Tuesday, March 02, 2010
GOP Should Learn from Ron Paul’s CPAC Victory
In the days following Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s decisive win over former governors Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin in the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll, left-leaning networks, predictably, treated the event as further proof that tea party activists are taking over the Republican Party. That was to be expected. Liberal smear tactics, particularly those which rely on outright lies, are never justified; however, their derisive reaction to the poll should be interpreted as a nerve struck. A televised view of a crowd of young, enthused conservatives is bound to disturb the opposition.
But conservative networks —one in particular— have no excuse for their after-the-fact “spin” treatment of the event, portraying it as marginal and irrelevant to the 2012 presidential race. One commentator conveniently neglected to mention that Paul is a Republican, instead referring to him as a “libertarian.”
One must wonder; do Republicans want to attain victory in the next two elections? Does the GOP want a future, or would it prefer to ignore the concerns of young voters, engage in internal bickering about an ideologically inconsistent platform, defend party insiders from fresh, new challengers, and eventually fizzle out like a defective bottle rocket?
Increasingly, this seems to be the case. Rep. Paul was scorned by his fellow Republicans during the 2008 primary for his “conspiracy theorizing” about an imminent financial collapse. Within months, the theory became reality, but by then Republicans had already chosen the lukewarm McCain, who would soon prove to be a losing choice.
Paul is not—cannot be—the future of the GOP. He will turn 75 in August, and would be 77 if elected in 2012; Reagan’s age when he left office. But the real future of conservatism, voters under 30, love the man.
More precisely, they love his beliefs. His ideology, which is based on the principles of limited government outlined by the Constitution, appeals to a large group within the Republican Party that is disgusted by big-government conservatism, which itself is a ridiculous, contradictory notion. It does not matter how angry this group is at Obama’s policies; if, in 2012, the GOP puts up another flimsy candidate who does not make limited government a key plank of his platform, these “Ron Paul Republicans,” tea partiers, and independents could easily vote for various third-party candidates, or simply stay home out of frustration.
They would be justified. A party that compromises with anti-constitutional progressivism in the hopes of appealing to political moderates is not worthy of respect. Or votes. It is part of the problem, not the solution. Independent voters are leaning toward the right, temporarily, in reaction to a calamitous Democratic administration, but it will take more than a vague sense of antiestablishment anger for the GOP to regain control of the federal government, and reinstitute conservatism and common sense.
Here’s some food for thought for Republicans: Ron Paul is a digital politician in a digital world. His creative use of YouTube and other online networking tools has bridged a gap between 20-somethings and a 74-year-old man, proving that true conservatism is neither out-of-touch nor outdated.
McCain did not connect with the nation’s youth, while Obama did, provoking a record turnout of 18- to 29-year-old voters. Would the outcome of the 2008 election have been different, had Obama faced the dynamic, independent, web-savvy Paul, rather than the wishy-washy, semi-conservative McCain?
Would we, sixteen months later, face a threatening socialist attack on our precious principles and once-great nation? Or would we be experiencing a refreshing revival of liberty and prosperity?
Ending welfare reform
Barack Obama came to the presidency promising to be America's first post-partisan president. It is, therefore, ironic that one of his signature achievements has been to roll back one of the great bipartisan triumphs of the last two decades. Under the guise of helping unemployed Americans in a tough economy, the Obama administration and its congressional allies are reversing the 1996 welfare reforms that have been lauded as an overwhelming success by Republicans and Democrats alike for lifting millions of Americans from poverty.
Before welfare reform, under the federal assistance program called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), the federal government gave the states more money for every family they added to their welfare rolls. Not surprisingly, this system gave states a disincentive to help people transition from unemployment and dependence on government to work and independence. AFDC came under heavy criticism across the ideological spectrum for producing perverse incentives. These included out-of-wedlock births and perpetual unemployment. Recipients had little incentive to get off welfare; in fact, they had a disincentive to do so, because they could get paid indefinitely for not working.
Reforming the broken federal welfare system became a cornerstone of the Contract with America, which helped Republicans recapture Congress in 1994. Premised on reducing dependency on government, the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) passed Congress and was signed by President Clinton in 1996.
PRWORA replaced AFDC with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which drew on successful state-level innovations and emphasized, as the name suggests, time-limited financial aid. Under TANF, states got a block grant from the federal government, which gave states an incentive to cut their welfare rolls and get people into jobs. The reforms included requiring work after two years of benefits, implementing a lifetime limit of five years on benefits, encouraging two-parent families and married childbearing, and enhancing enforcement of child support.
Several further reforms have been made since 1996. Conditions for receiving welfare have been tightened, and states now enroll more welfare recipients with physical or mental disabilities. Some states even require welfare applicants to participate in employment counseling or job training as a prerequisite to receiving benefits. PRWORA was reauthorized in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.
Welfare reform has been an overwhelming success. Since 1996, welfare caseloads have decreased 70 percent, which translates into 8.8 million fewer people dependent on government. Child-poverty rates dropped, particularly among blacks and Hispanics. Teen pregnancies have (until recently) decreased, and child-support collections have increased.
Despite its success, or perhaps because of it, President Obama and his allies are doing all they can to destroy welfare reform. Mr. Obama's $862 billion stimulus package last February essentially abolished welfare reform by subsidizing the expansion of welfare rolls. The federal government now pays states 80 percent of the cost for each new family they add to their welfare rolls, a move that eliminates states' incentive to push welfare recipients into the job force. Partly as a consequence of the infusion of federal welfare funds, welfare rolls increased in 2009 for the first time since PRWORA was enacted, growing 5 percent as 200,000 more Americans were added.
Welfare encompasses not just cash assistance, but also food stamps, housing, Medicaid and scores of other programs across more than a dozen federal agencies. And Mr. Obama is committed to expanding them all. According to a September study from the Heritage Foundation:
"In his first two years in office, President Barack Obama will increase annual federal [welfare] spending by one-third from $522 billion to $697 billion. The combined two-year increase will equal almost $263 billion. After adjusting for inflation, this increase is 2 1/2 times greater than any previous increase in federal welfare spending in U.S. history."
Mr. Obama's welfare increases are not temporary. In fact, over the next decade, Mr. Obama will spend $10.3 trillion on welfare. That equals, according to the study, "approximately $250,000 for each person currently living in poverty in the U.S., or $1 million for a poor family of four."
Meanwhile, the president's newly proposed 2011 budget adds a new "emergency fund" to TANF at a cost of $2.5 billion.
The unraveling of welfare reform shouldn't be a surprise at a time when its adversaries have gathered power both in Congress and in the Oval Office. Many top Democrats in Congress voted against PRWORA, and in 1997 Mr. Obama, on the floor of the Illinois state Senate, said, "I probably would not have supported the federal [PRWORA] legislation."
The liberal justification for all this welfare spending is, in essence, that desperate times call for desperate measures. Or as Mr. Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, famously put it: "Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is [the recession is] an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before."
There's nothing wrong with enacting bold solutions to alleviate serious crises. But Mr. Obama and his allies are exploiting economic anxiety to destroy a successful law in pursuit of their goal of massively and permanently expanding the welfare state. We know why. Big-government proponents embrace both the power of the federal government and the idea that millions of Americans ought to be dependent on its largesse. It's time to return to our Founders' love for small government. More is not always better.
The U.S. Department of Labor should be abolished -- is of no benefit to the workers
By Rob Schwarzwalder
I was a member of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union for about seven years. In high school and graduate school, and for a couple of years thereafter, I loaded trucks, moved pallets and honed the fine art of rapidly throwing cans into paper bags.
So, when I suggest that the U.S. Department of Labor should be abolished, I do not do so with the airiness of an ideological theoretician. Working for hours in icy freezer-lockers, on the one hand, and on sweltering loading docks, on the other, tends to temper uninformed zeal.
First things first: The existence of the Labor Department has no basis in the Constitution. The Founders never envisioned a federal agency that "fosters and promotes the welfare of the job seekers, wage earners, and retirees of the United States by improving their working conditions, advancing their opportunities for profitable employment, protecting their retirement and health care benefits, helping employers find workers, strengthening free collective bargaining, and tracking changes in employment, prices, and other national economic measurements."
Got that? It's Labor's formal mission statement. It means that Uncle Sam is going to intrude endlessly into every facet of American private enterprise. And while some of Labor's purposes are noble ones, they (a) lack constitutional support and (b) are better done at the state and local level.
This, fundamentally, is a point of departure between left and right: Liberals believe that the federal government should superimpose itself on American society at large, and conservatives don't. The latter, of whom I am one, believe that the Founders were right in their argument that the functions of the federal government should be few and targeted. A gigantic, controlling and threatening federal employment bureaucracy was not one of them.
Second, state governments actually do serve a purpose. That's a shocking assertion to my friends on the left, certainly, but James Madison - aka the "Father of the Constitution" - was characteristically correct when, in 1794, he said, "The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general."
States have the authority to enact minimum wages, to subsidize private industry and regulate its behaviors, to hear complaints by employees against employers and ensure workplace safety. The federal government, constitutionally, does not. And it should not: It's too big and cannot do these kinds of things with particular efficiency or without arrogantly disturbing myriad local and regional entrepreneurial efforts and regulations.
There are 54 departments of labor (or the equivalents thereof) in our states and territories and the District of Columbia. Are they so incompetent, so heartless and so simply stupid that they cannot address issues of employee health, racial or religious discrimination, medical insurance, etc.? This is, evidently, the underlying if unspoken presumption of the governing elite within the Capital Beltway.
Third, consider some basic issues of efficiency: Why does Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs (backwardly acronymed ILAB) have a human-trafficking division when such a division already exists within the State Department? For that matter, why does the United States have an ILAB to begin with? Aren't Iceland and Ireland and Angola and Andorra capable of working with their own work forces?
Why the US economy could suffer another contraction : The US economy is now in a situation that is unique in its monetary history: a massive and totally unprecedented expansion in its monetary base followed by a contraction in bank deposits. Only an utterly incompetent Democratic administration could pull off a stunt like this
Does it make sense to resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act? : The policy makers of the Fed are of the view that they can somehow navigate the economy toward the path of stable economic growth. Their navigation via money pumping leads to fluctuations in the money supply's rate of growth. This in turn leads to the boom-bust cycles that the Fed supposedly is trying to smooth out or eliminate all together
The US recession and the myth of 1937 : The current situation has many people referring back to the Great Depression, particularly the 1937 downturn. As usual they are drawing the wrong conclusions. The lesson that so many have failed to grasp is that the Great Depression is a tragic testimony as to what can happen to a country when governments defy economic laws
Carbon taxes energy production and technology: more green nonsense : Trying to run an advanced economy on alternative energy sources would be an economic and social disaster. Moreover, the idea that raising the cost of energy will induce the emergence of new technologies could only be proposed by people completely ignorant of economic history and the history of technology
Green policies are laying down the foundations for future famines : The current frigid conditions affecting the Northern Hemisphere may not be an isolated weather event but may be a harbinger of natural climate change. In the meantime Australian politicians are deliberately sabotaging Australia's capacity to produce food
Has the US Department of Justice been turned into the Department of Jihad? : It has been revealed that Attorney General Eric Holder is knowingly putting extreme leftwing lawyers on the DOJ payroll, lawyers who volunteered their services pro bono to defend terrorists and are still doing everything within their power to have these mass murderers released. Holder's old firm of Covington & Burling has an appalling reputation for sympathizing with terrorists. Any sensible person would consider this firm's actions as bordering on treason
Obama: America's first cargo cult president : How much is obfuscation or deliberate deception? Are the political, educational and punditry high priests and priestesses true believers? Or do they just perpetuate the myths to perpetuate themselves? Is there a way to tell? To distinguish between the cultists and those who are not? Would it make any difference if we could?
I was a 'useful idiot' : The term 'useful idiot' was originally coined by Russian mass-murder Lenin, referring to blind defenders and apologists for the Soviet Union in the Western democracies. The most famous of these useful idiots was New York Times Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.
My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). For more blog postings from me, see 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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)
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)
Posted by JR at 7:07 PM