Saturday, February 12, 2011

Non-Renewal of Patriot Act a Libertarian Triumph--Damn the Neocons, Abolish the Two DOEs

Russell Berman of The Hill views the failure of the House to renew the Patriot Act as a blow to the GOP:

"The sudden breakdown prompted a round of finger-pointing within the GOP upper ranks...Contrite senior aides acknowledged that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had miscalculated the level of opposition from Democrats and from within their own ranks."

Likewise, Steve Bell of Frum Forum writes:

"The cracks became real fissures though when the long-feared reality of budget arithmetic dawned on the fiscal hawks in the party.  As we predicted long ago, finding $100 billion in real deficit reduction cuts in the FY11 Continuing Resolution would prove improbable, despite promises by most Republicans that they would achieve that goal."

Bell didn't do well in microeconomics.  It is easy to find a trillion dollars in waste in the federal budget. It is easy to find two trillion.  Rand Paul suggests eliminating the pointless departments of energy and education. Most government agencies produce no value and can be drastically reduced.  Corporate interests like General Electric's MSNBC object to such steps because the chief beneficiaries of government regulation are corporations like General Electric (disclosure: I own 200 GE shares).

Advocacy of the Departments of Energy and Education is extremism.  They do not contribute to improvement of education or the energy picture. Their advocacy involves extreme commitment to economic decline and subsidization of monopoly power.

David Horowitz at CPAC: Thumbs Up on Education Vouchers

David Horowitz argues that government needs to be taken out of the school business.  Hear, hear.  View the whole thing here (CPAC registration required).

Ron Paul at CPAC: Too Much Bipartisanship

Ron Paul's speech at yesterday's CPAC meeting is excellent.  He speaks about the Patriot Act, foreign affairs, the military, the Fed and the economy.  View the whole thing here (CPAC registration required).

Judge Napolitano on Why the Patriot Act Should Be Repealed

Judge Napolitano on why Bush's and the GOP's Patriot Act should be repealed (h/t Kenny's friend).  Simple reason: it violates the Constitution, it makes us less free and it makes us unsafe.

Wall Street's $16 Million Job Offer to Robert McNamara

In his memoirs, In Retrospect, Democrat Robert McNamara reports (p. 312) that in 1967, at the height of the Vietnam War that McNamara helped oversee on behalf of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, he received an offer for a  Wall Street partnership that would have paid $2.5 million in 1967 dollars. In 2010 dollars that translates into $16,322,000.  It seems that the government-bailout street is two way.  Wall Street bails out failed government officials like McNamara and then failed politicians like Barack Obama bail out Wall Street.  Of course, both the incompetent fools who run Wall Street and their equally incompetent friends in Washington could not pay each other a cent, because neither produces anything of value, if the Federal Reserve Bank did not finance their failed ideas.

Friday, February 11, 2011

America's Media, Advocating a Suppressive Ideology, Is Pravda's Cousin

Don't confuse Pravda with Prada.  Pravda was the Soviet Union's newspaper, and its Orwellian name means  truth. Prada, in contrast, is the Prada family's fashion label. It was publicized by David Frankel's The Devil Wears Prada.

The American news media is Pravda's cousin, even while it writes about Prada.  Wall Street influences it as well as the federal government.  It is not that the United States has a Pravda-style state controlled media, it is that Wall Street influences the media, the government and the university system so that American political debate is monotone: "Bailout, bailout, bailout."  Progressivism, the variants of which are Rockefeller Republicanism and the Democratic Party's progressive-liberalism, is a totalitarian ideology that suppresses dissent in a more sophisticated way than the Soviets did. It permits but ignores dissent, suppressing dissenters through carrots such as academic jobs and sticks such as refusal to air dissidents' views.

Last night I was reading Robert McNamara's memoirs that focus on the Vietnam War, In Retrospect.  McNamara paints a picture of government decision making that ought to be of interest to organizational scholars.  He and his cabinet colleagues got strategy in Vietnam wrong because they were unable to think coherently. They reversed their assumptions in 1965 for no explainable reason.  Prior to 1965 they believed, for good reason, that the South Vietnamese had to fight the war.  In 1965 they took over the fighting for the South Vietnamese because the South Vietnamese would not fight, committing themselves to a conflict that would, in their own view, have the same ultimate outcome as retreat.   They themselves did not see their own strategy as leading to success.

According to McNamara, the cabinet's inability to think rationally about Vietnam was not due to the military's manipulation, as David Halberstam claims in The Best and the Brightest, and it wasn't due to groupthink as Irving Janis speculates in Groupthink.  Rather, it arose from inability to come up with an imaginative, effective strategy of the kind that Col. Thomas X. Hammes describes in The Sling and the Stone.  In other words, the decision making was a failure attributable to bounded rationality that James G. March and Herbert Simon describe in Organizations.

This explanation differs from any that appeared in the news media at the time and from any that appears in the news media today concerning government policy making. The federal government is unable to solve problems because it is corrupt and because it lacks the ability.  But progressivism is based on the assumption that government can solve problems.

News media personnel are educated in universities that respond to Wall Street's needs and then work in firms that Wall Street owns.  To advance they must please managements whom Wall Street hires.  The American news media, like Pravda, offers a steady stream of propaganda that defends the interests of a failed political establishment, a totalitarian state and a corrupt elite.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Democratic Party Railroads America to National Socialism (Nazism)

Progressivism aims to institute totalitarian socialism step by step.  Its method involves severing two forms of decision making: marginal and strategic. Marginal decision making is incremental. Strategic decision making is long term and concerns the whole.

Individualism had succeeded in the United States when elitist Americans first proposed social democratic institutions in the 1880s and 1890s.  True, there was urban corruption and workers were not as well treated as they could have been.  But 19th century America progressed at a faster pace than it did in the twentieth century and workers were better off here than in Europe where social democracy had been installed, as in Germany and France. Real wages had increased two percent per year and innovation due to the capitalist imagination led, by the 1920s, to most Americans' being able to afford a car.

To overcome popular resistance to social democracy, which led to Nazism in the nation where it was invented, Germany, Walter Weyl, co-founder of The New Republic, advocated its gradual adoption.  Unlike most other Progressives, Weyl did not hide his belief in socialism.  Note that Weyl's parents had left Germany for the United States around the time that Bismarck invented the mixed economy and America was still laissez faire.  Assuming the nonsensical claim that the US had succeeded because of its frontier (ignoring that Russia still has a frontier today and so did Europe), social democrats like Weyl argued for institution of the European system in a country that outperformed Europe. In his book The New Democracy Weyl argues that those who favored socialism needed to gradually proceed on numerous fronts.

Weyl did not favor the social democracy of Germany but that of France.  About two decades after Weyl's death in 1919 France capitulated to Hitler's occupation and  cooperated in sending 76,000 Jews to concentration camps.  Weyl was a Jew whose parents had left Germany and its social democracy for the United States.Yet, he lacked the imagination to grasp why someone might prefer the American system to Germany's or France's. Astonishingly, today's social democrats, calling themselves progressives as did Weyl's colleague, Herbert Croly, echo Weyl's argument in favor of the Franco-German social democratic philosophy that led directly to the holocaust.

Weyl's method has been applied by the Democratic Party since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt.  If anyone should argue that one half or more of decision making should be made by the state, then he would be seen to  favor totalitarianism.  But on any one issue an argument (usually silly but made to sound convincing) can be made to support expansion of government. That is the marginal decision.  The public can be fooled by foolish reasoning on a single issue. 

But if you ask anyone whether they would like one half or more of their economic lives to be dominated by the government, as it currently is in the United States, they would say no.  That is the strategic decision.

Progressives like Weyl realized that in order to institute totalitarian rule they would need to win step-by-step on marginal arguments until the sum of the marginal arguments amounted to totalitarian rule.  Their claim that this process involved "pragmatism" was nonsensical. As government policies failed in New York City, as Social Security turned out to be an inter-generational wealth transfer, as the National Labor Relations Act failed, social democrats rejected not one.  The Democratic Party was never pragmatic; it was since Roosevelt a party of violent extremists using Weyl's deceptive, marginalist strategy.

 With 50% or more of the upper middle class's income going to taxes, with Wall Street's strangling control of the economy, with massive bailouts to corrupt industries, with a failed Social Security and health care system, America is no longer free. It is a government-dominated, totalitarian nation where one's slightest move is subject to violent state control.  One can no longer save to open a business. One can no longer open a school or start a business free of socialist violence.

An example of the Democratic Party's totalitarianism is President Obama's proposal for a high speed rail system.  On the margin, through the usual style of sophistic argument, this proposal can be made to sound convincing.  But if high speed rail is a good investment, private investors ought to be willing to make strategic investments in it. Who in the Democratic Party is willing to put their own money into this boondoggle?

If investors are willing to risk their own money in a high speed rail project, then it is convincing. If they are not, then it is unconvincing.  Are Warren Buffett and George Soros, two of the Obama administration's chief beneficiaries, willing to stake their own billions on high speed rail?  Or is the government going to violently extract tax money from foolish Americans who fail to grasp that an economic investment entails risks and costs.  Unless there are investors who are willing to risk their own money there likely aren't customers willing to buy.

Then, it is through Weyl's gradualist philosophy that Americans' every move is increasingly dictated through government violence.  If the National Socialist Democratic Party calls the Tea Party violent,  they should be reminded that the state only exists through violence, and when 50 percent of one's income is stolen through violence, the thinking public has an obligation to resist.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Greed Prevents New York's Teachers' Unions from Learning Math

New Yorkers for Growth sent the e-mail below (with this article attached) in favor of Andrew Cuomo's  property tax cap.  The article points out that Taxachussetts has lower taxes than New York and that the Taxachusetts tax cap, which is similar to the one that Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing, has resulted in  better education than New York's more expensive education system.  More spending will not improve education.

Last semester a student in my class said that she was majoring in education and that after graduation she planned to become a principal.  I spent several classes on writing.  Following one of the classes the future principal asked, "Are we going to keep working on writing, or will we learn?" 

Its achievement is average but the state's spending is the nation's highest. The problem is its   "progressive" education approach, which reflects a Democratic Party-dominated education establishment.  Many New Yorkers prefer to spend thousands of dollars per year to send their children to Catholic schools whose budgets are one fourth --no typo-- public schools'.  In other words, New Yorkers spend $4,500 to send their children to Catholic schools to avoid public schools that cost $17,500 per student.  But the New York State Union of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers insist that too little is spent. 

Why did not Governor Pataki propose a tax cap five or ten years ago?  If the New York State GOP can answer that question without blaming the Democrats (for Pataki was a Republican, not a Democrat, and if what he does depends on the Democrats, then there is no point in voting for Republicans) then they will be on the road to improving their party. 

My complaint about Cuomo's proposal is that it does not go far enough.  Vouchers are preferable to the current education system.

>February 7, 2011

We thought you might be interested in this article that appeared in the Buffalo News yesterday. It compares New York's tax burden to that of our neighboring state, Massachusetts. The article highlights how Massachusetts' property tax cap has been a successful tool in driving down the overall tax burden for residents and small business owners.

Massachusetts, once notoriously known as "Taxachusetts," implemented a property tax cap in 1980 similar to the one now being proposed by Governor Cuomo and already adopted by the state Senate. Despite what teacher union critics in New York say, the property tax cap in Massachusetts has worked extraordinarily well.

As a result of the cap, the attitude toward taxation has changed. Localities have found ways to consolidate and reduce duplication of services. Taxpayers have found themselves with more power, while local governments have been forced to make a case for increased spending. The days of taxpayers being simply an endless source of financing for ever larger, less efficient government has come to an end.

The article also rebuts critic's most threatening claim that the quality of education will suffer. Massachusetts scores higher than New York in nearly every fourth and eighth grade reading, math and writing test and ranks number one in the nation in fourth and eighth grade math and reading. While New York spends the most per pupil in the country, our test scores consistently rank 24th or 25th in performance.

The proof is in the pudding. Massachusetts has successfully reduced its tax burden and New York can and must do the same. Of course, the tax cap is just one piece of the puzzle, albeit a critical one. We have a lot of work to do to change our "tax attitude," including reducing spending and ending unfunded mandates. New Yorkers for Growth will continue to be a leader in this fight, and we hope you'll join us in our efforts to make New York affordable again.


New Yorkers for Growth