Thursday, October 30, 2008

progressive stagnation

Freedom is a universal value. Our human instinct is to be free, to act according to our own will, our own reason. This is the key to progression, for if we are not able to be agents unto ourselves there is no way for us to learn. We progress through a pattern of choices and consequences - reasoning, acting, seeing the result of that action, and drawing a conclusion from it. If we are not autonomous, either through an inability to choose or inability to receive a proper consequence, then we cannot progress. We cannot reach our full potential both as an individual and collectively as a society. Autonomy is the only way to allow each individual the inalienable right of the pursuit of happiness. Therefore, it is the government’s duty to maximize autonomy. But it is our duty to live autonomously. Even if the government was limited and granted us autonomy, if we do not take it and live according to our own will, it does us no good and we fail to break free.

In every choice there is an inherent consequence, which is a natural result of the choice. You cannot have one without the other. In fact, in many cases our expectations of the consequences sway our decisions. Often we choose to do something because we desire the consequence and not because we desire the choice itself. On the other hand, many of the mistakes we make come because of we don’t take into account the consequence of that choice. If we make decisions based on consequences, then when the consequences are taken away our decisions are skewed. In other words, when proper consequences do not follow its associated choices we really don’t have the ability to choose.

Thus, justice is required for freedom. Justice can be defined as, “the administering of deserved punishment or reward.” There cannot be freedom unless we receive a just reward for our choice, whether good or bad. Our government was created to “establish justice” as well as “secure the blessings of liberty.” We can see that the two are not mutually exclusive, but rather mutually inclusive. Freedom cannot exist in an unjust society, for justice is the foundation of freedom.

To preserve justice, and therefore freedom, sometimes it is necessary for government to act. The government is a common judge, establishing laws that prevent people from obstructing the rights of others. When an individual violates those laws, the just consequence would be to punish him, making government action requisite. If they fail to act justice is not met and freedom is destroyed. However, there are two kinds of laws: civil laws and natural laws. Although the government must executive justice in regard to civil law, it has no authority to act on violations of natural law. In fact, if the government attempts to execute “justice” on violators of natural law it inhibits the natural consequences to follow, thereby eliminating justice and dissolving freedom. In order for us to become a free and autonomous society we must stop the government from trespassing on natural consequences and limit it to acting only on violations of civil law.

Take the example of “spreading the wealth.” In a free and just society, hard work and innovation (good choice) should be rewarded with a higher salary (good consequence). Then, those that receive high wages to have the opportunity to voluntary help those around them (good choice), which will be rewarded with happiness (good consequence). Yet when those that succeed are heavily taxed, the good consequences for good choices are taken away. Where is the justice in that? Not only that, but they are “forced,” in a sense, to help those around them. It is no longer a matter of choice, and so because there is no choice there cannot be a consequence. Thus, motivation to do good and help others is diminished. The rich should not be forced into supporting the failing social programs of the nation, but rather should be persuaded to make the choice on their own. This is the only just way, and therefore the only way to preserve freedom.

Now take the other side, that of the poor. Through the government attempting to help them, they are done a disservice. The real solution is to allow them to face the natural consequences of their choices. This gives them an incentive to fix the problem and progress, rather than numbing the pain, giving them an incentive to NOT progress. Granted, everyone passes through rough times. There are some extenuating circumstances in which people truly need help. I will concede to this fact. However, the government has neither the authority nor the obligation to step in because this is not a violation of civil law. It remains our responsibility and our opportunity as citizens of the United States to help those around us in a way that will truly lift them up, put them on their own two feet, and get them going. This is much more than any government-run social program can do, and the rewards are much greater. Those who need help, while still feeling the just consequences, have enough support from their friends, family, and neighbors. Those who help, through making a good choice, receive a just reward.

With government intervention all that is lost. The poor remain poor with no incentive to leave, and the rich become poor to pay for the poor, who remain poor. We see a gradual progression toward stagnation. And that’s not the worst of it. With it comes the defeat of justice, a loss of personal responsibility, and a depletion of autonomy.

Maximizing autonomy should be the goal of the government. Men are free, and ought to be free in every aspect of life. At the same time we must take into consideration that no one has the right to take another’s freedom. Thus we see that our freedom is not supreme but there are some limitations to it. In order to secure this freedom government was established. This is the sole purpose of government: to allow all men the opportunity to exercise their freedom to the biggest extent possible while at the same time safeguarding it from being infringed by others. It was never established as a tool to “help” the underprivileged. That has been, is, and always should be our social responsibility. Shoving that to the government is nothing more than shirking from our duty.

The only way to progress is by maximizing autonomy, by allowing all men the opportunity to choose. But when all is said and done responsibility comes down to us. Even if the government tried to restore autonomy to the people, the people must receive that autonomy. If we continue to live in manner in which we run from responsibility we cannot achieve a state of progression, no matter what the government does. We the people must choose to act. Choose now to live autonomously. Choose now to help those around you. Take back your autonomy if the government won’t give it to you. Just as important as a political revolution is a social revolution, in which we the people rise up and act on our own accord, not depending on the government to tell us what to do. This is the only way to break free from the shackles of stagnation that has been placed upon us by the tyrannical democracy. The only way we can get back that autonomy is by starting now to live autonomously.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

the tyrannical democracy

In the year 1776 a declaration was written that would change the world. It contained the principles that would be the foundation of the most influential political experiment of all time. It also contains the parameters of a legitimate government: one that is established to secure our inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (property).
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 forms, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Herein lies the right of revolution for the American War for Independence. The monarch had become a tyrant, not securing these rights but destroying them, which justified our fight for liberty. But herein lies our current paradox as well. When the Revolutionary War was won a republican form of government was established, a government of the people, for the people, by the people. In other words, we the people are the government. So what happens when this republican form of government becomes illegitimate? How do we obtain our right and revolution, and against whom do we revolt?

The problem with democracy is that it tends to expand power, even more so than a monarchy. The expansion of power doesn’t come through a dictatorial takeover, but is a gradual process in which the people willingly delegate more and more of their personal liberty to a higher institution, hoping that in giving it power they will be given something in return. Here we see the fall of democracy, and its inescapable destiny to become a tyranny by the majority of the people, oppressing the minority and snatching the liberty of all.

Think about it. Every four years presidential candidates establish a party platform, creating an agenda of things they promise to the American people. When one of the candidates wins and takes office, they do so under the false pretense that they have received a “mandate” from the people to make sure their agenda gets pushed through Congress, and Congress should support the president’s agenda because it is the “will of people”. But since when is the president responsible for legislation? Isn’t that Congresses line of authority? The president has become an office of continued unconstitutionality. If you take a look through history you can see how the president has gradually usurped power from Congress, violating the checks and balanced put in place to limit the government from doing more than securing our inalienable rights. As of recent years, though, we can see that the government has clearly overstepped its bounds.

It is the sad case that power, once acquired, is seldom returned. We have seen over the past century the unconstitutional acquisition of executive power, and none of it has returned back to the people. Remember, in a republican form of government we the people should lead. Except for the powers mandated in the Constitution it is our power to keep. Today’s presidential mandate becomes tomorrow’s presidential power. Add that up over 200 years and we are staring into the face of a tyrant.

The reason why the government has been able to seize so much power from the people lies in valuing our individual self-interests over our individual inalienable rights. We have become a people who, instead of looking at which candidate will better preserve the Constitution, looks to a candidate who will give us more or what we want. We have the idea of “I will vote for the candidate whose unconstitutional agenda benefits me the most.” The quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” comes to mind. But we don’t think like that anymore. We are too concerned about what we can get from the government that we are forgetting what we lose: the principles that founded this nation upon which lies our success. If we abandon those we are left to fail. By the time we wake up and realize the monster we have created it will be too late. The power will be too much. We are setting ourselves up for the worst political disaster in the nation of the greatest political success. We will be unable to revolt, for we the people are the government in the sense that we determine who leads, and we cannot revolt against ourselves.

Therefore, a revolution must occur within us. The only way to fix this problem is to go to the source of the problem. We the people must change the way we govern, or rather the way we elect officials. We must accept responsibility for our actions and stop trying to pin everything on the government. In order to see the true rights we should have we must step outside our self interest. The government was not instituted as a good tool that should benefit the majority of the people. In the words of Ronald Reagan, “The government is not the solution to the problem; the government is the problem.” Or “That government which governs least governs best.” We don’t need to government to tell us what to do. I believe that we the people can act on our own will to help those around us, to fulfill our social responsibility. I believe that we the people have the ability within ourselves to cooperate with each other. I believe in the principles of limited government that founded this great nation, and I believe that we the people can rise up and stop this tyrant! Now is the time to act. Now is the age of our right to revolution.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

obama's 95% illusion

this is an opinion article found in the wall street journal 13 october, 2008. author unkown.

One of Barack Obama's most potent campaign claims is that he'll cut taxes for no less than 95% of "working families." He's even promising to cut taxes enough that the government's tax share of GDP will be no more than 18.2% -- which is lower than it is today.
It's a clever pitch, because it lets him pose as a middle-class tax cutter while disguising that he's also proposing one of the largest tax increases ever on the other 5%. But how does he conjure this miracle, especially since more than a third of all Americans already pay no income taxes at all? There are several sleights of hand, but the most creative is to redefine the meaning of "tax cut."
For the Obama Democrats, a tax cut is no longer letting you keep more of what you earn. In their lexicon, a tax cut includes tens of billions of dollars in government handouts that are disguised by the phrase "tax credit." Mr. Obama is proposing to create or expand no fewer than seven such credits for individuals:

- A $500 tax credit ($1,000 a couple) to "make work pay" that phases out at income of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 per couple.
- A $4,000 tax credit for college tuition.
- A 10% mortgage interest tax credit (on top of the existing mortgage interest deduction and other housing subsidies).
- A "savings" tax credit of 50% up to $1,000.
- An expansion of the earned-income tax credit that would allow single workers to receive as much as $555 a year, up from $175 now, and give these workers up to $1,110 if they are paying child support.
- A child care credit of 50% up to $6,000 of expenses a year.
- A "clean car" tax credit of up to $7,000 on the purchase of certain vehicles.
Here's the political catch. All but the clean car credit would be "refundable," which is Washington-speak for the fact that you can receive these checks even if you have no income-tax liability. In other words, they are an income transfer -- a federal check -- from taxpayers to nontaxpayers. Once upon a time we called this "welfare," or in George McGovern's 1972 campaign a "Demogrant." Mr. Obama's genius is to call it a tax cut.
The Tax Foundation estimates that under the Obama plan 63 million Americans, or 44% of all tax filers, would have no income tax liability and most of those would get a check from the IRS each year. The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis estimates that by 2011, under the Obama plan, an additional 10 million filers would pay zero taxes while cashing checks from the IRS.
The total annual expenditures on refundable "tax credits" would rise over the next 10 years by $647 billion to $1.054 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center. This means that the tax-credit welfare state would soon cost four times actual cash welfare. By redefining such income payments as "tax credits," the Obama campaign also redefines them away as a tax share of GDP. Presto, the federal tax burden looks much smaller than it really is.
The political left defends "refundability" on grounds that these payments help to offset the payroll tax. And that was at least plausible when the only major refundable credit was the earned-income tax credit. Taken together, however, these tax credit payments would exceed payroll levies for most low-income workers.
It is also true that John McCain proposes a refundable tax credit -- his $5,000 to help individuals buy health insurance. We've written before that we prefer a tax deduction for individual health care, rather than a credit. But the big difference with Mr. Obama is that Mr. McCain's proposal replaces the tax subsidy for employer-sponsored health insurance that individuals don't now receive if they buy on their own. It merely changes the nature of the tax subsidy; it doesn't create a new one.
There's another catch: Because Mr. Obama's tax credits are phased out as incomes rise, they impose a huge "marginal" tax rate increase on low-income workers. The marginal tax rate refers to the rate on the next dollar of income earned. As the nearby chart illustrates, the marginal rate for millions of low- and middle-income workers would spike as they earn more income.
Some families with an income of $40,000 could lose up to 40 cents in vanishing credits for every additional dollar earned from working overtime or taking a new job. As public policy, this is contradictory. The tax credits are sold in the name of "making work pay," but in practice they can be a disincentive to working harder, especially if you're a lower-income couple getting raises of $1,000 or $2,000 a year. One mystery -- among many -- of the McCain campaign is why it has allowed Mr. Obama's 95% illusion to go unanswered.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

destroying liberty

this is an article by walter williams, a professor of economics at george mason university. in it, he hits key points spot on:

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis warned, "The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding." The freedom of individuals from compulsion or coercion never was, and is not now, the normal state of human affairs. The normal state for the ordinary person is tyranny, arbitrary control and abuse mainly by their own government. While imperfect in its execution, the founders of our nation sought to make an exception to this ugly part of mankind's history. Unfortunately, at the urging of the American people, we are unwittingly in the process of returning to mankind's normal state of affairs.

Americans demand that Congress spend trillions of dollars on farm subsidies, business bailouts, education subsidies, Social Security, Medicare and prescription drugs and other elements of a welfare state. The problem is that Congress produces nothing. Whatever Congress wishes to give, it has to first take other people's money. Thus, at the root of the welfare state is the immorality of intimidation, threats and coercion backed up with the threat of violence by the agents of the U.S. Congress. In order for Congress to do what some Americans deem as good, it must first do evil. It must do that which if done privately would mean a jail sentence; namely, take the property of one American to give to another.

According to a Washington Post article (6/22/05), there were nearly 35,000 highly paid registered lobbyists in Washington in 2004 who spent $2.1 billion lobbying the White House, Congress and various agencies on behalf of various interest groups. Political action committees, private donors and companies give billions of dollars to political campaigns. My question to you: Do you think that these people are spending billions of dollars to assist presidents and congressmen to better perform their sworn oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the U.S. Constitution? If you do, you're a fine candidate for a straitjacket. For the most part, the money is being spent to get politicians and government officials to use their coercive power to create a favor or special privilege for one American at the expense of some other American.

If we Americans didn't give Washington such enormous control over our lives, I doubt whether there would be 10 percent of the money currently spent on lobbying and campaign contributions. This enormous control that Congress has over our lives also goes a long way toward explaining much of the government corruption that we see in Washington.

If the average American were asked whether he wishes to return to mankind's normal state of affairs featured by arbitrary abuse, control and government dictates, I am sure he would find such a suggestion repulsive. But if you were to ask, say, the average senior citizen whether Social Security, Medicare and prescription drug subsidies should be continued, he would probably answer yes. The same would be true if you asked a college professor whether higher education should continue to be subsidized, or a farmer or a dairyman whether their products should be subsidized, or a manufacturer whether there should be tariffs and quotas on foreign products that compete with his product. The problem with congressmen producing favors and privileges to all interest groups is that it creates what none of us wants: massive control, numerous dictates and micromanagement of our lives.

There is no question that if one were to ask whether we Americans are moving towards more liberty or more government control over our lives, the answer would unambiguously be the latter -- more government control over our lives. We might have reached a point where the trend is irreversible and that is a true tragedy for if liberty is lost in America, it will be lost for all times and all places.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at