Monday, April 16, 2012

Gary Johnson, A Short Review:

I have written about Gary Johnson on this blog before (here and here) and I have always liked his message, and could never really understand why he did not gain more traction in the Republican nominating process, or with the electorate in general. Yesterday I took the opportunity to go and see (and briefly speak with) the governor, and I have to say, it makes even less sense to me now.

Speaking to a TEA Party audience in Worcester he very succinctly laid out the real problem facing the United States at this moment: we are borrowing 43 cents of every dollar we are spending. This situation is a drag on our economy and the future of our country, and it really is not that big of a mystery. We spend entirely too much money on a very large and intrusive government. Now, if you think that is just hunky dory, then you will probably be voting for Obama or Romney. Neither one of them is even slightly serious about doing anything about the actual problem.  The president has a gimmick he is running on: tax super-rich people, make them pay a fair share! There won’t be any cutting, there won’t be any reforming, and if the last three years are an indication there probably won’t be a budget passed, just more spending set to autopilot. Mitt Romney thinks we are not spending nearly enough on our military, even at $700 Billion per year. He will increase it while further cutting taxes and maybe cutting some program some where, but let's not get into any specifics. Mr. Johnson on the other hand talks about submitting a balanced budget in his first year encompassing massive cuts in the government and rolling back much of the state. He spoke of the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the Department of Education, HUD, the PATRIOT Act and a host of other things that would be cut or disbanded, enough to make enemies of nearly every constituency dependent on Big Government.  And of course that is the real hurdle to overcome; getting everyone to understand that the system itself is broken and needs real reform. This reform is going to have to change everyone’s perception of what this government can and should be doing and how far and deep its reach is going to be into our economy and our lives.

We have been raised to fear the notion of questioning the two-party dynamic. Of course part of the reason for this is that every time there has been a real challenge to that dynamic it has resulted in either the serious reform or death of one of the parties (Whigs, Republicans, Bull Moose, Ross Perot) and who would want to see that? If you believe that protecting and/or expanding the social safety net, increasing the regulatory reach of the federal government into more and more areas, and making sure the rich have a predetermined “fair” level of money confiscated from them, then you are going to vote Democrat. If the most important thing in your universe is making sure the Department of Defense keeps spending 5% or more of our GDP or that a wall is built on our Southern border or “traditional” marriage is protected by the Federal government, then you will be voting Republican. The larger plurality of the electorate that is now identifying itself as independent are the ones that need to do the soul searching about who they are going to support and why. In talking to TEA party people yesterday one of the things I heard after Johnson’s speech was the phrase “I agree with most (or a lot) of what he had to say”. My response to that was “of any of the other candidates is there one with which you have 100% agreement on everything they say?” If not then why wouldn't you  throw your support behind Johnson?  You have the ability to read what the man’s plan is, you can check out this “Fair Tax” idea that he supports (which I am researching myself right now) and then reasonably ask yourself “is this superior or inferior to anything that Clown A or Clown B is planning for us?”

Look at your computer, who makes it? How about your TV? The clothes you are wearing, the appliances in your kitchen, the cars you or your neighbors may drive - are you limited to only choice A or choice B? You find satisfaction in your personal life by selecting things that enrich your life from a variety of sources. Why is this fear of Italian style electoral chaos keeping us hemmed in with only an R or a D for all perpetuity?  We were born into this system, we did not choose it, why can't we break the mold?  If you look at it rationally you can see that the Republican and the Democratic candidates usually speak first and foremost about protecting and enriching their constituencies (labor or defense contractors), and the country, as a general concept, second. They are concerned most with maintaining the status quo.  Johnson on the other hand does not, he speaks of the country and the need to reform a very broken system, with everything on the table. If you are truly independent then a candidate’s label or “electability” should not be determining your decision, it should be based on the person's character and what they have to say.  I have said this before, and it bears repeating here: changing the color of the horses does not mean the merry-go-round is actually going to get anywhere. If change is what you are hoping for, you need to expand your horizons, and maybe jump off the ride come November. 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Don’t Fear the Straw Man!

I woke up today to a really special treat in my local paper. Today’s syndicated editorial was this piece of absolute drivel from Kevin Horrigan. I am starting to wonder what it takes to get a job like his, because the more I read of these things the more I wonder why anyone cuts a paycheck for them. This is by far the worst example of these that I have seen in a long time. It is supposed to read as this ever so clever and intelligent satirical take on the complaints of people that want government out of their way, and we are supposed to realize how ever so important government actually is to all our lives. Questioning the state seems to be the silly, silly thing to do in this case.

It is actually a kitschy little piece of shit that has been written literally a thousand times before, and much, much better than this. It is in the end straw man after straw man, with absolutely no thought involved. Fireman, oh dear! The garbage collection? Well we need that I guess. EPA, TSA, USDA, FDA oh my! Drivel, plain and simple. The impetus for this bit of genius is of course the evil Republican budget, which will destroy us all (by spending trillions and trillions of dollars). We saw this same article a dozen times with last years proposed budget. Just keep bringing up the firemen and the FDA every time someone talks about the size, scope and cost of government, that will win the debate! If we were to consider cutting anything we will of course be delivered upon the corporations so they may poison and mistreat us into an early grave while collecting their evil, evil profits. The only thing left of the once mighty United States will be the military which the Republicans will never cut. We will all be poor, poisoned, malnourished wage slaves that die early thanks to a lack of single payer health care.

Someone actually paid this man for this thing, and some asshat at my local paper thought it to be profound enough to reprint, which is just mind boggling. This adds nothing at all to the conversation, nothing at all. Just because we were born into a system in which the government provides certain services are we never, ever allowed to question the cost, utility, need or delivery method of said service? If a community can save its taxpayers money and deliver a better service if it is contracted out (say garbage collection) we should never consider it? If there is an example of say, semi-private air traffic control systems that possibly function better than our own, is it possible that we are allowed to talk about reforming our horribly broken and wasteful system? Do I need Mr. Horrigan’s permission to bring it up? Can I, or any other independent or libertarian minded individual, bring up the fact that we can not go on like this in perpetuity? One trillion over drawn this year, and mind you that is without a budget. The government is on autopilot, spending money we do not have while arguing over which paltry table scrap is going to get cut or taxed. Being Americans, you know those people who are supposed to have the right of self government, can we ask a few questions of this behemoth? Is that ok with him you think? Our government freely admits that it wastes many, many millions of times more money than he was paid to sleepwalk his way through this piece of tripe, is it possible that we could ask them to, I don’t know, stop? Maybe? Please? We have a right to input, just like him. If he believes that all people should simply go along with the plan, not question the system or how well it is doing things, then that is his prerogative. Some of us would like to maintain a little shred of liberty and freedom, and maybe take an opportunity every now and again to question the plan, to occasionally ask for an accounting of how, where and why OUR money is being spent on OUR behalf telling US what we may and may not do with our time, fortunes and lives. Seem fair to anyone else?

Do not fear the straw man for he does not advance the conversation or save the republic from eventual collapse, and he lacks a brain after all.

Friday, April 6, 2012

823,000 Reasons to be Annoyed

In reading about the $823,000 spent by the General Services Administration in 2010 on a ridiculous training conference you just have to start asking questions and making some demands:
  • Of our Bloviator in Chief, who is pounding the drum of a “Social Darwinist” budget (that mind you does not actually cut the dollar figure of government) and keeps talking about the rich folks paying their fair share, can we ask him to cut back on the hyperbole and maybe try and get serious for once? I would be willing to wager that this ridiculous “Buffet Rule” would result in some hedge fund manager having his tax bill increased by something around $823,000. How exactly would it only be fair to raise those taxes again? This is money that was flushed down the drain, plain and simple. Supposedly this administration has been the most diligent ever in trying to find the duplicitous waste of the Executive Branch. Thankfully some ass attempting to carry water for the administration has pointed out that these extravagant trips started under Bush (as if we needed a reminder that he sucked) and I guess that is supposed to absolve them; but if you are the rich guy, what is unreasonable about telling the Democrats to go screw, and doing whatever you can to keep your taxes from rising? This is one tiny little example of ridiculous waste that is perpetuated by all levels of government. This was just another case of the annual ritual of shoveling money out the door before closing the books, which occurs in all agencies and departments everywhere. Heaven forbid you not spend ever single dollar borrowed form our grandchildren allocated to your agency. This does not even address any real waste, measured in the billions, so why not demand, in the loudest possible voice, that there be real, actual CUTS before there is any discussion of taxes being raised?
  • To our Republican friends who think they are in the catbird seat on this one, can we ask them to stop being such smug shits and to also get serious? As pointed out above, the evil and terribly austere Ryan budget does not actually cut the government. There is no seriousness anywhere in this discussion because they will not start with the most important aspect of starting to save our future - the Defense Budget. The Department of Defense could blow through $823,000 a thousand times faster than the GAS, mainly because no one pays any attention to how they waste money. They are of the opinion that they waste none, so they don’t even bother to check. Seriousness people. This is supposed to be a turning point election, you are trying to convince Independents and the libertarian minded that your horrible track record needs to be ignored because a 2nd Obama term is the harbinger of the apocalypse, yet you only cut the most miniscule things that lack powerful constituencies. You want support? Get serious about the real problems.
  • To our talking heads, do you mind taking a long walk of a short pier? The Supreme Court arguments over the individual mandate have really brought out the froth from the left wing commentators, and it is becoming exceptionally painful. You have had weeks and weeks of how just plain stupid we are, how could anyone question the need, power or scope of our Federal government. The good folks over at The Nation have an entire issue devoted to telling you how absolutely clueless and helpless you would be without the benevolent greatness of our government to Shepard you from cradle to grave. Isn’t that just a wonderful story to weave for your children? You can be whatever the government determines for you! I can not wait for my boys to grow old enough that I can tell them they live in a country where Washington can tell you that you CAN NOT grow wheat on your own property, that it CAN break down your door and drag you away for growing reefer in your basement even though your state has no problem with it, and that to be a citizen in good standing you MUST BUY a properly approved and mandated health insurance policy. Government is good and great and you are just a tax paying means to an end. These are all truths of the world we live in, truths that should not be questioned or rolled back, EVER! To question these things would be the end of America! And we libertarians are the crazy, naïve fools?
This tiny, insignificant episode is just a reminder for everyone of the issue. Bureaucracy has no incentive to be efficient, to save money, to think outside the box for an alternative solution, to be bold and decisive in furtherance of an objective; these are all things that would get you fired from a government job. We question every expansion of the size, scope and intrusion of government not because we are naïve, or because we are heartless or even stupid. We question it because it is a necessity. Government unchecked will grow. New programs, new people to “help”, larger and larger budgets, and more and more restrictions on you and yours because that is the nature of the beast, not because it is inherently malevolent, it is just what happens. Mind you, that in this case, this is the agency that is in charge of deciding on how to best spend tax money, so please do not fault us when we are suspect about how well our government will do with complete control over healthcare, the one part of our economy that at present is nothing but regulations and rent seekers with absolutely no market forces to hold price increases in check. We resist and question, as all should, because someday in the not to distant future the “other guys” will be in charge, and they might use these new, ever expanding powers in ways that you find abhorrent, at which point the only thing to say is “T.S. my hypocritical friend, you should have been a little less trusting in the unquestionable greatness of government and not such an out and out ass towards the people looking to protect you from the possibilities of government run amok.”