Free Markets, Free People

Bruce McQuain


Old Habits? Or Business as Usual?

Please ignore the outrage you hear from Congress about Citi almost buying a new airplane. Apparently that’s an inappropriate expenditure, but this is appropriate:

New York’s Charles Rangel and five other Democratic members of the House enjoyed a trip to the Caribbean sponsored in part by Citigroup (see above) in November – after Congress had approved the $700 bailout for financial firms (including Citigroup).

The members no doubt will object to the terms “junket,” but that shoe fits. The National Legal and Policy Center, a watchdog group, has asked Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to investigate the Nov. 6-9 excursion to the island of St. Maarten.

It was called the Caribbean Multi-Cultural Business Conference, but “the primary purpose … for most participants appeared to be to take a vacation,” said the NLPC. And not only was the timing lousy, but “corporate sponsorship of such an event was banned by House rules adopted on March 1, 2007, in response to the (lobbyist Jack) Abramoff scandal,” the group pointed out.

Joining Rangel on that trip were Donald Payne of New Jersey, Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick of Michigan, Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and Donna Christenson, delegate from the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Your “most ethical Congress ever” hard at work watching over those Wall Street fat cats.

Hope and change.

~McQ


Transferring BDS to RDS

Here at QandO we’ve written fairly extensively about the incidence of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS) over the last few years.  We’ve wondered aloud, or at least in print, what the left would do once Bush was no longer available to hate?

Would it dissipate and change into OLS (that’s Obama Love Syndrome) or would it simply be transferred to some other someone on the right the left loves to hate?

Well, in what most people consider a rookie mistake, Mr. Obama gave us the answer.  He called out Rush Limbaugh (and ended up looking worse for it) and the BDS sufferers – who were experiencing withdrawal symptoms not related to Iraq – had a new figure on whom they could lavish their derangement anew.

With his explicit attack on Limbaugh during a Capitol Hill meeting last week, Obama has signaled the end of Bush Derangement Syndrome – the defining mental illness of the Democrats for eight years – and ushered in the age of Rush Derangement Syndrome.

You would think that victories in the presidential race and Congress would be enough for the Left. But no. Like Captain Ahab, Sen. Lindsay Graham still bristles at the “loud folks” in conservative talk radio. Democrats even drafted a petition denouncing Limbaugh last week, showing that trying to save the economy doesn’t wait for petty personal attacks.

Too bad Obama hasn’t learned the lessons of his predecessors. Limbaugh not only has survived countless protests, boycotts, media smears and political attempts to kick him off the airwaves. He has emerged each time with a higher profile, greater influence, and a strengthened hand.

Yes indeed, the transfer of power is complete.   Gotta love the left’s complete cluelessness about certain things.

Hope and change.

~McQ


Irony – It’s Becoming A Democratic Exclusive

Tom Daschle a few years ago [pdf]:

Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter.

Tom Daschle today:

“Daschle spokeswoman Jenny Backus said he had known since June 208 that his luxury car and driver provided by wealthy Democratic donor, longtime friend and business associate Leo Hindery might be taxable, but never expected the amount to be such a ‘jaw-dropping’ sum and ‘thought it was being taken care of’ by his accountant.”

Of course he did.  Let’s get real here – he never really checked or cared until he found out he was in line to take a cabinet post with the most ethical administration ever.  And then suddenly it was both important and a priority.

Say “hi” to Tim Geithner for us, will you Tom?

Hope and change.

~McQ

[Via Don Surber]


Bailing out … Brazil?

Every time I see one of these stories I just shake my head in wonder.

Obama and Congress are frothing at the mouth at those Wall Street types for paying out 18 billion in “bonuses”.  Of course, had Congress not acted like a panicked herd of wildebeast when Paulson came flapping around declaring the sky was falling, they might have written legislation which prevented such an occurrence.

But while they prefer to yell at others, the failure to be specific about what the money could be used was theirs – the Democratic Congress.

Well here’s round two.  The great, “we have to have it now or we’ll go under” auto bailout scam of 2008.  And guess what:

Right nowGeneral Motors plans to invest $1 billion in Brazil to avoid the kind of problems the U.S. automaker is facing in its home market, said the beleaguered car maker.

According to the president of GM Brazil-Mercosur, Jaime Ardila, the funding will come from the package of financial aid that the manufacturer will receive from the U.S. government and will be used to “complete the renovation of the line of products up to 2012.”

“It wouldn’t be logical to withdraw the investment from where we’re growing, and our goal is to protect investments in emerging markets,” he said in a statement published by the business daily Gazeta Mercantil.

So tell me, how many jobs will that billion create or preserve here, hmmm?

Hope and change.

~McQ


When Government Controls [insert appropriate issue]

All you need are people like the UK’s Jonathon Porritt, who chairs the government’s Sustainable Development Commission at the levers of power and you can imagine the liberty killing possibilities.

A report by the commission, to be published next month, will say that governments must reduce population growth through better family planning.

“I am unapologetic about asking people to connect up their own responsibility for their total environmental footprint and how they decide to procreate and how many children they think are appropriate,” Porritt said.

[...]

“I think we will work our way towards a position that says that having more than two children is irresponsible. It is the ghost at the table. We have all these big issues that everybody is looking at and then you don’t really hear anyone say the “p” word.”

Now when people start throwing the word “irresponsible” around, what could possibly be the result if there’s a friendly ear in government? Perhaps legislation to make “irresponsibility” illegal. And before you start with the “they’d never do something like that” nonsense, bring me up to date on how many two child families there are in China.

Yes friends, it’s Population Bomb 2.0. Coming to a shriek-fest, sky-is-falling, we’re-killing-Mother-Earth event near you soon.

As an aside, Porritt represents the most dangerous  type of environmental activists out there. He is what many like to call “watermelon activist”. Green on the outside, red in the middle. Check this out if you doubt the point:

Porritt, a former chairman of the Green party, says the government must improve family planning, even if it means shifting money from curing illness to increasing contraception and abortion.

Because, of course, in Watermelon World, that is the state’s job.

~McQ

[HT: RWN]


Super Steelers

A good Super Bowl (and a good half-time show). No standouts on the commercials.

I had picked the Cardinals by three. That was also the top pick in our Super Bowl poll.

Interestingly, no one picked the Steelers by 3 (the closest pick to the result).


Where’s FEMA

After all the complaints about New Orleans, you’d think the Obama administration would be sensitive to this sort of thing:

In some parts of rural Kentucky, they’re getting water the old-fashioned way — with pails from a creek. There’s not room for one more sleeping bag on the shelter floor. The creative are flushing their toilets with melted snow.

At least 42 people have died, including 11 in Kentucky, and conditions are worsening in many places days after an ice storm knocked out power to 1.3 million customers from the Plains to the East Coast. And with no hope that the lights will come back on soon, small communities are frantically struggling to help their residents.

[...]

Local officials were growing angry with what they said was a lack of help from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In Grayson County, about 80 miles southwest of Louisville, Emergency Management Director Randell Smith said the 25 National Guardsmen who have responded have no chain saws to clear fallen trees.

“We’ve got people out in some areas we haven’t even visited yet,” Smith said. “We don’t even know that they’re alive.”

Smith said FEMA has been a no-show so far.

You’re doing a heck of a job, Barack!

Hope and change.

~McQ


About Those Lobbyists

The promise: Lobbyists would be categorically denied jobs in the Obama administration, no exceptions.

The reality:

It is easy to project yourself as a clean politician after making your debut in South Side Chicago with buddies like Rahm Emanuel. US president Obama has appointed more than 17 lobbyists after talking big on anti-lobbyist Governance and rooting corruption out of the American Government.

Dreams are dreams. Facts are facts.

[...]

Would you believe, Obama had to issue 17 waivers on his own rule in less than two weeks for allowing lobbyist enter his Administration and control Governance of America!

Of course you have to read about it in the foreign press since our MSM appears uninterested in such things.

Hope and change.

~McQ


The Great QandO Super Bowl Poll

OK all you NFL experts out there, tell me how it is going to go today in this oh, so irrelevant of many, many irrelevant Super Bowl polls today:


Who Will Win The Super Bowl And By How Much?
Cardinals by 3
Cardinals by 7
Cardinals by 10
Cardinals by 14
Cardinals by greater than 14
Steelers by 3
Steelers by 7
Steelers by 10
Steelers by 14
Steelers by greater than 14
pollcode.com free polls

For extra credit, put the final score in the comments.


Capitalism Is Not The Problem

Gloom, doom and revolution are in the air:

France paralysed by a wave of strike action, the boulevards of Paris resembling a debris-strewn battlefield. The Hungarian currency sinks to its lowest level ever against the euro, as the unemployment figure rises. Greek farmers block the road into Bulgaria in protest at low prices for their produce. New figures from the biggest bank in the Baltic show that the three post-Soviet states there face the biggest recessions in Europe.

It’s a snapshot of a single day – yesterday – in a Europe sinking into the bleakest of times. But while the outlook may be dark in the big wealthy democracies of western Europe, it is in the young, poor, vulnerable states of central and eastern Europe that the trauma of crash, slump and meltdown looks graver.

Exactly 20 years ago, in serial revolutionary rejoicing, they ditched communism to put their faith in a capitalism now in crisis and by which they feel betrayed. The result has been the biggest protests across the former communist bloc since the days of people power.

Europe’s time of troubles is gathering depth and scale. Governments are trembling. Revolt is in the air.

Capitalism, of course, is the reason, or at least the cause used by European socialists, to lay blame for this crisis. Forgotten, of course, is the standard of living capitalism has brought to these same people over decades despite their every effort to blunt and subvert it’s bounty through government.

Forgotten by those in the east who survived communism 20 short years ago is the marked difference they found between the east and west and how long it took them to recover from the ravages of communism.

I’ve always heard we human beings have very short memories. And I’ve also heard we always believe that the times we live in are the worst. Ever.

How else do you explain this belief that suddenly the world’s problems can be traced to evil capitalism? But it is truly under attack around the world.

In some places the attack on its foundations is blatant. Consider Bolivian President Evo Morales’ recent speech to the UN:

I think that that capitalism is the worst enemy of humanity and if we do not change the model, change the system, then our presence, our debate, our exchange, and the proposals that we make in these meetings at the United Nations will be totally in vain.

Capitalism has twins, the market and war. The market converts life into commodities, it converts land into a commodity. And when capitalists cannot sustain this economic model based on looting, on exploitation, on marginalisation, on exclusion and, above all, on the accumulation of capital, they rely on war, the arms race. If we ask ourselves how much money is spent on the arms race — we are never concerned about that.

This is why I feel that it is important to change economic models, development models, and economic systems, particularly those in the western world. And if we do not understand and thoroughly discuss the very survival of our peoples, then we certainly not will not be addressing the problem of climate change, the problem of life, the problem for humanity.

Morales, of course, attempts to blame all the ills of colonialism and its aftermath exclusively on capitalism, while ignoring any benefits accrued. He also manages to ignore the oppressive nature of that colonial period and the simple fact that it really didn’t represent capitalism as much as rule by oligarchs. The oligarchs, in many cases did “loot”, “exploit” and “marginalize”. But not under the auspices of a system called “capitalism”.

A simple and rational examination of what capitalism is versus what his country experienced would help Morales understand that capitalism isn’t the cause of his people’s suffering. And while I can empathize with his concerns for the rights of indigenous people and the environment, the system which provides those rights and the wealth necessary to address both issues isn’t the populist brand of socialism to which he and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez subscribe.

And while Chavez and Morales provide the more obvious attacks on the capitalist system, there are much more subtle ones ongoing in Europe and the United States. The article I cite above is a good example of that trend. The fact that Europe was brought so quickly to the precipice isn’t because of capitalism, but instead because so much of life is dependent on the state. And when finally the state – as we saw with Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union – can no longer carry the financial load it has burdened itself with, the whole system eventually collapses.

Funny that the less capitalistic nations of Europe where the state has assumed a more intrusive role in its citizens life seem to be facing a deeper and more immediate financial crises than are others.

But that’s not because the same sort of attempt to subvert capitalism even more isn’t at work here as well. Some time last year, I grabbed a quote from Stephen Bainbridge’s blog (forgive me, I don’t have a link) and it distills well the essence of the evolution of blatant socialism, which is rather unpopular, to a more stealth version of the ideology which we have been seeing for some time. This was written during the recent campaign:

When I think about Obama, I am reminded of Richard Epstein’s observation that in order to remain politically viable modern socialists no longer advocate direct government ownership of production. Instead, modern socialism operates on two different levels: “At a personal level, it speaks to the alienation of the individual, stressing the need for caring and sharing and the politics of meaning. At a regulatory level, it seeks to identify specific sectors in which there is a market failure and then to subject them to various forms of government regulation.” Sounds a lot like Obama’s stump speech to me.

Sounds very much like the government that has formed and is now operating. Isn’t the Obama administration forming a “Middle Class Task Force”? If that doesn’t speak to framing “alienation” I’m not sure what does. And we’re presently hip deep in the ramping up of a new regulatory regime aimed at ensuring we never suffer a new bout of failed markets no matter how many banks they eventually have to nationalize and despite the fact that government was a big part of the problem.

Consider Epstein’s main point above – In order to hide old school socialism enough to make it acceptable today, the populist message had to be tweaked. With the failure of socialism/communism in the USSR and eastern Europe, “direct ownership of the means of production” came to mean two things – gross inefficiency, the mega-state and crushing oppression.

People everywhere came to identify socialism/communism with those damning characteristics. That forever removed it from the pantheon of acceptable ideologies, although (see Chavez in Venezuela who is unapologetic about it) there are still a large cadre of true believers who are sure that the only reason socialism hasn’t worked is it hasn’t been properly done yet. And, of course, they’re the people to do it. For the most part, these people are found on the left side of the political spectrum.

Facing utter rejection, at least in the US if the “S-word” is used, it has become necessary to hide it in a populist message and, then, create a victim class and a villain. It is no longer the proletariat who suffers under the yoke of the oppressive monarchy, but instead, the “bitter and frustrated” voters of rural America. Or the middle class.

As Epstein points out, it is necessary to paint a picture of alienation of the individual from the system in order to attack the system. Establish that narrative and suddenly “hope” and “change” take on a new and easily manipulated meaning.

Once that narrative is established, then the “enemy” has to be identified. The entity or entities which are responsible for the alienation of these individuals have to be identified and called to task in order to establish the framework necessary to make the collectivist premise of bigger and more intrusive government palatable.

Wall Street. Big Oil. Big Pharma.

Ironically, the mega-state remains the answer to the dilemma which it helped create. The narrative necessarily asks how successful, without government intrusion, a small-town voter (aka “the victim”) can be in standing up against the legions of Washington DC lobbyists writing bad law or greedy “big oil” sucking your wallet dry and paying outrageous CEO salaries?

Classic.

Victim class, oppressor, superhero (the government) to the rescue. Never mind that the superhero has been a much a part of the problem as any other entity involved and more so than most. This too is a classic part of the cycle. Government causes a problem, identifies the victims and the transgressors (without government being counted among that group) and it gathers the power necessary – or, more likely, has it ceded to it – to “right the wrong”. Of course, it never gives up the power it gathers.

End result – bigger government, more government power, more government intrusion.

If you can’t see that on the horizon right now, then you are indeed politically blind and will probably do well under the new state regime which is presently being built.

~McQ

michael kors outlet michael kors handbags outlet michael kors factory outlet