"After a while, the United States is simply too much: too much religion and not enough gods, too much news and not enough wisdom, too many weapons of mass destruction ... too much entertainment and not enough beauty, too much electricity and not enough light. ... And the worst excess of all: too many wars, too much misery and brutality — reflected as much in our own eyes as in those of our enemies."
"Of all of the presidential contenders’ slogans this year, Barack Obama’s have been the most interesting. His campaign creed is: “Yes, we can.” To which any reasonable person would ask: “Can what?” The answer, of course, is: “Hope.” But again, a reasonable person might ask: “Hope for what?” To which the answer confidently comes back from the Obama campaign: “For change.” Indeed Obama’s signs say: “Change We Can Believe In,” as opposed, one supposes, to the unbelievable changes. But the elementary problem with this—which any student of logic might raise—is that change can be for the better or for the worse.
Democrats in general, I would submit, confuse change with improvement. They fail to weigh the costs and benefits of change, to consider its unintended consequences, or to worry about what we need to conserve and how we might go about doing that faithfully. They ask Americans to embrace change for its own sake, in the faith that history is governed by a law of progress, which guarantees that change is almost always an improvement. The ability to bring about historical change, then, becomes the highest mark of the liberal leader. Thus Hillary Clinton quickly joined Obama on the change bandwagon. Her initial claim of “experience” sounded in retrospect a bit too boring—indeed, almost Republican in its plainness. So “Ready on Day One” signs morphed into “Ready for Change.”
Republican slogans have not been much better. Mitt Romney’s was: “Washington is Broken.” This populist refrain echoed, among others, Ross Perot’s from 1992. Romney, of course, was less a populist than an expert offering his skill as a businessman-consultant. He appealed to the old Republican fantasy that if only Washington could be run as efficiently as a private business, all would be well. But government is a very different thing from business: Elected officials can’t hire or fire government employees at will, are responsible to an electorate at regular intervals, and, above all, must try to persuade people about goals that-—unlike, say, pursuing higher profits—are amorphous and disputable.
As for John McCain, he doesn’t really have a slogan, unless we count “Mac is Back.” McCain differentiated himself from Romney by saying that he is a leader rather than a manager. A leader, McCain argued, appeals to patriotism rather than self-interest. Certainly McCain’s leading characteristic is his personal honor, which—unlike many republican men of honor—he talks about a lot and in public. He fits the traditional category of a war hero-turned-politician, but with one important difference. Usually war heroes are victorious generals, whereas McCain is famous as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, a war that ended in defeat. This fact helps to explain the somewhat prickly and self-referential quality to his sense of honor. He despises self-interest and likes to say so frequently in public, whether it’s the self-interest involved in campaign contributions (which he wants to regulate), attitudes towards illegal immigration (he imputes to its critics the most selfish motives), or even something like waterboarding (a kind of selfish act, motivated by an urgent sense of national interest). McCain stands against all considerations of low self-interest—or maybe any self-interest—in favor of doing the honorable thing, which sometimes turns out to mean simply doing the thing that John McCain wants to do."
Editor, Claremont Review of Books
Read more of “Limited Government: Are the Good Times Really Over?”
at 5/16/2008 Posted by Sunny Badger
"From a certain point of view—let’s call it, for shorthand purposes, the libertarian point of view, or the view associated this year with Ron Paul—every dollar that government spends comes at the cost of freedom. The premise of this view is that government and freedom are opposites—that all government is oppression. By this way of thinking, limited government is simply limited oppression, differing in magnitude but not in kind from tyranny. Interestingly, this notion does not come originally from any libertarian thinker or friend of freedom. It comes from Machiavelli, the great analyst of open and hidden power, of force and fraud. From Machiavelli’s point of view, there’s no difference between just and unjust government, which are the same phenomenon called by different names. All government, whether considered to be just or unjust, is oppression. Just government is the kind we happen to agree with and profit from, and unjust is the opposite kind.
Against this view stand the American Founders and the greatest statesmen, who have always sharply distinguished between just and unjust—or between free and tyrannical—forms of government. What is the Declaration of Independence but a great meditation on the difference between the absolute despotism contemplated by King George III and the freedom that the Americans hoped to enjoy under their own form of self-government? The Declaration does not proclaim that just government is merely less oppressive than unjust government—as if the American republic and, say, Nazi Germany were separated only by degrees of tyranny. Our ancestors thought that republican governments like ours were good because, grounded in human nature and operating by law and consent, they affirmed human liberty. Though fundamentally devoted to the protection of our natural rights, such governments, especially at the local level, might also provide instruction in morality, because republican habits and customs are needed to shape a republican citizenry who can keep government limited, and who have the character to make liberty something good and enduring."
Editor, Claremont Review of Books
Read more at Imprimis.
at 5/15/2008 Posted by Sunny Badger
McCain Embraces Climate Change!!!
PORTLAND, Ore. — John McCain launched a green-tinted courtship of West Coast swing voters on Monday, with a call to action on global warming and an indictment of the Bush administration's "failed" policies to combat it.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee visited the wind-power technology firm Vestas, near Portland International Airport, to decry melting polar ice, vanishing glaciers, changes in animal migration and "rising temperatures and waters," all products, he said, of a reliance on fossil fuels that threatens America's economy and security.
Read more Chris and Curt.
at 5/14/2008 Posted by Sunny Badger
“Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate. It will purge the rottenness out of the system...and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people.”
US Secretary of the Treasury during the Republican administrations of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover administrations
In the darkest days of the Depression, Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, one of the richest men in the United States, opposed any government action to stem the tide of plunging business activity and soaring unemployment. Instead, he urged a policy of supreme indifference.
John Maynard Keynes, for one, thought that prescriptions like Mellon's were preposterous. The economist called those who held such views "austere and puritanical souls" who believed that it would "be a victory for the mammon of unrighteousness" if general prosperity were not "subsequently balanced by universal bankruptcy." Keynes perceived too much good in prosperity to treat it as the enemy, and he revolutionized economic theory to prove his point.
"One of the prevailing theories at the time of the Depression was the so-called "liquidationist thesis" - which said basically "let's let the system return to normal. Let's liquidate banks; let's liquidate labor." This was Andrew Mellon, the Treasury secretary [from 1921 to 1932]. It was partly on the basis of that theory that the Federal Reserve stood by and let a third of the banks in the country fail, which caused the money supply to drop sharply, and prices to fall rather sharply, and led ultimately to the severity of the financial crisis.
I think financial instability, which was not addressed by government or anyone else, was a major contributor, both to the Depression in the US and abroad. I believe the difference today is that we will address financial issues and try to maintain the integrity and stability of our financial system. We will not let prices fall at 10% a year. We will act as needed to keep the economy growing and stable. So, I think there are some very significant differences between the thirties and today, and we learned a great deal from that episode."
April 2, 2008
before Congress' Joint Economic Committee
Liquidation is the only answer.
at 5/13/2008 Posted by Sunny Badger
Cuba gives raises to retirees, court employees; says more salary increases on way
Cuba's government on Sunday announced sizable raises for retirees and court employees, and promised future pay hikes for other government workers, saying the increases would target lower-income islanders in a bid to reduce inequalities.
The pay increases — which will affect almost one in five Cubans — were the first since 2005 and the first since Raul Castro replaced his ailing brother Fidel as president. Since taking office in February, he has done away with some of Cuba's most-despised restrictions on daily life, bolstering his popularity and sparking rumors that more changes are coming.
Read more comrades.
at 5/11/2008 Posted by Sunny Badger