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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Comment on the Glenn Beck Hysteria

I am not a fan of Glenn Beck. I do listen to his show sometimes and watch some clips of his show on Youtube, but I mostly steer clear of him. That said, I think the attempted boycott of his show over what he has said is stupid, just like the attempts to boycott Disney over the "gay agenda" and other such things on the right.

Beck has said some really stupid things. His race baiting of Obama probably the worst on record. He panders to the extreme libertarians and the conspiratorial section of viewership (not to mention the rest of his broadcast being populist), but he also profiles mainstream politicians and mainstream ideas. He is not Mike "The Right Killed Kennedy" Malloy of the left, or Mike "Dirty Savages" Savage of the right.

The Left's frothing hysteria is pretty pathetic, though. For the entire run of Olbermann's show during the Bush administration, thousands of words, many of them disgustingly negative and false, were spoken from the mouth of a man that considers himself the new Edward R. Murrow. Olbermann, who is backed by current Obama administration partner General Electric, accused the previous president of war crimes, called on him to resign over a LEGAL surveillance program, and pretty much outright blamed President Bush for almost every ill that befell the country, including 9/11.

Beck isn't someone that should be the icon of the Right (he's no WFB), but unless the Left is willing to turn on their own red-faced polemicist, they need to simply shut the hell up and let crazies be crazies, failed political radio hosts be failed television hosts (coughMADDOWcough) and mediocre sportscasters be rage-filled paper tossers.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Fascism and the American Political Spectrum

In recent history, this ugly monster of a word reared its head with the announcement that National Review editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg would be writing a book on the Left's connections with fascism. Even before the provocatively titled Liberal Fascism came out, detractors from all sides call it a farce, a giant lie and a stain on the memory of those killed fighting the Nazis. After the book came out, countless reviewers barely read it, since they knew it was wrong, and tossed off non-sequiturs and half-truths to defeat an argument hundreds of pages and footnotes in length. Few reviewers actually took the book to task for mistakes or logical missteps both perceived and real. The monster was awakened. Even more recently, though, has been the use of the monster against President Obama by the more populist, more polemic of the right (and some of the far left). The monster now stomps through message boards, Twitter, Facebook groups and probably thousands of heated political debates. The monster, my good people, is the placement of fascism in the political spectrum.

Liberal-Conservative: Europe and America

To explain where Fascism goes, its relation to its position and its relation to the ideologies around it, we must start with what the political spectrum is. The basic left-right political spectrum began during the French Revolution with the seating of legislators in the French parliament. Those dedicated to republicanism and anti-monarchism sat to the left of the King while those supporting the old regime and the old order sat to the right. This easy way identification of liberals (which meant individual, individualist, etc back then) and conservative (which meant monarchists, authoritarians, reactionaries at the time) soon became the mainstream political spectrum in the Western world.

In Europe, conservatism was and still is connected to the monarchies. Many European countries still have kings and queens, though they are mostly figureheads. During the late 1700s and the 1800s, conservatism were the monarchist reactionaries in Spain, the Burbons in France, the Empire Loyalists that fled America during the Revolution. In contrast, European liberalism stood for republicanism, individual liberty, checks and balances, smaller state control and, for some, the abolition of the monarchy. The ideas that sparked the American Revolution were, during the time of the Revolution, known as liberal ideas.

For America, that spectrum shifted drastically after the victory over the British. A new order was established based that was far from the absolutist and constitutional monarchies of Europe. This order was based on a small, even flimsy, federal government and strong, individual states. The federal government consisted of an popularly elected House of Representatives and house of senators elected by state legislatures. Unlike many European nations, the executive office and the legislature were purposely split and isolated from each other to prevent any destructive collusion that may come of a power hungry president. Along with that, a separate but equal branch of judges were created to balance the powers of the president and the Congress. It's job was to interpret the laws passed by the Congress and signed by the president. After the ratification of the Constitution and the creation of the Union, this new order became the established order. The liberals now had to defend the old regime instead of attacking it. The liberals of Europe became the conservatives of America.

The New American Spectrum

Now, saying all Americans became conservatives is wrong, as not all Americans wanted the Union. Many famous Americans, including some of our Founders, were happy with the decentralized confederation that arose after the Treaty of Paris. Patrick Henry and the authors of the Anti-Federalist Papers thought the then proposed Constitution would take away from individual liberty and state sovereignty. And, in a way, they were right, in that some state powers in confederacy were given to the new federal government. The solution between the Anti-Federalist and Federalist beliefs was the Bill of Rights, a list of ten amendments to the Constitution that spelled out the individual rights of Americans and their home states, as well as the areas of these rights the federal government could not tread.

These ideological divisions of our first leaders is where the new American political spectrum began. Like Europe, the liberals were wary of the federal government and felt that the individual's liberty was the most important thing to the nation. The conservatives were the supporters of the federal government and its stronger central powers, but they also supported the Bill of Rights and the federalism that kept states sovereign from the federal government's encroachment.

An example of this is the difference between our second president, John Adams, and his friend, rival and eventual successor, Thomas Jefferson. Adams has always been a supporter of natural rights and individual liberty, but he did not have a high opinion of the people as a self-governing entity. Well read in Roman and Greek history, he knew the implications of letting the mob run the government. Jefferson, on the the other hand, was not a fan of a strong central government and had a romantic vision of the farmer citizen. He had reservations about George Washington's as well as Adams's governance. Most of all, had a deep hatred of Alexander Hamilton's designs for the nation through the Treasury. During his presidency, Jefferson tore down many of the ideas and laws that Washington and Adams had put up in the belief they detracted from individual and state liberty.

Enter Socialism

This division between Constitutional conservatives (called Federalists) and individualist liberals lasted up until the heyday of the Industrial Revolution in America. The Civil War, one of the first Industrial Age wars, had just ended and the country was rebuilding from the bloodshed. European immigrants who had come before, during and after the war had brought with them an idea that become a revolutionary idea in Europe: socialism. An idea that had already co-opted the European liberals, as seen in the revolutionary year of 1848.

The rapid industrialization and urbanization of America had created a new class of working people that did not hold to the anti-government farming citizen nor had the designs on free markets or new roads like the centralizing city dweller. These new workers had little, lived on little and worked for the new industrial bosses. They were the proletariat. They organized into unions, syndicates and various other groups to fight, as a mass, against real or perceived abuses by their employers. The working class grew and grew, and with that growth came the spread of socialism across America. Jefferson's iconic liberal American, the farmer citizen, had been overtaken by the factory worker.

The spread of socialism drastically effected the scope of American politics. The liberalism of the Anti-Federalists shifted further and further right as the revolutionary communists and anarchists stuck at their defense of the old order, the old Constitution and the outdated views on national government. Those who still held to the classical liberal beliefs found themselves standing by the conservatives they used to battle. By the time Franklin Roosevelt was elected in the 1930s, the decades long battle between conservatives, classical liberals and socialists had come to a head. No longer did individual rights and a limited federal government hold the left in American politics. Socialism had taken it and secured it. Liberal now meant “group” and not individual.

This new left-wing, the left of big, paternal government, can said to have been brought to the public by President Woodrow Wilson. Wilson, the first president with a PhD, had the belief that America should become an organic state. People working together for a collective goal set by the smartest of Americans (FDR's “brain trusts”, the countless czars of Obama). This technocratic view was compounded by Wilson's socialistic economic views. Under the name of War Socialism, the Great War gave Wilson room to temporary nationalize most of the economy, with resources being commanded by a War Industries Board, a precursor to the post-WWII military-industrial complex. Wilson also created America's first totalitarian secret police that clamped down on antiwar speech (which wasn't by right-wing isolations, but antiwar socialists), incited the first of the violent Red Scares, militarized American society as well as RE-segregating the federal government. All these things were done by a leftist Democratic president still idolized for his progressive stances. When FDR campaigned, he linked his ideas to Wilson's War Socialism and, when elected, achieved one of the largest peacetime militarizations of a society in American history.

The Left's Right: Fascism

Now that I've gone through the original European spectrum and its changes in the New World due to American independence and the introduction of socialism, it's time to toss in the monster: fascism.

The American left, as well as most of the Western world's left, either do not know of, do not care for or outright lie about its connections to the rise of fascism in Europe and its short appearance in America under Wilson. This is due, most of all, to the genocide committed by the Nazis. No mainstream American ideology wants that on their record. It's also safe to say the peacenik influence of the 1960s on many of the Left have let it forget the violent and destructive pre-Vietnam War era history. But like 1800s America and the abuses against the Indian Nations, the Left should not try to ignore or cover up crimes made in its name by people it holds as heroes.

The rise of European fascism correlates to the fall of European conservatism. With the defeat of the Central Powers and their monarchies, as well as the collapse of Russia and the rise of Russian Communism, the political situation of Central and Eastern Europe became violently chaotic. Communists saw openings and attacked. Germany, Austria and Hungary all had communists attempt coups or even create short lived nations. Even Italy, who was on the winning side of the war, fell into political disarray post-war. The European post-war situation, as compared to the relatively sanguine American post-war situation, looked deeply hopeless.

But, ho!, look to the north! To Switzerland! There be the hero Europe has been waiting for! From the Alps, from his exile, came Italy's new strongman: Il Duce, Benito Mussolini. Mussolini was born and raised as a socialist and a nationalist. For years he wrote and organized for Italian socialist groups. He even began his own paper, which not surprisingly, advocated socialist solutions. But something wasn't right for Mussolini. Socialism's trend was to advocate worldwide worker brotherhood and a worldwide war against the higher economic classes. Mussolini was much too nationalistic to care for a worker in Kursk when the workers in Rome were suffering. Mussolini believed deeply in the greatness of the Italian state and its Roman roots. There was no way he could reconcile the anti-nationalism/terroristic anarchism that turn of the century socialists adhered to and the deep love and ambition he held for his countrymen.

The mistake, or the purposeful misdirection, of calling fascism right wing is that its a half truth. Fascism is in right wing... of the left! From the outside (the far outside), fascism does look like any other reactionary, right-wing European ideology. It's for empire, strongmen leaders, and citizen submission to the state. But, if you look closely, specifically at its social economic beliefs, one will see that despite cracking down on socialists and communists, it was not the opposite of industrial socialism, but its rival.

Fascism's goal was a classless society, like communism, but not through a class war, but class inclusion. Instead of destroying the clergy, the businessmen, the trade unionists; fascism incorporated all the classes under a single class: the national citizen. This is what gives many the idea that fascism was of the right, because of its extreme nationalism. Yet, the extreme nationalism is what puts communists and fascists into struggle, but its not a struggle of conservatives against liberals, but socialists against socialists. They have the exact same goal, but two different ways of doing it. A similar ideological conflict happens between communists and anarchists. Communists want utopia by taking power while anarchists want utopia by destroying power. Same goal, same side, conflicting ways. Conservative social views are based on biblical or natural order, and do not believe in any kind of utoipian classlessness. The Nazis has a much more hierarchal social view within its classlessness, which also lead many to believe in its right-wing origins, but, again, if you look closer, Nazism assailed the traditional German culture and attempted to replace it with a secular religion based on perverted pre-Christian German paganism, another thing conservatives in both Europe and America do not adhere to.

Added to the leftist social goal of fascism, their economics do not follow free market ideology, which American and other Western rightists advocate. Fascists enforce strict regulation on the economy which put industries pretty much under the thumb of government without actual nationalization. This is called corporatism. The economy is “cartel-ed” into different sections which private barons (almost always party members) rule and produce on behalf of the state. Trade unions are incorporated into a national union under fascist control (this aspect is ignored when leftists say fascists clamped down on trade unions). Communists, in contrast, grab for absolute power over the economy. The entire economy is planned (Stalin's Five Year Plan, Mao's steel quota, etc) and products are rationed based on the mantra of “each according to its need”. So, you see, fascism may use the market more than communists, but they hardly take tips from Milton Freidman when conducting economic policy. Like social policy, fascism fights from the left, not the right.

Conclusion: Understanding the Political Spectrum

This article was written in response to some friends asking the difference between communism and fascism and how it relates to the political spectrum. But to truly understand the political spectrum and which ideology goes where, one must realize that the spectrum has never been static. Imagine the original left-right spectrum, with monarchism on the right and republicanism on the left. At the time of its creation, the far left were anti-monarchists with dreams of new Roman-style republics and the far right were supporters of total monarchical control of the state.

Republicanism – Constitutional Monarchy – Absolute Monarchy

The creation of the American democratic republic and its quick rise to power put monarchists to the center right, with republicanism taking the center-left.

Anti-Federalists – Federalists – Constitutional Monarchy – Absolute Monarchy

With the creation of socialism and its anti-monarchism, its advocation of the democratization of the workplace and its atheism, the spectrum once again shifted, with the republicans moving right in defense of the American republic and republican ideals.

Communists – Socialists – Anti-Federalists – Federalists – Constitutional Monarchy – Absolute Monarchy

I could go on and add fascism, direct democracy, Islamism and so on, but you can see how with the creation of more revolutionary, anti-traditional, anti-old regime ideologies, the further right the former left goes until, in the case of American liberals, they are actually called far right in mainstream American politics: the classical liberal and the libertarian.

And that ironic and sad epiphany brings me to my final point. When you look at a nation's political spectrum, you're only looking at a slice of the overall global spectrum. The American far right, libertarians, are far left when compared to Saudi Arabia's absolutism monarchy. American liberalism, the center-left, is considered far right to communist states like Cuba and North Korea. Or to really throw you off, in communist Yugoslavia, where the liberals were socialists who wanted some individual freedom while the conservatives were Tito's Stalinists, the spectrum does not match the words used. Tito, while being considered a conservative communist, was defending the far left while the dissenters were pushing for center-left. The key to this entire long winded mess is to figure out what is the zero-point ideology a country has, and then from there, see who is to the left and to the right.

I know very few people find this interesting, let alone try to make sense of it like I've tried, but ideological accuracy is as important as knowing Magna Carta, the Gettysburg Address and the words to “I”m a Bill on Capitol Hill”. Without accurately defining and placing ideologies on the global political spectrum, we are apt to make massive mistakes with our history, which in turn, as shown by the far left's creeping to the American center, confuses and clouds us from seeing where a person, a group or an idea really belongs. If we forget how extreme some ideas are, we may have to deal with extreme consequences in the future.

“Helicopter Ben” vs. “Deflator Ben”

President Obama’s timing of announcing Ben Bernanke’s reappointment as Chairman of the Federal Reserve may not have caused the distraction from the news regarding the federal deficit in which he had hoped. As the federal deficit approaches $1.6 trillion and the debt draws near $12 trillion, Obama has decided to stick with the man who played a significant role in causing this financial turmoil. The starting quarterback has thrown three interceptions, and the score is 21-0 in the first quarter. With no viable backup, the Obama Administration is sticking with their “starter.” However, it is clear that there must be a change in the game plan.

It’s too early for “Hail Mary” passes, and Ben Bernanke is not Roger Staubach. Bernanke’s panicked approach to monetary policy indicates he is afraid of “the bear”…the bear market that is, which is not to be confused with the legendary Chicago Bears’ “46 defense.” Perhaps it is time to slow the tempo of this game down, manage the clock and run the ball. This is not an impossible feat as any member of the 1992 Buffalo Bills who played in the famous “comeback game” will attest. In addition, a one-dimensional offense does not work on the football field or the playing field of economics. Dan Marino was one of the greatest passers in NFL history, but he does not own a Super Bowl ring. “Helicopter Ben”… take a lesson from “Air Marino.”

If Ben Bernanke does not wish to go down in history as the worst Federal Reserve Chairman, he must incorporate a multi-dimensional offense and tough defense in his strategy. When asked about managing asset bubbles, he once said “even if the Fed could identify bubbles, monetary policy is far too blunt a tool for effective use against them.” Bernanke believes that it is easier to clean up the mess after the bubble bursts. It is safe to say that Marv Levy would have preferred to be ahead 35-3 in that famous 1993 playoff game, as the odds for winning would have been much better.

Catch-up football and the Federal Reserve’s strategy of printing money to keep up with government spending have an interesting parallel. Both have very long odds for success. Bernanke is considered to be an expert on the history of the Great Depression, yet his policy does not take into consideration history’s greatest lesson – a nation cannot spend itself into prosperity.

Perhaps Bernanke should seek out a new nickname. How about “Deflator Ben” instead? One of the main reasons why the nation is in perilous financial shape is due to appalling economic policy that does not focus on production and does not use deflation as a remedy to a recession. Bernanke’s predecessor, Alan Greenspan, played a huge role in the crash of 2008 by using low interest rates to induce spending and borrowing whilst outsourcing much of that debt to China and Japan. This policy may have lessened the impact of the previous recession; however, it greatly sharpened the impact of the current demise.

Production is the way out of a recession. The Federal Reserve’s giveaways to induce borrowing and spending will only lead to inflationary nightmares and will make the U.S. dollar worthless. The average American need not plunge farther into debt on account of weak purchasing power.

The price of capital and labor must fall, which will lead to lower prices for goods. When the price of producer goods begins to fall faster than prices for consumer goods, the wheels of the correction process will be rolling. In due time, consumer spending will pick up and market equilibrium will be achieved.

If the answer is so simple, then one must wonder why Ben Bernanke and politicians do not see such a simple solution. Elected officials fear deflation because it is self-correcting. Politicians must sell the illusion that they are needed to “fix” things for people. After the housing bubble burst, prices fell and banks contracted lending. The government responded with financial bailouts which not only prolongs the misery, but stifles the opportunity for capital to be deployed to more opportunistic sectors of the economy. Bailouts, tax credits and all of the other “goodies” politicians give away curtails deflation, and doing so opens the door to more catastrophic consequences in the future.

If Bernanke does not wish to see a repeat of the crash of 2008, he will not repeat the mistakes that were made in “correcting” the recession in the early 2000s. This time, it may not take five years to see an explosion. Economists who are predicting positive GDP growth and cheering over the fact that this ugly recession may be coming to an end is a very hazardous, short-term view. The concern should be on the inflationary impact of the actions taken to “soften the blow” which poses the possibility of a double-dip recession. Will “Deflator Ben” come to the rescue?

Why I Joined the GOP

Last week I got a piece of mail from the Utah election department that asked for my new address and any other new information that might be prudent to their records. I took a while to send it back. I had been thinking for a good long time about joining the Republicans. This time, other than the changed address, I put a check beside REPUBLICAN on party affilation. These are the reasons.

Getting Involved

It's so very easy to be on the sidelines, cheering or booing, making armchair views about decisions that you had little or no participation in. It's very easy to act like it isn't your fault the country is going to hell. It's very, very easy to stay out of it and simply pray for everything to work out. That, ladies and gentlemen, is something I could no longer do.

I'm not a big fan of our two parties. I think the Democrats are just like they were at the turn of the century. Big money, big power, big ideas with little room for the views for consequences. Such examples are Wilson's War Socialism, the New Deal and the Great Society. Each with noble aspirations and even a tinge of true moral righteousness, but what they did solved little and created more problems. Wilson put the economy under cartels, something FDR did, which created the so-called military-industrial complex. The New Deal prolonged the Depression by scaring investment as well as following Wilson's cartel model of industrial organization. The Great Society, while aiding many in poverty, also brought with it government induced behavior that now effects communities of all races. The Republicans are no better though. Pandering to some very out there religious folk, talking restraint in power while exercising loudly when in power, spending out the ass for programs they claim they don't believe in. The Democrats are statists, they use newspeak and believe in the crazy God-state idealism that has driven so many authoritarians... but at least they tell you they're crazy.

And that's a reason I joined: to fix the GOP. I'm not some fifth-generation Republican like some, nor am I true believer in Sarah Palin or the next big GOP star who may or may not destroy liberalism forever. I'm a libertarian conservative who sees his country going down the wrong path (since the early 1900s, mind you) and wants to change it. Third parties are dead and will be dead for a while due because of GOP/Democrat “bi-partisanship” on campaign finance laws that restrict such parties from ever gaining any power. I joined the GOP because, honestly, I had no other choice if I wanted to jump into the breach. Otherwise, I'd be the loneliest Dem on the planet.

Getting Things Done

If politics here were like politics in my other home of Canada, the Republican Party would probably be split between the fiscal conservatives and the social conservatives. The Democratic Party would probably lose the Blue Dogs to the fiscal conservative party while the center-left and far left would have their own parties. That's five parties, just like Canada had before the merger of the Reform Party and the Progressive Conservatives. Things got done at a very chaotic pace, or not at all. Even with four parties, the three recently defeated opposition parties (all left wing) attempted to bring down the six-week old Conservative Party government.

Things get done through our American uberparties, like it or not. Single payer advocates use the Democratic Party to get their issue out. Religious and traditionalist folks use the GOP. Foreign policy hawks like the GOP. Peaceniks like the Dems. If you want to enrich your union, go Dem. If you want to enrich your small business, go GOP. So on and so on. I think of the parties as a butt load of conflicting and/or cooperating interests stirred around in one giant political pot. And I'd rather star the ball rolling with a current party than spend decades working a third party that'll barely get noticed at all.

Getting Libertarian Conservatism Popular

For most of the 20th century, Republican presidents and Republican congresses have hardly held to their word on things like entitlements, spending, corruption, cutting down decades of old Progressive/new liberal fat off the Constitution. The libertarian wing of the party has been ignored for a very long time and that needs to change if this country is to be pulled off the road of socialist serfdom. Libertarian conservatism, a form of classical liberalism for the new age, is one of the keys to fixing this nation.

Things like Medicare/Medicade need drastic cuts and new, targeted missions. Welfare, while already reformed well, could be even more targeted. Social Security need to be shifted from lump sum money pot backed by government debt and given choice: want your SS in the stock market? Sure! Just want plain interest? Sure! Invest your money your way. Keep it mandatory, it is a good idea, but no longer will young folk's money go to retirees with aplenty of stocks, but it will be THEIR OWN MONEY they retire on. What an idea.

Checks and balances needs to be reintroduced into the political sphere, starting with term limits for Congressmen and Senators. Twelve years is enough to learn the trade and make a impact. The paternalism that comes from long term Senators like Byrd and Hatch, or Congressmen like Pelosi or Murtha, may feel good, but look at what they sponsor despite the feelings of those they represent. Added on to term limits should be the repealing of the 17th amendment. The Senate was never meant to be a second House. It was meant to be a check on the populism of the House by the self-interest of the elite of the state governments (Simon at Stubborn Facts has written of this at length). Two levels of Congress, both popularly elected, has only brought corruption, cross-House/Senate horse trading and horrible laws down upon us. Cleaning up Washington starts by reverting our Congress back to its original form.

Heaped upon checks and balances is the restitution of federalism in as pure form as we can have in our modern age. Rulings like Roe v Wade must go and abortion left up to the states, as it is a social issue and not one of rights, especially rights struck from the air around the heads of pretentious judges. The Commerce Clause may have to be reviewed and added as a new amendment as to narrowly define the reach Congress has over business in America. The current abuse of this clause has caused much damage for American workers and American working rights. The various civil rights amendments, especially the 14th, needs clarification as to rule out racial quotas and other federal racial programs. The 2nd needs to be incorporated, like all other individual rights, or all other individual rights need to be unincorporated. It's a total travesty of constitutional law that every single individual right (including made up ones like abortion) are applied to the states EXCEPT the right to bear arms. Simply put, the states need more social and economic control back as to be able to experiment socially or open up their markets as they please. Such decisions were never meant to be in the hands of Washington.

The reasons above, along with the mini manifesto, are the major reasons I decided to joined the much loathed GOP. I don't expect to change much, but I do expect to be able to honestly say I tried. And that's more than most of the country can boast.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Generation Patriot sends our condolences to the family of Senator Edward Kennedy. Despite differences, he was truly the lion of his cause.

Rest in peace.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My God Wears A Suit

Most people like to talk about politics and religion just as much as they like to have a root canal with only a shot of Jack to put them under. Other, like me, like my fellow bloggers and others, talk of it, but try to keep it apart. Some, though, don't even know they're preaching when they talk. These people, usually the far left, are astounded when you tell them they sound like a religious person. Welcome to political religion, folks.

For most of the existence of conflicting ideologies, religion and politics were pretty much interwoven. Got a problem with the monarchist next to you? Probably has to do with his God just as much as his ideas. Around the Renaissance, politics and religion slowly separated, though it was never fully pulled apart. During the 1700s and through the American Revolution, the idea to keep politics out of religion became a mainstay of our Founding Fathers. Jefferson's letter that talks about the separation of church and state was about limited government, not expanding government to suppress public religious expression, as the ACLU seems to think.

Arriving in the 20th century, we come across a new faith, a dangerous faith. This faith comes in the form of extreme nationalism, collectivism, ethno-centrism and secular fanaticism. Governments like the Nazis, the Fascists, the Stalinists, the Titoists, the Khmer Rouge, the Maoists, and so on. These so-called atheists, anti-Christians and pagans did not embrace the traditional religious view. In fact, they did their best to wipe it out. Italy imprisoned the Pope, Germany wiped out Jews, Christians and Gypsies, China annihilated traditional beliefs and monuments, Russia devastated the Orthodox Church; all this was done in the name of not another God, but in the name of an ideology. In the 20th century, political religion was born.

In today's America, we've recently seen political religion rear it's head in the historic election of President Barack Obama. A masterful organizer, the President rallied both leftists, liberals and moderates to his cause. He also had a following that bordered on a cult. School teachers had their students sing songs about him. Artists superimposed Obama on various religious figures. Smart kids like Ezra Klein couldn't keep from gushing huge amount of love onto their blogs, articles and speeches. Many may have voted for him because they liked his ideas, but there were plenty of people that were more enamored with future President Obama than with future President Obama's policies.

I bring up political religion because there are some true believers out there and the health care debate has flushed them back out into the spotlight. May it be Tweets that know the health care bill will "provide". Or the complete dishonesty of outlets like MSNBC who portray armed protesters as racists, but their example was an armed conservative black man who's ethnicity they cleverly cropped out of their footage.

Thanks to our system, we have yet to have a mass movement like that of the Fascists or Nazis or Maoists. Our decentralized society allowed for one part of the country to fall into the political religion trap while other, smarter folk realized the danger and voted the leaders out of Congress or the Presidency. Alas, the way our government is centralizing every year, it may come to a point in the far future where a fanatic ideological movement may have the ability to co-op the entire country. It won't be soon, of course, but I wouldn't doubt that by the time I'm old enough to not get Social Security, we may have to deal with such a movement, but only if nothing from now 'til then changes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Co-ops vs. the Public Option – Same Flaws Hidden Behind a Friendlier Term

The Obama Administration has understood the fact that many Americans do not want a public insurance option. Although it is currently unclear as to whether or not the Administration will abandon the public option, the co-op solution that is gaining some support will extend the same problems that the current health care system has to more people. The only difference between co-ops and the public option is that the term “co-op” doesn’t have as negative of a connotation as “government run.” Once again, politics is put ahead of real solutions that will work.

The lawmakers’ rationale behind the co-op system is that the creation of private, not-for-profit insurance companies will serve as competition to for-profit private insurance companies in an effort to bring down the cost of insurance. This conclusion is illogical because profits are not the reason for the high cost of health insurance, and the following provides a better analysis:

The Misuse of Insurance

Over the years, health insurance has evolved into the key for getting access to health services as opposed to being a safeguard against catastrophe. Thousands of federal and state mandates exist that define coverage – from prescription drugs to hair transplants. When insurance companies are required to cover certain procedures and medications, the cost will rise. In addition, insurance coverage boosts the demand for services, but supply cannot grow at the same rate which also leads to higher costs.

The current system has the government defining the medical services that should be covered and mandates how insurance companies are able to charge for premiums. The community rating system establishes limits in charging different prices to different consumers which results in healthier people paying for those in poor health who require more care.

The co-op system focuses on getting people insured, when the focus should be on limiting the role health insurance plays in getting access to health care. Instead, co-ops will continue to boost the demand without addressing supply.

Three Percent Profit Margin vs. Not-for Profit

It has been established that the inception of co-ops will continue to stimulate demand for health services without addressing supply. Next, let’s examine the insurance companies’ profit margin. For-profit insurance companies average a 3.3 percent profit margin, and there are 85 industries that do better. (1) Ironically, the beverage/brewer industry is number one with a whopping 25.9 percent profit margin, yet there are no politicians complaining that we have a beverage crisis! Has there ever been a time where news reporters have interviewed families who cannot provide their children with a soda pop treat, or college kids complaining that the cost of a keg for their Friday night bash is killing their future?

Therefore, how can politicians blame profits when it is illogical to conclude that a 3.3 percent profit margin is driving up the cost of care? If co-ops serve their purpose, then they can reduce the cost of premiums by 3.3 percent. In addition, this cost reduction may not even be possible due to the supply/demand concern.

Public vs. Not-for Profit in “Capital” Terms

This is a concern that is currently being glossed over by lawmakers. If co-ops are to be established, then how will they be funded; and how much of a role will government funding play? Not-for-profit companies do not have the advantages that publicly traded companies have when it comes to raising capital. For example, not-for-profit companies cannot issue common stock or sell bonds in the open market to raise capital.

The issue of raising capital is a critical issue to address since start-up costs will be involved in the establishment of co-ops. There are federal and state laws that require insurers to hold reserves of up to one-third of premiums. If co-ops are to be established in every state, it is possible that the federal government will have to contribute billions of dollars just in start-up costs without even addressing future capital requirements. The result would be as economically catastrophic as a public option and still does not address the high costs of insurance.

The Fallacy of Profits at the Expense of Care

One talking point that liberal politicians cling to is the argument that profit or the incentive to make a profit comes at the expense of quality care. This argument may have some merit if the majority of the health care industry was for profit, and the for-profit sector had very high profit margins. However, the opposite is true. According to the American Hospital Association’s 2007 annual survey, about 15.2 percent of registered hospitals in the United States are for-profit. (2) In addition, for-profit hospitals are not faring much better than the insurance companies as their average profit margin is 3.6 percent. (1)

Another aspect of this argument to consider is that the need to control costs does not disappear with the incentive to make a profit, as funds and resources are limited. However, there might be a correlation between limited resources and removing the incentive to profit. Returning to the beverage industry example, it seems that the supply of beverages is ample and the product is affordable, yet this industry is the most profitable. Although the beverage industry and the health care industry are completely different, the point to be made is that the incentive to profit boots SUPPLY. The problem with rising health care costs leads back to the simple economic concept of supply and demand.

In conclusion, if the government lets the free market work, as opposed to attempting to stifle incentive, we will solve the problem of high costs.



Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Kids Aren't Okay

Generation Patriot is on Twitter, and holy eff you would not believe the amount of idealists that prowl the twitterverse! Kids harping on Glenn Beck for talking, harping on Obama for collapsing to reality with Big Pharma, defending Olby, and so on. It's kind of sad... 'cause that's just the adults.

Idealism is a evil, evil thing in the real world. One fellow was disappointed that Obama wasn't really making his agenda as "sweeping" as he promised. Another was fine with the destruction of private insurance and private health care if it meant getting single payer. Someone set up a bot (program) that tracks anyone who uses the hashtag (subject note) #iamthemob, which is in reference of the Left calling the town hall protesters a mob.

I used to be like the above, though probably much younger than them. I would talk about free speech while calling for FOX to be banned. I would talk about freedom, but want economics nationalized. I'd was all about peace, but feel good outings to overthrow hated regimes would be fine... except Iraq, of course.

Two years ago, I had a revelation. I realized that the world is at it is. America, because of the amount of freedom we have, is amazing, and not the evil I was told it was and believed it was. America, even today's mixed economic, heavy paper-pusher America, is freeer than any other nation on the planet. Despite its flaws, I love it.

Idealists on the Left can't handle reality, especially with health care. As Michelle, Mike and I have explained, it is economically IMPOSSIBLE to support a single payer system without destroying our innovative sector and our expansive access (yes, we have it!).

Idealism go past that and looks at what could be despite the reality of the situation. That was the problem with Communism, Fascism and all the other -isms. They had the world as they saw, not as it is. And, obviously, such vision did not end well.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Intentions and Outcomes

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
If you talk to a supporter of universal health care, one who hasn't had the training by a union or a leftist interest group, the core arguement for the program is based in the intention of the program: to give everyone affordable health care.

There is nothing wrong with the intention of UHC. In a perfect world, everyone should have good health insurance and be healthy and live a long life. In a perfect world, there wouldn't be HMOs, there wouldn't be state restrictions on insurance, there wouldn't be strict FDA rules that monopolize markets for a select few drugs; there wouldn't be anything that would make people fat, sick or disabled.

But there is. It's called reality. In this crazy world known as reality, cheap food is made with cheap ingredients, life-saving drugs cost a lot because that's how much they actually cost, people get hurt, people die, insurance costs a lot because the federal government has slowly chipped away at the free market so that now it pays nearly 50% of all health care costs.

In reality, nations who have a single payer health care system end up with rationing. The UK denies drugs based on cost. France's state run system, intentionally or not, lets thousands of elderly die because it is so inefficient and inhumane. Canada, while not as horrific as Europe, still has to deal with sudden closing of local hospitals and ER doctors who are under supplied or under staffed to the point that no one can be served at all if a single person comes in with a major trauma.

America researches and creates the most modern drugs and the most advanced procedures due to the ability to profit from the hard work put in. This isn't evil, it's moral. Should your labor be taken away solely because someone thinks they should have it without cost? There are, of course, certain things every government structure, including libertarian, does for the people, like police or fire, but health care, for hundreds of years, has been a private matter. If we are to help people get better, if we are to help people get insured, why not allow them the CHOICE of insurer or the CHOICE of doctor, if they want it at all? Out of the overused 47 million uninsured, a good THIRD can afford it but don't want it and another THIRD who qualify for government assistance DON'T USE IT. Tell me why we should force these people, along with the labor of hard working doctors, based on good intentions that, as evident, have less than good outcomes?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cash for Clunkers Debacle

The Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) is the official title of the program. It has also been called “Cash for Clunkers,” which was the name originally chosen by some dealers to market the incentive-based program to consumers. Essentially, this is another big rescue program by our government intended to save struggling automakers, people who cannot afford a new car, and the environment. From the onset, one may think our government has a winning program on their hands. After all, who could deny a program that generously helps people and the Earth? In reality, this program has helped very little and, in some ways, could make things worse.

The plan is loosely based on a program initially implemented in Germany, only this version has a few more restrictions. It issues a credit based on the car you are trading in against the new car you are purchasing. In order to qualify for the program, you have to own a car today that gets combined miles of 18 mpg or less according to Depending on how inefficient your old car is compared to the efficiency of the new car you purchase, the more of a rebate you will receive. The rebates available are $3,500 or $4,500 for your car as long as it is not more than 25 years old.(1) Apparently very old clunkers do not qualify for this program. There is a specific list of vehicles that are approved for you to purchase under this plan that cost $45,000 or less. All cars have to be purchased between July and November of this year to qualify. (1) This program is in addition to any dealer incentives your dealer may be offering such as cash back, low-interest financing, etc. The old car is sent to the salvage yard with the engine destroyed by the dealership. (1) Basically this is a check written from the stimulus package that goes straight to the dealership upon purchase of a new vehicle and the savings is passed onto the consumer at the time of the purchase. The initial amount funded for the program was one billion dollars, and it is now estimated that an additional two billion will be required to fund the remaining portion.

First, the misnomer is that the CARS program would actually save struggling dealers. There is a website set up to give dealers the information they need to comply. Many dealers have complained the site is unstable and crashes often. A poorly written disclaimer meant to discourage hacking into the site has actually frightened many into thinking the government can take over their computer if they browse to that website! This prompted Glenn Beck to do a segment on his program dealing with the issue on his television program. The initial disclaimer has since been changed. Also cars that may be clunkers by our standards are not necessarily clunkers in the eyes of the government. (5) Many people will not qualify for this program whether they believe they have a clunker or not. The numbers from the White House paint a rosy picture showing results of thousands of cars that have been sold and inefficient cars that are no longer on the road. What the White House is not telling you is that summer is normally a busy time for car sales.

Critics of the program predict many of these people would have bought cars eventually and as a result waited to buy a car once the “buzz” leaked about this program. Our government very well could have caused dealerships to have slower months leading up to when this program was started. How many people were let go in the auto industry between the time this program was announced and when it was finally available? Many also predict once this program ends car manufacturers will experience more down months which will result in more lost jobs. How does that help anyone in the car business? Forcing dealers to have months of sales squeezed in a limited amount of time can be problematic for the car industry who have cut back and are running with less people. Who is going to change their spending habits in this economy if they know this demand bubble is temporary and will not continue? Many of the cars purchased in this program are going to foreign car manufacturers. Is that really what our government intended to happen after dumping billions into GM and Chrysler? Also, why does our government choose the auto industry? Millions of people have lost their jobs in a variety of industries, but you do not see a program like this for washing machine manufacturers do you? Worse yet, what are the automakers going to owe the government in the end? I fear this could lead to more regulation and more control by our government in the auto industry moving forward.

Next, the idea that CARS is helping people who cannot afford to buy a new car is also a myth. Our government cannot explain how someone who cannot afford a new car could afford to have a new monthly car payment in an environment where we could be coming up on 10 percent unemployment. Increased demand also leads to dealers selling cars at higher prices with fewer incentives than they would otherwise. This could also lead to fewer options for the consumer as dealers run low on some models. Does any of this sound familiar? It sounds a little like the housing bubble we are experiencing today, doesn’t it? Would it surprise anyone if we saw an increase in people defaulting on car loans in the next few years? If that does happen, then you can bet our government would be discussing a big ticket rescue package to save these people who are defaulting largely due to past programs administered by our government. In the long run, I feel this may hurt people more than it may help by forcing some into a more expensive car just to qualify for the program. Also, since dealers are required to destroy the engine, this will result in fewer functioning engine parts for some older cars. Fewer engine parts available will mean higher prices to get these cars repaired which will hurt many who cannot afford to buy a new car even with CARS incentives.

Finally, the claim that CARS is saving the planet is also debatable. Many of the new vehicles purchased through this program average about 25 mpg. (2) At a taxpayer cost of 3 billion dollars, many people could have bought a used car they could actually afford and got similar if not better fuel economy. Is the White House taking into consideration the energy that is spent to properly dispose of these cars according to government rules? The Associated Press has estimated carbon dioxide will be reduced just shy of 700,000 tons a year as a result of this plan. (4) While this sounds like a lot, last year the US emissions totaled nearly 6.4 billion tons, which was down from years prior. (4) One doesn’t have to be a math genius to conclude this hardly represents progress.

In the end, we can conclude this is just another government program that provides very little results and could lead to other problems in the future. In addition, this is costing tax payers more than anyone had expected. The government really needs to stop picking and choosing industries they want to help and allow the free will of the market to decide how they should or should not spend their money. Since the average car being purchased is getting just over 25 mpg, one can easily see there is still a market for bigger cars that use more gas than the economical tin cans our government says everyone wants. We can add “Cash for Clunkers” to the list of many other government programs that cost tax payers a fortune and have not produced the results we had hoped.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Growing Opposition to “Obamacare” Makes the White House Retaliate

Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House Health Reform Office, must have long and tiring days searching for all of those “scary chain emails and videos” that she claims surface when health care reform is on the table in Washington. She also makes the assumption that the people responsible for making these videos and emails have quite a bit of time on their hands. She must not be familiar with the convenience of modern technology, as a simple search can produce results in a matter of minutes. At least the taxpayers are not paying for these scary videos. Instead, they are paying a White House official to spend time searching the internet for scary emails and videos. A wise use of scarce tax dollars, isn’t it?

Douglass Video Response

View the “scary video” here if you dare!

In the beginning of her response, she quipped that the video did not show the President reassuring the American people that they would be able to retain their employer coverage if they wish to keep it. However, if she took the time to watch the scary video (she could have kept the lights on if necessary), she would have seen that the video opens with a clip from President Obama’s recent speech to the American Medical Association that shows him addressing an “illegitimate concern.” The illegitimate concern he addressed was his opponents’ criticism that his plan will lead to a single-payer system. The “scary” video then moves on to play clips from speeches that Obama gave at the SEIU Health Care Forum in 2007 and to the AFL-CIO Civil, Human and Women’s Right Conference in 2003 in which he CLEARLY stated his position that he is in favor of a single-payer system. How is it scary to use Obama’s own words? The only thing scary is that it reveals the hidden truth that is becoming increasingly difficult to suppress.

Perhaps viewers could dismiss his claims as pandering to his base. All politicians make promises to their base that they know they cannot keep. However, the next person to show up in this video is Barney Frank, and he confirms the suspicion that opponents to President Obama’s health care plan have. Frank asserts that if a good public option is passed, it could lead to a single-payer system. He also goes on to say that this approach is the best way to reach the ultimate goal of a single-payer system. This clip was taken from a left-wing organization called “” (View here) Do they make “scary” videos as well? At least Ms. Douglass is even handed!

Frustration continues to grow due to the fact that the Obama Administration continues to insult people’s intelligence. It is no secret that the Obama Administration and Congressional leaders who represent the far-left wing of the Democratic Party want a single-payer system, and they know they don’t have the votes for the plan. The only approach is to lure people into the public option so the private option will either be eliminated completely or only be available to the very wealthy over time.

Perhaps Ms. Douglass could take a more constructive approach to her job and refute the following claims:

1) How does a private company compete with a public plan when a) the government heavily regulates insurance coverage and b) the public option has access to blank U.S. Treasury checks?

2) Why will employers provide private insurance coverage when a public option is available? The current proposal in the Senate does impose fines on employers with 25 or more employees for failure to provide insurance coverage; however, there is no specific mandate that employers must provide PRIVATE insurance. Therefore, businesses will provide assistance for the public option. The public option will be offered at a lower cost initially to drive out the private option.

Ms. Douglass could also make better use of her time by giving specifics rather than encouraging people to report these “scary” videos. Giving specifics on policy proposals is not something this Administration does well, nor does it respond well to criticism. Recently, I wrote a three-part piece that constructively criticized “Obamacare” and explained how a free-market solution would work. Hopefully, my columns didn’t qualify as “scary,” although it would be an honor to be on Ms. Douglass’ watch list as one of those “scary” people. This can only mean that my work challenges people to think!

August is going to be a difficult month for Congressional leaders who will face their angry constituents. The following list of “scary” videos is a preview of coming attractions. Beware! You may run into these scary people at your local grocery store:

Arlen Specter and Kathleen Sebilius – Pennsylvania Town Hall (Specter actually states single-payer should be on the table)

Tim Bishop – Setauket, NY

Lloyd Doggett – South Austin Texas

Protesters are also showing up at the President’s Town Hall Meetings, possibly because they are not being let in to politely discuss the issues! The motorcade had to drive through a protest four blocks long.

Republicans are not off the hook by any means. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs may call the dissent of these protesters “manufactured anger” because this Administration will never admit that these are grassroots groups comprised of ordinary Americans of ALL political affiliations. If these protests are staged by “right-wing extremists,” Gresham Barrett (R - SC) would beg to differ. He faced a much more hostile crowd than most of his Democrat counterparts. (View here)

I’ve written extensively about bad economic policy for over a decade, not because I have too much time on my hands, rather it is an issue too important for me not to donate some of my limited free time. For the people who voted for “hope” and “change” last November and those who were blind to the Republican Party’s faults, it is never too late to see the light. I encourage people to speak their mind because, eventually, someone will listen. After all, “facts are stubborn things.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Framed! Except There Wasn't A Need

This story is making the rounds on the nets, mostly by the Left in because we all know about how bad cops are.

A woman was framed by cops in Hollywood, FL, for a DUI... except she had been drinking. Here's the gist:
Torrens-Vilas did not deny to Lauer that she was drinking on the night of Feb. 17, when the incident occurred around midnight on Sheridan Street in Hollywood. She was caring for a friend’s cat, which she was holding on her lap as she drove. When the cat jumped out of the driver’s window, she pulled the car over into the left lane, parked it and ran out to get the cat. That’s when Francisco rear-ended her car.

The woman told Lauer she wasn’t even aware her car had been hit. When police addressed her, her first concern was the cat. “Can you give me five minutes to go save my cat?” was the first thing she said to police.

Police put her through a field sobriety test and arrested her on DUI charges.

Lauer asked Torrens-Vilas if she had been drinking.

“Yes,” she said. “I’m not going to lie.”
The thing is, the cops tried to make up a story and fudged the dash cam tape:
In preparing her defense, Torrens-Vilas’ attorneys had requested copies of dash-cam videos from the patrol cars that responded. The videos showed Torrens-Vilas performing sobriety tests, but the attorneys realized there was missing material. Unable to get the missing video from Hollywood police, the attorneys finally obtained it from the state.

What they saw not only resulted in all charges against Torrens-Vilas being dropped, it also led to the suspension of five Hollywood police personnel. Rather than admit to being responsible for rear-ending the woman’s car, police concocted a story that would make everything her fault.

“It confirmed everything that I thought,” Torrens-Vilas told Lauer. “I knew that that’s not what happened that night, and it just confirmed everything that I’ve been saying from the beginning.”

According to the tape, Officer Dewey Pressley took the lead in the plot, saying, “Well, I don’t lie and make things up ever because it’s wrong, but if I need to bend it a little to protect a cop, I’m gonna.”

He then tells another officer: “I will write the narrative out for you. I will tell you exactly how to word it so it can get him off the hook. You see the angle of her car? You see the way it’s like this? As far as I’m concerned, I am going to word it she is in the left-hand lane. We will do a little Walt Disney to protect the cop, because it wouldn’t matter because she was drunk anyway.”
I have no qualms about putting away bad cops, but this story is no Rosa Parks bullshit or even a very good case of police corruption. It's, my good friends, a case of a paniced cop letting a good case go bad:

Girl, probably drunk (against the law), loses cat that was on her lap (against the law) and stops in middle of road (against the law). Cop, probably not paying attention, hits her car, then idiotically tries to make up a story to make the accident all her fault. Except, if he didn't panic and SAY he was going to make up a story, he would of realized it was all her fault... except the not paying attention part.

This woman is no hero nor victim, dear Left. She's just lucky.