Browsing the blog archives for June, 2013.

Justifying Government Intervention


On three different instances last week I heard progressives echo the same argument to justify government intervention. President Obama announced a plan to attack coal and halt global warming, Paul Krugman defended the Fed’s massive QE policy, and a litany of Democrats (and a few Republicans) cackled for the Senate’s immigration reform plan, all on the basis of a simple, ostensibly well-intended argument: We just can’t stand by and do nothing; we’ve go to do something.

This line of reasoning is both inherently flawed and intellectually dishonest. Of course, a proposal should be accepted or rejected on its own merits as compared to other proposals, one of which is taking no action at all. Besides, none of the progressives I just mentioned seem to feel the urge to “do something” about the bloated government spending, a $16 trillion debt, or a social security system headed for bankruptcy. Their “we’ve got to do something” argument is gentle tug at your emotions, designed to get you to bypass your urge to evaluate their proposal critically and instead applaud them as men and women of action willing to tackle the tough problems of the day. Don’t fall for it.

All three of the above examples have one thing in common: We’d  be better off is the government does nothing. The scant evidence for significant anthropogenic (man-induced) climate change does not warrant government action, Fed intervention in the economy creates a boom-and-bust cycle instead of allowing the economy to make its own adjustments, and an economy cannot support both open borders and a welfare state. I realize that the previous sentence might oversimplify all three of these issues. Nonetheless, my point is that government action–except what is required to protect individual liberty–usually creates more problems that it solves, if it solves any at all.

A do-nothing government should be the standard, and those arguing for government action should be required to demonstrate why a given proposal improves the status quo and why implementing it is better than undoing previous (failed) government intervention. This is a foreign concept to the so-called mainstream media whose anchors, reporters and pundits approach every issue from the standpoint of how government can and should solve a problem, not whether government can actually do so. Moreover, the Constitution is our friend, not our enemy. It was crafted to prohibit or limit government action that might be tempting and/or politically expedient, but not good for our nation in the long run. Unfortunately, many Americans neither understand the Constitution nor realize how a burgeoning federal government continues to compromise our liberty and standard of living.


GM vs Toyota


GM is recalling nearly 200,000 SUVs because the master power door and window module in the driver’s door can short out and catch fire. This is a serious recall. According to NHTSA documents, GM says owners should park the trucks outdoors until the module is repaired. See for details.

Rewind several years to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood’s incessant beatdown of Toyota during its 2009-2010 “unintended acceleration” recall, a fracas discussed extensively on this blog. Barraged by LaHood, select Congressional Democrats and the left-wing press, Toyota suffered significant market share losses for almost two years before an extensive NHTSA investigation finally concluded that driver error was the culprit for most of the reported incidents.

So why isn’t the government “protecting its citizens” and thrashing GM today like it did Toyota? Why isn’t this the lead story on CNN and in the New York Times? Where are the Congressional demands for televised hearings? The answer is inherently obvious. GM is a US-based, heavily unionized, part government-owned auto manufacturer. Toyota is not.

GM is accepting responsibility for this crisis and consumers should make their purchase decisions accordingly. It’s a travesty that Toyota wasn’t given the same opportunity to address an arguably less significant problem absent of government grandstanding and a media circus. The comparative silence is deafening, however, and represents another example of government cronies picking winners and losers.


Economic Liberty & The Republicans


I just returned from a conference dedicated to advancing education on liberty and capitalism. From a political perspective, one thing stood out in my mind. Most of the participants–economists, historians, philosophers, and executives–probably vote Republican by default, but very few (myself included) assertively identify with either of the major parties anymore. In fact, the overwhelming consensus from this diverse group is that many so-called conservative Republications have been complicit in the raging growth of government that plagues all of us, albeit not as rapidly as their Democrat coconspirators. While President Obama is not seen as any friend of the cause, for better or worse, the problem of rediscovering economic freedom and all it entails is seen as having little if anything to do with getting a Republican in the White House.

I am reminded of what President Reagan said when asked why he switched parties in 1962. “I didn’t leave the Democratic party. The party left me.” The Republican party of Ronald Reagan would probably be close enough in spirit to claim most of the conference participants I saw last week, but today’s Republican party is not. In fact, the words Democrat, Republican, and conservative were rarely uttered. Many conference participants identify themselves as Libertarians but talk about principles and policies, not political conquests. The reform they seek is not in one party versus another, but in the system and way of thinking that creates moochers, looters, and what is incorrectly labeled crony capitalism. They call for a return to principles light years away from modern Democrats, but seemingly out of reach for Republicans as well.

I am not under the illusion that the participants at this conference are representative of the voting public. It is apparent, however, that the Republican party is currently viewed by the strongest defenders of liberty as a lesser of evils. The mainstream media tells us that the Republicans cannot win the White House unless and until they compromise on certain issues in order to attract individuals from traditional Democrat voting blocs, which means raising taxes on the most productive Americans to (partially) fund the growing welfare state and supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants. I’m suggesting that the opposite is true.

The Republican party has lost many of the most strident supporters of individual and economic liberty. These individuals don’t agree on everything, but they find it difficult to support a party largely consisting of politicians who are unwilling to stick to core principles. Many in this group vote Republican on election day, while some vote third party (Libertarian or Constitution Party), and some even become single-issue voters and support Democrats, reasoning that there’s no serious difference between the two parties anyway. This group might lean Republican overall, but it should constitute the party’s strong, vibrant, and persuasive core. It doesn’t anymore.

Leaders like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz offer hope for a productive future, but the likes of Boehner, Graham, and McCain represent a massive collective turnoff to serious defenders of liberty. I suggest that Republican leaders remember this the next time its strategists discuss how to “broaden the base.”