Thursday, August 04, 2011

Getting Serious About Recovery
This is how economic recovery can be encouraged by all levels of governments in the U. S.:

1.Remove all preemptory government regulations of all the professions and businesses.
2.Cut taxes to the bone, when possible totally abolish them.
3.Cut all subsidies and protectionist measures.
4.Eliminate all minimum wage laws.
5.Close down all the alphabet soup agencies (a corollary of #1).
6.Sell off all government properties that do not relate to the military defense of the country.
7.Abolish the war on drugs.
8.Abolish all blue laws, everywhere (including states, counties, and municipalities).
9.Stop all non-defensive military endeavors.
10.Basically and most generally, follow the edict of the Declaration of Independence where it assigns to government the job of securing the basic rights of the citizenry.
It is by freeing up human productivity and creativity that economies are most likely to grow. Apart from natural calamities, governmental interventions are the worst obstacles to economic development. Makes perfectly good sense. Government is no good at picking winners and losers. Bureaucrats and politicians have no more wisdom and virtue than do the rest of us, so they must not take over the direction of our lives, including our economic affairs. The top down regimentation of economic affairs is perverse and will surely prolong our economic wows.

If these measures aren’t followed, the country will continue to struggle and decline.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Cleaver’s Bad Theology

Tibor R. Machan

Representative Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri produced a sound bite following the recent passage in Congress of the compromise bill on the dept ceiling and spending cuts. Even as this bill didn’t by any means manage to demonstrate Congress’s serious understanding of economic reality, Cleaver said that the bill amounts to a devil’s sandwich, by which he meant that it amounts to the defiance of centuries of teachings of the world’s greatest religions about how one must look out for the poor and needy as one lives one’s life.

The remark needed to be put in the sound bite form because any detailed investigation of those teachings would reveal something very different from what Cleaver had in mind. Let us grant that most religions do implore us to lend those in need a hand, to help the poor and indigent. Indeed, there is no ethical system that doesn’t make some room for this idea. Even the ethics of Aristotle implore us to be generous, even as we strive to achieve our happiness in life. Indeed, generosity or liberality is a virtue people ought to practice, or so Aristotle teaches. And comparable teachings can indeed be found in most of the world’s religions.
Yet the use to which Rep. Cleaver wants to put this idea is quite perverse. He doesn’t urge us to be generous, kind, compassionate, charitable and such. No he urges us to engage in robbery and to use the loot we obtain by this means to provide help to those the robbers believe should get some of it. Generosity and the like are supposed to be virtues that people ought to practice in their own lives. It’s individuals who ought to help out the needy. It is they who must choose to be generous, charitable and such. Nothing less will serve as virtuous, ethical or moral conduct then good deeds that are chosen by the agent.

Stealing from someone else and handing some of the loot to a needy individual will not do. It simply isn’t virtuous to do that since it is tainted by a serious immorality. Generosity or charity with other people’s labor or resources is impossible. Both Representative Cleaver and President Obama have shown their utter misconception of the nature of generosity or charity, claiming, falsely, that it involves robbing Peter so as to benefit Paul. This is very similar to the widespread misunderstanding of the legend of Robin Hood who didn’t rob the rich to help the poor but recovered the loot taken by the tax man and returned it to those who had been deprived of it by taxation.

And even the simplest common sense morality rejects that one can do good deeds on the backs of others. A good deed must come from oneself. It is into one’s very own picket that a generous person must dig in order to earn moral credit for giving away his or her own labor or resources. And that is certainly not what Rep. Cleaver had in mind. He was making devious and corrupt use of the idea that is taught by most of the world’s religions and morality, namely, that one ought to help those in dire straits. That is cynicism, not bona fide ethics or morality. Putting a gun to other people’s heads and thus enabling oneself to “help” others is morally wrong, plain and simple. It is a sign of how morally ignorant many in Congress and other centers of political power across the globe tend to be to hold otherwise.

As the old saying has it, charity must start at home--and it must end there, as well.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Just Say “No”

Tibor R. Machan

After sustained profligacy comes the dreaded cold turkey. Any kind of habitual indulgence can only be stopped if at some point the “addict” says “no,” with no excuses.

I would assume most people have been through this. I know a few personally. They have kept up spending in the face of lacking funds an even lacking the promise of funds. Credit card companies accept clients with hardly any creditworthiness--indeed, I have been there myself. So how is this to be brought to a halt?

I would suggest that deep cuts in one`s spending habits is the best way. Sure, few people can go cold turkey on food or necessary medicine. But what about going to fancy nail salons? What about having premium coffees every morning, noon and afternoon? What about getting top of the line clothing and cars?

The trick profligate politicians use is to raise the specter of Draconian elimination of, say, social security and medicare benefits but this is a phony ploy. After all, both of these programs are supposedly funded by beneficiaries themselves. They are supposed to be more like insurance than like welfare.

What is certainly not essential to anyone is, for instance, subsidies to all the varieties of special interest groups. Or huge public works that only benefit some select but influential citizens. What about selling off some public lands? Why does the government, any government, own and maintain national forests and parks? Who will go without basic necessities if these are seriously cut back?

One could continue forever with the list of available cuts in federal and other government spending that would not impact the indigent or elderly. Never mind that even here the idea that government exists to fund such programs is perverse. Does that count as securing our rights? Certainly not--no one has a right to other people`s money and work, not unless there has been a mutually agreed to deal about these.

The debt ceiling must be dealt with by administering a total halt and this may well be the time to fess up to that fact. Think of it as indispensible financial house cleaning, something every family needs now and then. It would be unthinkable to dump all of one`s debts on total strangers who happen to live nearby. And it would be even less thinkable to dump it all on members of future generations who aren`t even around to protest or consent.

Of course some people will feel the pinch of the ceiling. But that is the price that has to be paid when so many people think they can get something from nothing. However drastic the remedy, it is indeed a remedy.