The Louisiana Secretary of State’s Saga

There have been some interesting developments concerning our acting Secretary of State Al Ater. First of all, Al Ater announced yesterday that he would not seek election to the Secretary of State post in the fall of 2006. He cited as his reasons that the position should be appointed (which I agree with) and that he would the office should kept free of political pressures (which I think is impossible). You’re probably thinking to yourself, there’s got to be more to the story. I believe there is.

The big decision about whether or not elections will be held in New Orleans in February will come tomorrow. Ater has already been making noises questioning whether or not elections could be held. Ater will probably cite as his reason for delaying the elections the massive destruction of most of New Orleans’s precincts. But is that the real reason?

Today, rumors began breaking first on the Dead Pelican about Ater becoming the new head of the Louisiana Democratic Party. Now if elections are postponed in New Orleans, the party that benefits is the Democratic Party. In fact, I predicted last month that the elections would be canceled if the Democrats were afraid. There is a very good possiblity that a Republican could win the mayor’s race in New Orleans. Therefore, the party of voting rights, the Democrats, must disenfranchise the 100,000 or so who live in the ruins of New Orleans. So this sudden decision to depart the Secretary of State’s position, can be summed up as Ater’s refusal to be accountable to the people of Louisiana.

Finally, the usual suspects ie. the ones who got this state in the mess we’re in, are lining up to run for Ater’s position. If any of these clowns win, this will be a signal to the rest of the nation that we are not serious about change and reform in this state.

Crossposted To:Louisiana Libertarian

Leftists, in their own words

I am certainly no fan of progressive political theory, but it is instructive to know what, specifically, its proponents advocate. Fortunately, Washington Monthly’s blog, Political Animal (Kevin Drum), features a series of articles called The New Progressivism. The introduction of which reads in part:

Conservatives say they want to use choice (school vouchers, private accounts in Social Security) to shift power from government to individuals. We think that conservatives’ real aim is to shift more risk onto individuals in order to cut government, and that only liberals can deliver a choice revolution in government that people would actually want. But we also believe progressives should go a step further, with policies that shift power from corporations to individuals.

While clever, that type of rhetoric is very misleading. For

as Jefferson explained: “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed…” The rights of which he spoke are life, liberty, [property] and the pursuit of happiness. That being the case, individuals posses the bulk of political power; a limited portion of which is merely lent to government, as delineated in the tenth amendment to the Constitution: The powers not delegated

to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. Therefore, it’s not as though political power belongs to government, as is implied by Drum.

The other bit of slippery verbiage in the introductory paragraph is the implication that “to shift more risk onto individuals in order to cut government” is somehow a bad thing. The truth is that with freedom comes risk; the cost of diverting risk from the individual to government is freedom itself, which is priceless. Additionally, there is the stated goal of formulating “policies that shift power from corporations to individuals”. On the surface this seems innocuous, for in a consumer-based market economy, individuals vote with their dollars and corporations ought not to be allowed to defraud the consuming public with impunity. But that’s not exactly what progressives mean by “shifting power from corporations to individuals”. Progressives see corporations (large and small) as a means to an end, i.e. corporations exist for the benefit of “the common good”, rather than to earn profits for investors. Think of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

One of the articles deals with Bush’s “ownership society”. In it, Paul Glastris attempts to show that choice is not as popular as one might casino online think.

Americans love the idea of choice—in the abstract. But when faced with the actual choices conservatives present, they aren't buying. The reason is that conservatives have constructed choices that fail to take human nature into account. People like to have choices but feel quickly overwhelmed when they lack the information or expertise to decide confidently, and they turn downright negative when the choices themselves seem to put what they already have at risk. Conservatives were bound to make these mistakes because their very aim has been to transfer more risks from government to individuals so that government's size and expenditures can be cut. That's not a bargain most Americans will accept. They like choice just fine, but they won't trade security to get it.

Supposing, for the sake of argument, that human nature is risk averse, and that a majority would trade freedom for security. So what! The Constitution does not delegate to the government any authority to assume the ordinary risk of individuals. Furthermore, Constitutional protections of individual liberty are not (at least not legitimately) subject to popular vote…inherent rights are unalienable. Such rights not only inhere to those that cherish them, but also to those that would sell their freedom for

a type of servitude that masquerades as security.

Choice, then, can be a powerful tool to advance public ends as long as one ironic truth is recognized: People like having choice but often don't like to choose.

This concept is at the center of a brewing movement within public-policy circles, one that Cass Sunstein and Richard H. Thaler of the University of Chicago have affectionately, if cheekily, dubbed “libertarian paternalism.” The idea is for government to shape the choices people have so that the natural human tendency to avoid making a decision works to the individuals' and society's advantage.

The paternalistic disposition of progressives, however well-intentioned, does not justify the immoral use of coercion that is inexorably linked to the implementation of entitlement programs—those that purport to help the helpless. That is, governments don’t run on sweetness and light; governments need funds, which are seized through force and/or the threat of force. And when laws are passed to benefit some at the expense of others, the liberty of all is diminished.

But the cost of progressive policies is not limited to lost liberty and the seizure of property and wealth. There are hidden costs as well, such as: higher unemployment due to the over-regulation of business (e.g. “living wage” laws, Kyoto Protocol, etc.), lessened purchasing power resulting from excessive tax rates and a general lack of motivation that stems from a disincentive to be self-reliant. After all, the government has—so the thinking goes—an endless reservoir of resources with which to supply one’s every need. buy real viagra online This, of course, is belied by how the social democracies of Europe are fairing with their grand progressive experiment. And if leftists succeed, America will travel the same miserable path.


Morning Thoughts

“True liberty cannot exist apart from the full rights of property, for property is the only crystallized form of free faculties… ”

— Auberon Herbert
(1838-1906) English author

Without property rights, everything becomes a privilege, granted you by a generous collective. If you are not able to own your property, defend it, be private within it, maintain it in a stable fashion, then your other inalienable rights are sophistries, with no value. As the municipal governments of this country, aided and abetted by the courts, continue to erode your property rights in their quest for increased revenues, they play right into the hands of the left. The left, whose socialist foundations calls for the individual to have no individual, inherent rights, but only collective privileges masquerading as rights, disguised as rights to allay your suspicions that they are, in truth, opposed to all that you believe in.

The New Libertarian

New articles are up at The New Libertarian. One of the better articles, by Anthony Woodlief, is Bringing Back The Lower Case: Re-examining Libertarianism. It is, in fact, an article that has much in common with the philosophies at the core of this blog.

The reason I will address this topic — and the reason you should care — is because libertarianism represents perhaps the best set of potential political solutions to America’s problems, and is the legacy of a truncated set of the Founders’ beliefs (subtract their belief in God and a strong central government, and you have libertarianism).

The only quibble I might have with this is that the strong central government advocated by the Founders is not at all what we think of today as a strong central government. In fact, what they wanted is what most lower case libertarians (classic liberals) today want. A central government that provides for the national defense, foreign policy and a solid foundation for economics (single currency, no import/export duties between states, etc).

The single best point in the essay, which really is introducing a series, is this:

In short, there is libertarianism, the philosophy of governance, and there is Libertarianism, the creed. The persistence of the latter interferes, I think, with the development of the former.

And this, truly, is the problem with Libertarians today. It is why I cannot call myself Libertarian, or join the Libertarian Party. They are dedicated to a set of beliefs that is carried to an extreme and allows for nothing that might contradict such beliefs. The difference between James Madison and Michael Badnarik is that Madison was willing to compromise if it moved him towards his goal. The point is to move towards the goal, not sit in coffee houses and talk about the beauty of the goal. And the goal is more freedom, more liberty, more prosperity. It is not perfection of those things. Perfection is not possible. Rather, it is the enemy of the good. Let’s work towards achieving the good.

Economics Is Fun Too!

So, I was reading Patri Friedman’s interview with Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist: Exposing Why the Rich Are Rich, the Poor Are Poor–and Why You Can Never Buy a Decent Used Car!. And I ran across this gem:

Patri: Why is it important to educate people about economics?

Tim: We can all think of ways in which the world would be a better place if people knew a little bit more about the basics, but that’s not why I write. I write about economics because I love it and I want other people to love it too. I’m just having fun.

Just imagine if folks actually understood, for example, that if I own something I can set whatever price I want for it, and interfering with that ability on my part is violating my right to property. Or maybe understanding, as my fellow blogger, Doug, does, that when Wal-Mart costs low income wage earners $4.7 billion in wages, but then provides them with $50 billion in reduced consumer costs it is a net win for folks earning under $35,000/year. Or, imagine if they actually understood that repairing hurricane damage is not a net gain for the economy. I won’t go on boring you with my silly examples of the good that might come out of it.

Instead, how about this thought. Each and every one of us is part of the economic system every day. We enjoy it. We like to earn money, get good deals, purchase goods and consume services. Economics is fun. Imagine how much more fun it would be if you understood it!

Oh, while I was at it, I discovered that Tim has a blog! Go check it out.

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