1 Trillion Dollars…

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The deficit has officially crossed $1 trillion today, for the first time ever. This is no longer a theoretical value that may have to be paid at some point. This is the actual amount that has been spent so far this fiscal year, and it’s projected to go up even higher; $1.84 trillion at year end by the government’s estimate (and they never, ever estimate low…). This has caused a great deal of concern with our lenders, and is likely to cause a large amount of pain in the near future.  There are many causes: “necessary” spending so save the economy and wage wars, drastically decreased tax revenue, and a devalued dollar among others. If there was ever a time to reign our government in, now is that time. This is not a Democrat, Republican, Conservative, or Liberal thing. This is the future of our Republic, and if our employees don’t see that, it is time to teach them.

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Do Something!!!

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The money for the first (or second depending on how you count TARP I) stimulus bill has just begun trickling from the hands of our gracious benefactors and already there is talk about passing another massive spending bill.

The economy isn’t turning around fast enough they say, and more must be done to save us from the horrors of the failing economy! This crisis, like so many others, demands immediate and “decisive” action by people who know better than us what needs to be done. Things taking a moment to consider the ramifications of what they are doing, or even taking a moment to read the bills are unimportant in light of what must be done. Without their bold actions we would be lost and the very fragile world around us would come crumbling to the ground.

This is not the first time that members of the government have acted in this matter, nor will it be the last. The last decade has proven this time and again. After 9/11 our government reacted in panic and pushed through reactionary legislation such as the PATRIOT Act without reading most of the bill. More bureaucracy was created in the form of the DHS and two wars were launched because something needed to be done.

Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind are two more examples of needless government action in response to different problems during the Bush administration. The Obama administration then showed up and has already gone far beyond any of the previous administrations in having the government “doing something”. Massive stimulus and bailout programs are being passed left and right. The cap and trade environmental bill and universal healthcare are barreling through congress.

What we need from our government, now more than ever, is for them to actually assess what they are doing and maybe even take the time to read the bills they are passing. Sometimes this means that even in the face of what seems to be an immeasurable crisis, it is best for the government to do nothing. That is not to say that some of what the government is attempting to respond to are not real problems, but even the worst problems cannot be responded to rashly. In fact, more government is rarely, if ever, the correct response to most of these situations. The government attacks every situation with a sledgehammer, no matter what it requires. After the crisis has passed the government never shrinks or gives back any of its power.

It is up to we the people to put a stop to the “Do Something” mentality of our government. It is very tempting to trust someone else that seems bigger, stronger, smarter, and more capable of dealing with the big problems then we are. It comforts us to assume that someone is tending the light at the end of the tunnel for us. We cannot afford to have that mindset any longer.  Even if it is something that we personally agree with, we have to think long and hard about how the government is going to grow to accomplish what we want it to do. It is up to us to stand in the way of the leviathan as it tries to use any crisis or calamity that it can to feed itself.

Continuing Bad Ideas

 

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In a new press release , the Federal Reserve has announced that they plan on buying up more debt, which is equivalent to print more money out of thin air. As the Federal Reserve and the Treasury keep printing money and forcing credit rates at artificially low numbers to try to force the country out of its economic woes, it is important to consider why this is such a bad thing. Even though the above video was created during the Fed’s shenanigans during the Bush administration, it is even more relevant today.

It may seem like a great idea to simply create money to get out of financial problems at first, but it does not hold up to any scrutiny. Who doesn’t want more money? There are two major problems with this line of thought however.

The first, and most obvious, is that the more of something you have, the less it is worth. Imagine if you had an original Mickey Mantle baseball card or the first issue of a Super Man comic. You would be very happy because they would have an incredibly high value. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone could also have those things? The problem is that they would then be almost worthless. The same thing happens to the money supply as the Federal Reserve keeps creating more out of thin air!

The other problem is a much more devious one. The government and the businesses that get this money directly from the Federal Reserve never have to see this inflation when they introduce this new money into the market. Just like the boys in the video, they get to spend the money at the current market value. It is not until this new money circulates that the overall value decreases. Since they do not feel any of the pain of their practices, they continue pumping the market with this money, and the rest of the American public are left seeing what they have decrease in value.

If these practices did not hurt the value of a currency, then why is counterfeiting illegal?

Book Review: Who Killed the Constitution?

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 The Constitution is dead. That blunt but unavoidable truth should be clear by now. The examples from the past century of American constitutional history cited in this book reveal how the federal government’s actions often bear no resemblance to what the Constitution’s ratifiers intended, and in fact run directly counter to the plain text of the Constitution.
~Page 199

“Who Killed the Constitution?”, written by Thomas E. Woods, Jr. and Kevin R. C. Gutzman, attempts to chronicle the slow death of the Constitution of the United States of America. It focuses on twelve especially grievous examples of the Government usurping power from the time around World War I up to the Presidency of George W. Bush. These twelve examples touch all aspects of America’s eroding liberties from state sovereignty to personal and financial freedoms. Through them, the authors of this book have been able to create a definitive proof that the Constitution has been overrun by the politicians and judges sworn to uphold it. They also show that this destruction did not happen overnight. It was government building on itself, over time, that allowed this to happen.

The assaults on the Constitution are not the work of one branch of government, or of one party, and they did not and could not emerge overnight.
~Page 2

The authors of this book smartly chose to avoid laying the blame at the feet of one party over the other. In fact, the book starts with the abuses of Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, and ends with George W. Bush, a Republican. The book points out that those blinded by partisanship often see wrong doing in those on the “other side of the aisle”, but fail to see any when it is their “team”. They also do a great job pointing out that it is not just the fault of “activist judges” or any other single branch of the government. All three branches have failed to act as the “checks and balances” to each other as they are Constitutionally obligated. Instead, they have conceded powers to one another, such as giving the President almost unlimited war powers. They have then turned to the states and to the people to find new powers to obtain. This fact crosses both partisan ideologies and, as this book has show, no matter how much lip service to the Constitution or outrage shown over the other party flaunting it, few politicians from either side will actually work to restore it.

[I]f we are truly to confront a government that has destroyed our allegedly hallowed Constitution, we must not shy away from calling attention to abuses, regardless of whom it offends.
~Pages 3-4

One of the strongest aspects of this book is that it does not shy away from controversy in making its case of Constitutional abuse. Instead of only cherry-picking examples that are both unconstitutional and are glaringly harmful to the citizens, the authors have also chosen some examples that seem like the government was doing the right thing. One such example is the matter in which schools were integrated. Almost everyone can agree that segregation was a horrible thing, but that does not necessarily mean that the Federal Government had carte blanche to end it. Some of the action that the government took to stop segregation, and discrimination in general, were unconstitutional, and in fact, discriminatory. By calling out this and other “taboo” examples, the authors are able to build a much stronger case about the government leaving its Constitutional bounds. It would have been very easy to use only government actions that they disagree with on a personal level, but that would have been little more then partisan whining.

In plain English, Madison was saying that Congress had only a few powers… The power to build roads, bridges, and canals was not among them.
~Page 75

The book also casts a harsh light onto things that the American people take for granted as government responsibilities and powers. There are many things that the American people no longer bother questioning whether they are even Constitutional. It is assumed that the government handles roads and has the power to make fiat money. This was not always the case and the government had to absorb those powers in steps. There has been a change in the American way of thinking that instead of the government having to prove that its actions are Constitutional, they are now assumed to be. This way of thinking has permeated all the way up to the Supreme Court. It has become so accepted that the government should have a role in every aspect of American life, that it has become almost impossible to “prove” that the government has assumed a power that does not belong to it.

By calling attention to what the Constitution really says, we can alert the people to just how consistently and dramatically their fundamental law has been betrayed.
~Page 202

This book succeeds at its goals admirably. It lays out a clear case that the government has destroyed the Constitution, and has been doing so for almost a century. By not laying the blame solely at the feet of either party or branch of the government, they show that they are not simple partisan hacks. By pointing out that what is “right” is not always Constitutional, they show that the concessions that Americans are often so willing to make are not acceptable if we are to reign in our government. Finally, by questioning government institutions and privileges that are taken for granted, they show that it is up to us to cast a stern eye on our government, no matter how “accepted” their actions are. We did not end up here nor will we leave here overnight. If we are ever to limit our government again, it is up to us no matter how hard it may be.

Government Saves the Day Again!

 

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Barack Obama has signed into law a bill that will finally protect us (and our children, never forget about the children) from the horrors of big tobacco. The FDA will now shield us from the evils of advertising for tobacco or even flavored tobacco. We can no longer be tricked by labels like “light” or “mild” and the FDA is ensuring that everyone knows that cigarettes are, in fact, bad for you. This act is so important that everyone from congress to the media to the Altria Group, the parent company of Phillip Morris, is firmly behind the president. We are once again saved from our own ignorance by the benevolent hand of our caring masters. This all sounds wonderful until we actually look at what is going on with this new regulatory power that the FDA has been granted.

At the most basic level, this is yet another intrusion into our rights by the government. Every time we cede any ground to the government for any reason they will take more, and we will never get it back. If we are unable to exercise our own judgment and make our own decisions (no matter how bad they are) in one area, then how can we expect to maintain our ability to in any other? It is ironic that many on the left see this president as one that will move towards decriminalizing marijuana, as his government moves to put more regulations on tobacco. What many, on both the right and left, have failed to understand is that government does not steal rights in a vacuum. Even if you hate smoking you have to defend people’s right to smoke as they will come for you next.

The other interesting part of this story is the backing of this bill by Phillip Morris. Why would a tobacco company want to give the government more power to regulate and potentially interfere with their business? The answer is actually fairly simple. They are a big enough company to handle any regulations or fines that the government may throw at them. They have basically shut the market out from smaller companies or new competition. Products like electronic cigarettes will now have a much more difficult time competing in the market. Phillip Morris is also unlikely to be upset if the FDA forces them lower the amount of nicotine in a cigarette. All that means is that addicts will by more so they (and the government) will get more money.

We the people need to be constantly on guard for this kind of governmental do-goodery. It is up to us to regulate our own lives and make our own decisions. We have already lost this ground and it is unlikely the government will stop here. We must force our employees (because they are our employees) to represent us, and stay within their constitutional bounds. Just like previous government abuses were used to justify the current law, it will likely be used to justify abuse in the future. It is up to us to hold them back – they are not very likely to do it themselves.

The Myth of the Unbiased Press

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Looks like this is a long standing tradition

Looks like this is a long standing tradition

There is an idea in modern America that the press is supposed to be unbiased and only report the straight facts. Republicans complain about organizations like MSNBC and the New York Times, while Democrats do the same with Fox News and AM radio. Both sides act as if the press was once a shining beacon of impartiality, which has only recently become “corrupted” by bias. This notion is simply untrue. Human beings are completely incapable of being totally objective, and always have been. We tend to tell our version of the story first and foremost, and tend to give more credence to the side that we agree with.

Even at the founding of the United States, the press was extremely partisan. Most, if not all, of the early publicans were either Federalist or Republican. The Federalist Papers were initially published through several newspapers sympathetic to their viewpoints. Early politicians often used various partisan newspapers to disparage and mock their rivals. Phrases like “frog-eating, man-eating, blooddrinking cannibals” were regularly used to describe the opposition party and its leaders. When scandals, such as the one involving Alexander Hamilton’s mistress, came to light it sent both sides of the press into a frenzy. The Federalist newspapers did everything they could to minimize and distract from the scandal, while the Republican ones devoted most of their resources to exposing it and find more “dirt.” Scandals involving Republicans produced predictably similar results.

If anything, the news media has become less partisan to cater to a very fickle subscriber base that only wants to hear sensationalist stories and things they agree with. Even though each member of the press has their own slant on a story, it runs a distant second to ratings and readership. That means if a sensationalist story breaks about “their guy” they are still going to pull out all of the stops to report on it. It also means that if the American people are largely in favor of something then the press will likely be as well. Nothing evidenced this more then the run up to the Iraq War. There was very little question of its wisdom in the press, even “liberal” standard bearers like the New York Times. It wasn’t until popular opinion began to shift about the war that the press followed. At the end of the day, ratings matter more then anything, even to the members of the press with the largest ideological axes to grind.

It falls to the American people to decide for themselves, what they want to read, hear, and see from the news media. If a certain viewpoint that enough people want to hear is woefully under represented then the market will see that and someone will fill the void. We do not need government oversight in the form of a “Fairness Doctrine” or agency to make sure that every thing is “fair and balanced”. Who would decide what is fair anyway? People regularly find reporting that they agree with to be unbiased, and everyone else to be slanted or not telling the whole story. The market can do a fine job of proving media for people of all viewpoints if it is allowed to. In fact, Fox News is the highest rated cable news network, and it caters to the segment of America that is the most vehement about the “Main Stream Media” being biased and not representing them. Remember, the Constitution promises us a free press; not an objective one.