Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What You Should Know About the Greek Bailout Tragedy

The Greek economic tragedy is proving several truths. (1) "Too Big to Fail" is a dangerous lie.  (2) Socialist welfare schemes invariably fail. (3) Establishment solutions to problems do not solve the problems, because they are not intended to. Rather they push the problems down the road, enriching the Establishment elite in the process. (4) Moral hazard makes people stupid, and (5) If we don't quickly learn these lessons, bailouts will become more and more common--until there is no one left to perpetuate the charade.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Homelessness: The Repudiation of our Nation's Greatness

Forgotten amid the debate as to whether the federal government should be the one to provide for the poor is the reality that we Americans still have more than our share of poor among us.  The irony likely escapes many of us who think of ourselves as an exceptional nation--as a shining city on a hill.  No matter how we hope to approach the much needed solution, the reality is that the American house of cards is built on too much empire and too little charity.  In order to survive the coming economic storm, we have one alternative--to become more giving. Americans can learn a great lesson from the example of the LDS Church Welfare system.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Live Blogging the Utah Republican Liberty Caucus: My First Experience

It's a much smaller group than the Utah State Republican Convention I attended last week, but I am attending an equally interesting meeting--the Organizing Convention of the Utah Republican Liberty Caucus.  Come along for the ride as I discover what it's all about.
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I heard about the Republican Liberty Caucus on Facebook. It was only a 45 minute drive, and I didn't have anything better to do, so I thought I would see if I could learn something from people bound to be more intelligent than me.  My hunch was correct.  My visit to the RLC has been a bonus.

Following the singing of the national anthem and a prayer, the meeting opened with the "Are You a Socialist?" quiz.  Here are some of the questions:
  • Have you read the Constitution in the past 4 years
  • Do you support inheritance tax?
  • Do you support graduated income tax?
  • Do you support a return to a gold or other precious metals standard?
  • Do you favor a system of free public education?
  • Do the poor have claim on government for their subsistence needs?
  • Should government have the power to regulate economic activity?
  • Should there be a minimum wage?
  • Which professions should be licensed?
  • Should government be involved in soil conservation programs?
  • Do you believe there is a distinct line that divides where the government can compel people against their will and where it cannot?
Utah Representative John Dougall, who has been in the legislature for about seven years addressed the group about limited government. He advocates persuasion instead of force, which is why he is a strong advocate of the free market.  Here are some of the things he talked about:

The media claims that the Tea Partiers are barbarians at the gates. 91% wanted smaller government, but 62% still wanted federal government to run Social Security and Medicare.

How to maximize liberty (1) Respect for life, liberty, and property. If we don't respect these, how can we expect government to do it for us? (2)  Importance of self-reliance in skills and education, and the avoidance of debt. As more and more people become dependent, the more likely will be the calls for government to solve a problem that it cannot solve.  (3) Expand learning. Self reliance includes the importance of being educated throughout our lives (4) Be able to provide charity. It is incumbent upon those who have enough for themselves to help others to achieve self-reliance.

What is the difference between free trade and fair trade? Free trade presupposes liberty, but fair trade is protectionist. NAFTA, CAFTA, WTO, GATT are "fair trade" and are thus not free.  These models elevate the bureaucrat over the individual.  It is ironic that many people who recognize fair trade for the destroyer of freedom that it is, on the other hand advocate the loss of individual freedoms in the face of a supposed terrorist enemy or the protection of domestic jobs out of a sense of hyper-patriotism.

What about immigration? Shouldn't we want to share the American dream? We are all immigrants or immigrant posterity. We shouldn't exclude others simply because we are already here.Open immigration does not condone living on the welfare dole or accommodating other languages.

Former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson, is an entrepreneur who had never been involved in politics until running for and winning the governor's seat as a Republican in a predominantly Democrat state. He was elected on his promises, and he liked to think that he was re-elected because people realized that he fulfilled his promises. He left office only due to term limits laws.  He prevented billions in new spending by vetoing 750 bills, as well as thousands of line item vetoes.  He vetoed a bill requiring pole vaulters to wear helmets, even though it is a good idea to do so.  He was one of the most outspoken governors regarding bringing freedom of choice and competition to the educational system. Imagine a video game where, to advance, students must answer questions about mathematics and history, or to solve scientific problems.

Half of what we spent on law enforcement and adjudication is spent on the war on drugs.  Holland has decriminalized drugs. It is NOT true that their drug use skyrocketed, but rather it is true that it has only 60% the amount of drug use of the United States.  In Portugal drug use went down when drugs there were legalized.  Most of the drug problem (cost) in the United States is prohibition related. There is little difference between drinking alcohol and driving vs. smoking marijuana and driving, so they should be punished the same way. Violence along the US-Mexican border is directly related to the prohibitive aspect of drug use.  The drug "treatment model" does not work.  He would have vetoed recent immigration legislation in Arizona had he been governor there, because it will lead to racial profiling.  Violence would go way down with the legalization of drugs, as it did when alcohol was legalized.  Drug problems should be treated as health issues treated in courts as necessary instead of in the criminal system.

We have to slash government spending by at least 43%, because 43 cents of every dollar America spends is borrowed. The Fed inflates (prints) money to cover our drunken binge. In the next 4-10 years, a dollar today will be worth only 50 cents then. What's happening in Greece is what is going to happen here. Many U.S. state pension funds are "under water", with California being likely the one that will first fail.  States must be allowed to innovate, as the Constitution requires, but that is becoming less and less common.

The root of nearly all our problems is that the federal government is too large. We should fight back against terrorists, but we are not currently threatened. Attacking Iraq was never warranted, because we have the technology to know that Iraq didn't have Weapons of Mass Destruction. Attacking Afghanistan was initially warranted, but the target, Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, is not there anymore. America makes up 5% of the world's population, but we spend 50% of the world total on military armaments.

Nobel laureate Vernon Smith and several other economists at a Chatman university symposium were confident that if TARP had not been implemented, there would have been no economic meltdown. When government intervenes, we go from one bubble to the next, which we are in now with the crisis first being manifest in Greece.

Cherilyn Eagar, former Candidate or US Senate from Utah spoke for just a moment.  She said that the campaign was exhilarating and she achieved some remarkable friends.  She appreciates the successes of the Republican Liberty Caucus.

Mike Lee, Candidate for US Senate from Utah considers Cherilyn Eagar a patriot and a friend.  America is exceptional because of our tradition of liberty. Whenever government acts, it acts at the expense of liberty.  Thus we must be mindful of what we allow the government to do. He remembers watching the 1994 election returns, thinking that it would be a happy change, but it didn't turn out that way, even with a Republican president later elected. The Republican revolution in 194 failed and has since died. We have a greater opportunity now in 2010, and we can't mess it up this time. This time we must anchor it in something that is solid and time-tested--the Constitution. If we had done this in 1994, that revolution would still be vibrant today. Limits have to mean something, especially to the people. That is why the Constitution must be understood be placing limits.  The commerce clause does not allow the federal government to regulate whatever it pleases under the guise of commerce, as it does today.  Founding fathers didn't agree on everything, but even the scope of their disagreement was far smaller than where we are today constitutionally.

It is easy to refute the progressive idea that Constitution doesn't provide real solutions: (1) put a stop to deficit spending with a Constitutional amendment, because spending determines everything else. Without a blank check, Congress will be required to have a debate about its actual Constitutional duties (2) seriously reform taxes.  Congress must not only be accountable to the people, but to ALL the people. Half of Americans don't have to pay anything. The tax system must charge one rate, which would naturally cause Congress to be more accountable. (3) Reform entitlements. Search Article I Section 8 or any other part of the constitution and you will  find no authority whatsoever for the federal government to redistribute wealth, whether to American citizens, American corporations, or foreign governments.  If we don't reform in these areas, we will become the next Greece. One voice for constitutional government can be easily marginalized, but 10 or 12 can't, and it is possible that there will be this many Constitutionalists elected to the Senate in 2010.

When government stops protecting life, liberty, and property, both anarchy and tyranny become more prevalent. We need a reversal in course as to what we expect the government to do for us.

It is not appropriate to refer to Article I Section 8 as the General Welfare Clause.  Rather it is a General Welfare limitation on the spending clause in that article. Hamilton's view, although more liberal than Madison's and Jefferson's view, was very conservative by today's standards.  Hamilton still believed that money couldn't be allocated to specific local projects.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Beware of Congress Trying to Make Things Safer: The SS Eastland Disaster

We all want to be safer, right? Sometimes we scream "There oughtta be a law!!!"  Congress made a law once that was fully intended to make things a lot safer, but which didn't (okay, maybe they've done that more than once).  The unintended consequences of the Seamen's Law, contributed to the deaths of hundreds of people.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Wanton Speculation on Adam, Eve, and the First Life on Earth

Other than the declaration that "Adam was the first man of all men", very little has been revealed to LDS Prophets about whether or not the theory of evolution is correct.  It has been promised that such truth will come in due time.  Latter-day Saints are encouraged, however, to accept truth from wherever it may come.  In that spirit, allow me to wantonly speculate on how religious and scientific truths may one day come into harmony.

Feel free to speculate along with me.

Updated May 10, 2010: Might there have been death before the fall?  YES! There might have...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Live Blogging the Utah Republican State Convention: A Wrap-Up

I never thought I'd spend the whole day giving a delegate's-eye view of the Utah Republican State Convention, but I've never had so much political fun in my life. For those who got to read along, I hope it was helpful to you to know a little bit more about how conventions work. I'm worn out, but it was a very fun day.  Included in this article are some parting thoughts about how I thought things turned out.

If you were there, or if you listened in, I'm curious how you felt about the outcome.

Updated 5/10/2010 with vote tallies for 1st and 2nd (and hopefully 3rd) rounds of voting.

Part 2 of Live Blogging from the Utah State Republican Convention

Now available, check out my after-convention wrap-up by clicking here.

This seems like a good place to start a new blog article about the Utah State Republican convention. The other article has gotten very long.  And more importantly, the excitement is about to begin!!

Live Blogging from the Utah State Republican Convention

Note: My apologies to readers.  I have gone to Part 2 of live blogging at the Republican Convention, and I FORGOT TO TELL YOU.  Sorry!!  But Check it out by clicking here.  

Also, check out my after-convention wrap-up by clicking here.

It cost me 14.95 to report to you from the Salt Palace Convention Center, so I hope someone finds this interesting!  If you wanted to know what happens at a political convention, you've come to the right place. While you're at it--see if you can notice my bias.  ;-)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

How Glenn Beck is Like Lucifer

Glenn Beck at the chalkboard
Some liberals would probably find it highly satisfying to hear me say that Glenn Beck is just like Satan, but that's not what I'm going to say. We're all at least a little bit like Lucifer, to be right honest, because none of us are perfect. But Glenn Beck is a little more like Lucifer than most people would think. One of Satan's greatest ploys is to mix truth with falsehood. Glenn Beck uses this tactic on a regular basis.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Are You An Authoritarian? Take the Survey

A tip of the hat to Cliff Lyon at OneUtah.org, who put me onto a book called "The Authoritarians" by Bob Altemeyer.  Am I an authoritarian? I took the quiz on the book's pages 11 and 12.  I hope you'll take the survey, too.  See below how I answered the questions, along with my reasons for my answers.

Utah and the Irony of "One Person, One Vote"

United States Supreme Court
The United States Congress still abides only partially by the concept of "one person, one vote".  While the House of Representatives is apportioned according to population, every state, regardless of population, has two United States Senators.  It makes no sense to me, then, that the Supreme Court would have let this "disparity" stand while striking down similar disparities in several States in the 1960's.