Defining Liberalism – Part 4
By George Noga – November 22, 2014
Dear Liberal Friends:
Although I find liberal ideas (to the extent such exist) jejune, vapid and repugnant, I always have accorded you personal respect and dignity, a courtesy few of you have reciprocated. This is akin to the Christian concept of condemning the sin while loving the sinner. Most of you have been quick to call me racist, evil and other vile epithets but I do not reciprocate, again defaulting to a Christian concept, turning the other cheek. Although I have many liberal readers, my blog is not aimed at those impervious to truth and logic. This post is an exception and is expressly for you, my liberal friends.
Our personal lives, dreams and hopes are not dissimilar; we all want a brighter future for our children and a healthier planet; we live within our means; we assist those in need; we consider ourselves moral and try to do the right thing. We live-and-let-live, which interestingly is a libertarian principle. We enjoy similar pursuits and generally get along very well together. When politics rears its head however, it seems we are from different planets – make that different galaxies.
I view your liberalism as an emotional state in which obvious contradictions, disdain for facts, utopian fantasies, obsessive desires to control and to take from others and antipathy for all who differ – in various degrees and patterns – come to dominate your thinking. It seems that you feel rather than think; hence your credo is Sentio ergo sum, i.e. I feel therefore I am. Notice I say liberalism is an emotional state; I do not, as do many others, term it a mental illness. Churchill described your liberalism poignantly as: “the philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance and the gospel of envy.”
Perhaps your liberalism was caused or exacerbated by fluoridation, EMT, the ozone hole, acid rain, GMOs, Thimerosal, dioxin, PCBs, acrylamide, BPA, pink slime or any combination of these and the 50 other instances of junk science in which you once believed – and perhaps continue to believe – and all of which have been proven false or grossly exaggerated. Did I mention anthropogenic global warming and organic foods? You embrace unreason because your progressive dogma is antithetical to objective reality and you prefer the ersatz comfort of mythology to the real world.
You believe the darndest things – many of which are contradictory. It is okay for a very young girl to have an abortion without parental knowledge or consent but not for her to sell lemonade in her front yard. Gender specific abortion is fine because we must kill females in order to protect their rights. Fifty million abortions are good but 1,300 executions are evil. Choice is your gold standard but you believe a woman cannot choose where to school her children, to own a gun and whether or not to buy medical insurance or to join a labor union. You believe more money improves schools, raising the minimum wage helps the poor, voter ID laws suppress minority voting, there is a war on women, government creates jobs,ad infinitum. Such modern day witchcraft inevitably leads to the syllogistic conclusion that your liberalism is a lie.
Most of you live inside a plastic bubble with other bien-pensant libs, in intellectually isolated and segregated enclaves; you live your lives without ever conversing with an evangelical Christian, conservative, libertarian or anyone from fly-over land. You attended government schools with a liberal curriculum using liberal textbooks written by leftist professors and taught by progressive unionist teachers in a milieu of political correctness.You are taught there are no values except that there are no values. There are no winners or losers because no one keeps score and everyone is above average. The media, pop culture and even religion reinforce your liberal mythology. If you ever venture outside your plastic bubble and perchance encounter truth, your first instinct is to deny it; your second is ad hominem attacks.
Your last liberal refuge is compassion and good intentions about which you never tire of regaling me. However, recent scholarship exposes your ersatz compassion as pathological altruism in which your attempts to promote the welfare of others, instead results in harm. The entire point of your falsetto compassion is for you to feel better when another’s suffering provokes unease; but this does not assure the sufferer of relief. Your interest is in accruing compassion points that you and others will admire. If you’re trying to prove your heart is in the right place, it isn’t. You regard your compassion as the central virtue that makes you good as distinguished from mean-spirited folks like me. But to bolster your rush of pious, pompous reaction, you need more victims in exactly the same way an addict needs more drugs.
If you are so anguished about others’ suffering, why are you so disinterested in wasteful, misdirected and ineffective government programs? It is because you care much less about actually helping than you care about caring. Hence, it is more important for you to say or to do something rather than to accomplish something. Once you have written, spoken or even held forth at a social gathering about some government program, your work is done and you can bask in your own pious reaction. You always want a bigger welfare state for self validation rather than for helping others. That’s precisely why your mantra always is to spend more – it is really for your benefit for you to feel better about yourself.
To conclude dear liberal friends, you are all about feeling rather than thinking. You bought uncritically into every bit of junk science in your lifetime. You routinely accept grotesque contradictions as dogma. You believe so much that simply isn’t true, the only possible conclusion is that liberalism is a lie. You live in a plastic bubble where your myths are constantly reinforced. If you ever experience a conflict, you first deny the truth and then default to vicious and ugly ad hominem attacks. Unsurprisingly, studies show liberals hate more than any other group, a fact to which I can attest.
Even your compassion is phony; your tears are crocodile tears. If you really cared about the poor more than pumping up your self image, you would be more interested in the effectiveness (results) of programs intended to assist them rather than forever mindlessly spending more and more of other peoples’ money. By the way, study after study shows you talk a good game but don’t deliver; folks like me donate far more to charity than folks like you. You take great pride in your compassion and pristine intentions which you wear on your sleeve for all to see. Everything you do is to show your heart is in the right place; but if you’re trying to prove your heart is in the right place, ipso facto, it isn’t! Have a nice day.
Acknowledgment and credit are due for the ideas presented herein dealing with the nature of liberal compassion. The books Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State and The Pity Party both by William Voegeli, as well as his summary in Imprimis, were sources for this posting.
“Failure to grow America’s economy is a choice; decline is not inevitable.”
As trumpeted by the headline of this blog post, economic growth is a panacea; indeed, it is the only solution for every problem (real and perceived) that we face today and for the coming generation. It is apropos that Panacea is the Greek Goddess of healing because strong economic growth will heal everything; to wit:
- The crisis of spending, debt and deficits: A sustained period of strong economic growth (combined with some spending restraint) will enable the US to restore fiscal balance and to stabilize its debt thereby gradually lowering the Debt/GDP ratio to its long-term historical level of around 30%.
- Climate change and environment: If in the distant future climate change causes some issues, the best antidote is a vibrant economy that will easily enable us to spend whatever is needed to mitigate any such problems. Only countries with strong economies can afford to spend copiously on the environment.
- National security: The single greatest asset (weapon) we possess for our national security is a growing, resilient economy. This enables us to spend whatever is necessary to deter any possible adversaries and to defend ourselves should that be necessary. Weakness invites aggression and fosters terrorism.
- Jobs, poverty and inequality: It is economic growth, not government, that creates jobs. It is sustained growth that fulfills the American dream and eliminates poverty; moreover, growth is the great equalizer.
- Unfunded mandates: The USA is facing $350 trillion (over one-third of a quadrillion) in unfunded commitments in the next 50 years for Social Security, Medicare, government pensions, Obamacare and other programs. Absent a high rate of growth, these promises not only cannot be kept but will require drastic reductions in programs.
Okay, so economic growth is the panacea; what must we do to achieve it? The answer is straightforward and attainable. If we do the following we will achieve vigorous, long-lasting economic growth.
- Political consensus: Probably the single most difficult hurdle for achieving growth is reaching a political consensus. Politicians and the media must agree to pursue policies that maximize growth and agree to stick with such policies for the long term. They can continue to argue over how to divide the wealth that results; that is what politics is about. Absent some consensus however, achieving sustained growth becomes problematic.
- Tax and fiscal policy: Taxes (personal and corporate) must be reduced, simplified and stable. People and businesses must be able to plan ahead and certainty about taxation is indispensable to investment and job creation. In the same vein, spending needs to be restrained.
- Eliminate uncertainty: Business hates uncertainty; it stifles planning and results in gridlock. There needs to be a broad and sustained political understanding about taxes, regulations and new initiatives.
- Sound money: The Fed should focus only on maintaining sound money and fighting inflation. A strong, stable and sound dollar are indispensable for a vibrant economy.
- Regulation: The economy is being strangled by regulation and litigation. We need to have a moratorium on new regulations while we gradually reform and roll back existing ones. Our tort system needs to be reformed.
- Energy: We should develop every possible energy source including ANWR, offshore and shale and natural gas on federal and state lands. We should export LNG immediately from many terminals and, of course, construct the Keystone XL Pipeline. Such a policy will create jobs, make us energy independent, stimulate the economy and, importantly, prove to be a potent weapon in keeping Putin and Russia in check.
- School choice: I include this because educated, trained workers are a potent economic resource. Further, school choice will bring about more equality and reduce poverty. It also is a panacea.
“Don’t tax me; don’t tax thee; tax the man behind the tree.”
“The gestalt is that we are entering into a new age of unreason.”
This remains a religion to its acolytes – all the mounting evidence and logic opposing it notwithstanding. To be clear, I always have acknowledged there has been a solar-caused secular warming trend for about 150 years. I also will aver there is a possibility that mankind, in some small and insignificant way, may be contributing as it is impossible to prove a negative. The evidence against a meaningful role for mankind can be summarized as follows:
- There has been observed warming by NASA on our moon, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Triton, Pluto, Titan, Dysnomia, Eris, Enceladus and elsewhere in our solar system. There is no instance of observed temperature decrease anywhere in our solar system. Moreover, the measured warming is in lockstep with that on Earth. Clearly, these measurements prove to anyone but a Luddite that warming is a solar phenomenon.
- There has been no observed warming for at least 17 years and up to 25 years depending on which measure is used. This defies all computer models. Warmists can only dissemble; the best they can come up with is that the warming is hidden deep in the oceans – a proposition which, of course, can neither be proven nor disproven.
- Virtually all other claims made by warmists have failed to materialize. The shrinking of the Arctic icecap (which they tout) has been far more than offset by the increase in the Antarctic icecap, which is 10 times larger than the Arctic icecap. Recently, the Arctic icecap has begun to increase. There have been no major hurricanes to hit the US since forever and there has been no more extreme weather than in the past.
Not only are proponents of organic food wrong at every level, their actions, if left unchecked, will wreak havoc on the planet and without any benefits whatsoever to consumers of organic foods; consider:
- There is absolutely no difference in taste between organically grown food and conventionally grown food. Every independent, scientific taste test has shown people cannot tell the difference. I will put up $10,000 to back the claim that there is no statistically significant difference in a scientifically conducted taste test.
- Organic foods have no added benefits for vitamins or minerals, i.e. they are not more healthful in any way.
- Both organic and conventionally grown foods use pesticides; the difference is organic uses so-called natural pesticides in massive quantities and it leaches into the groundwater causing grave environmental harm.
- Organic requires 40% more land, is more labor intensive, has 20% to 50% lower yields and costs up to 300% more. If adopted on a large scale, it would result is clearing millions of acres and destroying critical habitat.
“Unreason flourishes because progressive dogma is antithetical to objective reality.”
Of all I learned writing this blog, nothing is more crucial to achieving more liberty and less government than the issue of jury nullification, i.e. the idea that juries are sovereign and have the absolute right to vote to acquit for any reason. The right to a jury trial was enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights not solely for the defendant, but for the jury. Nullification is not to be used lightly; but following are 10 specific examples where it may apply.
- Laws have proliferated such that honest citizens acting in good faith unknowingly violate laws they never knew, or reasonably should have known, existed or that were so vague as to be meaningless;
- The accused never intended to commit a crime and did not have a mens rea – or guilty mind – which formerly was a requirement for charging or convicting citizens;
- Victimless crimes;
- Laws that shouldn’t exist like Wisconsin’s making it a crime for a farmer to provide raw milk to the owner of the cows he boards even though consuming raw milk is perfectly legal;
- Crimes for which the probable sentence (or minimum sentence) is out of proportion;
- Disagreement with the law or the way it is being applied; laws only seldom or selectively enforced;
- Abuse by police or prosecutors and/or charges that are political in nature;
- Overzealous enforcement or profiling – one third of all adults have been arrested as have 40% of males before age 23 – 50% for black males under age 23. This is prima facie unreasonable;
- Instances where justice is not being served; and
- Matters of conscience.
Jury nullification has a long and glorious history in America; let me tell you about just a few of the many instances where valiant juries have voted their conscience.
- The Salem witch trials in 1692 ended for one reason and one reason only: jury nullification. Beginning in 1693 there were 52 consecutive hung juries and/or acquittals and prosecutors ceased bringing new cases.
- In the 1760s juries refused to enforce forfeitures under the Navigation Acts. England then restricted jury trials as part of the Intolerable Acts which led directly to the American Revolution.
- In the 1850s northern juries began acquitting abolitionists under the Fugitive Slave Laws.
- In the 1890s corporations began losing jury verdicts in cases involving the organization of labor unions and strikes resulting in workers winning the right to organize.
- Jury nullification played a big role in ending prohibition in the 1930s.
- During the Vietnam War, juries acquitted protesters when informed of their sovereign power.
- Juries refused to convict admitted consensual sex among adult gays under sodomy laws.
- In 2012 an Iowa jury acquitted an “occupy” protester who admittedly violated curfew and trespass laws to remain on the grounds of the statehouse to peacefully protest. Immediately thereafter, 15 others accused under the same laws demanded jury trials.
“A majority is one person with courage.”
The principles identified supra lead to twelve major initiatives I now announce. There is much more to be done; however, this is where we must begin to restore our Constitutional Republic.
- The Constitutional Box: We are a government of laws and not men. The identity of those who hold executive, legislative or judicial offices should be of little consequence to citizens provided they act within the confines of the Constitution, i.e. stay inside the Constitutional box. This means shrinking government to its core responsibility of securing our rights and, to a very limited extent, providing infrastructure. Accordingly, we will scale the federal government back to 15% of GDP, a level which empirically is demonstrated to result in the maximum rate of economic growth and hence the maximum well-being for all our citizens.
- Free Trade: Wealth and prosperity are created by trade among peoples. Traders take substantial risks and can accrue riches; however, their wealth ultimately depends on improving the lives of their customers. If they fail to make you better off, they do not prosper. Free and unfettered trade is universally good – always and everywhere. For that reason I announce the United States unilaterally will eliminate all tariffs and trade barriers – even if other countries do not reciprocate. We will be better off for that action and those who do not follow will be worse off.
- Sound Money: The Federal Reserve will have one mission only: to maintain sound money. This means purchasing power will be maintained, inflation eliminated, and increases in the money supply subject to strict constraints. The Fed will be audited regularly and we will take a hard look at reestablishing a gold standard.
- Taxation: As we scale government back to 15% of GDP, taxes can be slashed. I am asking for repeal of the 16th amendment to eliminate the income tax. We also will eliminate the death tax and Social Security/Medicare payroll taxes. These will be replaced by a consumption tax at the lowest rate possible – likely in a single digit. The 60% of Americans who currently pay no income tax (net of credits) will begin to enjoy the dignity that comes with being a taxpayer. Moreover, they will have a personal stake in controlling spending and holding taxes to the absolute minimum. The crisis of spending, debt and deficits will end instantaneously.
- Defense and Foreign Affairs: We will follow the admonition of President John Quincy Adams that “America is a friend of freedom everywhere, but a custodian only of our own.” Simultaneously, we will observe George Washington’s advice that “The best way to keep the peace is to be prepared for war.” We will strengthen and then consistently maintain the military for the long term at such a high level as to deter any possibly adversary.
- War on Drugs: The war on drugs is over. As we learned with prohibition, the drug war is unwinnable and never should have been fought. Henceforth, all drugs will be legal but regulated, taxed and discouraged just as with tobacco. Drug taxes collected will go solely for rehabilitation of those who continue to abuse them. We immediately will realize benefits including: (a) releasing non-violent drug offenders; (b) ending drug related crime; (c) putting drug cartels out of business; (d) reducing police corruption; (e) refocusing our foreign policy; (f) ensuring safety of drugs; and (g) eliminating drug dealers as role models.
- Regulation: All regulations will automatically sunset ratably every 10 years. Congress must enact any that need to be replaced. Any regulations promulgated by bureaucrats that have an economic impact of over $25 million must be voted on and approved by Congress before taking effect.
- Role of Juries: Henceforth, defendants (and their attorneys) will have the right to explain to juries that juries are sovereign and, as intended by our nation’s founders, have the final say about the legality and enforcement of all laws. The grand jury system will be reformed to stop prosecutorial abuse and to allow citizen grand juries.
- War on Poverty: The war on poverty is finished. The percentage of Americans who, by their own reports, lack a healthy level of food, shelter, clothing or medical care is 2%-3%. This cohort is identical to the 2% to 3% of Americans with very low mental acuity, i.e. those who struggle to fill out a simple form. We will therefore refocus our attention and also our solutions to better deal with the real problem. Even though the percentage in poverty is low, it still equates to 7-8 million of our countrymen to whom we pledge a strong safety net.
- Entitlements: Obamacare is to be repealed and replaced with free market solutions. Entitlements will be placed on budget. Social Security gradually and voluntarily will be privatized. In the interim, benefits will be maintained by changing indexing and lengthening eligibility ages. Medicare benefits will be maintained by gradually lengthening eligibility ages and changing to a premium support model; also, medical costs will moderate given real prices. Medicaid will be block granted to the states to administer as they see fit without interference.
- Energy/Climate: The Keystone Pipeline will be built and natural gas exported. We will drill and frack in ANWR, offshore and on federal lands – all ASAP. Our national delusion about manmade global warming is over. Warming is a solar phenomenon to which man’s contribution is minimal. We will continue to develop alternative fuels for the future while eliminating subsidies for wind, solar and biofuels. The EPA’s mission will be refocused.
- Education: School choice is the civil rights issue of our time. We will move with all deliberate speed to universal school vouchers. We will bring education into the 21st century with technology and by furthering alternatives such as online and home schooling and by creating entirely new paradigms.
Update on the Crisis of Spending, Debt and Deficits
By: George Noga – September 20, 2014
By some metrics the debt storm has abated. Compared to earlier deficit projections published herein, the USA is slightly better off, with the difference due entirely to the massive Obama tax increases. The deficit this FY ending September 30 is $500 billion, equal to 3% of GDP; meanwhile GDP is increasing around 2%, meaning the deficit is growing only slightly faster than the economy, a marked improvement. However, great damage already has been done; moreover, we are merely in the eye of the debt hurricane – it may appear sunnier at the moment, but the deficit storm will soon resume with even more ferocity and we will all be blown away.
The Seen and the Unseen
The US economy already has sustained massive body blows. The reason we don’t clearly see the damage is due to the difference between the seen and unseen – or, more to the point, the difference between the reported and unreported.
- In past recoveries following major recessions, the US economy has grown by an average of 5% for the subsequent 5 years; this results in a compound growth rate of 27.6%. Instead, we have experienced 2% compound growth yielding only 10.4%. The difference of 17.2% is the growth deficit. Simply, the average American today is 17% worse off than he/she should be; but we don’t see what should be; we only see what is. Nevertheless, the reality is that every American has been impoverished by 17% just during the past 5 years.
- We see the increase in federal tax revenue and the concomitant reduction in the deficit. Unseen are the massive tax hikes that produced the revenue. Individual tax brackets increased with the top rate going to 39.6 % – a 13% increase. Investment related taxes were savaged with capital gains rates going from 15% to 23.8% (59% increase) and dividends from 15% to 43.4% (289% increase). Medicare taxes increased 62% and the upper limit was removed. There was a new surtax on investments of 3.8% and the death tax went from zero to 40%. New individual and employer Obamacare taxes took effect along with scores of other Obama tax hikes. The 35% corporate tax rate (world’s highest) is responsible for shifting jobs and investment abroad and businesses keeping $2 trillion overseas. The unseen effects of these massive tax increases will hobble the economy until abnegated.
- We can see the reduction in the official unemployment rate; what is unseen is the jobs disaster that is America today. There are 12 million out of work, 12 million on disability and nearly 50 million (one in 5 households) in breadlines – err, on food stamps. The labor force participation rate hit a 35 year low. All (net) jobs being created are part time; there are legions of 29ers and 49ers. The true rate of unemployment is 15%, not the 6.2% reported.
- We see Social Security and Medicare meeting their current obligations but we do not see the demographic time bomb looming for both programs. There is nothing on earth as certain as demographics; 77 million more boomers will retire (10,000 every day) and begin Social Security and Medicare. Spending on both these programs will grow by 8% compounded – doubling every 9 years. Within 10 years we will spend our entire budget on entitlements and interest on the debt leaving nothing left over for defense or for the rest of the government.
- We see interest rates on federal debt hovering around record lows costing only $225 billion currently. We blissfully do not see what the interest would cost given a return to average interest rates, i.e. interest cost would increase $500 billion per year to $725 billion, or triple today’s cost. And that’s the rosy scenario. This is a no-win situation: keep rates low and the economy is grotesquely distorted and savings and investment are savaged or raise rates where they should be and the budget deficit goes thermonuclear.
- We see government regulation exploding, uncertainty rampant and the scepter of Obamacare hanging over all of us like the sword of Damocles. We do not see the stultifying effects of all these on job creation and the economy.
Looking at the gestalt paints a funereal picture. Average Americans already are 17% poorer over the last 5 years than they would have been in a normal economic recovery – and they will continue to get relatively poorer and poorer each year without any end in sight. The tax and regulatory burden, particularly on investment, has skyrocketed, halting new investment and job creation. Behind the “official” 6.2% unemployment rate lays a dystopian jobs nightmare; we are turning into a country of part time workers. We are reaping a demographic whirlwind still in its early stage. We are living on the razor’s edge regarding interest rates; we have a Hobson’s choice: ballooning interest costs or maintaining negative real interest rates. Finally, all this exists within a milieu of hyper-regulation, vast uncertainty and, of course, Obamacare.
Current CBO Projections for Spending, Debt and the Deficit
Recently (July) the CBO released its latest forecast. The CBO alternate baseline forecast (its most realistic) assumed the average middle class family’s tax burden doubles over the coming generation; it also assumed no more recessions, wars, terrorist attacks, natural disasters and that interest rates remain low perpetually. Despite these horrific (taxes doubling) and grossly unrealistic assumptions, the results are disastrous. The deficit increases by over $100 trillion and the CBO stops forecasting because it can’t conceive of a functioning economy under those circumstances. And all this, dear readers, is based on an uber-optimistic forecast; the reality is much, much worse!
We have been grazing on the fiscal commons for a long time; the pasture is about to give out and the spring lambs are doomed to a life of quiet desperation. We can muddle through for a few – perhaps several – years with temporizing and half measures. Soon enough time will run out and the ineluctable tipping point (Minsky Moment) will be reached. It will get ugly for an extended period, i.e. a lost generation., Eventually, when we emerge from the rubble, we may get it right again – only because there are no other choices – and America will again enjoy more liberty and less government!
“Any citizen could bring a matter directly before a grand jury.”
“A prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich.”
There are a number of organizations competing to revive the common law grand jury in the USA. They range from the serious and well organized to some with marginal (at best) credibility. For the time being however, citizen grand juries are limited to advisory and public relations roles. Although it is unlikely grand juries will return to their 19th century roots anytime soon, it is not hard to discern that some major changes – such as the following – may come in the years ahead.
- The beauty of our federal system is that there are 50 states and citizen grand juries may need to catch on only in one or two states to spread like wildfire. Also there are over 3,000 counties and since most grand juries operate at the county level, it is possible significant changes could even originate at the county level.
- The movement could inspire more and more regularly convened grand juries to become runaway juries.
- Significant marginal changes are possible. At one time ordinary citizens were allowed to pass information directly to a sitting grand jury. Bringing back this feature could really shake up politicians prone to abuse their power.
- It is easy to foresee rapid growth in citizen grand juries with an advisory role, i.e. they could report their findings to a regular grand jury and/or independently publish their findings – similar to the present situation in Montana.
“Obama won’t call Benghazi or San Jose terrorism; he won’t invest in missile defense; and he refuses to spend even one day’s borrowing to protect 100 million American lives.”