details)

According to an item from the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy:  “Even when one disregards the high level of taxation to which the insurance industry is subjected, the additional cost built into an auto insurance policy in Michigan as a result of government's many other intrusions in the market is staggering. For instance, laws force insurance companies to sell drivers more insurance than even the companies believe they need. Companies are prohibited by other laws from assigning risk based entirely on where losses occur, forcing those who live in low-risk areas to subsidize those who live in high-risk areas. These edicts accomplish political goals that could have been paid for out of general revenues, but the Legislature has found it easier to hide them in the cost of insurance. “ (See:

Other studies of the field indicate that Michigan is not alone in experiencing increases in the cost of auto insurance following the passage of laws that mandate the purchase of it. The cost increases come as no surprise and were predicted by opponents of the Michigan law prior to its passage. After all, it's only natural for businesses to raise the prices of their goods and services when they are guaranteed sales by virtue of the police power of the State. There is some limit to the cost of auto insurance as competition does still exist within the insurance marketplace, but those limits are higher than would be the case in a marketplace in which the customer is free to walk away from the market entirely if she finds nothing that meets her needs or budgetary requirements.

Unless the Federal government is going to place arbitrary limits on the prices that may be charged for differing health insurance policies there is no reason to believe that what has happened in Michigan and other states which mandate the purchase of auto insurance will not happen on a national scale with health insurance. Along with higher insurance costs will come the need for higher levels of subsidy payments to those whom the all-knowing State decides are too poor to pay for the insurance themselves. That's one of the reasons that President Obama and his close allies are pushing so hard for the so-called “public option” for the purchase of health insurance. They see such a provision as a means of ensuring that health insurance companies do not take undue advantage of the consumers who will be forced to purchase some product they may not want or need. The public option is also a means of dressing up the wolf of a single-payer insurance scheme in the guise of the sheep of consumer protectionism. Of course, whether or not the “public option” is included in the final law the costs of health insurance will continue to rise. The proponents of the public option won't admit that, but it is inevitable. The actual cost increase may be hidden within the general tax increase which will be necessary to pay for the President's brainchild but be there they certainly will be.

There is much to dislike about any of the proposed “reforms” of the health care system as all of those put forth by the politicians in Washington result in an increase in the power of the State. However, the idea of mandating the purchase of health insurance goes beyond simply putting in place new regulations for doctors and other health care providers to keep track of and hope not to transgress. Mandating the purchase of health insurance not only increases the intrusions the Federal government will make into all of our lives, it will also directly add to the already high cost of health insurance. This cost increase will “require” the State to further subsidize the cost for low income households (which means raising taxes on those in the middle class and above to pay for that “benefit”). The result will be increased costs, heightened Federal government intrusiveness into all of our lives, increased levels of taxation, and most likely of all – no improvement in the overall health of the American people; which is supposedly the object of this whole exercise in futility. So long as the Federal government is not forced to give up its role as regulator of the nation's health care the situation will not improve – we'll simply end up back here again in a few years listening to the familiar complaints of the regulators (who will have failed in meeting any of their supposed objectives) that they need ever more money and power to achieve their goals.

A libertarian health care plan?

The debate over health care reform is ongoing and no one is sure what type of changes will be forced upon the people by our guardians in Washington. With all of the smoke and noise that has been generated around this issue there is still nothing which one can point at and say, “This is what the Congress will be voting on”. In a quick scan of the field of likely contenders one sees the so-called “compromise” bill that has been put together by Senator Max Baucas (D-MT), who spent many hours with Republican Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Mike Enzi (R-WY), in an attempt to craft a "bipartisan" bill, and HR 3200 – sponsored by Representatives John Dingell (D-MI), Charlie Rangel (D-NY), and Harry Waxman (D-CA) among others (which gives the Statists everything they want, such as mandating the purchase of health insurance) – together with any number of proposed amendments, and other possible bills. Conspicuous by its absence in the debate is anything resembling a libertarian alternative to the extension of Federal power envisioned by all of the bills that are currently being discussed. And that is a real shame because this type of legislation is one in which a libertarian plan could be put forward.

A libertarian bill could use reducing the cost of health care as its point of departure. The sponsors of the other bills that are being considered all claim to reduce costs, but the reality is that what they really control, if anything, is the rate of increase in cost. For instance, President Obama's plan doesn't actually lower the amount of money that will be spent by the Medicare system, it merely slows the rate of growth of this voracious monster of a Federal boondoggle. Yet, to hear the President and his supporters tell the tale, one could be forgiven for thinking that the amount of Federal money spent on Medicare will decline if the President's plan is adopted.

A truly libertarian bill would lower the amount of money the Federal government must allocate to Medicare by removing the question from the Federal realm entirely. Now is the time when we should be truly thinking “outside the box” as everyone seems to be ready to discuss the supposed health care emergency (as some Democrats are portraying it) and actually do something about it. So here is my proposal for a libertarian alternative to the proposals being put forth by the proponents of Big Government:

    • allow individuals to opt out of the Medicare system entirely,

    • do not collect Medicare taxes from those who opt out and reduce their Federal income taxes by the proportion that Medicare represents of the entire Federal budget,

    • allow those who opt out to do whatever they wish with their money; buy health insurance, go on a vacation, save it, it doesn't matter as it's their money to start with,

    • eliminate the Federal government's power to determine what equipment your local hospital can purchase, what services it may provide, and how much it may charge for the service thus interjecting an element of competition into the medical marketplace,

    • remove the cap on the number of doctors which may be graduated each year from the nation's medical schools. Making more doctors available will also add to the marketplace competition that serves to drive costs down in every other area of life in which it is allowed to operate,

    • require doctors, hospitals, labs, etc. to post their charges for common procedures. This could be done on-line, by mail, or via local newspapers, preferably all three. If people can see how much it will cost them to have their MRI down at Hospital “X” as opposed to Hospital “Y” they'll probably choose whichever one is less,

    • jettison the idea that in order to be “adequate” health insurance must cover every service, office visit, and lab test that a person gets. When I was a young adult (more years ago than I like to think about) the health policy I had covered major surgery, truly unusual and expensive tests, and other “catastrophic” costs. Other than that I had to pay for routine office visits, lab tests, and so forth. This would have the effect of lowering the costs of health insurance as companies would no longer have to offer only policies that offer “soup to nuts” coverage with the only difference in cost being the amount of the yearly deductible.

Now, I'm not going to claim that this will save “X” number of dollars from the Federal budget or that it will solve every aspect of the supposed health care crisis. But guess what, neither will any of the plans being put forth by the advocates of ever-larger government. What it would do is set a precedent for reducing the power of the Federal government, increasing the liberty of individual citizens, and giving those citizens some of their own money back. The idea here is to take a bite out of the power of the Federal government and help reduce the cost of health care, while demonstrating that people are capable of managing their own lives.

Taking steps to reintroduce competition into the medical marketplace is long overdue. For too long the AMA and the Federal government have had a cozy relationship which allows American doctors to avoid having to really compete for patients while also allowing the Federal government far too much regulatory power. It's been convenient for the medical professionals to maintain that they like the idea of competition, while regretting that they can't openly compete because the nasty Federal government won't allow them to do that. The above scheme would greatly reduce the Federal government's involvement in the medical marketplace without reducing the safety of the drugs, etc. that people rely on.

Would my plan be perfect? No, nothing involving people is ever going to be. However, my scheme gets us moving back in the direction of increasing the freedom of action of citizens, rather than further circumscribing it as the plans but forth by the politicians in Washington and the professional lobbyists hired by the health care providers would do. In the long run that's more important than coming up with a “perfect” plan which satisfies no one except those with a vested interest in increasing their power over others.

Corporations bow to Federal power

The Federal government has now grown so powerful that some in this nation are taking its slightest wish to be a command. The announcement on Monday by a group of major American corporation, including Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, Tyco and others, that they will be adopting new executive compensation guidelines is a sign of this. The corporations have said that they will develop new rules regarding the compensation of top executives based on a report from the Conference Board that was also announced on Monday. Some will maintain that this is nothing new, that businesses have many times tried to get out in front of possible new regulations by adopting some sort of voluntary self-regulatory scheme on their own. While that is true, it's never been a good sign, but this move is much more significant. To my knowledge American corporations have never subscribed to the idea that the State has any power in the area of setting the compensation that corporate employees, particularly those at the upper end of management, may receive. To my way of thinking this is yet another example of the expansion of the powers of the Federal government far beyond anything allowed by the Constitution or envisioned by the nation's Founding Fathers.

The companies are making this move in an obvious attempt to head off yet more regulation by the anti-business Obama regime. President Obama has repeatedly stated that he believes that corporate executives' pay is too high and is not properly linked to the actual performance of the executives or the companies. According to the new guidelines executive pay is to be more transparently linked to performance and the compensation packages are to be “more affordable”, eliminate “golden parachutes”, and be subject to more oversight by company boards of directors. None of these things can be measured objectively: one man's excessive pay is another's reasonable reward for effort made and results obtained. Likewise, the amount of gold in one's parachute is a matter of interpretation, not solid fact. That means that any regulations based on these ideas will be open to interpretation and companies will be left to wonder if they've overstepped the limits until they're reprimanded by some Washington-based bureaucrat. About the only thing missing is a requirement that the executives bow daily in the direction of Washington and give thanks to President Obama that they have a job. Given this administration's propensity for exacting arbitrary ex post facto punishments for corporations and executives which it thinks have crossed the boundary of what is “reasonable” (just look at the recently announced prosecution of Bank of America for fulfilling the contractual requirements that it inherited when it took over Merrill Lynch – at the State's insistence it should be noted see: How long will it be before executive pay is held in escrow until the State determines whether or not it is “excessive”?

This is the sort of corporate kowtowing that demonstrates how tight the link is between regulation by the State and corporate well-being. Left unsaid in this announcement is the realization that the socialists in Washington have it within their power to simply regulate executive pay in any manner they may wish. The fact that such regulations would be unconstitutional no longer even comes up for discussion. It's as though American businesses have lost their backbone. A generation ago the very idea that the Federal government has the power to place limits on how much money the top employees in a business may make would have been considered laughable. Furthermore, businesses of yesteryear, faced with such an extension of the power of the State would have stood up for their rights and filed suit in court to prevent any such regulations from being put into effect. How the mighty have fallen.

Some will argue that the new rules (a version of which are already in effect for any financial institution that submitted to the State's blackmail and accepted TARP money) aren't any different than other Federal rules that corporations already abide by. What they overlook is that the State has never before (except during WWII and a short time during the Nixon years) set limits on how much money a person is able to earn in the course of legal employment. What is more troubling in some ways, than the restrictions themselves, is the general reaction by the public that “those scoundrels had it coming to them”. The Obama regime is deliberately making this change as a populist act of class warfare. And Americans are falling for it because they fail to realize two things: there is considerable mobility between classes in the U.S. and those who are in the lower ranks of earners today generally move up the ladder to higher paying jobs in the future; and once the State is allowed to regulate compensation in one area or for one class the precedent will be used to gradually lower the limit at which such regulation kicks in. President Obama has already defined $250 thousand dollars as the amount of income which delimits the “wealthy” from everyone else. By using class envy to drive his new regulations President Obama is deliberately pandering to one of the worst emotions of man: envy. This emotion has been considered to be a sin by many as it makes it all too easy to justify shackling those of whom one is envious. President Obama has been at pains to point out that racism has no place in American society and he is to be applauded for that. However, he is deliberately acting to substitute class-envy for racism so as to set the stage for ever more onerous burdens to be placed on the supposed “wealthy” of this nation. Not only is the President introducing a darker, more vindictive tone into the debate over compensation, but he is also greatly extending the extra-constitutional reach of the Federal government. This is yet another example of how little constitutional limitations on Federal power matter to this man whom we are told is a “constitutional law expert”. Once again the powers that be are able to act as they please because they know that the vast majority of the American populace has no idea what is actually written in the Constitution. Because of this ignorance the Obama regime is able to more-or-less make up the rules as it goes along and change the interpretation of existing rules to fit its conception of how things should work.

There are many Americans who think that strict limits should be placed on executive pay. They cite supposed gaps between performance and compensation, a lack of oversight of pay packages by corporate boards of directors, and how “unfair” it is that some executives make millions of dollars a year while other employees work for far less. According to the thinking of such people all of these “problems” are best addressed by extending the power of the State over business activities. What they overlook is that the corporations themselves do not seem to view the situation with alarm – something which would be happening if any of these businesses felt endangered by the levels of executive compensation they are dispensing.

It is entirely possible for boards of directors to discuss in great detail the amount of money to be paid to a member of upper management and reduce the amount if they feel that it is out of line with the benefits that they anticipate the new employee will bring to the company. The pay scales of upper management in American businesses are high because the amounts of money which these people can make for their employers is also high. It is not unreasonable to pay a manager who brings in $700 million dollars of new business or introduces similar operational savings to the bottom line of a company $300 million. From the standpoint of the company they've gotten a bargain and it should not be anyone else's view which prevails in the setting of the wage – outsiders are not privy to all of the information available to a corporate board, nor are they affected by the amount of compensation given out. Once again Americans are falling victim to the liberal credo that outside third parties know what is the best course of action for other to take. Once again the State is usurping power which rightfully belongs to others. And once again Americans are being suckered into giving up yet more liberty – this time by the promise that they'll get to watch as greedy corporate executives “get theirs”. In the end the only certainty is that the Federal government will have further expanded its powers at the expense of the American public.

Pushing the "Reset" button

“We can mandate whatever we want to in America. We can mandate that Coca-Cola® come out of the cold water tap.” So said Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in an interview on NPR's Weekend Edition on Sunday morning, September 20, 2009. This is but one example of the sort of hubris which has seized the Democratic lawmakers in Washington, D.C. It is also indicative of a dangerous trend in American politics; one which has been going on for some time, unfortunately. If Senator Wyden's comment is to be taken at face value, and I know of no reason why it shouldn't be, he seems to feel that the Constitution and the rule of law no longer to him and his fellow legislators.  This applies to legislators of both parties, though with the Democrats in control of both the legislative and the executive branches of the government they seem to have a particularly virulent case of the condition right now.


This is a natural result of the rigging of American national politics so that legislators are practically guaranteed a seat for life unless they caught with their hand too deeply into the cookie jar. The turnover in seats in both the House and Senate is pathetically small in any given election cycle. Given the precision with which Congressional districts can be drawn legislators know that, except in roughly 10% of the districts across the nation, they will hold their seat for as long as they want it. Even those which are so-called “swing” districts tend to stay with one party or the other for several years between swings. This is certainly not the outcome that our Founding Fathers were expecting when they put together the Constitution over two hundred years ago. It is one of the results of the various election “reform” laws passed in the last twenty years or so; rather than opening up the field to newcomers the effect has been to rig elections so that incumbents have nearly insurmountable advantages in an election. The tendency has become more noticeable since the passage of the McCain/Feingold election reforms that limited the speech of outside organizations by denying them the ability to make direct reference to any candidate in an election. This has effectively acted to muzzle opposition that is not directly a part of either major party.


The Democratic wing of the “Big Government” party which rules this country feels that it can ignore the growing Tea Party movement simply because that movement is almost entirely outside of the areas from which the they draw their support. The Tea Party movement is strongest in the West and Midwest, areas dominated, except around big cities like Chicago, by the Republicans. Unless the dissatisfaction with the way things are currently done in Washington grows to encompass areas that the Democratic party controls nothing will change. The Democrats will continue to belittle the Tea Party movement as the squawkings of a few disaffected, and probably racist, middle-class white men: hardly a group to which they feel the need to pay attention. The result will be that our arguments will not be heard above the rantings of those who dismiss us as members of a radical fringe movement that will go away if simply ignored.


And that is one of the problems with the current Tea Party movement, though I agree with their goal of rolling back Federal power and forcing our elected officials to abide by the Constitution as it is written, there is nothing in it to attract those who get everything they want from the State. Unless the recipients of Federal largess come to understand that they are simply being used by the rich and powerful men in Washington this nation will continue down the path to socialism and, eventually, totalitarianism. To that end those of us who want to return this nation to one which is ruled by law rather than executive fiat must find some message which appeals to those who are the beneficiaries of the Federal government's wealth redistribution schemes. Judging by the response thus far, simply pointing out the evils of the current system will not be enough. We must develop some sort of blueprint for getting us from where we are – trodden under the heel of an increasingly arrogant government – to where we want to be – living in a land in which each individual is truly free to seek his or her own destiny without the interference of government bureaucrats.


What that blueprint looks like exactly, I don't know. However, coming up with a way of getting this nation back on the right track, without causing damaging upheavals in the economy or simply tossing those who currently receive welfare and other types of support from the State on the garbage heap – which will only lead to damaging social disorder – is not going to be easy. Yet, I think that the time has come for those of us who want to live the life of freedom which the Founding Fathers bequeathed to us to develop such a plan. As a friend of mine said, “We've got to come up with a Giant Fricking Reset Button”, and convince people that we need to collectively push that button and get rid of those in Washington who think that they “can mandate whatever [they] want...”. This will not be an easy task, yet we must undertake it if we want to be taken seriously and force real change on our government.

Health care, racism, and opposing the President

It has become common for supporters of President Obama's plan to socialize medical care in this country to maintain that those of us who oppose such a measure are motivated, partly or wholly, by racism. Former President Jimmy Carter has signed onto this school of thought, as have the usual suspects such as the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Also climbing on board the “Let's Smear the Opposition” bus have been any number of Senators and Representatives, including Senate majority Leader Harry Reid and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. This is playing the “race card” on a grand scale and for those who believe that the Federal government should no longer be bound by the Constitution it is a convenient charge to make.


Making the charge that one's opponents are motivated by racial hatred is particularly easy to make in America right now, in spite of considerable evidence, such as the man who currently occupies the Oval Office, that racism is a shadow of what it used to be. Is it all gone, no, and more's the pity as the fact that it still exists gives the Democratic charges just that tinge of legitimacy that makes people think there might be something to it. What it also does is act to absolve the advocates of socialism of having to make real arguments in favor of their position that health care is a right and that those who support that school of thought have the right to use the coercive power of the State to enforce their desires. You see, making the charge of racism in America today has the effect of immediately changing the focus of the debate from the merits of each sides' arguments to one in which the opponents are forced to spend the majority of their time defending themselves from the despicable charge.


This is one of the results of the growth of the cult of political correctness in this country. Even though they may not agree with the philosophy that one must never say anything which might be offensive to someone else, most Americans have subconsciously adopted that mode of speech and argument. It is interesting to note that in this particular instance the first principle of politically correct speech - “Thou shalt not speak any offensive epithet lest thou should injure thine opponent's self-esteem” - does not apply when making the charge of racism. Yes, it's permissible for the left to level such a charge at those whom they have discovered are not willing to simply allow the juggernaut of an ever-larger Federal government to roll over them unchecked. It is not, however, permissible to point out that in making such a charge, one which I and I dare say most Americans feel is outrageous, the backers of the Obama regime are themselves acting in racist manner. But, that's rather beside the point – it merely illustrates how, by making this unfounded indictment, the supporters of President Obama are able to deflect the debate from the true point at issue – that the President's plan to “reform” health care is nothing less than a plan to socialize the health care system by slowly driving out any remnants of the free market in this sector of the economy.


Making the charge of racism simply demonstrates the emptiness of the case for supporting the President's proposals. As time goes on more details of the President's proposals have emerged and it becomes obvious why President Obama tried to keep them murky early on. The simple fact is that the proposed changes cannot be paid for without both drastically curtailing the services provided by Medicare, particularly those for the elderly, and increasing the taxes that most Americans will pay. Unless the Obama regime is willing to curtail spending on other social programs and so-called “entitlements” the money is not there. This nation faces deficits from now until forever because none of our so-called “leaders” in Washington has had the political will to call a halt to the continual expansion of spending on social programs – programs which, by and large, lack any constitutional support. Our nation is bankrupt, or would be if anyone dared to actually face the facts of the matter. Yet the President insists that we stick our heads further into the sand and allow him and his cronies to saddle the populace with still more taxes. The sad thing is that, if the level of Federal taxes were reduced, as they could be if Americans insisted the government live within the law, the vast majority of people could pay for their own health insurance. Bat that's another admission that those in power dare not make because they realize that to do so would be to call into doubt most of their actions over the last half century.


So we're stuck with the absurd situation in which the President and his supporters cannot make a reasonable case for the proposed changes, but they dare not admit that. So they lower themselves to the level of making ad hominem attacks on those who are pointing out the many fallacies of their position. By doing so they not only continue to add to the level of rancor, discord, and distrust that pervades American political discourse but they lessen the chances that anything good can come out of this discussion of the problems of our health care system; and a serious discussion badly needs to take place. However, calling their opponents names will not move the debate forward and it threatens to destroy what little decorum and rationality exists in what passes for political debate in America. Shame on them, and shame on those of us who oppose the President's plan for allowing ourselves to be distracted from the real matter at hand – will the United States make an irrevocable move into outright socialism or will we move the other way – back towards the freedoms that this country was founded upon?

How much can you earn? If you're a banker the Fed will determine that.

The Federal Reserve has announced a policy that, not too many years ago, would have been widely denounced as a tyrannical usurpation of power. The Fed is in the process of drawing up “guidelines” to set limits on the amount of compensation that can be paid to the upper management of the nation's banks. This is in keeping with a White House policy of setting limits on the pay for executives of banks which have taken advantage of the TARP funds made available under what amounts to an emergency decree by former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulsen last September. Yet, somehow, this direct interference with the workings of the free market has not drawn the fire from so-called conservatives that one would have expected. This strikes me as yet another sign of just how little attention is paid to the Constitution and the limits that it sets on the power of the Federal government these days. Instead of vilifying this new assertion of unlawful power on the part of the State the reaction seems to be, “Oh well, this is merely a logical extension of the programs that have saved our financial system from collapse”. There is also more than a hint of class warfare in this move as the President seeks to further establish himself as the savior of the poor and downtrodden.

This change in the Fed's regulatory scheme is a continuation of the Obama regime's policy of punishing the wealthy by capping the amount of money they may earn in the future. After all, this is the same outfit that has placed caps on the amount of money that may be earned by top management in the nationalized parts of the U.S. auto industry known as General Motors and Chrysler. One of the things that concerns me, besides the obvious unconstitutionality of the moves to regulate the recompense of employees in the putatively private sector of the economy, is the level of, there is no other word for it, glee, which has met the Fed's announcement. This is but one sign that the majority of the American people have bought into the State's version of the causes of the events leading up to the current economic crisis: the fault lies entirely with those greedy bankers who were let loose to run amok by a Bush administration that cared only for allowing its friends and supporters to make obscene amounts of money. There seems to be little awareness that our current financial problems were caused by a series of ill-considered policies adopted by various agencies of the Federal government – the same government which is now being trusted with extra-constitutional powers to put things right.

What many Americans fail to realize is that, by acquiescing in the imposition of wage caps for some they accept that all may have their remuneration set by the State. Many will not accept the truth of the last statement, preferring to believe in the myth of a benevolent Federal government, a government which would never act in such a way as to harm the people. However, history, if it teaches us anything at all, teaches us that government power, once established in an area of economic or social activity, continues to expand. To take but one example, the Interstate Commerce Commission was originally empowered only to regulate railroad freight rates. Its powers eventually grew to encompass the trucking industry as well as railroads and its field of activity grew to include such details as what routes trucks could drive and what they were allowed to carry on those routes. The railroads saw an even more drastic expansion of the ICC's powers as it came to control the smallest details of the freight rates the railroad could charge, how the roads were required to do their accounting – though those methods failed to reflect the actual costs incurred by the companies – and other details of operations. The ICC grew so cumbersome and destructive of economic activity that even the Congresscritters in Washington finally realized that it was killing the freight industry, both trucks and railroads, and its power were drastically cut in the early 1980s and the commission itself eventually phased out, to be replaced by the Surface Transportation Board. In a repeat of history Congress is now considering expanding the powers of the STB to set railroad freight rates. Representative James Oberstar (D-MN), chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has opened hearings about what he calls the problem of freight railroads overcharging their customers. Wherever one looks at government programs, particularly those which regulate some sort of activity one sees the expansion of those powers into areas that were not imagined in the original legislation. Yet, the State's “education system” does a good job of indoctrinating students with the idea that the Federal government is the source of all goodness and wisdom. Thus, many people do not acknowledge that the government is the source of a lot of their problems, even in the face of considerable evidence that it is.

It doesn't take a genius to see the path that the State will follow now that it has been allowed to establish wage caps in a small section of the economy. At some time in the future the Federal government will extend its new found powers and establish wage limits for management in other sections of the economy, and the workers will cheer because the “rich, fat cats” of management will be seen as getting what is coming to them. Little will they realize that they will be the next in line for having their incomes limited. Anyone who has read Frederick Hayek's book The Road to Serfdom will understand how this process is inevitable, unless the people realize what is going on and act decisively to change the course of their government. Forcing the Federal government back into the constraints imposed on it by the Constitution will allow Americans to recover their lost freedoms, including the freedom to work for wages set by the free market, not by some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C.

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