Free Markets, Free People

Jason Pye


The tea party movement is a response Barack Obama

Recently, former Vice President Dan Quayle offered his two cents about the tea party movement:

Like many influential causes before it, the “tea party” movement appeared on the scene uninvited by the political establishment. Democrats in the White House and in Congress recognize it for what it is — a spontaneous and pointed response to the Obama agenda — but some Republican leaders still aren’t sure what to make of it, as tea partiers have risen on their own and stirred up trouble in GOP primaries.

Bruce takes issue with Quayle’s comments and defends the tea party movement:

The tea party movement is not exclusively a reaction only to “the Obama agenda”. And if the GOP buys into that, they’re buying trouble. Quayle even acknowledges that without knowing it when he talks about trouble in Republican primaries.

This grass roots movement didn’t begin when Obama took office or in reaction to his specific agenda, but instead began to form during the Bush administration as government continued to expand. About the time TARP found its way into the political lexicon, it went public. It was the size of the crisis and response – the trillions of dollars thrown around like confetti – that finally spurred people into the streets and birthed the official “tea party movement”.

I really wish that were true, Bruce, but Quayle is right.

The problem is that tea party types did not organize protests to the economic policies of George W. Bush, and TARP was not the first example of fiscal impropriety of his presidency. He cut taxes, so most self-identified conservatives don’t ask questions. Nevermind that he didn’t cut spending, resulting in massive deficits that will cause huge tax increases in the future.

The first protests were prompted by Rick Santelli’s rant on CNBC in response to the Obama Administration’s $75 billion Homeowners Affordability and Stability Plan that was a bailout for both irresponsible borrowers and lenders.

Bruce continues:

[T]his isn’t a movement of right wing disgruntled Republicans. This is a movement of small government fiscal conservatives – almost libertarian in leaning. Her discussion of the demonization of business, the necessity of allowing businesses to fail, getting out of the way of the markets and let them take the lead in recovery were on target and well delivered.

At the beginning of the movement, yes, I think that would have been a true statement. The first Atlanta Tea Party (2/27/09) was a mix of libertarians, like myself and Eric Von Haessler, and fiscal conservatives. There was an authenticity about it as 300 people were huddled together on a cold, wet day at the state Capitol.

Even then, no one was talking about past fiscal recklessness, even though Barack Obama had been in office for just over a month, though everyone was slamming him. I don’t have a problem with that because Obama is spending our country further to insolvency but by what was being said, you’d think Bush never existed.

The day Newt Gingrich got involved was the day I walked away. Gingrich is no fiscal conservative, after all he supported TARP and entitlement expansion. He is a political pragmatist that will endorse any movement or political idea that will advance the Republican Party.

It was even more obvious at the Tax Day Tea Party where Sean Hannity, the Republican cheerleader, showed up to broadcast his show. By this time, libertarians began to take a skeptical eye to the tea party as it seemed that Republicans were successfully co-opting the movement.

And finally, Bruce says it:

[Tea partiers are] not looking necessarily for Republicans. They’re looking for principled small government fiscal conservatives who will return sanity to government and scale down its size, scope and cost. Sen. Olympia Snowe would not qualify. Sen. Lindsey Graham most likely wouldn’t qualify either. And I’ll venture to say, neither would Sen. John McCain. These are the type people they’re promising “trouble” for in Republican primaries.

What are the qualifiers for a “tea party” candidate, rhetoric or actually putting their words into action? For example, J.D. Hayworth, McCain’s primary opponent, isn’t exactly a fiscal conservative, though he may be more so than the incumbent.

I sumbit to you that Hayworth’s tea party support, sans Sarah Palin, isn’t because of fiscal concerns, it’s because McCain doesn’t hate brown people.

Personally, I don’t believe the tea party movement as principled as many of promoters and leaders believe it is. For example, during the health care debate, tea partiers echoed Republican criticism of ObamaCare, including the line that it would cut Medicare. If you’re complaining about Medicare cuts, are you endorsing tax increases in the future? Medicare has to be cut to avert a fiscal crisis.

Bruce gives a picture of what the movement is supposed to be, but it’s not and it hasn’t been for a while. But that’s just my personal observation as a disgruntled former tea partier.


Downsizing Government

Our friends at the Cato Institute, the only think tank in DC dedicate to personal and economic liberty, have launched a new site, DownsizingGovernment.org, committed to cutting waste from the federal budget.

From the press release:

The research on the site also exposes that many public outlays—though vigorously defended by the politicians who created them and the constituencies they purport to help—are remarkably ineffective at achieving their core aims.

“Some people have lofty visions about how government spending can help society,” said Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute and the project leader for DownsizingGovernment.org. “But the essays on this website put aside such bedtime stories about how government programs are supposed to work, and instead focus on how they actually work in the real world.”

DownsizingGovernment.org is an ongoing project that launches today with detailed information on five cabinet-level agencies: Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, and Housing and Urban Development. Subsequent departments will be added as they are completed in the coming months.

The site offers detailed examples of inefficiency, ineffectiveness, redundancy and corruption inside federal government agencies. It provides charts showing federal spending by department, federal aid to states and the number of subsidy programs.

You can follow Downsizing Government on Twitter @DownsizeTheFeds and you can become a fan on Facebook.


1776 Project

A friend has started an organization called the 1776 Project, which he’s kicking off today “hoping to inform and educate voters by promoting the values and principles of a Constitutional government.” Here’s press release explaining the motivation:

The 1776 Project stresses that our Constitution is the single most important civic document in governing our nation. Its provisions, protections and prescriptions are all that is necessary and sufficient to the operation of a good, just and efficient government.

Organizers of the 1776 Project reject the notion that rights are given by government, instead believing the Bill of Rights protects the basic, individual liberties that are derived from natural rights that promote the pursuit of happiness.

Further rejecting the idea that the Constitution can be interpreted and changed however any political party wants to suit their needs, the organizers of the 1776 Project believe the document that created this Republic can only be changed by the process specifically laid out in Article V of the Constitution.

“Government cannot provide happiness, that is not its purpose,” says Jorge Gonzalez, founder of the organization. “It is up to each one of us, as individuals, to pursue our own desires and versions of happiness. This is the only way that we can really be a country united in one purpose.”

The 1776 Project will be announcing more events and providing information, resources and offering solutions on how Americans can take back their government through peaceful revolution and community outreach. Organizers welcome anyone who agrees with these values, regardless of political party, to join the 1776 Project to bring back a Constitutional government.

Check out the organization’s website and get involved on Facebook and Twitter.


Welcoming home a fallen soldier

Henry County, Georgia recently welcomed home Staff Sgt. John Beale, who was killed two weeks ago in Afghanistan. Last Thursday, the citizens of his home and neigboring counties lined up along the side of the street along the procession to pay their respects.

The first video was put together by State Rep. Steve Davis, who represents most of Henry County in the Georgia General Assembly:

You can see other street views of the procession below:


Stimulus bill costs $746k per job

Washington Watch notes that the Obama Administration put out a paper presumably touting the success of the so-called “economic stimulus” bill. The paper says:

In the first 100 days since President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law, we have obligated more than $112 billion, created more than 150,000 jobs and helped communities and tribes in every state and territory. But recovery is more than just a compilation of statistics; it’s the return of hope and optimism about the future that comes with making life better for communities and families across the country. And it’s proof of America’s vast capacity to create real progress in the short term as we emerge from an economic crisis that was years in the making.

Jim Harper of Washington Watch comments:

Well, I feel better already!

For perspective, $112 billion is just shy of $370 per person or $1,150 per U.S. family.

Even more perspective…that’s more than $746,000 per job “created.” The United States has lost almost $2.5 million jobs in the first four months this year, 539,000 in April alone. So let’s be honest here, the “stimulus” bill is having no real impact on the job market.


Seasonal flu kills 36,000 every year

Not to talk down the seriousness of the situation with the “swine flu,” but 13,000 people have died from seasonal influenza since January:

An outbreak of swine flu that is suspected in more than 150 deaths in Mexico and has sickened dozens of people in the United States and elsewhere has grabbed the attention of a nervous public and of medical officials worried the strain will continue to mutate and spread.

Experts are nervous that, as a new strain, the swine flu will be harder to stop because there aren’t any vaccines to fight it.

But even if there are swine-flu deaths outside Mexico — and medical experts say there very well may be — the virus would have a long way to go to match the roughly 36,000 deaths that seasonal influenza causes in the United States each year.
[...]
Since January, more than 13,000 people have died of complications from seasonal flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly report on the causes of death in the nation.

No fewer than 800 flu-related deaths were reported in any week between January 1 and April 18, the most recent week for which figures were available.

Let’s put things into perspective for a moment. The swine flu scare is something to be concerned about, but it’s not a reason to cook up asinine conspiracy theories or use the public’s fear to advance your big government agenda.


Second Amendment now applies to the Ninth District

The Ninth District Court of Appeals weighed in on the Second Amendment today as they ruled in Nordyke v. King. Here’s the story from SCOTUS Blog:

The Constitution’s protection of an individual right to have guns for personal use restricts the powers of state and local government as much as it does those of the federal government, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled Monday. The opinion by the three-judge panel can be found here. This is the first ruling by a federal appeals court to extend the Second Amendment to the state and local level. Several cases on the same issue are now awaiting a ruling by the Seventh Circuit Court.

Ruling on an issue that is certain to reach the Supreme Court, the Circuit Court concluded “that the right to keep and bear arms” as a personal right has become a part of the Constitution as it applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment’s due process clause.

That right, it said, “is ‘deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition.’ Colonial revolutionaries, the Founders, and a host of commentators and lawmakers living during the first one hundred years of the Republic all insisted on the fundamental nature of the right. It has long been regarded as the ‘true palladium of liberty.’
[...]
[F]ollowing the lead of the Supreme Court’s decision last June in District of Columbia v. Heller, finding a personal right in the Second Amendment for the first time, the Circuit Court concluded that the right as interpreted by the Justices is limited to “armed self-defense” in the home.

Basically what that means that the Ninth District incorporated Second Amendment, as an individual right, to the states in its jurisdiction.

The opinion is available here.


Obama offers nothing in the way of budget cuts

President Obama is asking for budget cuts from his Cabinet:

President Obama plans to convene his Cabinet for the first time today, where he will order members to identify a combined $100 million in budget cuts over the next 90 days, according to a senior administration official.

The budget cuts, while they would account to a minuscule portion of federal spending, are intended to signal the president’s determination to cut spending and reform government, the official said.

Obama’s order comes as he is under increasing pressure to show momentum toward his goal of eventually reducing the federal deficit, even as he goes about increasing spending in the short run to prop up the economy and support his priorities.

That’s it? $100 million? John Miller over at the NRO describes that as a “a rounding error at a Department of Agriculture regional office.” What a joke.


Is Atlas Shrugged finally going to the silver screen?

This my latest article for the Atlanta Examiner.

Talk of putting Ayn Rand’s classic, Atlas Shrugged, on the silver screen has made its way back into the news:

After decades in development hell, Ayn Rand’s capitalism-minded “Atlas Shrugged” is taking new steps toward the big screen — with one of the film world’s most prominent money men potentially at its center.

Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media is circling the Baldwin Entertainment project and could come aboard to finance with Lionsgate, which got involved several years ago.

Rand’s popular but polarizing book — it’s derided by many literary critics but has a huge public following — tells the story of Dagny Taggart, a railroad executive trying to keep her corporation competitive in the face of what she perceives as a lack of innovation and individual responsibility.

A number of stars have expressed serious interest in playing the lead role of Taggart. Angelina Jolie previously had been reported as a candidate to play the strong female character, but the list is growing and now includes Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway.

This isn’t the first time there has been talk of making Atlas Shrugged into a motion picture, as the article notes. In fact, Rand was working on a screenplay when she died in 1982. Needless to say, the project has a history of not getting off the ground.

Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, is a work of fiction, however, it contains key concepts of Rand’s personal philosophy, Objectivism, which teaches rational self-interest, personal sovereignty and free-market capitalism. Many also consider it to be somewhat prophetic, especially during this current economic downturn.

The producers of society, represented by Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, Francisco d’Anconia and John Galt, are derided by antagonists in the book and government action, supported by “looters” and “moochers,” begin leading its citizens down the path of socialism. Sound familiar?

In Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Rand called business, “America’s persecuted minority.” Though, as Rand once pointed out, businessmen are often enemies of capitalism because they seek government favor, much like companies seeking bailouts today.

With the rise of the group mentality and class warfare, the producers in our world today are castigated and blamed for the current economic downfall. Rand once said, “One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary.” That is exactly what we are seeing in today societal and political rhetoric, just look at recent comments by President Barack Obama for affirmation of the misguided and cancerous populism consuming America. That the market has failed and it must be regulated to the point of expanding government power to take over businesses.

Keep your fingers crossed that a film adaption of Atlas Shrugged gets done. with a message as powerful as the novel. Rand’s message needs to be heard.

If you’d like to learn more about Ayn Rand, please visit the Ayn Rand Institute and the Atlas Society.