Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Big Lies in Politics

Thomas Sowell

The fact that so many successful politicians are such shameless liars is not only a reflection on them, it is also a reflection on us. When the people want the impossible, only liars can satisfy them, and only in the short run. The current outbreaks of riots in Europe show what happens when the truth catches up with both the politicians and the people in the long run.

Among the biggest lies of the welfare states on both sides of the Atlantic is the notion that the government can supply the people with things they want but cannot afford. Since the government gets its resources from the people, if the people as a whole cannot afford something, neither can the government.

There is, of course, the perennial fallacy that the government can simply raise taxes on "the rich" and use that additional revenue to pay for things that most people cannot afford. What is amazing is the implicit assumption that "the rich" are all such complete fools that they will do nothing to prevent their money from being taxed away. History shows otherwise.

After the Constitution of the United States was amended to permit a federal income tax, in 1916, the number of people reporting taxable incomes of $300,000 a year or more fell from well over a thousand to fewer than three hundred by 1921.

Were the rich all getting poorer? Not at all. They were investing huge sums of money in tax-exempt securities. The amount of money invested in tax-exempt securities was larger than the federal budget, and nearly half as large as the national debt.

This was not unique to the United States or to that era. After the British government raised their income tax on the top income earners in 2010, they discovered that they collected less tax revenue than before. Other countries have had similar experiences. Apparently the rich are not all fools, after all.

In today's globalized world economy, the rich can simply invest their money in countries where tax rates are lower.

So, if you cannot rely on "the rich" to pick up the slack, what can you rely on? Lies.

Nothing is easier for a politician than promising government benefits that cannot be delivered. Pensions such as Social Security are perfect for this role. The promises that are made are for money to be paid many years from now -- and somebody else will be in power then, left with the job of figuring out what to say and do when the money runs out and the riots start.

There are all sorts of ways of postponing the day of reckoning. The government can refuse to pay what it costs to get things done. Cutting what doctors are paid for treating Medicare patients is one obvious example.

That of course leads some doctors to refuse to take on new Medicare patients. But this process takes time to really make its full impact felt -- and elections are held in the short run. This is another growing problem that can be left for someone else to try to cope with in future years.

Increasing amounts of paperwork for doctors in welfare states with government-run medical care, and reduced payments to those doctors, in order to stave off the day of bankruptcy, mean that the medical profession is likely to attract fewer of the brightest young people who have other occupations available to them -- paying more money and having fewer hassles. But this too is a long-run problem -- and elections are still held in the short run.

Eventually, all these long-run problems can catch up with the wonderful-sounding lies that are the lifeblood of welfare state politics. But there can be a lot of elections between now and eventually -- and those who are good at political lies can win a lot of those elections.

As the day of reckoning approaches, there are a number of ways of seeming to overcome the crisis. If the government is running out of money, it can print more money. That does not make the country any richer, but it quietly transfers part of the value of existing money from people's savings and income to the government, whose newly printed money is worth just as much as the money that people worked for and saved.

Printing more money means inflation -- and inflation is a quiet lie, by which a government can keep its promises on paper, but with money worth much less than when the promises were made.

Is it so surprising voters with unrealistic hopes elect politicians who lie about being able to fulfill those hopes?



Domestic propaganda OK?

An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill….

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.

The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.
The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.

In a little noticed press release earlier in the week — buried beneath the other high-profile issues in the $642 billion defense bill, including indefinite detention and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations — Thornberry warned that in the Internet age, the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.”

The bill’s supporters say the informational material used overseas to influence foreign audiences is too good to not use at home, and that new techniques are needed to help fight Al-Qaeda, a borderless enemy whose own propaganda reaches Americans online.

Critics of the bill say there are ways to keep America safe without turning the massive information operations apparatus within the federal government against American citizens.



Should we obey all laws?

By Walter E. Williams

Professor of Economics at George Mason University
Let's think about whether all acts of Congress deserve our respect and obedience. Suppose Congress enacted a law -- and the Supreme Court ruled it constitutional -- requiring American families to attend church services at least three times a month. Should we obey such a law? Suppose Congress, acting under the Constitution's commerce clause, enacted a law requiring motorists to get eight hours of sleep before driving on interstate highways. Its justification might be that drowsy motorists risk highway accidents and accidents affect interstate commerce. Suppose you were a jury member during the 1850s and a free person were on trial for assisting a runaway slave, in clear violation of the Fugitive Slave Act. Would you vote to convict and punish?

A moral person would find each one of those laws either morally repugnant or to be a clear violation of our Constitution. You say, "Williams, you're wrong this time. In 1859, in Ableman v. Booth, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 constitutional." That court decision, as well as some others in our past, makes my case. Moral people can't rely solely on the courts to establish what's right or wrong. Slavery is immoral; therefore, any laws that support slavery are also immoral. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, "to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions (is) a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy."

Soon, the Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare, euphemistically titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. There is absolutely no constitutional authority for Congress to force any American to enter into a contract to buy any good or service. But if the court rules that Obamacare is constitutional, what should we do?

State governors and legislators ought to summon up the courage of our Founding Fathers in response to the 5th Congress' Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. Led by Jefferson and James Madison, the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798 and 1799 were drafted where legislatures took the position that the Alien and Sedition Acts were unconstitutional. They said, "Resolved, That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government ... (and) whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force." The 10th Amendment to our Constitution supports that vision: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

In a word, if the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is constitutional, citizens should press their state governors and legislatures to nullify the law. You say, "Williams, the last time states got into this nullification business, it led to a war that cost 600,000 lives." Two things are different this time. First, most Americans are against Obamacare, and secondly, I don't believe that you could find a U.S. soldier who would follow a presidential order to descend on a state to round up or shoot down fellow Americans because they refuse to follow a congressional order to buy health insurance.

Congress has already gone far beyond the powers delegated to it by the Constitution. In Federalist No. 45, Madison explained: "The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite." That vision has been turned on its head; it's the federal government whose powers are numerous and indefinite, and those of the state are now few and defined.

Former slave Frederick Douglass advised: "Find out just what people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them. ... The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."



Obama: Promises Broken, Promises Kept

President Obama has broken many of his promises aimed at the general public and jobless Americans, but he has kept promises to his left-wing base that involved divisive wedge issues.

He promised to create 7 million new jobs on seven different occasions in 2008. But these jobs have not materialized: “just 16 states have seen job growth since President Obama took office,” overwhelmingly conservative states like Texas that have rejected liberal economic policies. “The remaining states have lost a combined 1.4 million jobs since January 2009.” Unemployment has risen, despite the fact that many people have given up looking for a job, concealing increases in joblessness. (The broadest measure of real unemployment is 15.6 percent.)

President Obama promised to cut the deficit at least six times. He also promised a “net spending cut.” These promises were swiftly broken. In 2009, the president broke them in a big way with his very first proposed budget. It mandated such large increases in spending that budget deficits would rise by $4.8 trillion under it to $9.3 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

He has broken at least ten other campaign promises, including seven promises in signing the $800 billion stimulus package (which will shrink the economy in the “long run”), and one promise in signing the Lilly Ledbetter law and the SCHIP tax increase.

On the other hand, President Obama kept his pledge to federalize hate crimes, which were already prohibited by state laws, by signing into law a broad federal hate crimes law in 2009. (Obama promised to “place the weight of (his) administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to (federally) outlaw hate crimes.”) Since violent crimes were already prohibited by state law, and most states already had laws increasing penalties for crimes motivated by race or sexual orientation, the principal effect of the 2009 federal hate crimes law was to allow federal prosecutors to reprosecute people had previously been acquitted and found not guilty of a crime in state court, or were never prosecuted in state court because state prosecutors viewed the evidence against them as weak.

And, indeed, one of the purposes of the federal hate crimes law was to take advantage of a loophole in constitutional protections against double jeopardy. As interpreted by the Supreme Court, constitutional protections against double jeopardy prevent a state from reprosecuting a person who has been found not guilty in state court, but do not, owing to the loophole, prevent federal prosecutors from reprosecuting someone after they have been found innocent of the same crime in state court. This loophole is known as the “dual sovereignty” doctrine. The Obama administration may make use of this loophole in a recent high-profile, racially-charged case in Florida. The specter of such reprosecutions led the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and civil-libertarians like Nat Hentoff to oppose the federal hate-crimes law.



Corruption from a Left-leaning court

Well the dust up about the million dollar meeting in Maui has finally registered with the judges planning on spending some quality meeting time in a tropical paradise. Here's what the court has to say:
As part of the Third Branch of government, the Ninth Circuit is fully aware of its responsibilities as a steward of public funds. The conference is authorized by law "for the purpose of considering the business of the courts and advising means of improving the administration of justice within the circuit." [§ 28 U.S.C. Sec. 333] The conference fully adheres to these goals, providing an exceptional educational program and the opportunity to conduct numerous business meetings that further circuit governance. Judges and other attendees take seriously their obligation to participate fully in the conference. Costs for lodging and air travel to attend the conference are comparative to those found at mainland venues. Any sporting and recreational activities are paid for by individuals and are not reimbursable.

Considering that attendees traveling on government funds will have around $200 a day to spare for meals an incidental expenses (as part of their per diem) which require no direct accounting, the last sentence, while technically true is a bit of misdirection.

But enough with the boring accounting details, let's get to an examination of the schedule. Below is an abbreviated listing of some of the advertised activities:

Saturday, August 11
12:00 p.m. - Conference Registration desk opens

Sunday, August 12
5:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. - Sport Fishing
12:00 p.m. - Golf Tournament

Monday, August 13
9:00 a.m. - Yoga
9:00 a.m. - Surfing Lessons
9:00 a.m. - Stand-up Paddle Board Lessons
12:00 p.m. - Welcome Luncheon & Book Review for Spouses & Guests
2:00 p.m. - Zumba
4:30 p.m. - Opening Program
6:00 p.m. - No-host Cocktail Reception
7:00 p.m. - Maui Dine Around

Tuesday, August 14
9:00 a.m. - Yoga
9:00 a.m. - Surfing Lessons
9:00 a.m. - Stand-up Paddle Board Lessons
1:00 p.m. - Tennis Tournament
2:00 p.m. - Floral Design Workshop (includes flowers & supplies)
7:00 p.m. - District Dinners

Wednesday, August 15
9:00 a.m. - Yoga
9:00 a.m. - Surfing Lessons
9:00 a.m. - Stand-up Paddle Board Lessons
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. - Day Trip and Tour of Upcountry Maui
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. - Gemini Catamaran Snorkel Trip (includes gear & lunch)
2:45 p.m. - A special treat! Ice Cream Social
6:00 p.m. - The Aloha Experience

Thursday, August 16
9:00 a.m. - Yoga
9:00 a.m. - Stand-up Paddle Board Lessons

Oh sure the judges could attend boring meetings and lectures, but it looks like they've got those who want to play hooky covered as well...




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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)


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