A little interesting news

From a source that happened to be at the right place, at the right time, comes this little ‘nugget’ of information. I think it is credible, but for most intents and purposes it is now just a rumor.

Reportedly, as per the manager of the Huckabee campaign, Mr. Huckabee is set to drop out of the race on Wednesday – and most interestingly, he will throw his support behind Donald Trump.

Does he believe in the Trump message, or does he want to sail with the prevailing winds?

Which is worse?

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Should the State GOP Conduct Open Primaries?

The State democrat party, perhaps to make up for diminishing numbers, has opened up their primary elections to independent voters.

Should the State GOP do the same?

Of 1,978,807 voters in the state, 266,605 voters are registered independents.  I could not locate numbers from 2015 regarding how many new voters registered as independents; but what can be said is that in 2014, 90% of first-time registered voters regard themselves as political independents.

New voters, generally younger ones, are disillusioned and perhaps even disgusted with the two party system.  Understandably so; at the end of the day, what is the point of political parties, anyway?  They are quickly becoming a thing of yesterday, thankfully.

And though we don’t like parties, we still like particular candidates.  Think of all the libertarians that support Rand Paul; and because they do not want to support the party system by registering in a political party, their voices will remain unheard. (Bit of a side note: I think that Rand Paul is the only true conservative in the race.  After all, true conservatism is libertarianism.)

General elections can only be won with the independent vote.  And if the party nominee was chosen without input from independents, that candidate is unlikely to appeal to independent voters in a general election.  We face a huge challenge with Bernie Sanders this year; he really appeals to independent voters.

“Independent” is not a party, I know; but I am so bold as to say that most independent voters have values and philosophies which are relatively moderate, and consistent with the values of either party.  After all, there is only a few effective differences between the two parties –  but independent voters simply don’t want to be a part of the party system itself.

And that very party system has ensured that these independent voters have no voice.

If the party truly is a “club” in which only members can decide on a leader, very well – but that leader will later stand in a general election to be the representative of the whole.  Should that person only represent the members of the closed club, or everyone?

I do hope that there comes a day where independent voters are powerful and organized enough to put forth viable candidates; until then, we either find ourselves obliged to support an absurd party system, or find our voices silenced.

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The data used above can be found in a report by the Oklahoma State Election Board, found here (quite an interesting little document):  https://www.ok.gov/elections/documents/20160115%20-%20Registration%20By%20County%20%28vr2420%29.pdf 

 

 

Adventure in Absurdity: Bernie Sanders

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It is very difficult to sit through an entire debate now, and I say that for the debates of both parties.  Last night, hidden behind two football games and a new episode of Dowton Abbey, the third democrat debate took place.

It goes without saying that Bernie Sanders has been attracting a huge following and is within striking distance of Hillary.  In fact, as things stand now I (rather boldly) predict that Hillary will not be the Democratic nominee, and whether it is Sanders or someone else remains to be seen.  What can be said is that we see little enthusiasm associated with Hillary and especially among my peer group, she represents the status quo and the establishment which is most responsible for the problems we face.

But we must be very careful.  The promises of Sanders all sound very nice – but they are all like the Sirens in Homer’s tale; a sweet song which ultimately leads us to our destruction.  (Maybe a dramatic comparison, but when it comes to matters of economy, the negative consequences of a misguided policy really are profound.)

Let’s look at a little of what Bernie Sanders had to say last night:

“As we look out at our country today, what the American people understand, is we have an economy that’s rigged; ordinary Americans are working longer hours for lower wages, 47 million people living in poverty and almost all of the new income and wealth, going to the top one percent…” 

Where shall we begin?  This statement assumes that wealth creation is a zero sum game; that there is a fixed amount of wealth in the world, and that it must be divided between us (thus the constant “fair share” we always hear about) but we know that ‘wealth’ is infinite.  So long as we are producing and exchanging, wealth can be continually created.  Production is simply giving matter a utility it did not have before; and wealth is simply the measure of one’s capability of procuring goods and services.

The origin of all wealth is that which emerges from the ground; raw material, specifically subsistence – is the fuel which makes everything possible.  All wealth springs from extracting products from the Earth and giving them a use for which they had not before, and this process is constant and infinite, so long as we continue to work and advance our industry.

As for the “longer hours for longer wages” comment – does he mean that hours have become longer?  One hundred minutes instead of sixty?  (Certainly feels like this sometimes, doesn’t it?) Because the numerical aspect of wages have not technically decreased, he must mean that the power of the current wages has decreased; who can we blame for that?  Who controls the currency supply?  The Federal Reserve!  (Credit where credit is due: shout out to Mr. Sanders for his ‘yes’ vote on auditing the fed.)

“It is understanding that in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, we should have healthcare for every man woman and child as a right, that we should raise the minimum wage to at least fifteen dollars an hour, that we have got to create millions of decent paying jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure.”

Yes, let’s talk about “rights”!  What is a “right”?  It is that which all of mankind may lay claim to, simply by virtue of being human.  We have the right to our life, our liberty, and the fruits of our own labor.  We have the right to speak freely, to worship freely, and so on.  These rights do not cost anyone anything; one man need not be deprived so that another may enjoy these rights.

But when another man must be deprived of something in order for you to enjoy a certain service or enjoyment, it is no longer a right – it is a privilege.  And if a population comes together and decides that a small deprivation of each man is necessary in order to help a certain group of people to get an education or healthcare, very well – but do not misrepresent the nature of this arrangement.  It is a privilege, not a right.

As for the minimum wage, well – haven’t I covered this before?  It is not an increase in the minimum wage that is a problem; the problem is that there is a minimum wage at all.  Labor is like any other commodity, and just as it is economically unjust to place price floors on commodities, it is unjust to place a price floor on labor.  Not all parcels of labor are the same, not all forms of labor are worth $7.25 to an employer.

If you think your wages are too low, if you think an hour of your time is worth more, then refuse to work for the “slave wages” as the socialists phrase it.  But as we see, the market is far better at determining the true value of labor, just like every other commodity.  The natural, spontaneous market forces see to this.  More and more it seems the entire Sanders doctrine is just the attempt to avoid inevitable economic forces.

While we’re on the subject, I’d like to air a bit of a grievance.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase “wage-slave,” “Wage slavery,” or something along those lines, I would be well on my way to becoming a member of the “one percent.”  Good heavens, do the socialists not understand what “slavery” really is?  Slaves did not receive wages as a recompense for their labor; any and all demands for a higher minimum wage would have fallen on deaf ears.  And before the chorus of “that’s not what we mean when we say this” or “you must be fun at parties” breaks out, yes, I understand it’s just for rhetorical effect.

Because we all must realize that no one in this economy is truly enslaved; all employment, from the cashier at a restaurant to a doctor or lawyer is a voluntary arrangement.  You give me a certain amount of money, I give you my labor.  Voluntary implies that such an arrangement, if it becomes unsavory to any party, can be ended at any time.  That does not sound like slavery to me.

I do understand that it feels like slavery, and that the economic conditions are very difficult.  But who do we assign blame to?  The ever vague “Wall Street speculator” (which is becoming to the left what the “terrorists” or “illegal immigrants” are to the right – a group of people you can blame for all your woes) or the decades of central economic planning and currency manipulation?

Why don’t we try freedom in the absolute, for once?

Now, regarding “rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure,” if there is a legitimate need to replace certain roads, bridges, or other structures, very well.  Whether or not those things could theoretically be better accomplished by private concerns is irrelevant; politically speaking, most people seem to agree that is a proper function of government.  If the infrastructure in question provides a utility to the people paying for it, then it is a fair exchange so far as we are concerned.

But I fear that this will quickly evolve into the old Keynesian standby: tax and spend on projects simply for the sake of spending.  You want to put people to work, fine, but we must ensure that those products have a clear utility.  If we begin to build bridges and roads leading nowhere, then it is an absolute waste.  It is not a fair exchange to the taxpayer who must bear this expense, as he will not benefit from it.

But the socialists say that it is worth it to see people employed – but what are we to assume that dollar taken from the taxpayer would not have employed someone, just in a different industry and in a different place?  For sake of this exercise, let’s say that Sanders, in order to implement his infrastructure plan, would require $50 from every average taxpayer.  That money is taken, given to an employee, and in exchange he works on a project that the taxpayer may never utilize.  The workman is employed, yes; but what if that $50 had been left in the hands of which it rightly belongs?  It could be spent at a restaurant, on clothes, books – anything that a consumer may spend surplus money on.  This not only gives a real utility to the taxpayer, but also employs other workmen in an infinite variety of ways.

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Forgive me, this appears to be my longest article yet!  But I hope, despite it’s long windedness, it still is of some value.  And, more to come!

Are the Oregon Protesters committing Treason?

Many on the left have been accusing the ranchers and their supporters of “treason” because this group has dared to question the authority of the almighty federal government.

To me, any and all sorts of productive rebellion is admirable. This sort of rebellion, while it may not be all that productive, is certainly not destructive.

But is it treason?

The textbook definition is wholly insufficient to answer this question.  “The offence of acting to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill it’s sovereign.”

But by this definition, one man’s “treason” may be another’s “patriotic duty.”  Entirely a subjective matter.  Therefore, I offer a more precise definition: treason is the offence of action to overthrow one’s government or to harm or kill it’s sovereign with selfish intent.  

We can say that Macbeth committed treason by killing the king for his own sake; but we don’t say that Macduff committed treason when he killed King Macbeth after Macbeth threw Scotland into confusion and violence.  Macbeth committed treason for his own gain; Macduff did so to save his country.

The Oregon protesters are not committing treason, by this definition; they have nothing at all to gain.  Except, perhaps the respect of their right to private property – but this is a basic function of government (and if a government does not fulfill this function, we have the right to call them out on it.)

Rather, the Oregon protesters are fighting for “Constitutional Freedom” which is by no means a selfish motivation, indeed on the contrary.  We all know what the Declaration of Independence has to say about what the citizens should do when a government does not fulfill its obligations.

Besides, no one has any illusions to overthrow a government.

So no: the Oregon protesters are not committing treason.

 

2016: A Political Pickle

Who could have predicted the developments of the second half of 2015?  We live in crazy times.

The media and all the bobble-heads have been struggling to figure out the how and why of Donald Trump’s success.  It is certainly interesting and does get ratings, but at the end of the day: does it really matter?  The real question we should be asking is ‘what is a reasonable person to do?’

Barring some sort of sudden and major change, it is clear that Trump will be the GOP nominee.  On the other side, again barring some sort of major change, I believe Bernie Sanders has a very good chance of being the DNC nominee.

So there you have it: it will be a choice between fascism and socialism.  How frustrating it all is!  A choice between two different sorts of totalitarianism: on the right, it is a totalitarianism based upon nationalism and nativism; two old fashioned concepts which continue to persist.  On the left, it is a totalitarianism based upon “fairness” but is really just socialism (but as I will soon show, the right has adopted its own form of socialism.)

The rise of these two phenomena (for lack of a better term) may appear disconnected or that one is a response to another.  On the contrary; they are two different symptoms of the same disease which afflicts American political culture.

That disease has afflicted us since the 1930’s; simply, it is an over-dependence on a central government to solve our problems through coercion and laws instead of solving problems ourselves through personal and economic freedom.   Indeed, we have seen a complete perversion of the word ‘freedom’ – now it means freedom from difficulty, need, or danger, instead of freedom from force or coercion.

This change in the definition is especially concerning; we can be sure of freedom from coercion, that is easy to see; but we can never be free of need, difficulty or danger.  These things are facts of life and the longer we try to hide from them, the harder they will bite when we are found.

Freedom from need and difficulty: such seems to be the goal of the left.  Freedom from danger is the goal of the right.  And politicians from either side can scare voters into submission with these things constantly, because these things will never go away.

The left calls upon a a system which is known only for it’s failures throughout history (as if this time will be any different).  Everything from education to healthcare will come under the control of the state and no longer dependent on free market exchange, but rather on the force and coercion of the laws.  (I will not elaborate much on this here, as this particular subject will be the focus of an upcoming article.)

As for the right, there is a form of socialism that exists unacknowledged.  And really, the only difference between the socialism of the Right and the Left is the extent of it.  Republicans support just as much government intervention as the left does; and thus, modern “conservatism” is just “conservative socialism.”  As Hayek notes, it was a form of “conservative socialism” which helped pave the road for the National Socialist Worker’s Party in Germany (in “Road to Serfdom.”)

The party which constantly claims to be true to the wisdom of the founders constantly ignores their wisdom.  The party which claims to be the party of freedom and fiscal responsibility always seem to forget what those things really mean.

No, in reality, the right is just the party of irrational fear.  Fear of Mexicans, of Muslims, of the ever-vague “terrorist” – all of which are taken very seriously by the right, just as a child really thinks there is a monster under his bed or in his closet.  But reasonable people know that these are just imagined threats, just as the monsters are.

Conservatives, forgetting that “the sea of liberty is never without a wave” prefer to make landfall on Alcatraz island and lock themselves in, compromising their civil rights for sake of safety.  Better put, they have no reservations about compromising the civil rights of “others.”

There is this incessant desire to dominate the world militarily –  and while there is nothing wrong with dominating the world economically (through innovation, creation, production) but to do so by force is an expensive proposition, one we will inevitably have to bear.  The moral aspect of it all is dubious at best.  Remember: war is socialism.

What is the “conservative vision” for America?  Equally as terrifying as the “progressive vision” for one.  Tens of thousands of people would be rounded up and shipped away; those that remain would be obliged to show their papers when asked by law enforcement, and can be taken away if no papers are produced.  In short?  Life in an occupied country.

As for the opening question: what are reasonable people to do?

There are a few liberty-minded candidates in the running in our own state; in particular, David McClain (S.D. 34) and Amanda Teegarden (S.D. 39) – some consolation in a seemingly hopeless political “pickle.”

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This next year will certainly be long and we haven’t much look forward to as regards the political situation that afflicts us, but politics isn’t everything.  There is so much more to life – to all my readers, have a happy and healthy new year!