Monthly Archives: March 2011

Census data favors liberty, capitalism, and small government

Michael Barone’s analysis of the 2010 census data is worth reading. His conclusion:

The states, said Justice Brandeis, are laboratories of reform. The 2010 Census tells us whose experiment worked best. It’s the state with the same name as the county that’s the center of the nation’s population: Texas.

But it’s not just Texas:

  • The eight states with no state income tax grew 18 percent in the last decade. The other states (including the District of Columbia) grew just 8 percent.
  • The 22 states with right-to-work laws grew 15 percent in the last decade. The other states grew just 6 percent.
  • The 16 states where collective bargaining with public employees is not required grew 15 percent in the last decade. The other states grew 7 percent.

People naturally move to states where the economies are good, jobs are plentiful, and the cost of living tends to be lower. States with low taxes and workers rights (the opposite of union rights) provide the environment people want. If states like New York, California, and Illinois want to balance their budget and avoid bankruptcy, raising taxes only drives people away and makes the situation worse. It’s time for states and the federal government to open their eyes.

Learning from history quotes

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” ~ Ecclesiastes 1:9

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.” ~ Attributed to Mark Twain

“Nowhere does history indulge in repetitions so often or so uniformly as in Wall Street. When you read contemporary accounts of booms or panics the one thing that strikes you most forcibly is how little either stock speculation or stock speculators to-day differ from yesterday. The game does not change and neither does human nature.” ~ Reminiscences of a Stock Operator

Humanitarian imperialism and Barack ‘Pericles’ Obama?

Mickey Kaus writes about Obama’s “Humanitarian imperialism” over at The Daily Caller:

“Humanitarian imperialism.” I think that label will stick. And in a true empire–in this case, the empire of UN approved human rights enforcement–war never really ends. Always someone to protect somewhere. Imagine living in imperial Britain in the mid-19th century. There would almost always be a war or police action–actual shooting and killing–going on.** For a true empire to work– even, or perhaps especially, a humanitarian empire–war has to be routinized.

So, is Barack Obama a modern-day Pericles? According to Thucydides, Pericles said:

In generosity we are equally singular, acquiring our friends by conferring not by receiving favors. Yet, of course, the doer of the favor is the firmer friend of the two, in order by continued kindness to keep the recipient in his debt; while the debtor feels less keenly from the very consciousness that the return he makes will be a payment, not a free gift. And it is only the Athenians who, fearless of consequences, confer their benefits not from calculations of expediency, but in the confidence of liberality. [Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War 2.40.4-5.]

Pericles’s “generosity” led Athens into the Peloponnesian Wars that lasted from 460 to 445 BC and from 431 to 404. Will Obama’s humanitarianism force the United States into countless “UN approved human rights enforcements? The Obama Doctrine of internationally-approved atrocity prevention would indeed have us involved in each and every civil war and rebellion across the globe.

Have we learned nothing from history?

Anarchists take over London. Democratic-socialism is the goal. Plato warned us about this.

London is literally aflame, or parts of it are, as the ‘anarchists’ run amok.

I put ‘anarchists’ in quotes because they are not really anarchists. They are socialists who are using Great Britain’s democratic system in an attempt to impose their undemocratic ideology (i.e. higher taxes and more government spending) upon the rest of the country.

Which reminds me of how Plato described democracy:

“A delightful form of government, anarchic and motley, assigning a kind of equality indiscriminately to equals and unequals alike!” [Plato, Republic 558c.]

The Political Economy of the Purim story (according to the Book of Esther)

When reading the Book of Esther on the holiday of Purim, it is Jewish custom to make noise and boo when hearing the name of the evil Haman. I silently boo in one other place. Chapter 10 Verse 1 states, “King Xerxes demanded taxes everywhere…” Upon hearing the word taxes, I commit my silent act of protest.

But why did Achashverosh (many translation and commentaries say this is Xerxes though other disagree) need to raise taxes now? Didn’t Persia already have taxes?

Money is first mentioned in the Book of Esther in Chapter 3 Verses 8 – 9:

Then Haman said to King Xerxes, “There is a certain group of people scattered among the other people in all the states of your kingdom. Their customs are different from those of all the other people, and they do not obey the king’s laws. It is not right for you to allow them to continue living in your kingdom. If it pleases the king, let an order be given to destroy those people. Then I will pay seven hundred fifty thousand pounds of silver to those who do the king’s business, and they will put it into the royal treasury.”

With this money, the government could offer new benefits to its people or the king could simply spend the money on himself and his friends. But that money eventually runs out and, with the people accustomed to the public welfare or the king to more extravagant living, the government needs new ways to raise revenue. Thus the new tax.

The Book of Esther demonstrates an even more destructive force within Persia. Chapter 3 Verse 13:

Letters were sent by messengers to all the king’s empire ordering them to destroy, kill, and completely wipe out all the Jewish people. That meant young and old, women and little children, too. It was to happen on a single day—the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which was Adar. And they could take everything the Jewish people owned.

That last phrase, “they could take everything the Jewish people owned,” seems unnecessary. Why would Jews care what happened to their possessions after the Persians were to “destroy, kill, and completely wipe out all the Jewish people?” For the Persians, “taking everything the Jewish people owned” was not just an afterthought, but was one of the causes of their hatred of Jews. Persia was a plunder economy. To maintain the king’s and the court’s extravagance and the benefits distributed to the Persians, the plunder needed to continue. However, Persia was running out of places to loot. According to the Book of Esther, Persia was already a huge empire, stretching from India to Cush (Ethiopia). And according to the dating by most historians, the Persian Empire had already begun to shrink in size by the time of the Purim story after the Greeks defeated King Xerxes at the famous Battle of Salamis in 480 BC. The Persians, now even more desperate for people to plunder, turned to the local population, most notably the Jews.

Thus, the Book of Esther and the Purim story is more than just a religious tale of God’s hidden intervention in world events to save the Jewish people. It is also the story of a political and economic system that was desperately seeking new ways to maintain itself.

Freedom of religion or just illiterate?

The Arizona Republic reports ‘Atheist group sues governor over prayer day‘:

Gov. Jan Brewer is being sued for issuing proclamations in support of an Arizona Day of Prayer.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court, alleges that Brewer’s actions were unconstitutional because they violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from establishing a state religion. The lawsuit seeks an injunction preventing the governor from issuing similar proclamations in the future.

Excuse me?

Brewer‘s actions were unconstitutional because they violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from establishing a state religion.

For those who don’t know, Arizona’s Governor is not the United States Congress. So there is no way she can be violating the First Amendment, which states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It doesn’t take a constitutional law scholar to be able to read the First Amendment and know who it is restricting. But you do have to be literate.

My motto for writing, according to Abraham Lincoln.

I have previously posted my motto for writing:

“My design was not so much to contribute new facts as to shape the narrative in such a way as to emphasize relations of cause and effect that are often buried in the mass of details.”

~ John Fiske, The American Revolution, Volume 1:vii.

Abraham Lincoln expressed a similar sentiment in his famous Cooper Union Address:

The facts with which I shall deal this evening are mainly old and familiar; nor is there anything new in the general use I shall make of them. If there shall be any novelty, it will be in the mode of presenting the facts, and the inferences and observations following that presentation.

Private property is a most sacred right of mankind

Adam Smith writes in The Wealth of Nations:

To prohibit a great people, however, from making all that they can of every part of their own produce, or from employing their stock and industry in the way that they judge most advantageous to themselves, is a manifest violation of the most sacred rights of mankind.

This quote reminds me of what John Adams wrote in 1787 in his A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America:

The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet” and “Thou shalt not steal” were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.

Adam Smith: Supply Side Economist

From The Wealth of Nations:

High taxes, sometimes by diminishing the consumption of the taxed commodities, and sometimes by encouraging smuggling, frequently afford a smaller revenue to government than what might be drawn from more moderate taxes. [page 954]

Tocqueville on why people demand equality over freedom

From Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (page 585 in my edition):

The advantages of liberty become visible only in the long term and it is always easy to mistake the cause which brought them about. The advantages of equality are felt immediately and you can observe where they come from daily.