Thursday, April 30, 2009

The REAL Culture War is over Capitalism....

For the rest of this article:

The Real Culture War Is Over Capitalism

Tea parties, 'ethical populism,' and the moral case against redistribution.
By Arthur C. Brooks

There is a major cultural schism developing in America. But it's not over abortion, same-sex marriage or home schooling, as important as these issues are. The new divide centers on free enterprise -- the principle at the core of American culture.

Despite President Barack Obama's early personal popularity, we can see the beginnings of this schism in the "tea parties" that have sprung up around the country. In these grass-roots protests, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Americans have joined together to make public their opposition to government deficits, unaccountable bureaucratic power, and a sense that the government is too willing to prop up those who engaged in corporate malfeasance and mortgage fraud.

... the president's budget office reveals average deficits of 4.7% in the five years after this recession is over. The Congressional Budget Office predicts $9.3 trillion in new debt over the coming decade.

... On behalf of corporate welfare, political largess and powerful special interests, government spending will grow continuously in the coming years as a percentage of the economy -- as will tax collections.

... The protesters are homeowners who didn't walk away from their mortgages, small business owners who don't want corporate welfare and bankers who kept their heads during the frenzy and don't need bailouts. They were the people who were doing the important things right -- and who are now watching elected politicians reward those who did the important things wrong.

Voices in the media, academia, and the government will dismiss this ethical populism as a fringe movement -- maybe even dangerous extremism....

... Asked in a Rasmussen poll conducted this month to choose the better system between capitalism and socialism, 13% of respondents over 40 chose socialism. For those under 30, this percentage rose to 33%. (Republicans were 11 times more likely to prefer capitalism than socialism; Democrats were almost evenly split between the two systems.)

The government has been abetting this trend for years by exempting an increasing number of Americans from federal taxation. ... last year that the percentage of American adults who have no federal income-tax liability will rise to 49% from 40% under Mr. Obama's tax plan. Another 11% will pay less than 5% of their income in federal income taxes and less than $1,000 in total.

... Social Democrats are working to create a society where the majority are net recipients of the "sharing economy." They are fighting a culture war of attrition with economic tools. Defenders of capitalism risk getting caught flat-footed with increasingly antiquated arguments that free enterprise is a Main Street pocketbook issue. Progressives are working relentlessly to see that it is not.

Advocates of free enterprise must learn from the growing grass-roots protests, and make the moral case for freedom and entrepreneurship. They have to declare that it is a moral issue to confiscate more income from the minority simply because the government can. It's also a moral issue to lower the rewards for entrepreneurial success, and to spend what we don't have without regard for our children's future.

Enterprise defenders also have to define "fairness" as protecting merit and freedom.... ... Millions of ordinary citizens believe it is unfair for the government to be predatory -- even if the prey are wealthy....

... The last several years have brought malaise, in which the "conservative" politicians in power paid little more than lip service to free enterprise. Today, as in the late 1970s, we have an administration, Congress and media-academic complex openly working to change American culture in ways that most mainstream Americans will not like....

Friday, April 24, 2009

SCOTUS in Rare Pro-4th Amendment Mode....

SCOTUS Decision slaps down The Man, for once.

At least a little.

From Grits For Breakfast:

Here's some good news for liberty-loving drivers:

The US Supreme Court today issued a rare pro-4th Amendment decision to restrict vehicle searches incident to arrest. In a 5-4 ruling, the high court held in Arizona v. Gant that "Police may search the passenger compartment of a vehicle incident to a recent occupant’s arrest only if it is reasonable to believe that the arrestee might access the vehicle at the time of the search or that the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest."

The majority lamented that "Countless individuals guilty of nothing more serious than a traffic violation have had their constitutional right to the security of their private effects violated as a result."

In a concurring opinion, Justice Scalia wrote that:

Law enforcement officers face a risk of being shot when-ever they pull a car over. But that risk is at its height at the time of the initial confrontation; and it is not at all reduced by allowing a search of the stopped vehicle after the driver has been arrested and placed in the squad car.

Bottom line, said the court: "Police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant’s arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest. When these justifications are absent, a search of an arrestee’s vehicle will be unreasonable unless police obtain a warrant or show that another exception to the warrant requirement applies."

Though Gant is a relatively narrow ruling, one hopes it portends a renewed commitment to basic Fourth Amendment protections which have been battered and abused by the Court recent years.

Addtional info here: The Volokh Conspiracy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tax Protests, Sinking Ships and Reality....

Excerpt from Forbes article here and below:

Here is me spouting off now:

I'm tired of hearing about "Sacrifice For The Greater Good". And I'm 'specially tired of hearing it from fatcat politicos who are running the biggest con-game in the world - the Guvmint.

Usually anytime anyone says "sacrifice for the Greater Good" it is a sign to run the other way as fast as possible. Nine times outta ten they are talking about taking from you and giving to sumbuddy else.

This is especially important today as "consumers" are continually bombarded with the message that it's for the "Greater Good" to "consume" instead of saving.

It's not.

The way to take care of "the Greater Good" of your society is to take care of your community first; and the way to take care of your community is to take care of your neighborhood first; and the way to take care of your neighborhood is to take care of your family first.

If people were to save instead of consume, we wouldn't need so many government services and tax rate hikes. But we (Yep, it's us, not the Government.) are spending billions of a bad paper IOU to the future on businesses that are providing products and services no one needs.

And jobs: If the reality is that if we are being told that the best reason a particular company is in business is to provide jobs... then that's why you should let the free market the **** alone. Comparatively good money after bad dragging us all down. Our default on that great big IOU and the accompanying crash will come soon enough.

Take care of you and yours, and the "Greater Good", for what it's worth, ususally takes care of itself.

... And in these days
When darkness falls early
And people rush home
To the ones they love
You better take a fool's advice
And take care of your own
One day they're here;
Next day they're gone...

(Don Henley – New York Minute)


"...Some analysts have made the case that Americans are not overtaxed (at the federal level) and that therefore the protests were not justified. But this misses the point. Government spending is exploding, with the Congressional Budget Office projecting $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years. People know that this spending represents future taxes.

Here is an interesting set of facts. If the government increased the top tax rate from the current rate of 35% to 100% (yes, that's right 100%), it would only collect an extra $400 billion this year. In other words, confiscating all the income that is currently taxed at 35% would not raise enough revenue to cover any of the annual deficits projected in the next 10 years. There is no way that tax hikes on the rich alone can pay for proposed spending in the current budget. In addition, state and local taxes are going up, with at least 10 states planning on hiking taxes. And promised future spending on Social Security and health care must also be paid for. Under the Obama administration's budget, federal government spending in the next 10 years will average 24% of GDP, almost triple what it was back in the 1930s. As a result, when we add together today's taxes and expected future taxes, Americans will face a bigger tax burden than at any time in history.

Meanwhile, the government is taking over private-sector companies, printing massive amounts of new money and interfering in the free market. And it doesn't help that this has happened while many government officials are running into trouble over not paying their own taxes, which undermines the Obama administration's call for the average taxpayer to sacrifice for the greater good...."

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Most Dangerous Man in the US....

Here's my nomination. He's also the 0-Man's nomination for the Legal Adviser of the Department of State -- Read up on him.

Harold Koh.

Wave goodbye to the last vestiges of US sovereignty.

Obama and claims about US guns in Mexico....

The 0-Man says 90% of the weapons used in crimes in Mexico come from the US.

The reality is that 90% of the *weapons they can trace* come from the US, but they can't trace the origin of very many of the weapons, especially all of those AK-47 knockoffs that come through the southern Mexican borders and that are used by all the seriously violent druggies and their Lords.

And, it is commonly thought that Mexican officials only turn over to the ATF for tracing those weapons already thought to have come from the US and used in a "violent" crime.

Using math that is beyond me, the figure seems to be somewhere between 17% (Right-wing Faux News) and 25% (Left-wing Politifact). Who you believe depends on your political leanings and the drum yer beating, but the reality is that far fewer guns are traced to the US than the 0-Man would have you think.

Now, why would he want you to think that?

The problem is that most of the automatic weapons they find in Mexico have markings that clearly show they come from places like Guatamala and China. And the gun and pawn shops don't sell these guns. And that's where the traceability comes in -- not every gun recovered in Mexico is submitted to the ATF for tracing; only those with US markings.

So the 0-Man is using this false statistic as very thinly veiled anti-legal gun propaganda here in the US.

Isn't it about time the Mexican government built a wall along the border to prevent the flow of illegal weapons into their country?

Homeland Security and you and me....

And there will first be a listing of “extremist” organizations (Hey, look, they’ve already been all lumped together in the public’s little mind.) - in a "Risk Report", if you will.

And then - amazingly enough - because times are tough and as it is "in the best interest of The Republic", few people will be surprised or even offended when anyone in “the opposition” is labeled extremist.

And then there will be laws enacted to make it impossible for there to be any physical opposition.

And then there will be a banning.

And then comes the round-up.

Knock-knock. Anybody been here before?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Privacy Expectations of Bloggers: “Outing" a Blogger’s Identity....

A Blogger from Alaska named "The Mudflats Muckraker" has been embroiled in a little "Identity Outing" incident. The Blogging community, part of it at least, is up-in-arms.

One of my pet peeves is when a private citizen claims to "know" things that "others" may not have access to, intimating the access is special and privileged, and yet expects those "others" to refrain from inquiring as to their qualifications; especially if the information these people claim to have access to and are propagating is false, misleading and libelous.

There IS a Constitutional right to anonymity; but it's a little fuzzy when the anonymous party is spreading lies. There is also no law that says you can't out someone on the net, unless you obtain the information regarding their identity by illegal means. If you already know who "Joe" is, you can shout it from the virtual roof-top. And evidently there is no law against "guessing" bloggers identities.

I think there is a larger question here. The Internet is full of "experts" who really aren't. And those "experts" are often crossing the line of "opinion" and approaching the line of "libel". Some are running right up to that libel line and stopping, others are continually sticking their toes of ignorance over that line.

Bloggers are not journalists protecting a “source” and needing a "shield law". Blogging is not “reporting”; no matter how many Bloggers pretend they are reporters.

(Is "muckraking" reporting? I'm not sure. Look at the scumbag National Enquirer -- they have broken quite a few big political stories -- see the John Edwards' love-child fiasco.)

When a Blogger - and many do - crosses the line from opinion to stating supposed fact based on claims of privileged information, the reality is that the Blogger has lost any expectation of keeping their identity secret.

IMNSHO, if you claim special access, privilege and expertise not available to the general public, expect to get outed. If you go after somebody -- this is teh internetz, remember -- especially if you claim insider information, you should expect them to fire back. Don't get all uptight and offended when they call you out. Expect it.

If you cross the line from Opining to Muckraking (especially if your screen name is "Muckraker") or Reporting, don't count on your target to sit still and do nothing.

PS - I posted the same questions on the "Muckraker" blog and was banned almost immediately; going to show us that double-standards are quadrupled at least half the time, AND that the supposed offended party (or her surrogate) is just as guilty as the person who "outed" her.

If "There are no wrong questions, just wrong answers", Muckraker, and despite the screen name, and playing both the game and the innocent victim, gave the wrong answer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

And now the Government is Everything and Nothing....

Fiat and Chrysler: there are two companies with “sterling” reputations for product quality.

You know FIAT stands for "Fix It Again Tony".

Here's the way it's gonna go:

The collapse of a couple of overweight, out-of-shape and dated union machines is the least of our worries.

Continued and increased government involvement in every facet of our lives will erode what is left of the American
"entrepreneurial spirit", and we will find our nation becoming even more of a consumer entity as more production moves overseas.

As the deficit is quadrupled over the next few (couple?) years, eventually social programs will collapse and our realization of our misplaced faith in the big business of government (which exists largely to self-perpetuate) will come too late.

I hear all the time from my "liberal" friends: "We deserve that money and those programs. After all, as workers we paid into them."

Guess what, that fact that you pay taxes for a service doesn't mean you are going to get that service back. Look at the record of government promises.

Those of us who use government “services” like Unemployment Compensation, State Retirement Plans, Medicare and Social Security will lose those teats and probably in that order. As government takes over more and more of the economy, you will see the standard of living rapidly fall. The dream of global equality will be achieved.

Good luck.

Either unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your world-view, luck has nothing to do with it.