Sunday, September 26, 2010

The President's Achilles' Heel

President Obama has told us once again that his Health Care program is unpopular because he hasn’t done a good job of communicating the benefits of the program. And, once again, he recites the same litany of arguments that didn’t sway opinions the first time.

He is probably asking himself some hard questions: why don’t the American people want these benefits? What makes people want to repeal the entire bill?

His solution is to put Andy Griffith on the air.

Is it possible that the people are wiser than President Obama on this issue?

The Founding Fathers, particularly Jefferson and Madison, were political philosophers of the highest caliber. They engaged in far-reaching studies of governments around the world and through out history. They wanted to create a new form of government that retained all the best attributes of the better systems but which also restricted the negative attributes. They understood the flaws in communism(1), theocracy, monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, to name a few, and they found these systems wanting in their ability to protect men against the development of tyranny. Their solution was a republic that instituted strong restraints on the government such as effective divisions of power, checks and balances, a written Constitution, a bill of rights and the pursuit of happiness.

The Founders saw any system of government that sought to exploit given groups for the sake of other groups as tyranny. For instance, they did not want the un-propertied mass of people, by vote, to expropriate the property of the rich (re-distribution) and they did not want the rich to use influence with the government to get even more rich (oligarchy). They wanted all groups to be left to their own devices and free of any form of coercion from any direction.(2)

Our President, on the other hand is not a political philosopher; he is an ideologue who thinks that (in essence) a fascist oligarchy with elements of communism (re-distribution) is the best system. He minimizes the studied views of Madison and Jefferson and criticizes the Constitution because it does not re-distribute wealth. His “system” would bring into government the negative attributes of both democracy and oligarchy – as if it represented something new that has never been tried. Not only does he hope for the ignorance of the American people about the damage that these systems have caused in the past, he accepts the invalid verdict of Marxist critics that capitalism is exploitation. He considers capitalism to be selfish, wasteful and coercive while at the same time he seeks to retain in his own government these same negative attributes.

If he were to look at his own economic program, in particular his Stimulus Program, that has produced not a single net job, he would be asking himself why the jobs are not coming, why he has to tamper with the numbers, why he has to call government hiring for the census an indication of an improving economy. Instead of lying to us, he should be asking why his policies aren’t working. But he doesn’t ask that question. Why?

The answer is because the President is a committed statist.

A statist adheres to the principle that the government has the moral authority to use force against citizens for any reason whatever. A citizen is considered the property of the state and it is his duty to do as he is told; to sacrifice himself, if the state demands it, for a “higher” good. Further, if the state determines that a particular social goal is a priority, the citizen must dedicate himself to that goal. There is no choice in this matter; the collective rules and the individual’s wants, needs or goals are unimportant. If some people have to starve for the sake of the “greater good”, that is fine.

Statists consider that leadership consists of passing laws or issuing decrees that the rest of society must obey. They assume that citizens “know” that their decisions are the will of the people. The pragmatic statist thinks that his leadership skill is to be found in intelligently manipulating the elements of society in order to accomplish “good” results. He uses college professors who are adept at statistics, and who claim to have a deep knowledge of how society works, to advise him on how to pull the levers of the social machine, to prime the pump, so to speak, and create abundance and happiness all around.

A statist adheres to the principle of collectivism which claims that people, working together, sacrificing for each other, can accomplish great things. They consider that collectivism is the key to winning wars, defeating poverty, eliminating waste and improving the morale of the nation. This too is considered practical. The statist envisions a world of happy workers, each laboring for the goal of the collective, and contributing to the total product which keeps growing larger.

Which brings us to the third principle of the statist and that is altruism. Altruism is the idea that it is the duty of each individual to participate in the collectivist dream; in fact, that he must participate or else he is an enemy of the people. The altruist thinks that if people do not willingly contribute their work, their time and their lives to the collective vision, they are criminals; they must be punished and ostracized.

The problem for statists like the President is that they are fraught with cognitive blind spots. Their visions blur when it comes to anticipating the final outcome of statism, the point when the gross product is supposed to keep getting larger. The vision of a happy, affluent society, for some reason, never materializes. It must always be pushed off into a further distant future…while the wise leaders figure out how to manipulate the society even more. They look for situations where men are not performing their duties, and they determine how the government can “nudge” them so society can be improved. Each intervention creates more problems and breeds more interventions and takes society to the point where the leaders lose track of what caused what and how to fix what. The brilliant scholars, now called dunces, are hauled off to prison or summarily purged as enemies of the state. What none of the statists realize is that when you combine altruism with collectivism you end with slave labor, concentration camps and genocide...or revolution.

The most basic blindspot of statists is found in their theory of man’s nature. To them, man is an ignorant brute who will always do the wrong thing unless a “benevolent” authority keeps them on the right path. The truth that statist authorities do not see is that man is not a brute, he is a being with volition and the ability to survive by means of his mind. In other words, man has the ability to thrive if he is left alone. This is the fact that the statists refuse to accept and this is why every statist society in history has been a dismal failure.

Which brings us to the President’s Achilles' Heel.

The American people did not vote for the President’s Health Care program, his jobs stimulus bills, his interventions, his unilateral decrees, his lawlessness. This is because most of the people are rational. They are not mere brutes who follow any lie told to them. They know that these programs are not in their self-interest. They know that their future hard work (in the form of debt) is merely being re-distributed; nothing is being added to the gross product…which means no “stimulation” is being accomplished. They are smarter than the President and all his professors combined.

The rationality of the American people represents the President’s Achilles Heel, his deadly weakness within his perceived strength as a leader. It doesn’t matter how cleverly he tells a lie; it is still a lie and people can see through it. The fantasy that you can create economic well-being by giving to some people other peoples’ money does not wash. You cannot indefinitely spend tomorrow’s money; sooner or later you lose your credit rating and you are destitute.

The American people are reading between the lines of the President’s actions and statements. Though many of them don’t know what statism is, they can see that there is something wrong with the President’s manner of speaking. They ask themselves whether he is a communist, a socialist, a fascist, a welfare statist and they debate with themselves (endlessly) the meaning of what he does not say, the nature of the people that he brings into his administration, the decrees he issues, the laws he disregards and they know that the principles he claims to espouse, free markets and capitalism, are clearly not what he advocates.

They see clearly that he advocates a government of men…and not of laws.

(1) Via Aristotle’s writings on communism, holding all property in common.
(2) See Federalist Paper #10 by Madison

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ugly Unwashed Savages

We’ve seen it before: the moral outrage aimed at America in places that still don’t have running water.  Our children may be too young to know, but those in my generation also saw this outrage on television when we were young - from places all over the world, ginned up by pro-Soviet agitators who railed against capitalism and the evils it had supposedly done in the world.  Most of these people are now wearing American blue jeans and riding their bikes to real capitalist jobs so they can feed their brood. 
But the arguments of the America haters are the same as they were in the past, America is evil, America is imperialistic, America robs the poor and leaves them destitute.  Forget that these are lies; today’s protesters are repeating the same line…without the help of the KGB.  Even the flag-burning and effigy-burning are the same. 
In difficult times throughout our past, Americans have been exceptional.  Where others have been hateful and bigoted toward us, Americans seek reason, understanding and fairness.  Where others have gone into the streets and expressed hatred for our way of life, we have been (too) tolerant and respectful of their views.  When many of these people are devastated by disaster, our nation is the most generous in providing aid.  In spite of our goodness, our media has striven to show hateful images of angry faces because they want us to think that we should accommodate the protesters in some way.  By this reasoning, we are evil, and they are right to hate us.  Today, our leaders insist that we should not respond to these endless provocations so that the savages won’t have a reason to kill us.  Elliott Ness where are you?  What happened to the idea of fighting evil rather than accommodating it?
I think it is time to send the savages a message.  Why do we continue to keep quiet while these poverty-laden idiots on the streets are depicted as perceptive and morally righteous? Why do they consider us “ugly Americans” intent on dominating the world when we have been the liberators against tyranny of more people than any other nation?  Their contorted expressions of bitter hate are not based on anything we have done, but upon lies told to their leaders by our university professors. It is time to realize that if anyone is bigoted and bullying it is not Americans; it is those who pretend to have moral outrage against us.  We are the good people in the world, the best that have ever existed, the most civilized, the most educated and the most respectful anywhere.  Anyone who has moral outrage against us must be a hater of the good.  
Today, as we stand in the shadows of remembrance of the vicious hatred and murder of our fellow citizens, we strive to think deeply and carefully.  In spite of the fact that our leaders appear to agree with the America-haters of the world, many of us are silent.  We seldom defend Israel because our leaders no longer support the only real bastion of freedom in the Middle East.  We seldom defend our capitalist system when it is the only system that has brought abundance and relieved more poverty than any dictatorship that hates us.  We keep hiring American university professors who spout archaic and invalid Marxist lies about capitalism to students from all over the world…directly causing the undeserved hatred toward America.  If anyone is responsible for terrorism and hatred of America it is American college professors.  We seldom defend our right to our abundance and instead we elect leaders who are bent on giving it away to those who scratch rocks for food because their leaders won’t let them be free.
It is time someone told the anti-Americans all over the world what we think of them; they are uncivilized, ignorant, barbaric, poorly educated, bigoted and totally undeserving of the attention they get from our media.   We really don’t care about their fake anger. 
Tomorrow on September 12th, 2010, we will speak the truth.  The time for hating America without response is over.  The time for saving freedom has arrived.  Don’t tread on Americans. We will not submit. We will not relent.  You can call us racist, bigoted, hateful and astro turf, and as many other lies as you can think up.  We know what we stand for.  Individual rights, without compromise, without silence.
We don’t care what those ugly, unwashed savages are told to pretend to think.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Changing Change

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

"Change doesn’t come from Washington. Change comes to Washington."

“The change we seek has always required great struggle and great sacrifice. And so this is a battle in our own hearts and minds about what kind of country we want and how hard we’re willing to work for it.”

“So let me remind you tonight that change will not be easy. Change will take time. There will be setbacks and false starts and sometimes we’ll make mistakes.”

“We’ve done this before: Each and every time, a new generation has risen up and done what’s needed to be done. Today we are called once more, and it is time for our generation to answer that call. For that is our unyielding faith that in the face of impossible odds, people who love their country can change it.”

“I recognize that there is a certain presumptuousness in this, a certain audacity, to this announcement. I know that I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.”

“The genius of our Founders is that they designed a system of government that can be changed. And we should take heart, because we’ve changed this country before.”

“When I hear the cynical talk that blacks and whites and Latinos can’t join together and work together, I’m reminded of the Latino brothers and sisters I organized with and stood with and fought with side by side for jobs and justice on the streets of Chicago. So don’t tell us change can’t happen.”

“And so if we do not change our politics � if we do not fundamentally change the way Washington works � then the problems we’ve been talking about for the last generation will be the same ones that haunt us for generations to come.”

One thing that President Obama never talks about is what he means by the word “change”. The question is, what is he changing America into; specifically, what is the “system” he wants for us? Is it a system of constant change such as socialism or fascism? It is certainly not the kind of slow, deliberate change that created the domestic tranquility for which our Founders strove.

Believe it or not, this issue of changing our government was critical to the discussions during our Constitutional Convention in 1787. Our Founders wanted a government that could be changed but only in a very limited, slow, deliberate and thoughtful way; they wanted to secure and strengthen freedom not change it on a whim. They wanted a government based on sound and true principles that corresponded with the real world in which men lived. And, more importantly, they sought to institute “protections” against the government changing into a dictatorship. They created the separation of powers, checks and balances, regular elections, property rights, judicial review and even freedom of speech in order to ensure that society did not change into a system where factions such as economic or religious groups could turn the government into a tool of oppression. They wanted a government that secured “domestic tranquility” rather than revolutionary change. They created a republic.

The real issue for the Founders was not how to re-distribute income. They established a government that, for the first time in recorded history, allowed and protected the pursuit of happiness; a system that allowed hard working people to keep the results of their work…by right. They were philosophically grounded in Enlightenment ideas, the development of parliamentary government in England, the experiments of the Ancient Greeks and Roman forms of government; and they carefully pondered how to create something so good and so well constituted that it could not be changed easily. Many of their arguments revolved around the question of how to ensure domestic tranquility.

Something tells me that President Obama would probably give lip-service to the idea of domestic tranquility. I think he wants to ensure that people don’t correctly understand that the “change” he refuses to define is really revolutionary change; the kind of change that obliterates and unravels all the work done by the Founders. Revolutionary change destroys domestic tranquility because it is an assault on the Constitution and individual rights.

Why is President Obama’s “change” the opposite of domestic tranquility? First of all, any undefined concept can only do harm. The fact that it is undefined means that those in charge of it can “change” the definition to suit their needs at any time. It is reminiscent of George Soros’ “Open Society”; a full democracy where a majority can enslave the productive minority without opposition. In such a “democratic” system, we find that few honest citizens can garner the support necessary to defeat or amend the plundering of their property. A government that has a free hand to disregard individual rights and Constitutional protections can do virtually anything it wants in the name of changing the system to something that it decides is “fair”. What you get is what we’ve got; a government whose leader rules virtually by decree without reference to laws or the Constitution.

This “change” society destroys economic activity because business people and private citizens are effectively prohibited from planning their futures. As a matter of survival, they must refuse to invest in the future until domestic tranquility is restored. If they have only plunder of their property to look forward to, they will not produce very much. This is a law of nature, not something you can fix about man. It is a form of justice where honest people refuse to feed parasites.

The truth is that a revolutionary government like ours does not see domestic tranquility as a value. Its highest value is change. Change is necessary because the leaders do not know what to do and they must have the flexibility necessary to change policies and conditions unilaterally and without debate. Their greatest enemy is the man who expects to be reasoned with and treated honestly. This is why revolutionary governments have always made an enemy of capitalism and capitalists. They have committed virtually every form of crime against these people including murder and imprisonment, disenfranchisement and plunder. Capitalists are the proverbial scapegoats of history, damned by altruism because they pursue happiness and want to live better lives.

Revolutionary government needs the ability to steal value through re-distribution, progressive taxation, debt, expropriation, violation of contracts and outright nationalization…in order to get the money it needs to build oligarchs, regulatory agencies, secret police and armies. Revolutionary government requires altruism and self-sacrifice among those it intends to loot and, therefore, it cannot be constrained by such ideas as individual rights and reasoned debate. So the “change” that revolutionary government requires is the destruction of domestic tranquility.

Revolutionary governments, seeking change, necessarily make bad decisions. For instance, our government, under the Obama administration, has accepted Keynesian economic fallacies that recommend government re-distribution (through debt) to stimulate demand for products. The false premise of Keynesianism is that government can spur economic activity by giving money to consumers who will then buy from producers. But the money given to the consumers has been taken from the producers, capitalists, factory workers, service employees; and this means that the government is not creating wealth…it is only moving it around (This is why the Stimulus Programs have not created any new jobs). Where producers would otherwise invest their money in production, thereby increasing domestic products, wealth is reduced due to re-distribution.

In fact, the government is destroying what would otherwise be rational expenditures of money, diverting those expenditures from the purchase of production capacity to the purchase of snacks, alcoholic beverages and candy. The economy declines because it has been “changed” into a less efficient system. A perfect example of this, if it is implemented, will be the so-called “Cap and Trade” program that will move even more money around and destroy one of the most vital industries we have; our energy industry. This program will tax today's most efficient uses of energy and re-distribute money to oligarchs paid by the government to develop inefficient energy products whose prices will be subsidized by the government in order to encourage their consumption. If you thought Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were failed re-distribution schemes (that brought about a financial collapse) you haven’t seen anything yet. This is what you can expect from President Obama’s vision of change in America.

The basic fallacy of Keynes and Obama is best expressed by Jean Baptiste Say, "...it is the aim of good government to stimulate production, of bad government to encourage consumption."(1) How does good government stimulate production? It establishes domestic tranquility and leaves people alone to make their own economic decisions.

Domestic tranquility is promoted when the government is prohibited from violating individual rights, and more importantly, when the government is constrained, into the distant future, from interfering in the private decisions of citizens. When the government can never “change” into a rights-violating government, then the people can freely plan their lives, invest their money, produce abundance and make profits…into the distant future. They require domestic tranquility in order to survive.

It is not likely that President Obama will ever admit that his “change” is the cause of our economic problems. He would prefer to blame capitalism and small business people for being selfish than to admit that his policies have upset our domestic tranquility. He pretends not to see what is in front of his eyes, that his government is doing exactly the opposite of what is necessary for a vibrant economy. His government is “changing” so fast and regulating so much that people do not know how to prepare for the future. He is destroying their rights so fast, spending their money so fast at a level unheard of in the history of the world, that you can validly ask whether he is deliberately destroying our nation.

The re-establishment of domestic tranquility is not about being a Republican or a Democrat. The Founding Fathers did not think of party divisions or of winning elections when they sought to create the circumstances that enabled citizens to perennially live without the interference of government. Today, we have no such tranquility and the actions of our change-prone government are pushing us further and further into decline. Not only is the private citizen under siege by his own government but the consequences of President Obama’s policies will likely make our nation vulnerable to enemies intent on destroying us.

We need to restore the time-honored principles that created our society, not because they are traditional but because they are true; they lead to the kind of society where citizens can plan their lives; where they can live secure in the knowledge that they are protected from tyranny.

In this sense, we need to change change back to the original change.

(1) Jean Baptiste Say, Traite d'Economie Politique (Say's Law, that supply creates its own demand was originated in 1803).