Thursday, December 20, 2012

Poverty has won the War On Poverty

Libertarians are often caricatured as uncaring bastards who would throw their grandmothers out on the street if Granny ever stops harvesting her percentage of the wheat crop.  But it really is possible to be in favor of Granny's continued existence in her old age, while opposing John Boehner and Barack Obama being her means of support.

Libertarians generally oppose wealth redistribution by force, therefore we dislike Uncle Sam’s welfare schemes.

Statists claim it’s because we’re greedy. (We are greedy. You are greedy.  We all want more than we have. Lots more. Unlike the Statists, though, we want you to have more also, so you'll spend it on what we produce. We know that your success doesn’t require our failure.) But greed isn’t the reason we oppose mandatory government welfare programs.

Here’s the real reason, folks: Government welfare isn’t an effective method for fighting poverty.  In fact, it looks like welfare is keeping poverty alive. 

Check out the chart, from Economist Daniel Mitchell’s International Liberty website.  LBJ’s War On Poverty was the equivalent of spreading top-notch fertilizer on a weed patch. Poverty was dying until Washington D.C. got involved in killing it.  Incredible, isn't it? 

Folks, poverty was disappearing !!  Dropping like VHS sales!!!  But when anti-poverty programs appeared, poverty stabilized between 11-15%.   How much would you give to learn what woulda happened if the War On Poverty had never been declared????  Think of the fifteen trillion or so that they've spent on anti-poverty programs.  Do you think that might have been better spent by producers rather than D.C. looters? 

People are poor because they can't be productive.  (Or in a few cases, won't be productive.)  Yeah, some prosper because of lotteries, and a few eventually claw their way out and prosper because of handouts. But most of the poor get stuck, generation after generation after generation, sitting by the mailbox waiting on the goodies from Uncle Sugar.

When Washington demonizes success (especially from the entrepreneurial side as opposed to the sports/arts/entertainment side) and demands an ever-increasing cut of the profits from any business or individual, the productive members of society are left with less and less to spend on other things, like employees. George Soros, Warren Buffett, and dotcom jillionaires might be political numbskulls, but their instincts on how to spend money are far superior to John Boehner’s and Barack Obama’s. Let ‘em keep more of their money and the jobs will follow.

If we were to cut the U.S. tax burden in half, poverty in the U.S. would die. There would be a sprinkling of unemployed disabled people who could easily be provided for by using pre-LBJ methods. In that era, we had thousands and thousands of civic, fraternal, and church benevolence funds in place that we’ve almost forgotten how to administer.

We could easily end poverty.

But we’re too compassionate to even consider doing so. 

Note to self:  Create another chart showing how Islamic Extremists were dying off until our government got involved in trying to kill them. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Case For More Guns

I read this in The Atlantic Monthly (hardly a right-wing Tea Party rag) a few days before the shooting in Connecticut. 
It's easily the most reasonable piece I've seen on the subject of guns in America.  Jeffery Goldberg is the author. 

Go here.  Kinda long, but worth it.

Here are the final paragraphs.....

But even some moderate gun-control activists, such as Dan Gross, have trouble accepting that guns in private hands can work effectively to counteract violence. When I asked him the question I posed to Stephen Barton and Tom Mauser—would you, at a moment when a stranger is shooting at you, prefer to have a gun, or not?—he answered by saying, “This is the conversation the gun lobby wants you to be having.” He pointed out some of the obvious flaws in concealed-carry laws, such as too-lax training standards and too much discretionary power on the part of local law-enforcement officials. He did say that if concealed-carry laws required background checks and training similar to what police recruits undergo, he would be slower to raise objections. But then he added: “In a fundamental way, isn’t this a question about the kind of society we want to live in?” Do we want to live in one “in which the answer to violence is more violence, where the answer to guns is more guns?”

What Gross won’t acknowledge is that in a nation of nearly 300 million guns, his question is irrelevant.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ayn Rand's Philosophy

I'm trying to plow through the complete works of Ayn Rand.  I thought "Anthem" was brilliant.  "The Fountainhead" was ok, but only redeemed by the wonderful speech at the end. 

This is probably my 3rd attempt at "Atlas Shrugged".  I think my first stab at it was in high school, where I skimmed it thinking it was a novel about railroads.  The second time was when I started working at Bookstop, almost 25 years ago, at the recommendation of a few employees (Tim Lebsack, maybe??) but life intervened.
I picked it up for the third time a few days ago.   
It's been sitting there like a time bomb. 

I've read several critiques of the novel which state that it is best appreaciated by 17-year-old boys.  That's horsecrap.  I'm about 2/3rds of the way through it, and now believe it can best be understood by 51-year-olds living under the Obama Administration. 

"When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."  All of them.  Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren, Jimmy Hoffa, Jr.,  The Texas Department Of Transportation, The Texas Unemployment Commission, and Ayn Rand.  Rand wrote the play, and the rest are clumsily acting it out. 

When I finish this book, I'm going to instantly go back through it with a highlighter, and bore the shit out of everybody on this site and on Facebook with quotes from the book, illustrated with pics from 2013.  As events develop. 

Here's Rand's general philosophy, a set of beliefs now in opposition to everything most voters stand for or believe in.  Think of the misery all over the U.S. and the world if governments were to adopt this:

At a sales conference at Random House, preceding the publication of Atlas Shrugged, one of the book salesmen asked me whether I could present the essence of my philosophy while standing on one foot. I did as follows:
  1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality
  2. Epistemology: Reason
  3. Ethics: Self-interest
  4. Politics: Capitalism
If you want this translated into simple language, it would read: 1.”Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed” or “Wishing won’t make it so.” 2. “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too.” 3. “Man is an end in himself.” 4. “Give me liberty or give me death.”
If you held these concepts with total consistency, as the base of your convictions, you would have a full philosophical system to guide the course of your life. But to hold them with total consistency—to understand, to define, to prove and to apply them—requires volumes of thought. Which is why philosophy cannot be discussed while standing on one foot—or while standing on two feet on both sides of every fence. This last is the predominant philosophical position today, particularly in the field of politics.
My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:
Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man’s feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.
Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man’s senses) is man’s only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.
Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.
The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man’s rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.
The Taggart Transcontinental Comet just blew up inside the mountain, killing everyone aboard including the idiot politico who demanded that they go through the tunnel.  Dagny has come back to take over the railroad.  Hank Rearden is torturing himself for putting his zipper problem ahead of his company. 

I want to find myself some Rearden Steel to make fruitstands that will last forever. 

Great book so far, and John Galt hasn't said a word yet. 

If you love the book and think that's a cool painting, go here to buy a poster