Real conservatism needed
If the election were held today, Barack Obama would be the new President of the United States of America. The latest Real Clear Politics average of national polls shows Obama ahead of McCain by nearly seven percentage points. It looks like the Democrats are going to have control of both the White House and Congress for the next four years. And, mark it down, if there is a Democrat sweep, conservative Republicans will get the blame.
The fact of the matter is, however, that President Bush and the Republicans who dominated Congress during most of his administration governed as anything but conservatives. Except during election season, it has been difficult to find any trace of conservative principles among incumbents within the Republican Party. During their tenure, Republican governance was characterized by out of control spending, record-setting earmarks, affirmative action programs for corporate wrongdoers, corrupt relations with special interests, and sexual scandal. While they often described themselves as "conservatives," their walk was very different from their talk...
During the period of Republican hegemony, no real ground was gained on reforming entitlements, no major effort was made to curb abortion (or even abortion funding), and the national debt as a percentage of gross domestic product rose to a 50-year high!
Few Republicans in leadership in government during the past decade have been authentic conservatives. At best, they have been counterfeit conservatives, which no doubt accounts for why Republicans lost so many seats in 2006 and why they appear ready to lose more seats and the Presidency this November.
Because of the divergence between the words and deeds of those who have called themselves conservatives, there is a lack of clarity of what it really means to be a "conservative." Conservatives are sometimes confused with libertarians. But true conservatives are not autonomous individuals seeking absolute freedom. The siren call of extreme libertarianism is no less destructive than the liberal dream of the nanny state. Conservatives understand that every person is a part of a family and a community; they understand that each generation is just one link in the long chain of human history; and they understand that each person and each generation has duties to those who went before, those who are living today, and those who will come after us. A sense of duty and history governs the lives and thoughts of conservatives....
A recovery of conservatism begins with a recovery of the family. Families are the cornerstone of a healthy society. Families are the units that raise our children, transmit our values, and prepare children for life in society as responsible adults. In addition to providing protection, provision, and guidance, families provide an environment in which children learn how to order their lives as they live in community with others.
Conservatives believe that both mothers and fathers have unique and invaluable roles to play in the development of healthy children. Feminine and masculine role models are important for girls and boys alike. In our youth, we look to our mothers and fathers to learn how to live and relate to others. However, divorce, promiscuity, and co-habitation have devastated America's families. Many children have only a single parent to raise them. Consequently, children are often raised with a "gender gap," and they receive instruction and guidance at home from just a single parent. The pathologies of single parent children are all too familiar: academic failure, drug abuse, teen suicide, sexual promiscuity, juvenile delinquency. Conservatives, therefore, advocate policies that strengthen and undergird the family, knowing that such policies strengthen and undergird society.
Conservatives understand the value of work. Work is the means by which families sustain themselves economically. Since families (unlike government) are not able to print money, they understand the work-wealth connection. Conservatives deem the willingness to work hard to support oneself and one's family a virtue. They eschew policies that diminish incentives to work or encourage a lack of self sufficiency.
Conservatives also understand the importance of living within one's means. They understand the importance of savings and investment and know that to do either requires that they resist the temptation for instant gratification. They understand that the future is uncertain and life has its ups and downs. Therefore, in good times they set aside a portion of their earnings for the difficult times that may be around the bend. They favor policies that promote savings and investment and oppose those that promote unhealthy speculation, which they see as the equivalent of gambling.
Conservatives believe that markets should be free from excessive government regulation and that free market forces, not government intervention, should determine winners and losers in the market place. Competition is typically the best and most efficient way to determine which goods and services the consuming public wants. Government control of the means of production of consumer goods and government dictation of consumer preferences should be discouraged.
Good Little Stuff from Big Mac
It certainly wasn't the big-bang across-the-board tax-reform and tax-cut plan that I and others lobbied for. But John McCain's "Pension and Family Security Plan" unveiled today on the campaign trail does have some solid pro-growth nuggets. I'm calling it some good little stuff.
The most important pro-growth measure is a reduction in the capital-gains tax rate to 7.5 percent in 2009 and 2010. Although I wish it were permanent, at least it will reward investors who scoop up undervalued assets, including bargain-basement stocks and underwater homes. Two years is not a very wide window. But this could promote a faster recovery in asset prices and wealth creation.
Alongside the cap-gains cut, McCain is proposing to increase the amount of capital losses eligible for tax write-offs from $3,000 to $15,000 for tax years 2008 and 2009. It's an offset to ordinary income. And again, while it should be permanent, at least it will be helpful.
Also in his plan, withdrawals from tax-preferred retirement accounts will be taxed at the lowest rate (10 percent) for the first $50,000 withdrawn from these accounts. Tax rules forcing seniors to sell retirement-account stock holdings when they reach age 70.5 will be suspended. That's good.
In effect, going into the final debate, McCain has a significant corporate tax cut and a modest capital-gains tax cut. He also wants to keep the Bush income-tax cuts in place. All of these measures are pro-growth.
I would have preferred a Paul Ryan modified flat tax with two brackets of 10 and 25 percent. In other words, a true across-the-board reduction in marginal tax rates as an economic recovery measure to connect with folks who are worried about recessionary losses for their jobs and home mortgages. Economic anxieties are big, and a big-bang tax-cut response would be optimal.
But cutting taxes for businesses, capital gains, and individuals does give McCain a lot of pro-growth meat on the bone for the big debate.
Now, if only McCain can succeed in selling these measures. Especially the corporate tax cut, which should be sold as a middle-class consumer tax cut inasmuch as corporations pass along their tax costs to consumers in the form of higher prices. This is the key to selling the corporate tax cut.
Wayne Lusvardi is campaigning for California's Proposition 8 -- which is aimed at stopping homosexual "marriage". He argues that it is in the interests of feminists to support the proposition. He won't convince the feminazis but lots of women have moderate feminist views.
High ratings for Palin on SNL: "The entertainment summit of the season -- Sarah Palin and her impersonator, Tina Fey -- earned "Saturday Night Live" its best ratings in 14 years. But if you blinked, you might have missed it. Fey was answering questions at a news conference, something Palin hasn't done yet as the Republican vice presidential nominee, when Palin walked on the stage. Fey beat a hasty retreat in the opening segment, walking past the real Palin with a barely perceptible nod. Palin's guest shot, widely anticipated since Fey began imitating her a month ago, led "Saturday Night Live" to its highest mark in overnight Nielsen Media Research ratings since March 1994, when assaulted skater Nancy Kerrigan was guest host. Although a complete audience estimate for the rest of the country won't be available until later in the week, it is likely to be around 14 million. For the first half-hour, when Palin first came out, the audience was about 17 million. That's pretty impressive for a TV program around midnight."
Canada looks to Europe in anticipation of Obama protectionism: "Barack Obama's promise to unilaterally rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement if Canada and Mexico won't go along with his ideas on labor and the environment has not gone unnoticed in Ottawa. If Canadians are going to have a tougher time selling their goods and services south of the border, who can blame them for looking east -- across the Atlantic to Europe. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France signed an agreement Friday to begin negotiations for a free trade pact between Canada and the European Union. A Canada-EU study released last week outlines the joint economic benefits of such a partnership, with two-way trade estimated to increase 22.9% by 2014."
Typical Leftist destructiveness in Paris: "In a move that has ignited furious protests, Bertrand Delanoe, the Mayor of Paris, has approved plans for 180 council flats in Porte d'Auteuil, across the road from Villa Montmorency in well-heeled west Paris. Its rich and famous residents have signed petitions, berated MPs and complained that tenants will be able to see into their leafy and secret world from the tower block that Mr Delanoe wants to put up. Claudie Fournier-Christol, the chair of Porte d'Auteuil Environnement, a residents' association, accused the council of bringing "suburban crime" to the doorstep of France's "biggest taxpayers".
Farmers given more control in China: "Anxious at the spreading unrest among farmers left behind in the rush to get rich, China's Communist Party leaders yesterday unveiled sweeping reforms to give its 730 million or more rural residents more say in what they do with their land. The measures herald potentially the most far-reaching changes in rural China since a party plenum exactly 30 years ago when the late leader Deng Xiaoping launched market-oriented reforms with a decision to move away from communes and to allow farmers to till individual plots of land. Approved at a twice-a-year plenum of the party's Central Committee earlier this month, the scheme will allow farmers to transfer their land-use rights and to join share-holding entities with their farmland. The policies, still lacking in crucial details, effectively give farmers - rather than village leaders - the authority to decide how to use their land. Public ownership of land is a fundamental tenet of Communist Party rule and any attempt to enshrine farmers' ownership of their plots provokes howls of anger from Marxist ideologists. However, the current system of 30-year leases that can be extended gives effective ownership while maintaining the fig-leaf of public control - but has created a system rife with abuse. Under the new rules, severe punishment would be meted out to anyone violating farmers' interests."
For more postings from me, see OBAMA WATCH (2), TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena
List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here
The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)