Weekly Roundup

First, from Walter Williams, A Minority View: Excused Horrors.

Nazis were responsible for the deaths of 20 million of their own people and those in nations they conquered. Between 1917 and 1983, Stalin and his successors murdered, or were otherwise responsible for the deaths of, 62 million of their own people. Between 1949 and 1987, Mao Tsetung and his successors were responsible for the deaths of 76 million Chinese.

For decades after World War II, people have hunted down and sought punishment for Nazi murderers. How much hunting down and seeking punishment for Stalinist and Maoist murderers?

…the reason why the world’s leftists give the world’s most horrible murderers a pass is because they sympathize with their socioeconomic goals, which include government ownership and/or control over the means of production. In the U.S., the call is for government control, through regulations, as opposed to ownership. Unfortunately, it matters little whether there is a Democratically or Republican-controlled Congress and White House; the march toward greater government control continues. It just happens at a quicker pace with Democrats in charge.

In Worse Than Taxes, John Stossel makes the point that while taxes are bad enough, what’s worse – and gets little attention – is government spending.

[California and New York] would have big surpluses had they just grown their governments in pace with inflation. But of course they didn’t. Now the politicians act like their current deficits are something imposed on them by the recession.

Had the government of New York state grown at the rate of population and inflation over the past 10 years, it would have a $14 billion surplus today. Instead, spending grew at twice the rate of inflation (http://tinyurl.com/yguvfpm). So New York has a $3 billion deficit.

Stossel quotes Walter Williams:

It reminds me of Walter Williams’ riff: “Politicians are worse than thieves. At least when thieves take your money, they don’t expect you to thank them for it.”

And Milton Friedman:

The true burden of government, the late Milton Friedman said, is the spending level. Taxation is just one way government gets money. The other ways — borrowing and inflation — are equally burdens on the people. (State governments can’t inflate, but they sure can borrow.)

All Politicians Are Narcissists

This post at Cafe Hayek reminded me of one my key rules: 

Assume all politicians are narcissist. 

Even the one’s I vote for.   I do not trust them.  I will not spend much energy defending them.  That’s why I love the design of checks and balances in our government.  It’s tough to get a bunch of narcissists to agree with eachother.

Same goes for most people in the entertainment biz. 

The only exception is when I hear a blatant misrepresentation.  For example, my two word defense to people who call Rush Limbaugh racist is “prove it”.  He may be.  I don’t know.  I can’t get into his mind to see what he really thinks.  But, to make that judgement I need evidence.

If I catch myself falling for one of these guys (Sarah Palin), I remind myself of my key rule.  Sarah wrote a book with a big picture of her on the cover.  I’m sure I’ll read it.  Good for her.  I’m sure she wrote really good things.  But, there’s a big picture of her on the cover.  She’s a narcissist.   

 Now, I can already hear some asking, “aren’t you a hypocrite?  You tell others to prove Rush is racist, but you assume all politicians are racist.” 

For that, I’d give you some credit.  However, I’d point out that my rule is, first and foremost, a defense mechanism meant to keep me from getting too disappointed when humans turn out to be humans. 

Second, I can believe someone is a narcissist, but still hear them out on their beliefs about how the world works and decide whether I agree or not.  It would not be easy to do that with someone who I believe is a racist, which is the exact reason why people call Rush racist.  Those people don’t want you to listen to what he has to say.

Critical Thinker Award

Andrew Hienze wins my most recent Critical Thinker Award for writing, What Health Reform Will Do to My Insurance, which appeared in the Wall Street Journal on November 13.

In the article, Hienze, “a registered Democrat living in New York City,” explores what will happen to his health insurance if the current House bill is signed into law. 

I award Hienze the Critical Thinker Award for taking an honest look of the real consequences of the good intentions of the health care reform.  I contrast that with others who write only about the good intentions of the bill.  Good intentions are fine, but intentions often do not match results.

Hienze uses real world experience.  He lives in New York, which already prohibits insurers from denying coverage due to a pre-existing medical condition.  He writes,

The result is that HMO plans in the state are now very expensive. The price of Empire’s basic, least expensive HMO plan is more than $13,000 a year for an individual, more than $26,000 a year for a married couple, and more than $39,000 a year for a family with children.

The result is that Hienze cannot afford full health coverage in New York.  He buys a hospitalization plan that covers hospital expenses in the event of injury or illness.  It does not cover the cost of physicians that are not hospital employees.  Under the currently proposed health care reform bill, his hospitalization plan would not be considered a qualified plan, so he would have to pay a fine that is about the same amount that he currently pays for his hospitalization plan – $2,000 per year.

I Like the Way He Runs the Country

Long ago I asked a friend what he liked about the then President.  He replied, “I like the way he runs the country.”

At the time, I didn’t understand what was fundamentally wrong with his statement.  Now I do.  Many today make the same mistake my friend made.

The President does not run the country.   He barely runs the government.  He commands the military, approves or disapproves of legislation from Congress, makes lower level appointments and nominates people for higher level appointments such as Supreme Court Justice, with Senate approval and makes treaties, again with Senate approval.

The oath of the President is: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The fundamental mistake I encounter in conversation after conversation is this implicit idea that the President runs the country much like how a CEO runs a company.  That idea underlies such statements as: “Let’s give him a chance.  The other guy wasn’t getting things done.”  “There is no right or wrong, let’s just see if this works.”

The goal of the Office is to defend the Constitution of the United States, not to ensure that every pot has a chicken.

The goal of the Constitution of the United States is to protect citizens from the illegitimate exercise of power from others and from the government itself.

There is a right and wrong.  We shouldn’t be wondering if “this guy” will get things done.  It should be really, really clear.

The President is either preserving, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States with the powers vested in the Executive Branch or he is not.

We should be able to trace each of his official actions, platforms, positions back to the powers enumerated to the by the Constitution or we cannot.

It’s that simple.  It’s that clear.

We can choose to learn from the billions of other humans who have lived (and still live) under kings, dictators, despots and other forms of centralized authority or we can choose not to.

A Few Good Columns

The first from John Stossel.  In it, he links to and quotes from a blog post from Mario Rizzo.  One interesting quote regarding the stimulus package:

At the outset of the Obama Administration, as Greg Mankiw reminds us, their economists laid out a series of predictions about where the unemployment rate would be with the stimulus package and without it. Currently, the economy is doing worse than their predictions of unemployment without the stimulus and, of course, much worse than the predictions with stimulus.

The stimulus apologists are ignoring the original prediction based on a model. By that prediction the stimulus is doing harm.

History shows us that several financial crises in the U.S. healed on their own rather quickly prior compared to financial crises after the 1930s, when it became en vogue for government to try and right the ship.

Another good column from Walter Williams, Is Disagreement with Obama Racism?

Race is no longer the problem that it once was. That doesn’t mean there are not white and black bigots and that every vestige of racial discrimination has been eliminated. What little racial discrimination remains is nowhere near the insurmountable barrier it once was. For the most part, white bigots are no longer respected among whites and I look forward to the day when black bigots are no longer respected among blacks.

When one says that race is no longer the problem it once was, it is not the same as saying that there are not major problems that confront a large segment of the black population. Grossly fraudulent education is a major problem but it has nothing to do with racial discrimination as evidenced by the fact that the worse education received is in the very cities where blacks dominate the political structure. Crime is a major problem but it has nothing to do with racial discrimination, particularly in light of the fact that blacks commit most of the violent crime in America and well over 90 percent of their victims are black. The fact of a 70 percent illegitimacy rate and only 35 percent of black children raised in two-parent homes is a major problem but it has nothing to do with racial discrimination.

Americans should disavow and not fall prey to the racial rope-a-dope being played on us by the nation’s race hustlers.

Who's selfish?

From the book America Alone by Mark Steyn:

This is the paradox of “social democracy.” When you demand lower taxes and less government, you’re damned by the Left as “selfish.” And, to be honest, in my case that’s true. I’m glad to find a town road at the bottom of my driveway in the morning and I’m happy to pay for the Army and new fire truck for a volunteer fire department every now and then, but other than that, I’d like to keep everything I earn and spend it on my priorities.

The Left, for its part, offers an appeal of moral virtue: it’s better to pay more in taxes and to share the burdens as a community. It’s kindler, gentler, more compassionate, more equitable. Unfortunately, as recent European election results demonstrate, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than socially equitable communitarianism: once a fellow’s enjoying the fruits of government health care and all the rest, he couldn’t give a hoot about general societal interest; he’s got his, and if it’s going to bankrupt the state a generation hence, well, as long as they can keep the checks coming till he’s dead, it’s fine by him.  “Social democracy” is, it turns out, explicitly anti-social.

That last fellow sounds like a Social Security recipient at the mere mention of alteration to SS to ensure that future generations get theirs’.