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Pro-business or pro-market?

Jonah Goldberg makes a great distinction:

…the difference between being pro-business and pro-market is categorical. A politician who is a “friend of business” is exactly that, a guy who does favors for his friends. A politician who is pro-market is a referee who will refuse to help protect his friends (or anyone else) from competition unless the competitors have broken the rules. The friend of business supports industry-specific or even business-specific loans, grants, tariffs, or tax breaks. The pro-market referee opposes special treatment for anyone.

Goldberg’s point is that the GOP must make up its mind about which one it is. Pro-business is crony capitalism, venture socialism and Big Government as we know it today. Pro-market is more the Tea Party putting real checks on Washington. Goldberg describes the GOP’s dilemma in more detail; RTWT.

To make my view clear: I am not pro-business, I am absolutely pro-market. The mentality that the economy would boom (and America would be great again) if only we could vote in smart people to tinker with the economy in good ways – if only the Republicans had power to do better Washington-y things than the Democrats do – that mentality is part of what has gotten America into a hole.

The truth is, nothing that government does to rig interfere with markets and business outcomes is ever much good. It never turns out anything as well as the politicians said it would, and never as well as what markets – that is, free people – could do, if left to their own devices.

Greg Gutfeld Makes the Conservative Case for Gay Marriage

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:36 pm - April 7, 2014.
Filed under: Civil Discourse,Conservative Ideas,Gay Marriage

Yes, friends, it has been a while since last I blogged. Now, to be sure, I have scribbled out several ideas for posts, mostly related to civil discourse and gay marriage, an issue much in the news these past few with what one blogress (citing Taranto) called ”the defenestration of Brendan Eich.

On the whole, our national debate on gay marriage has been mightily lame, with all too many advocates calling opponents “haters” or “bigots” and with some opponents contending that gay married couples aren’t capable of assuming the responsibilities of the ancient and honorable institution.

Well, in his new book, Not Cool, Greg Gutfeld actually contributes to the debate on gay marriage:

What marriage does for straight men–narrowing choice and creating a structure that encourages and preserves a healthy, prosperous life–should be available to men who prefer other men.  And if two ladies want to get hitched, go for it.  Maybe because I’m more worried about straight marriage than gay marriage.  As divorce rates rise, and illegitimacy rates skyrocket, it’s pretty clear the disintegration of marriage is not a promising path for all involved.  Why ban something for others that keeps the others from destroying themselves?

When marriage is what Gutfeld describes it to be, then it is a good thing, whether the spouses be of different sexes — or the same sex.

NB:  Several typos fixed since initial publication.

Ted Cruz: BAMF

Posted by V the K at 9:20 pm - March 15, 2014.
Filed under: Conservative Ideas,Pop Culture

These posters have been going up in southern California in advance of a scheduled appearance by Texas Senator Ted Cruz. The Cruz Missile approves.

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Which inspired another Photoshop. (John McCain must be going nuts with impotent jealousy.) [After the jump.]

Update: Ted Cruz… bad boy of the US Senate.

  • Cruz bumped Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) in the hallway, pointed and said “what’s that on your tie?” When Udall looked down Cruz flipped up his hand, batting him in the face. As Udall arrived at the Senate cafeteria, he noticed his lunch money was gone.
  • Suspect fitting Cruz’s description drove slowly by the White House, clinking three empty beer bottles stuck to his fingers and taunting, “Obaaaamaaa! Come out to play-ee-yay!”
  • Spends all Republican caucus meetings slowly rocking his back-row chair, chewing gum and cracking wise.
    Anonymous complaint filed with the Senate Ethics Committee alleged a certain Texas senator “only refers to Hawaii Sen. Schatz by the present-tense version of his name.”
  • Cruz interrupted a long answer by SecDef nominee Chuck Hagel, with “speaking of drones, we gonna wrap this up soon?”

(more…)

“A little rebellion now and then is a good thing”

CPAC speeches! These guys, at least, understand what’s wrong with America – namely, Big Government – and the corresponding importance of liberty and small government:

  • Rick Perry on why Red States do better than Blue States.
  • Ted Cruz (scroll down). “If you were to sit down and try to design an agenda to hammer the living daylights out of young people, you couldn’t do better than the Obama economic agenda.”
  • Marco Rubio. “They love to sell Big Government as a way to help those who are trying to make it. What they don’t tell you is that they actually hurt the people who are trying to make it.”
  • Rand Paul. “You may think I’m talking about electing Republicans. I’m not. I’m talking about electing lovers of liberty. It isn’t good enough to pick the lesser of two evils.” And it gets better from there.
  • Sarah Palin. “There’s no free ride. Someone always pays. And if you don’t know who that someone is, it’s probably you.” – And too many other zingers to count. I love this woman!

That’s all I could watch in one sitting, while fighting my cold. Here is the full playlist; if you have a favorite, call it out in the comments!

Evan Sayet, “KinderGarden of Eden” speech

This one is probably a year old (like the book), but I had missed it, and found it worthwhile, when I came across it earlier today.

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In Sayet’s theory, the left-liberal holds a basic premise that all discrimination is bad (the root cause of human conflict). From that premise, consequences flow: (more…)

Rand: Right again?

Not ‘that Rand’ (although he is often right), but the other one.

Many have noted how life today has come to resemble the corrupt, ever-decaying crony socialism depicted in Ayn Rand’s lengthy second dystopian novel. Now it’s even coming to resemble the demented communalism of her first dystopia, Anthem.

Anthem depicts a frightening future society which has de-valued the individual, replacing “I” (or “me”) with devotion to “We” in every possible aspect of life. The society’s philosophy is captured in sayings like these:

We are one in all and all in one. There are no men but only the great WE: one, indivisible and forever.

We are nothing. Mankind is all. By the grace of our brothers are we allowed our lives. We exist through, by and for our brothers who are the State. Amen.

Some people might agree with the above sentiments, for real. Have you ever heard of We Day? Watch the video at the link; it shows a vast, cheering orgy of thousands of “Me to We” activists celebrating their awesome We-ness.

Mixed in with calls to help The Children, some of the speakers bark sentiments and commands that would fit well in Rand’s dystopia. Just upgrade the event’s arena another notch (fill it with another 20,000 people) and it will start to resemble the North Korean Mass Games.

As for their desire to feed hungry children: Don’t get me wrong, of course that’s nice. I’m all for people helping other people – at their own expense.

But this gang (featuring Al Gore, for example) shows no understanding of what it would take to actually feed the world’s children. What it would take is: universal protection for individual rights to life, liberty and property under the rule of law – so that productive people, working hard for their own gain (not for the great “We”), will then produce, sell and distribute food on a large-enough scale.

More kids go hungry in countries that habitually interfere with production and trade; countries that don’t respect the individual who works to support her own life, liberty and property. Sadly, the Left has turned America into one of those countries, which means we will be cursed with increasing poverty and hunger in years to come.

Fun Obamacare ad hits college campuses

Generation Opportunity, “a free-thinking, liberty-loving, national organization of young people”, has set up OptOut.org to let young people know that they needn’t (and probably shouldn’t) sign up for Obamacare. Their current ad for young women:

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(Male version, here.)

Now for the ‘media bias’ angle. I learned about this from Yahoo! which, naturally, has titled their article “Creepy Obamacare ad hits college campuses”.

In other words: Even after all the government-spying scandals, Big Government-run health care (that costs a young woman far more than she’ll get from it, despite the fine they’ll extort for her saying ‘no’) still doesn’t strike Yahoo! News as creepy. But ads against it, they’ll suggestively title as ‘creepy’.

FROM THE COMMENTS (thank you Kurt): Get ready for Obama(care) to ask detailed questions about your sex life. Umm…I thought that was only supposed to happen under the Religious Reich Theocracy that the Left always warns us against?

The president’s “reforms” aim to turn doctors into government agents, pressuring them financially to ask questions they consider inappropriate and unnecessary…

Doctors and hospitals who don’t comply with the federal government’s electronic-health-records requirements forgo incentive payments…

…the new requirements are turning it “into an interrogation, and the data will not be confidential.” Lack of confidentiality is what concerned the New York Civil Liberties Union in a 2012 report…

Privacy and confidentiality will just be for the rich:

The administration is ignoring [various] protests from privacy advocates. On Jan. 17, HHS announced patients who want to keep something out of their electronic record should pay cash.

“Thanks, Obama!”

Conservatives, gay politics, and lost opportunities

At the time of the Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage this summer, it seemed to me that by ruling as it did, the Supreme Court had involuntarily handed many conservatives a great opportunity to move beyond the issue of gay marriage in ways that they hadn’t in the past.  Instead of making it a social or cultural issue, many conservatives could have sidestepped the issue entirely by talking more about economic issues and questions of taxation and state-sponsored benefits instead.

After all, the plaintiff in the case which challenged the Defense of Marriage Act was moved to file suit largely because of the estate taxes she incurred when her partner passed away.  So instead of viewing  it as a social or cultural issue, they could have taken up the cause of greatly reducing estate taxes for all regardless of marital status.

While I’m obviously biased on the issue, it seems to me that running on an anti-gay agenda is not a winning issue for conservatives.  I recognize that social conservatives played a very big role in the Reagan revolution, and I acknowledge that social conservatives are still an important part of the base that the Republican Party needs to keep winning elections.  But I believe that there are ways to accommodate social conservatives without alienating other potential voters.  Talking about court appointments is one way of doing this, because one needn’t be a social conservative to believe that the court should focus more on applying and interpreting the actual intent of the Constitution rather than legislating from the bench.  Likewise, one can have an honest debate about tax policy and whether or not it is in the state’s interest to carve out special exceptions for marriage or whether the state should get out of the marriage business all together and just simplify the tax code instead.

There are some signs that more and more Republican are getting this message.  On September 11 of this year, Politico reported on a survey that showed that more and more Republicans are embracing libertarian views about government.  (Hat Tip: The Blaze.)

FreedomWorks commissioned a national survey of registered voters last month, shared first with POLITICO, that finds 78 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents self-identify as fiscally conservative and socially moderate.

It’s not that Republicans are suddenly self-identifying as “libertarians” and devouring Ayn Rand novels, but more that they seem to be embracing underlying libertarian priorities and views about the role of government.

The Politico piece goes on to quote the Republican pollster who ran the poll saying that more and more voters are disturbed by both the size and the intrusiveness of government in the Obama era:

Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway, who ran the poll, said she’s seeing a spike in voters who feel the government is too expensive, invasive and expansive.

“The perfect storm is being created between the NSA, the IRS, the implementation of Obamacare and now Syria,” she said. “People are looking at the government more suspiciously. They’re looking with deeper scrutiny and reasonable suspicion.”

It all sounds great so far from my perspective.  I think this is a direction that Republicans need to embrace to be able to win significantly in the future.
And then, there’s the sad case of Virginia.  I first heard of Ken Cuccinelli when he was elected Attorney General of Virginia in 2009, in an election that many viewed as a sign of trouble ahead for the Democrats in 2010.  I knew he had played a large role in fighting Obamacare and in bringing the fight to the Supreme Court, and so it seemed to me that he would have a good chance of being elected Governor of Virginia this year, especially since he is running against corrupt Clinton crony Terry McAuliffe.  Over the summer, though, I kept hearing that Cuccinelli was not doing well against McAuliffe in the polls, and I wondered why that might be.

On long discussions and gay-related policy news

Jeff’s brief post on Friday linking to a piece in The Onion has generated one of the longer discussion threads here in recent months at GayPatriot.  At the risk of mischaracterizing or oversimplifying it, much of the discussion has centered around the policy goals of gay activists of various stripes, as well as whether or not, criticizing or finding fault with some of those goals means one sympathizes with the aims of various anti-gay activists.

I think it is well-known to most regular readers that several of the contributors at GayPatriot, for instance, are either ambivalent or agnostic about the policy questions regarding same-sex marriage.  I, for one, feel that the courts are the wrong place for the argument over so-called “marriage equality” to proceed and that it is better taken up through the legislative process.  Likewise, I don’t feel that one needs to call it marriage if doing so antagonizes a significant portion of the populace who feel that marriage has a traditional meaning which they would rather not modify.  I’ve said before and I’ll say again that what we’re really talking about when we talk about same-sex marriage is a matter of  1). how the state recognizes a contractual relationship between two individuals, and 2). whether or not it has any business granting special privileges to those in a “traditional marriage” which it does not grant to others.  I’d argue that a debate that focused on the desirability of certain policy choices would be much more productive and much more worthwhile than one centered on emotional claims about “rights” and “equality.”  I’d also say that a more dispassionate debate about the implications of policy is more in keeping with both conservative and libertarian principles.

My aim today, though, is not to revisit that debate or to consider the implications of the recent Supreme Court decisions on those issues (though I’m still planning to do so in a future post), but to bring up some of the questions raised by the fact that today New Jersey became the second state (after California) to ban “conversion therapy” for gay youths.  My personal view on the issue is that “conversion therapy” doesn’t work in most cases and, to the extent that it is practiced, it should really only be viewed as an option for adults who choose to willingly commit to it.  In other words, New Jersey’s ban is in accord with my personal view on the matter, and yet, for philosophical reasons, I’m still bothered by some aspects of the legislation.

Neo-neocon expresses reservations similar to mine when she writes:

It is no use pretending that therapy—and the licensing of therapists by the state—is not at least partly a political endeavor subject to political fashion rather than a science. Nor should therapists be completely unrestricted. For example, therapists are already prohibited from sexual contact with patients—even willing patients, even adult patients—because it is considered inherently exploitative. But the most harmful practices that could be used by conversion therapists (for example, electric shock) could be banned without banning the entire enterprise. And as the articles point out, mainstream therapy organizations have already condemned conversion therapy and do not advocate it.

But apparently none of that would be enough for the advocates of this bill; the therapy itself must be defined by the government as inherently and unfailingly abusive (what’s next, taking children away from parents who don’t applaud and celebrate their gayness?) As the nanny state grows, so will these essentially political moves by the government. This bill opens the door for a host of governmental abuses in which the state dictates the enforcement of politically correct thought through the mechanism of so-called therapy, and therapists become the instruments by which the public is indoctrinated in what is currently politically acceptable and what is verboten.

Chilling, indeed.

At the risk of invoking the “slippery-slope” argument, I can’t see a way around the concerns that Neo-neocon expresses.  I’d have preferred to let the market regulate itself without getting the state involved in this way.  Once the state has weighed in on this question, though, where can we expect it to weigh in next, and will it ever stop trying to regulate the way parents raise their children?  I can’t see that it ever will.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many gay kids grow up in homes that are not especially loving, nurturing or supportive.   The state, though, is none of those things, either, no matter what the expressed intentions of lawmakers might be.  Increasing the reach of the state into individual lives should not be a comfort to any of us.

Can youngsters grasp economics better than PhD.s?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 2:05 pm - August 13, 2013.
Filed under: Conservative Ideas,Economy

One hallmark of a “junk science” is that the more you learn it, the less you can grasp basic truths that even kids may be clear on. I maintain that economics has long since degenerated to that state.

I don’t know if John B. Taylor would agree with me there, or what his politics are. But he has kindly blogged on some charming graphics from a 1968 children’s book on economics, Richard Scarry’s “What Do People Do All Day?”

Here is just one; visit Taylor’s blog for more (or maybe ZH).

Farmer Alfalfa grows all kinds of food.  He keeps some of it for his family.  He sells the rest to Grocer Cat...

Here we see the ideas of production and trade, which power the economy. Farmer Alfalfa must produce, before he can consume. In relation to society: Farmer Alfalfa must produce something that others will want, before he can consume beyond his own produce.

Also implied is the idea that you make your efforts to benefit yourself and your family, and that you peacefully enjoy the fruits of your labor. And the idea of sound money: we see money facilitating trade – and gosh, it looks like physical silver.

Other graphics from Scarry’s cute book (shown at Taylor’s blog) highlight the concepts of savings that, when invested intelligently, can increase production. And that is how an economy grows.

Obama would disagree. Obama said early in 2009 that “credit is the lifeblood of the economy”, which touches somewhat on the idea of trade, but which he also meant to imply that borrowing-and-spending money is the primary economic act; that the economy grows if/because we all borrow, print and spend the government’s fiat money.

Obama also famously said that he wants to “spread the wealth around” (as in, redistribution with confiscatory taxes) because after all, any given business person deserves to be told “you didn’t build that” (about their business). These little phrases (has Obama said anything else that is memorable?) together capture his economic philosophy. It is the philosophy that many of today’s PhD economists teach in essence, and it is deeply misguided.

In reality, people don’t produce just because a bunch of paper money is spent (i.e., thrown at them). People produce because (and only if!) that money will enable them to buy other people’s good production. Money is only worth the production that it can buy. If goods and services aren’t being produced, money has no value^^. And if production is stagnant (failing to grow faster than money), then money’s value erodes – also known as inflation.

So production and trade are the primary economic acts, and how an economy grows. “Freedom of production and trade” is what the government must nourish, if it wants a good economy. If it does, then spending and credit will also be plentiful – as mere consequences, and for those who earn them.

(^^To be precise: Fiat money has no value, if goods and services aren’t being produced. Sound money may be a good in itself like cattle, gold or silver, and so may retain some value even if people aren’t producing.)

Freedom: who are its real friends?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 11:03 pm - June 19, 2013.
Filed under: Conservative Ideas,IRS/Tea Party Scandal

It doesn’t seem very hard to find liberal New Yorkers who support – yes, support – IRS discrimination against their perceived political opponents:

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Via HotAir. With Americans like that around, who needs al Qaeda?

But I’ll make it up to you, with something inspiring:

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Via Steve in the comments. While I don’t know anything about Senator Guillory, and I myself remain an Independent (not a Republican), his words ring true: (more…)

Watcher of Weasels Nominations — 05.22.13 Edition

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:07 pm - May 23, 2013.
Filed under: Blogging,Conservative Ideas

Council Submissions

Watcher of Weasels — Ides of May 2013 Nominations

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 5:47 pm - May 16, 2013.
Filed under: Blogging,Conservative Ideas

Council Submissions

Watcher of Weasels — May 9th Nominations (2013 Edition)

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 9:36 am - May 9, 2013.
Filed under: Blogging,Conservative Ideas

Council Submissions

Watcher of Weasels–1st Winners of May 2013

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 10:00 pm - May 8, 2013.
Filed under: Blogging,Conservative Ideas

Council Winners

GOP needs to “effectively address” working/middle class concerns

Earlier this morning, caught a good piece from Byron York on why winning the Hispanic vote would not be enough to secure a GOP presidential victory.  Here’s the crucial paragraph:

But here is the real solution. Romney lost because he did not appeal to the millions of Americans who have seen their standard of living decline over the past decades. They’re nervous about the future. When Romney did not address their concerns, they either voted for Obama or didn’t vote at all. If the next Republican candidate can address their concerns effectively, he will win. And, amazingly enough, he’ll win a lot more Hispanic votes in the process. A lot from other groups, too.

Read the whole thing.  Did recall reading something about a year ago on Mitt Romney’s failure to appeal to working class votes disaffected from the incumbent administration.  York is right; the next Republican candidate needs to effectively address their concerns.

Part of the answer, ironically enough (given the premise of York’s piece), lies in a piece Jill Lawrence published last week in the National Journal, a piece on Republicans’ challenges with Hispanic voters.  Lawrence cited a focus group whose participants . . .

liked what they heard about Medicaid, immigration, economics, and education in clips from speeches by some prominent party figures. But the people they listened to—New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush—are unusual in how they talk about these issues and seemed like anomalies to the focus-group participants. (more…)

Watcher of Weasels Nominations — May Day 2013

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 10:00 pm - May 2, 2013.
Filed under: Blogging,Conservative Ideas

Council Submissions

“Did Ron Paul go too far this time?”

The headline is what I just saw on Yahoo! (hence the quotes). The article is from Peter Grier of the Christian Science Monitor:

Former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul has slammed US law enforcement for responding to the Boston Marathon bombing with “police state tactics.”

In a post on the website of libertarian activist Lew Rockwell, Mr. Paul said Monday that the governmental reaction to the tragic explosions was worse than the attack itself. The forced lockdown of much of the Boston area, police riding armored vehicles through the streets, and door-to-door searches without warrants were all reminiscent of a military coup or martial law, Paul added.

“The Boston bombing provided the opportunity for the government to turn what should have been a police investigation into a military-style occupation of an American city,” according to Paul.

Furthermore, this response did not result in the capture of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Paul charged. He was discovered hiding in a boat by a private citizen, who called police…

The article seems to be written by a leftie: it unfortunately goes on to quote the pompous and silly Glenn Greenwald, and uses guilt-by-association to insinuate that Austrian economics (Ludwig von Mises) somehow goes with racism.

But brush that aside: the main topic is still interesting. Your thoughts? Who went too far: Ron Paul, or the Boston police?

Watcher of Weasels Nominations — Late April 2013 Edition

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:20 pm - April 25, 2013.
Filed under: Blogging,Conservative Ideas

Council Submissions

Millennials & the Real Republican Problem

In a piece on the immigration bill, Stanley Kurtz offers a nutshell version of the real problem facing Republicans today:

Republicans have been in a funk ever since Obama’s re-election. I’m the first to agree that there’s a deeper problem, but it’s got more to do with under-thirties and what education and the culture are doing to them than with anything a path to citizenship will fix.

When I listen to my non-Republican twentysomething friends talking about the GOP, I hear an image of a party drawn from Democratic talking points and college professors’ prejudices. Few are aware of the ideals of liberty and civil society that have stood as the guideposts for the conservative and libertarian thinkers who have defined the basic philosophy of the Republican Party since Reagan.

Many, as Arthur Brooks sagely observed last month in the Wall Street Journal believe Republicans are indifferent to the poor.  Republicans need to change that faulty perception.  They have to show the “under-thirties”, as Kurtz described this demographic suffering the most under Obama’s policies, that conservatives are aware of — and sympathetic to — their plight and will, if elected, put into place policies which will make it easier for them to find jobs commensurate with their talents and their training, allowing them to prosper as did young people in the Reagan Era.

FROM THE COMMENTS:  Cactus Bill gets it:

There has been a bastardization of the language for some now. When compassion is defined by how much government can provide instead of what you can provide for yourself the notion of pursuing your own happiness is turned on it’s head. Real compassion is allowing an environment where a business of any type can actually HIRE someone. A real job is more compassionate and rewarding to the soul than all the government provided resources have ever been able to give. (more…)