Mar 042010

The next time anyone suggests that we take seriously something that President Obama said, we should point to the media attack on Jim Bunning. The next time anyone suggests that we need higher taxes to pay for important social programs, or to bring down the deficit, or anything else, we should point to the media attack on Jim Bunning. The scandalous behavior of the media and everyone else who participated in the orchestrated smear campaign on the Senator from Kentucky shows the pointlessness of any of this.

I say orchestrated, because there is no way that anyone who pays any attention to the news or did his own thinking would have repeated the attacks on Bunning without referring to the Pay-Go legislation that President Obama and Congress had enacted just a few weeks ago. Only mindless functionaries could have failed to bring that into the discussion.

Or, maybe it’s the case that Pay-Go did come to mind, but nobody took Congress or the President seriously when that legislation was enacted. If that’s the case, there is no reason to take them seriously whey they say or do anything else.

If the news media had done its job of reporting instead of smearing, we could have had a valuable discussion. Instead of repeating the claim that one person was holding up the legislation, we could have come to grips with the points that Bunning raised in an opinion piece that came out in USA Today after the smear had done its work. Here is a quote:

Many people asked me, “Why now?” My answer is, “Why not now?” Why can’t a non-controversial measure in the Senate that would help those in need be paid for? If the Senate cannot find $10 billion to pay for a measure we all support, we will never pay for anything.

Exactly. We will never pay for anything. If the Senate couldn’t find $10 billion anywhere else in the budget to pay for this, there is no need to ever raise taxes again. It would be pointless. The government is just going to print whatever extra money it wants to spend, no matter whether we’re taxed at 10 percent or 90 percent. People may claim that we need to bring down the deficit, but if they took part in the attack on Bunning, we will know their words are worthless. If they didn’t care about the deficit when trying to find money to for a modest extension to unemployment benefits, they will never really care about the deficit, no matter what they claim. It will be a waste of time to believe them.

Mar 182009

I hope the Animal Services and Enforcement Director in Kalamazoo County doesn’t hear about this. Or if he does, I hope he doesn’t like it.

Just because an impoverished cat owner in Belarus sends the animal out to beg money for its own upkeep doesn’t mean the impoverished horse owners in Kalamazoo County should do that, does it? Because if that’s allowed, it might argue against the idea that leftish people now owe the rest of us support money for our upkeep.

Mar 182009


Today I came to realize that in the world of politics, the word “comprehensive” is a near-synonym for totalitarian.

In Tuesday’s WSJ there was a letter in response to an article explaining how cap-and-trade is a corrupt, expensive system. The letter-writer said we should instead think about the benefits of having a “comprehensive” energy and climate system. And then there are the people who say we need to make all of our existing health systems fail so we can have a “comprehensive” system of national health insurance. (They don’t say so quite that explicitly, but this came up in connection with Obama’s recent statements about cutting benefits for combat veterans.)

I’ve now officially decided that I am very anti-comprehensive anything. I am a raging incrementalist, as the late Representative Barber Conable used to call himself.

The comprehensivists always have an excuse for failure. We didn’t spend enough money, fast enough, they will say. A little reform will never do. Yes, everything they’ve done so far has caused misery. That’s why we need to have more — lots more. We must have a comprehensive, all-or-nothing reform system. (Think of those people who say communism hasn’t failed because it hasn’t been tried. Yes, the more of it you have, the more miserable people get — until you get to 100 percent, and then nirvana! See the graph above.)

It’s different with us free-marketers. For our side, a little more is always better. When Stalin and Khruschev backed off of their grand, comprehensive plans and allowed a little bit of market freedom, things got better, not worse. We don’t need comprehensive.

The comprehensivists are like Linus Pauling and his Vitamin C. “Yes,” I would say, “I took Vitamin C and I still got a cold.” “But you didn’t take enough!” they say. So next time I would tell them, “I took a gazillion milligrams, and I still got a cold!” “But you need to take more — lots more!” they say. It’s never enough.

That’s the way it will be with health care or cap-and-trade. It will fail, and we’ll find out that the reason will be because it wasn’t comprehensive enough. “Of course things got worse,” they will tell us. “We need a comprehensive, all-or-nothing, totalitarian system!” (Holistic might be another term they’ll use.)

They will refuse to enact market-based reforms that will merely improve the environment and health-care.

Mar 162009

Horses may be going hungry, but here’s some food for thought. It’s inspired by a front page story in Sunday’s Kalamazoo Gazette.

The article explains that people can’t afford to take care of their horses, but they’re required to anyway, even if they’ve lost their jobs and incomes. There is no longer a market for the animals, so they can’t be sold. And the other alternatives (such as euthanasia) are even more expensive or non-existent. Kalamazoo County’s Animal Services and Enforcement director explains:

Winter time is tough, with people being laid off and home foreclosures. Hay’s expensive — all these things add up. But I don’t want to hear their excuses. They’ve taken on this responsibility. You can’t have an animal that’s solely dependent on you for food and care and let it starve just because things have changed. You’ve got to find an alternative, even if you have to go shovel driveways.

Leave aside for a moment the question of whether it’s appropriate for a law enforcement officer to get all moralistic and emotional like this. His statements suggest a way to handle some similar situations involving humans.

Leftish people have enacted entitlement programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, which have turned out to be way more expensive than originally projected. Now the economy is down, and they are becoming unsustainable. People are now soley dependent on the government for these services.

The leftish people have basically created pets out of people, who have become dependent on their care. The recipients can’t just be released back into the wild at this point. They can’t be euthanized (though some societies that have found themselves in similar circumstances have adopted that as a partial solution). These leftish people have taken on a responsibility, and now need to find an alternative. Shoveling driveways won’t do it, so we’ll probably need to confiscate their homes and property and garnish their incomes to pay for these services. No excuses.

And what about the people who put these leftish persons in a position to do this? What about the citizens who voted for legislators who enacted the social security tax increases of the 1980s? I suggest that the thinktanks get to work and come up with formulas by which the citizens of the states and congressional districts that elected these people be charged additional surtaxes to pay for their bad judgment.

“Wait a minute!” you might say. “This is a collective responsibility that we’ve taken on as a nation. The country as a whole has a responsibility to tax itself into oblivion to pay for these obligations!”

Under certain circumstances, you would be right. If our national legislature did things in a collective manner, for the nation as a whole, then perhaps we’d all bear some responsibility. But that’s not the way things work.

Take earmarks, for example. The latest stimulus package is full of them, no matter the claims by some people that they make up only a small portion of it. Lots of the money is designated for particular programs in particular districts. Spending decisions are not made objectively on the merits of competing programs. Instead they’re made based on political clout and for the exchange of political favors. And even where funds are turned over to granting agencies that might use objective criteria to disburse the funds, they are subject to “oversight” and meddling by members of Congress who lobby on behalf of constituents. Representatives run for re-election on the basis of the bringing home the bacon to their district, and leftish newspaper editors endorse politicians on the basis of their ability to do favors for their districts.

Under this system of crony corruption, the people who vote these people into office need to be the ones who are financially responsible for ponying up when entitlement programs prove to be unsustainable.

“Wait just another minute!” you might say. Just because some spending decisions are made on the basis of corrupt favoritism, that doesn’t mean all the entitlement programs work that way.

Oh, yes, they do. All these programs are inter-related. Congressman Bacon votes for Congressman Upright’s entitlement program, in exchange for Congressman Upright voting for Congressman Bacon’s pet project. It isn’t always an explicit trade — in fact it rarely is. But implicit in this system is trading of votes — “I’ll vote for your boondoggle because otherwise you might not vote for mine someday.”

The people who create these problems need to be the ones to pay extra.

[Late note:  Cross-posted to the Conservative community on LiveJournal.]

Mar 052009

I wonder if the Obamanites have lost confidence in their ability to blame Bush for all of the economic troubles:

The person Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wanted as his chief deputy withdrew from consideration Thursday, dealing a setback to the agency as it struggles to address the worst financial crisis in decades… “a personal decision” to withdraw from the process, according to a person familiar with her decision … No tax problems or other issues arose during Nazareth’s vetting… Geithner has been criticized for staffing his department too slowly…Five weeks into his tenure, he has yet to name a single top deputy or assistant secretary. This has left Treasury with too few people authorized to make decisions or represent the department in meetings with stakeholders. — AP article on Yahoo News

Dunno if that would explain this one, though:

Earlier Thursday, an administration official said Gupta “was under serious consideration for the job of surgeon general. He has removed himself from consideration to focus more on his medical career and his family. We know he will continue to serve and educate the public through his work with media and in the medical arena.”

Feb 272009

This was fun to watch, but I should have paid more attention to the title: “1933 Pro-Inflation Propaganda Film.” Up until almost the end I thought it was making fun of the “Inflation is Wonderful” idea. But it wasn’t. Maybe Obama could use it as part of his sales campaign.

I enjoyed some of the pronunciations, such as the way Nineteen Thirty-Three is pronounced — especially the first syllable of “thirty”. I wonder if that’s a pronunciation that’s still heard anywhere.