Free Markets, Free People
Jeb Bush, in what one can describe as either a trial balloon for his candidacy for President (doubtful) or just a shot across the bow of the big government, crony capitalist crowd, says all the right words in a Wall Street Journal piece:
The right to rise does not require a libertarian utopia to exist. Rather, it requires fewer, simpler and more outcome-oriented rules. Rules for which an honest cost-benefit analysis is done before their imposition. Rules that sunset so they can be eliminated or adjusted as conditions change. Rules that have disputes resolved faster and less expensively through arbitration than litigation.
In Washington, D.C., rules are going in the opposite direction. They are exploding in reach and complexity. They are created under a cloud of uncertainty, and years after their passage nobody really knows how they will work.
We either can go down the road we are on, a road where the individual is allowed to succeed only so much before being punished with ruinous taxation, where commerce ignores government action at its own peril, and where the state decides how a massive share of the economy’s resources should be spent.
Or we can return to the road we once knew and which has served us well: a road where individuals acting freely and with little restraint are able to pursue fortune and prosperity as they see fit, a road where the government’s role is not to shape the marketplace but to help prepare its citizens to prosper from it.
In short, we must choose between the straight line promised by the statists and the jagged line of economic freedom. The straight line of gradual and controlled growth is what the statists promise but can never deliver. The jagged line offers no guarantees but has a powerful record of delivering the most prosperity and the most opportunity to the most people. We cannot possibly know in advance what freedom promises for 312 million individuals. But unless we are willing to explore the jagged line of freedom, we will be stuck with the straight line. And the straight line, it turns out, is a flat line.
The “right to rise” he talks about is the right of the individual to freely pursue “happiness” in the form economic prosperity without the interference of government. And he’s right, that doesn’t require a “libertarian utopia”. It does require much less government and much less intrusion on the economic side (well, actually, in all areas). Ironically, the resulting economic boom would do two things … increase employment and revenue to the government to help pay off the debt and hopefully help eliminate deficit spending.
What Bush is talking about though is a counter-revolution against the second American revolution (during the FDR era) that undid our first. What he’s suggesting is taking government back to its 18th century roots where it fulfilled the night watchman role, and guarded our freedoms and liberty. Yes, that means laws and law enforcement. Anarchy has never been a libertarian ideal nor was it one our Founders espoused. In fact, it may even mean minimal regulation to ensure force and fraud are punished. But certainly, nothing at all like the regime we have today.
The problem, of course, is the other side of the Leviathan we’ve allowed to grow up among us. That side which has fostered an addiction to other people’s money. And you see the split personality we’ve developed as Americans in the polls that reflect a desire to downsize government but not at the expense of the part from which each person benefits. That makes change in the direction needed very hard because feeding the addiction requires a large and intrusive government.
Our problems right now don’t come from living in a “libertarian utopia” that’s clearly obvious. Instead we’ve become a sort of socialist lite (and catching up fast) version of the failing European social democracies. We’re headed down the very same track, just not on the rocket sled they’re on.
Another irony is even if we did change our ways and begin the dismantle this intrusive regulatory state and go back to our roots, it may be too late. Like it or not, our economic future is coupled with places like Europe, China and the like. Even with such moves here, the tipping point may have already been reached. Instead of dismantling all of this state apparatus the less painful way by gradually standing it down, it may just come crashing down under its own weight.
Politicians have been told for decades we can’t afford what they envisioned and built. They’ve been warned that the state was getting too large, expensive and intrusive and all they’ve done is make it larger, more expensive and more intrusive. But it appears the can has been kicked about as far down the road as it can be kicked. Now someone is going to have to actually pick it up and deal with it.
The question is who? The other question is do Americans have the fortitude and actual belief in the principles of freedom and liberty to make that happen?
Both questions, in my opinion, have less than positive answers … at least at this point in time.
The Alaska GOP Senate race has been fascinating to watch. Primary voters sent a pretty strong message to Washington – “we’re tired of business as usual and, as such, we’re turning out one of the “ruling elite””
Except being one of the “ruling elite” is akin to being a crackhead, apparently. Unsatisfied that the people don’t want her as their Senatorial representative anymore, Lisa Murkowski first approached the Libertarian party asking for their nomination (already filled by the way by an actual libertarian). As presumptuous (and outrageous) as that was, she seemed miffed with the LP didn’t jump at the chance.
So, instead of gracefully acknowledging that she’s yesterday’s news and no longer wanted by the party of which she was supposedly a member and the people she represented, she’s decided not to endorse their candidate of choice, Joe Miller, and instead run as a write in.
And what’s the first thing she and her campaign staff did prior to announcing a write-in bid? A little “business as usual” – hit the lobbyists in DC up for money:
Karen Knutson, Murkowski’s chief of staff, emailed scores of top lobbyists in town and employees at some of the largest oil companies – including Chevron, Conoco Phillips and Marathon Oil – to ask them to join the senator on a conference call Saturday, according to a copy of the e-mail and a recipient list obtained by POLITICO.
“To my friends in D.C. – if you are so inclined, please join us for a conference call with Lisa Murkowski tomorrow at 2:30 D.C. time and 10:30 Alaska time,” wrote Knutson. “She would love to have the chance to talk with you and answer any questions you may have. Please let me know if you intend to call in.”
Of course Knutson also wants them to have their checkbooks handy at the time of the call as well.
And that wasn’t the only appeal the erstwhile “libertarian’s” campaign made:
Knutson also sent the invitation to Democratic superlobbyist Heather Podesta – a clue that Murkowski could seek bipartisan financial support in order to fund her write-in campaign. Federal Election Commission records show Podesta has been a consistent and generous Democratic political donor and has never given to Murkowski before.
Anyone want to bet she gets it this time? After all, funding Murkowski’s effort only enhances the chances of the Democratic contender by helping split the Republican vote. If Dems could snag that seat by helping Murkowski, it would be a coup. And if Murkowski managed to pull of a write-in victory, she’d be beholden to those who financed her win.
A win-win for Podesta and the Democrats, but certainly not the people of Alaska. But more importantly it is an indication of addictive nature of the power certain personality types just can’t seem to give up gracefully. And so they do things like Murkowski has committed too – unable to break their addiction to the power and perks of office. They end up being willing to sacrifice their integrity, principles and dignity for another six year hit of their chosen drug – power.
They are definitely not the type person or personality any voter should be eager to return to office. And every time one of them is identified, as is Murkowski, they should be summarily turned out and ignored.
Talk about whatever strikes your fancy.
Some things that have caught my eye:
Is the Obama administration trying to unionize the government procurement process?
Speaking of unions, what is SEIU’s president, Andy Stern, doing on a Obama’s “deficit reduction” panel. Does that say “I’m serious about this” to you?
Anyone else see the irony in the Hillary Clinton claim that domestic political infighting is hurting America’s image abroad?
Brits aren’t buying the “January was the warmest month ever” nonsense.
Speaking of the Brits, is there a reason we won’t back their claim to the Falklands in a drilling-rights dispute?
Apparently some Dems are calling for Charles Rangel to step down from his House committee chairmanship because of ethics violations. Why isn’t Nancy “the most ethical Congress in history” Pelosi doing the same?
Paul Ryan was the rock star in the health care summit. To date no one has refuted his fiscal points.
The Obama administration has consistently talked about the Bush administration not counting the cost of war in its deficits. Well, it isn’t a war, but the Obama administration continues to nrefuse to cout the hundreds of billions going to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae – primarily because it would bump this year’s 1.4 trillion deficit by another 300 billion.
And finally there’s some relatively good news. Jeremy Lott says there have been quite a few “quiet libertarian victories” here lately.