Saturday, February 28, 2009

American Tea Party 2009: Nashville Tennessee Pictures

Tea Party Protesters at Nashville's War Memorial Auditorium Feb 27, 2009

As promised, here's the update on how things went at the Tennessee Tea Party 2009 on Friday, February 27, 2009. The Tennessean reported:

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the state capitol Friday, despite the heavy rains that turned the War Memorial plaza into a puddle, for a “Nashville Tea Party” rallying against the $787 billion federal stimulus package.

In fact, the estimate was about 600 in attendance bearing tea and hilarious signs. One totally crazy guy even dressed up like a Native American the way they did at the original Tea Party in Boston:


He argued that we were doing a great thing that day, but that our actions paled in comparison to those of our forebears, who had to disguise themselves to avoid retribution at the hands of a tyrannical establishment. He said that their actions were far bolder than ours and that we 21st century Americans aren't radical enough.



He was the best dressed guy there. After the event was over, half the crowd marched down the street to the local Congressional office of Congressman Jim Cooper to rebuke him for voting to pass the "Stimulus Package."


"Mmmm... Protesting Makes Me Hungry."

Here's The Tennessean's short video covering the event. It's only two minutes long and if you wait until the end, you'll hear a "really smart" guy say a thing or two about the protest. He had a little bit of nervous energy, but he showed a lot of spirit!


Congressman Ron Paul's Son, Rand Paul Considering Senate Run In 2010!

Rand Paul campaigning for his father, Ron Paul in NH - Image by nicco (CC)

Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul's close and enthusiastic circle of followers is on fire with whispers and rumors about his son Rand Paul's possible Senate bid in 2010. Here's a little more information:


Is Rand Paul Running?

He is definitely considering it. Matt Collins, a well-connected Middle-Tennessee activist for liberty and associate of Rand Paul has heard it directly from Dr. Paul himself:

After several phone and e-mail conversations with Dr. Rand Paul in the last couple days he has made it clear that he is indeed considering running for Senate in 2010!

But if incumbent Senator Jim Bunning (R) decides to run again in 2010, Rand Paul will be much less likely to oppose him in the Republican primary (though supporters hope that is still a possibility). Interestingly, Senator Bunning's reelection bid appears to be on somewhat shaky grounds and the Republican Party leadership views his seat as very "vulnerable" to a Democratic challenger due to his extremely narrow win in 2004.


Who Is Rand Paul?

In his bid for the Republican nomination to run for President in 2008, Congressman Ron Paul of Texas sparked a "revolution" of political activism in favor of limited government, civil liberties, rule of law, and a humble foreign policy. His son, Dr. Rand Paul (M.D. just like his dad), resides and practices ophthalmology in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Can we expect Rand Paul to support limited government like his father, Ron Paul?

Rand answers "Yes-"



"I think in many ways we'd be similar. We both believe in limited government. I believe that government should run balanced budgets."

A summary of Rand Paul's positions:

  • Against "Big Government"
  • Against deficit spending (supports balanced budgets)
  • Against monetizing Federal expenditures (printing more money, which causes inflation)
  • Against "Bailouts"
  • Against nationalizing banking institutions
  • Against fighting wars without a proper declaration from Congress

Sounds good to me! Serious believers in more limited government need to take notice and take action to encourage Rand Paul to run, and then follow through with support for his campaign.


What you can do to make it happen:

I have the following from Matt Collins in an e-mail dated Feb 27:

Rand Paul's request is that we “Set the Internet abuzz” by posting about his considering to run and specifically link to the the AP article and one that will be out tonight on WBKO's web site tonight. Again, make this message go viral. So please post about him everywhere! Blogs, Message Forums and Your Meetups, Craigs list and whenever possible sites local to Kentucky. If you have personal mailing lists – let um rip!

http://www.14wfie.com/global/story.asp?s=9914862
http://www.wbko.com/home/headlines/40458097.html

He will be watching those 2 articles and weighing his chances based on how much interest is generated. He also thinks it's pre-mature to do fund raising, get volunteers or set up a web site.

So in addition to making some noise on and for the two pages linked above, here's what we can do to show Rand Paul that he has our support and to make this story go viral:

  • Send letters to the editors of Kentucky newspapers. So that we get a good spread, pick a paper or two with names that start with a letter that is the same as (or close to) your last name. Here's a list: http://www.usnpl.com/kynews.php
  • Search for and link to pages that mention Rand Paul. He does not have much search volume or page ranking on Google, so search for him daily and if you are a blogger or webmaster, link to pages that mention him (like this one for example!).
  • Write and edit a Wikipedia page for him. Rand Paul currently doesn't have a Wikipedia page. At the time I'm writing this (1:06 PM American Central Time on Feb 28), a Wikipedia search for "Rand Paul" redirects to the Ron Paul article. Let's get a good quality, well-sourced article up soon.
  • Join the Facebook group here.
  • Sign this PledgeBank Pledge here. It's a promise to donate $50 to Rand Paul's campaign if he decides to run. This will let him know how many people are willing to pony up and help make his campaign a success. If he enjoys the "moneybomb" fundraising power that his father did, he will blow the competition away. What's really exciting is that he will likely get fundraising from people in all the other states who support his message of liberty and limited government. ONLY sign the pledge if you really mean it. Set the money aside and be prepared to donate it if Rand Paul announces that he will run for sure.
  • Call Kentucky radio stations and C-SPAN (and call often!). Here's a list:
  • WGTK 970 AM Louisville, KY http://970wgtk.townhall.com/ This is a Conservative / political radio station. Shows: Bennett Mornings: 6-9AM: 866-680-6464 , Michael Medved Show: time? 1-800-955-1776 michael@michaelmedved.com, Hugh Hewitt Show: time? 1-800-520-1234, Dennis Prager Show: time? 1-877-243-7776 dennis@pragerradio.com, Mike Gallagher Show: time? (v)1-800-655-MIKE (f) 1-800-821-MIKE

Many of these stations have polls, blogs, etc. VISIT THEM! All of them have streaming audio.


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Friday, February 27, 2009

A Brief Update

Tea Party Protesters at Nashville's War Memorial Auditorium Feb 27, 2009

Hey folks! As you already know if you're a regular reader here, I try to keep the Humble Libertarian updated roughly once a day. I take days off now and then like yesterday and the day before.

The reason this time is that I was preparing for the Nashville Tea Party Protest that took place a few hours ago today in Legislative Plaza on the steps of the War Memorial Auditorium.

The event was a blast! It's late now and I'm exhausted from today's fun proceedings, so I will let you go with this brief update and a promise to tell you all about it tomorrow.

--------------------

ANNOUNCEMENT:

I also want to let you know to be sure and check my blog out on Sunday March 1st for a really cool new feature that I will start doing on the first of every month here at the Humble Libertarian.

If you think you might forget, subscribe.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Politicizing Jesus - Or Putting Out of Control Deficit Spending In Perspective?


One story that made waves over the weekend was the American Issues Project ad which first aired Friday:

“Suppose you spent $1 million every single day starting from the day Jesus was born — and kept spending through today,” says the announcer as an image of the three wise men flashes on the screen. “A million dollars a day for more than 2,000 years. You would still have spent less money than Congress just did.”

It would be an incredible understatement to say, "That's a lot of money!" Here's the ad:

"Every Single Day- The American Issues Project"


Totally Missing (Or Ignoring) The Point


The media's coverage of this political ad was annoying because they seemed to think the story here was the fact that the ad "used Jesus" to illustrate their point. Politico.com's opening paragraph, which was typical of what most news coverage said:



"After watching liberal allies of President Barack Obama flood the airwaves in support of the stimulus bill, a conservative third-party group is countering with a provocative new commercial using Jesus Christ [*gasp*] to emphasize the scale of the $787 billion package."

Oh noes! They used Jesus to make their point? How provocative! They're politicizing Jesus! Let's leave Jesus out of this.

The real story here is that the government just spent that much money. This seriously just happened. Can you fathom how much that is? Just consider for a moment how much a million dollars is. Consider spending one million dollars over just your lifetime. Now consider spending one million dollars every day for your entire life. Isn't that just an obscene amount of money for the government to spend all at once? How does sapping that much wealth from the economy help us out of a recession?

But it's worse than that. It's not just more money than you would spend in total if you spent a million dollars a day for your entire life, it's more than a million dollars a day since Jesus walked the Earth, a period of time that significantly dwarfs the duration of a single person's life. Jesus was mentioned only to give a sense of scale, not to imply that Jesus would take a side in this political debate or to be "provocative." This ad isn't provocative, it's shocking. Most of the media (including the "ultra-conservative" Fox News channel) either totally missed or totally ignored the real story and the real tragedy here.


Too little, Too Late

One thing the media did pick up on that I agree with was that this ad is too little too late. Where was this ad before the stimulus package was passed? There's a ton of outrage over the stimulus package, coming mostly from the so-called "conservatives," and I'd like to know where all that energy was when we had a chance at stopping the package from becoming law. Rick Santelli's rant on CNBC fired up a lot of people, but why weren't they organizing "tea party" protests before the package passed? Why didn't America take to the streets and stop this from happening to her? Why didn't hundreds of thousands of patriots descend on Washington D.C. and march up to the Capitol to say "NO MORE!"

I guarantee you that if I had been a major voice in the national dialogue with my own radio show, television program, or million-visitor-a-day website, I would have mobilized my community of avid liberty-lovers to do something and make a difference when it was most urgent to do so. But now that the damage is done, I am glad that people are using this as an opportunity to learn a lesson and to reflect on the direction this country is heading.


One More Illustration

The usefulness of illustrations like the one in the ad is that the human mind is not equipped to handle very large numbers. Large numbers are almost meaningless to our brains. If you want a way to grasp the magnitude of the money we just spent (that doesn't "use" Jesus), try this illustration: one million seconds from now it will be March 6 (just eleven days), one billion seconds from now it will be the year 2040 (that's 11,574 days or almost 32 years), one trillion seconds from now it will be the year 33,718 AD (that's 31,709 years- or fifteen times the number of years between Jesus' birth and the present. *oops- I just had to slip him in). Now imagine all those seconds from now until the year 33,718 were dollars. We're running a deficit bigger than that.


And for people who like pictures-

This is how a stack of nine million one dollar bills looks compared to a man of average height.

(source -check it out to see more examples)

This is how 630 billion (that's a lot less than the stimulus package cost) one dollar bills look (and yes, those tiny dots are the man and his car for comparison):

(source)

Anti-Bailout Merchandise
Anti-Stimulus Merchandise

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hypocrisy From Democrats On Barack Obama's Presidency (i.e. Bush 2.0)

Photo from WhiteHouse.gov

Yesterday I argued that Barack Obama's presidency is shaping up to look a lot like George W. Bush's presidency.

I offered as evidence the lies and broken campaign promises, the fear-mongering, the disregard for the Constitution, the unrestrained executive power and chilling CIA renditions, the shameless hypocrisy, the Federal money for faith-based initiatives (yeah you read that right... Obama supports those), the out-of-control spending, the warmongering, and the corruption.

Then today, one of the frontpage stories on Digg was this:

Firing Back on the “Fiscal Responsibility" Lobby

The very same folks who just dragged us along on an eight-year drunken binge during which they borrowed-and-spent us into the deepest financial catastrophe in nearly a century are now standing there, faces full of moral rectitude, fingers pointing and shaking in our faces, righteously lecturing the rest of us on the topic of "fiscal responsibility"

Which reminds me of a snarky little article popular on Digg a couple weeks back:

Generational High Crimes and Misdemeanors

The conservative blogosphere, led by up and coming right wing-nut Michelle Malkin have been frantically pushing to label the stimulus bill the “Generational Theft Bill,” and impressionable republicans on the hill are echoing this ill-conceived branding quip. Generational Theft? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

These folks are (correctly) calling out Republicans on their hypocritical partisanship, but then dishing out plenty of their own hypocritical partisanship Democrat-style. I say both sides are being hypocritical! It is correct to point out that Republicans ran record deficits under Bush and are now only changing their tune when the other party is in power. But watch this and tell me Democrats haven't suddenly changed their tune as well:



You want to know who hasn't been hypocritical? Me. I haven't been hypocritical. Libertarians haven't been hypocritical. Bush gets to win his political victories while Democrats point out the flaws in his policies. Then when he makes a mess of things, Obama gets elected on a platform of change and gets to win his political victories doing the same stupid thing that Bush did, while Republicans fault him for making the same mistakes they supported under Bush. Both sides get to feel smug, self-righteous and satisfied for "standing on principle" and opposing the other side's flaws, both sides get to take turns wielding power and winning their political "victories" ...and I never get to win. America never gets to win. She just keeps losing and losing.

There's only one thing more annoying than the pot calling the kettle black, and that's the kettle saying back to the pot, "No I'm not. You're black. And you're a hypocrite too," to which the pot responds, "I'm not the hypocrite. You are. And you're black..." over and over and over again, ad nauseam. And meanwhile both are taking turns mugging and robbing us.



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...................................,<`.._|_,-&``................`\.............. PS: Here's just more evidence that Obama is no different than Bush:

The Obama administration, siding with former President George W. Bush, is trying to kill a lawsuit that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails.

Two advocacy groups suing the Executive Office of the President say that large amounts of White House e-mail documenting Bush's eight years in office may still be missing, and that the government must undertake an extensive recovery effort. They expressed disappointment that Obama's Justice Department is continuing the Bush administration's bid to get the lawsuits dismissed.

...

Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, noted that President Barack Obama on his first full day in office called for greater transparency in government.

The Justice Department "apparently never got the message" from Obama, Blanton said.

We could tack that on to Item 1 in the list: "Lies and Broken Promises."

Friday, February 20, 2009

A List of Obama Bush Comparisons: 10 Ways Barack Obama Is Just Like George W. Bush

Photo by Pete Souza

Barack Obama's One Month Anniversary as President

If one more person responds to one of my criticisms of Obama by saying "Oh yeah? Like Bush was any different," I'm going to stab myself in the eye with a ball-point pen. That's the point! If as a nation, we generally agree that Bush's presidency was bad for America, it is no defense of Obama to say that his policies are no different from Bush's. At this point in history, that should be one of the worst indictments against Obama.

After just one month of Barack Obama, it is abundantly clear that despite the hype, this administration is just more of the same. Here is a list of ten ways that the Obama Administration is shaping up to look a lot like the Bush Administration.


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1. Lies and Broken Promises

The Bush Administration was characterized by lies and broken campaign promises. His administration looked nothing like the promises he made during the 2000 Presidential Campaign.

The Obama Administration is shaping up to be no different. He promised the following during his campaign and on WhiteHouse.gov after his inauguration: "we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it."

He has already broken this promise no less than three times, in signing SCHIP, the Lily Ledbetter Act, and The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the "stimulus package"). Meanwhile, he has "reneged on his promise to keep lobbyists out of his administration, appointed a number of scandal-tainted Washington old-timers to key posts and talked the bipartisan talk while walking the partisan walk."


2. Fear-Mongering

As I wrote in my criticisms of the "stimulus" package:

"There are many striking parallels between The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and such misguided policies as the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, and the Global War on Terror. They all: Expand the role, power, and influence of government; Drastically increase government spending; Diminish individual liberties; Have questionable aims and unresolved practical complications; Lack exit-strategies and clearly defined standards of success or accountability; Have been sold to Americans by manufacturing a crisis and claiming that we simply must act, that there is no other way, and that without these laws, the development of some kind of worst-case scenario is inevitable; Have official names that are confusing, misleading, and often contradictory to the real aims and results of the legislation itself."

We should be alarmed at the lack of transparency, the frantic rhetoric, and the shrill fear-mongering. If we have been paying attention these last few years, this should be an all-too-familiar tactic and we should not let ourselves fall for it again. We should call the President to account for himself, especially in light of his promises to change the tone of political rhetoric coming from the White House.


3. Disregard For The Constitution

As President, George W. Bush cared little for living up to the supreme law of the land- the United State Constitution. His record of illegal wire-tapping, undeclared wars, and runaway executive power are evidence of that. Obama's administration is no different. In only a month, he has managed to violate the Constitution more than once. His appointment of Hillary Clinton to the office of Secretary of State was unconstitutional, moving the Census to the White House was unconstitutional and politically motivated, his decision to continue funding faith-based groups that discriminate on the basis of religion was unconstitutional and just plain unseemly for a "progressive Democrat" like himself (more on that later), and as usual, he has received a free pass from the media. Few people seem to be aware that Barack Obama has violated the Constitution three times in just one month as President, and those that are aware don't seem to care. One commenter on this blog even told me that by mentioning it and criticizing it, I'm just "pissing in the wind." The Constitution is what's getting pissed on if you ask me, and I'm not "pissing in the wind," I'm just pissed.


4. Unlimited Executive Power

What was frightening about the Bush Administration was its vast expansion of executive power and usurpation of the system of checks and balances established by the Constitution to safeguard our nation from tyranny. President Barack Obama has continued this tradition by promising to ignore Congress and illegally extend TARP funds to non-financial institutions, despite the legislation specifying that the funds are for financial institutions only (this would actually be a fourth example of Barack Obama violating the Constitution, or at least promising to). Additionally, the Census grab mentioned above represents an unconstitutional assumption of power that will give the White House influence over the redistricting process, creating a glaring conflict of interests as the White House decides how to draw districts which will impact the electoral college and the 2012 election. In just one month, Obama has shown that he does not plan to reign in an out-of-control executive branch. He is more than happy to wield and expand the power handed to him by George W. Bush. One of the most chilling examples is in his policy to continue:


5. CIA Renditions

Says the New York Times:

In little-noticed confirmation testimony recently, Obama nominees endorsed continuing the C.I.A.’s program of transferring prisoners to other countries without legal rights, and indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without trials even if they were arrested far from a war zone.

And the Chicago Tribune:

Under executive orders issued by Obama last week, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the U.S.

The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured.

Not so different from Bush after all? This is the change America voted for.


6. Utter Hypocrisy

Just like his predecessor in the Oval Office, Barack Obama is guilty of enough hypocrisy to make any honest person's stomach turn. Despite his claims that our environment is in crisis, Obama's inauguration alone emitted over 500 million pounds of CO2!

He made this statement in May 2008, Roseburg, OR:

We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times... and then just expect that every country is going to say okay.

Then Obama was photographed last month without his suit jacket in the Oval Office, in contrast to his predecessor's strict dress code. When asked about it, a senior Obama advisor explained that Obama had the thermostat cranked up! That changed this from an insignificant fashion controversy to an environmental scandal. How dare he lecture us then crank his thermostat?

Obama additionally opposes school choice (he is against a private voucher system that would help families choose the best school for their child, including a private one they can't afford), but enrolled his daughters in a private school both as Senator in Chicago and as President in Washington D.C. Top it off with a ritzy weekend vacation while he claims that millions are suffering and urgent action is needed, and Barack Obama does a pretty good Bush impression when it comes to hypocrisy.


7. Faith-Based Initiatives

Reports Scott Michaels at Perfect Sanity:

Proving he’s no amateur when it comes to tacking as far right or left as necessary to capture some vital constituency, President Barack Obama recently upheld a key Bush administration policy allowing groups receiving federal dollars to discriminate in hiring on the basis of religion.

During the campaign, Obama had assured audiences of his intent to keep the Bush White House focus on faith-based groups but with an end to the exception allowing those groups to decide who they might hire based on religious values or principles.

Do you seriously still think Barack Obama isn't Bush 2.0? Puh-lease! I am a person of faith myself, but I absolutely do not support using tax money to subsidize religion because it's immoral and unconstitutional. I thought "liberal" Democrats felt the same way, but I need to hear a little more outrage over this before I'm convinced.


8. Out-of-Control Spending

George W. Bush had the not-so-honorable distinction of being the President to run the biggest deficits in American history, but he didn't get to keep the title for long because with only a month under his belt, Barack Obama has replaced him as the new presidential record-holder for biggest deficits in U.S history. Barack Obama isn't just similar to George W. Bush in this respect- President Obama is much worse. There's simply no comparison:


(Source- PowerlineBlog | Hat Tip: David Boaz, The Cato Institute)

9. Warmongering

Make no mistake- Barack Obama is no dove. He's a warmonger and a hawk. His opposition to the war in Iraq (despite voting for every White House request to continue funding it) seems to obscure from most people the fact that he is otherwise very hawkish and spouts all kinds of war rhetoric. Suiting action to words this week, he "authorised the Pentagon to send an extra 17,000 troops to Afghanistan to tackle worsening insurgent violence." Isn't that what partisan Democrats opposed and ridiculed when Bush offered it as his solution to the deteriorating situation in Iraq? For goodness sake, can't you see that the two Presidents are identical(!)?

Maybe John Stewart can help you out:




10. Corruption


Think Bush was guilty of cronyism and corruption? After only a month, Barack Obama is giving him a run for his money. Obama's Administration has been stained by corruption from the moment he began vetting candidates for Cabinet-level positions. His pick for Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, didn't pay his taxes from 2001 to 2004 and hired an illegal immigrant. Obama stuck by his pick, and the man is Treasury Secretary today.

Tom Daschle, a former House Majority Leader for the Democrats, was Obama's pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Surprise! He didn't pay his taxes either. He owed the IRS over $100,000 in back taxes. Obama was poised to continue defending this pick, like he did with Geithner, but Daschle chose to step down.

On the same day that Dasche withdrew his nomination, Nancy Killefer- Obama's pick for Chief Performance Officer- stepped down for failing to pay her taxes too! And it has come to light just last week, that Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel has been involved in shady dealings himself, failing to report five years of free rent at a US Congressman's property as mandated by congressional ethics rules.


Conclusion

This is the first month people! All of this in one month? My goodness, what are the people who voted for this thinking?


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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rick Santelli's CNBC On-Air Rant: Time For A "Chicago Tea Party"

CNBC's Rick Santelli gave a rousing performance today, venting the frustration that many Americans feel over the government's mismanagement of our economic troubles and calling for a modern-day Boston Tea Party to be held this July in Chicago:



If he is serious about organizing such an event, I hope with all my heart that my schedule will allow me to be in attendance. Santelli fumbled for an answer as to what we would dump into the waters this time- I'd be happy if it was Federal Reserve notes!

--------------------

UPDATE:

The White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs lashes out at very publicly and personally at CNBC's Rick Santelli for his viral on-air rant Thursday:





Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Stimulis" - The Drug For Economies With Performance Issues

"Are you an economy with performance issues?

If you find it hard to achieve and maintain growth, maybe Stimulis is right for you.

Take Stimulis once every election cycle or whenever you're in need of economic enhancement."

"Stimulis" is written and produced by Ted Balaker, and edited by Alex Manning.

And a Tip of my Hat to The NYU Law Libertarian who posted this: Good luck and keep fighting the good fight. It's encouraging to know that enthusiastic, articulate defenders of freedom are shining the light of liberty in the dark and stagnant places of academia.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Child's Pay" - The Stimulus Package and Runaway Deficits Will Destroy Our Children's Future

MoveOn.org ran a famous ad that asked the question: "Guess who's going to pay off President Bush's $1 trillion deficit?" They were correct to answer thusly:



Our children pay off deficits. Future generations pay off deficits. The people who enjoy their tax cuts today will pay off deficits (with interest) tomorrow.


Both "sides" have been hypocritical

Many Democrats likely nodded their agreement when the MoveOn ad came out- where are they now? And what are they saying about Obama's unprecedented deficits after only a month in office? Polls show that Democrats skew heavily in favor of the stimulus (82% supported it by Feb 11). Many Republicans oppose Obama's deficits now, but where was their concern these last five years? They defended Bush's deficits using Obama's current rhetoric: "We were experiencing an emergency. We had to spend that money. If we didn't our country would sink into an irreparable catastrophe."


The deficit is not a partisan issue

People, this is not about partisan politics. I am not interested in advancing either major party's agenda or polishing their image. This is not and should not be a partisan issue. Any sane, responsible person should be able to see that this kind of spending is unsustainable and will have only a negative effect on our prosperity and future. And any honest person should be able to see that both major parties are responsible for this and both major parties should be reformed. Voters in both parties should kick out policy-makers who have made this mess and elect only candidates who promise to get this problem under control.


We have to start caring and taking action now

If people continue to support irresponsible deficit spending when their party is in power and then oppose it when "the other" party is in power, both parties will just take turns robbing us until there's nothing left. We have got to put an end to it now. Otherwise we will be saddling our children and future generations with this:



(Source- PowerlineBlog | Hat Tip: David Boaz, The Cato Institute)

And this:

Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
Image © 2009 The Humble Libertarian


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Barack Obama Breaks Transparency Campaign Promise With Lily Ledbetter, SCHIP, and Stimulus

Barack Obama speaking at a campaign rally in Abington, PA (source)

So now that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (inaccurately dubbed "the Stimulus Package") has passed, we have a very interesting situation developing:


The public can view and comment for five days before signing

President Obama has already twice broken his campaign promise to allow public review of legislation before signing it. You can view this promise on his campaign website:

Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days.

And at WhiteHouse.gov:

One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.

Obama breaks his campaign promise twice

After promising this, President Obama proceeded to break it immediately with the very first pieces of legislation to come across his desk. He signed both the Lily Ledbetter Act and SCHIP into law without letting the public review and comment for five days as he had promised. Neither of these are emergency legislation. In the case of the Lily Ledbetter Act, the White House didn't even post the bill for public review and comment until after it had already been signed, much less for five days prior to its signing.

What gives? I thought this was supposed to be some kind of new, shining era of D.C. politics where our politicians didn't lie to us anymore, at least not Obama. He sold the American people on the notion that he would be a different kind of president. Why has he already broken such a simple and easy to keep campaign promise? And why hasn't there been a public outcry? I wonder how many people are even aware that this has taken place. So much for the relevance or usefulness of the mainstream media.


And now a third time with the "stimulus package"

But here's where it gets good. I imagined he would break his promise again and sign his piece of pet legislation that he and the Congressional Democrats fought so hard to pass. I was irked in advance, anticipating his apologists' rebuttal that this doesn't count as another example of broken promises because it's "emergency legislation." People are losing jobs right now, damn it! At a rate of 500 million a month, according to Nancy Pelosi! But now this argument just won't fly:

After pushing Congress for weeks to hurry up and pass the massive $787 billion stimulus bill, President Obama promptly took off for a three-day holiday getaway.

The president plans to spend the Presidents' Day weekend in the Windy City, and is not expected to sign the bill until Tuesday, when he travels to Denver to discuss his economic plan.


Seriously? He makes a huge fuss about how urgent this is and how we can't delay it any longer because we're facing an irreversible economic catastrophe if we don't pass the legislation RIGHT NOW, and then as soon as he gets what he wants out of all that panic-mongering he takes off for a three-day vacation? Isn't that kind of a giant middle finger to all the people whose jobs he said he cared about saving as quickly as possible?


Either he's a liar, or he's a liar

And now President Obama and his partisan defenders have absolutely no excuse for him breaking his campaign promise for the third time in less than a month. They cannot wiggle out of this one. They cannot say that this doesn't fall into the category of his promise because it's emergency legislation. If this is emergency legislation and five days would really make all the difference in the world (like the Democrats claimed it would when they were fighting to get the bill passed), then Obama has been grossly negligent and irresponsible to take his wife out to a fancy restaurant on a vacation in Chicago while the rest of us suffer the consequences of his inaction.

On the other hand, if it isn't emergency legislation, then Obama is breaking his campaign promise again by signing it as planned this Tuesday. (As of tonight, Sunday February 15, a quick search of "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act" on WhiteHouse.gov turns up no results that include the posted text of the bill with comments enabled). So we have in this case, an either-or proposition: either it is emergency legislation, or it isn't. One of these alternatives must be the case, and whichever one it is...

Barack Obama is a hypocrite and his pants are on fire.



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Friday, February 13, 2009

House Democrats Pass Stimulus Bill With GOP Opposition

Frederic Bastiat argued against "The Broken Window Fallacy" that underlies the economic thinking behind proponents of the "stimulus package." Read the full text of his argument here.

I can barely comprehend the monumental stupidity of it:

House OKs $787B stimulus bill with GOP opposition


WASHINGTON (AP) - Handing the new administration a big win, House Democrats passed President Barack Obama's $787 billion plan to resuscitate the economy on Friday despite a wall of Republican opposition. The bill was approved 246-183 and sent to the Senate, where a vote was scheduled late Friday afternoon.

The 1,071 page, 8-inch-thick measure combines $281 billion in tax cuts for individuals and businesses with more than a half-trillion dollars in government spending. The money would go for infrastructure, health care and help for cash-starved state governments, among scores of programs. Seniors would get a $250 bonus Social Security check.

And no one even read it!




How is this good for our economy?


(Source- PowerlineBlog | Hat Tip: David Boaz, The Cato Institute)

Trashing so many billions of dollars worth of productive capital is not a plan to recover. Running record deficits that dwarf even the Bush administration's irresponsible deficits is utter madness.


And what about the Democrats' promise that we the people would get to see the legislation with all of its joint committee changes before it was passed?

From HumanEvents.com yesterday:

“The American people have a right to know what’s in this bill,” Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind) told HUMAN EVENTS after the press conference. “Every member of Congress -- Republicans and Democrats -- voted to post this bill on the internet for 48 hours, 48 hours ago. We’ll see if the Democrats keep their word.”

Actually -- as of 5:15 pm, the Democrats had broken their word. The stimulus bill -- which we still haven’t seen -- will be released late tonight and will be brought up on the House floor at 9 am tomorrow.

They're exhibiting some audacity alright.


Take Action Right Now To Block The Stimulus Bill!

The three swing voters in the Senate GOP helped pass this legislation the first time, we had better make sure they know how we feel about it before they pass the amended version and it goes to President Obama to get signed. Contact all three right away by phone and e-mail. Let them know that you oppose passage of the stimulus package:

Arlen Specter (R - PA)
(202) 224-4254

Olympia Snowe (R - ME)
(202) 224-5344

Susan Collins (R - ME)
(202) 224-2523

Humble Libertarian Articles About The Stimulus Package

Economic Folly: 7 Reasons The Stimulus Package Will Be Very Bad For America
A Libertarian (Sane) Alternative: The Stimulus Package They Should Be Passing
Treasury Wastes $78 Billion of the $700 Billion TARP Bailout
Health Provisions In The Stimulus Package



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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Health Provisions in the Stimulus Package

The "Stimulus Package" might just be hazardous to your health.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has startling health provisions that should leave Americans squirming, but which have been more or less ignored by both major parties and the mainstream media in discussing the merits of the "Stimulus Package." I discussed criticisms of the "Stimulus Package" in my article entitled Economic Folly: 7 Reasons Why The Stimulus Package Will Be Very Bad For America. I am writing this to follow up with an 8th reason: the largely overlooked health provisions in this legislation.

In a recent column, Betsy McCaughey outlines some of the negative effects of these provisions:

  • The stimulus bill will affect every part of health care, from medical and nursing education, to how patients are treated and how much hospitals get paid.
  • The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system.
  • One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446).
  • These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”
  • Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)
  • The bill treats health care the way European governments do: as a cost problem instead of a growth industry. Imagine limiting growth and innovation in the electronics or auto industry during this downturn.

Towards Socialized Health Care


The Stimulus Package's health provisions clearly represent a giant leap towards fascist medicine- a centrally-controlled, standardized, and uniform system of health care dictated to by unelected government bureaucrats, destroying competition, stifling innovation, and enforcing one-size-fits-all standards that will hamper the health care industry's ability to truly meet its customer's needs and keep Americans healthy. Even proponents of universal health coverage who believe that the government should make sure everyone has access to health care should be aghast at these provisions. Certainly such a view doesn't imply or require giving the government the power to dictate best practices to doctors. Such a possibility should be alarming at the least.


Violating Patient Privacy


Declan McCullagh points out:

Yet nowhere in this 140-page portion of the legislation does the government anticipate that some Americans may not want their medical histories electronically stored, shared, and searchable. Although a single paragraph promises that data-sharing will "be voluntary," there's no obvious way to opt out.

"Without those protections, Americans' electronic health records could be shared--without their consent--with over 600,000 covered entities through the forthcoming nationally linked electronic health records network," said Sue Blevins, president of the Institute for Health Freedom, a nonprofit group that advocates health care privacy.


Short Circuiting The Free Market

The truth is that the health care industry is already moving in the direction of electronic records without being forced to do so by the good intentions of politicians in Washington. So even the benefit of more efficiency and decreased costs can and will be realized through free and voluntary market activity, without the draconian health measures in the stimulus package:

Many physicians are moving toward electronic health records for reasons of their own, including market pressure, convenience, and efficiency. This happens as old systems are being replaced or upgraded, questions about security find better answers, and doctors and their staff become more familiar with the technology.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found, in response to a mail survey last year that 38.4 percent of physicians reported using full or partial e-records system, not counting billing. This is up from 25 percent in 2005.

In the absence of the so-called stimulus bill, doctors and companies have been gradually moving in that direction, individually weighing the costs against the benefits and choosing the technology that best suits their needs.


Wasting Billions

Oh yeah... they're charging you for it too. What's the price tag that you get to pay for the privilege of violated privacy, fascist medicine, and more government control and influence over your life? $20,000,000,000 (and remember that this is the estimate... the cost of legislation has a tendency to swell after passage). All of that money worth of productive capital is being sapped in order to pay for this. Just think of what that money could do if it were left alone? How is destroying billions worth of capital supposed to stimulate the economy?

Just another from a long list of reasons to oppose the so-called Stimulus Package.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Libertarian (Sane) Alternative: The Stimulus Package They Should Be Passing


The Problem With Washington's Stimulus Package

The belief that government infusions of cash during an economic downturn will bring relief and lower unemployment is based on older, flawed, and now widely discredited theories of economics. We should know better now, but as it goes with many other important truths, our society and leaders are slow to learn. For a detailed critique of the stimulus package, I will refer you to my article: "Economic Folly: 7 Reasons Why The Stimulus Package Will Be Very Bad For America."

In summary, the problem with the stimulus package is that it doesn't really stimulate anything (except the government!). Though it makes sense that putting money into the economy would help stimulate it, the so-called stimulus package doesn't put money into the economy. That money doesn't come from some external place and infuse the economy with new cash- it comes from the economy. It's already in the economy, and the package just moves this money to other places within the economy (usually less productive places).

Here is an alternative that would actually create real stimulus for the economy and help to pull us out of this economic downturn. This is a sane, reasonable, common-sensical, and very helpful set of policies that would actually work as a solution to our problems instead of exacerbating them with the same old thinking that has failed for decades now.

1. Cut Spending

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, while billed as a stimulus package, fails to do the one thing that would actually create stimulus for the economy, and that is cut government spending and inject the economy with the savings. As with many "controversies" in America, the argument over the stimulus is framed as one between the Democrats who want to spend more on infrastructure, renewable energy, and other projects, and the Republicans who want to spend more on tax cuts and creating more jobs right now. No one even stops to consider that a real debate would be over whether or not the government should be spending more in the first place. Less government spending would create real stimulus for the economy. Here's why:

The government siphons off trillions of dollars from the economy in order to fund its operations, most of which are non-productive, which is to say that they don't create wealth. It's no wonder that our economy experiences busts like the one we're in. Instead of just siphoning off even more money, only to put it back in the economy in less productive places, why not cut government spending and put that money into the economy? That would be real stimulus, it would infuse the economy with cash that would otherwise not be there because the government would be using it. We have a wealth of historical and comparative data that we can look at that proves this works. We can just look at the states: states that keep tax rates low and restrain spending growth have the best economic performance.

What we should do:

2. Auction Government Assets


The government should also sell off a lot of assets for fast cash to pump into the economy. Two lawmakers in Minnesota had this brilliant idea to help bridge budget deficits in their state (Hat Tip to Humble Libertarian reader Steve for pointing this out to me):

Two Minnesota lawmakers are asking the state's legislature to consider a proposal that would sell to private firms the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, along with other state property and programs, in an effort to bring in roughly $6 billion or more.

It's a brilliant idea. The Federal government should sell off its mismanaged assets that lose money and don't create value for the American people. This will give it an instant shot of cash to pump back into the economy while creating value for the private companies that purchase these assets. It will also save on the future yearly costs of maintaining these assets.

What we should do:
  • Sell the U.S. Postal Service. "Mail service is becoming slower, more expensive, and less reliable. The United States Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) is probably the worst managed and one of the least honest corporations in America." These words were written in a Cato Institute policy analysis in 1985(!). How much truer do these words ring in the Internet age as the USPS continues to lose market share to FedEx, UPS, and e-mail?
  • In order to provide us an increasingly low-quality, poorly-managed, inefficient, and unneeded service, Americans pay billions every year to fuel and maintain the USPS fleet of over 250,000 vehicles, its huge staff (it's the third largest employer in the US), infrastructure, and operations costs.
  • The government could save in these yearly costs as well as generate an instant revenue influx by selling off all of these assets to companies that would use them more productively. It would create value for them and for taxpayers.

3. Repeal The Payroll Tax

Now if we take all the money saved by cutting back on government spending and plow that back into the economy in the form of permanent tax reductions, that is real stimulus! That's money that the economy would not have had because it's being used up by wasteful government programs that don't create wealth like the productive centers of the economy. For the reasons I mentioned above and elsewhere, if we don't match tax cuts with reduced spending, they aren't really tax cuts. In a phenomenal editorial on Forbes.com, Russell Roberts writes:

The payroll tax is a regressive tax that falls harshly on the poor. And it is deceptive, an unacceptable characteristic of a tax in a democracy.

Half of the payroll tax appears to be paid by employers. In fact, studies of the payroll tax show that the employer merely lowers worker compensation in response to the tax burden. So workers pay virtually the entire 15%.

Unlike a temporary rebate of payroll taxes, eliminating the payroll tax will change incentives facing firms and workers. The result will be job creation and increased worker compensation. The permanence of the change raises the effectiveness of that encouragement, again in contrast to a temporary rebate.

What we should do:

  • Repeal it and let the healing begin!

4. Reform Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid

Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are welfare programs that have swelled beyond all sense of reasonable proportion because they are poorly defined and mismanaged. They should be reduced to their essential role as a safety net for the truly needy, saving the government and future generations untold billions. There is no reason why a poor worker should be contributing his hard-earned money to pay for a wealthy person's retirement. The wealthy retiree can and should take care of himself and the poor worker should be allowed to save his money in a private account that cannot be spent by the government.

The net present value of privatizing Social Security is estimated to be as much as $20,000,000,000,000. The historical data on countries that have privatized their government run pension-systems promises us great reward if we follow their example. When Chile made this revolutionary reform to its own government pension system in 1980, the results after 15 years were exemplary:

Pensions in the new private system already are 50 to 100 percent higher--depending on whether they are old-age, disability, or survivor pensions--than they were in the pay-as-you-go system. The resources administered by the private pension funds amount to $25 billion, or around 40 percent of GNP as of 1995. By improving the functioning of both the capital and the labor markets, pension privatization has been one of the key reforms that has pushed the growth rate of the economy upwards from the historical 3 percent a year to 6.5 percent on average during the last 12 years. It is also a fact that the Chilean savings rate has increased to 27 percent of GNP and the unemployment rate has decreased to 5.0 percent since the reform was undertaken.

More important, still, pensions have ceased to be a government issue, thus depoliticizing a huge sector of the economy and giving individuals more control over their own lives. The structural flaw has been eliminated and the future of pensions depends on individual behavior and market developments.


What we should do:

  • Make Social Security optional. The wealthy can take care of themselves and shouldn't be forced to participate, and it makes no sense for workers in lower income brackets to make contributions to wealthy retirees.
  • Give workers the option to put their money in their own, personal, private account. They'll have the assurance that the government can't spend their money. They'll also have the opportunity to grow their savings by investing it and they'll be fuelling economic growth in the process, injecting productive capital into the economy.
  • Reduce the size and scope of all three programs (Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid) so that only the truly needy are eligible for benefits.

5. Repeal Sarbanes-Oxley and Other Regulations

Federal regulations have put businesses under a stranglehold for decades and cost them billions each year in compliance costs. If we really want to stimulate the economy, removing these unnecessary, ineffective, and stifling regulations is a great step forward. Sarbanes-Oxley in particular has got to go. It costs millions in compliance costs, purports to do what the new listing standards of American stock exchanges already do, discourages companies from listing on the stock exchanges, and increases the premiums for corporate liability insurance (source).

What we should do:
  • Repealing Sarbanes-Oxley is a great start.

6. Abolish the Fed

America existed for nearly a century without a central bank. During this time economic downturns were relatively short-lived and quickly corrected themselves. It was after the creation of the Fed in 1914 that we experienced the long, drawn-out and painful economic downturns of the 20th century such as the Great Depression, the stagflation of the 70's, the stock market crash of the 80's, and our current economic debacle. A quick review of its historical record is enough to see that the Fed doesn't really do anything to keep our economy and banking system secure. If you are an adherent to the Austrian school of economic theory, you'd even be inclined to think that the Fed does a lot of harm.

What we should do:
  • Abolish the Fed and sell off its assets.

7. Pass a balanced budget amendment

So we can never, ever, ever spend our way into this kind of mess again. When your financial situation is out of control, professional financial advisers make you cut up your credit cards. Our government is addicted to deficit spending and needs to kick the habit now. Not only will this prevent it from swelling to disproportionate and harmful sizes, it will free up credit markets and allow them to function more naturally without the disturbances of a giant government hogging up debt.

What we should do:
  • Amend the Constitution to require a balanced Federal budget. And NO exception clause in the case of open war. That's just going to incentivize the waging of pointless and destructive wars. People will be willing to fork up if their lives are truly in danger. If they aren't willing to fork up then and there, our nation's defense isn't really on the line, and we don't really need to fight the war.


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