Archive for December, 2011

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At an impasse?

December 28, 2011

Here’s a good column by Robert Samuelson at RealClearPolitics that reflects some of my thoughts on the budget cliff the U.S. seems to be determined to drive over. I think there’s a lot to the argument that the problem is too much spending, rather than not enough revenue; so I’m on the no-tax-hike side of that debate rather than the no-spending-cuts side.

But despite my view of the arguments pro or con, I’ve been wondering about the big picture: how the course of spending and taxes will be changed to avoid a government financial melt-down. There are many ways the situation might be resolved and some of them, as Mr. Samuelson hints at, could be pretty unpleasant.

A Country in Denial About Its Fiscal Future

WASHINGTON — There are moments when our political system, whose essential job is to mediate conflicts in broadly acceptable and desirable ways, is simply not up to the task. It fails. This may be one of those moments. What we learned in 2011 is that the frustrating and confusing budget debate may never reach a workable conclusion. It may continue indefinitely until it’s abruptly ended by a severe economic or financial crisis that wrenches control from elected leaders.

We are shifting from “give away politics” to “take away politics.” Since World War II, presidents and Congresses have been in the enviable position of distributing more benefits to more people without requiring ever-steeper taxes. Now, this governing formula no longer works, and politicians face the opposite: taking away — reducing benefits or raising taxes significantly — to prevent government deficits from destabilizing the economy. It is not clear that either Democrats or Republicans can navigate the change.

Our political system has failed before. Conflicts that could not be resolved through debate, compromise and legislation were settled in more primitive and violent ways. The Civil War was the greatest and most tragic failure; leaders couldn’t end slavery peacefully. In our time, the social protests and disorders of the 1960s — the civil rights and anti-war movements and urban riots — almost overwhelmed the political process. So did double-digit inflation, peaking at 13 percent in 1979 and 1980, which for years defied efforts to control it.

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Clueless

December 17, 2011

Eric Raymond wrote a great post about the protest over the Stop Internet Piracy Act. Here’s the first half or so – but RTWT.

SOPA and the oblivious

A government that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything away from you – including your Internet freedom.

That’s the thought that keeps running through my head as I contemplate the full-scale panic going on right now about SOPA, the “Stop Internet Piracy Act”.

It’s a bad bill, all right. It’s a terrible bill – awful from start to finish, idiotic to the core, corruptly pandering to a powerful special-interest group at the cost of everyone else’s liberty.

But I can’t help noticing that a lot of the righteous panic about it is being ginned up by people who were cheerfully on board for the last seventeen or so government power grabs – cap and trade, campaign finance “reform”, the incandescent lightbulb ban, Obamacare, you name it – and I have to wonder…

Don’t these people ever learn? Anything? Do they even listen to themselves?

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Bill of Rights Day

December 15, 2011

Here’s Cato’s quick review of the current state of affairs.

And if you think Mr. Lynch is too pessimistic, see this: Indefinite Military Detention Measure Passes On Bill Of Rights Day.

Five will get you ten that some U.S. citizen will be indefinitely detained by the military – right here in the "homeland" – within the next 5 years. Any takers?

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What if?

December 5, 2011

Andrew Napolitano, host of Fox’s Freedom Watch talk show, wrote an essay for Taki’s magazine. I don’t watch Freedom Watch (since I don’t watch television) but I enjoy the clips of it I see on YouTube. I think the Judge is a bit of a firebrand – which will become evident if you read the whole essay – but I also think that may be a good attitude these days.

Here’s the first paragraph to whet your appetite:

What if the Constitution No Longer Applied?

What if the whole purpose of the Constitution was to limit the government? What if Congress’s enumerated powers in the Constitution no longer limited Congress, but were actually used as justification to extend Congress’s authority over every realm of human life? What if the president, meant to be an equal to Congress, has become a democratically elected, term-limited monarch? What if the president assumed everything he did was legal just because he’s the president? What if he could interrupt your regularly scheduled radio and TV programming for a special message from him? What if he could declare war on his own? What if he could read your emails and texts without a search warrant? What if he could kill you without warning?

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