Saturday, September 19, 2009

Catalano Re-Elected Ulster County Republican Chair

Mario Catalano, a dentist, has been re-elected chair of the Ulster County Republican Committee. I am a member and was privileged to vote for Catalano at last Thursday evening's meeting. Also, the Committee approved a new version of its by-laws.

Mr. Catalano noted that the speaker at the Committee's fundraiser dinner in October will be Rudy Giuliani, whom I hope runs for governor. Tickets are selling fast, and I hope I can get one.

There was a minor conflict between supporters of the prior chair, Pete Savago, and Catalano. However, in the vote on the by-laws and the re-election of the committee officers, only three members opposed and the rest of the more than 85 members in attendance supported Catalano's positions. Debate and disagreement are healthy.

Mr. Catalano is charming, affable, brilliant and articulate. He is also very handsome and reminds me of Burt Lancaster. I was impressed not only with his presentation and expert conduct of the meeting, but also with the entire committee. Many of the county's best and brightest were in attendance and the evening afforded me an excellent opportunity to meet capable and intelligent people. James Quigley, III, a CPA, treasurer of the Committee and the member who made the motion for Catalano's re-nomination, bought everyone an open bar. The meeting was held at the Hillside Manor in Kingston, NY. Their website features a rendition of "Ashokan Farewell".

Review of Brian C. Anderson's Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents

My review of Brian C. Anderson's Democratic Capitalism and Its Discontents appears in the current issue of Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies. Brian Anderson is the editor of City Journal. The book is excellent and if anything I did not praise it sufficiently.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Pro-Freedom Republicans versus Roosevelt-Rockefeller-Bush Republicans

I have been active in my town's Republican Committee for the past few months and I have noticed that a meaningful contingent here supports freedom. By freedom I mean (1) limitation on government and (2) belief in rights to engage in business as well as to live, speak and write freely. The two, economic and civil freedom, are intertwined, as Milton Friedman makes clear in Capitalism and Freedom. We have seen this recently. Following Obama's election, left wing propagandists have called for curtailment of speech, specifically speech that favors libertarian political candidates or criticizes President Obama, which they claim is "hate speech" and, in their view, susceptible to regulation. So speech which criticizes the left becomes hate speech and in the left's view, illegal. Meanwhile, the state has the right to dispose of your earnings, not you. What is especially irksome is the chronic stupidity and incompetence of the advocates of big government. The fact that they are willing to use state violence to implement ideas that do not work does not trouble them. They cry for ever greater exactions and ever greater extensions on the power to coerce, to tax, to regulate and to imprison. Thus emerges totalitarianism.

Excessive taxation (by which I mean above the amount to cover public safety and stability) and freedom are incompatible. If you do not have the freedom to dispose of half of your income, as we do not today, we are not free. Similarly, excessive power granted to judges and government bureaucrats and freedom are incompatible. Judges are not neutral actors, and as often as not they're corrupt and biased. Recent scandals surrounding Clarence Norman in Brooklyn confirm that judicial corruption is as alive today as it was in the nineteenth century.

The ideas of Milton Friedman and Judge Richard Posner offer a version of the freedom philosophy that differs from one of limiting government. This is more true of Posner than of Friedman, who was primarily a libertarian but diverged in one key way: he advocated a central bank despite considerable historical evidence that banking in its present form does not work. Friedrich Hayek, Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard rejected the claim, a claim that lacks empirical evidence, that banking in its present form contributes to social welfare or is necessary to an optimal economy.

The dispute over banking is political. However, there is economic evidence that (a) banking involves economic redistribution and (b) that it is the primary cause of the business cycle, of booms, busts, recessions, depressions and bubbles. Many economists claim otherwise much as many sociologists favor the 1960s welfare system. "Progressive" economists favor welfare for Wall Street while "progressive" sociologists favor welfare for those disinclined to get a job.

Friedman did not claim that central banking has worked. He wrote a monumental book on the subject, Monetary History of the United States, and says in Capitalism and Freedom that the persistent failure of central banking should give its advocates pause. Nevertheless, Friedman advocated a "fixed monetary rule" by which the Fed would print a percentage increase of new money each year and no more. Friedman was one of the few people to see his ideas implemented. This idea, the fixed monetary rule, did not work because the mechanics of money creation are too complicated for it. The amount of money depends on choices that bankers make as well as new reserves, hence the Fed cannot know in advance how much money to print. Friedman's idea was tried by the Carter Fed (note that the ones to try monetarism were Democrats and that Republicans Nixon, Reagan and Bush were all practitioners of Fed activism) and continued into the early years of the Reagan administration. It was then rejected because it did not work on a practical level.

Although his idea was rejected, Friedman did not conclude that the Austrians were right. He continued to support centralized banking. The result is that Friedman's ideas provide marginal improvement to big government but show that less is more. That is, despite his belief that government can be curtailed based on logical argument, the more Friedman's ideas have been adopted during the 1980s and 1990s the bigger government has become. Unless the money creation power of the central government is curtailed, totalitarian control will march forward. While Friedman is right in many details, and his imagination is wonderful, overall his ideas have failed to induce a more libertarian society.

Judge Richard Posner (a federal judge in Chicago and Professor at the University of Chicago) is more elaborate in his defense of centralized economic planning. He believes that it is best accomplished through the judiciary. In his textbook on "Law and Economics" Posner claims that judges have the ability, and historically have, made judicial decisions that optimize efficiency. Thus, the legal system has defended capitalism and ensured that economic growth can optimally occur. This view reflects utilitarianism, the idea that there can be optimization of the greatest good for the greatest number. But note that Posner believes that rational judicial planning, not spontaneous markets, achieves the utilitarian goal.

There is a problem with the maximization of efficiency by judges. It assumes that judges can know what decisions maximize efficiency. But unless they are gods they cannot. This is because no one can know what direction technological development can take. Thus, Posner's view is a reassertion of the belief system of the ancient Roman state. The Romans believed that their model of development was efficient and applying it through military violence to ever wider areas would make them better off. Similarly, in nineteenth century America many came to the conclusion that economies of scale are the dominant source of economic progress. In fact, this is not true. Experimentation is the dominant source of economic progress. And unless judges are experimenters, inventors or entrepreneurs, they cannot possibly know what will be efficient. But they can enforce scale at the expense of experimentation. Posner believes that efficiency means violent enforcement of scale and other big business practices that appear to be efficient in the short run. Posner's ideas lead to the belief that big business requires defense and that the brute violence that judges can enforce works better than spontaneous markets and technological advance.

Hence, Posner's utilitarianism is a euphemism for prenatal socialism. Socialism claims that central economic planners predict in advance what the optimal course of the economy will be. Claiming that the Fed can know what's best, as Friedman does, is very closely linked to that idea. Claiming that judges know has the additional vice of arrogating power to one of the less competent and more corrupt institutions--the courts. But Friedman's advocacy of giving power to the Fed is no less absurd. Indeed, outside of universities, I can think of few less functional boondoggles than the courts and the Fed. That the Chicago School of Economics devolved to claiming that these two failures function optimally suggests a fundamental error in utilitarianism: its emphasis on the infallibility of human rationality.

The question I have raised is whether those who believe in freedom can do business with big government Republican types. Milton Friedman represents the best of Progressive Republicanism. Although he is in many ways sympathetic to libertarianism, his support for the Fed leaves the back door open to Progressivism, and this has been the effect of his ideas.

Recently, a Forbes article quoted Posner as supporting the bail out. This is not surprising because the belief in judicial rationality and infallibility leads to a belief that planners are smarter than markets. Likewise, Friedman's and Posner's ideas suggest that government support for business (via the Fed and the Courts) is preferable to freedom. Hence, there is a insuperable gulf between Progressives and pro freedom Republicans.

At the local level free market Republicans are preferable to Democrats, and I am proud to be an active supporter of the Republican Party. At the national level, the utilitarianism of Progressive Republicans leads inexorably to socialism. The bail out is Progressivisim at its ugliest, most insipid and most incompetent.

I am not convinced at this point that I can support any Republicans who engineered the bail out. But the bail out's supporters include all of the nationally known Republicans. I am not certain that a Democratic President like Obama is worse than a Republican who follows Posner's ideas or who supports the Fed. Progressive Republicanism is insidious because it leads to socialism while claiming to reflect free market ideas. This debases the freedom philosophy and makes debate impossible.
I should not have to defend the market against socialist perversions like Enron or Wall Street.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Canada Free Press on Government Fraud

Contrairimairi sent me a Canada Free Press article (CFP) alleging a conspiracy concerning President OCheeseball's birth certificate. CFP notes that the DNC filed two different birth certificates concerning President OCheeseball and asks why he:

"has spent nearly $1.5 million in taxpayer’s funds to race Department of Justice lawyers around the country to stop all cases questioning Obama’s eligibility before discovery can force Obama to open up his top secret life?"

CFP concludes:

"this story confirms that some form of a conspiracy to mislead and ultimately defraud voters took place at the top of the Democrat Party. No story in recent history is of greater gravity."

What? A Democratic conspiracy to defraud voters? Impossible! This is America. We have the bail out. We have subsidies to agribusiness. We have welfare. What do you mean defraud? The Democrats could never have committed fraud.CFP must be a violent extremist!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Phil Orenstein Reports on Saturday's Tea Party

>Thank you, Mitch. Yesterdays' event will have reverberations for many months and years to come. It is obvious to anyone who was there that there were well over one million, with police closing off the streets of DC and reports that all buses were filled from Fla and other states and none were available, notwithstanding the media blackout from those pissant propagandists. These were not just angry old Republicans. They were mainly ordinary folks, young and old, black and white who are fed up with big gov't spending, taxes and takeovers and who are ready to fight. They are informed, well read and aware, having read the Constitution and the health care bill now in Congress. We the people are not the brainless racists that liberals, pundits and politicians charge, since they don't have a counter argument and still believe if they follow Alinsky's Rules for Radicals to deny and demean the opposition, it will just go away. They can no longer dismiss us as a redneck racist fringe. People are mad as hell and ready to fight to restore the Constitution.

Widespread Media Distortion About Tea Parties

The Democratic Party's propaganda machine concertedly failed to cover yesterday's two million strong tea party. Much like Big Brother in George Orwell's book 1984, the propaganda machine paints the centrist tea party demonstrators as "extremist" and the extremists in Congress as "centrists".

There is little reason to continue to watch, pay attention to or care about the "news" as presented by Democratic Party organs. Fox is no better because it is a Progressive Republican mirror.

In the current issue of Reason Magazine Jesse Walker has an excellent article on the Democrats' and Rockefeller Republicans' use of allegations of "extremism" to aim to suppress the speech of moderates who disagree with them. Extremists in the media and in Congress have been using allegations of "right wing violence" to sustain proposals to suppress views that diverge from "progressivism". One extremist, writing in one of the "progressive" organs, has called for bans on "hate speech", in other words for a program to transfer the authoritarian policies of politically correct universities to the nation at large.

When the left was subjected to Palmer Raids and McCarthyism in the early to mid twentieth century (and labor leaders were convicted of violence in the late 19th century) the left claimed to support freedom of speech. Now that left-wing extremism has come to dominate American political discussion, the left, as it generally has wherever it has come to power, favors violent suppression of speech with which it disagrees.

Walker makes an excellent point:

"We've heard ample warnings about extremist paranoia in the months since Barack Obama became president, and we're sure to hear many more throughout his term. But we've heard almost nothing about the paranoia of the political center."

I would, though, take issue with Walker's depiction of the current power elite as representing a "center". American politics is divided among several disparate points of view, and there is no longer a viewpoint that can be called center, any more than there is a "center" between alligators and elephants. A creature that is part alligator and part elephant is not a midpoint between the two, rather it is an absurdity, and there is likewise no midpoint between those who believe in state suppression and those who believe in freedom.

Walker quotes Richard Hofstadter's 1964 essay "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" in which he argued that right wing extremists adopted the practices of left-wing extremists. Hofstadter wrote:

"It is hard to resist the conclusion that this enemy is on many counts the projection of the self; both the ideal and the unacceptable aspects of the self are attributed to him...The John Birch Society emulates Communist cells and quasi-secret operation through 'front' groups..."

In the same way, the "progressive" left, now that it has power, can be expected to emulate the fascist suppression that it has long claimed to oppose by accusing moderate Americans who believe in freedom of "extremism".

Walker reviews the history of labor leader Walter Reuther's urging the Kennedy administration to use the FBI to politically attack the right. In other words, today's dominant "progressives" mirror the authoritarian right; and the authoritarian right has often reflected the views of "progressives". Neither is "moderate".

In fact, the only moderates are those millions who demonstrated in the tea party rally yesterday, the same people that the propaganda outlets aim to marginalize, demonize and accuse of extremism.

One of the fascinating points in the essay is Walker's remark that Kenneth Stern, author of the tendentious Force Upon the Plain argues that all who advocate decentralization are racists. Then, it would seem that all advocates of modern management theory are racists since decentralization is fundamental to it.

Stern typifies the thuggish, authoritarian tendencies in American progressivism. He argues that anyone who does not want to obey centralized authority is "objectionable." Walker quotes one of Stern's particularly ugly passages:

"When a political movement rejects the idea of common American values and says, 'Let me do it my own way,' it usually means it wants to do things that are objectionable, and yearns to do them undisturbed and unnoticed."

Walker notes that Timothy McVeigh's extremist violence made it possible for the Clinton White House to turn the tables on the Gingrich Congress. This is similar to concepts of Fourth Generation Warfare: public sympathy is a potent weapon. Indeed, in labor history public opinion typically went to the victims of violence. Thus, if a labor union committed acts of violence the public became sympathetic to management while if management committed acts of violence the public became sympathetic to labor. This was the case in the 1920s following the Colorado Fuel and Iron strike in which a number of workers' children were burned to death by Pinkerton guards employed by the Rockefeller owned firm, CF&I.

Conservatives are well counseled to keep violent rhetoric out of the debate. That is, until the point where a revolution is necessary. This was John Locke's argument. While individual rights are sacrosanct and the state is a thuggish institution that violates them, the right to defense needs to be tempered by political reality.

The Obama administration leaped at the opportunity to use federal government apparatchiks in the Department of Homeland Security to issue a report about "right wing extremism". Naturally, the state is itself reflective of extremism, not the right wingers, and one can predict an effort by Congressional and federal thugs to institute violent action against Americans with whom they disagree. Walker describes an "infamous dossier produced by the Missouri Information Analysis Center devoted to...the militia movement" that said "it is not uncommon for militia members to display Constitution Party, Campaign for Liberty or Libertarian material. These members are usually supporters of former Presidential Candidate Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr."

Hence, the Obama administration already engages in incipient totalitarianism. The reasoning the left uses to support state suppression (that those who disagree with Obama fuel the motives of murderers) is so circuitous that it is evident that their agenda is to silence the speech of any who disagree with their incompetent economic ideas, their mean-spirited stealing in the name of "equality" and the inevitable redistribution of wealth from those who work and are ambitious to Nacy Pelosi-Mussolini, George Soros and their welfare-recipient clients.

Overall, Walker's article is sensational. If you don't subscribe to Reason I urge you to do so. If you're still reading Democratic Party propaganda and not supporting the information sources that agree with you you are part of the problem, not the solution (to project a left-wing phrase).

Tea for Two Million

Darren Pope in the Washington Examiner reports that between 1.2 and two million Americans attended the anti-Obama tea party in Washington yesterday. Wow! The Examiner reports that Nancy Pelosi-Mussolini, the fascist from Frisco (yeah, I know those SOBs hate to hear the People's Republic on the Bay Frisco called Frisco), is unlikely to be booted out by her goose stepping constituents, but more than a few of her fellow national socialists may be in danger.

Pope writes:

"Rally-goers said they are not strictly anti-Obama, or anti-Democrat, but instead are fed up with big government, corruption, high taxes, and runaway spending. They said they have had enough of politicians who don't listen to their concerns and are more afraid of special interests than they are of the voters. Many in the crowd said they were Democrats or independents. The protestors were clearly from across the political spectrum, young and old, black and white, male and female. It will be hard to dismiss them as being only angry Republicans."

America has become a class-based society. The Democrats represent the wealthy, the professionals and government workers, and welfare recipients. The Republicans the working class. America is divided, and the Democrats' eight-decade long Roman policy of pretending to feed the plebes while supporting George Soros and Wall Street is to blame.

Only Reagan Looks Good

Rasmussen reports that all political labels, "progressive", "liberal", "conservative" and "moderate" have declined in popularity. The only label that has not declined in popularity is describing a candidate to be like Ronald Reagan. 15% of voters say that the label "liberal" is positive and 27% negative; 32% say that "progressive" is positive and 27% negative; 32% say that "conservative" is positive and 29% negative; and 35% say that "moderate" is positive while 12% say it is negative. For each of these, the negative sentiment has increased and the positive sentiment has decreased. 41% say being like Ronald Reagan is positive and 25% see it as negative. The article does not compare this result to attitudes toward other past presidents, say George Washington. However, it is encouraging that Reagan, who was much closer to the anti-statist liberal view than any president since is enjoying a vogue in this era of Wall Street fascism.