In other words, the classical liberal/libertarian/voluntaryist argument in favor of peace and liberty versus authoritarianism, statism, and violence.
In other words, the classical liberal/libertarian/voluntaryist argument in favor of peace and liberty versus authoritarianism, statism, and violence.
In Police-State America, a "rogue cop" means being a peace officer - dedicating yourself to protecting people and their private property from aggression. Unfortunately, this is the exception, as a huge majority of cops are armed agents of the state's looting and oppressing.
Just ask Regina Tasca, a cop from New Jersey, who was fired for "bizarre and outlandish" behavior.
Her crime? Failure to properly beat a couple tax-victims to a pulp and intervening when a police officer from another jurisdiction viciously assaulted an emotionally damaged man. Thank you, Regina, for your honest and dedicatedservice to actually preserving the peace and protecting the public; it's no wonder you were fired.
In their addiction to power over others. Via The Telegraph:
Democracy, the separation of judicial powers and the free press all evolved for essentially one purpose – to reduce the chance of leaders becoming power addicts. Power changes the brain triggering increased testosterone in both men and women. Testosterone and one of its by-products called 3-androstanediol, are addictive, largely because they increase dopamine in a part of the brain’s reward system called the nucleus accumbens. Cocaine has its effects through this system also, and by hijacking our brain’s reward system, it can give short-term extreme pleasure but leads to long-term addiction, with all that that entails.
Unfettered power has almost identical effects, but in the light of yesterday’s Leveson Inquiry interchanges in London, there seems to be less chance of British government ministers becoming addicted to power. Why? Because, as it appears from the emails released by James Murdoch yesterday, they appeared to be submissive to the all-powerful Murdoch empire, hugely dependent on the support of this organization for their jobs and status, who could swing hundreds of thousands of votes for or against them.
Submissiveness and dominance have their effects on the same reward circuits of the brain as power and cocaine. Baboons low down in the dominance hierarchy have lower levels of dopamine in key brain areas, but if they get ‘promoted’ to a higher position, then dopamine rises accordingly. This makes them more aggressive and sexually active, and in humans similar changes happen when people are given power. What's more, power also makes people smarter, because dopamine improves the functioning of the brain’s frontal lobes. Conversely, demotion in a hierarchy decreases dopamine levels, increases stress and reduces cognitive function.
But too much power - and hence too much dopamine - can disrupt normal cognition and emotion, leading to gross errors of judgment and imperviousness to risk, not to mention huge egocentricity and lack of empathy for others. The Murdoch empire and its acolytes seem to have got carried away by the power they have wielded over the British political system and the unfettered power they have had - unconstrained by any democratic constraints - has led to the quite extraordinary behaviour and arrogance that has been corporately demonstrated.
This weekend marked the 75th anniversary of the German and Italian bombing of Guernica, Spain during the Spanish Civil War, the first example of "terror bombing" - the deliberate aerial targeting of civilian cities. This bombing campaign ushered in the modern era of ruthless and unrelenting terror bombing that has been practiced by nearly every industrial nation - especially the US government - and spawned one of the most beautiful pieces of artwork, Picasso's Guernica.
James Bovard has a great post over at the Antiwar blog about this anniversary. When war criminal Colin Powell went to the UN to shill for the Iraq War, Picasso's painting was covered and hidden from view as Powell and Co. made the case for dropping even fancier and more destructive high explosives on civilians.
How many thousands of Guernicas could have been painted since 1937?
Glenn Greenwald on how liberal "progressives" praise our blood-soaked Caesar:
Peter Bergen, the Director of National Security Studies at the Democratic-Party-supportive New America Foundation, has along Op-Ed in The New York Times today glorifying President Obama as a valiant and steadfast “warrior President”; it begins this way:
THE president who won the Nobel Peace Prize less than nine months after his inauguration has turned out to be one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades.
Just ponder that: not only the Democratic Party, but also its progressive faction, is wildly enamored of “one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades.” That’s quite revealing on multiple levels. Bergen does note that irony: he recalls that Obama used his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to defend the justifications for war and points out: “if those on the left were listening, they didn’t seem to care.” He adds that “the left, which had loudly condemned George W. Bush for waterboarding and due process violations at Guantánamo, was relatively quiet when the Obama administration, acting as judge and executioner, ordered more than 250 drone strikes in Pakistan since 2009, during which at least 1,400 lives were lost.”
To explain the behavior of “the left,” Bergen offers this theory: “From both the right and left, there has been a continuing, dramatic cognitive disconnect between Mr. Obama’s record and the public perception of his leadership: despite his demonstrated willingness to use force, neither side regards him as the warrior president he is.” In other words, progressives are slavishly supportive of “one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades” because they have deluded themselves into denying this reality and continue to pretend he’s some sort of anti-war figure.
That’s not unreasonable speculation, but I ultimately don’t believe that’s true. Leaving aside Bergen’s over-generalization — some factions on “the left” have been quite vocal in condemning Obama’s actions in these areas — most Democrats are perfectly aware of Obama’s military aggression. They don’t support himdespite that, but rather, that’s one of the things they love about him. After years of being mocked by the Right as Terrorist-coddling weaklings, Obama — strutting around touting hisown strength — lets them feel strong and powerful in exactly the way that Bush and Cheney’s swaggering let conservatives prance around as tough-guy, play-acting warriors. Rather than ignore this aggression, Democratic think tanks point with beaming pride to the corpses piled up by the Democratic Commander-in-Chief to argue that he’s been such a resounding foreign policy “success,” while Democratic pundits celebrate and defend the political value of his majestic kills.
Yesterday on his MSNBC morning show, Chris Hayes conducted an excellent, two-part discussion of Obama’s escalated civilian-killing drone attacks, with a heavy emphasis on the innocent people, including numerous children, who have been killed. He showed a harrowing video clip of a Yemeni man’s anguish as he described the pregnant women and children killed by Obama’s 2009 cluster bomb strike; featured the U.S. drone killing of 16-year-old American citizen Abdulrahman Awlaki in Yemen; and interviewed human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, who described the 16-year-old Pakistani boy he met at a meeting to discuss civilian drone deaths and who, a mere 3 days later, had his own life ended by an American drone.
Later that day, Hayes tweeted this: “A bit taken aback by the ugliness that drone conversation seems to bring out in some people.” What he meant was the avalanche of angry Twitter attacks from steadfast Obama loyalists who gleefully defended the drone program, mocked concerns over civilian deaths, and insisted that he should not be covering such matters because they may harm Obama in an election year (of course, it’s not only the President’s followers, but, as Hayes noted, the President himself who is quite adept at finding humor in his drone attacks).
According to a Wired report, the Air Force is considering upgrades proposed by General Atomics, the manufacturer of Reaper drones. The upgrades include improvements to the flight time of the drone’s camera, missiles, and radar equipment, thus allowing the drones to fly for almost two days straight. Although these advancements are just a company proposal so far, any growth to the U.S. drone program is a troubling sign considering how counterproductive and unaccountable it is.
For example, President Obama has blocked the ACLU and their Freedom of Information Act requests from gathering documents that would even acknowledge the drone program’s existence. The Department of Justice has repeatedly ducked and dodged any attempt or lawsuit from providing any transparency to a program that gives the president the power to be judge, jury, and executioner. This level of unaccountability, especially concerning the power of a president to bypass basic judicial processes, has no place in a professed free society.
Not only is the program shrouded in secrecy, it kills a lot of innocents and is incredibly counterproductive. Last January, when President Obama first spoke about the program, he said that drone strikes “had not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.” Counterterrorism advisor John Brennan actually claimed that the program hasn’t caused “a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.”
But even the most conservative estimates, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), show several dozen innocents have been killed in drone strikes. The BIJ also released a report detailing how drones are targeting rescuers after initial attacks and mourners at their funerals. According to Jeremy Scahill’s reporting at The Nation, U.S. drone strikes in Yemen are creating far more terrorists than they kill and are the primary source for Al Qaeda’s presence in the Arabian Peninsula. Obama’s “signature strikes” — where targets a hit for displaying “suspicious behavior” and which CIA chief David Petraeus wants to expand — are backfiring and can only boomerang back to us.
Despite the brazen disregard for the rule of law, civil liberties, and any resemblance of transparency, it is becoming more and more likely that Obama’s drone program — and the aforementioned public policy aspects — will remain in place whether or not Obama is re-elected. The only thing Obama’s conservative and Republican opposition seem to like about him are these dictatorial executive power grabs, and it’s hard to imagine a President Romney doing anything other than endorsing and enhancing them.
The central claim behind the justification for the Predator Drone campaign is that the president has the ability to ignore the Fifth Amendment and 800 years of common law and order kills without due process under virtually no oversight or transparency. And with General Atomics pitching more efficient drones to the Air Force, there is also the incentive of the military-industrial-complex to make sure the president has whatever power needed to buy and use plenty of them.
More than any other, this should be the most central and important issue of the day. Thankfully, there is one presidential candidate who is challenging this bipartisan acceptance of secrecy and the imperial presidency. Because without this debate, the future of the most basic rights, safeguards, and provisions of our Constitution and our republic are in jeopardy.
White House polling must show how badly gas prices are hurting Obama's approval numbers. Badly enough that he's even trying to ease up on attacking Iran.
Here's Obama on the campaign trail: "The problem is ... speculators and people make various bets, and they say, you know what, we think that maybe there's a 20% chance that something might happen in the Middle East that might disrupt oil supply, so we're going to bet that oil is going to go up real high. And that spikes up prices significantly."
While blaming economic conditions on speculators is the common stock in trade of demagogues and politicians of all stripes, what is the president actually saying?
People who need energy to keep their businesses working, business that make modern life possible, look around at world events and grow concerned that the U.S. government and others may conspire to interrupt the flow of oil. Behaving like good stewards of their enterprises, they and their agents seek to assure needed oil supplies in an uncertain future by contracting for tomorrow's oil needs today.
While Obama deprecates the activity, saying that those trying to prepare for future conditions, are "betting," most oil users would actually prefer stable prices and would just as soon forego the guessing game about future prices. It's a game that costs them if they are wrong and only allows them to stay in business if they are right. Most are happy that someone – those speculators politicians love to vilify – are willing to take on the risk of being wrong about future price movements for the rewards of being right. The real oil users can then count on liquid markets when they need them and keep their attention – and their capital – focused on delivering the blessings of modern life instead of betting on the movement of prices.
And there is something wrong with this? Hold the phone a moment!
It's not as though those seeking to secure oil for their future needs are making something up. They're not concerned about some fantasy development, some exogenous agent like space aliens appearing out of nowhere to suck up all of earth's oil. This isn't science fiction. They're trying to keep things working in the face of very real and very familiar government threats to our way of life.
Maybe they should be praised, not condemned.
While one administration bureaucrat has claimed there is a "Wall Street premium" on the price of oil, it takes government to make a war. Speculators trying to anticipate future prices in the event of a war don't impose embargos. Nor do they launch airstrikes.
In The Dollar Meltdown, I estimated that during the constant saber rattling and elective wars of the Bush years, the fear premium on the price of oil may have run from $20 to $40 a barrel, depending on developments. It was, in any case, a huge transfer of wealth from the American people to the oil sheikdoms, Putin's Russia, and Chavez's Venezuela.
If Obama is prepared to further de-capitalize the American people and deliver another blow to an economically-depressed world by supporting an Israeli strike on Iran and risking the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, isn't it a good thing that he has to confront at least some of the cost of such recklessness?
He's a politician. He should pay a political price.
George W. Bush never did. But we would be better off economically if he had to reckon with the price for his elective war.
Might Bush have been dissuaded from his unnecessary war if he had known that it would cost not under $50 billion, as his administration claimed, but more like $5 trillion?
Would Bush have given up plans for his counterproductive war on Iraq – a war that has only consolidated Iran's Shi'ite power bloc in the region – if he had known that he would preside over an explosion of the nation's visible debt from $5.7 trillion to $10.6 trillion?
Would Bush have foregone his wasteful war justified by forged documents and phony intelligence if he had known that its cost would help trigger the steepest downturn in America since the Great Depression, even as the cost of the Vietnam War helped create the stagflation decade of the 1970s?
If he had known the costs and the outcome, would Bush have been capable of better decisions?
Nah. Bush was not capable of forethought or making wise decisions. When he ran for reelection in 2004, Americans still hadn't come to terms with the monstrosity of his bogus war. And his opponent, John Kerry ("Reporting for duty!") wasn't willing to risk defeat by opposing the prevailing war fever. Had he done so, he would have still lost in 2004, but could have easily been elected on the "told you so" platform by the time people began seeing through Bush's war in 2008.
Whatever Obama's real view about war with Iran, he at least has enough foresight to know that it will result in even higher gas prices.
At his first press conference of 2012, Obama responded to a question about gas prices with a question of his own, asking the reporter, "Do you think the President of the United States going into reelection wants gas prices to go up higher? Is there anybody here who thinks that makes a lot of sense?"
Obama knows that the price at the pump can cost him the election.
If it is wariness about the political cost of higher oil prices that has Obama preferring "engagement" to bombing Iran, it is a good thing. If it is speculators buying oil against future possibilities that keep Obama from reacting as Romney and the neocon Republicans egg him to start another needless and ruinous war, then we owe speculators a debt of gratitude.
“In our early history, we had a major undertaking overthrowing an empire...And in some ways that is what we are doing now.” Ron Paul in Pennsylvania.
Unless you plan to be an engineer or doctor, here is yet another reason to avoid the debt and general brainwashing that accompanies "higher" education:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The college class of 2012 is in for a rude welcome to the world of work.
A weak labor market already has left half of young collegegraduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge.
Young adults with bachelor's degrees are increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that's confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans.
An analysis of government data conducted for The Associated Press lays bare the highly uneven prospects for holders of bachelor's degrees.
Opportunities for college graduates vary widely.
While there's strong demand in science, education and health fields, arts and humanities flounder. Median wages for those with bachelor's degrees are down from 2000, hit by technological changes that are eliminating midlevel jobs such as bank tellers. Most future job openings are projected to be in lower-skilled positions such as home health aides, who can provide personalized attention as the U.S. population ages.
It is difficult to know exactly how and where the tradition of 420 began. Most likely, smoking marijuana on April 20th every year was started in San Rafael, California, named after the code police used to arrest pot smokers. The tradition involves the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, the counterculture, and a general resistance to authority as a form of civil disobedience. Cities like Denver, Colorado have "smokeouts" that draw thousands.
While many dismiss it as a holiday to glorify marijuana use, 420 is the perfect opportunity to discuss the benefits of marijuana legalization and an end to the drug war once and for all.
The use of marijuana can prevent, cure, or greatly reduce the pain from a multitude of crippling diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and strokes. And unlike poisonous and legal prescription drugs, there are virtually no side effects.
The implications of drug prohibition (or any prohibition) state that the government has an ownership claim to all or a portion of your body and the decisions an individual chooses to make regarding his/her body. In "the land of the free," this is the ultimate denial of freedom.
The prospect of all drugs' being legal and available is a frightening concept to most, precisely because we have been conditioned to accept restrictions on freedom for vague abstractions like "the public good," and have embraced the chains of our servitude. Freedom is responsibility, which makes us uneasy to accept the consequences of it.
And while some may not be convinced of the moral case for ending the drug war based on individual liberty, then there are many tangible events that suggest major reform is needed. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of current and former members of law enforcement advocating drug legalization, know first-hand how drug prohibition increase crime rates, gangs, and cartels, and also distract police from prosecuting real violations of persons and property.
As Thomas Jefferson said, "I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." It's time we applied this wisdom to our drug policy.
Timelapse of Boulder on 4/20
Levon Helm, the great drummer and singer from The Band, died today after a battle with cancer. Helm was one of the greatest musicians of his or any time, and it is sad to see another legend go.
Here's my favorite Band song, with Helm on drums and singing in that achingly beautiful voice of his. Levon Helms, RIP.
Whether it's against Obamacare or medical marijuana prohibition, resistance to Leviathan is spreading. Good for Virginia for refusing to cooperate with the authoritarian NDAA:
RICHMOND, Va. – On Wednesday, the Virginia legislature overwhelmingly passed a law that forbids state agencies from cooperating with any federal attempt to exercise the indefinite detention without due process provisions written into sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act.
HB1160 “Prevents any agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the military of Virginia from assisting an agency of the armed forces of the United States in the conduct of the investigation, prosecution, or detention of a United States citizen in violation of the United States Constitution, Constitution of Virginia, or any Virginia law or regulation.”
The legislature previously passed HB1160 and forwarded it to Gov. Bob McDonnell for his signature. Last week, the governor agreed to sign the bill with a minor amendment. On Wednesday, the House of Delegates passed the amended version of the legislation 89-7. Just hours later, the Senate concurred by a 36-1 vote.
Bill sponsor Delegate Bob Marshall (R-Manassas) says that since the legislature passed HB1150 as recommended by the governor, it does not require a signature and will become law effective July 1, 2012.
Several states recently passed resolutions condemning NDAA indefinite detention, but Virginia becomes the first state to pass a law refusing compliance with sections 1021 and 1022.
“In the 1850s, northern states felt that habeas corpus was so important that they passed laws rejecting the federal fugitive slave act. The bill passed in Massachusetts was so effective, not one single runaway slave was returned south from that state. Today, Virginia joins in this great American tradition,” Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin said. “When the federal government passes unconstitutional so-called laws so destructive to liberty – it’s the people and the states that will stand up and say, ‘NO!’ May the other states now follow the lead taken today by Virginia.”
On Wednesday, an American soldier released 18 photos to the Los Angeles Times that showed American troops posing with body parts of insurgent victims in Afghanistan. President Obama said the incident was “reprehensible” and the Army has started a criminal investigation. Although the war in Afghanistan has largely been forgotten in recent years, these photos represent the latest “scandal” to emerge from that war.
What really caught my eye about this story is the statement from the White House. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said that the publishing of these photos "could be used to incite violence against the U.S." Press Secretary Jay Carney, while criticizing the Timesfor publishing the photos, said he was “very disappointed.” The Times may have embarrassed the White House by publishing these photos, but the paper should be commended, not condemned, for what they did.
A similar reaction came when the Associated Press published Julie Jacobson’s photo of Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard as he was blown apart in Afghanistan. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates asked the AP to pull the photo (and to the AP’s credit, they didn’t). Many wanted Julian Assange’s head on a platter for the videos Wikileaks released showing Americans gunning down Iraqis in the street. Private Bradley Manning has been held in military prison for over a year and has been tortured for his role in helping Wikileaks expose the truth about war.
The Pentagon knows that if more Americans are shown the utter horror that war actually is, the less they will likely be to keep supporting it or calm in their opposition; they remember what happened here when the war in Vietnam came to TV screens every night. The media could end any of the six or seven wars tomorrow if they wanted to simply by showing actual footage of what happens after the bombs are dropped and the triggers pulled.
Stories like this may shock the average citizen, but war trophies are a casual reality of military life. While body parts like ears and fingers were considered prizes during Vietnam, today’s war trophies are what former Army Sergeant Matthis Chiroux calls “war porn.” Chiroux argues that there are much more videos and photos than we could possibly imagine, and that they must be published — by the media, by soldiers, whoever — so that Americans see the truth and a few soldiers don’t get scapegoated.
Do the soldiers deserve blame? Although we all are responsible for the actions we take, you can’t put young men into a foreign country, for tour after tour after tour, and have them not be scarred by the experience. Is it any wonder that for every U.S. soldier killed on the battlefield this year, 25 commit suicide?
The photos published in the LA Times are simply one more reason why the U.S. should get out of Afghanistan and out of the non-defensive war business in general. As the war continues, it will only be when, not if, another “war porn” report comes out. President Obama has discussed slight withdrawals and exit dates, but only in 2013 or 2014 after he would be re elected.
In other words, Obama and his advisors are playing politics with the lives and safety of soldiers and civilians alike. The heroic soldier, who leaked the photos, and the LA Times for publishing them, are simply catching them in the act.
Why does Congressman Ron Paul draw such large and enthusiastic audiences even though he has no chance of winning the Republican nomination? Because people like a politician without marbles in his mouth.
Paul does not censor himself. He comes across as sincere, earnest and independent of his party's fat cats. In the debates, only he called out the American Empire's meddling in the business of countless nations around the world. He assails the Pentagon's bloated budgets and has worked with liberal Democrat Barney Frank to shrink the military-industrial complex. He wants to end our boomeranging wars.
Paul, 76, draws a distinction between libertarian conservatives and those corporatist conservatives entrenching a corporate state in which Big Business merges with Big Government. That's why he is against bailouts. His defense of privacy and civil liberties and his opposition to the war on drugs endear him to people beyond his libertarian base. They even include some progressives who cannot abide his views against health, safety and economic regulations or his denunciation of the Federal Reserve's fiat money and social-welfare programs like Medicare.
A new book by the great James Altucher on how to avoid being brainwashed and put into massive debt.
In the latest attack on free speech, a blogger will be put in a cage because some bureaukrat had his widdle feelings hurt over a tweet. The London Councilman was "offended" at the blogger's lack of proper submission and subservience, and in Orwellian Police-State England, that is more than enough to get one sent to the gulag.
On Sunday, Major League Baseball celebrated the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s historic first game with the Brooklyn Dodgers. All players wore the number 42 in the honor of Robinson breaking the color barrier by the first black player to play in the league. Robinson’s story is a triumph of civil rights and integration, but what is generally lost in Robinson’s legacy is the power that the voluntary market, not government legislation, has in reducing discrimination and injustice.
While Robinson bravely faced insults and jeers from many fans wherever the Dodgers went, the harsh reaction to his presence began to slowly fade. Robinson won the Rookie of the Year award in 1947, a National League batting title two years later in 1949 as well as the Most Valuable Player award, went to six straight All-Star games, and helped the Dodgers go to five World Series (while beating the hated New York Yankees in 1955). Not only did Robinson have courage, but he had immense talent that helped the Dodgers win, increase fan base, and revenue for the team.
It wasn’t white guilt, affirmative action, or anti-discrimination laws that withered racial animosity in baseball, but the incentives of the market. The Brooklyn Dodgers essentially had a monopoly on the huge pool of black baseball talent in the Negro leagues when they finally made their decision to let Robinson play in the league. Other teams saw this strategy, and even the most racist regions of the country witnessed a flood of black players. After Robinson, fellow Dodger Roy Campanella began a streak of seven straight black NL MVPs, including Hall of Famers like Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, and Ernie Banks. The merit of these players and the competitive aspects of the market, not the force of government law, changed minds and the quality of the game forever.
It is very interesting to contrast the market processes that allowed blacks into the league with how they were originally banned. In the 1880s, when baseball was first becoming organized, a few black players were allowed to play. Led by the likes of white players like Cap Anson — not the club owners themselves — they began to threaten violence and riots if their often statistically superior black co-players weren’t banned. Eventually, the owners caved, and as baseball began centralizing into an MLB conglomerate, they used “gentlemen’s agreements” to keep blacks out of the game as well as avoid the competitive pressure of the market.
It’s easy to see why they instituted bans too; it was the only way to preserve their artificial labor monopoly from incredibly talented and popular competition. The supply of black players after World War I exploded, which resulted in the Negro Leagues, where their All-Star games had larger audiences than the white version. Much of college sports was already integrated (Robinson starred in baseball, football, basketball, track, golf, and swimming at UCLA). The Caribbean Winter leagues featured stars of both the MLB and the Negro Leagues.
What Robinson’s eventual breaking of this barrier reveals is how competitive markets make irrational bigotry expensive — not impossible, but very costly. In 1957, University of Chicago economist Gary Becker (and later Nobel Prize winner) argued that people tend to find ways to avoid market competition, as the ugly history of baseball shows. But Becker also noted that when forced by competition, people will hire whoever will make them the most money.
The integration of baseball isn’t the only example of competitive markets punishing discrimination. In apartheid South Africa, blacks were kept out of the labor force with laws that required the hiring of only whites in certain industries as well as minimum-wage laws. White contractors began illegally hiring blacks not because of a sudden change of heart, but because they were less expensive than the government-mandated white labor. The Davis-Bacon Act, lauded by many “pro-labor” factions in America, was signed to protect to white labor from the market competition of blacks and other minorities.
Although government laws intended to prevent discrimination and promote fairness are obviously passed with the best intentions, more often than not is basic economics, competition, and the drive for profits in the marketplace that help eliminate or reduce social ills. Robinson’s bravery in smashing the MLB’s labor cartel is one of the most heroic examples.
While addressing an audience at Florida Atlantic University on Tuesday, President Obama took aim at Republicans and their economic proposals. Eight years of tax cuts for the wealthy, loose regulations, and lack of government investment into the economy under President Bush, Obama argued, did not result in faster job growth and prosperity.
In the speech, and on the campaign trail in general, Obama uses this type of rhetoric to distance himself from the Republicans and portray them as some government-slashing, rich-friendly free market fundamentalists. Although Obama is completely correct when he says that the policies of the Bush administration did not create economic growth and prosperity, he is completely wrong on why.
Obama’s portrayal of the Bush administration — and of the GOP in general — is completely false. Under President Bush, the federal budget and deficits exploded. Corporate welfare and subsidies flowed, the Department of Education was doubled, and Medicare entitlements were expanded. Bush “abandoned free market principles in order to save it” with federal bailouts. After 9/11, the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates below market levels, flooded the housing industry with cheap credit, and the bubble predictably burst in 2008. Eight years of Republican rule did incalculable damage to the economy and the country, but it had nothing to do with limited government, spending cuts, or free markets as Obama claims.
It’s easy to pick on Bush, but government spending and “investment” increase with every administration, Democrat or Republican, like it’s on autopilot. This is why Obama is forced to use leftist populist rhetoric and create a straw man out of the GOP. Spending cuts? Tax cuts? Governor Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans’ budget proposals all make federal spending, borrowing, and deficits skyrocket, which all have to be paid off eventually through taxation.
Other than rhetoric, both President Obama and his GOP opposition subscribe to slightly different variations of the same philosophy of Keynesian economics, foreign aggression, and money-printing from the Fed. They believe that the liberties that the Bill of Rights was intended to protect are negotiable.
And while Obama tries to rally his base, Romney and the Republicans do the same thing, calling Obama “weak” on national defense and a far-Left socialist. They are not opposed philosophically to the power the President has over the economy and foreign policy; they just think they can run it better than Obama can.
This is why the Republicans are doomed in the general election if all they offer is a slightly more right-wing version of Obama. Unless there is a substantial rejection of this Left-Right rhetoric and a truly principled opposition to the economic and foreign interventionism championed by both parties on the national stage, then Obama and the Republicans will continue to attempt to portray each other as ideological opponents rather than replicas while they spend us further into bankruptcy.