The Silence of the Ducks

Lacking better things to do, we are now consumed with what should be a trivial matter–what some reality show celebrity said about gay people. But the hullabaloo over Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson is not trivial in one sense. The avalanche of deep concern with his remarks on homosexuality brings to light a disturbing trend in American culture–silencing that with which we disagree.

Let’s set a couple of things straight before we get started. First, I don’t watch Duck Dynasty. It is right behind building an model of the Eiffel Tower with toothpicks on my list of things to do. I do think it is brilliant from one perspective. Take a family whose males can grow nifty beards, produce a low-budget “reality” show, and make millions on merchandise. I LOVE capitalism, even when I think the customers are a bit daft.

Second, I have no idea what the man said and I do not intend to find out. The content of his interview is neither here nor there for me. In my view, people who get worked up about someone else’s sexual orientation need more hobbies. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why that is a matter of concern for anyone other than the person in question. Thus his remarks garner no more attention from me than any other of his opinions.

Quacking duck

Third, A&E can do any damn thing it pleases with any of its shows for any reason. As a friend of mine (Virginia Murr) posted this morning on Facebook, theirs is simply a calculation of which crowd is bigger, the ones who like quacking ducks or the ones who want to get their hands around their necks. I think they are kind of silly for suspending him, but I support their right to do so.

I also think that people who get worked up every time someone expresses a private opinion against homosexuality need to reevaluate their knee-jerk responses. Just as gay people are free to express their opinions, so are people who object to homosexuality. Bad ideas peppered with criticism and satire in the full light of day eventually dry up and blow away–as they should. Silencing those voices does nothing to cure the root problem, which is usually ignorance and hatefulness.

There are two ways to silence speech that annoys us. The first, which is often foolish but always acceptable, is to refuse to support the institutions that promote that speech. A&E “boycotters” are doing just that, and they are perfectly within their rights to do so. The second is to silence them by force. The most common method is also the most revolting–to shout them down. In the old days, that meant literally shouting them down in a public place. Now it can also mean a denial-of-service attack on computer servers. It reduces humans to animal status and is indefensible in a free society.

Another way to silence people by force is to pass laws prohibiting speech. It looks like we would have learned this lesson by now, but the First Amendment has a deep and profound purpose that we seem to have forgotten. When ideas are not allowed to be expressed, the force that prompted them is repressed. Pressure builds and the result is inevitably less constructive than hashing out the ideas freely. Often, it is violent.

Living in a free society virtually guarantees that each of us will hear things daily that we’d rather not hear. Some of those things may…wait for it…hurt our feelings. To wit, a blogger known as “Fit Mom” was temporarily suspended from Facebook* because at least one reader complained that her post constituted “hate speech.” I am frankly near-speechless that a blogger’s suggesting that obesity should not be normalized is considered by anyone to be hateful. And even if I did, it would not occur to me to try to silence the blogger. I might write a response or cover the subject in my own blog, but ask Facebook to take it down? Please.

It appears to me sometimes that we have raised a generation of people whose initial reaction to any offense is to silence the source by any means necessary. Jennifer Lawrence, whom I adored in Silver Linings Playbook, wants to outlaw calling people fat on TV. For the record, I do agree that being mean to people is wrong and that 98 lbs. is too skinny for anyone over three feet tall. But illegal? Really? Perhaps we can forgive Jennifer’s being 23 years old and not seeing the bigger picture, but not so for the people who have lived long enough to know better–like the ones who hate Fit Mom.

Get worked up about Phil Robertson or do the sensible thing and go back to what you were doing before. Don’t wring anybody’s neck, though. The next pair of hands may be around yours.

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*Facebook said that the “offending” post was taken down by mistake, though it did suspend Fit Mom’s account temporarily and did not put the post back.

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Dear Pope: Be Thankful for Capitalism

Readers: Terry is thankful to be back with you after a couple or three weeks hiatus. He was managing some family affairs and was unable to write regularly. Today he is back with material sure to offend and provoke. Enjoy!

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Pope Francis is no doubt thankful for a lot of things, but capitalism is not one of them. He recently admonished us per his Evangelii Gaudium to despise capitalism. In his view, economic inequality is the direct result of the “tyranny” of the free market (Chapter 2, Heading 1, no. 53-4).

53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

The Pope is wrong.*

Man on fire

Christianity has always had an ambivalent relationship with commerce. Jesus appears at times to have held the rich in contempt, telling us that it is easier for a rich man to fit through the eye of a needle than it is for a camel to get into heaven. Or something like that–it’s been a long time since I went to Sunday School. Yet he also shared the parable of the talents, wherein a servant is admonished for not putting the silver he was given to good use. The old widow giving her mite as an offering was said to please God more than the larger but disproportional gift of the rich, yet one has to wonder which gift fed more poor people.

We should not expect any different, of course. Parables from all religious traditions are guides that, when functioning as they should, prompt us to think more deeply about the human condition. They are not meant to give us easy answers to simple questions. Shallow interpretations that take such stories at face value do more harm than good, especially when they mask blatant contradictions. Yet this is precisely what the Pope has encouraged with his Evangelii Gaudium.

The servants who invested their silver acquired more land and were praised. The one who buried his talents was admonished. In some interpretations, the word “talents” is taken to mean abilities, skills, and knowledge. Is the Pope saying they should have simply given them to the poor? That their silver or their “talents” were ill-gotten gain? That inequality must be rectified right then and there by redistributing wealth?

That view is simple-minded and destructive. If we are to learn anything from the parable of the talents, it is that what we have may be turned into more–if it is invested. The stock market that Pope Francis decries is precisely that–a system whereby talents are multiplied. Wealth is turned into more wealth. Talents are turned into more talents.

Pope Francis also excoriates “trickle-down” economics. Clearly he does not understand what is meant by the term or he would praise those who amass capital and put it to good use. Wealth trickles down, but those who hide under the porch won’t get wet. Putting one’s talents to work, no matter how modest, is the first step in stepping up.

All people who hurt for the poor need to learn how to distinguish honest commerce from crony capitalism. When markets are truly free from governmental coercion, one may easily identify the people who have materially benefited their fellows the most. They are the wealthy ones. We know that because under genuine laissez-faire capitalism, it is the only way to get rich. Even those who inherit their talents of silver must continue to put them to good use or lose them.

Under our current system, there is ample reason to be steamed up about inequality, but not because of true capitalism. The cause of such inequality is the ability of those with political power to tilt the table in their favor–crony capitalism. Separate government and the economy and the problem disappears.

Or I should say the real problem disappears. Inequality will remain, and it’s a good thing, too. Thank heaven we are not all alike. Some of us are better at one thing, some another. Some people excel at making money, some at playing chess. Inequality is the inevitable result of each of us being free to do our best when some people’s best is less than other people’s best. Fortunately, enough people are good at creating jobs to employ those of us who are better at having jobs. Rather than beef about it, the employed should send their employers and those who invested in them a turkey every year.

Even those who have trouble putting their talents to work benefit from the vast array of cheaper and higher-quality goods that the capitalists make possible. The faux problem–that some have less than others–masks the fact that all are better off when some employ their talents to become really well off. And, contrary to what the Pope says, there is ample evidence to prove it. The living standard of humanity skyrocketed when capitalism saved humanity from the grinding poverty of the Middle Ages. How quickly we forget.

So, Pope Francis, while you are blessing things today and giving thanks, remember those who create what you so eagerly want others to have. They deserve your praise, not your invective.

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*Since I am not Catholic, I did not burst into flames upon typing that.

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Deceive and Destroy: Obamacare Unmasked

Color me shocked–again. Turns out that Obama knew millions would not be able to keep their health insurance. I was still recovering from the trauma of having to admit that the government might not be very good at such an undertaking. But to learn that someone actually lied about it? That’s just too much.

It is getting harder and harder to credit Democrats with any sort of good intentions regarding this fiasco. At one time, kindly souls might have labeled them misguided but well-meaning. Now, they are looking like vandals–those who destroy for the sake of destroying.

Critics of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) have known since its inception that it could not work. It is continually passed off as a way to manage insurance, but in fact it violates nearly every principle required of good insurance practice. Insurance works if and only if a company earns a profit for the service of spreading risk out among participants. Government regulations requiring things like covering those with pre-existing conditions necessarily raise the cost of providing insurance. Couple those with premium limits and it becomes possible for an insurance company to make money. In other words, to survive.

To give people what they want but cannot have under conditions of economic reality, the government must either subsidize premiums by taking money from taxpayers and giving it to those it deems needy or it must rig the game. Both are despicable, but the latter is especially troublesome.

Harking back to the passage of the ACA, we recall that it faced fierce opposition from Republicans, who cast not a single vote in its favor. Let us also recall that the Justice Department, later chastised for prosecutorial misconduct, had waylaid Republican Senator Ted Stevens’ re-election campaign with a corruption conviction that was later overturned. That vote, cast instead by a Democrat, was the last one needed for a filibuster-proof majority.

Four years later we find ourselves in the middle of a technical meltdown, most of which was hidden from the public for as long as possible. Language inserted into the ACA concerning private plans (you remember–those you were supposed to be able to keep) has caused boatloads* of the insured to be dropped. Those strapping young men and women who neither need nor want insurance at the level needed to make Obamacare work are not enrolling in numbers sufficient to subsidize those who do need it. And last, doctors are beginning to wonder if going off-grid (refusing to take insurance) makes sense. You’d almost think Obama and the Democrats want to destroy health care.

Yes, want to destroy health care.

Trust me

Copyright Last Kiss, Inc. 2009

I have been wrong, horribly wrong, about something. I thought for a long time that Democrats wanted to make Obamacare a stepping stone to a single-payer system because they thought it would work better. Some, like Harry Reid, even say that outright. Their plan, it seemed to me, was to exert more government control over the system and make it painful enough that people started clamoring for a more effective “solution.” Enter single-payer. I no longer believe that.

Such a plan would have the virtue of a goal. A misplaced one, to be sure, but a goal nonetheless. Democrats don’t have a goal with all this, I have decided. They are slobbering, red-eyed predators, set to destroy individual choice for the sake of destroying individual choice.

In one of the Terminator sequels, a young John Connor deflects the Terminator’s hand as he pulls the trigger on a pistol he has aimed at someone’s head. Connor shouts, “You were going to kill that guy! Why?” Schwarzenegger’s character answers, “I am a Terminator.” Like single-purpose cyborgs, Democrats are destructive monomaniacs. Now they have revealed their true nature.

The entire progressive/liberal agenda has come to this–a savage wrecking of all that is virtuous in a land of capable individuals trading freely. They did not know and did not care to find out whether Obamacare would “work.” They did not want to address that issue because it was irrelevant. They wanted Obamacare because it would remove one more element of private choice.

The difference between a regular murderer and a psychopath is purpose. The murderer may kill to release his/her rage or to take possession of something his victim has. The psychopath kills for the sake of killing. Normal people have trouble imagining the thought processes of a psychopath. They are beginning to have the same trouble with progressives, liberals, and the entire Democratic Party.

No fact is clear enough and no argument sound enough to dissuade these people from eliminating every vestige of individual economic freedom left in this country. As Obamacare crumbles around everyone’s feet, what will their response be? You can bet it won’t be a rethinking of their collectivist premise–that more government is better government.

It is one thing to promote bad policy. It is another to wish to destroy for the sake of destroying. Obama lied, knowing perfectly well that the ACA would destroy private health insurance. Democrats who still stand behind him are culpable in a relentless campaign of deceit and destruction. Where is the outrage? Have we slithered so far toward complacency that a President can lie, deny knowledge of critical activities in his administration, and skirt the Constitution with no fear of reprisal? When Richard Nixon crossed the line, Republicans eventually came around to realize that he had to go. Will Democrats do the same with Obama?

Untrustworthy politicians are not new, but Barack Obama and his minions have reached a threshold beyond which they must not go if we are to retain any semblance of liberty in this country. The President is no longer an advocate of plausible public policy. He is a threat to the very notion of democratic governance. May Democrats see Caesar for what he is and do something about him.**

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*Estimates range from the hundreds of thousands into the millions.

**Dear NSA Watchdogs: Minus the murder part.

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To the Lifeboats! Obamacare Is Sinking!

In a shocking revelation, the White House admitted this week that the technical rollout of the Affordable Care Act was “unacceptable.” Before that, it was subject to “glitches.” In other words, a scratch on the hull of the Titanic was finally admitted to be a dent. Yes, such glitches are unacceptable, clearly unacceptable.

Most mortals would at this point wonder if cruising through a field of icebergs was such a terrific idea. But not our starry-eyed Captain, Barack Obama. By God, he’ll get us where we’re going, if it kills every last one of us.

Unencumbered by doubt and immune to sensible correction by reality, the President has sailed us into territory that neither he nor anyone else knows how to navigate. Even Democrats, some of whom seem to be shaking off the effects of their infatuation with Obama, are beginning to look over the bow and see trouble ahead. Let’s see how we got here and ponder how we get out.

Lifeboats

First, liberals are dedicated to–actually defined by–the idea that there is something called the “public good.” A foggy and constantly drifting notion, this is supposed to be the guiding beacon of modern governance. As it turns out, the public good is whatever annoys liberals the least. So, off the list of things alleged to be good for us all are: things that are successful without governmental oversight, individuals who say what they please, and junk food.

We libertarians are dubious of such airy notions as the “public good,” favoring instead a reliance upon a much simpler and more digestible principle: that individuals are free to live as they see fit and enjoy the fruits of their labor as long as they afford others the same right. Whether the subject is health care or hair-braiding licenses, we ask first whether there is some compelling reason for government to intervene. “Compelling” for us is not synonymous with “lots of people want this.”

Liberals, however, are inoculated against such elegant arguments. For them, the world is an ocean of complexity, requiring a skilled captain to navigate for the good of all his/her passengers. This metaphor is largely to blame for our current woes. The Founders were clear that government was not to be “run” by someone or several someones, even if they comprise a majority. Power was divided among our three branches of government to keep both thugs and do-gooders from trampling on individual rights.

The current sinking of the health care ship is not due to inclement weather (those nasty Republicans) but to the mistake of setting sail in the first place. No president, congress, or court can direct the trillions of individual decisions that go into providing health care as well as a free market can. To be sure, one can attempt to steer something as complex as health care. Much like pushing a string, however, serious people don’t attempt it.

The doctor who prescribes medicine is at the end of an unfathomably long chain of events. None of the actors involved can possibly predict that Jane Doe will need a particular remedy at a particular time. The people who make steel do not know whether it will go into a scalpel or a scooter. The people who design computers do not know whether they will be used by nerds or nurses. Yet they provide the things that get used. How?

The answer is as simple as it is deep. When left to their own devices, people in large groups trade with one another to their mutual benefit. Health care is no exception. The poor can afford health care better within a free market for the same reason that they can own cell phones–producers competing freely and fiercely to deliver the best and the cheapest. What was a bulky and unsightly luxury a few years ago now enables even the poor to frivol away their time on Twitter.

When a liberal bemoans what the free market has done to health care, one should ask, “What free market?” For decades, government has tweaked markets, thinking that a regulation here and a tax there will make things just right. The result? An insurance industry chock-full of crony capitalists and a Medicare system that cannot last more than a few years.

So why is the Obamacare rollout so significant? Well, because all of America gets to see firsthand just how badly the government can screw something up. Instead of having to think a few years into the future, we can see the shipwreck right here, right now. Premiums are going up, servers are going down, and those insurance policies we were supposed to be able to keep are disappearing like rats from a doomed vessel.

I constantly hope that people will learn, and I am constantly disappointed that they don’t. Nonetheless, let’s see if we can plot a course out of these waters.

1) Let’s stop pretending that anyone is “owed” health care. No one is owed anything that is produced by the efforts of another. Liberals who stop insisting that they are will find that they have much more time to do some genuine good–like establishing voluntary health care cooperatives.

2) Get government out of the business of health care immediately. Repeal the ACA and begin the process of eliminating regulations having to do with how people treat, or seek treatment for, disease.

3) In order to ease the transition to a true free market for health care, establish unlimited tax deductions for medical savings accounts. Allow people to place as much money as they like into these accounts and to use them for the care of others if they choose, including voluntary health care cooperatives (see #1 above).

At one time, these three proposals would have been as unthinkable as abandoning a luxury liner for a small wooden boat. That was before the passengers came up to the deck and saw the icebergs for themselves. Let’s be gracious as we guide them to the lifeboats.

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The Tea Party Is Alive and Ill

Like most new ideas,* libertarianism must thrive in a hostile environment. The Tea Party, once the caretaker of the infant, has been infected by the very party that should have nurtured it to strength and health.

Originally, the Tea Party sprang from outrage that taxpayers were being forced to bail out banks, insurance companies, and auto manufacturers. For those afflicted with selective memory, this was during the Bush administration. So much for thinking the pot boils only for Obama.

Soon, after realizing that the outrage was shared by a wide swath of America, the Republican Party’s conservatives piled on the new bandwagon, bringing with them the social conservative flu. As noted by William Galston in today’s Wall Street Journal, this ain’t your libertarian’s Tea Party.

Although some tea-party supporters are libertarian, most are not. The Public Religion Research Institute found that fully 47% regard themselves as members of the Christian right, and 55% believe that America is a Christian nation today—not just in the past. On hot-button social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, tea partiers are aligned with social conservatives. Seventy-one percent of tea-party supporters regard themselves as conservatives.

In other words, the Tea Party now looks like a cranky old conservative after a makeover. How far we have slouched since this simple set of principles:

1) Lower taxes
2) Smaller government
3) Constitutionally-limited government

And how fresh that gust of fresh air coming from libertarians was. Most of them probably did not know yet they were libertarians. They just knew that something had gone seriously wrong with governance in this country and they had seen enough. Enough, that is, to start the most significant grassroots political movement in decades.

Medicine

And now, here we are, Democrats and Republicans at loggerheads with one another over mostly esoteric issues with nary a hint of the Tea Party’s original elegant message: There is too much government. Somehow, Republicans have managed to screw up the only thing they’ve had going for them in years, playing right into Democrats’ hands. Democrats who are of one mind, by the way–that more government is better, period.

The antidote to Democrats is the Tea Party, but not the one we have now. It was co-opted by social conservatives who (see above) cannot get it through their thick skulls that gays are never going back in the closet and some people do not worship the Christian god. No one, repeat no one is going to listen to to the Christian Right who is not already of that mindset. It’s defining inclination is to preach, and few of us like being preached at.

Reasonable people may, however, take heed of a calm but principled libertarian movement. Libertarians have much in common with liberals when it comes to social issues. We don’t care who you sleep with or how you worship. We don’t want to snoop on you or tell you what to eat. We also want people to be fed, clothed, and have access to health care. We just don’t think government is the best way to provide all that. Now that is the basis for a fruitful conversation.

As a friend of mine remarked recently, what we need is not a third major political party, but a second one–one that can take a principled stand against Democrats instead of running in circles and barking. Big government is a corrosive idea whose end has come. We may still have a choice about how to end it, but end it will, either in a painful turn away from the entitlement state or the deadly collapse of whole affair.

The Tea Party, before its unfortunate illness, was the voice of reason in a world gone mad with love for the state. Now its placard adorns the sleeves of goofy and hateful conservatives. They will squander any chance libertarians have of being respected and dealt with–at least those associated with the Tea Party.

Where does this leave us? Same place as usual. We are a country without a genuine alternative. Republicans are without principle and incapable of embarrassment. They are politically inept and of the same ilk as the roguish whores on the other side. They have infected the Tea Party and need strong medicine. Strychnine, maybe.

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*The principles of liberty are not new, but libertarianism’s emergence as a viable socio-political alternative is.

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You’re Rich, Now Shut Up

The Supreme Court just heard arguments concerning campaign contribution limits. At issue is the aggregate total that an individual may contribute to several candidates within a certain time period. Fortunately, questions from some Justices indicate that they may be ready to jettison this insult to free speech.

Most arguments about free speech since I have been aware of politics have centered on non-political speech. For example, commercial speech has (wrongly, I believe) long been considered a different category of speech, distinct from advocating for candidates or public policy. Though the Court has in many cases protected free speech even in cases involving economic transactions, there has remained a curious norm–that speech is only speech in certain contexts. Commercial speech does not count.

The other category of non-political speech is obscenity, which has a long and colorful history. Sexually-oriented material has variously been seen as harmful to adults and thus in the state’s interest to control, harmful to children, subject to zoning laws, etc. Again, except for the case of access by children,* I find the state’s interest in controlling access to any material dubious.

No matter what one’s opinion on the state’s interest in these two kinds of speech, though, one kind has always been considered a mainstay of our system of government–political speech. The Founders recognized that in order for a people to live in freedom, each person must have the right to speak his/her mind freely. Tyranny springs from a leader’s assurance that his/her actions cannot be criticized. This has not kept self-appointed monitors of propriety from trying to limit political speech. Campaign finance laws, for example, are based on the concern that money “corrupts” politics.

megaphone girl

Curiously, these laws assume that advocacy for public policies coming from the well-to-do are less worthy that those coming from the middle-class or the poor. Note the following exchange:

“By having these limits, you are promoting democratic participation,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said. “Then the little people will count some and you won’t have the super-affluent as the speakers that will control the elections.”

Justice Antonin Scalia responded, sarcastically, that he assumed “a law that only prohibits the speech of 2 percent of the country is O.K.”

Bingo.

Amazingly, some people are perfectly comfortable with the idea of limiting a particular point of view by limiting the political speech of the wealthy. Presumably, having people advocate for less governmental interference in economic activity is intrinsically bad.** Should this point of view appeal to you, try this one on. Arguably, the single biggest threat to the United States is an avalanche of entitlement obligations set to hit us within a few years. Might we not with equal plausibility argue that poor people should have their speech limited? After all, are they not more likely to advocate for economic policies that accelerate our demise? That reach into the pockets of honest, hard-working citizens?

“But they don’t have the money to do that!” one can imagine liberals protesting angrily. No, but there are lots more of them. Collectively, they can be every bit as much of a menace as the Koch brothers are purported to be. Speaking of liberals, why don’t we limit their speech? The same arguments apply.

Yes, money is influential in politics. No one argues otherwise. It is influential to the degree it is because as a nation we have come to tolerate the symbiotically corrupt collusion of business and government. We have also come to tolerate the whines of the shiftless as equivalent to the cries of the helpless. Money is not the issue–we are the issue.

Anyone who knows the sources of a politician’s overflowing campaign coffers and does not figure it into his/her vote is lazy, stupid, or both. A person who is genuinely concerned with “corruption” in the system should spend some time and energy educating people about the political process and how to make informed choices rather than attempting to silence views with which they disagree.

Only one rule need apply to campaign contributions, period. Disclosure. Let anyone raise as much money as he/she wishes and disclose within 48 hours the contributor and the amount. With the information available on the Internet, anyone can find a way to learn what organizations and what individuals fund which politicians. Further, let anyone say anything he/she wants anytime, right up to the election.

Attacks on our rights are always offered with the argument that it is in the interest of the [downtrodden, poor, minorities…fill in your favorite victim]. The real reason is considerably less noble. It is to silence people whose views annoy pompous do-gooders or the government. Speech that is allowed only when approved by others cannot be construed as genuinely free, no matter what fairy tale reasons are conjured up to justify it. Perhaps the Supreme Court will remember that come their ruling.

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*Or the near-unspeakable case of participation in pornography by children.

**Though, by the way, not all wealthy people think that way. To wit, George Soros.

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Who Shut Down the Government?

Terry missed his blog last week due to a family medical emergency. He is sorry that in so doing, he allowed the government to shut down. Terry promises to make everything right by issuing a really strong opinion today.

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Quick! Find the progressive nearest you and administer CPR. The government has shut down. Wait…hang on…everything’s OK? Belay that order. Stand down. We may just make it.

I find it amusing, in a sick kind of way, for Democrats to be melting down over the shutdown. It was they, after all, who rejected the last attempt by Republicans to reach a deal. In it were some provisions they could not live with: delaying the individual mandate for a year and killing healthcare subsidies for legislators and their staffs. As for the individual mandate, it makes perfect sense even in a Democrat’s logic, given that the employer mandate has already been delayed and the rollout is more like a logjam. Refusing to kill the self-serving subsidies is so cynical as to defy comprehension.

What Democrats seem to be unable to fathom is that a significant number of citizens actually do think less government is better. Enough, in fact, for them to have sent legislators to make sure that happens. It’s what we do in America, for those of you who have forgotten. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are aghast that many Republicans are no longer just pretending to be the party of limited government. Sputtering incoherent phrases about anarchy and the Tea Party, the both of them look like children hearing a firm parental “no” for the first time.

Screwed

Not that Republicans are a vision of integrity and principle. The real issue here is not Obamacare so much as the whole corrupt philosophy of governance that Democrats are so infected with. They have ceased to be a political party that can be taken seriously. No set of facts seems to penetrate their shell of assurance that no matter what the problem, government is the answer. Yet Republicans continue to wallow about in the mud with them over trivialities instead of attacking them on their absurd principles.

Republicans are also, shall we say, inelegant when it comes to political maneuvering. They risked becoming as popular as a fart at a garden party by going after the whole Obamacare law when they knew perfectly well that they could not kill it as a whole. They would have been better off focusing on ways to let Obamacare and the Democrats sink themselves from the start. Their last-minute resort to asking only for the most embarrassing concessions from Democrats was late–maybe too late.

Obamacare should never have been passed, and a growing number of Americans realize it. It will not work because it cannot work. No amount of cross-chamber politics will ever convince Democrats that they have screwed the pooch on this one, but a voter revolt just might.

And what could cause a voter revolt? Think DMV. The closest I have ever come to homicide occurred during my fifth visit to a DMV office with the fourth set of papers I was asked to bring, none of which seemed to satisfy the attending clerk. Let a few hundred thousand people hear Obama assure them for the umpteenth time that all those “glitches” are, well, just glitches. Top it off with premiums that go up, benefits that go down, and a visit from the IRS for non-compliance and you have the makings of a revolution.

Sadly, this is what will be required for Americans to wake up to the sobering reality of progressive politics. Obamacare is only the latest infection from a host of maladies spawned by lovers of big, intrusive, and pushy government. Since we can’t defeat Obamacare, it will have to defeat itself. If the Republicans are smart, they will now let the train wreck happen and get busy with a plan for the aftermath–one that gets government out of the business of health care once and for all.

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