The Daily Switch

Archive for February, 2009

Introduction to Conservatism

Posted by maker on February 27, 2009

This is maker’s contribution to our friends at TruPolitics for their Conservatism vs. Liberalism debate.

“I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending to small a degree of it.”
-Thomas Jefferson

sons-liberty

As a young man, I remember listening to my father as he spoke of the world, man, and how things worked, with a fascinated reverence for this thing called Conservatism. Awe would tighten his voice as he told of the seamless way that this ideology worked with and through the strengths and weaknesses of man.  What my dad grasped, and passed on to me, is that conservatism is the only line of thinking that allows for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is the only way for us to connect with and uphold that which the Founders had in mind. Conservatism is a deep breath. It is a pause to consider what we can glean from history and how best to apply these lessons to the situations and dilemmas facing us today. Where liberalism demands action, and action now, conservatism prescribes a tempered consideration of the past, present and the potential futures, before acting. Take, for example, our current administration and their saber rattling reaction to the mere mention of deliberation or debate, on a ‘stimulus’ package deemed by some of its most ardent supporters as only 70% likely to succeed, at best.
 

Liberty is at the core of conservatism. A love and defense of liberty fuels the entire philosophy. You won’t hear liberals speak of liberty very often, and for good reason. Liberty sits in direct opposition to the policies of the left. For the ideals of liberalism to be implemented, the people must willingly or unwittingly surrender an increasingly large portion of their liberty. As a matter of fact, the overwhelming majority of liberal ‘accomplishments’ are demonstrable attacks on liberty in the name of growing a ‘benevolent’ government. You see, from the left’s vantage point you don’t and can’t know what is best for your life, so you need the government to intervene on your behalf. Conservatism says that government can never know the best interests of its citizenry, or provide for them, nearly as well as an unencumbered free people can themselves.

The fundamental differences between liberalism and conservatism pertain to the preferred size of government. Liberals: the bigger the better. Conservatives: less is more. These views have a direct causal relationship with the amount of liberty the citizens are afforded. Conservatism recognizes and encourages the goodness that man can achieve without placing faith in the mythical idea of man being inherently good. Where liberalism seeks to control and stifle people for their own good, conservatism seeks to set free and embolden people to pursue their best interests autonomously.

Conservatism looks to free market capitalism as the only historically viable economic environment for freedom, while liberalism stubbornly places its faith in systems proved fatally flawed by history. Conservatism seeks in all things to preserve the framers intent for this country to limit the size and scope of government while ensuring the freedom of the common man. The Constitution was developed to this end, and has shaped our nation into the greatest the world has ever known. Conservatism views this greatness as something to be preserved and defended against the eroding effect of liberalism’s continual creep towards socialism.

Practically, what better time than now to look at the issue of taxes? Conservatism and liberalism line up reliably as supportive of lower taxes and higher taxes, respectively. More and more, liberals are admitting that their desire to tax the wealthy is less focused on government revenue than it is on ‘fairness’ or ‘leveling the playing field.’ Conservatives advocate lowering taxes across the board, and especially encouraging small and large business growth through lowered corporate tax rates. Liberals want to exponentially raise taxes on the top two tax brackets in an attempt to, as President Obama famously said, “spread the wealth around.” But, as Dr. Adrian Rogers said, “You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom… [y]ou cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.” The inconvenient truth here is that, historically, government revenues increase as tax rates decrease and decrease as they increase. If you continue to raise taxes on these individuals, you discourage growth, job creation, and investment. If you cut corporate tax rates, you create an environment of productivity for a flourish of businesses that provide the jobs and products that Americans depend on. In this way conservatism embraces logic, the laws of economics, and liberty in a free market society.

There are countless ways that conservatism opposes the ill-formed and damaging ideas of the left and seeks to preserve what is right and good; that which we value most, by proposing time-tested solutions that honor the laws of nature and man. Conservatism perseveres despite the disadvantages of a Republican Party that has become more betrayer than advocate, a seemingly endless barrage of mischaracterizations by a hostile press, and an increasingly entitlement-friendly society. The place in a person that takes pride in hard work, relishes freedom and demands equal justice under the law is, on some level, inexorably drawn to conservatism.

Consider Jefferson’s notion above. This is the choice between left and right, liberal and conservative, tyranny and liberty.

Posted in Capitalism, Conservatism, Culture, Economics, Liberalism, Liberty, Politics, Socialism | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Remembering William F. Buckley Jr.

Posted by Ender on February 27, 2009

One year ago William F. Buckley Jr. passed away. For those of you who don’t know who Buckley was this post should give you a glimpse.

Buckley and Reagan

Buckley and Reagan

George Will said, “before there was Ronald Reagan there was Barry Goldwater, before there was Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review there was William F. Buckley.” Anyone who ascribes themselves to be conservative in anyway owes a debt of gratitude to Buckley. If not for him America could look like France right now. Buckley is credited for starting the conservative movement. He formed the alliance between social conservatives, fiscal conservatives and foreign policy conservatives and used the alliance to fight the threat of liberalism in America.

He started the bi-weekly magazine called National Review. In it’s first issue he wrote this:

“It is not that, of course; if NATIONAL REVIEW is superfluous, it is so for very different reasons: It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it.”

“It stands athwart to history, yelling Stop” are famous words and are still used today in conservative circles to embody the movement.

He was a wordsmith and a great debater. He would take on anyone, anywhere. He loved to take on critics:

“Mr. Buckley,” one non-fan wrote in 1967, “you are the mouthpiece of that evil rabble that depends on fraud, perjury, dirty tricks, anything at all that suits their purposes. I would trust a snake before I would trust you or anybody you support.”

Responded Buckley: “What would you do if I supported the snake?”

He was a fighter:

Clip

He had unshakable faith:

PLAYBOY: Don’t most dogmas, theological as well as ideological, crumble sooner or later?

BUCKLEY: Most, but not all.

PLAYBOY: How can you be so sure?

BUCKLEY: I know that my Redeemer liveth.

I encourage you to follow this link to National Review to read some of his articles and learn about his life.

Both authors of this site credit him for being one of the most influential people in their ideas and philosophies. We are truly standing on his shoulders when we defend the noble idea of Conservatism.

Posted in Conservatism, Culture, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Disillusioned, Hopeful or In Between?

Posted by maker on February 26, 2009

After the artful speech of President Barack Obama last night, I was feeling a bit lost. He hit the notes he needed to and was surprisingly candid about his socialist bent at the same time. He lied a little, inspired a little, needled a bit and smoothly caressed ovation after Pelosi-taxing ovation from the more than half rapt crowd. But what did he say to you?

I heard claim after claim in need of a strong response. His laughable assertions of the clean nature of the ‘stimulus’ bill, his egregious misrepresentations of health care data, his wholly unbelievable claim of ‘not’ being ‘for big government’ (see aforementioned ‘stimulus’ bill), and his continued sloughing off of responsibility under the guise of ‘inheritance’ rhetoric all made me angry. I was also somewhat pumped for the smorgasbord of material a representative of the opposition could now pick apart for the American people’s benefit. I looked forward to the moment when all of us would get a glimpse of the republican party’s future, Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal.

I recently watched Jindal in a Meet the Press appearance. He comported himself with grace, tenacity and a knowledgeable grounding in conservative principles. He responded calmly yet with determination to a host so openly biased that Jindal was interrupted on nearly every answer to be contradicted or challenged with disbelief or smirking contempt. Overall, I was impressed with his showing. When I later learned that he would be delivering the republican response to the president’s speech, I was thrilled.

Then Jindal spoke. For those who haven’t seen it, proceed with caution.

 

 

 For those of you who enjoy the wildly funny (and equally liberal) Tina Fey/Alec Baldwin vehicle, 30 Rock, the comparison of Jindal’s performance to the character Kenneth will not seem far fetched. If the governor of Louisiana has not fired everyone involved in his preparation yet, they have worked for him for at least two days too long. His presence and lilting voice did nothing to inspire the image of a man ready to lead the country in 4 or even 8 years. The words of the speech were not terrible, but who heard them? After the command of Obama’s performance, Jindal’s speech emphasized the state of the republican party instead of revitalizing or refreshing it. Not only was this a squandered opportunity personally for Jindal, it left the republican party very much without a leader of the future.

With the door all but closed on Bobby Jindal, we ask, who, now, shall fill the void? Will it be South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford? Minnesota Governor, Tim Pawlenty? Will we find RNC Chairman, Michael Steele being groomed for the presidency? We know that Sarah Palin will be in the discussion, along with Mitt Romney and unfortunately Mike Huckabee. But who else is there? Surely there must be someone rooted in conservatism and committed to principles. Mustn’t there?

We are in desparate shape as a party in the midst of desparate times. Desparate enough for a return to conservatism? Consider me in between.

Posted in Culture, Obama, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Fact Check Please

Posted by Ender on February 25, 2009

Last night President Obama said this in his speech:

This is a cost [Health Care]  that now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, one million more Americans have lost their health insurance. It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it’s one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget.

Michael Tanner at the Cato Institute said this last night:

Those figures on health care bankruptcies have long since been discredited. In 2007, the last year data was available, there were just over 822,000 non-business bankruptcies nationwide. But according to a study by Dr. Ning Zhu at UC-Davis, only 5 percent of them were caused by medical bills. That’s only 41,000 medical bankruptcies, a far cry from the more than 1 million Obama implies. In fact, seniors who qualify for Medicare (universal health coverage) are 125 percent more likely to go bankrupt than people under age 65.

Obama’s statement was not an accident. He or is speech writer delibrately chose each word in that paragraph to achieve a certain effect. It is just another example of him fear mongering in order to reach his political means. He wants the government to take over health care. It’s that simple. He wants us to believe no matter what the facts are that we just can’t afford to let private companies run health care.

I hate that politicians get away with this type of lie on a daily basis. Millions more watched the speech than will ever read Tanner’s analysis or any simaliar analysis. Who would even realize his lie unless you are actively following alternative media sources?

I think that politicians including the President should have to answer for these “mistakes.” Maybe there should be a sportslike press conference following speeches. No long term policy or off topic questions allowed. Only questions pertaining to the accuracy of the speech.

In football it looks like this:
Reporter: Coach Reid why did you waste 45 seconds figuring out which McDonald’s  to eat at post game during your two minute drill?

Reid: Uh…Well…Uh…you see…

In politics it could look like this:

Reporter: You said that 1 million Americans go bankrupt because of medical costs, this has been proven false, why did you say that?

Obama: Uh…Well…Uh…you see…

Moral of the story: Get out there and tell someone…

 

 

Posted in Health care, Obama, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Educational Links

Posted by Ender on February 25, 2009

Learn how Hamas received $900M from our stimulus bill…

Learn how about Fannie and Freddie…

Learn about Ben Franklin, Beer and Poverty…

Learn about Oil for Food and why we shouldn’t give to the UN…

Learn about nationalizing banks…

Posted in Capitalism, Economics, Obama, Politics, Quick Links | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Hunger Insurance?

Posted by Ender on February 24, 2009

I read an interesting article awhile ago by Joseph Blast called What Hunger Insurance Could Teach Us About Health Insurance.  In the article, Blast discusses what would happen if your job started offering Hunger Insurance.  It might sound goofy to you but I think it is an easy way to teach an important lesson.

Blast describes the impact on Consumers, Providers, Insurers, the Uninsured and Elected Officials.

Consumers- So, what would you do if your company offered this?  You would start to eat the nicest, most expensive food you could find because it isn’t costing you hardly anything anymore.  Personally, I’d dine on steak and lobster for every meal.  “Some of us would stop checking prices before we ordered food, just as we don’t check prices when we ask for medical treatment.”

Steak and Lobster

Steak and Lobster

Providers- Two things would happen.  First, all grocery stores would start to only stock high priced, high quality foods.  If all stores had the same expensive food how would they attract customers?  They would start to upgrade their facilities even if it wasn’t necessary.  Then they would pass the cost along to the insurers.  Second, “What if you were a lousy grocery store manager who just couldn’t keep costs down and quality up? Before hunger insurance came along, you would be forced out of the market by stores managed by sharper people able to cut costs without sacrificing quality.”  If you are the bad businessman you get to pass along your inefficiencies to the insurer.  The price of food would skyrocket.  Does that remind you of anything else you know of?  (Hint:  Health Care Costs in real life)

Insurers- The initial premiums charged to businesses would be very inaccurate given that they were calculated on historical eating habits.  Business would not respond well to the eventual increase in premiums and look for ways to lower costs.  The insurance companies would start deciding what is (and isn’t) necessary for its consumers.  Is this sounding familiar?

The Uninsured- Would experience the rising prices, but not receive the benefit of insurance.  They would also see the cheaper products disappearing from the shelves because there is not as much demand for them anymore.

Elected Officials- Blast writes “What would happen to our elected officials if hunger insurance existed? Civil rights activists and well-meaning people without much understanding of economics would campaign against for-profit hunger insurers, denouncing them for being heartless in their discrimination against people with eating disorders. They would condemn them for profiting from the provision of something so fundamental to human life as food. ‘Food is a right, not a privilege,’ they would say. ‘The high administrative costs of the hunger insurers are what is causing the problem. We should abolish private hunger insurance companies and replace them with a single provider of food.’”  That seems pretty far fetched, right?  What’s that you say?  You say that is what’s happening with Health Care?

Now, imagine all of the above scenarios, but change the fact the people were still paying something for the insurance in their paycheck to the government providing Universal Hunger Insurance.  Now, other people pay for you to eat.  It would get worse.

Blast goes into more detail on each of these scenarios in his article and offers a solution.  His solution goes hand in hand with the point I wanted to make: Personal Responsibility is an absolute necessity in Health Care and in Free Societies.  In Health Care, we can see the effects lack of personal responsibility has on it everywhere.  The Health Savings Account that Blast recommends is a great idea.  In order to drive cost down people need to take responsibility for their health.  In the current system this does not occur.  It is like renting a car: when you rent a car and buy the insurance you treat the car poorly because you won’t have to pay to maintain, clean or use further down the road.  Health insurance affects people the same way.  Why should I live healthier if my employer will foot the bill for expensive surgeries and treatments?  The HSA solution is a step in the right direction.  Blast suggests that we use it to wean people off of the insurance system.  This would help lower Health Care costs and more importantly drive people to live healthier lives.

Personal responsibility is essential to the survival of Free Societies.  If people do not take an active role in society we will end up in a tyranny.  Look at how easy it is to create a program that may sound good or right to people that has disastrous consequences down the line.  When people shirk personal responsibility by giving the government that same responsibility it diminishes their freedom.

Posted in Capitalism, Health care | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Courageous Bobby Jindal

Posted by Ender on February 21, 2009

Bobby Jindal

Bobby Jindal

Yesterday Bobby Jindal the governor of Louisiana officially declined at least some of his state’s portion of the stimulus bill.  Jindal did not want to burden La’s businesses with the additional taxes that would come with the money.  One of the portions he rejected was the $98 million that was to be used to enlarge the unemployment benefits to people who under current law would not receive them.  He rejected the money because it would be a huge burden on business in his state after the Federal money ran out.

“Increasing taxes on our Louisiana businesses is certainly not a way to stimulate our economy. It would be the exact wrong thing we could do to encourage further growth and job creation”

“Our state is facing a serious budget situation, and it would be irresponsible to enter into an expansion of benefits right now that would ultimately increase taxes on the very businesses we are working to support during these tough economic times”

Jindal is exactly right.  It takes a lot of courage to not take the government hand out.  It reminds me of the Coldplay lyric from the song “Fix You” it says “When you get what you want but not what you need.”  I think most State Governors are so eager to get what they want, which is the easy money.  They completely ignore that what they really need is fiscal discipline and fiscal responsibility.  They need to find a way to promote business growth, investment and job creation without burdening future generations for decades with irresponsible subsidies.

Jindal is one of three Governors who are looking to reject some of the Federal stimulus package.  The other two are Gov. Mark Sanford (SC) and Gov. Sarah Palin (AK).

These three deserve our support.  We need Governors who will lead their states with Free Market principles.  We need them to show the rest of the country that it works and it is the only way to recover.

Article 1

Article 2

Update 2/22/09 8:14AM:

Mississippi’s Haley Barbour is also rejecting portions of the stimulus.

A few Governors are critical of the move to reject some of the funds.  Two of them are Crist from Florida and Schwarzenegger.  Now, seeing what Schwarzenegger has done to destroy the economy of California, do you think anyone should follow his advice on economic matters?  I didn’t think so.

Bobby Jindal will be debating his actions on Meet the Press this morning with Charlie Crist.

Stay tuned I will have a debate recap up sometime in the next two days.

Update 2/22/09 9:17pm:

Well, it turns out they weren’t really debating, which made it a whole lot less exciting. Jindal fielded several questions from the host.

I think he presented the conservative case well. Highlight of the interview was when Gregory tried to trap him with a La. senator’s (?) statement that the unemployment tax would be temporary. Jindal replied with something like “if you had read the portion of the bill that covered the unemployment tax you would have seen that the tax was listed as ‘permanent.'” Not temporary as the senator implied.

Posted in Capitalism, Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Venezuela’s Road to Serfdom Part 1

Posted by Ender on February 20, 2009

Hugo Chavez

Hugo Chavez

Recently in Venezuela, the dictator Hugo Chavez “won” the right to be elected to office indefinitely.  This was a severe blow to the opposition party in Venezuela.  However, this is just the latest example of, as F.A. Hayek called it, The Road to Serfdom.  In short, Hayek’s thesis was that central planning or what you may call socialism, fascism or collectivism always leads to tyranny.  We will cover if Venezuela is socialist, socialism’s effect on the economy and how this turned into a tyranny.

Is Venezuela Socialist?

The first place we will look is at Chavez’s own words.  During his so called “Bolivarian Revolution” of the last 10 years he has said “Those who voted “yes” today voted for socialism, for revolution”, Venezuela will be led to “21st-century socialism”,”Fatherland! Socialism or death, I swear it!”,”Destiny has been written. That new era has begun. We have shown that Venezuela is red! … No one should fear socialism. … Socialism is human. Socialism is love. Down with imperialism! We need a new world!” and he has also called Jesus “the greatest socialist in history.”  So it’s pretty safe to say that the President of Venezuela thinks his country is socialist.

But, quotes alone don’t make a country socialist.  The Heritage Foundation Economic Freedom Index, which is released annually, measure the the various levels of freedom in each country.  It takes into account Business Freedom, Trade Freedom, Fiscal Freedom, Gov’t Size, Monetary Freedom, Investment Freedom, Financial Freedom, Property Rights, Freedom from Corruption and Labor Freedom.  Venezuela ranked 178 out of 183 in overall Economic Freedom (39.9 total).  It was also in a four way tie for last place with Burma, Zimbabwe and North Korea in the measuring of Property Rights.  To give you a reference point the USA is ranked 6th and has a score of 80.7 and is near the top of the list in Property Rights (multi-way tie).  Since Chavez’s rule started in 1999 the Economic Freedom number has dropped from 56.1 to 39.9.  Socialized economies are always less free than their Capitalist counterparts.

Here are few more detailed examples of Venezuelan socialism.  In 1970, Venezuela nationalized the oil industry.  Chavez has nationalized the electrical and telecommunications industries.  “Price freezes on key consumables have driven hundreds of Venezuelan farmers out of business, and forced importation of foodstuffs — which are provided at heavily subsidized prices in the poorest districts. Queues as long as five hours often result, and after waiting, would-be buyers often find rice or sugar or chicken already sold out. Venezuela was once a major producer of beef cattle. No longer: Ranches have been confiscated by the government and overrun by opportunistic campesinos. Mismanagement has decimated the national cattle herd.”  (Thompson) Early in 2008, Chavez nationalized the largest steel maker.  Perhaps one of the more scary nationalizations occurring under Chavez was the the take over of the banks.  In 1848, Karl Marx wrote in The Communist Manifesto “The Proletariat will use its political supremacy, to wrest, by degrees, all capital from the bourgeoisie…Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.”  Price controls and nationalization of industries are right out of the socialist playbook.

The move towards socialism in Venezuela started prior to Chavez’s reign, however, his rhetoric and actions moved the country quickly towards a full scale socialist country.  In part two, we will look at how the move towards socialism has affected the economy.

Posted in Capitalism, Economics, Liberty, Socialism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Phantom Evil Oilman Price Gouger

Posted by Ender on February 18, 2009

If you have ever had a conversation with someone who has grievance issues you always hear about a guy I like to call Mr. Phantom Evil Oilman Price Gouger. You can call him Mr. PEOPG for short. Now according to Mr. or Mrs Grievance Mr. PEOPG is deliberately raising oil prices just to stick it to the middleclass working man. Apparently, Mr. PEOPG is so powerful he can raise and lower prices at will. He is so malicious that he waits until disasters or catastrophes to raise oil prices. A truly, horrible human being, if he can still be considered one, that is.

The latest round of criticisms hurled toward Mr. PEOPG have been caused by people hearing that oil prices have dropped, however, they see no requisite drop in gas prices. Now, before you go get your pitchforks, torches and lynching ropes let’s see if we can find a reason for this without hanging MR. PEOPG.

I was reading Stefan Karlsson’s blog and he posted a story that explains why the price of oil has gone down but the price of gas has stayed the same.

In short, the official price that you often hear about is actually a specific type of oil called “West Texas Intermediate” crude (or WTI). This is a higher grade than the oil that is used in your cars. Karlson’s explains “demand has fallen more in America than elsewhere, the WTI has fallen a lot more than other oil. Usually, the imported stuff has been cheaper which is why refineries have focused on them, but now unusually enough, the WTI is actually cheaper.”

So, the price of oil commonly reported in the media is not the same oil that you put in your tank. Thus, it causes a drop in crude oil price, but no drop at the tank. So, Mr. PEOPG it looks like you are off the hook yet again for your conspiracy to take all my money.

Posted in Capitalism, Economics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Random Thoughts and Links

Posted by Ender on February 17, 2009

If Capitalism takes advantage of the poor, why do the poor flock to free market countries?

After watching the NBA All-Star Game and seeing the Obama video during halftime, I was left to wonder is he already campaigning for 2012?

If liberals care for the poor so much, why do they hate Wal-Mart which provides low cost goods to everyone?

Is it OK to be confused by a car that has two Obama bumper stickers and another that says “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism”?

Found a great video on the site Save Capitalism. The video is a lesson on inflation as perfromed by Duck Tales.

Apparently the word faith wasn’t too far off…liberalism: the religion.

National Review released a list of the top 25 conservative movies in the last 25 years.

Feel free to leave your additions or removals in the comments…

Posted in Economics, Liberalism, Obama, Quick Links | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »