The Great Fiction

“The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

“But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

“Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.” ― Frédéric Bastiat

“In general the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to the other.” ― Voltaire

“If government assumes the job of taking care of us, then Congress can control just about every aspect of our lives.” ― Walter Williams

“Theft is when a person’s property is taken from him — through stealth, force, intimidation, threats or coercion — and given to another to whom it does not belong. If a person took your property — even to help another person who is in need — it would be called theft. Suppose three people agreed to that taking. Would it be deemed theft? What if 100,000 or several hundred million people agreed to do so? Would that be deemed theft? Another way to ask these questions is: Does a consensus establish morality?” ― Walter Williams

“In fiscal 2015, total government spending — federal, state and local — was about $6.41 trillion. That’s about 36 percent of our gross domestic product. The federal government spent $3.69 trillion. At least two-thirds of that spending can be described as government’s taking the property of one American and giving it to another. That’s our moral tragedy: We’ve become a nation of people endeavoring to live at the expense of others — in a word, a nation of thieves.” ― Walter Williams

These various quotes ranging from 1764 through last year pretty much sums up our position in the United States. As a people we have come to believe we are entitled. We are entitled to a certain standard of living and we are entitled to other people’s property to enable that standard of living, as long as we can get a majority of voters to agree with us that it is morally acceptable to take that property for ourselves.

“I will take from someone else to make it right for you!”

A powerful message. It is a message that we were taught to reject in kindergarten, but when government does it then we mostly line up behind the idea of theft. It must be okay if a majority of voters approve it, right? Is that not the rationalization put into play here?

What politicians are loathe to tell you is that under their proposals most of the theft will come from the middle class and poor and flow into the hands of those at the top. Our fiat currency includes fiat credit and fiat credit means the endless financialization of fiat credit which means that the overwhelming amount of wealth generated from their proposals will end up in the hands of the very wealthy.

“I will make the rich much richer and destroy the middle class!” is not quite as powerful an election message – though that is the end result of the policies of the last twenty-five years.

The reality is that this system will continue until the credit dries up. How, when and where the event which causes that to occur will happen I do not know. Anything which cannot continue forever must of necessity cease at some point – and we are assured that basing an economy on endless fiat credit is something which most certainly cannot continue forever.

Generating fiat credit where the profits go to the few, the debt to the many and passing it off as ‘compassion’, ‘justice’ and ‘fairness’ has a limited life span.

The day that event occurs all of the prior political promises become irrelevant. The agendas, the platforms, the promises – gone with the wind. They will all be replaced with a single dramatic problem that I am quite sure none of these politicians have a clue how to solve.

Let me leave you with a final quote:

“An adult president is going to have to tell the American people that a mandated equality-of-result economy is fossilized, entitlements are insolvent, the debt is unsustainable, interest rates are going up, the medical system is pure chaos, and people have to get over expecting to live off government, not because it is unethical, but because it is untenable.” ― Victor Davis Hanson

Choose wisely, that day is approaching when the great fiction is exposed.

Yes, Virginia, There Is Such A Thing As Constitutional Executive Orders

The Washington insider publication The Hill recently ran a breathless piece proclaiming that President Trump is “using executive orders at an unprecedented pace” and in a “whirlwind” he has unleashed “a rash of executive orders.” This focus on quantity, rather than quality, or more precisely, substantive nature, misses a key Constitutional point: There is nothing per se wrong or problematic with executive orders. It depends on who is being ordered to do what.
 
The president has authority to issue orders to the executive branch within the law. The key issue is whether the order directs the priorities or operations of the executive branch regarding how it enforces existing law. That is entirely proper. What is improper, indeed, unconstitutional, is if the order alters the rights or obligations of citizens in a way not provided by law, in other words, if the president effectively legislates by order.
 
It appears that at least one of Trump’s orders has crossed that line on an issue in which President Obama also abused his authority. Both presidents issued orders that altered the operation and effect of the Affordable Care Act in a way that conflicts with the plain language of the statute (at least that’s how Trump’s order was reported). The question isn’t whether the changes are sensible, or better than the existing statute. It is whether the order attempts to change statute. That is not a proper executive power.
 
Some observers note that Obama did not issue a particularly large number of orders compared to his predecessors. This again misses the point. By the content of his orders, the president often tried to alter the law of the land. A report by the Heritage Foundation cites numerous examples: As noted, he effectively amended Obamacare several times. He waived corporate reporting requirements to prevent bad economic news from coming out during the 2012 election season. He acted to unilaterally raise the minimum wage of employees of federal contractors. He upended immigration law and tried to grant legal work status to immigrants barred by law. He exempted school districts from some of the requirements of No Child Left Behind if they would adopt the administration’s preferred policies, such as Common Core.
 
In contrast, virtually all of Trump’s executive orders pertain to matters already within the authority of executive agencies or to reversing prior executive orders by Obama. For example, he directed the Education Department to review Obama era rules and regulations over K-12 Education. He directed the Department of Commerce to study the factors contributing to America’s trade deficit with certain nations. Trump is acting to remove barriers Obama erected to arctic drilling. He directed the Interior Department to study the Obama administrations methodology in using the Antiquities Act to seize millions of acres of undeveloped land without action by Congress.
 
None of those orders purport to change governing law (except in the case of removing improper “law” that Obama previously imposed). They are all proper exercises of directing the executive branch.
 

There’s another reason Trump might lean heavily on executive orders. Following eight years of Obama and decades of unchecked growth, overreach, and power grabs, the federal bureaucracy is a hard beast to tame. It is notoriously aggressive, unaccountable, and hostile to the intentions of Trump or any president that would attempt to rein it in. Issuing orders regarding specific reforms highlights the issues, gives purpose and presidential approval to cabinet secretaries implementing the policy, and may add to grounds to dismiss resistant bureaucrats for insubordination.

Given the stakes and the magnitude of the task, it is likely the stream of orders will continue. And if properly directed, that is a good thing. People who equate executive order with abuse of power are misunderstanding.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It Is Absurd

Just this morning this was posted by a newspaper publisher friend whom I personally like – though we may disagree on a wide range of issues:

“It is our solemn responsibility to show that government can have both a head and a heart; that it can be both progressive and solvent; and that it can serve the people without becoming their master.”

I appreciate the sentiment expressed. As much as I appreciate the sentiment and wish it was true or could be true – I do not believe it to be true and I do not believe that there are a set of circumstances under which it could become true.

The foundational cause for why this is not true and can never be true – human nature.

We have given those in government great power – and year over year for many decades the power we have given to government has grown and grown. Here is the caveat on what I am about to say: not everyone in government is a bad person or corrupt or a psychopath. However not everyone, or even most, or even more than a few need to be for the entire enterprise to go bad and here is why: it is not human nature to wake up in the morning and think, “What can I do today to make my life as difficult as possible so that the life of everyone else will become easier?”

Those with great power inevitably make decisions that will make their life and job easier. That is human nature – by and large we are not even conscious that this is what we are doing. We are egocentric beings. People who wake up in the morning and think, “What can I do today to make the life if everyone else easier and mine more difficult?” are exceedingly rare and to assume that these rare people are the same people who populate legislatures and councils and bureaucracies is incorrect.

In a free market the check and balance on this behavior is that if you make your customers life more difficult they will take their business elsewhere. Government demands a monopoly and government has no hesitation in using force if you attempt to evade this monopoly – hence you cannot ‘take your business elsewhere.’ Example A: the DMV and the consequences of driving without a drivers license or without your car being registered. No matter how difficult they may make your life and no matter how illogical or arbitrary or unyielding their decisions are – you have little choice but to comply.

This is the essence of the argument for small government and for government with the least amount of power over your life. The essence of the argument for small government is not Auschwitz but it is the DMV. The essence of the argument is tens of thousands of government entities passing millions of laws and tens of millions of regulations – of which no person can possibly keep track or keep up with. The argument for small government is a 72,000 page Federal tax code. The argument for small government is that this country has 92,000 gun laws when totaled up at all government levels.

The argument for larger government is in attempting to make the compelling case that a tax code which is 72,001 pages rather than 72,000 pages will enhance your life. The argument for larger government is in attempting to make the compelling case that you are safer with 92,001 gun laws than you were with 92,000 gun laws. Go ahead – try and make that compelling argument. I am betting that you cannot.
It is absurd. There is simply no other word which applies. It is not that people in government are all bad people or corrupt or psychopaths – though there is no shortage of that in government – but it is a matter of giving great power to people when the natural tendency of human beings is to make their own lives easier with the power they possess. The government path to making the life of those in government easier is to pass a law, create a regulation, tax, spend, borrow.
As much as we maybe sympathetic with the sentiment expressed in the newspaper publishers post – we had better start dealing with what is true and what can be true rather than the fantasies which appeal to what we wish was true but can never be.

Elizabeth Warren Blows the Whistle on Obama, Sort Of.

Heh. Faucahontas Warren has concerns about Wall Street Barack. Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she’s concerned about former president Barack Obama raking in a $400,000 fee for an upcoming speech at a Wall Street Conference:

“I was troubled by that,” the Massachusetts Democrat said Thursday on SiriusXM’s “Alter Family Politics.” “One of the things I talk about in the book (“This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class”) is the influence of money. I describe it as a snake that slithers through Washington and that it shows up in so many different ways here in Washington.”

While it’s reasonable to wonder what Obama delivers that justifies his lavish payday,  there are several odd things about Warren’s outburst of scruples. First, it’s a private organization and Barack Obama is now a private citizen. He does not wield the levers of government, oversee  lucrative public contracts, or steer large government grants.

Second, where was the good senator’s Wall Street phobia when the president peopled the highest ranks of his administration with bankers from the empire? When he refused for two terms to prosecute a single scoundrel with dirty hands in the 2008 financial crisis? Was she sounding the alarm about the potential for money influencing the president then, when he was the most powerful man on earth?

For that matter, how was the “troubled” senator able to rouse herself to be Hillary Clinton’s biggest champion and surrogate during the 2016 campaign? Hillary gave $2 and $3,00,000 speeches to rich and powerful interests with regularity. And this at a time she was expected to be the next president of the United States. Clearly there was a lot more for potential sale in her tawdry transactions than there is now in the former president’s portfolio.

And lastly, while Warren fashions herself, with enthusiastic media complicity, as the scourge of the wealthy and the champion of the little guy, the facts are pungent with a different aroma. Warren is no stranger to the perks of privilege and ways to work the system. The fair haired Oklahoman’s career has benefited greatly from her undocumented claim of Indian heritage. She made a small fortune in distressed real estate, employing the buy-low-sell-high tactics that any good operator would, but that seem to gratingly clash with her pronouncements against profiteering and taking advantage of the poor and vulnerable.

Most recently she used creative accounting to avoid disclosing a $1.3 million line of credit on her $2 million Cambridge home. Rhetoric aside, Warren is no slacker in the ways of the shyster. Watching so many rich operator politicians criticize rich operator business people in a play for the support and votes of working Americans, one can’t help but think it’s all a cynical charade. Maybe that’s why they’re losing their audience to Trump and they’re in a panic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two Statements From Trump On Korea

Two statements on South and North Korea from Donald Trump in a single evening:

“It’s a horrible deal. It was a Hillary Clinton disaster, a deal that should’ve never been made. It’s a one-way street. We’ve told them that we’ll either terminate or negotiate. We may terminate. I will do that unless we make a fair deal. We’re getting destroyed in Korea.”

“There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely. We’d love to solve things diplomatically but it’s very difficult,” followed by a reference to Kim Jong Un, “He’s 27 years old. His father dies, took over a regime. So say what you want but that is not easy, especially at that age. I’m not giving him credit or not giving him credit, I’m just saying that’s a very hard thing to do. As to whether or not he’s rational, I have no opinion on it. I hope he’s rational.”

Make of these what you will but this is not your fathers Oldsmobile.

Dems In Congress Will Support A Shutdown Over Healthcare Reform

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the Democrat whip, has allegedly sent an email to his caucus stating “If Republicans announce their intention to bring their harmful TrumpCare bill to the House Floor tomorrow or Saturday, I will oppose a one-week Continuing Resolution and will advise House Democrats to oppose it as well. Republicans continue to struggle to find the votes to pass a bill that will kick 24 million Americans off their health coverage, allow discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, and impose an age tax on older Americans. That’s why they are trying to jam it through the House before their Members can hear from the American people this weekend about their opposition to this horrible legislation. If Republicans pursue this partisan path of forcing Americans to pay more for less and destabilizing our county’s health care system — without even knowing how much their bill will cost — Republicans should be prepared to pass a one-week Continuing Resolution on their own.”

It is unlikely the GOP could gather the votes to pass a one week continuing resolution without Democrat participation – consequently the threat here is essentially that if the reform of Obamacare is voted on prior to the continuing resolution to fund the government the Democrats will oppose it. The assumption is that we should then enter into yet another government shutdown.
Donald Trump responded via Twitter; “As families prepare for summer vacations in our National Parks – Democrats threaten to close them and shut down the government. Terrible!”
This will be a put-up-or-shut-up moment for the GOP and will test the political skills of Donald Trump. With a series of continuing resolutions the Democrats will be in a position to threaten this each and every time legislation is presented which they oppose – tax reform, immigration, so on and so forth. It will be endless if not successfully dealt with this week.