April 27, 2012
Why You Can't Tax Your Way Out of a Deficit
In a word: Illinois. George F Will explains:
Illinois is running out of time and money
by George F Will
April 25, 2012
After trying to tax Illinois to governmental solvency and economic dynamism, Pat Quinn, a Democrat who has been governor since 2009, now says "our rendezvous with reality has arrived." Actually, Illinois is still reality-averse, so Americans may soon learn the importance of the freedom to fail in a system of competitive federalism.
Illinois was more heavily taxed than the five contiguous states (Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin) even before January 2011, when Quinn got a lame-duck legislature (its successor has fewer Democrats) to raise corporate taxes 30 percent (from 7.3 percent to 9.5 percent), giving Illinois one of the highest state corporate taxes and the fourth-highest combination of national and local corporate taxation in the industrialized world. Since 2009, Quinn has spent more than $500 million in corporate welfare to bribe companies not to flee the tax environment he has created.
Quinn raised personal income taxes 67 percent (from 3 percent to 5 percent), adding about $1,040 to the tax burden of a family of four earning $60,000. Illinois' unemployment rate increased faster than any other state's in 2011. Its pension system is the nation's most underfunded, and the state has floated bond issues to finance pension contributions -- borrowing money that someday must be repaid, to replace what should have been pension money that it spent on immediate gratifications.
Quinn's recent flirtation with realism -- a plan to raise the retirement age to 67 and cap pension cost-of-living adjustments -- is less significant than the continuing unrealistic expectation that some of Illinois' pension investments will grow 8.5 percent annually. Although the state Constitution mandates balancing the budget, this is almost meaningless while the state sells bonds to pay for operating expenses (in just 10 years the state's bonded debt has increased from $9.4 billion to $30 billion), underfunds pensions and other liabilities, and makes vendors wait (they are owed $5.6 billion).
The Illinois Policy Institute, a limited-government think tank, in a report cheekily titled "Another $54 Billion!?" argues that in addition to the $83 billion in pension underfunding the state acknowledges, there is $54 billion in unfunded retiree health liabilities over the next 30 years. Illinois, a stronghold of public-employees unions, "is on pace to spend nearly $1 billion on retiree health care benefits in fiscal year 2013, more than double what it spent in 2003. Worse yet, these liabilities are growing more than twice as fast as tax revenues."
To prepare for Illinois' probable plunge into insolvency, read "Freedom to Fail: The Keystone of American Federalism" by Paul E. Peterson and Daniel Nadler in the University of Chicago Law Review. They note that only 25 of the world's 193 nations have federal systems, and in most of the 25 the freedom of the lower tiers of government is more circumscribed by the central government than American state governments are by the federal government. American states' greater freedom -- autonomy under America's system of dual sovereignty -- from the central government's supervision requires that they be disciplined instead by the market for government bonds, and by the real possibility of default.
Peterson, a professor of government at Harvard, and Nadler, a doctoral candidate also at Harvard, say that collective bargaining rights for government employees pose "a dramatically new challenge to the viability" of American federalism. They cite studies demonstrating that investors' perceptions of risk of default are correlated with the rate of unionization among government employees. Higher percentages of government employees who are unionized, and larger Democratic shares of state legislative seats, correlate with increases in state borrowing costs.
At least 12 percent of Americans change their residences each year, often moving to more hospitable economic environments. In a system of competitive federalism, Peterson and Nadler write, "If states and localities attempt in a serious way to tax the rich and give to the poor, the rich will depart while the poor will be attracted." And government revenues and expenditures vary inversely.
From September through December 2008, the premium that investors demanded before they would buy California debt rather than U.S. Treasurys jumped from 24 to 271 basis points (100 points equals 1 percent). The bond market, the only remaining reality check for state politicians, must be allowed to work.
Constitutional jurisprudence affirms that states exercising substantial autonomous powers thereby assume concomitant risks. Federal loans or other bailouts of misgoverned states would remove bond market discipline, the only inhibition on the alliance between the Democratic portion of the political class and unionized public employees.
You can't tax your way out of a deficit. What is true at the state and local level is true at that national level. The only difference is that the Feds can hide the problem through deficit spending, an option not available to localities (bonds being different than deficit spending).
April 24, 2012
Obama's Destructive Foreign Policy
It is right and good that the focus of politics these days is on the budget, jobs and the economy, and health care, because those are the issues that are front and center to most people. But we must not ignore foreign policy, for what happens overseas does come back to affect us. And since President Obama's foreign policy has been positively destructive to American interests, it will come back to haunt us.
Victor Davis Hanson, has the details in an excellent article in National Review today. Following are the highlights, but follow the link and read the whole thing:
Community-organizing skills don't cut it on the world stage
April 24, 2012
By Victor Davis Hanson
Most of the criticism of the Obama administration's foreign policy concerns the failure of "reset diplomacy," the inability to deal with Iran or North Korea, or the sense that we are ignoring allies and appeasing enemies.
All true. But under the radar, there are several developments that are far more disturbing than we seem to realize.
Take the RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone that went down in Iran in December 2011. The U.S. chose neither to attempt to retrieve it nor to bomb the wreckage. Why? Who knows? But it seems that, as in the case of the administration's silence when Iranians hit the streets in protest during the spring of 2009, Obama was worried about provoking an Iranian response. Although Iran brags that it will reverse-engineer the drone, it is not likely to actually do so. However, it will very probably sell off key components to the Chinese and the Russians, who will duplicate it or at least find far more effective ways to neutralize its use.
Most recently, during a Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, Barack Obama weighed in on the Falklands in a fashion that was both offensive and ignorant: "And in terms of the Maldives or the Falklands, whatever your preferred term, our position on this is that we are going to remain neutral. We have good relations with both Argentina and Great Britain, and we are looking forward to them being able to continue to dialogue on this issue. But this is not something that we typically intervene in."
Almost everything in that statement was false or dangerous. Aside from the 57-state-type error of Maldives for Malvinas, the U.S. does not look forward to "dialogue" on the issue, but rather avoids it like the plague. And in the past, we were not neutral but eventually intervened with massive clandestine support for Great Britain, a NATO ally. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had previously used the term Malvinas, which is a sort of Argentine equivalent of "the Zionist entity" -- a bankrupt construct loaded with cultural and political significance. Obama should know that the more he uses that term (or trills some sort of M-word for an archipelago somewhere on the map), the more likely it is that there will be an Argentine effort to replicate the 1982 attack, especially as the Peronist Kirchner regime seeks foreign scapegoats (cf. the recent nationalization of the Spanish oil firm Repsol's stake in an Argentine company), and the British loudly reduce their military forces. Fears of massive American logistical and intelligence support for Great Britain alone keep the Argentinians guessing, and by extension not trying something as stupid as replaying the 1982 invasion.
The problem is not just that Obama has no knowledge of geography, but that he has none either about history or diplomacy. The Falklands, a windswept, lightly populated group of islands with a history of sparse European settlement, never fit the so-called colonialist model of oppression of indigenous peoples. The isolated and barren islands were always disputed by European powers, and are as much British as Guam is American. More importantly, Britain has fought side by side with the U.S. -- after a past century of solidarity -- in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet Obama insidiously is eroding that relationship by a gratuitous and uninformed effort at politically correct multiculturalism.
Historical pressures, well apart from Putinism in Russia, are coming to the fore on the continent -- pressures that were long suppressed by the aberrations of World War II, the Cold War, the division of Germany, and the rise of the EU. The so-called "German problem" -- the tendency of Germany quite naturally at some point to translate its innate dynamic economic prowess into political, cultural, and above all military superiority -- did not vanish simply because a postmodern EU announced that it had transcended human nature and its membership would no longer be susceptible to ancient Thucydidean nationalist passions like honor, fear, or self-interest.
If you have doubts on that, just review current German and southern-European newspapers, where commentary sounds more likely to belong in 1938 than in 2012. The catastrophe of the EU has not been avoided by ad hoc bandaging -- it is still on the near horizon. Now is the time to reassure Germany that a strong American-led NATO eliminates any need for German rearmament, and that historical oddities (why is France nuclear, while a far stronger Germany is not?) are not odd at all. In short, as the EU unravels, and anti-Germany hysteria waxes among its debtors, while ancient German resentments build, it would be insane to abdicate the postwar transatlantic leadership we have provided for nearly 70 years.
There is a pattern here in all these recent missteps, one of hesitancy, moral confusion, and naïveté. To the extent that Obama knows history, it is a boilerplate one of European and American culpability. To the extent that he is interested in human nature, he holds a therapeutic belief that rhetoric and good intentions, not preparedness, resolve, and deterrence, impress rivals. To the extent that he understands geopolitics, it is of the juvenile multicultural sort, in which hostile nuclear powers, traditional enemies, and troublesome neutrals are either not much worse than or morally equivalent to long-standing allies and friends.
-- NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author most recently of The End of Sparta, a novel about ancient freedom.
April 13, 2012
Around the News
I've got too little time and there's too much going on for a separate post on everything that's going on, so here are a few things that caught my eye and my thoughts on each.
Buffett Rule Baloney
The Buffett Rule: Free-Lunch Egalitarianism
Obama's disguised tax hike on capital gains
April 12, 2012 8:00 P.M.
By Charles Krauthammer
...Let's do the math. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates this new tax would yield between $4 billion and $5 billion a year. If we collect the Buffett tax for the next 250 years -- a span longer than the life of this republic -- it would not cover the Obama deficit for 2011 alone.
As an approach to our mountain of debt, the Buffett Rule is a farce. And yet Obama repeated the ridiculous claim again this week. "It will help us close our deficit." Does he really think we're that stupid?
Yes and no.
Yes in that those who want to believe it will. No in that the purpose of the tax is not about raising revenue. One, he is sending a not-so-subtle message to the wealthy: Support me or I will punish you. Two, it satisfies his base who simply want to see the wealthy punished.
The editors of the Wall Street Journal call it right:
The Obama Rule
He says taxation is about fairness, not growth or revenue
The Wall Street Journal
April 11, 2012, 7:04 p.m. ET
Forget Warren Buffett, or whatever other political prop the White House wants to use for its tax agenda. This week the Administration officially endorsed what in essence is the Obama Rule: Taxes must be high simply to spread the wealth, never mind the impact on the economy or government revenue. It's all about "fairness," baby.
The Buffett rule is really nothing more than a sneaky way for Mr. Obama to justify doubling the capital gains and dividend tax rate to 30% from 15% today. That's the real spread-the-wealth target. The problem is that this is a tax on capital that is needed for firms to grow and hire more workers. Mr. Obama says he wants an investment-led recovery, not one led by consumption, but how will investment be spurred by doubling the tax on it?
The only investment and hiring the Buffett rule is likely to spur will be outside the United States--in China, Germany, India, and other competitors with much more investment-friendly tax regimes.
Exploiting Trayvon Martin
I made most of my thoughts on the Trayvon Martin - George Zimmerman affair clear in a long comment on this post, but a few more comments are in order:
The New Black Panthers' Unpunished Threats
The Department of Justice appears uninterested in pursuing the group.
April 13, 2012 4:00 A.M.
By John Fund
...Wednesday, (Attorney General Eric Holder) appeared before the Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network to praise Sharpton "for your partnership, your friendship, and your tireless efforts to speak out for the voiceless, to stand up for the powerless, and to shine a light on the problems we must solve, and the promises we must fulfill."
This is the same Al Sharpton who has led several rallies against Zimmerman, in which he called for civil disobedience and an "occupation" of Sanford, Fla., where the shootingThis is the same Al Sharpton who has never apologized to Steven Pagones, the assistant district attorney he falsely accused of raping Tawana Brawley, a black teenager. The "dastardly deed" Sharpton accused Pagones of was found to be a complete fabrication. In 1998, Sharpton was found liable for seven defamatory statements he'd made against Pagones and ordered to pay $65,000.
Earlier in the 1990s, Sharpton had become famous exacerbating racial tensions in New York's Crown Heights neighborhood, tensions that led to the killing of Anthony Graziosi. In 1995, Sharpton denounced the owners of Freddy's Fashion Mart in Harlem as "bloodsuckers" and "white interlopers" over a rent dispute the business had with tenants. A short time later, a man entered Freddy's and told all the black people present, patrons and employees alike, to leave. Once they did, the man firebombed the building, killing seven people -- including a black security guard. Sharpton insisted he bore no responsibility for the incident, saying it was only a tenant/landlord dispute that had escalated out of control. occurred, if an arrest wasn't made.
So AG Eric Holder congratulates Al Sharpton. That Obama would appoint someone who praises Sharpton speaks volumes about our president. But given that he went to a racist church for 20 years, listened to a kook hatemonger preacher and wrote nice things about him in his autobiography, we should not be surprised.
More, if Mr. Holder is so concerned with civil rights, why doesn't he investigate the New Black Panther party? When confronted with this, liberals typically respond that the NBP is small and insignificant. Maybe and maybe not, but what difference does that make? I didn't know that the criminality of death threats depended on the number of people making them.
Conservative opinion on the charges filed against Zimmerman is split. David French says that there's enough evidence to warrant Zimmerman's arrest, but John Lott sees Prosecutorial misconduct. Some conservatives have come out strong for Zimmerman, which is a mistake. Most professional conservative writers and pundits, though seem to be taking a "wait and see" attitude towards guilt or innocence while condemning the circus the left has created.
I've never taken sides in that I don't pretend to know whether Mr. Zimmerman is guilty of anything or not. My problem has been with the disgraceful behavior of Al Sharpton, Eric Holder, Barack Obama, the liberal media, and liberal activists in general. These people, and yes I include our president and his attorney general, have done little but fan the flames of racial division since this thing began.
Does Hillary Hate Israel?
The Secretary of State Hillary, that is.
The Other Hillary Still Just As Appalling
NRO The Corner
By Andrew C. McCarthy
April 12, 2012 3:55 P.M.
As a fitting follow-up to Nina's post on the U.S. government's shocking indifference to the persecution of Christians by Muslims, let's shift to something the Obama administration cares passionately about: the good will of Muslims who wear on their sleeves their hatred for Israel.
In a story that's gotten very little attention, involving a town hall meeting in Tunisia last weekend, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked how the U.S. could expect people in Muslim countries like Tunisia and Egypt to trust American politicians given that, during the U.S. election season, those politicians cozy up to their "enemy" (in context, an obvious reference to Israel) and "run towards the Zionist lobbies").
Mrs. Clinton responded that she thought this was "a fair question." Really? And the answer to this fair question? Madame Secretary explained that these Muslims who regard Israel as their enemy should understand that "a lot of things are said in political campaigns that should not bear a lot of attention." She also thought they'd find it comforting that President Obama "will be reelected president" and that if people in Tunisia and Egypt just "watch what President Obama says and does" they'll realize they don't need to worry.
Appalling but, by now, not surprising. See CNS News, here, for video & transcript.
Either the secretary hates Israel, she's saying that Obama does but will lie about his true fealings for political expediency, or she's just and idiot.
If At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try, Again
North Korea admits missile failure
By Christian Oliver in Seoul, Geoff Dyer in Washington and Mure Dickie in Tokyo
Last updated: April 13, 2012 11:27 pm
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North Korea made rare admission of failure on Friday, confirming one of its rockets had failed in its mission to put a satellite into orbit, but the abortive launch was enough to prompt the US to quickly cancel a food-aid programme.
The launch, which many outsiders saw as a cover for a ballistic missile test, went badly for the hermit state, with the missile breaking up after only 90 seconds, although that was long enough to cause fatal damage to an agreement with the US made in February.
The failure will pile pressure on Kim Jong-eun, the new leader of North Korea, whom analysts believe may seek to restore his credentials by conducting a nuclear test.
In recent days, South Korean media have reported that North Korea was already planning another nuclear test. It followed a long-range missile launch in 2009 with an atomic test.
South Korea and the US said the Eunha-3 (Galaxy) rocket blasted off at 7.39am local time, but broke apart after about 90 seconds, sending the shattered fuselage into the Yellow Sea.
In an unusual move for a country that almost never admits internal problems, a newscaster on state television said the rocket had not put a satellite into space.
Do I have to say it? They're just going to keep trying and sooner or later they'll get it right. If this regime survives sooner or later not only will they figure out how to make their missiles work, they'll figure out how to make nuclear warheads for them.
That's the easy part. The hard part is that the DPRK is an impossibly hard not to crack and there really are no good options for us. Certainly engaging in endless talks whereby they promise us this and that and they reneg on every agreement is foolish, but there's not much more we can do to pressure them by way of sanctions. They're already quite isolated, and it affects their behavior not a bit.
What the missile launch does tell us though is that our policy of "engagement" has not tempered them at all. They're just as militant, and whatever our policy is, theirs is to intimidate us.
Another policy (or part of the same one) is that their new leader feels he has to show his generals how "tough" he is. This may mean that he's just as bad as his father... or he has to stage a few displays of strength so he will have credibility to negotiate with a softer line... who knows. They don't call it the "hermit kingdom" for nothing.
It is interesting, though, that they admitted to the failure. This might signal a change, perhaps even a Gorbachev-style glasnost, or it might mean nothing. If the former, then one wonders if Kim Jong-eun understands the forces he is unleashing. Gorbachev didn't but at least when the Soviet Empire collapsed it came in for a soft landing. We should hope the same happens to North Korea.
April 9, 2012
Book Review - After America: Get Ready for Armageddon
In his 2006 book, America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It , author and columnist scared the daylights out us with his portrayal of a Europe that is in steep decline, with the inevitable result the the United States will soon be left alone in the world to deal with the barbarians. Last year Steyn unleashed the sequel, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, which he may as well have titled using the inscription at the entrance to Hell in Dante's Divine Comedy; "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." This book is meant to remove any doubt for anyone who thought that an "America alone" could survive.
The problem is not that armed adversaries are waiting to bomb out cities to oblivion, though it may come to that. Nor is it that our Navy and Air Force can't destroy the likes of the People's Republic of China's Navy (PLAN), though they are getting stronger relative to us. No, most of our wounds are self-inflicted. On the surface our problem is fiscal, but the root of it is moral and cultural.
A book that simply laid out the facts would be useful but so horribly depressing as to be almost unreadable. But Steyn is one of the most clever and witty authors around. Many passages are laugh-out-loud funny, and many more will evoke a giggle or snicker. Even when you're shaking your head at the insanity of our world and the (perhaps) inevitable decline and end of America as we know it, the reader can't but chuckle at the writing.
Our Current State of Broke
It's not that the west is going broke; we are broke, we just haven't faced up to it yet because the full consequences are not yet upon us.
As of this writing, the national debt is some 15.6 trillion dollars. When Steyn wrote his book last year, it was just over 13 trillion; the number he mentions. By the time you read this the figure will be higher, so click on the link to see where are are today. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has admitted to the Senate that Obama's budget proposals set an "unsustainable" course for entitlement spending, but nothing the president or any other politically possible proposal pretends to make much of a dent in it. Even Rep Paul Ryan's plan, which I support, wouldn't balance the budget for 20 or 30 years. And that's just to stop the bleeding, to say nothing of paying down the existing debt.
Obama and the liberals point out that George W Bush, and in fact all Republican presidents going back 50 years or so, also engaged in deficit spending. This is like saying that taking change off someone else's kitchen counter when they're not looking is like robbing a bank with a machine gun. Barack Obama has taken deficit spending to new levels. He's George W Bush on steroids. Obama complained about the Bush deficits and then proceeded to double and triple them with no end in sight.
Just as you can't keep running up your credit card forever, at some point deficit spending will have to stop. The problem is that since we can't seem to get our house in order, the "stop" will be forced on us, and it will be excruciatingly painful.
And it's not the military, or lack of tax revenue, that is causing the problem. As I've outlined numerous times here, by any domestic measure military spending is headed nowhere but down. We already have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, and increasing personal taxes, even on the evil wealthy, wouldn't make any significant difference.
The Root Cause is Moral
As Steyn pointed out in a recent article in the print edition of National Review, there's something wrong with a country in which a Georgetown law school student, who can expect a starting salary of $160,000 or more upon graduation, goes before congress to whine that she can't afford birth control, and is not laughed off the national stage. Sandra Fluke is headed towards lucrative job prospects paying big salaries by any definition, and she can't understand why the government won't pay to keep her entertained while she studies.
It's this that fiscal conservatives miss when they fixate on the dollars and cents and say that the "social issues" are getting in the way. Ok, if they mean gay marriage and abortion, maybe. But if they mean the larger cultural and moral issue, they're wrong. We're broke not because we can't add a column of numbers, or because a government program or two grew faster than anticipated; we're broke because we've created a culture of entitlement that extends from the poor to the wealthy (or soon-to-be-wealthy).
More than this, we shouldn't continue most or many of our current programs even if we did have a balanced budget. The programs themselves have a debilitating effect on people that is rotting us at the core. See Sandra Fluke above. The citizen who lives a cradle to grave resistance all financially guaranteed by the state is not a citizen at all but a subject. Far from encouraging responsible behaviors, it infantilizes.
As it is, we're a long way from a "what if we weren't running a deficit" scenario, so all the other scary prospects from our policies are worth exploring, and Steyn certainly takes the ball and runs with it. Among other things he points out that when money flows from one country to another, the power flows along with it. The United States is losing it's place as the preeminent world power ("hyperpower, as the French put it), which will have catastrophic effects for everyone, ourselves included.
Despite all this, Steyn does admit to an "on the other hand." In Europe they riot ("demonstrate" in the papers) because they want more government benefits; in the United States, the Tea Party demonstrates ("racist" in the papers), demanding less benefits. We still have a chance.
Advancement is Slowing
Steyn imagines a man from the 1890s who finds H.G. Well's fictional time machine and propels himself forward, first to 1950, and then to our current day. He is amazed by the world of 1950; the horseless carriage, telephone, television, radio, the various household appliances, medical advances, flight, and so on. But when he advances the time-travel dial on his machine again, he's much less impressed by the advances made between then and 2011. Cars or airplanes can't go any faster, the telephone is wireless but still the same concept. The appliances in the house are updated but again still the same, and in fact most of the changes seem the same. Except that in 2011 the adults dress like the children do.
Ouch on that last one.
And in a way technological advance does seem to have slowed down. When the movie 2001 was released in 1968 it was assumed that of course we would have moon bases, and that the plot involved a trip to the orbit of Jupiter surprised no one. Not only are we no closer to that today than we were then, we're no closer to a computer with the capabilities of HAL.
The traditional reasons advanced for our lack of serious space travel is that we no longer have the Soviet Union to compete with, and that there's no real scientific return on the investment. Perhaps. But maybe the primary reason is that we simply couldn't do it if we wanted to. Oh it's not the technology; that's the easy part. Rather we've gotten so bogged down in "entitlement" spending, we're so self-absorbed in hedonistic desires, so cynical, and so lacking in vision and foresight that as a nation and society we've lost the capability to do such things.
And don't bring up Obama's "Yes we can!" That was a call to more special spending and government dependency.
Do We (Still) Yearn to be Free?
In The Case for Democracy, Natan Sharansky said that people who live under tyranny seem to agree with it's governing ideology but in reality wanted liberty, and given half a chance would seize it. Seems logical, but in recent years but when put to the vote people have tended to choose less and not more freedom. In Gaza, Egypt, Libya, and likely Iraq (though the outcome there is not entirely clear) the people have been choosing the Muslim Brotherhood or it's equivalent over Western concepts of liberty. Ok, that's the Islamic world for you, but if it's a religious/cultural thing why are they doing it in Russia too? And most studies of China conclude that the people are more happy with a totalitarian system that brings about a better economy and keeps the societal stability than our Bill of Rights.
Ok again, those countries have always had tyranny. But if that's the excuse then why are they doing it in Europe and why is it starting here? The EU is less and less a democracy/republic as the decision makers and power brokers are more and more removed from the electoral process and thus responsiveness to the people, and thus less replaceable. Speech is limited in Europe when it comes to criticizing Islam, and American college campuses are notorious for their attempts to silence conservative professors, students, and visiting speakers. If liberals want me to throw in the Patriot Act, fine, but it's really small potatoes when you add up everything else that's going on.
in John Edwards fantasy, there are two Americas; the haves and the have-nots. It's the classic Dickensian vision of the rich, powerful, and uncaring, versus the noble poor. Edwards had it half-right; there are "two Americas," his problem was one of identification. The "two Americas" of today are those who pay taxes and those who live off of the government. Note that the latter are not necessarily "poor," as most are government workers or contractors who live off government contracts.
In Political Economy (1816), Thomas Jefferson wrote that "to take from one because it is thought that his own industry and that of his father's has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill,k is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association - 'the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." Today such sentiments are laughed at or derided as "insensitive."
China for a Day
Just as gun control is not so much about controlling guns as it is just about controlling the citizenry, much regulation is not so much about the thing ostensibly being regulated as it is simply about the exercise of power.
It wasn't always this way. Tocqueville wrote that although the kings of old theoretically had almost unlimited power, "almost never did it happen that they made use of it." More, "the details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control."
Today we have democracy but the government controls more and more of your everyday existence, while in days of old you had no say in your government but except for religious matters it more or less left you alone.
New York Times columnist let the liberal cat out of the bag when he fantasized "what if we could just be China for a day.... Where we could, you know, authorize the right solutions?" It is this sort of thinking that has led to things like "gay marriage" being imposed by unelected judges on states where the people reject it at the ballot box.
It's the Demographics, Stupid
In America Alone, Steyn spent much time on demographic statistics because they were central to his theories about the decline of Europe. What would a sequel be without a reprise?
The short version is this: Westerners are having fewer and fewer babies, and will in a short time lead to seriously declining populations. The effect is masked by the baby boom generation, but will become starkly apparent when they start to die in mass numbers twenty years hence.
This might be survivable except that we've voted into place all sorts of benefits programs, especially for the retired. People are also living longer, and in Europe the retirement age where you can collect full benefits is far less than in the U.S. The financing for these programs requires more and more young people paying into them. Add more retirees and take away the young people, and you don't have to be an accounting genius to see where things are headed. The problem is worse in Europe than it is in the U.S. but only by degree, not kind.
Greece has one of the lowest fertility rates on the planet, coming in at 1.3 children per woman. The replacement rate required to keep a population at the same size, is 2.1. Russia, Japan, and South Korea are at about 1.4, and the average in Europe is only about 1.7. The U.S. is at 2.1, but that only due to immigration.
The financial disaster is obvious, but as outlined above there's a moral rot as well. We don't blame the Greeks for voting those benefits into place because it seemed like the thing to do at the time and no one objected. We also wouldn't blame them for simply being upset at their current fix. No, what sticks in the craw is that they are in self-denial to the point where they riot and demand ever more benefits and refuse to work more days and hours.
But you don't have to go to Greece to see the problem, because it's right here at home in California. The state government is broke but the public-sector workers don't care. Don't ask them to give up anything.
The Europeanization of America
Liberals generally see the Europeanization of America as a good thing. No guns, impotent military, huge government where decision-making is as far removed from the vote as possible, and cradle-to-grave benefits programs. What's not to like?
Plenty, Steyn says. The economic argument is the easy one. The other, more insidious and destructive, is the moral one.
The government that takes care of your every need and protects you from everything also "disconnects you from the primary impulses of life." Receiving benefits that you didn't directly earn leads to unhappiness for most people. Having the government guarantee your every needs leads to a loss of self-worth. "it drains too much of the life from life," as Charles Murray said.
Sure, Europeans have much more free time than do Americans. But what they do with it is or should be distressing. There is much less civic activism than in the United States. Fewer organizations like the 4-H, Girl and Boy Scouts, even youth sports leagues. Why form a charitable organization when the government does it all for you? And church? Forget it. Hedonism is the order of the day. How sad.
What would you die for? Civil liberties? I sincerely congratulate you. King and country in a war you don't necessarily agree with? You get my highest honors. And if you want to lie down in the road to stop a logging truck, risking death that way, I will think your politics are all whacked out but I will admire you for commitment to your cause.
Post-Christian, post-modern Europe has no answer to the question of "what is worth dying for," or even "what is life for and what gives it meaning?"
It's as of the citizens of Europe (and some in America) are on Soma, that Valium-type drug that induces pleasure but leaves one lethargic to do anything in life. Rome, London, Paris, and Berlin were once centers of greatness, contributing to the political, economic, intellectual and cultural life of the world. Now they're quickly becoming backwaters, great places to visit but irrelevant to the future of the world.
Obama is not anti-American, he's post-American. He's beyond that patriotism thing. In fact, he's beyond being president. In his view, the job is too small for a man of his imagined self-worth.
The election of Barack Obama was an unserious act by an unserious America. The idea that he has any qualifications for the job is laughable. If that were all there were too it, we would survive. But the Russians, Chi-coms, and ayatollah's have their own vision of the world, and are seizing the moment to implement it.
When he was senator, Obama was asked whether he believed in sin. "Yes," he replied. Ok, said the questioner, the religion correspondent for the Chicago Sun-Times. "What is sin?" "Being out of alignment with my values," he replied.
There are so many things wrong with that answer.
Great Britain accepted it's decline after World War II, and we saw it's empire slowly dissolve away. They'd done their job though of ensuring that English law, liberties, culture, trade, and the language were implanted abroad. And countries such as India have their stability and economic progress to thank for that. But one important reason why their exports stayed is that America took over where they left off. When America leaves, no one friendly will take over.
The New 1984 in the UK
To get an idea of what's wrong with Britain, consider that the country (ok, "UK") is the home of one third of the world's CCTVs (Closed Circuit TVs. I.E. wired private cameras and monitor TVs). They're used by the police, not so much to prevent crime, which they don't, but to annoy people over things such as discarding litter. Many of the cameras have loudspeakers on them whereby the monitoring officer can shout at the perpetrator to "pick up your trash!"
It gets worse. In 2009, the British Office of the Secretary of State for Children said that 20,000 "problem children" would be put under 24x7 surveillance by CCTVs installed in their homes. The monitoring would be to make sure that they did things like got up on time, left for school on time, did their homework, ate proper meals, and went to bed on time.
From Permanent Revolution to Permanent Liberal Statism
Leon Trotsky spoke about "permanent revolution," but today's left has turned that on it's head. Today it's all about creating a permanent voting bloc to keep the left in power. And it's all done with your tax dollars.
The trick is to get as many people as dependent on government as possible. Not through welfare checks, mind you, that's far too primitive. No, they do it by creating as many government jobs as possible, and ensnaring as many contractors whose businesses depend on government work. The military-industrial complex was an amateurish concoction of yesteryear compared to what the teachers unions alone have put together.
The collapse of the traditional family also plays a large role. The biggest supporters of big government are single moms. They want the free day care, year-round school and all-day kindergarten (day care by another name), on and on. LBJ had no idea his Great Society programs would be so "successful."
Dissolve the People and Elect Another
Elites in Europe and the U.S. have been pushing for more immigration, both legal and illegal (the "wink wink" let's-pretend-we-don't-know-what's-going-on version). In Europe this has led to massive numbers of Muslims who, far from adopting Western ways, are getting the West to adopt to theirs. In the United States, it has resulted in a Hispanic population who take far more out of our system than they put in, and have a tremendous out-of-wedlock birth problem to boot.
The World After America
We are already beginning to see what the world after America will look like. It will be a place where the crazy nations have the run of things, or at least their region, with no effective counter to stop them. Nations will seek their "peace" with Islam. No one will want to upset China, so she will get her way. The result is that the West's sphere of influence will shrink. Tyranny and oppression, not liberty, will be spreading around the world.
Far from there being any sort of "new world order," the world will be chaotic. The poorest nations will have the most powerful militaries, which as often as not will include nuclear weapons. The wealthy nations will be weak by comparison and unable to defend their own territories (especially against incoming missiles), let alone project power anywhere.
Iran will get nuclear weapons, and in time learn to mount on them on long-range missiles. If they do not attack Israel with them, the "realists" will say they have been vindicated and Iran can be "contained" with a (much smaller) American "nuclear umbrella." Problem is, Iran will use it's new power in other ways, such as controlling the supply and price of Gulf oil, insisting that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar close American bases, and being even more bold in exporting terrorism. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey will begin their own nuclear weapons programs, and Jordan and Syria might too. Iranian missiles will threaten Europe, and Russia will offer "protection," in exchange for long-term contracts on Russian gas.
America will become the new Israel. The Jewish state is besieged from all sides, not only physically but diplomatically as well. People will talk about America the way they talk about Israel today, and their leaders will treat us as they treat Israel today.
Despite what Obama sometimes says, the United States under his presidency is clearly in the process of abandoning Israel. The barbarian nations see this, and conclude that if America abandons Israel she will abandon everyone else as well. And if she will not defend Israel, she may not even defend herself, at least not in any meaningful way.
The United States itself faces breakup. Not formally, and not through a war, but a de facto breakoff, where for example the southwest becomes more an extension of Mexico than a part of the United States.
We will also celebrate a lot less diversity. Already we have the spectacle of Western leaders like Speaker Pelosi and Secretary of State Clinton covering their heads when visiting Muslim countries. It already happens in Europe, so look for it to come to a neighborhood near you. Internationally the Organization of Islamic Conference is pushing for anti-free speech measures, disguised as "resolutions against the defamation of Islam" at the United Nations. So far they have failed, but given current trends they'll eventually succeed.
In the world of political correctness Islam will soon trump homosexuality, feminism, black, and Hispanic as the new official victim group whose grievances are always to be honored and whose motives can never be questioned. Gays and women are finding this out the hard way in Europe.
Mark Steyn offers no "solution" in that we may already be too far gone for anything to work. But he does have some ideas, a sort of plan, by which we might be able to reverse the process:
- De-Centralize: Move as much decision-making power and spending to as local as level as possible
- De-Governmentalize: Get the government out of as much as possible
- De-Regulate: Yes we need an EPA, OSHA, and the others, but yes also they are way too powerful and need to be scaled back.
- De-Monopolize: Whether it's education or health care, the government monopoly needs to be broken up.
- De-Complicate: Regulations and thing like the tax code are far too complicated.
- De-Credentialize: It's bad enough that all teachers need to get a government (read "NEA") license, but when hairstylists need to be certified, there's a problem.
- Dis-Entitle: The culture of entitlement must be put to an end.
- De-Normalize: Stop buying into the liberal-statist narrative and of when it's normal to talk about everything from "global warming" to "trillion dollar deficits" (or even any deficit as normal).
The official New Hampshire state motto is "Live Free or Die," but in a way it is, or was, the quintessential American motto. Progressives define "freedom" as "guaranteed government benefits," but as we have seen this is a recipe for disaster. Either we recapture the original meaning of the term, and quickly turn our country around, or our country, and our prosperity, will quickiy come to an end.
History is full of the rise and fall of empires and nation-states. In the past thousand years alone we have seen the Mongol, Aztec, Inca, Umayyad, Abbasid, Spanish, French, British, Zulu, German, Japanese, Soviet... and those are just the ones I can think of. Many don't exist anymore even as a home country, and those that do are not at all particularly powerful. Rome lasted two thousand years if you count the Eastern Empire, but even that declined and fell. So who's to say that we have to last forever, or that decline and even collapse won't happen in our lifetime?
On the other side, there's something in our nature that we like to imagine a coming Armageddon. Disaster movies have been popular from the 1950s on. If the 19th century saw a spate of Utopian writings, the dystopian has become the archetype since the Great War.
My only real criticism of the book is that at 349 pages (403 including endnotes) it's a bit too long. There were sections where I found myself skipping through paragraphs. Steyn could have made his points with a few less examples and less verbiage.
All in all, this is a must-read book for everyone. There is nothing that says that we can't be the generation that sees an American decline and a return to the nasty and brutish world we had hundreds or a thousand years ago. History and "progress" are not linear. Freedom and liberty, once established, do not always endure.
We in the West in general and America in particular are good at dealing with Pearl Harbor or 9-11 style threats and attacks; we can see them, identify, them, and go get them, and all in a defined timeframe. The decline Steyn describes is harder to get a handle on, especially since as long as the government benefits flow everything seems to be peaches and cream. If we continue along our current trajectory we are headed for a worse future. And it won't hit most people that something is wrong until it's too late. May we wake up long before then.
April 8, 2012
Happy Easter, for He has Risen!
These past six months or so I've been attending a Catholic church, and Friday night attended their "Stations of the Cross" ceremony. Here is a pictorial representation, and below the fold a brief explanation of each one:
1. Jesus is condemned to death
2. Jesus accepts the cross
3. Jesus falls the first time
4. Jesus meets His Mother
5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7. Jesus falls the second time
8. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
9. Jesus falls the third time
10. Jesus is stripped of His garments
11. Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
12. Jesus dies on the cross
13. Jesus' body is removed from the cross (Deposition or Lamentation)
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense.
From Wikipedia, "To provide a version of this devotion more closely aligned with the biblical accounts, Pope John Paul II introduced a new form of devotion, called the Scriptural Way of the Cross on Good Friday 1991. He celebrated that form many times but not exclusively at the Colosseum in Rome. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI approved this set of stations for meditation and public celebration: They follow this sequence:"
1. Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,
2. Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested,
3. Jesus is condemned by the Sanhedrin,
4. Jesus is denied by Peter,
5. Jesus is judged by Pilate,
6. Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns,
7. Jesus takes up His cross,
8. Jesus is helped by Simon to carry His cross,
9. Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem,
10. Jesus is crucified,
11. Jesus promises His kingdom to the repentant thief,
12. Jesus entrusts Mary and John to each other,
13. Jesus dies on the cross,
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.
I can't remember which version is in the church I've been attending, though I suppose it's the latter.
Posted on the walls around the sanctuary is are pictures of each station, done as artwork by the children. During the ceremony, one of the parish priests moves to each station with a Deacon and a few Altar servers. The Deacon and Altar Servers had candles and a cross. At each station the priest would read a summary of that station, say a prayer, and the congregation read a response.
The point, of course, is that while it's all very fine, good, and proper to get together with family and set up an Easter egg hunt for the kids, that's all incidental to what the holiday is really all about. Jesus willing went through terrible torture, humiliation, abandonment, and death, all because you and me are really not very good people. In fact, we're pretty bad. Sinners right and left, in fact. The bad news is that God won't let anyone into heaven who isn't perfect, which means that as is we ain't getting in. By dying for us, though, Jesus took the punishment and got us a pass into heaven. To get this free ticket all you have to do is accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. I did some 15 years ago. Have you?
Even if you are not Catholic (and I'm not, at least not yet), I would encourage you to go and see the ceremony at a church near you. Evangelicals and most Protestant don't do it, but some Lutherans and Anglicans do.
April 7, 2012
VDH on the Trayvon Martin - George Zimmerman Insanity
Victor Davis Hanson hits it out of the park in a post on NRO's The Corner blog on the insanity surrounding the Trayvon Martin - George Zimmerman case.
I've seen a number of liberals on blogs insist that we need a trial "to get the the bottom of this" or "to determine the truth." But that's not why we have trials in this country. Prosecutors only bring charges when they are absolutely certain the person in question is guilty. An indictment is a formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. For a group that prides themselves on adherence to civil rights (just ask them), they sure don't understand much about the process.
I have no idea whether George Zimmerman is guilty of any crime or not. At first it looked pretty clear-cut that he was, but then after a few days mitigating evidence came out that seemed to indicate self-defense. Now some of that is under question, and what exactly did happen unclear. Where this is headed I have no idea. On to Mr Hanson:
Walking Back the Trayvon Martin Hysteria
By Victor Davis Hanson
April 5, 2012 1:19 P.M.
1) If one suggests that there may not be, at least as yet, enough evidence to overturn the initial police decision of not charging Mr. Zimmerman with a crime, then one is a de facto racist.
In other words, the liberal position of letting all the evidence be reexamined in a dispassionate fashion is now illiberal. And the illiberal one of charging someone with a felony without established probable cause is liberal. But just arresting and charging a suspect to let a judge or jury post facto decide whether there was ever probable cause for such an arrest is neither liberal nor consistent with American jurisprudence.
2) It is clear now that the African-American civil-rights hierarchy is concerned largely with maintaining power and influence by promulgating the theme of unending white racism -- and the need for its exclusive agency to find redress and reparations from that eternal fact. That is a serious charge, but one easy to substantiate -- whether we compare the commensurate outrage accorded the Duke case, the Skip Gates mess, the Tawana Brawley hoax, or the present Trayvon Martin tragedy, with the veritable neglect about the carnage of young African-American males in our cities, or the deliberate distortion that white-on-black crime is an epidemic when, in fact, black-on-black crime is -- in addition to the fact of vastly higher incidences of black-on-white crime.
And the professional grievance industry has achieved many of its aims. The latter common occurrences earn scant public attention; the former rare incidents, lurid hysteria. The disturbing truth is that to examine the black-on-black crime might raise uncomfortable inferences that such violence cannot be entirely explained by contemporary racism, and arises from issues as wide-ranging as illegitimacy, male parenting, literacy, education, family structure, disproportionate rates of criminality and drug use, misogyny in popular culture, etc. -- crises that often demand more than just government attention and funding.
If the Black Caucus or Black Panthers or Sharpton/Jackson industry can "prove" that Mr. Martin was "executed" or "assassinated" by a white oppressor due to his skin color alone and that this outrage was covered up by a racist white establishment, then their presence is vital to curb such an "epidemic"; if the case has nothing to do with race, or if it proves a difficult and complex case of self-defense, then once again they are relegated to the hard, unheralded -- and unpopular -- work of addressing the root causes of inordinate black crime that earns few profits and little publicity.
3) If the media had erred in one or two case in either its emphases or its facts, or erred on both sides of what apparently has become an ideological divide over the case, few could complain. But from Day One, the media has tried to promulgate an unambiguous narrative of a diminutive African-American preteen model student executed by a white racist vigilante with a shady past, a narrative that the facts, at least as we know them thus far, does not substantiate: The usually printed photos of Mr. Martin did not reflect that he was 17 or 6′2″; there was no firm evidence that Mr. Zimmerman used a racial epithet in contrast to the firm evidence that NBC doctored a tape to suggest a racist motive on the part of the shooter; the rubric "white Hispanic" was used, although the media does not employ it elsewhere; the assertions that Mr. Zimmerman was lying about his injuries were not, as alleged, proved by the police video, but far more likely disproved by it; there is still no firm proof about which of the two in the fight called out for help; there is now firm proof of an altercation prior to the shooting; Mr. Zimmerman's past does not quite fit the portrait of a white vigilante with racist tendencies; nor does Mr. Martin's quite fit the initial picture of a model student -- information about the two that is either irrelevant or germane, but not applicable to just one of the two involved in a fight; and so on.
4) In explosive matters of racial controversy, we can expect the president and the attorney general to be of either no help or to make things worse. President Obama fanned the flames in the 2008 Reverend Wright disclosures, the Pennsylvania primary, the Gates mess, and was utterly incoherent in the Martin matter; the attorney general has now weighed in so often on the question of race, and in such an inflammatory fashion ("cowards," "my people," accusations of congressional racism, etc.) that his only recourse is far wiser silence.
5) To suggest all of the above is to earn almost immediate condemnation as a racist, not because any of it is refutable, but because some do not wish to be reminded that so far the case on its merits has little to do with race, and is instead yet another fatal shooting where it is difficult to ascertain a proper charge -- whether of murder/manslaughter or self-defense -- a quandary repeated hundreds of times each year throughout the country with near-zero national public interest.
How sick we have become as a nation, when preferring not to prejudge a case until an inquiry reviews known evidence and searches for new information is considered racist; and wishing to inject race in order to do the opposite is not.
April 2, 2012
Increasing Dependence on Government
I've been saving this one for when nothing else struck me, I was too busy to work out a proper post, and it had been awhile since my last post. I'm working on a book review of Mark Steyn's After America which I will have up this week, so in the meantime take a look at this dreadfully depressing article:
Cause or Effect?
February 22, 2012
by Richard Fernandez
The Heritage Foundation has a series of graphs which appear to depict two trends: an ever increasing dependency of the American population on government transfer payments and a narrowing income tax base. It writes, "it is the conjunction of these two trends--higher spending on dependence-creating programs, and an ever-shrinking number of taxpayers who pay for these programs--that concerns those interested in the fate of the American form of government."
The 2012 publication of the Index of Dependence on Government marks the tenth year that The Heritage Foundation has flashed warning lights about Americans' growing dependence on government programs. For a decade, the Index has signaled troubling and rapid increases in the growth of dependence-creating federal programs, and every year Heritage has raised concerns about the challenges that rapidly growing dependence poses to this country's republican form of government, its economy, and for the broader civil society. Index measurements begin in 1962; since then, the Index score has grown by more than 15 times its original amount. This means that, keeping inflation neutral in the calculations, more than 15 times the resources were committed to paying for people who depend on government in 2010 than in 1962. In 2010 alone, the Index of Dependence on Government grew by 8.1 percent. The Index variables that grew the most were:
Housing: 13 percent
Health Care and Welfare: 13.1 percent
Retirement: 3.1 percent.
The increase from the previous Index means that the Index has now grown by 60.7 percent just since 2001. One of the most worrying trends in the Index is the coinciding growth in the non-taxpaying public. The percentage of people who do not pay federal income taxes, and who are not claimed as dependents by someone who does pay them, jumped from 14.8 percent in 1984 to 49.5 percent in 2009. This means that in 1984, 34.8 million tax filers paid no taxes; in 2009, 151.7 million paid nothing.
Tim Wise, who is a regular guest on CNN, says the dependency question is only another way of looking at the history of racism in America. The idea of small government, he argues, is the nothing more than a code word in the "politics of nostalgia"; the a desire to return to the inequities of the past.
Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it, but the founders actually did foster quite a lot of government dependence: enshrining slavery was about government protecting white people from the competition of free black labor, and white folks becoming quite dependent on that protection. Stealing native land and then redistributing it to white people was about dependence on government-imposed violence. And later, yet still in the supposedly "good old days," government dependence was at the heart of segregation-which artificially subsidized white people in the job, school and housing markets-and was at the heart of the FHA and VA loans that white families used (and from which black families were all but completely blocked) in the 40s and 50s, which literally built the white middle class.
But I'm guessing that when she uses a phrase like "dependence on government" she isn't thinking about the white folks who were given 270 million acres of essentially free land under the Homestead Act. Or the 15 million or so white families who got those racially preferential home loans, with government underwriting and guarantees, thanks to programs implemented by liberals and thanks to pressure from the left. I'm thinking she isn't talking about the white soldiers (but typically not the black ones) who were able to return from World War II and make use of the GI Bill to go to college, or get job training. And the fact that she likely doesn't think of those kinds of things and those kinds of people as being dependent on government is, of course, precisely the problem, and the point I was trying to make. ...
Indeed several of the e-mails made this same argument about opposing "government dependence," all the while oblivious, it appears, to the way in which that concept has become so color-coded in the white imagination over the past several decades. In fact, this is a point I had made on the program: that according to a significant body of social science research (among the most prominent, Martin Gilens's brilliant book, Why Americans Hate Welfare), most whites perceive social program spending aimed at helping the have-nots (be they income have-nots, housing have-nots, or health care-have nots) as being about giving something tothose people, who are, of course, conceived of in black and brown terms, and taking from "hard-working" white folks in order to do it. So if the notion of government dependence itself has been racialized-and the evidence says it has been-to say that it is only this dependence you oppose, and that racism has nothing to do with it is to either lie or engage in self-deception of a most unfortunate and unbecoming variety. ...
In the end, although there are many people, with many different reasons for opposing the President or his health care proposal, the role that race and racism is playing cannot be ignored. With major conservative spokespersons stoking the fires of racial resentment daily, and with most whites having long ago come to the conclusion that social program spending is something done on behalf of racial "minorities" at their own white expense, it is not too much to insist that race is operating, for some quite overtly and for others more subtly.
According to this point of view, "government dependence" is nothing more than an index of the frontline in class struggle. Small government is nothing but the effect of Big Property. Big government on the other hand, just represents sharing the wealth. And there is nothing wrong in that; it simply represents the flow of resources, for so long in the direction from the poor to the rich, back in the direction it should go. At least so goes the argument.
Whichever side of the issue one takes on this matter, the question might be if that line is where it should be. Is the growing role of government as a redistributor of incomes a bug or a feature? Is it good or bad? Underneath the differences in personalities which supposedly underlies each campaign, the question of whether this boundary is what actually divides the country lies at the heart of the 2012 election.
What is the role of government in the social context of America? Is it a promoter of 'freedom' or a champion of 'fairness'?
Crazy, but this is how the left thinks. Because things were done wrong in the past, it's ok to do wrong today. Because the government allegedly encouraged dependence in the past, it's ok to do it today. Nevermind that there are vast differences, not the least of which is that the founders did not encourage sloth and an complete lack of responsibility for one's actions. And today the left encourages everyone to see themselves as helpless victims, and only government can save them. And not to mention the small matter that we're spending ourselves to oblivion, only a slight difference from yesteryear, but more on that later this week.