Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Statists' Continued Folly

The Statists' Continued Folly!

Tibor R. Machan

          Krugman has a regular column in The Times, so he can discuss what he chooses to discuss so why is he fussing, as he did in a recent column, that others have other topics they wish to discuss not the ones he likes? Must we all take the lead of Krugman? What conceit!

          Krugman’s “solution” to the unemployment "crisis" is no solution but merely a shift--let's burden future generations with higher costs and taxes, right? Yet what is needed is fewer obstacles to growth, that is to say less government regulation, much lower taxation, and the encouragement of private investment and innovation--in short, Hayek instead of Keynes!  What is bizarre is that Krugman and his master, Obama, are dead set on socking it to the rich, so much so that even without any need for garnering more funds from them they insist that it be done!  In other words, this bunch is interested in punitive taxation, never mind budgetary concerns.

         Is this to show the “base” that they are tough, merciless?  Is this to very visibly implement their leftist policies just to show who is in the driver’s seat now?  Is it to demonstrate to the world that America’s tradition of substantially free enterprise will not be allowed continue since it makes it possible for economically savvy citizens to succeed while those not much interested in playing according to the rules of capitalism may experience losses from scoffing at ambition?  That famous 47 % plus or minus that expects to be taken care of by government with just a minimum of effort--effort consisting mostly of political maneuvering, not smart enterprise--must not be disappointed.  Obama must continue to be their leader, guru, guide and protector!

         Looks to me that Obama is making no secret of it now: he will cater to the dependent class and only throw a few bones to the entrepreneurs, enough so they keep producing enough for Obama’s constituency to remain satisfied parasites.  Most of them feel that those who are successful in a largely free market economy don’t deserve it; they are living off the blood and sweat of Obama’s people!

          If you don’t believe me, consider a recently deceased philosopher of the welfare state from Harvard University, the place where much of Obama’s political and moral philosophy was fashioned: "The assertion that a man deserves the superior character that enables him to make the effort to cultivate his abilities is ... problematic; for his character depends in large part upon fortunate family and social circumstances for which he can claim no credit." John Rawls, A Theory of Justice (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1971), pp. 104.

         In other words, as Obama put it during the campaign for the presidency: You did not build it:  “if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.  You didn’t get there on your own.  I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart.  There are a lot of smart people out there.  It must be because I worked harder than everybody else.  Let me tell you something--there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there....”  No, you got there mostly by accident of birth! Like the rich of the feudal era!

         None of us is successful without having gained from certain others in our lives.  No argument about that.  But, first, this doesn’t entitle anyone else to rob one of the fruits of the success.  It doesn’t follow! Second, the entrepreneurial initiative of those who do succeed is not shared by all. They may have had some help but they needed to figure out how to put that help to good use.  That is where they earned their success, not from creating things out of nothing (a ridiculous idea that the takers wish to peddle).

        The bottom line is that Obama & Co. want to promote the idea that successful people have but a tiny bit if anything at all to do with their success and, therefore--which is a colossal non-sequitur--Obama & Co. may rip them off good and hard.

        In fact, the human element in human success is enormous. What it requires from those like Obama is for them to get out of the way, to show confidence in the makers, not the takers.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Nature of American Politics

The Nature of American politics

Tibor R. Machan

So few grasp this that it’s embarrassing.  The political purpose of America, as made pretty clear by the Founders and the Declaration of Independence, was to secure for the people a country in which they can be free as they could be in the state of nature only also reasonably safe from aggressive neighbors across the world.  Politics had been mostly about imposing power on others, robbing them of their resources, subduing them good and hard (unless they were friendly family members or fellow tribesmen). The genius of John Locke’s system of natural individual rights is that it nearly succeeded in fashioning a society that marked off for everyone a sphere of personal authority, an area in which they would have the liberty to do as they judged proper and not be invaded by others whose company they should enjoy at their pleasure, not as a matter of uninvited intrusion.

The idea was that in the wilds people could do as they judged fit except when some powerful bullies stood in the way.  Being free is a great thing but if others can, with impunity, impose themselves on one, that takes a lot away from the beauty of liberty.  So how to secure liberty but avoid the hazards posed by the bullies?  That is the question to which no political thinker has managed to find the answer but John Locke and a few others who taught the American Founders and Framers came very, very close. If a system of individual natural rights could be codified and its administrators had sufficient integrity not to cave in the temptation to compromise it, there was a good chance that the people could not only have the right to liberty but enjoy its exercise as well.

That is roughly how America developed into a relatively bona fide free society, though by no means consistently, flawlessly.  But sufficient numbers of Americans had been devoted to the project that a pretty free country came about and managed to provide for its citizenry a kind of country only here and there tasted around the globe.  For quite some time at least the idea of this kind of country kept inspiring Americans and their friends across the globe.

Now, however, we have come to the point where a completely alien bunch of “leaders” and their academic cheerleaders--especially in law schools--are slowly but surely selling out the American system.  Individualism, which is at its heart, is being besmirched all around, including by the man recently elected to be the guardian of it.  There appears to be no interest on his part and on the part of his team to further develop what the American Founders and Framers established into a more perfect version.  Rather the current leadership seems hell bent on reintroducing the system of the top-down regime, the very one that the American revolution set out to overturn.

To reverse this trend will require very dedicated citizens, maybe even ones who will have to reignite the original revolution, preferably minus some of the weaknesses of the initial one.  Fortunately, the ideas for this are readily available in the annals of American history, law and some political philosophy.  All the new revolutionaries need is to put their shoulders to the task of serious research--actually more their minds than their shoulders.

It must not be overlooked that those who are mounting the counterrevolution are a very clever bunch.  They have invaded the most prestigious institutions of learning, from kindergarten to graduate school.  They control university presses--journals and books and all.  They have overrun the popular culture, such as Hollywood and Broadway and what used to be called dime novels.  Their hunger for power is unlimited and they are ready to use all the tricks known to human beings.  They have learned well from their heroes. Here is one of them:

“Only one thing is needed to enable us to march forward more surely and more firmly to victory: namely, the full and complete thought of our appreciation by all communists in all countries of the necessity of displaying the utmost flexibility in their tactics.  The strictest loyalty to the ideas of communism must be combined with the ability to make all the necessary practical compromises, to attack, to make agreements, zigzags, retreats, etc.” [Lenin, "Left Wing Communism," 1920].