[VIDEO] Big Government Kills Small Businesses

Small businesses employ over 57 million Americans. And yet, the government’s taxes and regulations overwhelmingly favor big businesses at the expense of small ones. Why? Find out in this short video.This video is part of a collaborative business and economics project with Job Creators Network and Information Station. To learn more, visit informationstation.org.

Source: PragerU


The Obama Legacy: Big Government’s Failed Pitchman

barack_obama-whipped

President Obama entered office in 2009 with the twin goals of expanding the role that government plays in the lives of individuals and businesses and proving to Americans that the government could be trusted to achieve big things. He was only half successful.

Philip Klein continues:

…Through sweeping legislation and strong-armed use of executive power, Obama broadened the reach of government more than any president since Lyndon Johnson. Congress passed a national healthcare program, ramped up regulation of the financial sector, and spent hundreds of billions of dollars on infrastructure and alternative energy projects.

“As the Obama epoch wanes, trust in government has reached historic lows. A Pew poll last fall found that just 19 percent of Americans said they could trust the government to do the right thing most of the time — a lower percentage than during Watergate, Vietnam or the Iraq War.”

Rules issued by his administration now determine what type of health insurance everyone must have and how many miles per gallon their cars will need to average. Other rules, such as a far-reaching plan to curb carbon emissions, await legal challenges before formal implementation.

So Obama undoubtedly moved the ball down the field for liberalism, but the gulf between his promises and the reality of what was implemented dramatically hardened public skepticism about government. Under Obama, the nation found out that “shovel ready” stimulus projects weren’t shovel ready, and discovered that they were not allowed to keep the doctors and health insurance that they liked.

[Read the full story here, at Washington Examiner]

As the Obama epoch wanes, trust in government has reached historic lows. A Pew poll last fall found that just 19 percent of Americans said they could trust the government to do the right thing most of the time — a lower percentage than during Watergate, Vietnam or the Iraq War.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Read the rest of this entry »


Reality Check: Americans Say Big Government Is The Biggest Threat To America’s Future 

Obama Big brother

Fear of Terrorism? Nope. A New Survey Phows 69 percent of Americans Listed “Big Government” as the Biggest Threat the Future of the United States.

According to a Gallup poll released Tuesday, 88 percent of Republicans listed the issue followed by 67 percent of independents and 53 percent of Democrats.

Gallup poll.

The number is slightly lower than the 2013 results, the last time the question was posed, which stood at 72 percent, but the polling company said the numbers were significantly lower before 1990.

bigbroposters

“The large increase in the percentage naming big government as the biggest threat in 2013 may have resulted from the rollout of the Affordable Care Act and Edward Snowden’s revelations about government monitoring of communications.” the poll said in its findings. Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: ‘Ghostbusters’ Message Finally Connects with Progressive Latecomers

Salon-EPA

– Salon.com.


[VIDEO] Should You Need the Government’s Permission to Work?

A Case Study of How Regulation Harms Poor People

License to Work: A National Study of Burdens from Occupational Licensing is the first national study to measure how burdensome occupational licensing laws are for lower-income workers and aspiring entrepreneurs.

The report documents the license requirements for 102 low- and moderate-income occupations—such as barber, massage therapist and preschool teacher—across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It finds that occupational licensing is not only widespread, but also overly burdensome and frequently irrational.

On average, these licenses force aspiring workers to spend nine months in education or training, pass one exam and pay more than $200 in fees. One third of the licenses take more than a year to earn. At least one exam is required for 79 of the occupations.

Barriers like these make it harder for people to find jobs and build new businesses that create jobs, particularly minorities, those of lesser means and those with less education.

License to Work recommends reducing or removing needless licensing barriers. The report’s rankings of states and occupations by severity of licensure burdens make it easy to compare laws and identify those most in need of reform.

A Case Study of How Regulation Harms Poor People

h/t International Liberty

 


New York Residents Talk Secession in Regards to Big Fracking Upset

A woman holds an anti-fracking sign as a group of demonstrators gather for a rally for a Global Climate Treaty December 10, 2014 near the United Nations in New York. New Yorkers gathered to demand that world governments address the serious threat global warming poses to human rights. This event coincides with a UN meeting in Lima, Peru, a part of the 2014-15 negotiations for a global climate treaty. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT/Getty

A woman holds an anti-fracking sign as a group of demonstrators gather for a rally for a Global Climate Treaty December 10, 2014 near the United Nations in New York. New Yorkers gathered to demand that world governments address the serious threat global warming poses to human rights. This event coincides with a UN meeting in Lima, Peru, a part of the 2014-15 negotiations for a global climate treaty. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT/Getty


What Is Rent-Seeking Behavior?

fair-exchange

Much rent-seeking is redistributing the surplus of one group of the middle class to another group of the middle class via the government. Although there might be great incentives for one group to seek another’s surplus, there is no added value for society as a whole

David John Marotta writes: Voluntary trade benefits both sides. Unless both parties believe they will benefit from the exchange, they will not consent.

In most exchanges both parties can produce the item they are trading more efficiently than they can produce what they are receiving. Producing a surplus of one item provides each party something to trade for someone else’s surplus. Having more than your family needs opens the opportunity to trade the excess for profit.

“In the public sector, for example, government lobbyists are hired to sway public policy to benefit their companies and punish their competitors. Although hiring lobbyists clearly benefits the company they represent, the work of lobbyists does not add value to the larger marketplace.”

Unfortunately, when property rights are weakened and the ownership of someone’s wealth or goods is debatable, people can gain more by trying to appropriate that wealth than by producing themselves. This behavior is called rent-seeking.

Rent-seeking frequently requires spending your own resources so you own someone else’s surplus in the end. In the public sector, for example, government lobbyists are hired to sway public policy to benefit their companies and punish their competitors. Although hiring lobbyists clearly benefits the company they represent, the work of lobbyists does not add value to the larger marketplace. If property rights on the surplus the company seeks had been more stable, such roles for lobbyists would never have been created.

1943 June Workers leaving Pennsylvania shipyards Beaumont Texas LOC FSA OWI Photo Credit John Vachon

Rent-seeking doesn’t add any national value. It is coerced trade and benefits only one side. Rent-seeking can include piracy, lobbying the government or even just giving away money.

“Imagine a thriving sea trade in which ships carrying cargo receive a 20% profit on the value of the goods. Now imagine the first pirate who arms his boat with cannons and rent-seeks the profit. The pirates are not producing any value of their own but are spending their own resources to capture the surplus of the shipping trade.”

If the pirate ship captures just one in every hundred ships, the average profit for the traders will drop to 19%. Meanwhile the pirate ship is seizing a 100% profit. There is incentive to join the rent-seeking pirate trade. By the time 10 pirates are competing for plunder, the profit of honest merchants has dropped to just 10%. At 20 pirates, there would be no profit remaining and no incentive to engage in the shipping trade.

titanic-pirate-ship-wallpaper-free-3

The rent-seeking of pirates motivates merchants to spend their resources to prevent the theft. They sail with an armed escort. They pay privateers to capture the pirates. Even if these efforts cost 15%, they will still preserve a 5% profit. If the effort costs much more, however, shipping will simply cease. All of this expense could be avoided if incentives to be a rent-seeking pirate were somehow eliminated.

“If the pirate ship captures just one in every hundred ships, the average profit for the traders will drop to 19%. Meanwhile the pirate ship is seizing a 100% profit. There is incentive to join the rent-seeking pirate trade.”

When I (David John Marotta) was applying for college, I was told that hundreds of scholarships, many based on merit, were available. After hours of research I found very few for which I qualified. I found one scholarship for a student of Italian-American ancestry. It was worth $1,000 and required me to submit an essay. It took me three hours to write the essay. I was engaging in rent-seeking.

“By the time 10 pirates are competing for plunder, the profit of honest merchants has dropped to just 10%. At 20 pirates, there would be no profit remaining and no incentive to engage in the shipping trade.”

You might think that giving away money is free, but it is not. Even if you hold a random lottery, potential winners still need to take the time to enter. At my $5 hourly wage, my entry cost me $15. I learned later they received 450 entries. If my experience was typical, the rent-seeking cost of all the applicants was $6,750 just to win a $1,000 scholarship. If you add the time to judge the competition and send return letters, the waste gets even greater.

pirate-flag

“Rent-seeking never encourages productivity. The production of valuable goods and services is maximized with strong property rights when little is wasted in efforts to seize the surplus of others or to prevent others from seizing our surplus.”

During a strong economy there are fewer incentives for rent-seeking because production is highly rewarded. But when economic times make it more difficult to produce, it becomes more attractive to rent-seek someone else’s surplus.

This situation can create a downward spiral because the rewards of rent-seeking are often constant, whereas the surpluses available in a market economy are more variable. When the economy is poor, the burden of fixed rent-seeking costs on producers drives surpluses even lower. This makes rent-seeking relatively more attractive, which in turn further burdens those who try to remain productive.

“Any efforts to subsidize or bail out struggling businesses are rent-seeking. When some banks take excessive risks to gain excessive returns, they are risking that the returns will be worth the hazards involved.”

Much rent-seeking is redistributing the surplus of one group of the middle class to another group of the middle class via the government. Although there might be great incentives for one group to seek another’s surplus, there is no added value for society as a whole. Read the rest of this entry »


REFORMICONS REJOICE! The Pork Stops Here: Eric Cantor Loss Gives Republicans Chance to Become People’s Party

BlackstoneNY

For the Washington ExaminerTimothy P. Carney writes: Eric Cantor‘s single largest source of campaign contributions was Blackstone Group, the high-rolling financial titan in Midtown Manhattan.

Dave Brat‘s largest source of campaign cash was Baugh Auto Body on West Broad Street in Richmond.

Baugh-Auto-Body

Brat’s stunning landslide win over Cantor in the June 10 primary gives Republicans the opportunity to change from being the party of Blackstone to the party of Baugh.

“Cantor’s closeness to Wall Street was supposed to be a strength. It proved a liability. This is true for the GOP as a whole.”

Brat beat Cantor, despite being outspent $5.5 million to $250,000, by running against corporate welfare. “I will fight to end crony capitalist programs that benefit the rich and powerful,” Brat said in his victory speech Tuesday night.

“Cantor’s defeat is the opportunity for the Republican Party to declare independence from Wall Street. Let the bankers flock to Hillary Clinton and Schumer.”

Brat explained on the trail that he’s pro-business, but “I’m against Big Business in bed with Big Government.”

Of Wall Street bankers who precipitated the 2008 crisis, Brat said, “instead of going to jail, they went on Eric’s Rolodex.” Read the rest of this entry »


Demographic Mega-Trends and Robert Samuelson’s Denial

grid-cell-2777-1391024215-3“There is no parallel in history to the [American] experiment of free government on this scale. The scale accounts for a great deal, including . . . pessimism about the present or the future of America.”

— Scottish historian D.W. Brogan in “The American Character,” 1944

Robert Samuelson’s Op-Ed about “America’s Menacing Mega-Trends” in Sunday’s Washington Post is mostly very good — particularly at presenting the data, and identifying the problem — but perhaps not so good at solutions, and conclusions. So it’s disheartening to see a few lazy passages undermine an otherwise good article.

“…America’s future rests heavily on how these mega-trends play out. Democracy works best when the political system can mediate between the often-inconsistent demands of public opinion and larger national needs. This, America’s leaders can’t or won’t do. Faced with immutable trends, they have not adapted to change. Instead, they pander to partisans with soothing, though outdated, stereotypes. Nostalgia poses as policy when it is actually a marketing strategy.”

So far so good. But I’m not sure that today’s political elite are any better or worse at embracing change, avoiding nostalgic sales pitches, partisan pandering, or “outdated” thinking, than politicians were at any other time in our history. Why should we expect any more of politics, or politicians? Increasing dependence on government institutions, and political solutions — the infantile habit of looking to political leaders to solve our problems — is itself a problem, one that goes unmentioned here.

It’s mainly the next few paragraphs, where Samuelson oversimplifies liberals and conservatives, mischaracterizing both, giving into wrongheaded stereotypes.

CLIENTS

“Liberals won’t come to terms with aging. Believing that spending on the elderly and near-elderly constitutes the essence of progressivism — and ignoring the affluence of many elderly — some liberals even support raising these benefits. The paradoxical result is that the pro-government party has become an instrument of anti-government policies, because accommodating all the elderly’s benefits means quietly condoning deep cuts in most other programs.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Obama’s Anti-Science California Drought Crusade

ca_drought

The nine most terrifying in the English language: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

John Hayward  writes:  Fresh from his diplomatic triumph in handing the Middle East over to Russia, America’s buffoonish Secretary of State, John Kerry, took his sad-clown act to Indonesia, where he somehow contrived to link a volcanic eruption to man-made global warming.  But that’s not even the dumbest gesture an Obama Administration official has made toward the official government religion of the United States recently.

[Order Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind The Global Warming Hoax from Amazon]

No, the winning act of devotion to the Church of Global Warming is President Obama blaming drought in California on the Angry Sky Gods.  It might just be the dumbest thing any American president has ever said.  It’s so far opposed to actual science that Obama might as well have blamed elves and trolls for the drought, and announced a billion-dollar initiative to hunt them down.  Not even the more respectable pseudo-scientists of the Church think the California drought has anything to do with global warming.

Read the rest of this entry »


Gallup: More Americans Than Ever Name “Big Government” as the Biggest Threat to U.S.

That escalated quickly.

Seventy-two percent of Americans say big government is a greater threat to the U.S. in the future than is big business or big labor, a record high in the nearly 50-year history of this question. The prior high for big government was 65% in 1999 and 2000. Big government has always topped big business and big labor, including in the initial asking in 1965, but just 35% named it at that time.

Trend: Views of Biggest Threat to U.S. in Future

It wasn’t so very long ago — as in, 2009, hem hem — when Americans’ primary concern for big government as a threat to the country’s future rested at around 55 percent, before hitting 64 percent near the end of 2011 and finally 72 percent today. Whatever do we suppose might have prompted such a thing, I wonder? Gigantic corporate bailouts, Scandalabra, NSA spying, ObamaCare… I don’t even know where to begin.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Daily Hammer

TheHammer

Obama the oblivious

Charles Krauthammer writes: In explaining the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, President Obama told Chris Matthews he had discovered that “we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly.”An interesting discovery to make after having consigned the vast universe of American medicine, one-sixth of the U.S. economy, to the tender mercies of the agency bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service.

Most people become aware of the hopeless inefficiency of sclerotic government by, oh, age 17 at the department of motor vehicles. Obama’s late discovery is especially remarkable considering that he built his entire political philosophy on the rock of Big Government, on the fervent belief in the state as the very engine of collective action and the ultimate source of national greatness. (Indeed, of individual success as well, as in “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”)

This blinding revelation of the ponderous incompetence of bureaucratic government came just a few weeks after Obama confessed that “what we’re also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy.” Another light bulb goes off, this one three years after passing a law designed to force millions of Americans to shop for new health plans via the maze of untried, untested, insecure, unreliable online “exchanges.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Barack Obama’s Tardy Epiphanies

correction_pull_of_polarization

WASHINGTON — George F. Will writes:  The education of Barack Obama is a protracted process as he repeatedly alights upon the obvious with a sense of original discovery. In a recent MSNBC interview, he restocked his pantry of excuses for his disappointing results, announcing that “we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly”:

“We’ve got, for example, 16 different agencies that have some responsibility to help businesses, large and small, in all kinds of ways, whether it’s helping to finance them, helping them to export. … So, we’ve proposed, let’s consolidate a bunch of that stuff. The challenge we’ve got is that that requires a law to pass. And, frankly, there are a lot of members of Congress who are chairmen of a particular committee. And they don’t want necessarily consolidations where they would lose jurisdiction over certain aspects of certain policies.”

The dawn is coming up like thunder as Obama notices the sociology of government. He shows no sign, however, of drawing appropriate lessons from it.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Will: Obama is Discovering How Slow Big Government Is

I watched this on Fox this morning, and knew it would be on the web within hours. It’s a classic George Will moment. 

George Will gently mocked President Obama’s continuing education Sunday morning, needling him for discovering that some federal agencies are “outdated.”

“The education of this president is a protracted and often amusing process. . .as he continues to alight upon the obvious with a sense of profound and original discovery,” Will said.

“The president is saying ‘the trouble with big government is it’s so darn big.’ And like a lot of other big organisms—dinosaurs spring to mind—it has a simple nervous system, it’s sclerotic, it’s governed by inertia, and it’s hard to move,” he said. “This from a man who’s devoted his life to increasing the power of government as an instrument of the redistribution of income because government is wiser than markets at that.”

National Review Online


Who to Thank for Increased Income Inequality?

obama_Obama_Barack

You’re welcome

Jeffrey H. Anderson writes: President Obama has declared his renewed commitment to fighting income inequality. But we now have five years of evidence to draw upon, and it’s clear that Obama’s methods in this regard have failed miserably. In fact, they’ve worked about as well as Obamacare.

Obama’s approach to addressing income inequality, of course, is to funnel ever more money and power to Washington, while promoting a culture of cozy cronyism between Big Government and Big Business (especially Big “Green” Business). When having a well-positioned team of Washington lawyers and lobbyists becomes a necessary prerequisite to getting ahead, that’s hardly conducive to Main St. prosperity.

The utter failure of Obama’s trickle-down-government approach is perhaps best captured by two contrasting stats. When he took office, we were a full year into a major recession. Economically, there was almost nowhere to go but up. And, indeed, that’s what the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which tracks the stock prices of 30 very large companies, has done: gone up. In January 2009, the Dow was at about 8,000. It’s now at about 16,000. It has essentially doubled on Obama’s watch.

Read the rest of this entry »


Do You Have Confidence in National Government?

Public trust in the authorities of OECD countries has eroded

[CHART] Do You Have Trust in National Government

Source: The Economist via Twitter


Government: ‘We Know What’s Good for You. We Just Don’t Know How To Do It’

Gwen

This morning on ABC News ‘This Week’, panelist Gwen Ifill summarizes Obama’s Press Conference admission thusly: ‘We Know What’s Good for You. We Just Don’t Know How To Do It’. I laughed out loud. It was an unexpectedly insightful indictment.

Gwen nailed the reality of of modern Big-Government incompetence. The doomed vision of liberal-progressive do-gooder-expert government solutions couldn’t have been crystalized better.

The multiple face-kicks and tabloid-style analysis of the president “falling on his sword’ at last week’s press conference made the Nov. 16th edition of  ‘This Week’ unusually rich viewing.

I don’t have the video and the transcript isn’t up yet, but if you get a chance to see the next airing of ‘This Week’: Presidency in Crisis – ABC News, it’s time well spent. Also featured is a memorable segment about the Gettysburg address, with Ken Burns, and an interview with Governor Scott Walker.


The Single Woman Society

diningalonex

John Hayward writes:  The Virginia governor’s race was yet another example of the massive voting gap in a huge demographic: single people, particularly single women.  According to exit polls, Republican Ken Cuccinelli won handily on the “hard” issues facing Virginia voters, and won most other demographic slices, but Democrat Terry McAuliffe won big with single people, crushing Cuccinelli by nearly fifty points among single women.

A similar dynamic could be observed in the 2012 presidential race, where the Obama campaign made a very concerted effort to win over single women – so concerted that it sometimes appeared ludicrously clumsy to critics.  Rush Limbaugh recalled the much-lampooned “Life of Julia” web ad on his radio show Thursday, in which an imaginary single gal lives her entire life with the assistance of cradle-to-grave Obama social programs… but never the slightest hint of a husband, even when she has a child.

Rarely has such obvious pandering been flung at a targeted demographic by the shovelful, but evidently the single female demographic doesn’t mind obvious pandering.  It seems impossible to patronize them to the point of irritation, not even during the equally ridiculous Sandra Fluke saga, in which the nominal cost of birth control was transformed into a civil-rights tragedy by a professional activist posing as a student… an activist who later admitted she didn’t know how much birth control actually cost, after rising to fame for touting a figure that was about 1000 percent high.  The whole thing was comically, transparently artificial, but it worked like a charm. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] When I grow up, I Want To Be A Crony


[VIDEO] Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism

A City Journal Interview with author Charles Kesler. This interview was conducted before the 2012 election, and Kesler’s predictions about increased polarization in an Obama 2nd term are proving to be accurate. His characterization of the 100-year tradition of progressive liberalism, from Wilson, though FDR, Johnson, and now, Obama, marks a turning point for the liberal project. Running out of money, and running out of ideas (The centralized control and enlarged state power required for the ACA is right out of the 1930s) represents the unavoidable conflict with the flexible, nimble 21st-century expectations of cyber-technological-age America: the unavoidable Crisis of Liberalism.

Kesler contends that we’re seeing the fourth and final phase of Wilson-FDR-Johnson-Obama Liberalism’s, with Obama as its iconic last leader. Primarily because the movement’s century of excesses–unrealistic promises of expanded entitlements and benefits that can and will never be realized–signifies the end of an era. Liberalism’s survival will require higher taxation, more government control, more expanded power, Kesler suggests Liberalism will recede, fail, or radicalize toward a more all-encompassing socialist entitlement state. Also discussed is the “politics of meaning”, the left’s dream of a “living constitution”, and Obama’s agenda in his second term, as explored in Kesler’s 2012 book.

City Journal Video Archive


Just because it’s a phony crisis doesn’t mean it can’t be made even phonier

smugThe always dyspeptic Mark Steyn writes: Way back in January, when it emerged that Beyoncé had treated us to the first ever lip-synched national anthem at a presidential inauguration, I suggested in this space that this strange pseudo-performance embodied the decay of America’s political institutions from the real thing into mere simulacrum. But that applies to government “crises,” too — such as the Obamacare “rollout,” the debt “ceiling,” and the federal “shutdown,” to name only the three current railroad tracks to which the virtuous damsel of Big Government has been simultaneously tied by evil mustache-twirling Republicans.

This week’s “shutdown” of government, for example, suffers (at least for those of us curious to see it reduced to Somali levels) from the awkward fact that the overwhelming majority of the government is not shut down at all. Indeed, much of it cannot be shut down. Which is the real problem facing America. “Mandatory spending” (Social Security, Medicare, et al.) is authorized in perpetuity — or, at any rate, until total societal collapse. If you throw in the interest payments on the debt, that means two-thirds of the federal budget is beyond the control of Congress’s so-called federal budget process. That’s why you’re reading government “shutdown” stories about the PandaCam at the Washington Zoo and the First Lady’s ghost-Tweeters being furloughed. Read the rest of this entry »


Washington Post: ‘big government is mostly unchanged’

Matt Welch

Your periodic reminder that the unbearable largeness of government is ongoing and eternal, despite a half-dozen recent showdowns over federal spending, comes from Sunday’s Washington Post. Excerpt:

After 2 1/2 years of budget battles, this is what the federal government looks like now:

It is on pace, this year, to spend $3.455 trillion.

That figure is down from 2010 — the year that worries about government spending helped bring on a tea party uprising, a Republican takeover in the House and then a series of ulcer-causing showdowns in Congress.

But it is not down by that much. Back then, the government spent a whopping $3.457 trillion.

Measured another way — not in dollars, but in people — the government has about 4.1 million employees today, military and civilian. That’s more than the populations of 24 states.

Back in 2010, it had 4.3 million employees. More than the populations of 24 states.

These numbers underline a point not made often enough: The stimulus was supposed to be a surge, a temporary increase to be pulled back after the crisis was averted. Instead, predictably, it just created a new baseline level of government spending.

Whole thing here. Link via the Twitter feed of the Post’s Dan Froomkin, who comments: “I’m still appalled by this poorly argued anti-government diatribe masquerading as a front-page WaPo story on Sunday.”

Serious about balancing the budget without raising taxes? Then read this Reason classic from Nick Gillespie and Veronique de Rugy: “The 19 Percent Solution.”

via  Hit & Run : Reason.com


Progressive Think Tank Demos Targets “Libertarian Right”

By 

Was it only yesterday that I suggested that a country ravaged for the past dozen-plus years by Big Government on steroids (plus whatever else A-Rod’s been shooting) was on the cusp of a glorious “Libertarian Era”?

As part of my case I pointed to recent fulminations across the political spectrum aimed at libertarians.

Long derided as inevitably male, pasty-faced, bitter-clingers to their Ayn Rands and their slide rules, libertarians for decades have been written off as a subset of all-powerful and oh-so-serious conservatives, as Republicans who smoke pot or have gay friends, and less. (Read “5 Myths About Libertarians,” my recent piece in the Washington Post, for some perspective.)

But now, in the words of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, libertarians are not just irrelevant but downright “dangerous” – and infecting both major parties. You know, because libertarians actually seem to give a rat’s ass about civil liberties, mindless military adventuring, and actually cutting government spending (which Christie has not done since taking office). Read the rest of this entry »


That Sound of Big Government Hitting the Wall

Mark July 3, 2013, as the day Big Government finally imploded.

July 3 was the quiet afternoon that a deputy assistant Treasury secretary for tax policy announced in a blog post that the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate would be delayed one year. Something about the “complexity of the requirements.” The Fourth’s fireworks couldn’t hold a candle to the sound of the U.S. government finally hitting the wall.

Since at least 1789, America’s conservatives and liberals have argued about the proper role of government. Home library shelves across the land splinter and creak beneath the weight of books arguing the case for individual liberty or for government-led social justice. World Wrestling smackdowns are nothing compared with Hayek vs. Rawls.

Maybe we have been listening to the wrong experts. Philosophers and pundits aren’t going to tell us anything new about government. The one-year rollover of ObamaCare because of its “complexity” suggests it’s time to call in the physicists, the people who study black holes and death stars. That’s what the federal government looks like after expanding ever outward for the past 224 years.

image

Douglas Jones

Even if you are a liberal and support the goals of the Affordable Care Act, there has to be an emerging sense that maybe the law’s theorists missed a signal from life outside the castle walls. While they troweled brick after brick into a 2,000-page law, the rest of the world was reshaping itself into smaller, more nimble units whose defining metaphor is the 140-character Twitter message.

Laughably, Barack Obama tried this week to align himself with the new age in a speech calling yet again for “smarter” government. It requires whatever lies on the far side of chutzpah to say this after passing a 1930s-style law that is both incomprehensible and simply won’t work. ObamaCare is turning into pure gravity. Nothing moves.

On July 5, the administration announced into the holiday void that because of “operational barriers” to IRS oversight, individuals would be allowed to self-report their income to qualify for the law’s subsidies.

If the ObamaCare meltdown were a one-off, the system could dismiss it as a legislative misfire and move on, as always. But ObamaCare’s problems are not unique. Important parts of the federal government are breaking down almost simultaneously.

Read the rest of this entry »


Big Government Sees What It Wants To See – Like David Petraeus Emails

U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commande...

One of the things Big Government apparently wanted to see last year was David Petraeus’ emails.

William Binney, whistleblower and former NSA crypto-mathematician who served in the agency for decades, said the David Petraeus sex scandal was most likely exposed using illegal surveillance of his email.

Perhaps this helps explain why the CIA Director, who surely knew the truth about Benghazi from the get-go,  allowed all those changes to the CIA talking points (scrubbing references to Islamic terrorism, scrubbing prior attacks),  then briefed the press off the record that “we really think the video had something to do with it.”

Last November, after Petraeus announced his resignation over the sex scandal, Charles Krauthammer asked the following questions on Special Report:

How do you explain the testimony that Petraeus gave when it contradicted what the station CIA Chief, the station chief in Libya had told them?

How do you explain the fact that Petraeus’ testimony also contradicted Panetta’s briefing, and what everybody at the time was saying?

Catherine Herridge of Fox News had reported the FBI and the National Counterterroism Center had provided Capitol Hill briefings two days after the Libya attack.

Each claimed their evidence supported an attack either related to or by Al Qaeda terrorists. Yet the next day, the now disgraced general gave an astonishingly different intelligence account of what happened. Petraeus portrayed the attack as fitting the profile of a flash mob by chance joined by militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades.

 

via Big Government 


The Grounding of Big Government

by GREG GUTFELD

You remember near the end of the Monty Python flick, The Meaning of Life– that scene featuring Mr. Creasote? He’s the morbidly obese freak who gorges on food, until finally, after eating a mint offered by the waiter, completely explodes, sending his guts in all directions.

I was a senior in high school when I saw it, and I remember it clearly. I skipped dinner that night.

And I remember the scene now, as I’ve watched this IRS scandal unfold. I keep thinking about that mint, and that this scandal is that mint.

With this exposed plan of intimidation, big government has finally, irrevocably exploded all over us–drenching us in its own corrupt excesses. It’s gotten so fat, so immensely greedy, so impossibly grotesque, that the only thing that can end it is itself.  Big government exists only through expansion. The bigger it gets, the harder it is to kill. But it got too cocky; it grew too fast, and now all of its insides, are outside–for all of us to see.

Which is why this is no time to lend it a helping hand. Let big government die from its own desires. The IRS, to its own horror, has just helped create a new movement. Think about it: If you were to go to a hardware store right now, buy a sign and paint “audit this,” and place it on your lawn, what could they do? Nothing. Once you’ve got a thug’s number, the thug knows better than to target you.

Nevermind the appeasers–the IRS scandal IS a big deal. It’s such a big deal, it could ruin the agency forever, and take a few others down with it. And sure, it’s a lot of fun on the right to be clamoring for scalps–like, who should be fired and how many. But pink slips are small potatoes.

The end game is way, way bigger than that stuff. What we are witnessing is a collapse of trust in big government, which ultimately–to our benefit as small-government types–leads to a permanent undermining of the whole system.

Until now, this administration produced loads of soaring rhetoric that made many forgive its lack of substance. But now, to everyone who pays taxes, the wolf is suddenly at the doorstep, and it’s looking for food. This new era, for some, sounded great in the abstract–but with the IRS scandal, we’re starting to see our first home front casualties. The IRS just gave small-government America–which is most of America–a wake-up call like no other.

The IRS scandal, if perceived correctly, spells the end of big government.

Because a group of average Americans mobilized as something delightfully known as the Tea Party, and made their voices heard for the first time, they were targeted. It’s not about the IRS solely, but an administration that used the IRS as its enforcement arm against speech it found disagreeable.

They used the government to silence opposition. The IRS was their national muscle, used locally, to scare the crap out of you. They’re so powerful, they don’t even need to break your kneecaps. They just break your soul.

And it used to work–but not so much anymore.  I’m thinking (which I do now and again) that if everyone now does what those brave folks did when Obamacare first reared its ugly head, what exactly can the government do now?

If the IRS is forever tainted as an agenda-driven, ideologically poisoned outfit, then it’s powerless to continue its normal routines. It’s like a shoplifter in the neighborhood. With his photo now plastered in every shop window, everyone knows his game, so he’s gotta go somewhere else.

The only recourse: going after the left. Or, just going away.

When I talked about grounding government, this is how it’s done. The IRS, through its actions, has grounded itself–disqualifying the joint from effectively coercing you to do anything without that being perceived as targeting. When President Obama said cynicism is a threat to democracy, he was looking through the kaleidoscope from the wrong end. It’s corruption that threatens big government. When, during that speech on drones, he defended his use of targeted lethal attacks on enemies, he could have just as easily been describing the IRS attacks on the right. This strategy is part of who they are. If you’re a big government lover, you are programmed to hate us and any person who threatens that cushy livelihood.

Which is why you should become that person. Doing so creates a force field against attack. When Elijah Cummings fretted that the IRS scandal could endanger future audits against citizens, it was a selfish, bizarre reaction to government overreach (siding with the attacker, not the victim)–but he was also right.

The IRS just dug big government’s grave. America now has the opportunity to look at the greedy monster that is expansive, progressive government and say, “We are done with you. Go away.”

via Big Government.


Obama: Centralized Power Is the Source of Freedom

ObamaOrwell

Jeffrey H. Anderson

January 23, 2013 8:40 AM

In his second inaugural address, President Obama made every effort to tie his political philosophy to the ideals and principles of the American Founding, even as he made clear how little he understands those ideals and principles.  The gist of Obama’s speech was that only government can grant freedom.  Or as he put it, “[W]e have always understood…that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”

To be clear, Obama doesn’t mean this in the sense of a limited government’s importance in securing certain unalienable rights.  Rather, as his speech made clear, he means it in the sense of an activist government’s importance in consolidating power effectively, redistributing wealth liberally, taxing and spending prodigiously, and heavily regulating the possession of that portion of Americans’ property that it allows to remain in their hands.

Thomas Jefferson said, “The true foundation of republican government is the equal right of every citizen, in his person and property, and in their management.”  In his second inaugural, Obama said very nearly the opposite.

Instead of emphasizing the importance and the nobility of individual Americans’ work, or of Americans coming together to form voluntary civil associations in their communities, Obama emphasized the need for collective action shepherded by the federal government.  He said, “No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores.  Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation and one people.”  Rather than emphasizing the possibilities of being a free man or woman in a free land, he emphasized the individual American’s powerlessness in the absence of the centralized state.

Obama added, “We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few” — thereby suggesting that, in the absence of consolidated power in Washington, prosperity is available not to the enterprising, the industrious, or the frugal, but merely to the lucky, and that the same is true for freedom itself.

Tocqueville described an overreaching centralized government as being something that “hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces each nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd.”  In marked contrast, Obama says that Big Government’s biggest programs “free us to take the risks that make this country great.”  This naïve assertion makes one wonder what freed Americans to take such risks in the 150 years between the Founding and the New Deal.

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Benghazi and Sandy: A Tale of Two Crises

A Tale of Two Crises - National Review Online

By Mark Steyn

In political terms, Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi-consulate debacle exemplify at home and abroad the fundamental unseriousness of the United States in the Obama era. In the days after Sandy hit, Barack Obama was generally agreed to have performed well. He had himself photographed in the White House Situation Room nodding thoughtfully to bureaucrats (“John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Tony Blinken, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; David Agnew, Director for Intergovernmental Affairs”) and tweeted it to his 3.2 million followers. He appeared in New Jersey wearing a bomber jacket rather than a suit to demonstrate that when the going gets tough the tough get out a monogrammed Air Force One bomber jacket. He announced that he’d instructed his officials to answer all calls within 15 minutes because in America “we leave nobody behind.” By doing all this, the president “shows” he “cares” — which is true in the sense that in Benghazi he was willing to leave the entire consulate staff behind, and nobody had their calls answered within seven hours, because presumably he didn’t care. So John Brennan, the Counterterrorism guy, and Tony Blinken, the National Security honcho, briefed the president on the stiff breeze, but on September 11, 2012, when a little counterterrorism was called for, nobody bothered calling the Counterterrorism Security Group, the senior U.S. counterterrorism bureaucracy.

Meanwhile, FEMA rumbles on, the “emergency-management agency” that manages emergencies, very expensively, rather than preventing them. Late on the night Sandy made landfall, I heard on the local news that my state’s governor had asked the president to declare a federal emergency in every New Hampshire county so that federal funds could be “unlocked.” A quarter-million people in the Granite State were out of power. It was reported that, beyond our borders, 8 million people in a dozen states were out of power.

But that’s not an “emergency.” No hurricane hit my county. Indeed, no hurricane hit New Hampshire. No hurricane hit “17 states,” the number of states supposedly “affected” by Sandy at its peak. A hurricane hit a few coastal counties of New Jersey, New York and a couple of other states, and that’s it. Everyone else had slightly windier-than-usual wind — and yet they were out of power for days. In a county entirely untouched by Sandy, my office manager had no electricity for a week. Not because of an “emergency” but because of a decrepit and vulnerable above-the-ground electrical-distribution system that ought to be a national embarrassment to any developed society. A few weeks ago, I chanced to be in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, a French colony of 6,000 people on a couple of treeless rocks in the North Atlantic. Every electric line is underground. Indeed, the droll demoisellewho leads tours of the islands makes a point of amusingly drawing American visitors’ attention to this local feature.

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