"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 23, 1800

Friday, January 20, 2012

In Defense of Vulture Capitalism

Living just above the Great State of South Carolina, we are treated to the radio ads that have saturated their airwaves in the weeks leading up to tomorrow's primary. I understand it's a primary, a contest between Republicans, as as such they will necessarily criticize each other and each other's policies in their ads. I do wish, however, that Republicans would find a way to do so without resorting to lowest common denominator, populist stupidity. The attacks on Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan were ridiculous. Cain remains the only contender for president with a real, honest plan to tackle the county's broken tax system. What did that get him? The other Republicans attacked the plan for being hard on the working class, unworkable and too complicated. Michelle Bachman went so far as to insinuate it was the work of Satan, which said a lot more about the woman's mental capacity than about the 9-9-9 Plan. That is exactly, with the possible exception of Bachman's nuttiness, what one would expect the Democrats and the press to say about Cain and his plan. With no serious proposals of their own, the other Republicans are basically saying the present system is better, that it isn't already everything they claimed 9-9-9 would be--complicated, unworkable and a drain on capital. With that attitude, we as Republicans deserve to lose.

Now the field has narrowed and, for the moment at least, Mitt Romney is seen as the one to beat. Are his primary opponents attacking him for not being conservative enough, for creating a state-run health care system, for being wishy-washy in his defense of his ideas? Well, to be honest, they are a bit, but the one ad that has been running over and over again attacks Romney for being a "vulture capitalist." Once again, Republicans have resorted to liberal arguments against a fellow conservative. The ad distorts and demagogues the role played in our free market economy by venture capital firms. It's playing on the woeful state of most Americans' economic literacy, and that is more than sad, it's a crime. This country will only survive if we as Republicans and conservatives and libertarians can educate the vast majority of Americans with an understanding of markets and private enterprise and the role of risk-taking and reward. It's going to be an uphill battle, and when the very people in the best position to push us forward are dragging us back, it scares the Hell out of me for the future.

Monday, January 9, 2012

We Are..... the 1%

Well, reading the fine print, not quite, but definitely the 2% and moving up. I'm talking world-wide, which, if you think about it, is better for the ego. I mean, wouldn't you rather be at the top of the world than the top of just one country? Hooray for us!

This bit of ego boosting comes courtesy of the Huffington Post, whose article on the subject for some reason does not find this to be a reason to celebrate. Here is their description of the news from an economist's book:

According to calculations by World Bank economist Branko Milanovic in his book The Haves and the Have-Nots, about half of the world's richest one percent live in the United States, about 29 million of them, to be exact.
But the qualifications to make the cut may surprise some people who've never considered themselves part of the world's financial elite.
According to CNN Money, who reported on Milanovic's findings, an individual with an after-tax salary of just $34,000 per year ranks among the richest one percent in the world. A family of four, Milanovic says, would have to make $136,000 in order to qualify.

So it's after-tax income, and our household's needs to be divided by three rather than just two, but still, we are very much knocking on the door to Lifestyles of the Worlds' Rich and Famous. I gave this news to my wife this morning and she reported back that she didn't feel rich. That's the point, I think. Rich, well-to-do, elite, these are all very subjective terms and depend entirely on perspective. My wife works 40 hours a week as a municipal clerk, she's married to a middle manager in a route sales company, she lives in what to her seems a medium sized house in a middle-class neighborhood. We own one small SUV, bought used. We watch our money so we can take some trips and eat out when we want. Nothing extravagant. At least not in our terms, American terms.

Certainly the kids of the Occupy movement don't consider themselves rich or elite. They express disdain and even loathing for the rich elites. They believe the 1% should be giving up more of what they have to share with the other 99% who weren't born into a world of luxury and privilege. But these kids have clothes and food and tents and laptops and cell phones and backpacks and eyeglasses and blankets and frisbees and drums. They are literate and healthy and have an abundance of free time. To 99% of the world, the Occupiers ARE the 1%.

I could go on and on about the Occupy movement and it's hypocrisy and stupidity, but that's for another post. My point isn't that the Occupiers, or my wife, are ungrateful and greedy and should be sending half of what they make to sub-saharan African. That wouldn't work, as the reason sub-saharan Africa isn't home to it's share of the 1% is that it doesn't share the values and freedoms and laws and political culture of the United States or Germany or Japan. Much of the world is like a bucket with a hole in it, you can fill it with water, but it will always run out in a very short time until you plug the hole.

We don't owe the rest of the world our wealth, though we do have a moral and ethical obligation to keep as many people as comfortable and free as we reasonably can. We do have an obligation to support in other places the things that made the wealth of America possible. Economic freedom, individual rights, property rights, the rule of law and a moral underpinning based on the Golden Rule will do more than any amount of money to raise the standards of living for the "other 99%." Sadly, it's these things that the Occupiers seem to be railing most loudly against.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Is Going To Be A Fun Year In NC Politics

It's only the fifth day of the new year, and already the General Assembly in Raleigh is entertaining. The wailing and gnashing of teeth coming from the democrat representatives is awesome to behold. This article in the Greensboro News and Record does a great job of explaining what happened and features some great gnashing of teeth quotes.

The long and short of it is this. The General Assembly was called back into session because the governor vetoed the Racial Justice Act. Failing to over-ride that, the Republicans took the house out of session and then back into session at zero-dark-thirty last night to over-ride the governor's veto of another bill. In this they were successful. This new law, which also passed the senate, will stop the state from automatically deducting dues for the North Carolina Education Association from teachers' paychecks. The NCEA will have to collect it's dues from it's membership all by itself. Democrats find this highly disturbing.

You see, the NCEA spent a good part of those dues last year trying to defeat Republicans, and also targeting any Democrats that fell out of step with the party line. Make no mistake, this was a political move on the part of the Republicans. They are trying to defund a part of the Democrat election machine, but the opposition to it from Democrats is just as partisan. They will claim this is an attack on education, on teachers and on the American Way, but really they worry that teachers may not be as willing to pony up dues money if they have to write the checks themselves, and that will lead to an emptier Democrat war chest come election time.

Whatever the motive, in my opinion this is a great idea from the Republicans. If the NCEA serves it's members well, they will pay dues. If not, they won't. That's the way it should work.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I'm Baaaaaack.....

Funny how something that becomes a habit can just as quickly be forgotten. That's sort of what happened with this blog. I enjoyed it for a while, then slowed down, then stopped altogether. I think it's time to try getting back into the habit of writing regularly, and this was fun once, so I am going to try and see if I can get back into some sort of groove. This was, and will remain, a politcally-centered blog, with occasional digressions into my other interests. If this becomes fun again, I have an idea for a second blog, so we'll just have to see what happens.

I figured today was as good a day as any to start blathering about presidential politics. The Iowa Caucuses are going down this evening and surely by tomorrow morning the political landscape will have changed somewhat. Again. See, that's what has me less than enthused about the whole field of Republican contenders so far. Not only do none of them light any sort of fire in me, but I feel completely disconnected from the process because our primary here in North Carolina isn't until May, and things may be decided by then. Or not. I just am finding it hard to become excited. I'd love to see the White House in the hands of someone other than Barack Obama, but my gut just can't see that happening, no matter who his opponent turns out to be.

I will remain involved as much as I can and do all I can to help those I agree with, or seem to agree with,  achieve office. Locally, I am lucky to be represented by a great state representative and state senator, and I will work hard to see those two men returned to Raleigh. I have high hopes that North Carolina will have a good Republican governor next year and that some much needed changes can be made in our state. I'm a firm believer that the closer a government is to you, the more effect it has on your life, so if I can get good local and state government, I'm much less worried about what happens on the national level. That's my theory today,m anyhow, we'll see how it works out.