The Old-School Liberal

“Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom” — Friedrich Hayek

Non-Interventionism ≠ Isolationism

Posted by Poorsummary on December 2, 2007


Non-interventionism

Bruce Miller of The Blue Voice confuses non-interventionism with isolationism:

“Let me start this by saying as I’ve said in a number of posts before that most warnings about ‘isolationism’ are fake, straw-man arguments. At least outside of Ron Paul’s political corner, there are no actual isolationists in American politics…If you listen carefully to what Ron Paul and similar isolationist rightwingers are saying, their brand of nationalism is coming from a very similar place. They want to discard normal diplomacy, foreign aid, even the threat of economic and trade sanctions from the set of foreign policy tools available to the United States. They are not far from the neocons in that essential focus. As the Overstreets described the perspective 43 years ago, “What we might need to do abroad, in military terms, could be done by a well-placed bomb or a regiment of Marines.”

Bruce mischaracterizes Congressman Paul’s foreign policy. Paul does not advocate “pulling back out of the world” altogether, but merely eliminating US military intervention unrelated to our national security. Whenever he talks about the success we’ve had by leaving Vietnam, he also talks about the stability that has come from our actively trading with them:

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What is the state’s role in regard to abortion?

Posted by dagnygalt on December 1, 2007

3D Image of a fetusThe issue of abortion has blown up in recent elections and passionately divided the electorate between the two different “pros”—pro-life and pro-choice. The main conflict on the abortion issue is that few people fall in the middle and thus fewer are willing to compromise. Given the divisiveness of this issue, policy makers have almost always addressed the sanctity of two groups of rights: women’s rights, and human rights (supposing fetuses to be right-bearing humans). The classical liberal case for individual liberty mandates that individuals be free from the coercion of the state to pursue their own aims, insofar as these aims do not infringe upon the rights of others. Clearly, the issue of abortion comes down to whether fetuses ought to be considered to be right-bearing humans. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 2008 Presidential Race, Constitution, Government Gaffes, Politics | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Will the GOP Reduce the Size of the Government?

Posted by Poorsummary on November 30, 2007


In the GOP Youtube debate, Emily Ekins asked a very straightforward question which begs for a simple answer: “What are the names of the top three federal programs you would reduce in size in order to decrease [spending]?” Here are the answers:

Fred Thompson seemed to be answering the question when he started talking vaguely about Medicare and Social Security reform, but he makes it clear that he is not providing a straightforward answer:

Cooper: So of the top three you would say Social Security?

Thompson: No. I didn’t say that. There is — the OMB has come out with a list of over 100 programs. I would take all 100 of them, the ones that are full of waste, fraud and duplication.

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Posted in 2008 Presidential Race, Current Events, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Stossel Shares the Lost Lesson of Thanksgiving: Property Rights

Posted by Poorsummary on November 21, 2007

TurkeyStossel reports:

“When the Pilgrims first settled the Plymouth Colony, they organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share everything equally, work and produce. They nearly all starved. Why? When people can get the same return with a small amount of effort as with a large amount, most people will make little effort.”

Sharing is good, but only when it is voluntary, motivated by the goodness of one’s own heart, rather than from a fear of punishment at the hand of the government. “Public charity” is a bit of an oxymoron, since charity means “benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity” and the presence of actual charity in the heart of the giver would obviate the need for any threats from the government. In fact, public charity reduces the actual amount of true charity, as it spawns a sense of resentment on the part of the giver and a sense of entitlement and dependence on the part of the receiver, and since there’s no sense of urgency to help one’s fellow man if the government is already taxing you under the auspices of performing this sacred task.

This Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful to live in such a prosperous land where wealth has flourished due to adherence to the oft forgotten advice of its founders:

“To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, ‘the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.'” –Thomas Jefferson

Thanks to Greg Mankiw for the Stossel link.

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Ron Paul: the Centrist Republican

Posted by Poorsummary on November 14, 2007

Centrist

While the mainstream media has panned Ron Paul as a “fringe candidate,” it turns out he may be the most centrist of all the Republican candidates. Ask any democrat you know what the 2 most important issues are in this presidential election and you’re likely to hear “the environment,” and “the war.”

Since its hard to know exactly what a candidate will do based on what they say in debates (remember Bush’s “humble” foreign policy with no nation building?) it’s important to look at their actual previous behavior. For congressman and senators, this means their voting record.

The environmental advocacy group League of Conservation Voters publishes a National Environmental Scorecard for every Congress since 1970. According to their website, “The Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from more than 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who selected the key votes on which Members of Congress should be graded.”

Suffice it to say the democrats lead the pack on the environment (bear in mind that the costs of such bills are not taken into consideration), but when it comes to the Republicans, something very interesting has occured. Ron Paul was the most environmentally friendly Republican presidential candidate rated. Here are the life-time scores (note that the other front-runners, Guliani and Romney, are omitted since they were not congressmen or senators): Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in 2008 Presidential Race, Current Events, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Getting the Facts Straight About Global Warming

Posted by Poorsummary on November 12, 2007

Global Warming

A few weeks ago, I posted a link to a John Stossel article on global warming. My link to the article elicited the following response from Jonnonogood:

“This is wrong. Maybe get your facts correct…Thats is a 20ft rise if Greenland melted. This what the 2007 IPCC report agrees with. You sad little man, learn your facts. He never stated a date to when this would happen. Go read a book!”

Jonnonogood wants me to get my facts correct– or to be more precise, he wants me to get Stossel’s facts correct, since I merely posted a link to Stossel’s article– but fair enough. Let’s consider the facts in my excerpt of Stossel’s article:

Fact 1: “Gore says that if we allow the globe to warm, ‘sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet.'”

This should be easy enough to check. Either Gore said that allowing the globe to warm would result in a 20 foot increase in sea levels, or he didn’t. Thankfully, Greg Hoke has posted the transcript to Gore’s movie (from which Jonnonogood quoted in his comment) here. Here’s what Gore said:

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Posted in Current Events, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

No child left…un-protected?

Posted by Poorsummary on October 30, 2007


Bob Barrto provide students as young as 11 years old with the most invasive types of birth control, including pills, patches and even implants.” Unfortunately, Mr. Barr calls for more federal involvement in education as a solution to this egregious violation of the responsibilities of Portland parents:

“Not a single [presidential] candidate — in either of the two major parties, that is — seems to consider the fundamental questions of what is being taught in our public schools, and how well it is being taught, as sufficiently important to discuss publicly during this campaign.”

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Of Vouchers and Liberty

Posted by Devin J. Ekins on October 25, 2007

The School voucher issue raging in the reddest of states, Utah, has polarized many organizations and individuals into two camps, Pro-Voucher and Anti-Voucher, both giving praise and promising help to the Public Education System. Whether vouchers will actually aid the Public Education System is a function of both dollars allotted and freedoms allowed.

The voucher proposal is one where every student currently enrolled in the government schools has the opportunity to accept a partial refund for their involuntary purchase in the government schools if they enroll in a private school. This refund is dependent on your financial situation and ranges between $500 and $3,000. Note that the average cost for a student in the government schools is $7,000.

Voucher opponents claim this move would take money away from the government system that desperately needs it. Would it? That depends. The average cost is $7,000. Up to $3,000 is taken away from the schools along with one student that costs, on average, $7,000. In a basic scenario, the public school stands to gain between $4,000 and $6,500 per student that accepts the offer. This leaves smaller class sizes and more money for the school per student.

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Eminent Domain: The Rise of the Command and Control Economy

Posted by Poorsummary on October 24, 2007

The eminent domain clause of the U.S. and most (if not all) states’ constitutions allows for the government to seize property (with compensation at what the court deems to be the “market” value) for public use. The economic rationale behind such an argument is that bargaining difficulties may prevent the construction of things like courts, post offices (can anyone remind me why the government runs the mail service?), water treatment plants, roads, and the like.

While an unfortunate violation of property rights, the use of eminent domain for such projects can perhaps be justified on utilitarian grounds; however, a recent trend has emerged in which state bureaucrats have begun seizing private property from one group of private individuals (often including the poor) and transferring it to another group of private individuals (often including big businesses). Alarmingly, the rationale for making such a seizure often is based on the grounds of increased tax revenue: e.g. “If I can give this block of low income housing to a private developer, if he can turn it into a high tax-revenue strip mall, and if the government can then use the revenues for the “public good,” then we are properly using eminent domain for projects intended for public use.”

Carlos Barragan

This argument is really no different than other socialist arguments for government control of property. A respect for personal property rights simply does not allow this type of justification for government coercion.

Carlos Barragan, the next victim of America’s socialism

A recent case involving government abuse of eminent domain can be found in The Community Youth Athletic Center (CYAC), founded by Carlos Barragan and his son, Carlos Jr. Currently, the city of National City, CA intends to seize the gym through eminent domain so that Jim Beauchamp can build high-end condos on that property. Jeff Rowes of The Institute for Justice reports:

“To make this happen, and to enable the city to transfer other private property to big business, National City is preparing to once again declare ‘blighted’ hundreds of commercial properties within a decades-old blight zone that covers two-thirds of the entire city. [This] enables National City to take low-tax-yielding small businesses and give that land to developers who promise to build high-tax-yielding properties, such as condos and big-box stores…As any visitor can attest, National City’s sprawling blight zone is remarkable for its lack of blight: the streets are lined with lovingly tended homes and thriving, though often humble, small businesses. Rather than embrace its grassroots entrepreneurs, however, National City plans to demolish them—and their dreams—in favor of retail mega-stores and upscale condos.”

For those of you hoping the Supreme Court will get involved to stop this blatant abuse of government power, I refer you to the infuriating Kelo decision. The full text can be found here (read the dissenting opinions, if nothing else). A NY Times article on the decision can be found here.

Posted in Constitution, Current Events, Government Gaffes, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Romney working hard to put food on his family?

Posted by Poorsummary on October 22, 2007

Romney, from the latest Fox news debate:

All of us on the stage are Republican. But the question is, who will be able to build the house that Ronald Reagan built — who will be able to strengthen that house, because that’s the house that’s going to build the house that Clinton, Hillary, wants to build”

Huh? With uncharacteristic disheveled hair, Romney began tonight’s debate on the wrong foot with this particularly jumbled anthropomorphism of a residential dwelling. The Republican front-runners (with the notable exception of Ron Paul) have long followed suit with Bush on the Iraq war, but now Romney has gone one step further by mimicking Bush’s blundering public speaking skills.

In all fairness, letting one’s tongue get ahead of one’s brain is something every politician and public speaker deals with from time to time. What Romney, Guliani, and the rest of the neo-conservative bunch need to worry about is their disrespect for the constitution, the rule of law, the concept of truly limited government, and individual freedom. Unfortunately, principled, just, and economically sound leadership requires that we allow people to make decisions that are not always the best for them– the reason being that bureaucrats in Washington, if they make the decisions for us, are going to get it much more wrong much more often. To quote Jacob Hornberger, “If you are not free to choose wrongly and irresponsibly, you are not free at all.” An unwillingness of the public to recognize the inherent ineptitude of government in making the correct decisions for individuals is what underlies most of the biggest political blunders of history– from prohibition, to social “security,” to the war on drugs, the war on poverty, the war on terror, and any other wars on abstract nouns we care to dream up. Most people choose to deal in abstracts, ignoring the unintended consequences and inherent violence of government action. Fighting poverty sounds good, but forcibly taking from the industrious to give to those in need is less appealing. Fighting drug use seems like a no-brainer, but “drug use” is an abstract concept that only exists as a shorthand for describing the activities of those who choose to use drugs. The typical politician ignores the injustice of his actions, turning a blind eye to those hurt by the policy he peddles, eager to shake another hand or kiss another baby of someone equally willing to ignore the blatant injustices of a coercive, paternalistic state. To see this phenomenon, this time exhibited by Mitt Romney, but equally practiced by the social planners and statists across the simplistic, one-dimensional political spectrum, click here.

In related news, Ron Paul did not fair quite as well with the pro-war Florida crowd as with crowds past, receiving more boos than any candidate other than Hillary Clinton. It seems the Republican party is suffering from what HBS professor Clayton Christensen calls the “Innovators Dilemma“– the phenomenon of businesses catering so closely to their existing customer base, that they lose sight of the unmet needs of the population as a whole, and are subsequently displaced by new, innovative technologies. In this case, everyone but Paul insists on pandering to the largely pro-war republican base, while losing sight of the vast majority of Americans that wants it to end (and fast– sorry, Hillary; no decade-long pull-out strategy will do). Will the Republican party insist on throwing away an election on an already lost (and virtually unwinnable) war? Probably not– whoever wins the nomination will likely have a convenient change of heart and start talking a lot more about getting out of Iraq after the primaries.

Posted in 2008 Presidential Race, Current Events, Politics, Ron Paul | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »