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May 30, 2009

Why Socialism Doesn't Work (a case study)

The United States Postal Service is a truly socialist enterprise. Anyone who has to deal with the Post Office on a regular basis, especially if you have to go to the actual offices themselves, is aware of this. Of course, as has been well-publicized in recent months, the Post Office now faces massive financial problems.

Of course, in a socialist agency such as the Post Office, politics plays an incredibly large role. As this article from today's New York Times illustrates, when it comes to cost savings, politics makes increased efficiency very difficult to achieve. With USPS facing a $6.5 billion deficit, "the agency continues to spend $46,000 a year for a challenging small-plane route that serves about 20 addresses secluded in the roadless wilderness of the northern Rocky Mountains."

Inevitably, the story goes on "John E. Potter, the postmaster general, began getting calls, letters and e-mail messages from the owners of ranches on the river. People showed up on Capitol Hill in rafting sandals and cowboy boots.

Then, just before Mr. Potter was about to face a conference call with the four members of Idaho’s Congressional delegation, he decided that the high-flying weekly route through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness, in place for more than half a century and the last air route into a wilderness area in the continental United States, should best be left as is."

So, 20 or so people receiving a massive government subsidy succeeded in killing a reform that would have saved this so-called business money in it's ongoing effort to break even. A private company, on the other hand, could easily make the decision to not serve such high-cost customers. Unfortunately, America is moving rapidly towards greater politicization of health care, energy policy, and manufacturing to name just a few areas of the economy that will become much less efficient under government control.

Posted by PaulGessing at 01:44 PM | Comments (6)

May 29, 2009

Survey: Help us improve The Free Liberal

Howdy—

We’ve had several exciting conversations over the past few months toward improving The Free Liberal. This clunkety old site has served us well over the years, but we think we can do it better, maybe even a whole lot better.

It hasn’t been completely rosy. Behind the scenes, this site has caused a lot of despair, heartache, and shattered relationships. Paul Gessing moved to the desert to escape the stress, and Bob Capozzi has to meditate like ninety hours a day just to deal (it gives him the calm composure of a saint though). Don’t even ask about Kevin Rollins. As I write this, he’s cringing in the dark muttering about his “birthday present”.

Just kidding—our editorial team is mostly on the up and up. And yet we know the site needs some serious improvement. But, somehow, you come here and use the site anyway. Thanks!

Anyway, all of this is to say we’re interested in your point of view. Would you be willing to take a few minutes to fill out our very short survey? We want to know what you like about the site, what you don’t like, and stuff like that. There are no personal questions or anything.

This survey is open to readers, TFL bloggers, and everyone. Oh, and feel free to share your questions and thoughts below.

Thanks again! You’re super.


John Stephens is a Quaker web developer and creative professional at Design Opus.

Posted by johnstephens at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2009

How Free Liberals Arm Themselves

Carl Milsted's post about simplistic libertarians reminds me of the Capozzi litmus test for detecting nutty libertoids: Should people be allowed to own nuclear weapons?

This helpful page at freerepublic clarifies the categories of weaponry:

Therefore, it is clear that any tool of self defense you choose must be a tool you can direct to be capable of discriminating between an attacker and an innocent. Clearly, the following tools are capable, with a minimum of care, of being directed against an attacker without jeopardizing innocents:

* Knife
* Club
* Sword
* Dirk
* Mace
* Pistol
* Rifle
* Shotgun
* Cannon shooting ball shot

The following tools are slightly more questionable, since they are somewhat less able to be directed with great accuracy, and thusly are less discriminating. They have a larger chance of violating an innocent persons 'quiet enjoyment' of his property during the suppression of a criminal attack:

* Machine gun
* Machine pistol
* Small explosive device
* Satchel charge
* Antitank rocket

The following tools are completely indiscriminate, and may harm innocent people decades after their use. These tools are completely inappropriate for your right of self defense, since they will certainly violate an innocent persons right of quiet enjoyment of their property.

* Nuclear device
* Large explosive device
* Fuel-air explosive
* Biological weapon
* Land mine
* Chemical weapon
* Booby trap

Free Liberals prefer directed energy weapons...
Free Liberals prefer directed-energy weapons.

/KDR

Posted by KevinRollins at 12:55 PM | Comments (2)

More on Simplistic Libertarians

Not long ago I stirred up the pot by openly admitting I like to rile up simplistic libertarians. Perhaps I went too far. One of the commenters thought I was calling all libertarians simplistic. I did not mean this, but it is easy to draw this conclusion, so now I clarify.

All movements have their simplistic thinkers. We have simplistic liberals, simplistic conservatives, simplistic environmentalists, simplistic Christians, etc. I go after simplistic libertarians because I love liberty, and don’t like liberty being tightly associated with low-quality thinking. Moreover, the most simplistic libertarians are also the most vocal in declaring themselves to be “real libertarians,” so active criticism and disassociation is in order.

Many simplistic libertarians derive all policies from simple axioms and ignore all data that contradicts their assumptions. Dare to invoke facts to a certain prominent school of “real libertarians” and they’ll react like a medieval witch smeller and shriek, “Scientism!!!!” This school, along with another prominent school, invoke crude models of human nature, declaring them to be Truth, and then derive all policies and moral prescriptions from these crude models tenaciously rationalizing away any absurd conclusions. In general, the libertarian movement supports a culture of making bald-faced generalizations that are laughably wrong to outsiders; c.f. “Government doesn’t work.” The cause of liberty is ill served by such declarations.

On the other hand, the movement also has writers, publications and organizations which do their homework, responsibly answering objections raised by defenders of big government. They should be encouraged and celebrated. Here is a partial list:

The Need for Self Policing

Every movement needs to do self policing. Leave all the criticism up to the opposition and eventually it all sticks, even the invalid criticism. Stick up for the simplistic demagogues, and eventually the entire movement is brought down. Look what happened to the Republicans. They stuck by George W. Bush as he made one blunder after another by letting ideological fantasies get in the way of observed reality. As a result, the Republicans have lost the presidency and both houses of Congress by a wide margin.

The big government left has its share of simplistic thinkers and its outright whack jobs. But of late they have managed to separate their leadership from such. While they do have their naked aging hippies marching down the streets of Berkeley spouting nonsense, their leader is an articulate, moderate-sounding male model. They even assign different names to their fringes: communists, socialists, progressives.

Meanwhile, simplistic libertarians are given free reign to vilify all subtle defenders of liberty who refuse to drink the Kool Aid. When they get to be the voice of liberty, the idea of liberty becomes easily trashed.

(H/t to Max Borders for finding this video.)

Posted by CarlMilsted at 10:07 AM | Comments (29)

May 24, 2009

Obama: You don't need no steenking trial

Change to believe in -- rolling back the Magna Carta as too progressive.

From the New York Times:

Obama Is Said to Consider Preventive Detention Plan

WASHINGTON — President Obama told human rights advocates at the White House on Wednesday that he was mulling the need for a “preventive detention” system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried, two participants in the private session said.

“He was almost ruminating over the need for statutory change to the laws so that we can deal with individuals who we can’t charge and detain,” one participant said. “We’ve known this is on the horizon for many years, but we were able to hold it off with George Bush.

Posted by JamesPlummer at 04:34 AM | Comments (2)

May 22, 2009

Democracy is Throwing Shoes

Rob Rafferty should produce get-out-the-vote commercials for the Ad Council.

Posted by KevinRollins at 08:25 AM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2009

School Choice Works, but the politicians are killing it

We at the Rio Grande Foundation have believed it for a long time, and it only makes sense: giving parents and students greater control over education decisions improves results. Of course, if you've been following the debate, you may also be aware that the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats are dismantling choice programs. The problem being that regardless of results, teachers unions, a powerful voting and fundraising ally, can't stand school choice.

We need educational choice in New Mexico and nationwide. Regardless of political party affiliation, improving educational outcomes and creating more diverse opportunities for students should lead to choice-based reforms.

Posted by PaulGessing at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)

World's Wealthiest Gather to Discuss Life at the Point of a Gun

The New York Times has an article about a recent meeting of Bill Gates, Oprah, Warren Buffett, George Soros, and Michael Bloomberg, among others. While an interesting story generally, this line in particular caught my attention:

Based on February estimates by Forbes, the room had a net worth of about $120 billion, or nearly as much as New York State’s annual budget.

I assume the NYT reporter meant to give the reader a sense of how much concentrated wealth was held by the participants in the meeting. It is an interesting comparison to draw. The statement seems to want to ask the question, "why do these people have so much?" All the citizens of New York State paid all they could -- their fair share -- to the public treasury, yet this handful of folks hold that money outright? It seems like these people have too much relative power. To whom are they accountable? Now we see them having a private meeting, to discuss private matters? Of course conspiracy theories about the machinations of private power get their roots here.

On the other side of this comparison, the meetings of the state legislature are perceived as commonplace, even recorded and made public. In the cultural consciousness, the words "democracy" and "representative government" give a connotation of legitimacy and even nobility to the decisions and power entrusted to this group. The public worries that even this body will become beholden to the privately powerful, so a system of "checks and balances" is constructed, with limitations on financial support to thwart the power of the wealthy.

Yet, we forget constantly that the politicians who declaim corruption are the very ones who vote for the rules that govern the structure of their power. The gang of thugs legislature must coerce its way to having the kind of spending money that Oprah and Bill Gates privately hold. While cloaked in the public interest, all rules of government are at least in some part rooted in a lust for power and self-enrichment. This imbalance in monetary wealth is constantly on the minds of the legislature; they know they have the power to coerce, but must tread carefully so as not to become outright enemies of the privately powerful.

The wealthy also perceive the power of government. The super wealthy stand out from the crowd and know they are being sized up. The rich know what a delicious feast "defenders of public interest" would enjoy at their expense, if the public processes were allowed to coordinate fully with the envy of the looters.

So, while much will be made about the evil plots that Gates et al are possibly concocting, we should remember that they do this at the point of a gun, which is constantly threatened by the socialist left.

/KDR

Posted by KevinRollins at 01:05 PM | Comments (3)

May 20, 2009

When Friends Fight

I love Jon Stewart's show. His is the only show on TV that I actually make a point to watch. He may be left of center, but he is also one of the few people on tv that is willing to question US foreign policy and poke fun at our elected leaders.

I also love Antiwar.com. It is the best source for news about US foreign policy and I have been reading it and listening to the podcasts for years. That is why this article by Justin Raimondo is so frustrating. After all, no one else in the mainstream media would even say the things Stewart does and yet here Raimondo criticizes him. I wish the freedom movement would stop circling the wagons only to open fire on each other and not the enemy.

Posted by PaulGessing at 11:18 PM | Comments (1)

May 19, 2009

Soak the Rich and Lose the Rich

The Wall Street Journal had an excellent article about the negative impact of high marginal tax rates yesterday. The article discussed misguided efforts by politicians in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York and Oregon to increase income tax rates on the highest earners within their respective borders. While politicians facing massive, spending-induced budget deficits are certainly eager to get their mitts on "excess" earnings of the "rich," the track record of these politicians in doing so without destroying wealth is rather spotty.

As the authors point out:

From 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas. Over these same years the no-income tax states created 89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.

So, the truth is that the taxing and spending policies of America's most poorly run and rapacious states are simply pushing productive activity to more fiscally-responsible states like Texas. In fact, the authors point out, "Texas created more new jobs in 2008 than all other 49 states combined."

Posted by PaulGessing at 03:59 PM | Comments (3)

May 18, 2009

An Economics Lesson for Obama Lovers

OK, enough riling libertarians for the moment; it’s time to rile up some liberals. (Hey, this is the Free Liberal.) That is, it’s time to teach some big-government liberals an economics lesson, one which makes spending federal money like a kid in a candy store a bit less pleasant.

Deficit spending is regressive. Deficit spending subsidizes those who have money to invest in the same way the USDA subsidizes dairy farmers when it buys up cheese to rot in warehouses. This means the much-beloved Obama is budgeting more money to subsidize the rich than Bush did!

Elsewhere, I posted a satirical piece describing the budget announcement as if the administration was honest and aware of what it was doing. Here’s an excerpt:

When questioned by an astounded press corps, Obama improvised, “After eight years of horrible ineptitude by the Bush Administration, I wondered why we still have so many Republicans remaining in the Senate. Why didn’t Al Franken win in a landslide? How could a Republican even come close – in Minnesota??
“Then I raised up my eyes and gazed heroically across our once-misgoverned land, searching for those who did not yet accept my message of ‘Change.’ And I beheld Billionaires for Bush marching the streets. My advisors told me it was impossible for us to convert America’s billionaires to the Democratic Party. I rebuked them, shouting, ‘YES, WE CAN!’

Read the rest here. Enjoy.

Posted by CarlMilsted at 10:30 AM | Comments (2)

May 17, 2009

Turning down the President

I am an avid Pittsburgh Steeler fan. If you know me personally, you are probably know that already. This made this story about the team's visit to the White House especially interesting. The blogger calls Harrison "sort of a fool" for not visiting Obama with the rest of the team. For his part, Harrison has been bi-partisan in his President spurning as he didn't join the team when it visited President Bush the last time the Steelers won the Super Bowl.

It's nothing personal against Obama or Bush. In fact, Harrison points out:

If you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl. As far as I'm concerned, he [Obama] would've invited Arizona if they had won.

The fact is that politicians of all stripes like to surround themselves with winners to make them look good. Obama and Bush are no different. Sure, there are lots of people who would kill to meet Obama, but if hanging out with politicos isn't your thing, and it doesn't seem to be Harrison's, then why bother? So, I support Harrison for having the strength of character to say "no" to a President (and not just any President). It would be great if more of us avoided the hero/celebrity worship so prevalent in our culture, especially when it comes to politicians.

Posted by PaulGessing at 10:00 PM | Comments (1)

Obama Man Can

This video is quite funny:

It reminds me of the great Simpson's number "The Garbage Man Can.":

Hopefully Americans wake up and realize that government simply can't and shouldn't do everything for us.

Posted by PaulGessing at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

Allstate's Finger in the Dyke

Allstate ran an ad on the back of the Politico on Thursday (May 14) with the explicit meme, "THE FEDERAL REGULATORY OVERHAUL SHOULD INCLUDE THE ENTIRE FINANCIAL INDUSTRY."

I wasn't quite sure that the rest of the ad supported this message. The headline of the ad reads, "We're not fixing it at all, if we're not fixing it all." Well, that's like me saying, "I'm not writing this blog, if I'm not writing this blog." Or "If that dog's name isn't 'Rex', that dog's name isn't 'Rex'." It has no operational significance because it only relates the conclusion to the conclusion's antecedent existence.

Then the illustration is of Uncle Sam poking his "I want you" recruitment finger up against a crack in what appears to be a reservoir wall. Several other points in the wall have money flooding out of them. Is the analogy to the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike? The analogy would suggest that money is akin to nasty saltwater and that Uncle Sam is feckless in his attempt to stem the tide. But why is money undesirable? If the analogy was to controlling reckless financial decisions by repairing holes in the wall of Big Finance, it would seem more complete if the wall was labeled, "Federal Reserv(oir)" and have Uncle Sam simultaneously plugging holes in the private sector, while another version of himself was turning a wheel opening a valve of reckless monetary and fiscal policies in the public sector. Or perhaps, Uncle Sam's finger is a Mork from Ork device that has so much suction power that it is destroying the wall with each fell touch?

But, the advertisement doesn't leave us hanging. It provides several paragraphs of non-explanation. Bolded are the words, "We can't have a strong economy unless we have consistent federal regulation all over it... No one can be left out of the solution, or it won't be a solution." This is supported by bullet points of Obama-speak: Cooperate, Be Transparent, and Reinvent. I still have no idea what they are proposing.

Of course, I'm not so naive to believe that the ad is attempting to communicate a complex idea. It is communicating a simple one, that Allstate supports a particular piece of legislation, as described at allstate.com/fedreg, "Allstate supports H.R. Bill 1880 - National Insurance Consumer Protection Act."

The press release there tells us what Allstate is really thinking,

"Our regulatory infrastructure has simply not kept pace with the level of innovation in the financial markets and the growing risks embedded in financial products. A more comprehensive system of regulatory oversight will increase transparency and ensure the long-term stability of our capital markets. This means creating a sophisticated federal insurance regulator to oversee the financial stability and innovations of large insurance companies and pre-empting state-based regulation, just as has been done for the banking industry for 100 years."

This seems clearly to be a self-serving "solution" as having a single regulator makes it easier for large insurance companies to operate nationally. By itself, such centralization might be beneficial if the rules at the federal level are more coordinative than those at the state levels. The gains in cost reduction may be greater than the losses from optimality differences between the new federal regs and the set of state regs that current exist.

But, what does it mean to be a "sophisticated federal regulator"? Better bureaucrats? Laws crafted by Washington Wise-men?

This is the ongoing problem of figuring out what is really happening in the processes of government. The very words used seem to be merely nominal thrusts advancing each actor's interests. Talk of "solutions" is meaningless if we don't think about what we are solving for.

Posted by KevinRollins at 12:57 PM | Comments (6)

May 15, 2009

Free Sam Dodson!

While Iran just freed a journalist that it had been roundly criticized for holding as a political prisoner, right here in the United States, in Keene, New Hampshire, Sam Dodson is rotting in jail for the politically-motivated "crime" of filming the lobby of a courthouse.

Americans love to think that they live in a nation that obeys the rule of law, but it just isn't the case.

Posted by PaulGessing at 05:00 PM | Comments (2)

May 14, 2009

Obama's Town Hall on Credit Card Debt

President Obama was in New Mexico today for a town hall meeting. Even though I couldn't get on to the campus of Rio Rancho High to interview people about Obama's talk (video of the town hall can be accessed here), I did have an opportunity later on in the day to lead a panel discussion on Obama's talk, specifically relating to his proposals for imposing federal regulations on the credit card industry. You can listen to the audio along with the rest of our "Speaking Freely" shows here.

Not surprisingly, many consumers would like to pay lower interest rates on credit card debt, but such regulations could also wind up making it more difficult for responsible consumers to obtain such cards. Besides, if you don't want a credit card, you don't have to get one.

Posted by PaulGessing at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

Visit Jones County, Mississippi (and get Arrested)

The slogan of Jones County, Mississippi is, "Now, this is Living!" Today, our friends at Motorhomediaries.com were arrested while passing through this quaint little dry county.

FreeKeene.com reports:

It went down this morning in Jones County, MS. Jason Talley posted this to MHD’s Twitter:

“We are in Jones County MS and @adammueller has been arrested for filming cops after they pulled us over.” http://img15.imageshack.us/my.php?image=q72.jpg&via=tfrog

Later, other posts to Jason’s facebook page revealed they were all arrested. After asking for details and hearing nothing, I called the Jones County Jail at 601-649-7502 and confirmed they have all been imprisoned.

Adam Mueller - Disorderly Conduct and Disobeying an Officer
Pete Eyre - Possession of a Beer in a Dry County
Jason Talley - Disorderly Conduct, Disobeying, and Resisting Arrest:

According to the Jones County website the quality of life that Jason, Pete and Adam might have been enjoying if they weren't in the county lockup right now is quite lovely:

Some places have just one or two things going for them – it’s up to you to decide if the benefits of living there outweigh the sacrifices you’ll have to make.

And, then there are those rare places where everything is in sync, and the biggest debate is over which benefit you love the most.

Jones County is that kind of place: not just a place with an affordable cost of living, but also with easy access to goods and services; not just a place to do business, but also to serve others through social and community outreaches; and not just a place to have a good time, but also to feed the mind and soul through the arts and education.

Put it all together and you have a place where you’re free to pursue your happiness among people committed to your well-being and even better living in the future.

We encourage our readers to call the county's sheriff's office and the board of supervisors to find out more about quality of life -- especially that delicious thing called "liberty" -- when one comes to stay in Jones County, Mississippi:

The Jones County Sheriff Alex Hodge Office Phone: 601-428-3600. Cell Phone 601-422-3520

Jones County Board of Supervisors President Andy Dial 601-315-0428

Feel free to report your findings in the comment field below.

/KDR


Posted by KevinRollins at 06:50 PM | Comments (3)

May 11, 2009

The Next Justice

E.J. Dionne writes in Monday's Post about the coming nomination fight. He urges that we not get involved in catch phrases, however, I believe such a debate might be helpful.

I would like to know from nominees what they believe "judicial activism" means, both from their own point of view and how various actors use it. More specifically, I would like to know their opinion on the rights of state minorities to challenge and overcome the power of state majorities in federal court when those majorities deny the minority their rights to equal protection under the law.

There is a right and historical way to answer this. It would be helpful if the nominee had read Gary Wills' book - A Necessary Evil, as well as Garrett Epps' Democracy Reborn. Knowledge of this history is important when contradicting the originalism of Justices Scalia and Thomas, since both works make clear that Madison, in his original House passed version of the Bill of Rights and the congressional Radical Republicans who drafted the 14th Amendment both had strong ideas about using the federal government to limit the rights of state majorities when they violated the rights of minorities.

I would have a few other questions, which of course the nominee could not answer in committee, but would ask anyway as the mention of them might prove instructive to future delibarations anyway:

On the issue of abortion, could the Congress use its enforcement powers under the 14th Amendment to set an earlier benchmark for the legal recognition of the unborn - say viability (when the lungs develop) or assisted viability - or even the start of the fetal heartbeat or some later point when natural miscarriage is rare? Didn't the Congress in fact do that when they passed the Partial Birth Abortion Act - or were they simply refining the definition of birth under the provisions of the 14th Amendment to include feet first?

On the issue of marriage, is the threshold question whether there is a rational basis for finding that the family of origin has more rights vis-a-vis a same sex spouse than they do vis-a-vis an opposite sex spouse? Was Scalia right when he stated that by protecting consensual adult private same sex relations (watching out for filters here), the Court obliterated any rational basis for outlawing gay marriage?

Of course, these are just the hot button issues. They will represent exactly two cases the Court will decide. The victory for the Republicans is that there will be much focus on these issues while the real work of the Court and the Justice Department will be coping with the undoing of the Bush/Cheney Administration's economic and international policies.

Frankly, I would really like to know the nominees opinion on putting Cheney, et al, in the docket for ordering torture - either here in the United States or in the Hague if the United States Government refuses to act.

Posted by MichaelBindner at 04:28 PM | Comments (2)

Military Should Face Cuts in Current Economic Crisis

The following is a talk I plan to give at my Toastmasters meeting tomorrow (Tuesday night). Needless to say, I plan to stir things up.

There is no doubt that America faces significant economic issues right now. Since analyzing and discussing these issues is part of my job, I have analyzed and discussed the problems for some time. I have even shared some specific data in my previous Toastmasters talk just how big the problem really is. To summarize the situation without going into too much detail, I found a story published just the other day that puts the US Government’s total liabilities at $65 trillion, a number that surpasses the total economic activity on planet earth. Clearly, the federal government needs to reduce its size and scope dramatically lest America’s economy and future generations will be living at a much lower standard than that experienced today.

As with any truly big problem, no single decision created this mess and no single reform is going to solve the issue overnight. But, as a philosopher once said, “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” So, while maintaining a strong military to protect our shores is a core function of government and one that I stand strongly behind, I will use this opportunity to provide you with data showing that policymakers are missing an opportunity to find significant savings. The source of that potential savings is our military budget.

• The Department of Defense alone will spend $653 billion this year or over half of the world’s total defense spending;
• This number does not include the military portion from other departments like the Sandia Labs which are owned by the Department of Energy which totals $150 billion, spending on veterans’ benefits, plus interest on the debt incurred for these expenditures. Thus, real annual defense-related spending by the US is actually $1.5 trillion and as Figure 1 shows, it consumes half of the income taxes collected annually (this number does not including gas taxes and programs like Social Security and Medicare which are also known as entitlements);
• As Figure 2 illustrates in the handout, while China and Russia are the 2nd and 3rd largest military spenders in the world, their spending is dwarfed by the US and much of the rest of this spending is done by US allies like Japan, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy to name just a few. Clearly, we could reduce this spending significantly and still have more than enough military might to fight off potential adversaries.

Regardless of your views on the Iraq War or the War on Terror, much of this spending is superfluous. For example, the US has more than 1,000 military bases overseas. More than half a century after World War II and the Korean War, we still have 268 bases in Germany, 124 in Japan, and 87 in South Korea.

Others are scattered around the globe in places like Aruba and Australia, Bulgaria and Bahrain, Colombia and Greece, Djibouti, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, Romania, Singapore, and of course, Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — just to name a few. Among the installations considered critical to our national security are a ski center in the Bavarian Alps, resorts in Seoul and Tokyo, and 234 golf courses the Pentagon runs worldwide.

While I’m not arguing for closure of every single one of these bases, it seems obvious that Germany and Japan are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves at this point. After all, World War II is over as is the Cold War. I will also note that while military bases here in the US support local economies (like ours in Albuquerque), these bases located in foreign lands provide a boost for foreign economies.

Aside from having too many bases for no apparent reason, the military has too many expensive weapons systems that were designed to fight the Soviets, but are simply not needed today. The F-22 Raptor is a perfect example of this. While the US maintains air superiority over every other air force on the planet and faces no serious threat in this vein, production continues on this jet which was originally conceived to fight the Soviet Union. The cost for each of the 183 F-22’s purchased will be $339 million per aircraft. That’s $62 billion for a jet that has never been used in combat and faces no threat on the horizon.

The F-22 is just one of many weapons systems being built today for yesterdays’ threat. We could save massive amounts of money and dramatically improve our nation’s budget outlook by reducing these unnecessary annual expenditures.

Ironically, while President Bush is well-known for having expanded the military dramatically, President Obama is also increasing military spending despite erroneous media reports to the contrary.

In fact, Obama’s first budget will increase defense spending by 8 percent over Bush’s last budget. This, despite claims from media sources as diverse as Fox News and the Washington Post which falsely reported that Obama was slashing military spending. The reality is that Obama was reducing spending levels from what the various departments had requested, not making actual cuts.

Thus, while Obama may be slowing the rapid and unnecessary growth in military spending, he (at least in his first budget) has missed an opportunity to really take on the problem.

Lastly, while some will defend a bloated military budget as an effective jobs program and will inevitably decry attempts to reduce spending in the middle of an economic downturn, the fact is that money not used to fund the military can either be spent to pay down our massive debt or be used to fund other projects.

After all, for the cost of one combat jet – an F-22 – that we all hope never has to be used, we could re-build the Paseo and I-25 interchange, thus improving the quality of life for the thousands of Albuquerque residents and others who drive that road every day. Completing this project would likely create even more jobs and would certainly provide greater long-term economic benefit than one jet.

In conclusion, I am by no means opposed to all military spending, but do think we spend far too much right now, particularly on overseas bases and costly and unnecessary weapons systems. I hope you’ll use some of the data I have provided to come to your own conclusions about the proper role of our military and whether we might use some of these resources more effectively.


Posted by PaulGessing at 04:22 PM | Comments (2)

Decisions, decisions...

On the back of today's Politico newspaper there is an advertisement sponsored by the National Automobile Dealers Association. In a statement addressed to President Barack Obama, the association asks the president to not cut the number of dealerships -- a move that the association feels is what the financial markets desire, "Mr. President, we urge you to choose Main Street over Wall Street."

As the result of the bailouts of the auto companies, we now have the president as CEO for America's distressed companies. Those who have not read Gordon Tullock's Bureaucracy, would be well advised to pick up a copy. Tullock explains how in any hierarchal organization, the larger it is, the less competent the management is to operate the enterprise efficiently (internally and with regard to other market actors).

Barack Obama is a very intelligent man. But, even a man of his intelligence cannot possibly understand the "model" of the federal government in all its particular operations, its ultimate effects, and the feedback that it gets from other social systems. The most expert bureaucrat could not hope to master such a beast. We might say that such knowledge is unobtainable. Now, Obama is also supposed to run companies that must compete in the marketplace. Yet, Mr. Obama has never been the CEO of a large corporation.

The first rule of Jeremytarianism is "You will fail." The administration moves itself closer to this truism with each expansion of its responsibility set.

/KDR

Posted by KevinRollins at 12:16 PM | Comments (1)

May 09, 2009

Global Warming Boondoggle Moving Forward?

I am told that the House Energy and Commerce Committee (chaired by Henry Waxman) is busily trying to get momentum to pass Waxman-Markey global warming legislation (still in draft form) through the committee (possibly even bypassing their own normal subcommittee process). This is obviously a tremendously important issue to all Americans, but especially here in New Mexico, a state that relies heavily on the 23,000 jobs created in the oil and gas industries (not to mention other natural resource intensive industries).

Paul Chesser, a colleague of mine in the State Policy Network movement has blogged about the Waxman-Markey bill over at American Spectator. The basic point Chesser makes is that Waxman-Markey would cost billions of dollars in energy taxes and lost economic growth with virtually no impact on the supposed problem of global warming.

Hopefully -- for both America's economic future and his own political future -- Obama realizes that fewer Americans are buying into global warming and abandons these misguided and economically-destructive efforts immediately.

Posted by PaulGessing at 05:26 PM | Comments (5)

May 08, 2009

Did you know?

The obligations of the federal government exceed the GDP of the world? I wish I'd had this fact for use at the Tea Party!

Posted by PaulGessing at 10:54 AM | Comments (4)

May 06, 2009

A Case for Bigger and Better Government

I’m baaaaack! Back to stir up the ire of simplistic libertarians. Back to challenge dogma and impose unwanted out-of the-box-thinking.

Why did I take a break from such a delightful pastime? You might ask. Answer: family responsibilities and low home prices pressured me to move, and move I did into a stately older home – which means more floor space, more lawn, and more things to fix: ductwork, wiring, paint, garage door, lawnmowers and more. Then throw in childproofing – cabinet latches, bookcase anchors, baby gates, plexiglass over glass doors – and I’ve been a busy househusband for the past few months. But at least I had my phone to keep me distracted and annoyed.

My phone: once a benevolent device of high utility, it had morphed into a low-level agonizer, ringing every few hours, with the promise of contact with friends, family or business associates, only to unleash disappointment and furor as the call was in fact some evil robot trying to sell me debt relief or satellite TV. I lived in a state of siege.

I had a new phone number, and it was not yet on the Federal Do Not Call Registry. Without this bit of new government regulation, I was ready to make life nasty brutal and short for the hoards of telemarketers who disturbed my peace.

Fortunately for all, my new phone number is duly registered, and evil databases are updating, now knowing I demand out. Peace at last! And I didn’t have to hire my own goons.

And with that peace of mind I can write, write about why I did not join the Boston Tea Party , even though its platform was saner and more incremental than that of the Libertarian Party at the time. The Boston Tea Party platform “opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose.” The Do Not Call Registry is fairly new; not long ago it was an increase, to bigger, better government.

Though government at all levels is too big overall, there are some areas where I would make it bigger, while shrinking much of the rest.

Telemarketing was one such area. Yes, we could have figured out a no government solution: a few firebombings and lynchings might have done the trick. But such “libertarian” solutions would have been uneven, disproportionate justice. True, telemarketers steal time, the equivalent of multiple murders. But the time stolen is widely dispersed in small chunks. Government regulations do a better job of punishing such offenses than the corresponding private solutions.

It’s about justice! Not less government per se. Where government improves justice, I am for it. When government creates injustice, I am against it. In practice this yardstick usually results in a call for less government, but not always.

Posted by CarlMilsted at 09:20 AM | Comments (18)

May 05, 2009

Songs of Freedom:Tales from the rEVOLUtion

is a new book edited by Darryl Perry, consisting of "essays, stories, poems and artwork" reflecting on the past, present, and future of the Ron Paul rEVOLUtion from a grassroots perspective.

Posted by NormSingleton at 09:36 PM | Comments (1)

Discussion on Liberty in New Mexico with Jason Talley of Motorhome Diaries

If you've been reading this blog over the last week, you are probably aware that the guys from "Motorhome Diaries" were in town over the weekend. I sat down and discussed the Rio Grande Foundation's successes and the overall state of liberty in New Mexico. Check out the interview below:

If you are a liberty lover, log on to the Motorhome Diaries page, get in touch with the guys, and help them put together a meet up in your city.

Posted by PaulGessing at 12:22 PM | Comments (4)

Free-for-all (frfr-ôl) -- n. A disorderly fight, argument, or competition in which everyone present participates.

from Dictionary.com



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