Archive for January, 2011


January 28, 2011 5 comments

Is it just me or does anybody else find it amusing that the U.S. government is telling the Egyptian government to reactivate the internet and social networking sites while there are riots in the streets and at the same time they are telling us they need the power to shut down the internet here in case of an emergency?  I wonder what emergency they have in mind where they would need to do that….

Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act (Internet Unification Act)

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Language in the Crosshairs

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Cable news was all abuzz over this CNN clip this week.  Notice the language “hold us accountable when we don’t meet your standards.”   This idea that we have to cleanse the language of every allusion or metaphor that has any relation to guns, combat, or violence didn’t come from the masses it came from these clowns in the media.   He might as well be saying “this is the standard you should be holding us (and everyone else) to, after all that’s what a person of high culture and values would do…..” Of course then you wouldn’t feel like you thought of it yourself.


January 15, 2011 3 comments

As before consider 2 moral codes.  Code 1: People have a right to their own property and labor and the produce thereof no matter how large or small that may be and the government should have no role in redistributing wealth.  Code 2: The government is in the best position to determine how much everyone deserves so they should have the power to distribute all wealth in whatever way they see fit.  As before, if we took a nationwide poll between these two, I suspect the first one would win handily.  But of course we are never asked to choose between these two codes.  We are told that having a code is rigid and unreasonable. 

If you are a practical person you will consider every issue independently without reference to any overarching theory of government.  Then you will be given questions to consider like “do the rich really need more money”  or “doesn’t everyone deserve a decent living?”  You will think about it and come to the conclusion that these statements (and that’s what they are) are very reasonable and then they will ask “isn’t it fair then, to tax the rich a little more to provide a decent living for the poor?”  And this will seem very practical.  The problem is that even considering questions like this assumes the second code.  If you believe in private property then even if most people think the rich are too rich and the poor are too poor, it’s a moot point because that decision is not one that the populace at large is tasked with making.  If you wanted to help poor people you would have to actually go out and do it instead of using the coercive power of government to force someone else to do it. 

The founders didn’t consider redistribution of wealth to be an appropriate function of government.  Benjamin Franklin is famously quoted as having said “When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic” (notice he didn’t say the end of democracy).  And in fact they tried to prevent the government from doing this.  How did they do this you ask?  Well start by examining the notorious (and most widely misunderstood) “3/5 clause.”

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

Progressives, of course want you to read this and be driven mad by rage over how racist the founders were.  After all they believed black people were only 3/5 of a person.  Of course, this is a complete distortion.  First of all, the distinction is not about blacks and whites it is about free men and slaves.  Obviously there is a high correlation there but free black persons (which did exist) were counted the same as free white persons.  Second, and more importantly, there is no such value judgement in this statement.  The statement is simply a prescription for apportioning two things.  The first (representatives) was a compromise to limit the representation of slave states (an anti-slavery provision).  The second (taxes) brings us to the actual point of this post.  Now notice this clause.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

You see, the founders knew that the government had to be able to collect taxes in order to perform its intended functions but taxation is a tricky issue.  It requires the government to have the right to some amount of the citizens’ wealth.  This is difficult to avoid.  But you can prevent the government from using its power of taxation to redistribute wealth.  This was done by preventing the federal government from taxing people directly (at the time most of its revenue came from duties on imports and exports) and disproportionately.  In other words, no progressive income tax.  If you can’t take more from the rich than from the poor you can’t redistribute wealth (at least it’s a lot harder).  This is the whole reason this language was originally included and it is also the whole reason progressives had to eliminate it which they did in 1913 (what a year that was).

The progressives (including the king of progressives Woodrow Wilson) went to the public and basically made the case described above.  They said they would only take from the rich a little bit.  The original top rate in 1913 was 7% and the bottom bracket was 1%.  The people didn’t notice that they were sacrificing a fundamental pillar of the republic.  They just thought it was fair to take a little bit from the rich to run the government and probably help the poor a little bit.  Five years later the bottom bracket had risen from 1% to 6% and the top rate had risen from 7% to 77%. 

There is no such code as: most people should usually keep most of what they earn but sometimes it’s ok for the government to confiscate wealth from certain people in a targeted way.  If you try to adopt this code you are accepting code number 2.  And this is what we have accepted.  We now have a tax code that is thousands of pages long explaining what part of your property belongs to the government based on all kinds of criteria made up in Washington D.C.  The result of this is that they can transfer wealth in essentially any way they want.  What’s more, they can  incentivize you to engage or not engage in whatever activities they think you should.  If they don’t want you to drive an SUV they don’t have to pass a law, they just raise your taxes and then give you a credit for driving a fuel-efficient car.  The examples of this are endless. 

Democracy means that decisions are made by a majority.  The unrestrained power to tax means there is no property which is out of reach of the government.  This means a majority can direct the use of any property or wealth in society.  To see democracy in action take a look at Illinois, they’ve been giving out money for decades and now notice who the bulk (though not all) of their new tax hikes are falling on, unpopular minorities: corporations, and smokers.  You might have heard that the whole country is in massive debt.  How popular are you?  And remember the smallest minority is the individual.

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Glenn Beck

January 14, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s almost as if Glenn Beck read my brief post yesterday and did a show explaining the other side’s view of democracy.   I recommend watching the whole thing, it all fits together, but if you want to just get the gist of what I mean jump to 17:30 and watch until 32:00 (or from 29-32 if you’re in a real hurry).  Suddenly the idea that the weakening of a government sponsored media organization and strengthening of a private media organization is a threat to “democracy” starts to make sense.  Also when you see the clip of Bernays saying “if you can use propaganda for war, you can certainly use it for peace” remember step 2.


January 13, 2011 Leave a comment

In an earlier post I implied that I thought Ellen Weiss would probably take the fall for the Juan Williams firing at NPR which I then retracted since she wasn’t fired after a couple weeks.  But now I am retracting the retraction since she resigned

People at NPR said resigning may have preserved severance payments that Weiss would have had to forgo had she been fired.

Also, Vivian Schiller was denied a bonus.  So please draw the original conclusion to which I was leading you.  Also notice this line:

I do not think this kind of capitulation [by NPR] assures the future of an independent press. . . . Democracy is on the line and NPR is one of the last bastions of its possibility.

To whom are they capitulating exactly?  Fox reported the facts.  The public willingly went to Fox to get the facts.  The public got upset about it.  NPR capitulated….. to the public!  The people to whom other news organizations that don’t get their money from the government have to answer all the time.  Am I the only one who sees the irony?  Capitulation by a government sponsored news outlet in the face of public opinion is a threat to democracy and an independent press.   This highlights the true progressive vision of “democracy.”  More on that to come.

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