Browsing the blog archives for August, 2017.

Racism & Liberty

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I have to hand it to the those on the left. They have succeeded in avoiding serious discussions about issues like health care, taxes, and the ecology by demonizing President Trump. Their latest attempt brands Trump as a racist for a less than perfect response to the Charlottesville tragedy. I’m not here to parse his words, but to provide some context to their argument.

First, the race card is nothing new. It’s not just a strategic part of the left’s playbook, but a philosophical one. They believe that all conservatives—and they include libertarians like me and populists like the President—are racist by default. They don’t call Trump a racist because of his response to Charlottesville. He was already deemed a racist because of his political views. Just read the playbook, Paul Krugman’s Conscience of a Liberal. Trump supporters must be ignorant or evil simply because opposition to the left’s agenda can have no intellectual basis.

Second, the President’s thesis that there are bad people on both political sides is undeniably true. As in all elections, there were despicable individuals and groups who claim to support every candidate. I’ve lost track of the number of leftist agitators I’ve seen “protesting” during the past year. The perpetrator in the Portland train stabbing earlier this year was an avid Bernie Sanders supporter, but it’s not his fault. The notion that President Trump “inspired” neo-Nazis in Virginia is a real stretch.

Third, there’s nothing “right wing” about white supremacy or neo-Nazi politics. This tag is tossed around freely to incriminate Republicans and conservatives, some of whom are apologizing profusely about Charlottesville as if they had something to do with it. Just read Paul Ryan’s response. Apparently, few commentators know that “Nazi” is short for the National Socialist German Workers Party. If anything, Nazis should be categorized as hard left, but I don’t think guilt by association is appropriate in either direction.

Finally, leftists are always telling us “it’s time we have a real conversation about ______.” But as I noted, anyone who disagrees with leftist orthodoxy is branded as either a bad person or ignorant. It’s hard to have a real dialogue if this is your starting point.

It should go without saying that I am speaking about the leadership of the political left, not all liberals, democrats, or progressives. While I strongly believe their ideology is misguided, many who identify themselves as such are nice people capable of reasonable dialogue. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with their leaders in Washington.

If Trump is anything like me, he gets tired of having to preface every statement with obvious disclaimers about white supremacy, racism, neo-Nazis, or the like, lest he be accused of supporting their views. Despite CNN claims to the contrary, very few Americans—including those of us in the South—hold these views. Our country could benefit from some real conversations, but if you aren’t willing to grant some intellectual merit and a little grace to the other side, you can’t have one. This is why our society is so polarized.

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Don’t just cut taxes!

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I recently addressed the idea that Republicans should scale down their tax reform ideas and just push through a tax cut. This idea is gaining steam following frustration with the Obamacare repeal debacle, but it’s fraught with two major problems.

I’ve already discussed the first problem. We must get rid of the cronyism embedded in the tax code—or at least a big chunk of it—and just cutting rates will keep everything intact. This is why the corporate cronies are pushing the idea of kicking the tax reform can down the road. They benefit from the current system at taxpayer expense and they don’t want reform anyway.

Real reform and tax simplification means cutting social engineering from the tax code. Social engineering uses tax funds to promote or discourage certain types of business activity. The winners from the current system don’t want it to change. They usually claim to favor tax reform and simplification while adding a quick “but” that exempts them from the actual change.

The second problem is a political one. Individual tax cuts almost always favor lower- and middle-income brackets for political reasons; politicians don’t want to defend “tax breaks for the rich.” Likewise, tax hikes usually hit middle- and upper-income earners for the same reason. Over time, tax cuts and increases shift the tax burden disproportionately to middle and high earners. This has already happened, which is why about half of wage earners don’t even pay federal taxes and they don’t understand why their healthcare can’t be financed by those who do. The tax cut tax/hike cycle must be broken, and this requires a radically simple system, something close to a flat tax.

For these reasons, I implore real conservatives and libertarians to stand their ground and insist on real tax reform. Short cuts just won’t do.

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