Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Saving America From The “Make Somebody Else Pay” Mindset
“I don’t know what ‘moral grounds’ you think you’re standing on, but as far as I am concerned, what you’re saying is very immoral…”
I was an interview guest last month, and the radio talk show host was asking me about the looming fiscal cliff. In the midst of discussing how our government must cut spending, the host had noted the title of my latest book – “The Virtues Of Capitalism, A Moral Case For Free Markets” – and after a few minutes of discussion, asked “do you mind if we take a phone call, Austin?”
Sometimes that word “moral” in the book title gets people very upset. This was one of those times.
“I’m a Pastor,” the show caller said, “and my Bible tells me that the ‘moral’ thing to do is to to love and to pray for our President, not to hate on him.” I noted to the caller that I had not said a word about President Obama. “Yeah, but all this rhetoric about ‘fiscal responsibility’ and ‘cutting spending’ is code talk for ‘I hate it that Obama won.’ Obama did win, and he did not create this crisis, so get over it…”
Thus was my experience a few weeks ago, being interviewed on a radio talk show in the “Bible Belt” region of the U.S. And the reaction I got from the clergyman (he has since emailed me, and I have every reason to believe that he’s really a Pastor) underscores some serious problems in our country. They are problems that both underlie, and yet transcend, our government debt crisis.
For one, Americans far too often trivialize our nation’s public policy. The Super Bowl is about “my team versus your team,” but debates about the laws and policies of our country are far more important. When Americans dismiss concerns over government debt as “you’re just hatin’ on my guy” – as the talk show caller did to me, and as many other Americans do regularly – then we’re in serious trouble.
Government debt is at a “code red” level of danger, and the choices that elected officials make over the coming two to four years or so will shape the world and our country’s future for decades to come. Save your zealotry for the “big game” – it’s time for Americans to engage their brains, not merely their passions.
And here’s another problem: far too many Americans seem to be illiterate when it comes to basic economics. We understand competition and excellence, success and failure, when it’s on the playing field or American Idol. But success in business is presumed by many to be ill-gotten gain, and people who make lots of money with successful enterprises are frequently dismissed as “greedy,” and deserving of more government confiscation of their money.
Worse yet, many of us seem to lose all sense of reality when it comes to the economic promises of politicians. Most American adults seem to understand that a drunken person cannot drink themselves to sobriety, and that no individual or household can spend their way out of debt. Yet when politicians promise to “help” us by spending more of our money, many of us seem to believe it.
Yet the existing federal government debt, on a per-capita basis, translates to approximately $54,000 per individual citizen, and about $200,000 per household. Simply saying “I don’t understand economics very well” is unacceptable. Americans must grow up and realize that a stable society needs prosperous private enterprise, and government that operates within its means.
And here’s a really tough one that our overwhelmingly religious nation needs to understand: economic systems are neither morally relative, nor are they morally neutral. Big government, little government, high and low taxes – these distinctions are not morally inconsequential. The President and the Congress can be blamed for running up debt, but they are an expression of the American electorate’s desires. If there was sufficient political pressure for fiscal responsibility in Washington, then there would be a sufficient number of elected congressional members who would require it, and the President would get on board with it too.
Likewise, it is not morally inconsequential to support a “make somebody else pay” public policy. Indeed, this is morally reprehensible. Amid an environment where nearly 50% of all households are receiving one or more types of government benefit checks, Americans mostly support the President’s “soak the rich” fiscal policy. Yet many of us are indignant at the thought of paying more taxes ourselves (and many more are outraged that, despite the President’s promises to the contrary, all of us who work are having more taxes taken out of our paychecks this year).
In my native homeland of California, the “make somebody else pay” philosophy could not be more obvious. Last November, voters there rejected a modest state sales tax increase that was on the ballot (a tax that would have impacted all consumers), yet overwhelmingly supported an income tax hike on – you guessed it, “rich people.” “Don’t stop my government services,” a majority of California voters seemed to say, “but make somebody else pay for it.”
Debt, out of control spending, and making somebody else pay – they all amount to a lethal combination. Will Americans grow up in sufficient time to choose more wisely?
Federal appeals court upholds Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s restrictions on public unions
A federal appeals court on Friday upheld Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s contentious law stripping most public workers of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights in a decision hailed by Republicans but not undoing a state court ruling keeping much of the law from being in effect.
The decision marks the latest twist in a two-year battle over the law that Walker proposed in February 2011 and passed a month later despite massive protests and Senate Democrats leaving for Illinois in a failed attempt to block a vote on the measure.
The law forced public union members to pay more for health insurance and pension benefits, which Walker said was needed to address a budget shortfall. It also took away nearly all their bargaining rights.
Walker and Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who fought for passage of the bill, called the ruling a win for Wisconsin taxpayers.
“As we’ve said all along, Act 10 is constitutional,” Walker said in a statement, referring to the law’s official designation.
The decision, however, does not resolve a flurry of other lawsuits that have been filed over the law.
The most positive ruling for unions came in September when a state circuit court judge said the law was unconstitutional as applied to school and local government workers. That ruling is under appeal to the state appeals court.
While Friday’s 2-1 ruling by a panel of the 7th Circuit could influence the state appeals court and others hearing the cases, it’s not binding, said Paul Secunda, a Marquette University law professor. It certainly doesn’t signal the end of the legal fights, he said, and it could be appealed to the full federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court.
The law in question prohibits most public employees from collectively bargaining on anything except wages. It also requires public unions to hold an annual election to see whether members want the organization to continue to exist, and it bars unions from automatically withdrawing dues from members’ paychecks.
More HERE. Commentary here.
Debunking some current myths
I think Steve Deace has a point below. Readers may have noted that I was very unenthusiastic about the centrist Romney. I posted practically nothing in his favor. Clear conservative leadership is needed from here on in --JR
Lie and clever myth #1: Republicans lose elections because they’re too conservative so independents side with Democrats.
TRUTH: Romney won independent voters in the crucial battleground states of Virginia and Ohio, two of the three states he had to win to win the presidency. In Florida, the other battleground state Romney had to have, he actually did 8 points better among independents than McCain did in 2008. In Colorado, Romney won independents by four points, which was 14 points better than McCain performed there four years ago.
Lie and clever myth #2: Romney lost because of the GOP’s alleged “war on women” so that means Republicans can’t be pro-life anymore.
TRUTH: What the GOP really has is a diversity problem. White voters in every demographic – including women and young voters – voted for Romney. Let me repeat that: a majority of white voters regardless of age and gender voted for Romney. For example, Romney won white women by 14 points. A massive turnout of racial and ethnic minorities – black turnout was equal to 2008 and the Hispanic turnout was a little higher – determined the election and gave Obama the support he needed to win.
Lie and clever myth #3: The Republicans energized their base, but it’s just shrinking so the party has to move left.
TRUTH: Remember the promises of 17 million evangelicals going to the polls that didn’t in 2008? Or perhaps you were sold on that Catholic voter backlash to Obamacare and its threat to religious freedom turning out values voters in a way Romney was incapable? Well, it turns out that neither happened.
The reality is 2.5 million fewer Evangelicals voted in 2012 than 2008. Fewer Catholics voted in 2012 than 2008 as well, despite the presence of two Catholic vice presidential candidates. 6.4 million Evangelicals actually voted for Obama. In the crucial battleground state of Ohio, Obama actually improved his white Evangelical turnout by 8% compared to four years ago. That’s probably because of the automobile bailout, but also pro-choice television ads Romney was running in Ohio that angered some pro-lifers. Romney also ran those pro-choice television ads in Virginia, and CNN’s exit polls found the Evangelical turnout declined by 7% compared to 2008.
Yes, Romney did get the same hefty percentage of Evangelical voters that George W. Bush got in his victorious 2004 campaign, but the turnout wasn’t as large.
Efforts to make Romney’s liberal record on social issues seem palatable in contrast to President Obama’s leftist social policies didn’t pan out, as yet again the social conservative base of the Republican Party proved it doesn’t turn out in full force unless it sees stark differences between the two candidates themselves—regardless of what a candidate’s proxies say. Apparently when Romney told the Chick-fil-a crowd last August you’re “not a part of my campaign” they got the message.
But Christians weren’t the only social conservatives Romney failed to successfully turn out. Get this: Romney even did worse among his fellow Mormons than George W. Bush did in 2004 if you can believe that.
Romney lost the election in the end because his base wasn’t as energized as Obama’s was. All the so-called “skewed” polling that pointed to an Obama turnout of Democrats similar to 2008 turned out to be correct.
If you count the 2.5 million fewer Evangelicals that voted compared to 2008, and the 6.4 million Evangelicals that voted for Obama, a future Republican nominee has almost 9 million potential new voters in 2016 if he actually reaches out to them credibly and consistently.
Adding a majority of those 9 million voters to Romney’s 2012 coalition would make the Republican nominee virtually unbeatable in 2016. But to accomplish that feat he or she will have to make them feel welcome in the party, and assure them that he or she shares their courage of conviction.
These patriots want something to vote for and not just against.
Persistent future attempts to sell them on milquetoast while scaring them into voting against dastardly Democrats may profit those doing the selling, but will likely result in even more of them staying home four years from now—and thus the GOP losing the popular vote for the sixth time in the last seven presidential elections.
The real numbers show patriots are growing increasingly tired of being asked to cast votes they know they won’t be proud of later. Modernization of the Republican Party is one thing, but moderation is another.
The GOP leadership now has a choice: stand for something and win, or stand for nothing and lose. It appears its base won’t move left with it, so if the party moves left it will need a new base.
Left takes aim at corporate political activity
A good rule of thumb in politics is that when someone says he wants to reform the system, he's often just trying to tilt it in his own direction. Somehow, "fairness" always has a way of delivering control to the groups the reformer prefers.
That is the case with the current push to get the Securities and Exchange Commission to require the disclosure of all corporate spending on political activity. This would primarily affect money given to groups that lobby on companies' behalf, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers.
Advocates frame this as an effort to provide openness and transparency. But the real motive here is to pressure corporations to reduce their political spending, in the process undermining a vital counterweight to left-wing environmental and labor groups.
This is the latest front in the Left's war against corporate involvement in politics and policy since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. This effort goes beyond that, though, because that case involved only election-related activity. The proposed SEC rule would involve lobbying and issue campaigns, as well.
The SEC push was initiated by a group of law professors and has since been joined by the usual group of liberal activist groups and Big Labor, in this case calling themselves the Corporate Reform Coalition. "The SEC has a responsibility to protect investors by regulating the securities markets to ensure that they have the information they need to make investment decisions," coalition member Public Citizen said in statement last week. "Shareholders have a right to know how the companies in their investment portfolio are spending their invested money."
Why should shareholders worry about this political giving? Public Citizen explains that it "may endanger the company's brand by embroiling it in hot button issues." Endanger it how? From Public Citizen and the other coalition members, who may try to punish their political spending with PR campaigns, boycotts and other pressure tactics. You know the routine -- you have a nice company here. Be a shame if something happened to it ...
In and of itself, disclosure sounds like a reasonable enough goal, until you realize that shareholders can already require this corporate disclosure by voting for it at shareholder meetings. But liberal groups haven't been able to find shareholders who are fuming over this lack of disclosure. After all, corporate political activity, for good or ill, is usually conducted to help increase the value of the corporations that shareholders own. In short, the activists are now trying to get the SEC to do their work for them.
Everybody affected by the government's rules and regulations has a right to make his or her voice heard and to do so without fear of reprisal. And, yes, that includes companies and the people who own them.
There is nothing wrong with companies making such information public -- and some of them do. But if shareholders don't care to do so, the SEC has no business forcing them to do it. If other shareholders want the information made public but find themselves in the minority, that's democracy. They can always sell their shares and invest in a company whose shareholders see it differently.
There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc
For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena . GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.
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Posted by JR at 1:36 AM