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A Non-Partisan Public Service Announcement
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, March 18, 2008

This quote from Geoffrey Brennan and James M. Buchanan seems appropriate in this Presidential campaign...
Tax limits, or fiscal constraints generally, can be expected to curb government's appetites to the extent that the utility function of governmental decision makers contains arguments for privately enjoyable 'creature comforts,' for final end items of consumption.

Such constraints become much less effective, and may well be evaded, if the motive force behind governmental action is 'do-goodism.'

The licentious sinners we can control; the saintly ascetics may destroy us.
It brings to mind this statement from Justice Brandeis...
"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers.

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
This is particularly addressed to the people - Left and Right - who genuinely believe in their own candidate's decency and good intentions towards getting problems "solved".
 
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
Excellent points. On the right: The war in Iraq was entered into with good intentions — to spread democracy and expand markets. Yet the result has had a devastating effect because it was not really taken into account the impact on numerous levels of that massive use of governmental power. On the left: high levels of taxation and increased regulation has yielded large budget deficits (throughout the industrialized world), less personal freedom, and unsustainable governmental programs. Something has to give.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Perfesser:

We went to Iraq to make the US safer by taking down a tyrant who threatened us and our allies. Expanding markets? For what? New Coke? Give me a break. It was Europe who DECLINED to go to war in order to KEEP and EXPAND their cheap oil/cheap Arab labor markets. Give it a rest.
 
Written By: Come on, Please
URL: http://
expand markets
That is Erb’s new PC term for "we went to war for oil"
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Saddam was not a threat by 2003; that isn’t the reason for having gone to Iraq. The reason was based on the logic of the neo-conservative ideology. Don’t look at the speeches for the rationale, read the memoirs and writings of those involved in the decision. The view was that terrorism was fed by resentment at authoritarian regimes and lack of hope of especially the youth. This gave extremist elements a chance to grow. If we could spread democracy to the Mideast, that would undercut terrorism and expand the values we believe in. Iraq was weak — Saddam extremely weak — so Iraq looked "doable," and would serve as a model to radically alter the nature of politics in that part of the world. It was a grand big government social engineering experiment, rationalized by ideology, and it has failed dramatically. Now success is being defined down to "just getting out with a modicum of stability," even though Iran is strengthened and there has even been movement away from democracy in the region.

And, of course, the Europeans didn’t go to war because they didn’t believe in this kind of ideology-driven foreign policy, they knew it was unrealistic, and risked radicalizing their domestic populations. The French even turned down the possibility of large profits and benefits — things they’d never see while Saddam was in power and sanctions in place — because they knew the war was a bad idea. And, of course, events have proven the Europeans correct (something they like noting, to be sure).

But typically each side defends the big government abuse of power their particular side has engaged in, while condemning the other side. Iraq is an example of this from the right, defense of large government programs that have failed to solve fundamental problems is an example of that from the left.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
It is fair to say that there was at least some "do goodism" rhetoric from many who supported the invasion in 2003.
 
Written By: Marcion
URL: http://
Jon is right. And war fought for others’ good must put us on our highest and tightest watch. That is not to say that we can never intervene, nor ever enter a war, nor that the war in Iraq is a failure or bad. It’s just that we need to be "most on our guard" at those times.
 
Written By: Bench
URL: http://
"and expand markets."

Right. Those evil neo-colonial capitalists are at it again. Marx lives!

If we wanted to expand markets, dropping sanctions would have been a lot easier. Of course it wouldn’t have been as much fun.


"Don’t look at the speeches for the rationale, read the memoirs and writings of those involved in the decision."

Right. Nothing is as it seems, comrade. Because what they say and what they write are different, and we sheeple are too dumb to read.

By the way, when did Bush write his memoir? Or anything else, for that matter.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Excellent points. On the left: The war in Iraq was entered into with no good intentions at all — it was about oil and spreading the American Empire into the region. The result has had a devastating effect on what little status America had developed becasue of the superhuman efforts of the previous Democratic administration. On the right: high levels of taxation and increased regulation has yielded large budget deficits (throughout the industrialized world), less personal freedom, and unsustainable governmental programs. Something has to give.

I wondered what would happen if you reversed what Erb said and would it result in a believable statement. And it did.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Timactual: you seem to think I think expanding markets is not a good thing. That was my point, it was good intentions, expanding markets is good. But using big government power to try to do it by force isn’t the best way to go. Dropping sanctions would not have been enough, since the problem is not barriers to trade, but domestic hindrance of markets throughout the region (both by government, and by corrupt non-governmental actors). It was folly to think Iraq would somehow turn that around.

Also, SSHiell, please be careful when you try to make it seem like you’re quoting me. I said nothing about the war being about oil and spreading "the American Empire." I know you were trying some kind of humor there, but you kept one part the same and completely changed another.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"But using big government power to try to do it by force isn’t the best way to go."
Ladies and gentlemen, let me only point out the remarkable fact that this ridiculous person has no earthly idea that he is stating a contradiction ("markets" and "force") on the order of something like, "hugely microscopic".
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
OK, so as to not put words in your f*cking mouth, lets try it your way:

Excellent points. On the left: The war in Iraq was entered into with good intentions — to spread democracy and expand markets. Yet the result has had a devastating effect because it was not really taken into account the impact on numerous levels of that massive use of governmental power. On the right: high levels of taxation and increased regulation has yielded large budget deficits (throughout the industrialized world), less personal freedom, and unsustainable governmental programs. Something has to give.

Same STUPID Result.

 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Ladies and gentlemen, let me only point out the remarkable fact that this ridiculous person has no earthly idea that he is stating a contradiction ("markets" and "force") on the order of something like, "hugely microscopic".
So you’re saying its contradictory to say that using force is not a good way to try to create free markets? How is that statement wrong? You seem to so much desire to say something against me — you seem to need to do that — but you aren’t able to really think up anything that makes sense.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Go run your fraud on someone else, Erb. I’ve seen enough of your stupid moaning about economic "structure", for just one instance, to be able to score your rhetorical pirouettes from a mile away. The facts are that you have no serious idea what a market is, and you have no compunction at the arbitrary and unilateral use of force in politics.

...except that, of course, you’re constitutionally dis-inclined to dirty your own hands with it because you’re a punk.

 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
"OK, so as to not put words in your f*cking mouth,"

Why not, since he seems to think it appropriate to do it to others?



Oh, right, personal integrity. Sorry.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Go run your fraud on someone else, Erb. I’ve seen enough of your stupid moaning about economic "structure", for just one instance, to be able to score your rhetorical pirouettes from a mile away. The facts are that you have no serious idea what a market is, and you have no compunction at the arbitrary and unilateral use of force in politics.

...except that, of course, you’re constitutionally dis-inclined to dirty your own hands with it because you’re a punk.
I’m willing to make an argument, listen to others and engage. You seem afraid of engagement, you seem afraid to actually put your ideas under scrutiny, to honestly defend and explain them. That is a sign of weakness. You try to cover up with a lot of bravado and tough talk, but the proof is in the pudding — you don’t make an argument or deal with the ideas others put forward.

You think you know me and what my views are, but you don’t. You don’t have a clue.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I said nothing about the war being about oil and spreading "the American Empire."
Are you trying to claim that you don’t believe that the Iraq invasion was "a failed war of aggression, an attempt at imperialism designed to assure access to oil"?

We know the views you have provided to the public all too well. Unless, you want to argue that what you write doesn’t give anyone a "clue" about your views, which would make you a very poor communicator.

Which is it?
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Are you trying to claim that you don’t believe that the Iraq invasion was "a failed war of aggression, an attempt at imperialism designed to assure access to oil"?

We know the views you have provided to the public all too well. Unless, you want to argue that what you write doesn’t give anyone a "clue" about your views, which would make you a very poor communicator.
I stand by my words above:

The reason was based on the logic of the neo-conservative ideology. ..The view was that terrorism was fed by resentment at authoritarian regimes and lack of hope of especially the youth. This gave extremist elements a chance to grow. If we could spread democracy to the Mideast, that would undercut terrorism and expand the values we believe in. Iraq was weak — Saddam extremely weak — so Iraq looked "doable," and would serve as a model to radically alter the nature of politics in that part of the world. It was a grand big government social engineering experiment, rationalized by ideology, and it has failed dramatically.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"You think you know me and what my views are, but you don’t."

So where is the disclaimer?—

"The views expressed by Scott Erb do not reflect the views of Scott Erb".

Sorry, but without the disclaimer you are kind of stuck. Unless you can prove insanity because of multiple personalities.

 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I stand by my words
But you also claim offense at someone rewriting your words to say the war is "about oil and spreading ’the American Empire.’"

Get your personalities together and come up with a common viewpoint.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
I’ve constantly said I thought the war was based on a seductive illusion that we could spread democracy, remake the Mideast, and that this would then undercut terror. I’ve consistently said it’s a big government social engineering experiment gone awry.

It’s funny that so many of you can’t argue against what I write, you have to make up positions you think I hold. Timactual wants to assign me neo-Marxian positions, a few of you want to assign me positions that are taken by the ANSWER types, but if you’d actually read what I write you’ll see that you are not really paying attention to what I’m actually arguing.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I’m willing to make an argument, listen to others and engage."
{spit} So what? I know genuine retards who’ll do that. You’re one of them.
"You seem afraid of engagement, you seem afraid to actually put your ideas under scrutiny,..."
No one could ever plumb the fullest depths of your bullsh!t, Erb. That "seem" gag of yours is either chronic (you do it all the time) dementia or just another of your most routine lies. Nothing you said there is true. Not one single word of it. And you were capable of one moment’s actual thought, you would know it, with nothing more than your own experience with me over more than a decade (which effort would outstrip the temporal span of your intellectual capacity by, well, more than a decade).
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Yet the result (of the Iraq war) has had a devastating effect because it was not really taken into account the impact on numerous levels of that massive use of governmental power.
I really don’t see the devastating effect.
The reason was based on the logic of the neo-conservative ideology. ..The view was that terrorism was fed by resentment at authoritarian regimes and lack of hope of especially the youth. This gave extremist elements a chance to grow. If we could spread democracy to the Mideast, that would undercut terrorism and expand the values we believe in. Iraq was weak — Saddam extremely weak — so Iraq looked "doable," and would serve as a model to radically alter the nature of politics in that part of the world. It was a grand big government social engineering experiment, rationalized by ideology, and it has failed dramatically.
I agree that that was the core reason, but I don’t agree on the dramatic failure. Granted, it wasn’t the success the neocons wanted, but it could still go either way. Which is why we have to remain engaged . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Nothing you said there is true. Not one single word of it. And you were capable of one moment’s actual thought, you would know it, with nothing more than your own experience with me over more than a decade (which effort would outstrip the temporal span of your intellectual capacity by, well, more than a decade).
You fancy yourself a warrior, Billy, but you fight with no weapons. You throw out utterly meaningless insults (and NOTHING is more meaningless than a usenet insult, it is the height of impotence) and don’t do what actually could make a difference: defeat a person with logic, evidence and reason. My only conclusion is you don’t have that capacity, and you’re trying to hide your inability to argue coherently with bravado which has absolutely no impact — again, you are a disarmed warrior.

The one thing I cannot fathom is your inability to accept that people can have completely different ideological and world views and not nonetheless be good people. You seem really caught up in this abstract ideology thing.
I agree that that was the core reason, but I don’t agree on the dramatic failure. Granted, it wasn’t the success the neocons wanted, but it could still go either way.
There has been a tremendous amount of death and destruction because of our actions. I think we tend to abstract out the human cost, or look only at the cost to us, as if the suffering of others is unnecessary. Or people simply posit that things would have been worse if Saddam had remained in power, which probably isn’t the case. Starting a war against another state, even if it has a bad government, is something very difficult to justify. At times it may be necessary or ethically correct, but in this case I really have my doubts.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"The one thing I cannot fathom is your inability to accept that people can have completely different ideological and world views and not nonetheless be good people."
Erb? Pol Pot held a "completely different ideological and world view," too.

{reprise}
"The one thing I cannot fathom is your inability to accept that people can have completely different ideological and world views and not nonetheless be good people."
You can’t fathom it because you have the ethical consistency of a blob of mercury, just exactly like I said (and I was the first one in that newsgroup), all those years ago. You are not what Nietzsche had in mind with his "transvaluation of values", but that’s only because he was too addled to see you coming. And please note that this point has nothing to do with your estimation of Nietzsche — if you actually had one that you could manage to hold for more than about two posts. The point is that you are The Compleat Ethical Slob. That fact is conditioned, of course, by the fact of your howling disregard for ideas. I know damned well that it went right over your head (again: all those years ago), but that was the whole point of my "Mr. Rogers’ Sweater" drill on you: you don’t think — you just make chimp-noises. You put on words like a costume, preen around the campus with your big yellow smiley-face on ("I’m just an easy going guy..."), as if it’s all a game. (Challenge me, bitch: I’ll instantly dig up a half-dozen posts where you actually said that internet discussions are meaningless games — in almost exactly that many words — all while, of course, you were running your games at it.)

~~~~~

Hey, anyone watching: have you ever taken note of how this creep complains about "labels"? Have you ever thought your way to the bottom of that? Get this, and get it good: he is complaining about indentification. He has good reason to complain.

Think about that, and pay all due diligence to the quality of his so-called "thought".

~~~~~

You can’t "fathom", Erb, because you’re bloody stupid. You are as stupid as the day is long, all day long, every single day. Even on the blue-moon occasion when you say something that’s right or true, you are nonetheless stupid because you have no idea how it happened.

I don’t need you to state your inabilities, Erb.

I had you wired right from the jump. And I’ve always been right about you.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Erb? Pol Pot held a "completely different ideological and world view," too.
Yes, but I respond to his acts, not his beliefs.

You hurl a lot of rather disjointed insults, Billy, but they are all utterly meaningless, a waste of your time and of bandwidth. If you could actually make a point and take a position, that would help. Because if you want to attack me, you’re impotent. I’m untouchable — everyone is in terms of usenet insults. That’s the meaningless game. But if you want to move towards real discussion, real discussion elevates the meaningless game to something real. Do you have the capacity to do so? Or will you live out your life hiding behind bravado and impotent insults, unable to grow or learn? If so, that’s fine — you hurt no one but yourself.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"If you could actually make a point and take a position,..."
That’s what I’m doing, Erb. My point is that you’re a fraud. That is my point and position. It’s right in front of you.

What’s wrong with you?
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
My point is that you’re a fraud. That is my point and position.
Name calling is not taking a point. It’s also irrelevant, since insults on the internet are meaningless drivel. You have nothing. That means, well, you’re the fraud!
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I’m untouchable"

I believe you.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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