Showing posts from November, 2010

Government and Freedom

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary." James Madison

Discussions about government and freedom usually go the way of mythology. I'm never sure what freedom means for the person arguing we need more freedom? For what exactly? Democratic nations and even less democratic nations provide an environment in which the individual can live freely even though she must obey certain laws that may or may not support the nation. The laws can be simple or serious. Consider smoking, seat belts, helmets for kids as the sometimes simple and maybe silly. If you want to be free to kill yourself smoking, have at it. It is the serious law that has the most effect. Consider Enron, Worldcom, or the recent banking meltdown as areas in which abuse of law can have great effect.

But culture and government get entwined and the result for some is finger pointing at the other. Markets and regulations come to mind, some have this naive - in my mind - idea markets are just super great t…
Taxes Taxes Taxes

"'Practical' politics, it is held, calls for policies that appeal to the fortunate. The poor do not vote; the alert politician bids for the comfortable and the rich. This would be politically foolish for the Democratic Party; those whose primary concern is to protect their income, their capital and their business interest will always vote for the party that most strongly affirms its service to their pecuniary well-being. This is and has always been the Republicans. The Democrats have no future as a low grade substitute." John Kenneth Galbraith 'The Good Society'

Federal taxes have been reduced under Kennedy, Carter, Nixon, Reagan, and Bush Jr, but you would think it was only the republicans who lowered taxes. State taxes are another issue and often dependent on property value and class. Class gets little press in America and anyone who mentions class is marginalized, after all this is the land of the free and you picked your class. Didn'…

'An Open Letter to the White Right, On the Occasion of Your Recent, Successful Temper Tantrum'

"In forty years or so, maybe fewer, there won’t be any more white people around who actually remember that Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Opie-Taylor-Down-at-the-Fishing Hole cornpone bullshit that you hold so near and dear to your heart.

There won’t be any more white folks around who think the 1950s were the good old days, because there won’t be any more white folks around who actually remember them, and so therefore, we’ll be able to teach about them accurately and honestly, without hurting your precious feelings, or those of the so-called “greatest generation” — a bunch whose white contingent was top-heavy with ethical miscreants who helped save the world from fascism only to return home and oppose the ending of it here, by doing nothing to lift a finger on behalf of the civil rights struggle."

Read article here.

Where to now?

It will be interesting to see if the republicans now cut Medicare and the military machine, both are the largest expenditures, and places where their words would mean something. SS is solvent for a long time. Reduced taxes did nothing good under Reagan or Bush Jr. Medicare change would cost the republicans the 2012 election, so what will really change? The military war machine plays on fear and it also benefits all their benefactors so ultimately it will be education, children and the infrastructure that suffer - same as always. Nothing changes sometimes.

"Capitalism leads to dole queues, the scramble for markets, and war. Collectivism leads to concentration camps, leader-worship and war. There is no way out of this unless a planned economy can be somehow combined with freedom of the intellect, which can only happen if the concept of right and wrong can be restored." George Orwell