Why I Write This Blog

Are societies of men capable of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or are they forever destined to depend on accident and force?  (Hamilton)
Why I Write This Blog
By: George Noga – January 28, 2018

      This personal narrative is the first of several intermittent posts on the relationship of man and the state. Periodically, I must remind myself and my readers why I have spent thousands of hours over 10 years writing 400 posts filling 1,000 pages. This post answers that question. The Hamilton quote (above) from the Federalist poses an eternal question – the answer to which, my friends, still is blowin’ in the wind.

       Whether any society of men gets its politics right or wrong affects every aspect of life, and even life itself. If we get politics right, we live our lives in freedom, prosperity and pursuit of our dreams. If we get politics wrong, liberty, happiness and property are forfeit and life is brutish and brief. Since man first walked upright, there have been 110 billion homo sapiens of whom less than 1% lived their lives in liberty. Even today, only about 10% of the 8 billion humans extant live in relative freedom.

       I promised a personal narrative and here it is. Following are but some of the ways my life has been directly impacted by failure to get our politics right.

* Both world wars and Korea resulted from political ineptitude, appeasement and failure to heed existential threats. I was fatherless during WWII and Korea.

* I was the victim of an execrable education in government schools for 12 years.

* I was subject to a mind-numbing array of taxes including income taxes of 94%.

* Throughout my lifetime and continuing to the present, the Federal Reserve unleashed numerous cycles, bubbles, panics, meltdowns and economic disasters.

* The politically micromanaged Vietnam War totally discombobulated my life for many years including 6 years I served in the military. I could have been killed.

* Government-spawned inflation reached 14% and interest rates exceeded 20%. That and the ensuing correction massively disrupted my personal and financial life.

* It requires $20,000 today to buy what cost $1,000 when I was born due to intentional currency debasement by the government.

* Unnecessary hyper regulation made owning my regulated business for 35 years a living hell. Instead of protecting the public, regulation caused them great harm.

* A lifetime of hard work and thrift has been diminished by chronic negative real interest rates to protect a feckless government from its ongoing debt and deficit binge.

There is more – much more – but you get the drift. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end with me. My children are doomed to a poorer and more dangerous future; they will be a lost generation leading lives of quiet desperation. They will pay for our debt binge and intergenerational theft with vastly reduced opportunity. They will inhabit a Clockwork Orange world where nuclear arms proliferate in places committed to our destruction. The gods of the copybook headings, with terror and slaughter, will return.

The horrors listed herein occurred during my lifetime. They were promulgated by a government most consider to be among the best in the world and one of the best in history. Although government has wrought great harm to me throughout my life, the root cause is not a failure of government; it is simply government being government. History teaches it is foolish to believe we can control government; we can only limit it.

The solution therefore lies not in more government or even in better government. The solution lies in more liberty and less government. And that is why I write.

The next post traces my epiphany resulting from the Alar mass hysteria.

Drinking and Driving – A Personal Anecdote

This personal anecdote is a prequel to our series about drinking and driving. 
Drinking and Driving – A Personal Anecdote
By: George Noga – September 3, 2017
     Proper public policy about drinking and driving can be summed up in one phrase: laws should focus on actions rather than on conditions. I present a persuasive case that America’s current approach to drinking and driving is wrongheaded. Please bear with me until you have read the entire two-part series of which this anecdote is a prequel.
       It was 2:30 AM on New Year’s Day 1964; I was 20 years old and driving home. I carelessly ran out of gas but luckily it was near an all night gas station. I walked to the station for a container of gas. Just as I began pouring gas into the car, two policemen arrived. It was obvious I was sloshed as I labored to hold the funnel and pour the gas. One officer, with a straight face, asked if I had been drinking. It was New Year’s, my car had college and fraternity decals and my motor skills were clearly impaired.
      My understated reply was that I had a few drinks earlier in the evening. The second officer asked if I was okay to drive. I blathered something to the effect that I could get home and would be exceedingly careful doing so. The police then suggested I stop at a nearby diner for coffee, whereupon they left with the parting admonition: “Be careful.
I returned the gas container, stopped for coffee and drove home uneventfully.
      There are several fecund facets of this story to speculate about. It could be argued I received privileged treatment as I was a white, well dressed, respectful college student. Legally, it could be argued the officers had not observed me driving; however, they could have held me for public intoxication or simply waited for me to drive and then cited me. Or, they could have held me for underage drinking. However, I knew from the outset the worst thing that would happen to me would be going to the station and drinking coffee with the officers until they deemed me okay to drive.
    The police evaluated the situation and correctly concluded I was not a threat to anyone. In that pre-Vietnam era, police would go out of their way to be helpful and their respect was reciprocated. Not only was there no animus between young people and police, there was a reservoir of good will. That is why I intuitively grasped I would not be charged with any violation. That is how things were in 1964 America.
    If the same incident occurred today, I would be jailed and charged with DUI. Lacking $10,000 for competent legal defense, I would be saddled with a permanent criminal record and forever barred from the military and many other jobs. I would be subject to a staggering array of risible sanctions including suspended/restricted driving, car boots, hackneyed counseling, alcohol/GPS monitors, curfews, fines, community service, asset forfeiture and even jail time. All of this would be followed by years of highly invasive probation. Is this truly better for America than the situation in 1964?
    I know many readers may diverge from me on this subject and I again ask that you suspend reaching a conclusion until you read the following parts of this series. If you agree with the present drinking and driving paradigm, the facts and logic will lead you in a different direction, i.e. to a policy that penalizes actions rather than conditions.

Next up in 3-4 days is Part I of our series: Drinking and Driving in America

Guns in America – Liberty vs. Government – MLLG Update

We address: (1) Guns in America redux; (2) MLLG status and website; and (3) the eternal struggle between personal freedom and government power.

By: George Noga – June 26, 2016

    This post touches briefly on three topics beginning with a followup to our February 2016 series: Guns in America, which enjoyed phenomenal distribution that propelled it to a high position on search engines including Google. Recently, we noticed a paper published in the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. Although it was published years ago, it has just now begun gaining widespread traction in the gun control debate.

  The paper is entitled: Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? To read, simply click the title. It documents that gun control has no correlation with criminal violence and, in fact, has a negative correlation, i.e. more guns, less crime. The authors concluded that gun control is ineffective because it does not affect the social, cultural and economic factors that are the real determinants of violent crime. Note: The main sources for the study include the CDC, US Academy of Sciences and United Nations.

Uncommon Wisdom about Liberty and Government

    It doesn’t get better than this; that’s why MLLG is publishing a lengthy quote. The case being discussed was before the Texas Supreme Court and involved eyebrow threading, a safe and traditional South Asian practice to remove unwanted hair. The State of Texas demanded threaders obtain cosmetology licenses requiring 750 hours of training (that did not include eyebrow threading), shut down of their businesses and fines of thousands of dollars. The threaders took Texas to court. Justice Don Willet wrote the following in his opinion supporting the threaders, who won the case 6-3.  

   “This case concerns the timeless struggle between personal freedom and government power. Do Texans live under a presumption of liberty or a presumption of restraint? The Texas Constitution confers power – but even more critically, it constrains power. What are the outer boundary limits of government actions that trample Texans’ constitutional right to earn an honest living? Must courts rubber-stamp even the most nonsensical encroachments on freedom? Are even the most patently farcical and protectionist restrictions unchangeable, or are there judicially enforceable limits?

    “This case raises constitutional eyebrows because it asks building-block questions about constitutional architecture – about how we as Texans govern ourselves and about the relationship of the citizen to the State. This case concerns far more than whether (Texans) can pluck unwanted hair with a strand of thread. This case is fundamentally about the American Dream and the unalienable human right to pursue happiness without curtsying to government on bended knee. It is about whether government can connive with rent-seeking factions to ration liberty unrestrained and whether judges must submissively uphold even the most risible encroachments.”

MLLG Preview and Website Update

    So far in 2016, MLLG has published two series, Guns in America and Inequality in America. We have blogged about, inter alia, the US election (3 times), climate change (3), government and socialism (3), school choice, tax inversions, Pope Francis, Islamic terrorism, Scandinavian economics and Jefferson-Jackson Day. Whew!

    For the second half of 2016, look for multi-part series on (1) climate change; (2) poverty, hunger and homelessness in America; and (3) financial repression, negative interest rates and the war on cash. Other pithy topics may include: China, political correctness, Greece and Puerto Rico, Uber and gay marriage (you’ll really like that one) and media bias. This summer, as customary, we lighten things up with posts about life in Montana – our summer home. We call these posts “Montana Moments“; enjoy!

Why I Write This Blog?

By: George Noga – September 10, 2014
        This posting marks the beginning of the end. Between now and mid-December I will publish the final MLLG posts. I often have been asked why I have taken the trouble. Why have I spent 1,000 hours writing 300 posts filling 900 pages containing 500,000 words since November 2007? Why have I written fact-based and principled tracts about public policy even though I am unenamored with politics and politicians? This post answers the question: why. In the Federalist, Alexander Hamilton questioned and challenged his fellow Americans thusly:
“Whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend on accident and force.”
       If any society of men fails to get its politics right, it affects every aspect of life and life itself. Get politics right and we live our lives in freedom, prosperity and pursuit of our dreams. Get politics wrong and liberty, happiness and property are forfeit and life itself is nasty, brutal and brief. Politics, grubby as it is, is the sine qua non to having a life worth living.
      Examples abound of those who got their politics wrong: Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Imperial Japan, Mao’s China, Pol Pot’s Cambodia and Stalin’s USSR were all black holes where life and liberty were trampled. Today we have,inter alia, Putin’s Russia, the Jongs’ North Korea, the Castro brothers’ Cuba and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. And don’t forget the entire Arab world, nearly all of Central and South America, Africa and any place ending in “stan”.
       If you believe the western world is exempt, think again. WWI was a senseless slaughter with 40 million casualties; its politically inept conclusion led to WWII with its 150 million casualties. This was due to a failure of politics in Europe and also in the USA. In the past century and continuing to the present, “civilized” Europe has experienced 100 genocides, pogroms and ethnic cleansings. Vietnam was a  colossal failure of American politics to get it right; it cost 58,220 American lives and 303,644 more wounded. Nor have we learned; we continue to get it wrong right up to this day.

       If we don’t get our politics right, our children and our children’s children will live in an Orwellian torpor with their lives, liberty and property constantly at risk because of obeisance to failed ideologies, fantasies, vote buying, political correctness and the never ending and fruitless search for Utopias. Politics is inherently personal. Following are but some of the ways I have been directly harmed throughout my life by our failure to get politics right.

  • I had no father at home for 4 years during WWII which resulted from government ineptitude in fighting and ending WWI. Father was in Korea, also the result of political blunder, for another year during my childhood.
  • I received an execrable, pathetic non education in government schools from age 5 to 18.
  • The Federal Reserve created economic conditions that resulted in severe cycles, bubbles, panics, meltdowns and deep recessions throughout my life continuing to the present.
  • I was subject to income taxes of over 90%, creating perverse, uneconomic incentives.
  • It now requires $15,000 to buy what cost $1,000 when I was born due to government currency debasement.
  • Regulation run amok made owning my business onerous. The regulations, all in the guise of protecting consumers, in actuality, caused them (and me) great harm.
  • The politically micromanaged Vietnam War disrupted my life for the 6 years I served in the military.
  • The Fed has brutally devalued a lifetime of hard work via chronic negative real interest rates intended to protect a feckless government from the consequences of its ongoing debt binge.
  • A torpid, Europesque economy has been imposed, dooming me to economic stagnation instead of robust  growth.
  • The current crisis of spending, debt and deficits ultimately will result in a lost generation.
  • Our government has recklessly created and/or exacerbated dangerous situations throughout the world by weakening our military and appeasing tyrants. An existential crisis likely will result.
  • Obamacare death panels will ration and deny medical care and ultimately could kill me.
       Due entirely to failed politics I was fatherless for five years and lucky I wasn’t orphaned into a life of poverty. I survived utterly wretched government schools, incessant and severe economic cycles, debilitating inflation, astronomical tax rates and hyper regulation. Vietnam discombobulated my life. And all this was because of a government most consider one of the best extant. And all because we failed to get our politics right.
       Now, in my eighth decade of life, our once vibrant economy is riven by government-created anemia. America has transmogrified into sclerotic Europe where men lead lives of quiet desperation. Government has created a crisis of spending, debt and deficits, one consequence being sustained negative real interest rates that savage my decades of prudence. My final indignity is Obamacare; its rationing and death panels may end my life prematurely.
       Unfortunately, it doesn’t end with me. Our children and our children’s children are doomed to a much poorer and more dangerous future; they will be a lost generation. They will pay for our debt binge and generational theft with vastly reduced opportunity. They will inhabit a Clockwork Orange world where nuclear arms proliferate in places committed to our destruction and solely because we weakened our defense and kowtowed to tyrants. Our weakness invites terror and slaughter for which they will pay dearly, perhaps with their lives. And all this from a government most consider one of the best extant. And all because we failed to get our politics right.
“The correct answer to Alexander Hamilton’s question may be in the negative.”
       As you can see, if we don’t get our politics right, our lives are vastly diminished and trivialized in countless ways; we condemn our progeny to economic stagnation and loss of freedom. Their lives and liberty are at grave risk because we failed to get our politics right. It appears the correct answer to Alexander Hamilton’s question may be in the negative.
       I have tried mightily through this blog to show that the answer lies in more liberty and less government. Hopefully, my efforts have given our children’s children that infinitesimally better chance for liberty. And that is my answer to the question: why I write this blog.
        Note to readers:  I am striving to make the final postings between now and mid-December special as I seek to end my MLLG blog on a high note. I hope you enjoy them.