LLR Pages

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Conservative (and Libertarian) Love Affair with Maximum "Limited" Statism, Corporatism, and Constitutional Fetishism

Whenever I hear (some) "limited government" conservatives and (minarchist) libertarians utter phrases like "We must keep the U.S. federal government to its Constitutional size" and "Only Congress has the legal and just power to [do this] or [do that]" or "These new laws and regulations are an affront to and assault on free market capitalism" or "President [Insert name here] has signed into law a bill that clearly violates the Constitution," I feel a sudden chill rushing down my spine. And it's not a good feeling. None indeed whatsoever.

The problem with this school of thought is that the individual who stands to defend this rhetoric bar none injects an enormous amount of political and ideological faith in a few areas under a blind guise of praxeological arguments. Not surprisingly, these aforementioned arguments are of the following:

  • That the United States of America as a quasi-governmental corporation must be governed by a blanket set of rules called a constitution and that these rules see the State as a pet to be tamed and put on a leash;

  • That, unless the Constitution "authorizes" the State to partake in legal functions (such as granting Congress the power to "coin Money" and to "declare War" against a foreign power) as "America's Founders had originally intended and envisioned them," the President, the Senate, and the Congress "has no constitutional authority" to engage in these said functions if said rules expressly forbid them to do so;

  • That the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which states in part, "The powers not expressly delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people," is the law of the land and that Constitution "is only granted enumerated powers at the State level that the Constitution does not clearly spell out and define." Oh, and don't forget that they also say that Washington, D.C. "has no right to tell people and their States what they can and cannot do" because these issues (like taxes, economic regulations, immigration) pertain to "state sovereignty" and "states' rights."

    (Some of these so-called limited statist conservatives reach an impasse with their ideological and political paradigms because they cannot reconcile their love affair for the Constitution and their alleged pro-liberty ideologies with their corporate socialist and privileged philosophies, given that they express deference to the State while appearing to favor laissez-faire "free market" capitalism);

  • That the U.S. Supreme Court was never meant to be an instrument of judicial activism (that is, the Court having legislative power from the bench on the whims of the judges on account of their personal and political views and interests) but rather a provider of a strict, restrictive interpretative federal power on interstate commerce and limited judicial power (as mandated by the 11th Amendment);

  • That the State was meant to be "limited" in nature, and that it must be confined to the chains of the Constitution, as "America's Founders intended it to be";

  • That the State is meant to be in place to have "federal powers few and defined," and that some functions of society (such as roads, the police, prisons, and the courts) must be socialized and not left in the hands of a free market;

  • And so on and so on;

What's equally troublesome is their easily-debunkable claim that free markets exist now (despite regulations by the State) and their corporatist/privileged safety net protection rackets are protected and carried out by state decree. Even Objectivists fall under this perturbing rubric all too well.

If those phrases are meant to be taken seriously, then I must ask those who employ them in political and ideological discourses this very paramount question: Why? Why must we care about "limited government" when the State is not some kind of a canine that can be put on a leash and trained to behave at his owner's command? Is it worth spewing those words, knowing how impossible it is to have a limited "minimized state" government because of its temptation to grow? This political opiate has taken on a life of its own. Even the Founders of whom some conservatives and minarchist libertarians have grown so fond had individually different ideas of what the role of government should be in civil society on its own merits. It's no secret that the "Founding Fathers" of the United States couldn't bring themselves to see eye-to-eye on how "small" the State should be. (The Articles of Confederation merely accomplished this [despite some of the problems that it had], but that document was thrown aside in favor of the current constitution.)

If we are an astute judge of constitutional history, then it is obvious that the great constitutional experiment that the Founders established has not created a government "limited" within power and scope but a plutocratic-autocratic hybrid apparatus. In other words, the State has become both an instrument of unlimited power and a collusive partner with Big Business and Fortune 100 and 500 corporations that enjoy privileged advantages at the expense of the underclasses. This is where the "free market capitalism" angle comes in: a politico-economic system that is state capitalistic in nature but disguised as a pseudo "free market capitalistic" system exploiting the underclass and protecting privileged elitism by according the ruling class with tangible perks that are not available to the poor a.k.a. the ruled.

And it doesn't help that a minor subset of libertarians, whether they fall under the minarchistic or, to a lesser degree, the anarchistic categories, have embraced this "vulgar libertarian" mindset, while forgetting that they condemn corporatism if it does not benefit them but, once it starts to work for them, they immediately embrace it. And some of their conservative allies who embrace the constitutional fetishism that the State is their enemy and that Wall Street and corporate America are enemies of true liberalism, a free market, and a peaceful civil society.

Conservatives (even the Ron Paul ones) have done the same, albeit a much lesser degree than the others. If nothing, they are their own worst enemies, and yet they don't recognize that.

The conservative and libertarian love affair with maximum "limited" statism, corporatism, and constitutional fetishism is enough for me to deliberately question the absolute integrity of these groups.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ron Paul Wins The Fox News Debate Poll

According to Fox News' "Who Won The Debate?" poll, Ron Paul has won it, garnering 37.75% of the vote.

This is what the following poll shows:

Who Won the Debate?

By You Decide
Published September 22, 2011

Fox News and Google's Republican debate Thursday night in Orlando featured eight presidential candidates: Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Jon Huntsman, Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann. Who won the debate?

Share your thoughts, answer our question then click "Leave a Comment."

Thank you for voting!

Mitt Romney 23.37% (9,021 votes)

Rick Perry 12.73% (4,914 votes)

Newt Gingrich 7.23% (2,792 votes)

Ron Paul 37.75% (14,573 votes)

Rick Santorum 1.47% (566 votes)

Gary Johnson 2.05% (790 votes)

Herman Cain 11.67% (4,507 votes)

Michele Bachmann 2.11% (816 votes)

Jon Huntsman 1.62% (627 votes)

Total Votes: 38,605

At least this is a sigh of relief, given that tonight's debate was the most pathetic and most predictable one of all.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bill Maher Takes A Potshot At Ron Paul

Real Time talking head Bill Maher, with a panel of guests such as publisher/founder and columnist, Republican strategist, and former Vice President Dan Quayle and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich press secretary Rich Galen, The Eisenhower Institute's Jennifer Donahue, and Current TV host "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" (which used to be on MSNBC) Keith Olbermann (himself), took shots at Ron Paul, due to his answer to Wolf Blitzer (of "The Situation Room") over the health care issue at the CNN/Tea Party GOP presidential debate last week.

The exchange that transpired and erupted into a national media ruckus went like this:

MR. BLITZER: Before I get to Michele Bachmann, I want to just -- you're a physician, Ron Paul. So, you're a doctor; you know something about this subject. Let me ask you this hypothetical question: A healthy, 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides: You know what? I'm not going to spend 200 (dollars) or $300 a month for health insurance, because I'm healthy; I don't need it. But you know, something terrible happens; all of a sudden, he needs it. Who's going to pay for it, if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?

REP. PAUL: Well, in a society -- in a society that you accept welfarism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of him.

MR. BLITZER: Well, what do you want?

REP. PAUL: But what he should do is whatever he wants to do, and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would have a major medical policy, but not before --

MR. BLITZER: But he doesn't have that. He doesn't have it and he's -- and he needs -- he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?

REP. PAUL: That's what freedom is all about: taking your own risks. (Cheers, applause.) This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody -- (applause) --

MR. BLITZER: But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?


REP. PAUL: No --


AUDIENCE MEMBER: Yes! (Applause.)

REP. PAUL: I practiced medicine before we had Medicaid, in the early 1960s when I got out of medical school. I practiced at Santa

Rosa Hospital in San Antonio. And the churches took care of them. We never turned anybody away from the hospitals. (Applause.)

And we've given up on this whole concept that we might take care of ourselves and assume responsibility for ourselves, our neighbors, our friends; our churches would do it. This whole idea -- that's the reason the cost is so high. The cost is so high because we dump it on the government. It becomes a bureaucracy. It becomes special interests. It kowtows to the insurance companies, then the drug companies. Then on top of that, you have the inflation. The inflation devalues the dollar. We have lack of competition. There's no competition in medicine. Everybody's protected by licensing. We should actually legalize alternative health care, allow people to have -- practice what they want. (Cheers, applause.)

Incidentally, Maher neglected to mention the last set of statements that Paul made at the debate, which explained his position on the matter, and yet Maher tried to sandbag Paul by launching into a "Ron-Paul-wants-that-30-year-old-man-in-a-coma-to-die" tirade that was unbelievably laughable all the way.

Maher's nonsense can be found here:

(Maher's potshot actually takes place at time index 5:03 in the YouTube clip, just to showcase how obtuse and myopic this douchebag really is.)

Maher and his panel, in a pathetically snarky yet par-for-the-course statist Leftist fashion, begin their attack by quoting Blitzer and Paul's statements during that moment in the debate. When Maher paraphrases, albeit in a twisted way, Ron's answer, Maher condescendingly screams out, "He's in a coma! How the fuck can he know what he wants to do?" Then Galen snarkily nods, "It narrows his choices!" Maher agrees, "It narrows his choices!"

Oh please! Blitzer's hypothetical was ridiculous to say the least. One day a healthy 30-year-old man who chooses not to buy health insurance is somehow on life support the next day, and the hypothetical doesn't even allow wiggle room for what might have caused him to collapse in the first place? And Ron Paul's answer was outrageous, because he favors separating health care and State, whereas Maher and his cronies don't? Who's kidding whom here?

It certainly tells me that Maher and his companions need to have their heads checked if they think they can respond with emotion without logic and critical thinking standing in the way of their collective judgment.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Three Economies of America

There are undeniably and distinctly three separate yet existing economies in America. We have the State-regulated and not-very-productive economy which is run by Big Business as part of Corporate America and is in collusion with the State. We have a State-run non-productive political economy which is run by the U.S. federal government, the Congress, the Military Industrial Complex, and its political fat cats (lobbyists). And then there's the underground, highly-productive, highly-efficient productive REAL private (Agorist) economy which is run by individuals providing products and services to people. I choose the latter.

Obama's Precious Jobs Program

President Obama came off seriously resolute when he told members of Congress to pass his jobs bill immediately. (A transcript of his political speech is provided here.) The move was a ploy to buy votes and shore up political support for his re-election campaign, which has already swung into full gear. But then nothing what he says ought to shock anyone. It doesn't for me, at least.

Here are the videos of his speech before the entire body:

Part 1

Part 2

and Part 3

And what is so special about his precious jobs program that he wants imposed upon the populace by federal edict? Nothing...that is, if you haven't drunk the statist Kool-Aid and bought into his pie-in-the-sky rhetoric that it will "create" jobs and "boost" the economy.

Here's the warped logic of his plan: he claims that his purported $447 billion package will "grow the economy" if Congress acts to pass it "right away." (Notice that he echoed those words 18 times in a row.) But that's not all of it.

According to him, the bill is laden with payroll "tax cuts" that will bring us out of the recession and boost the economy. (I put the pluralized term tax cuts in quotation marks because of the dubious, suspicious, and fallacious claim of his statements.) When one views cuts in payroll taxes, one sees that the cuts gut the Medicare and Social Security taxes that make up the FICA tax. However, one must recognize that those taxes fund both Medicare and Social Security. Both programs are running colossal deficits and creating cost overruns that threaten their very existence. That simply means that they are generating less revenue than they require to issue their payouts to retirees (who are supposed to be the intended recipients of those funds). That also means that more of the funds that haven't been touched yet and are withheld in the Treasury will have to be cashed in at some point.

The news gets worse than that. I should note that the Treasury is already plagued with a $1 trillion-plus deficit. That means more money will be extracted from the already-weakened, highly-regulated productive private sector to reimburse the Social Security and Medicare monies. That will be so unless the President chooses to radically alter the tax code to make up the lost difference. But it will not be so. The money will be coercively taken out of private capital markets in the economy and shifted right back into those sectors in the appearance of higher taxes under the guise of a payroll tax cut. In Obama's Bizarro World, that's expected to boost the economy.

The plan unsurprisingly subsidizes small firms in the form of a doled-out $4,000 tax credit as a condition to hire more employees who have been out of work for six months or more than it would otherwise. This is giving employers an incentive not to hire workers because of the additional costs that this requirement would impose on businesses, considering this is not done in real demand but on political gimmicks and musical chairs. It sounds great to hire employees with this tax credit, but with other regulatory, tax, and other expenisve burdens imposed on businesses, this is, as I have stated before, just merely window dressing to shore up political votes for his re-election.

This is the liberaltard logic to which we are all subjected. My head won't stop spinning right now.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rep. Allen West (R-Florida): Right on Obama's Jobs Plan, Wrong on 9/11

Florida Republican Congressman Allen West appeared on Judge Andrew Napolitano's Freedom Watch show on Fox Business this past Friday night to discuss the economic and financial impact on President Obama's jobs plan which he attempted to peddle to Congress on Thursday night. Of course, West condemns Obama's jobs plan (which he deserves good talking points for stating the obvious about the jobs bill on which the President wants Congress to vote), but then Napolitano shifts attention away from that topic and veers into the 9/11 remembrance issue (which is today, in fact).

West responds with his comments (which starts exactly at 4:13 in the following YouTube video.

West states, "9/11 is a historic event that we must never forget." A "historic event?" Who is he kidding? One assumes in a single breath that West is likening the 10-year-old attacks to a NASA space shuttle launch. What happened was a horrendous and atrocious tragedy that transpired ten years ago. Of course Americans are never going to "forget" what happened. That shouldn't be foolishly construed to signify that we must let it rule our lives or shape our way of life for eternity. Americans don't make a habit of recalling the brutal events that led up to and after the events of that fateful day on a daily basis. It's more or less a political talking point to fuel the War on Terror than to draw paramount lessons from a tragedy that was born out of the U.S. government's incessant interventionistic foreign and domestic policies that guided America on its imperial path for decades and after 9/11. Claims by the establishment that the federal takeover of the airports and every facet of American life has made the nation safer are apocryphal and dubious, given the unconstitutional and tyrannical abuses of the State's TSA and Homeland Security Department agents and officials. It's all a matter of public record. What will take for West and his cronies to see it?

West then continues, "You know, in this year we're gonna celebrate the tenth anniversary of 9/11." Why would any American in his or her right mind would want to "celebrate" such an awful atrocity that claimed the lives of 3,000 Americans who were killed in the crossfire because the terrorists responded to the repeated interventions of the U.S. federal government that have been the heart and soul of modern U.S. foreign policy for decades?

If we really want to pay homage to the fallen men and women in the World Trade Center towers and the planes that went down in those areas, then there's only one thing to do: end our foreign policy of intervention and replace it with one of non-intervention, bring our troops home from Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, and Libya, and spread the message of liberty and peace to those regions. End the sectarian violence, the coercion, and the corruption that have engulfed the people and their respective lands.

It's too bad the GOP and its stalwarts including West can't see that.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The U.S. Postal Service Needs to Go

According to Monday's edition as well as Tuesday's edition of the New York Times, the U.S. Postal Service is attempting to avoid a default in its monthly $5.5 billion payment to the U.S. Treasury. The long and short of it is this: the quasi-government agency is faced with some looming (yet very likely) possibilities resting squarely on its shoulders:

  • Yanking Saturday delivery for its residential and business recipients;
  • Closing down 3,700 offices nationwide;

  • Consolidating other post offices;

  • Laying off 270,000 of its 574,000 employees;
  • and
  • Altering retirement and health care benefits and programs that its dwindling employee base enjoys;

According to the Times on Monday, the costs and reasons for the declining use of the Postal Service are simply the following:

'Our situation is extremely serious,' the postmaster general, Patrick R. Donahoe, said in an interview. 'If Congress doesn’t act, we will default.'In recent weeks, Mr. Donahoe has been pushing a series of painful cost-cutting measures to erase the agency’s deficit, which will reach $9.2 billion this fiscal year. They include eliminating Saturday mail delivery, closing up to 3,700 postal locations and laying off 120,000 workers — nearly one-fifth of the agency’s work force — despite a no-layoffs clause in the unions’ contracts.The post office’s problems stem from one hard reality: it is being squeezed on both revenue and costs.As any computer user knows, the Internet revolution has led to people and businesses sending far less conventional mail.

The Obama administration unsurprisingly responded on Tuesday with the following:

The Obama administration said on Tuesday that it would seek to save the deficit-plagued Postal Service from an embarrassing default by proposing to give it an extra three months to make a $5.5 billion payment due on Sept. 30 to finance retirees’ future health coverage.

Patrick Donahoe, the postmaster general, speaking before the Senate. His office has proposed alleviating its fiscal problems by taking back an estimated $50 billion in pension overpayments.Speaking at a Senate hearing, John Berry, director of the federal Office of Personnel Management, also said the administration would soon put forward a plan to stabilize the postal service, which faces a deficit of nearly $10 billion this fiscal year and had warned that it could run out of money entirely this winter.

'We must act quickly to prevent a Postal Service collapse,' said Senator Joseph Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which held the Tuesday hearing on the Postal Service’s financial crisis.

Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe testified that even with a three-month reprieve on the $5.5 billion payment, the post office was likely to run out of cash and face a shutdown next July or August unless Congress passed legislation that provided a long-term solution for the ailing agency.

To help erase the postal service’s deficit, Mr. Donahoe has proposed several painful and controversial steps, among them, eliminating Saturday delivery, closing up to 3,700 postal locations and laying off 120,000 workers — despite union contracts with strict limits on layoffs.'

The Postal Service is on the brink of default,' Mr. Donahoe testified. 'The Postal Service requires radical change to its business model if is to remain viable in the future.'

Mr. Berry said the Obama administration would push for legislation to allow a three-month delay in the $5.5 billion payment. But he stopped short of endorsing a far-reaching proposal, backed by the postal service, to allow the agency to claw back more than $50 billion that two independent actuaries have said the post office has overpaid into a major federal pension plan. Postal Service officials say such a move would go far to alleviate the agency’s financial problems.

Mr. Berry said the administration was studying the proposal, but not endorsing or opposing it at this point.

For the longest time the agency has engulfed itself in an economic, financial, and political quagmire. Although it is in some ways configured like a private business, it is not functioning like one, and it certainly is not one. The prices of its stamps, envelopes, packages, and other services proceed to spike on an annual basis with no end in sight. New Jersey-based Rutger University's very own The Daily Targum scribed in an op-ed that the agency's labor costs "make up 80 percent of the USPS's operating costs" and that its own mail inventory "is so small these days the USPS cannot keep paying as many employees as much money as it currently does." (Bear in mind that the paper is crying havoc over the complete shut-down of the agency, saying that "it is still something we don't want to see." Why? Because, according to the Targum, "The USPS is a valuable federal service.")

The Targum also opposes "privatization" of the institution for the following reason:

[T]he increased privatization of traditionally government-provided services is a frightening thought for too many reasons to list here, and, therefore, we'd rather not have to rely on private companies for all of our mail needs.

This refrain is all too common from the minds of "privatization" (preferably, marketization) opponents. They believe that a federal post office must be maintained, and that Congress must rescue the agency and save its workforce from the impending forces of layoffs as forced upon by real, natural market forces working against the federal establishment, their concession that the agency is unable to remunerate its employee base as much as it used to due to the excessively low demand for its services notwithstanding. What the paper fails to figure into account is the health care and pension costs that are drying up the funds for the agency, which are mandated by the labor unions in their existing contracts. The unions as well as Congress have made it virtually (almost) impossible for the agency to craft its health care and retirement benefits plans, simply due to the political and protectionistic nature of these parties. Oh, and let's not forget that the USPS is protected by congressional edict from free market competition with any company that wants to jump into the game and offers consumers a better value and service that the USPS has failed to accomplished at its given, ongoing rate. This means that the organization is a legally-protected, government-approved, and government-imposed monopoly on the delivery of first-class mail and standard mail (once known simply as third-class mail). No other firm can legally challenge the USPS and provide more efficient products and services to customers because of the government cementing the Offices as the only legitimate provider of delivered U.S. and international first-class and standard mail; thus, Congress merely restricts access to mailboxes by the USPS. Other private mail firms are legally prohibited by law allowed to drop off deliveries to mailboxes.

The reason for this is that the prices charged by the USPS are universally uniform across the board throughout the States, irrespective of where its customers live. And the old congressional law that sustains the enterprise's monopoly on these services ensures that package deliveries are set at a uniform price based on the weight and volume of the contents within them, especially when it is cheaper than Fed-Ex or United Parcel Service (UPS).

The Constitution's own Article 1, Section 8 stipulates that Congress is accorded with the power "to establish Post Offices and post Roads." But just because the Constitution allows the government to get involved doesn't mean that the State should get involved, and that it should be granted an exclusive monopoly over mail service.

But how did the Postal Service become powerful? Throughout the 19th century, just shortly before the passage of the Postal Act of 1863, mail was dispersed from city to city where a post office would pick up the volumes, or an independent contractor handled the delivery. Then came the Postal Code of 1872, which put into place a local monopoly on mail delivery by outlawing private carriers. At one point these carriers numbered to 147 and pioneered some innovative services. For instance, they introduced postage stamps just before the Postal Service got into that business.

Before 1971, postal service was provided by the U.S. Post Office Department, which centrally planned the agency by fixing prices of its products and services and determined which managers would be charge. The agency was the biggest recipient of globs of congressional subsidies and an annual appropriations budget as set by the governing body. By the time the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 was passed and signed into law, the Department was shut down and reallocated into what has become the USPS today, thus making it a quasi-public independent agency separated from the Executive Branch and structured to be a self-financing agency whose own existence and its operations depend upon the sales of its postage, mail products, and other services. According to federal law, it must cover its costs, and request the U.S. Treasury to lend funds to it (which is supposed to be limited to approximately $3 billion annually in bailout subsidies to its coffers and allow for a total debt ceiling of $15 billion).

What makes this firm so different from real private firms is that it carries privileges that other companies are not allowed to possess. For instance, it is not subjected to vehicle licensing requirements, and it pays no sales and property taxes. As Tad DeHaven of the CATO Institute noted a year ago:

It doesn’t have to pay parking tickets, and it has eminent domain powers. It pays to itself the income taxes that it would owe if it were a private business.

Understand this point for once: the USPS is more or less a wing of the U.S. federal government. The Postmaster General and a Board of Governors, along with some federal control and oversight by the Postal Regulatory Commission are unaccountable to the taxpayers and the American public at-large. The federal mail delivery organization in itself neither has any incentive to innovate, nor reduce its internal and external fixed and varied costs, nor enhance customer service and other areas in the name of efficiency, nor establish other ways to keep it financially and economically solvent.

And this claim that private companies are not capable of providing our needs is nonsense. A private mail service enterprise could provide physical delivery of mail at a much faster and cheaper rate than the USPS does and provide postage, packaging, and a variety of options and services for clientele that would be far superior in terms of innovation and quality than the USPS does. However, in the grandest scheme of things, the Internet and smart phone technologies have provided innovative means of electronic communications for customers by ISP and mobile phone carriers at a fraction of the costs that rival the high, exploding costs of the USPS, thus making physical mail delivery a relic of American history.

While DeHaven and other similar critics urge for the privatization (or marketization) of the organization, I dispute that notion. I call for the abolition of the firm and allow an unfettered free market to prop up and flourish, providing more quality and more pioneering products and services to consumers globally at the lowest price. This signifies an end of the U.S. Post Office, an idea whose time has ultimately come.