Favorites: Thomas Sowell, Mark Steyn, Victor Davis Hanson, Charles Krauthammer, Michael Barone, Jonah Goldberg, Dan Henninger, Kim Strassel, Robert Samuelson, Dan Mitchell, John Hawkins, Shelby Steele, Brian Lamb, Milton Friedman, Adam Smith, Hayak, Monty Pelerin
My 5 favorites from John Hawkin’s Right Wing News – The 40 Best Political Quotes For 2012 (Fourth Annual):
27) A 2,700-page law is not a “law” by any civilized understanding of the term. Law rests on the principle of equality before it. When a bill is 2,700 pages, there’s no equality: Instead, there’s a hierarchy of privilege micro-regulated by an unelected, unaccountable, unconstrained, unknown, and unnumbered bureaucracy. It’s not just that the legislators who legislate it don’t know what’s in it, nor that the citizens on the receiving end can never hope to understand it, but that even the nation’s most eminent judges acknowledge that it is beyond individual human comprehension. A 2,700-page law is, by definition, an affront to self-government. — Mark Steyn
24) That’s to say, the unsustainable “bubble” is not student debt or subprime mortgages or anything else. The bubble is us, and the assumptions of entitlement. Too many citizens of advanced Western democracies live a life they have not earned, and are not willing to earn. Indeed, much of our present fiscal woe derives from two phases of human existence that are entirely the invention of the modern world. Once upon a time, you were a kid till you were 13 or so; then you worked; then you died. That bit between childhood and death has been chewed away at both ends. We invented something called “adolescence” that now extends not merely through the teenage years but through a desultory half decade of Whatever Studies at Complacency U up till you’re 26 and no longer eligible for coverage on your parents’ health-insurance policy. At the other end of the spectrum, we introduced something called “retirement” that, in the space of two generations, has led to the presumption that able-bodied citizens are entitled to spend the last couple of decades, or one-third of their adult lives, as a long holiday weekend. The bit in between adolescence and retirement is your working life, and it’s been getting shorter and shorter. Which is unfortunate, as it has to pay for everything else. This structural deformity in the life cycle of Western man is at the root of most of our problems. — Mark Steyn
19) If you tried to hold a series of potluck dinners where a majority brought nothing to the table, but felt entitled to eat their fill, it would probably work out badly. Yet that’s essentially what we’re doing. In today’s America, government benefits flow to large numbers of people who are encouraged to vote for politicians who’ll keep them coming. The benefits are paid for by other people who, being less numerous, can’t muster enough votes to put this to a stop. Over time, this causes the economy to do worse, pushing more people into the moocher class and further strengthening the politicians whose position depends on robbing Peter to pay Paul. Because, as they say, if you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can be pretty sure of getting Paul’s vote. — Glenn Reynolds
6) The real story is that our social safety net was supposed to be like one of those, ‘Take a Penny, Leave a Penny’ tills that depend on the honor and neighborliness of a community. And we don’t have that community. What we have is a fragmented mess of givers and takers who are not the same people. — Daniel Greenfield
4) The thing we adore about these dog-whistle kerfuffles is that the people who react to the whistle always assume it’s intended for somebody else. The whole point of the metaphor is that if you can hear the whistle, you’re the dog. — James Taranto
The following quote just struck me as such a good example of foolishness. The article’s main point is the grotesque way that Obama claims to justify new spending from money saved.
Last year, Marjorie Cook of Michigan, a food inspector with the Department of Agriculture, noted that every year USDA inspectors ship 125,000 food samples to its analysis labs by “next day” express delivery, and that a day or two later the labs ship the empty containers back to the inspectors using the very same “next day” service.
Marjorie suggested that, as the containers are empty, they can’t be all that urgent, and should be mailed back at regular old ground delivery rates.
But this reform was way too radical, so it didn’t win. And happily, even as we speak, mail couriers are rushing empty containers back and forth across the USDA-inspected fruited plain at your expense.
“Pass this bill now!” “Pass this bill now!” “Pass this bill now!” If Obama says it enough times, another $447,000,000,000 we don’t have, is bound to just appear,
Steyn gives his usual insight with great humor.
But the smartest president in history has calculated that, if he says the same four monosyllables over and over, a nonexistent bill to create nonexistent jobs with nonexistent money will be yet another legislative triumph in the grand tradition of his first stimulus (the original Dumb And Dumber to the sequel’s Stimulus And Stimulusser).
It just keeps getting worse.
Gosh, it seems like only yesterday that Washington was in the grip of a white-knuckle, clenched-teeth showdown over whether a debt ceiling deal could be reached before the allegedly looming deadline. When the deal was triumphantly unveiled at the eleventh hour, it was revealed that our sober, prudent, fiscally responsible masters had gotten control of the runaway spending and had carved a whole $7 billion of savings out of the 2012 budget. The president then airily breezes into Congress and in 20 minutes adds another $447 billion to the tab. That’s what meaningful course correction in Washington boils down to: seven billion steps forward, 447 billion steps back.
Another realistic and sober prediction of things to come for you, me and America.
As Arthur Herman of the American Enterprise Institute pointed out this week, under present rules, if the government were to announce a spending freeze — that’s to say, no increases, no cuts, everything just stays exactly the same — the Congressional Budget Office would score it as a $9 trillion savings. In real-world terms, there are no “savings,” and there’s certainly no $9 trillion. In fact, there isn’t one thin dime. But nevertheless, that’s how it would be measured at the CBO.
America has a looming rendezvous with destiny. You can’t tax your way out of it, you can’t inflate your way out of it, you can’t quantitively ease your way out of it. The only door that leads anywhere is the one marked “Massive Government Cuts”. There is not enough money on the planet for what the Permanent Governing Class is doing. If Americans decline to grasp that central truth, this country will die.
The NLRB decision and what they are saying to an American economy as to where and how they can do business is outrageous. This is not the Soviet Union circa 1970s or 1960s or ‘50s,
The idea that we have a federal agency telling an American business in a supposedly free market that it can’t grow a business or start a business in another state is one of the most outrageous things I have seen.
Fluorescent lights also carry their own environmental risks because they contain small amounts of mercury and other toxic materials. The EPA website contains three pages of consumer directions about what to do if you break a CFL bulb in your home: “Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more. Shut off the central heating and air conditioning system. Carefully scoop up glass fragments and powder using stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a glass jar with a metal lid.”
The economic miracle that has been the United States was not produced by socialized enterprises, by government-unon-industry cartels or by centralized economic planning. It was produced by private enterprises in a profit-and-loss system. And losses were at least as important in weeding out failures, as profits in fostering successes. Let government succor failures, and we shall be headed for stagnation and decline. via Monte Pelerin’s World
I read The Joke, Milan Kundera’s first novel, when I was a schoolboy. Bit above my level, but, even as a teenager, I liked the premise. Ludvik is a young man in post-war, newly Communist Czechoslovakia. He’s a smart, witty guy, a loyal Party member with a great future ahead of him. His girlfriend, though, is a bit serious. So when she writes to him from her two-week Party training course enthusing about the early-morning calisthenics and the “healthy atmosphere,” he scribbles off a droll postcard:
Optimism is the opium of the people! A healthy atmosphere stinks of stupidity! Long live Trotsky! Ludvik.
A few weeks later, he’s called before a committee of the District Party Secretariat. He tries to explain he was making a joke. Immediately they remove him from his position at the Students Union; then they expel him from the Party, and the university; and shortly thereafter he’s sent to work in the mines. As a waggish adolescent, I liked the absurdity of the situation in which Ludvik finds himself. Later, I came to appreciate that Kundera had skewered the touchiness of totalitarianism, and the consequential loss of any sense of proportion. It was the book I read on the flight to Vancouver, when Maclean’s magazine and I were hauled before the British Columbia “Human Rights” Tribunal for the crime of “flagrant Islamophobia.” In the course of a week-long trial, the best part of a day was devoted to examining, with the aid of “expert witnesses,” the “tone” of my jokes. » Read the rest of this entry «
PS My kids asked the CBP seizure squad if they could eat the chocolate in front of the border guards while the border guards held on to the toys to prevent any choking hazard – and then, having safely consumed the chocolate, take the toys home as a separate item. This request was denied. Could have been worse. Could have been a $300 fine, plus a $250 fee for seized-egg storage.
In Canada, I too committed the crime of “offending” certain approved identity groups. And there is no defense to that: Truth, facts, evidence are all irrelevant. If someone’s “offended”, that’s that: You’re guilty. And increasingly, in Canada, Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, France, Austria, Scandinavia, the human right not to be offended trumps all.
In 2008, the most recent year for which full data is available, the infamous top 1% – those earning over $380,354 – paid 38.02 percent of federal income taxes, according to an analysis of IRS data by the Tax Foundation. Meanwhile, the bottom 50 percent of income earners – the group that, according to the liberal world view, is subsidizing tax handouts to the wealthy – shouldered just 2.7 percent of the federal income tax burden. And keep in mind, in 2008, the higher income earners share of taxes slipped from the previous year’s 40.4 percent due to the economic downturn.
There are many arguments against progressive taxation economically, but it is also true that it erodes the health of our democratic institutions. Rather than shared responsibility, we have a growing number of people who rely on others to pay . . . as they become increasingly disconnected from the cost of government.
The Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank, estimated this week that 45 percent of U.S. households paid not a single dollar in federal income tax for 2010. And The Fiscal Times reported this week that “for the first time since the Great Depression, households are receiving more income from the government than they are paying the government in taxes.”
First, the Democratic Party is the party of government, not only because of its extravagant sense of government’s competence and proper scope, but also because the party’s base is government employees. Second, government employees have an increasingly adversarial relationship with the governed. Third, Obama’s “move to the center” is fictitious.
Big Unions fund Big Government. The union slices off two per cent of the workers’ pay and sluices it to the Democratic Party, which uses it to grow government, which also grows unions, which thereby grows the number of two-per-cent contributions, which thereby grows the Democratic Party, which thereby grows government… Repeat until bankruptcy. Or bailout.
More importantly, it’s not as if Big Labor is balancing out the rest of “big money.” Does Krugman know that all of the top ten industries contributing to the 2010 elections gave more money to Democrats than to Republicans? That’s right: Lawyers, Health Professionals, Securities & Investment, Real Estate, Insurance, Lobbyists, Pharma, Government Unions, Entertainment, and Electric Utilities all favored Democrats in 2010.
One of the great 21th century presidents was against unions for public employees who have civil service protections. No, not Ronald Reagan. It was Franklin Roosevelt who said, “Action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable.
I’m so pleased. The NYS Conservative Party has booked Mark Steyn to be the speaker at their annual luncheon this coming Monday, January 31. If you live in the Capital District, and want to attend, click here to make a reservation.
Steyn wrote another informative piece on the decline of the “English-speaking” nations, and the erosion of personal liberty.
If I am pessimistic about the future of liberty, it is because I am pessimistic about the strength of the English-speaking nations, which have, in profound ways, surrendered to forces at odds with their inheritance. “Declinism” is in the air, but some of us apocalyptic types are way beyond that. The United States is facing nothing so amiable and genteel as Continental-style “decline,” but something more like sliding off a cliff.