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Steyn: Health Care Is Liberty Issue

Mark Steyn nails it on the health-care issue:

The president needs to get something passed. Anything. The details don’t matter. Once it’s in place, health-care ‘reform’ can be re-reformed endlessly. Indeed, you’ll be surprised how little else we talk about. So, for example, public funding for abortions can be discarded now, and written in — as it surely will be by some judge — down the road. What matters is to ram it through, get it done, pass it now — in whatever form.

If this seems a perverse obsession for a nation with a weak economy, rising unemployment, and a war on two fronts, it has a very sound strategic logic behind it.

As I wrote in National Review a week or two back, health care is the fastest way to a permanent left-of-center political culture. That’s its attraction for an ambitious president: It redefines the relationship between the citizen and the state in a way that hands all the advantages to statists — to those who believe government has a legitimate right to regulate human affairs in every particular. [emphasis mine]

I hope Obama’s health-care bill does not pass, but I don’t want it to fail because the costs are insane — (the Congressional Budget Office estimates the proposed plan will cost over $1 trillion over the next five years). I don’t want any government plan for health care. I oppose state-run health care because it is a leftist power grab that comes from people who only want more power over others. The left has an insatiable and irrational desire to run everybody’s lives — from how much of your own money you can keep to what cigarettes you can smoke to what sodas you can drink. (Watch, they’ll be taxing soda soon.)

No, there is nothing at all magnanimous about the Democrats’ goal to “reform health care.” Their intentions are not noble. It is never noble to confiscate other people’s money or to declare that you have the right to other people’s money.

For exceptional analyses of the dangers of socialized medicine and why we need to oppose it, I refer you to www.WeStandFIRM.org — a site started by Paul Hsieh and some other Objectivist friends back in Colorado.

Obama-Gates Very Revealing

This is an excellent article by Melanie Phillips at Spectator.com on Obama’s reaction to the arrest of Henry Louis Gates by Cambridge, Mass. police. The very fact that Obama even commented on this event (!) is very revealing and shows that he is not above racial prejudice himself. I agree with Phillips that Obama’s 20-30 year history of aligning with racists and Marxists was unjustly dismissed by the left-leaning media as unimportant facts. She writes:

His whole background from the earliest days onwards was steeped in anti-white grievance politics of the most bitter and corrosive kind. This was all ignored. His two-decade membership of an anti-white church was ignored, his early anti-white mentors such as Frank Marshall Davis were ignored, his participation on the Nation of Islam ‘Million Man march’ and his association with Nation of Islam cadres were ignored.

We are all Iranians

I’ve been watching this story on Iran’s “election” build for weeks now; and I, like everyone in the U.S. just assumed that Friday’s vote would come and go and that Ahmadinejad would be reinstated, as dictators always are, and that would be that.

Then, when I started to see images on blogs of rallies starting at Tehran University, I thought it was just a few rebellious youth. But then I started to see streams of Twitters from people in Iran talking about the police coming for them, and in their communication there was a determination I did not expect. Then, to my horror, I started to see images of bullet-riddled dorm room doors, bloody fighting, fires, continuing police brutality–there were reports of police firing into crowds and at least one person confirmed dead.

I notice that many of the larger news outlets were not reporting the uprisings much until last night, but instead on Saturday many were leading with stories like crowds hold “celebrations for Ahmadinejad.”

But then social media outlets dominated and broke through. I think the government in Iran cracked down on the Internet, but people were still able to Twitter using mobile phones. It’s almost as if the youth (those under 25, who are reportedly 70% of Iran’s population) have seized on a rare opportunity to let the world know what is really happening in their country. I fear they only have a few days left before the remaining foreign reporters are expelled or quieted. The foreign reporters who were allowed in to cover the “election” will be sent home now. I fear the government will become more violent at that point, and I hope the international community will not forget what it happening there and what has happened to the people.

No matter the outcome, I think it is too late for the Iranian government to escape without injury. The current regime has lost any remaining respect they had, and I believe the days of dictatorship in Iran are numbered. The people want to be free, and this is clear.

I just read on Bloomberg.com that “[H]undreds of thousands of people demonstrated today in downtown Tehran at a rally led by Ahmadinejad’s defeated opponent, Mir Houssein Mousavi, who charges widespread fraud in the June 12 vote.”

This is a huge movement of brave dissenters! Now, I don’t know Mousavi, and I don’t know how he would rule under the clerics. But I still think the revolt itself is a hopeful sign in the right direction.

In honor of the protestors, and as we approach July 4th, here are the opening words of our own Declaration of Independence…

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world…

A word about the Website

My host server did some maintenance a few weeks back and ever since then my WordPress theme hasn’t worked. They told me I need a new theme. But before that happens, I need to upgrade my WordPress version. I’ve been meaning to do that for a while now anyway. Needless to say, I haven’t found the time to focus on this project but will very soon. (I miss my customizations and my Amazon ads!)

When I upgrade the site this weekend, I plan to rearrange some things.

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Gary Kaltbaum Let’s Loose: Government Needs to Get Out of the Market’s Way

Part II: Why Obama Scares Me

I’ve been remiss in my blogging but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been following current events closely. I’m in shock. I can’t believe how fast the Obama Administration is moving toward a socialist economic system. I’m outraged that the Bush Administration set the stage. It seems like yesterday I wrote that Obama scares me, and while I was working to gather up evidence to show why he is a hardcore leftist, i.e. as hardcore as his cohorts, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farrakhan, Bill Ayers, et al; he came into power and starting passing horrible, stupid laws.

I wanted to think that maybe he had risen to power pretending to be a liberal but that he might actually govern pragmatically. I was hoping for this because even though a pragmatist is dangerous, at least a pragmatist is not necessarily consciously evil. But the events of the past few weeks leave me no choice but to conclude that Obama is dangerous for this country. He is, as Robert Tracinski said, “[N]ow preparing to lead the left’s effort to reconstitute itself in the first serious way since the Fall of Communism.”

I am very concerned now. I am not afraid yet. Fear will come when as a writer I am silenced with threats. I do believe we are at a tipping point, though; and, we are perhaps nearing a state of censorship, if not now, then in the next three to five years for sure.

So, why am I so afraid of socialism as an economic policy? What, after all, is wrong with socialized medicine or free health care for all? Why not redistribute wealth to the less fortunate?

Because it is a bad idea and it never works. And, worse, wherever socialism is tried, it leads to total bankruptcy of body and mind. Socialism destroys life. It sucks the life out of people until they are rioting in the streets or standing in line for a loaf of very expensive bread. It expands insidiously, like inflation, until there is no entrepreneurship, innovation or passion left.

Socialism, like any truly bad idea, is anti-life because it goes against human nature. With socialism there is no justice. Socialism brings out the worst in people, not the best, as with capitalism. With capitalism, I work and I keep the fruits of my labor. If I want to give my money to you because you are struggling, nothing in a capitalist system stops this transaction. When government steps in and forces me to give up my money to countless, nameless, faceless others, it is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme intended to extract money from my bank account into the public coffers so that politicians can use that money however they want. Socialism is legalized theft; it is slavery. Slavery is bad.

Tonight, I happened to be listening to one of my favorite radio personalities, Gary Kaltbaum of Investor’s Edge. A great show if you are into economics and markets at all. Gary went into a rant during part of the show, and his words summed up my thoughts on these recent events and Obama pretty well. The only thing he left out was Greenspan’s treason in all this.

Here is an excerpt from his February 19th show: (His full webcast is here.)

So, I will ask the same question that I asked when George Bush and Hank Paulson came out with the TARP — otherwise known as ‘Taxpayers Again being Raped by Politicians’ — Hey, Barack, why do I, Gary Kaultbaum, handsome and buffed…have to pay for somebody else’s mortgage? Why? Why do I have to pay?

Hey, George Bush, why do I have to pay for GM, and Chrysler, and Citi-puke and Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers? Why?

Somewhere along the line, ladies and gentlemen, there has got to be enough of us, because I got news for you, 95% of us pay our mortgages! And we vote! Do any of you know they have taken $1.5 trillion bucks out of this economy to pay off crooks? And now a scamulous-stimulous plan that does nothing for nobody except a bunch spending pork bills that should be in separate bills to be voted on, shoved down your throats with scare tactics by Obama and his people just like the Bush people did his scare tactics with that stupid TARP plan.

Have any of you gotten it yet? That since their proposal of the TARP we’ve gone from 11,388 on the Dow to 7,465? So forget my opinion, forget everybody’s opinion. How about the market? This thing is screaming! This market is screaming at the Bush Administration and now the Obama Administration. It’s screaming, ‘Get the heck out of the way! Leave us alone! Stop creating money out of thin air and destroying what is left of what we have!’

And I heard Obama today with this Canadian Prime Minister, the next move is they’re going to fight ‘global warming.’ What global warming? The last decade was the coldest in god knows how long. What are these people reading? They’re insane! All of them! And we all sit there, and I’m so worried now that they’re going to tip us over! Obama said this is just the beginning, not the end! So you know what’s next: 50% tax rates! You know, we used to have 80% tax rates! They’re going to destroy us! All in the name of sacrifice. I’ll tell them to take sacrifice and stick it!

I work my butt off to earn the money that I make, and I pay a ton in taxes! And they want more, to give to GM, who has mismanaged their company for god knows how long! To give to Citigroup! Criminals! These are criminals! They committed crimes! Out in plain sight! And nothing!

Blah, blah, blah, blah, Barack Obama…65% approval….Not in my household! Yeah, I’m the guy that has lost no money in this bear market, but I want bull markets! I want to meet people throughout my day that are happy and are loving life and are creating jobs and are working hard and realizing that when they make a dollar they’re going to keep a lot of it!

And I watch this Barack Obama, ‘change and hope’, this guy’s talking about the end of the world every minute of every day! And don’t get me started on George Bush again — he’s gone — the numskull that he was!

Y’all out there better start listening and get off this politics thing, Democrat/Republican — put them all on the bottom of the ocean and that will be the good start! I am going to get louder and louder about this! Hopefully, somebody’s listening! Before the Dow goes to a 1,000!

Thank you, Gary, for saying this. (Read more by Gary at http://www.garyk.com.)

Make no mistake — a socialist agenda like the one Barack is leading is nothing more than a power grab over everyone’s freedom. If you do not have economic freedom, i.e., the ability to choose how you make and how you spend your own money, you have no freedom at all.

And, when a society loses freedom, especially freedom of speech, it gets ugly. By ugly I mean you see more and more violence. In a full socialist system, we all work for the State, and the State controls us. During the transition from freedom to statism, people get angrier and angrier because they sense the injustice of it all. They start to resent that they have less money, but they don’t understand why they make less, why there are fewer jobs, or why things cost more. They start lashing out. And then government uses that violence as an excuse to grab more power.

Is this what we want? Because we have to decide that answer now. Time is running out. We are at a tipping point. We have two years to vote back in supporters of a free market and to vote out the Democrats, who are obviously more interested in saving crooks and supporting their own elitist agendas than worrying about the average person working for a living. When inflation hits because they are printing money, it is going to be ugly.

Margaret Thatcher once said, “Socialism works until you run out of the other guy’s money.”

We’ve run out of money. We are broke. To start down the path to total socialism (and nationalism) now is really to destroy America and to begin down the path to totalitarian dictatorship with all the bloody implications of that prospect.

Does that sound like hyperbole? Ask yourself why they (Bush and Obama) use scare tactics to move their policy changes along so swiftly. Have you ever seen such speed in Congress? No, they are seizing on the moment, i.e., the housing bubble burst that they created with their crookedness and lies; and they are making a good old-fashioned power grab. A power grab just like Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, has opined he doesn’t want to miss: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is that it is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”

The Democrats never thought they could get socialized medicine or nationalized banks in this country. Now, with majorities in both the House and the Senate and control of the executive branch; they are like kids in a candy store, frothing at the mouth over our money. And they just got $1.6 trillion or $1.7 trillion of it, give or take a few billion.

The actions of the current administration are clear: They do not have your best interest at heart. And I mean any American, regardless of ethnicity or religion. People who want power over people don’t care what color you are. They just want to take your money and give it to other people while they surreptitiously scrape a few million or billion off the top for themselves. They want to create a massive, helpless social welfare class so that they can create an even more extravagant ruling political class system for themselves.

I agree with Gary Kaltbaum — throw them all into the ocean. Vote out anyone and everyone who does not fight against these so-called “bailouts” and “stimulus packages.” Vote out anyone who talks doom and gloom. Vote in anyone who supports more freedom, freer markets/less regulation, capitalism, and more self-responsibility.

Don’t let it go.

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Peter Schiff’s Economic Predictions (Videos)

The video below shows Peter Schiff, an investment advisor at Euro Pacific Capital, making predictions over the past few years about the current recession and real estate bubble. He was absolutely right, in stark contrast to the other advisors who were recommending Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs stocks. No one wanted to listen to his arguments then. In fact, they ridiculed him.

Some people are still criticizing him today, probably the people who don’t want to admit that they were wrong — or that the U.S. economy is in shambles and that deficit spending and printing money will make matters worse. Schiff’s critics are the same people who want to believe that America can spend its way out of debt. They are the same people who thought housing prices would never fall, the same people who think deficit spending and inflation are good things, the same people who scoff at the idea of returning to the gold standard, and the same people who think we need socialized medicine. (For what it’s worth, Mr. Schiff supports returning to the gold standard and abolishing the Fed.)

To all critics of the free market and the Austrian School of Economics, I offer one of my favorite Ayn Rand quotes:

When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.

Let’s learn from Peter Schiff. I don’t want to see America fail. But if we are ever going to get out of the economic mess we are in, we have to face reality. We have to go back to sound, fundamental principles. The Fed should not be running our economy. We need free markets and less regulation, not more. We cannot keep spending beyond our means with impunity. We are broke. We need to do what broke people do — stop spending, save, and produce things that people will buy.

If you enjoyed this video, you’ll also enjoy this interview with Mr. Schiff at Mises.org, dated April 2008, and you’ll probably enjoy watching these videos at Common Sense Investor.

HTs for the Schiff video: Leitmotif’s blog and Diana Hsieh of Noodlefood. Thanks!

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Lewis: Wall Street’s Era Ends

Michael Lewis, author of Liar’s Poker, a semi-autobiographical account of working on Wall Street in the 1980s, has a great article in the December 2008 issue of Conde Nast’s Portfolio.com that dissects the current economic meltdown. [hat tip: Christian Tedrow]

Lewis has a unique perspective on the psychologies of the players, their self-delusion, hubris, utter incompetence and/or their lack of conscience that led to what he calls “The End” of Wall Street.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around the full implications of the piece. What is clear is that capitalism is not the culprit in this crisis. This crisis, which to date has wiped out an estimated $23 trillion (or 38 percent) of the value of the world’s companies, was made possible by years of evasion by the players — select CEOs and hedge fund managers and anyone who placed their bets on the stock market’s “fantasy football” league of CDO’s and sub-prime mortgage lending. The cause of the collapse was closer to usury than free trade, and its excesses depended upon manipulation of the facts, deception and fraud that fed itself on willful ignorance. The players gambled recklessly and irrationally with other people’s money and lost big.

The sad fact is that many of the most egregious culprits (the leadership at the rating agencies and the CEOs of the biggest Wall Street firms) will not be held accountable for their evasion or incompetence. Society will languish for a decade to pay back their gambling losses and capitalism in the U.S. will unjustly receive another black eye because few will care to understand the nature and level of fraud that brought the system down.

The disconnect from reality exposed by Lewis that was the downfall of Wall Street is a symptom of a greater philosophical disconnect that permeates our culture. We live in a culture that is quickly losing its greatest attribute — indeed the fundamental building block of Western culture — which is respect for reality and the desire to truly comprehend it.

We have built an entire educational system like Wall Street — a system no longer grounded in reality but one that relies on rote memorization of random facts which may or may not be true. We have created a generation who can define global warming but who cannot name a branch of government, and we have allowed this corrupt pedagogy to continue for decades. We have bought wholesale the subjectivism of the modern era — the idea that history is just “his story,” that you can’t be certain of anything, that all cultures are morally equivalent, that there is no such thing as truth because what may be true for you may not be true for me.

Reality, despite our best efforts to deny it, has a way of leveling the playing field and of eventually revealing a fraud. No one can predict the future, but unless we learn from our mistakes and change our course back toward a reality-based philosophy where we are honest with ourselves and with others, where we seek to truly understand nature and its laws, then sooner rather than later, we will hand over the keys of civilization to the the barbarians.

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Ronald Reagan’s Republicanism

There’s an interesting piece at Reason magazine online — an interview conducted in July 1975 with Ronald Reagan. In it, Reagan described his brand of conservatism as libertarianism while correctly identifying the problem with the Libertarian Party — that it engenders anarchy, which ultimately leads to totalitarianism:

REAGAN:  If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.

Now, I can’t say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions. There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom or we will have tyranny by individuals. The strongest man on the block will run the neighborhood. We have government to insure that we don’t each one of us have to carry a club to defend ourselves. But again, I stand on my statement that I think that libertarianism and conservatism are travelling the same path.

While the Libertarian Party is not the answer to the Republican’s current lowered status, the Republicans would do well to study Reagan’s words and create a banner platform they can wave that appeals to self-proclaimed libertarians.

The problem with conservatism today (and the reason the Republicans were defeated in ‘08) is that instead of being champions of less government interference and more individual freedom, they betrayed these basic principles and led the charge for increased government spending. They also alienated secularists by paying homage to the zealots of the Religious Right who do not respect the wall between church and state that is necessary for a free society. The conservatives of today have accepted the same socialist-collectivist premises of the Left. They’ve conceded Obama’s battle cry that each of us should be our “brother’s keeper.”

But you can’t argue for more individual freedom and less government intervention and at the same time support more government control and handouts. At some point, you will lose your argument because you compromised on principles, thereby ensuring victory to the more consistent side — in this case, the Democrats.

The libertarian (or fiscal) Republicans should not lose heart, though.  They still have the better ideology. Obama’s administration will be forced to use conservative economic principles if they are to lead us through this current economic crisis. While the ideas of the Left – that capitalism is the root of all evil and that it thrives on what Herbert Marcuse called a “voluntary servitude,” that globalization equals slavery, that capitalism leads to violence, etc. – will have to be abandoned (at least temporarily) if we are to regain our economic footing.

And the lies of the Left that denigrate capitalism and deify government are ultimately inimical to life and liberty. As such, the Left must rely on the good to survive; and it will do so off the backs of the entrepreneurs and hardworking taxpayers who practice self-responsibility and do not clamor for or rely on government handouts and entitlements.

Today’s conservatives must reinvent themselves, and in doing so they must free themselves from the stranglehold of the “brother’s keeper” premise of the Religious Right and the Left. They must denounce government’s attempts to legislate away poverty – a practice we know does not work. The philosophical subjectivism inherent in the ideas of the Left and the Right — moral relativism and allegiance to the Greater Good on the one hand and allegiance to God’s will on the other — must be rejected or both camps threaten to lead America down a dangerous path of economic ruin and decline.

The new Republican movement must preach, as Reagan did, less government and more individual freedom and mean it; and they must also uphold the separation of church and state. To compromise on any one principle is to risk losing the republic. As Jefferson once said, “I am for freedom of religion and against all maneuvers to bring about a legal ascendancy of one sect over another.” Any argument for religion will end up being an argument over whose religion. Americans cannot afford to engage in religious debate or sully the separation of church and state when we are currently fighting religious fanatics.

As current events unfold, I am horrified at the lack of intellectual leadership. Only when we have more intellectuals who can defend man’s right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness without reference to a Creator or the Greater Good will we be able to move again toward true prosperity and individual freedom. Until then, don’t let it go.

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Big Lizards on Fannie, Freddie and Frank

I think it was Woody Allen who once observed (and I’m not sure in what film) that everybody in the world is insane except you and me — and I’m starting to have my doubts about you. Well, it’s official.

And in honor of these strange days, I am adding Big Lizards to my blog roll today. Their observations, from what I’ve read so far, are spot-on and highly amusing.

This essay on Fannie and Freddie by Dave Ross is particularly interesting. I had no idea that Barney Frank’s domestic partner actually worked for Fannie and Freddie from 1991 to 1997. Now it all sort of makes sense, in a bizarro kind of way, why Frank defended the GSE’s bad behavior and crusaded for sub-prime lending. The plot thickens.

And I’m disappointed that McCain is not more profound or angrier. Just thought I’d put that out there.

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FDIC Alternative to Bailout?

William M. Isaac, chairman of the FDIC from 1981 to 1985, also thinks the current bailout is unnecessary. He thinks the current crisis can be calmed instead by “regulatory actions” that would not require a “raid” on taxpayer’s money. In his article, A Call To Arms, he writes:

In my view, if the FDIC were to declare an emergency and vow to protect all general creditors of failed banks (except in cases of fraud) and institute a net worth certificate program, the financial markets will calm down immediately. Banks will once again feel comfortable lending to other banks and to customers of banks. They will stop hoarding their liquidity.

Mr. Isaac also noted that the Securities and Exchange Commission acted this week (in response to request from bill opponents) to stop its practice of “forcing the mark down of mortgage-backed securities to an index price that bears no relationship to reality.” He stated that the “SEC’s mark-to-market policies have destroyed an estimated $5 trillion of lending capacity.”

Isaac continued in the same article:

The Senate bill is an irresponsible raid on taxpayer money to benefit a handful of institutions and wealthy individuals we can’t even identify (but many of which will likely be outside the U.S. the way the bill is written).

Those who say the taxpayers won’t lose money on the program are not being truthful. There is nothing in that bill we can’t live without. It will do next to nothing to solve the problems in our financial system and economy (although it might make the markets feel good in the short run).

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