Thursday, November 20, 2008

Socialism is Bad, unless....

Man. BO has not even been sworn in yet, and his critics on the right have managed to coordinate their attacks on the incoming administration. Hannity, Limbaugh, Boortz, as usual, are leading the charge. "Socialism - it's coming, ya know." "Capitalism is over." "Kiss the Free Market, Adios." Whatever. Where the hell have these lackeys been for the last 8 years? Bailout plans, anyone? I think George Will addresses the right's disingenuous disgust with BO's plan to 'spread the wealth around' nicely:

America can't have that, exclaimed the Republican ticket while Republicans -- whose prescription drug entitlement is the largest expansion of the welfare state since President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society gave birth to Medicare in 1965; and a majority of whom in Congress supported a lavish farm bill at a time of record profits for the less than 2 percent of the American people-cum-corporations who farm -- and their administration were partially nationalizing the banking system, putting Detroit on the dole and looking around to see if some bit of what is smilingly called "the private sector" has been inadvertently left off the ever-expanding list of entities eligible for a bailout from the $1 trillion or so that is to be "spread around."

Yea. The Republicans, and their apparently deaf, dumb and blind defenders, don't seem to mind 'socialism,' per se; provided of course that it is the nice, honest, friend-supporting kind of socialism that tends to benefit (er, spread the wealth around to) their supporters (read: political base). This form, favored by the right, of course, is commonly known to economists as "rent-seeking" - using the government to get privileges, such as a grant, a subsidy, a tariff, or a restriction on one’s competition. But, please, just don't call it "socialism." We spread our wealth around by fiat in a much more "freedom"-loving way...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


George Will on the Auto Bailout

Mr Will's answers those that ask what should the government do in light of the impending failure of the big 3:

Do nothing that will delay bankrupt companies from filing for bankruptcy protection, so that improvident labor contracts can be unraveled, allowing the companies to try to devise plausible business models. Instead, advocates of a "rescue" propose extending to Detroit the government's business model for the nation -- redistributing wealth from the successful to the failed, an implausible formula for prosperity.

Whole thing here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Free Market Fishing

Well, sort of. It seems that the west coast fisheries are going to take a shot at using "individual fishing quotas." Here is Ron Bailey on the upside to the practice. While, as proposed, the grant of an IFQ is not exactly synonmous with a recognizing a property right, it is certainly a step in the right direction and should go along way to solving the trajedy of the commons.

Sweet Land of Liberty

A libertarian-view written for a conservative periodical by a socialist writer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Fight to Come

Matt Welch sums it up:

When a Republican administration arbitrarily (and "temporarily") bans short selling just one decade after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir bin Mohamad was globally (and deservedly) mocked for blaming his country's self-inflicted woes on "speculators," when a Republican presidential nominee unleashes retrograde attacks against the "casino culture" of Wall Street "greed," and when a Democratic Congress holds nearly daily hearings suggesting any number of "windfall profits" taxes and forced reductions in private-sector CEO pay, that sound you hear is a fragile consensus shattering and a warning bell clanging in the night.

After the collapse of communism and the attendant discrediting of Marxian economic models, the industrialized world more or less settled on democratic capitalism as the best available option for countries to grow and prosper. Old Europe slashed government involvement in industry, New Europe rode mass privatization to massive growth, East Asian countries went from emergingmarket "tigers" to full-fledged market economies, and China used markets to yank hundreds of millions up from poverty. One could perhaps be forgiven for thinking the 20th century's great economic argument had been settled.

Well, no more.

Whole thing here.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Bailout Tally (So Far...)

For those of you that care:
$29 billion for Bear Stearns
$143.8 billion for AIG (thus far, it keeps growing)
$100 billion for Fannie Mae
$100 billion for Freddie Mac
$700 billion for Wall Street, including Bank of America (Merrill Lynch), Citigroup, JP Morgan (WaMu), Wells Fargo (Wachovia), Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and a lot more
$25 billion for The Big Three in Detroit
$8 billion for IndyMac
$150 billion stimulus package (from January)
$50 billion for money market funds
$138 billion for Lehman Bros. (post bankruptcy) through JP Morgan
$620 billion for general currency swaps from the Fed
Rough total: $2,063,800,000,000
Ouch. After hearing BO speak yesterday, I have a terrible feeling that this is only the beginning. The Bush Legacy that keeps on giving... Whole thing here.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Funny

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Obama Years

Nick Gillespie's window into the future:

1. America's political and pundit class will go through a clinical bout of ideological amnesia that will be dizzying and appalling for those of us with memories of life before January 2009.

2. The Culture Wars will be reignited and, as always, the main casualties will be children, the truth, gays, and that evilest excresence of capitalism since novels, nickelodeons, comic books, and video games. And Obama, like Bill Clinton, will be far more conservative on this sort of thing than anybody on either side wants to admit.

3. Liberals and conservatives will continue to try and define everything in terms of right and left when the proper lens, now more than ever, is choice versus control.

Whole brilliant thing here.

Barnett's Silver Linings

Randy Barnett lists three:

1. The first and by far the most important is the election of the first African-American as President.

2. Barack Obama's election yesterday represents the end of the Bush-Clinton lock on the Republican and Democratic parties, which is a very good thing for both parties.

3. John McCain will not be President of the United States.

Whole thing here.

Palin Effect

David Boaz echoes my belief that the McCain loss is closely tied to the electorate's rejection of Bush-Republicanism here. He also offers this nice little insight:

Republicans racked up further losses in the most libertarian parts of the country, such as New Hampshire and the Mountain West. Obama won affluent, educated voters and professionals. And if conservative Republicans continue to respond to the loss of educated voters by declaring themselves proud to be “real Americans” who don’t care much for book learning and Darwinism and elite stuff, they will only accelerate the process.

Yep. The anti-intellectualism and faux-populism embodied by McCain and Palin during the campaign was both exhausting and insulting. Note to the GOP: William Jennings Bryan, George Wallace and Pat Buchanan never won a national election for a very real, concrete, reason.


Rahm Emmanuel has a "Plan" (from his book, The Plan/Big Ideas for America):

John Kennedy was right: A nation is defined not by what it does for its citizens but by what it asks of them. If your leaders aren't challenging you to do your part, they aren't doing theirs. We need a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us by establishing for the first time an ethic of universal citizen service. All Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 should be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic civil defense training and community service. This is not a draft, nor is it military. Young people will be trained not as soldiers, but simply as citizens who understand their responsibilities in the event of a natural disaster, an epidemic or a terrorist attack. Universal citizen service will bring Americans of every background together to make America safer and more united in common purpose.

Ugh. I think Hitler had a similar idea.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Agents of Intolerance

Constitutional amendments banning gay marriage have passed in each of the 4 states voting on the measure (Arizona, California, Florida, and Nebraska). Interestingly, the exit polls show that the vote among whites was evenly split (around 50-50) in all states except Florida, where white voters supported the ban by a margin of 60-40; however, black voters overwhelmingly supported the bans in all 4 states by an average of 70-30. It is rather ironic, I think, that black voters, who showed up to the polls in historic numbers and supported Obama by a margin of 19-1, simultaneously made history by helping to elect a minority (in their own image) as President, and, as a block, wholly rejected the rights of another minority group seeking equal rights. Tolerance is all relative, I suppose.
UPDATE: Andrew Sullivan adds:
Every ethnic group supported marriage equality, except African-Americans, who voted overwhelmingly against extending to gay people the civil rights once denied them: a staggering 69 - 31 percent African-American margin against marriage equality. That's worse than even I expected. Whites, on the other hand, clearly rejected discrimination: 55 to 45 percent. Latinos were evenly split.

My Thoughts on the Obama Victory

A few general, and incomplete, thoughts:

(1) The electoral landslide should be interpreted by the GOP as a sound rejection of Bush-McCain-Big-Gov'ment-Conservatism. The moralist, neo-conservative, "National Greatness," statist-wing of the party that has dictated policy since 2000 somehow managed, in 8 short years, to wholly break apart the broad-based coalition of support initially stitched together by Goldwater and solidified by Reagan. Nice going. Now, kindly, go away.

(2) We are (and have been for some time) a post-racial society. One in which a black man can receive a majority of the white vote, and, more importantly, one which can, and should, happily purge from its bowels the Jackson-Sharpton race-baiting opportunists that have benefited from, manipulated and exacerbated racial divisions, fears and stereotypes for far too long. This is a country that rewards individual achievement, intellect and ambition, and the rise and success of Obama is testament to that fact.

(3) At the risk of seeming overly cynical, enormous swaths of "young people," first-time voters and the politically ignorant, many of whom view the "presidency" as some sort of all-powerful, prosperity-creating, gas-price-setting, wealth-distributing, divinely-inspired seat of control, are ripe for a rude-awakening and, ultimately, glorious disappointment. To them I will be waiting to say, "welcome to my world."