Sunday, October 9, 2011

Homosexuality is no threat to Liberty - Big Government is.

Is homosexuality a threat to liberty, as Bryan Fischer declared at the Values Voter Summit on Saturday?


When the U.S. Supreme Court declared sodomy laws unconstitutional in Lawrence v Texas, it was a great advance for liberty. When people like Fischer, Sally Kern and Peter LaBarbera say that homosexuality as such is a threat to freedom, people just roll their eyes. Yes, you could say that some homosexuals advocate some things that infringe some people's freedoms, just as you could say the same thing about all too many other people these days, including religious conservatives. That doesn't make homosexuality a threat to liberty any more than being a Christian is a threat to liberty - even though some Christians do advocate infringing some people's rights for religious reasons. And that's true not just on the religious right, but also on the religious left.

I don't support Mitt Romney, but I do thank him for what he said about Fischer at the Summit. And I find it very interesting that a gathering of social conservatives picked Ron Paul in their straw poll for president over someone more obviously representative of their social goals, such as Rick Santorum. I certainly don't think the formerly Libertarian Paul could be counted on to support Fischer's views regarding homosexuality.

I personally find it unconscionable that people such as Kern, Fischer and LaBarbera continue to flog these straw men when it is so obvious that the number one threat to freedom today is a government that is out of control and too big at all levels. And I'm not just saying that because I'm Gay. It is clear to me that these people see a smaller government restricted to protecting individual rights as a threat to their power to impose their religious agenda by means of government force.

And I can and do condemn them for that.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Morality of Steve Jobs

If you think you're going to be upset by this, don't read it. I, like many of you, think that what Westboro Baptist does is ghastly. But when I read that Margie Phelps said that Westboro was going to picket Jobs' funeral because he "served himself, not God", I thought she had summed up perfectly the thing that unites all those who are opposed to genuine human progress and the thing that makes it possible: the individual human mind, which functions by means of reason and a code that upholds the value of the individual's own life.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


On the anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, 2001, I remember that the United States of America stands for one thing above all else:


Monday, September 5, 2011

Why businessmen require freedom of conscience

At his new blog, Individual Rights and Government Wrongs, Brian Phillips has posted yet another dazzling analysis of the wide-ranging impact of government intervention in the economy. This time his focus is on taxi services. While I urge you to read the entire piece, I do want to note that I was struck by a passage which illustrates Ayn Rand's famous assertion that state and economics should be separate "in the same way and for the same reasons" as the separation of church and state.

The issue is "freedom of conscience" - something often cited by those who claim to uphold church/state separation. Why is freedom of conscience required to run a business? Brian cites this example:
Claims of “market failure” are founded on an arbitrary assertion of how the market should operate. And when the market fails to meet this arbitrary standard, it has “failed.” This is no different than running massive computer models of the NFL season and declaring that, if the Cleveland Browns do not win the Super Bowl, we have an “NFL failure.” Individuals have free will, and we often make decisions that the so-called experts don’t believe we should. The experts said that Henry Ford should not pay his workers twice the industry average. The experts were wrong. His turnover plummeted, his efficiency rose, and his profits soared. And, he cut his prices by nearly sixty percent.

Because Ford was free to act on his own judgment, he could prove the practicality of his ideas. He was free to demonstrate the truth that he saw before others saw it. What would have happened to America’s automobile industry if Henry Ford had been prohibited from acting as he thought best? And how much better might the taxi industry be if entrepreneurs and businessmen could act on their judgment, rather than follow the dictates of politicians and bureaucrats?
Any regulation which restricts a businessman's freedom to act on his own judgement interferes with his freedom of conscience, and should be rejected on that basis.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Objectivist Round Up

Welcome to the September 1st, 2011 edition of the Objectivist Round Up!

As this is Labor Day weekend, I thought this well-known quote from Ayn Rand would be apropos:
"The issue is not between pro-business controls and pro-labor controls, but between controls and freedom. . . . Government control of the economy, no matter in whose behalf, has been the source of all the evils in our industrial history--and the solution is laissez-faire capitalism, i.e., the abolition of any and all forms of government intervention in production and trade, the separation of State and Economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of Church and State."

- Notes on the History of American Free Enterprise (from "Capitalism: The Unkown Ideal")
I've been using this quote for years on my other website, The Oklahoma Capitalist.

Here's the Round Up!

William N. Green presents Blowing Hard, posted at Proudly Selfish, saying, "a conversation with a friend regarding wind power".

Rational Jenn presents Insanely Great, posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "My tribute to Steve Jobs, a true hero".

Rational Jenn presents Time Travel Tuesday: Mythbusting Positive Discipline posted at Rational Jenn, saying, "This week's Time Travel Tuesday is a post that tackles some misconceptions about non-punitive discipline."

C.W. presents Volatility, posted at Krazy Economy, saying, "Does volatility seem to be getting wilder? It will get worse. Fear and many uncertainties fuel it, including the failure of government solutions. Guess what the solution is."

Ryan Krause presents What Steve Jobs Did Well, posted at The Money Speech.

Roberto Sarrionandia presents The Harm of Conspiracy Movements posted at Roberto Sarrionandia, saying, "The harmful narratives in the conspiracy theory movements".

John Drake presents Division of time management tools posted at Try Reason!, saying, "I have given up hope of finding that one tool that will solve all of my time and organizational issues. It is time to divide and conquer."

Santiago and Kelly Valenzuela present Why Open Immigration is Moral posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, "If you haven't already seen it, check out Diana Hsieh's excellent video about open immigration. And be sure to check out her fun, live webcast every Sunday morning where she answers questions submitted by listeners. You can also participate in a live chat during the show."

Santiago and Kelly Valenzuela present Immigration Tension in the Deep South - An Excellent Guardian Article posted at Mother of Exiles, saying, "My brief comments on an excellent Guardian article about state-level immigration laws and the tension they are creating in the southern US, reminiscent of the Jim Crow era."

Paul Hsieh presents Thank You, Steve Jobs posted at NoodleFood, saying, "My short tribute to Steve Jobs was published in American Thinker."

Paul Hsieh presents Self-Defense in the UK posted at NoodleFood, saying, "How bad are gun laws in Great Britain? This is a follow-up post to one of Diana's webcast topics."

(Editor's note: Paul is currently recovering from a hip fracture he sustained on Monday. Get well soon, Paul!)

David C. Lewis presents Lowering Your Insurance Premiums By Buying Insurance To Cover Catastrophies posted at A Revolution In Financial Planning, saying, "I discuss solutions for lowering insurance premiums, even as government intervention into the insurance industry strengthens."

Atul Kapur presents Hazare’s “Solution” does Not Solve Anything posted at Wit Lab, saying, "I explain why the reforms being proposed in India by the anti-corruption protesters (led by activist Anna Hazare) do nothing to address the root cause of corruption, but merely add more bureaucrats with arbitrary powers."

Jason Stotts presents Range Report posted at Erosophia, saying, "A range report from my most recent trip to the shooting range."

Ari Armstrong presents Ayn Rand As Atheist: Skepticamp Talk posted at Free Colorado, saying, ""Ayn Rand As Atheist" is a 20-minute talk I delivered Aug. 27 at Skepticamp in Colorado Springs."

J. Brian Phillips presents Where is the fire? posted at, saying, "Many Americans believe that government must provide certain services, such as fire protection and emergency medical care, because private businesses can't or won't. The truth is, private companies are providing these services more efficiently than government."

David Masten presents The Case for Objective Morality posted at Blazing Truth, saying, "A look at the claim made in Sam Harris' "The Moral Landscape": that science can determine moral values. Presenting the case for objective morality with conscious well-being as its standard. Is it in line with Objectivist principles? I think so!"

Edward Cline presents Our Post 9/11 World: A Ten-Year Retrospective posted at The Rule of Reason, saying, "Here is my fictional recounting of post-9-11 history as it might and ought to have been."

That's it for this edition! Submit your blog article for the next edition of the Objectivist Round Up using our carnival submission form. EGO will be hosting next week!

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

For the Tea Party

I've been seeing some dangerous rhetoric floating around lately and, no, I'm not referring to the Tea Partiers who want to keep the debt ceiling from being raised. I am referring to those who say that opposition to raising the debt ceiling constitutes some kind of threat to the country and that those who oppose raising the debt ceiling should be censored. It is ironic that those who are now calling for such censorship have historically postured as defenders of the First Amendment, a la the "Free Speech Movement" and the Fairness Doctrine. While they are not yet openly calling for government restrictions on pro-Tea Party speech - which, by the way, is the only thing that qualifies as genuine censorship - they have finally revealed their true colors.

At such a time I believe it is important to be clear about where I stand.

I stand with the Tea Party.

Yes, I have been critical of the Tea Party in the past and I reserve to myself the right to continue to be so. The Tea Party movement was founded by Rick Santelli on the recognition of the fact that the growth of government was out of control. The movement has succeeded in reshaping the debate on the role of government and returning it to the goals of the Founders, who wanted to guarantee the freedom of the American people. A government with access to unlimited funds is a government with access to unlimited power, and Tea Partiers recognize that restricting the government's access to power means restricting its access to funds - not just taxpayer dollars, but the ability to borrow against those dollars. I whole-heartedly support the Tea Party when it opposes raising the debt ceiling - just one of the ways it has helped to re-focus the debate on the role of government.

Ultimately, the goal must be to reverse the growth of government and cut it back to something which poses no threat to the freedom of the American people. I hold that this can only be done by restricting government to the protection of individual rights. This is one of the reasons why I oppose evangelicals who would usurp the movement for their own religious ends, which will result not in freedom but in religious dictatorship - whether they choose to recognize that or not. I regard those evangelicals as aiding and abetting the liberals in bringing about the runaway growth of government.

The United States of America was NOT founded as a Christian nation.

The United States of America was founded as a FREE nation.

The Tea Party movement is big enough and healthy enough to withstand such criticism. I certainly do not regard the presence of factionalism in the Tea Party as grounds for censorship. I regard the fact that it has generated the kind of desperate opposition represented by those who are calling for censorship as testimony to its success, and I stand with the Tea Party in its opposition to those who would obliterate the First Amendment by forbidding media coverage of and access to information about the Movement.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Zero-sum morality

While the pie metaphor has been abused by Keynesian economists, the argument behind it has been abused by those who promote the altruist morality as well. The standard criticism of selfishness is that the selfish person gets what he wants by taking it away from others. This is as false as saying the wealthy get rich by stealing from others.

There is no such thing as a fixed or limited supply of value. Just as wealth is created by productive effort, which leads to economic growth rather than a static economy where there is only a fixed amount of wealth to be "redistributed", so moral value is achieved by one's own productive effort, so that the morally successful person does not achieve happiness by causing pain in others.

Altruists, on the other hand, would have us believe that the alternative to sacrificing yourself to others is sacrificing others to yourself. The rationally selfish person comprehends that sacrifice serves no one's long-term interest, and that genuine happiness can only be achieved by his own effort, not at the expense of others. He understands that taking pleasure in the pain of others is immoral.

In fact, it is the happiness of others - as evidence of their moral success - that gives him a profound motivation to achieve his own happiness. The achievements of others are a crucial demonstration that such things are possible in reality - or, as Ayn Rand might put it: "in this life, on this Earth".

The rationally selfish person knows that "sacrifice or be sacrificed" is a false alternative and a false view of genuine selfishness, which requires no sacrifice on anyone's part whatsoever. It is altruism and sacrifice that are, in fact, the zero-sum game.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ayn Rand on Original Sin

I saw this quote on the Ayn Rand Facebook page this morning & just had to post it:
To hold, as man’s sin, a fact not open to his choice is a mockery of morality. To hold man’s nature as his sin is a mockery of nature. To punish him for a crime he committed before he was born is a mockery of justice. To hold him guilty in a matter where no innocence exists is a mockery of reason. To destroy morality, nature, justice and reason by means of a single concept is a feat of evil hardly to be matched. Yet that is the root of your code.
It's from John Galt's Speech in Atlas Shrugged (also reprinted in The New Intellectual).

The passage on Original Sin in Galt's Speech covers several paragraphs - this quote is just part of one of them.

Be sure & check out the comments on Facebook, too!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Collective" health and individual value

Oklahoma City needs plan to improve its collective health

Oh really?

Here's the comment I posted:
"OKLAHOMA City needs a collective plan to improve its collective health."

If Oklahoma City residents had the chance to learn to value themselves as individual human beings, they would also value their own health. Apparently The Oklahoman thinks we only have value collectively - which makes sense, considering the anti-rational morality they're always pushing.

Did they consider that claiming Oklahoma City needs a "collective" plan to do anything is an insult to anyone who is confident of his competence to think for himself? Or would they simply respond that we should all be relying on a "higher authority"?
Need I point out that collectivists don't care if the "higher authority" is the government or God, as long as it's anybody but yourself.

All they care about is turning us into another Detroit.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

You call this Independence?

If we're just going to do what Washington wants us to do anyway, how is that any kind of independence?

Today's The Oklahoman carries an op-ed by Tina Majors in support of FallinCare, Gov. Fallin's plan to create a health insurance exchange in Oklahoma. The timing is interesting considering the legislature ended its session last week.

A few excerpts:
"One of the great things about Oklahoma and Oklahomans is our fierce independence from the federal government. When we see a problem, we fix it ourselves. We don't wait for the big brother of the federal government to come in and over-regulate a problem. . . . "

"I support efforts to repeal Obamacare, but given the makeup of our federal judiciary and their penchant for liberal rulings, I have doubts about the lawsuit to stop it being entirely successful, regardless of its merits. I want Oklahoma to create every possible barrier to a federal takeover of our health care. And building our own network is another way to do this. . . . "

"Oklahoma isn't in the habit of letting the federal government keep us from doing what is right. Today, we can't let our anger at their attempted takeover of health care stop us from reforming our own system. The right solution is in creating and controlling our own Oklahoma-centric health care network."
Here's the comment I posted:

Seriously, is Fallin still trying to push this on us? There is no difference between federal over-regulation and state over-regulation. A government run insurance exchange violates the rights of insurers, doctors and patients. We should reject a state-run exchange for the same reason we should reject the federal-run exchange. What difference is there between the state forcing people to buy health insurance and the federal government forcing people to buy health insurance? NONE.

And PLEASE stop with the scare tactics that do nothing but insult our intelligence: "Oh, we've got to do something or the feds will force it on us!" Well, of course they will if we don't STAND UP FOR OURSELVES! So why should we lay down just so you can run over us? Are you saying it's better if our own state government does it?

The ONLY way to address rising health care costs and lack of coverage is to get the government OUT OF THE WAY on EVERY level.

Set the health care industry free!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What's going on here?

Oklahoma Watchdog reported about an hour ago on Twitter @WatchdogOK that SB264 was signed out of committee AGAIN! this morning - which means there will be another floor vote soon.

The big question is - were changes made? If so, what were they & what impact do they have on our concerns?

One thing I've seen that may be new is a time limit on "opting out" of regulations: local school boards can do this for 3 years.

My concern is that "deregulation" is great for private industry but terrible for the government: a government NOT constrained by regulations is a government that has carte-blanche to do whatever it wants, regardless of anyone's rights or freedoms - which is the whole point of having written laws in the first place, a point which seems to be lost on those pushing this "local control" idea.

Does SB264 have a mechanism for subjecting local administrators to the rule of law or does it allow them to autocratically make things up as they go along? Are local school districts required to submit a local plan or set of rules to local voters before administrators can act? What happens to local students who disagree with the majority?

I wouldn't have a problem if this only applied to private schools which should be completely free to set their own rules, anyway, but when the government is running things, that's a whole different animal.

So, what impact will this bill have on private schools? Perhaps school choice advocates should be as concerned about this as supporters of government schools.

I think the presense of Speaker Steele at these committee meetings could be significant - is SB264 a pet project of his? If so, maybe we need to start contacting him as well as our own legislators. I don't think it would be a bad idea to add Bingman to that list, either.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Does the Chamber of Commerce advocate Capitalism?

The Oklahoman is running yet another editorial today attacking Tea Party activists. Thanks for the free publicity!

Here's the comment I left:
It is an unfortunate fact that in a mixed economy such as ours, some business owners may be forced to turn to lobbying in legitimate self-defense to keep the government's hands off of their freedom to run their businesses.

This is not the case for the Chamber of Commerce, which all too often pursues political favoritism for one business or industry at the expense of another, under the guise of "sacrifice". This not only makes the Chamber no friend of Freedom or Capitalism, it muddies the waters - leading the average person to equate Capitalism with corporate welfare and cronyism, when - in fact - true Capitalism requires the separation of state and economy, in the same manner and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

Remember this the next time you read about how many Oklahomans are going hungry every day. Ask yourself if that would be the case if Oklahoma had genuine economic Freedom.
Just how many Oklahomans are going hungry every day? Here's The Oklahoman's editorial about last weekend's food drive.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Make Them Pay . . . Less!

Tax Day, the day of the deadline to file your taxes, is normally on April 15th, but this year, President Obama decided to cut us all some slack and give us til the Monday after: April 18th.

Liberals, cheer led by Michael Moore, have cooked up a plan to scapegoat corporations who they claim are not paying their share of taxes, thus depriving the federal government of much needed income.

Obviously, that's only going to work if people really believe the government needs the money. The more money government takes in, the bigger it gets.

Of course, if smaller government is what you're after, then you would want it to have less money, not more. In which case, not only might you not mind corporations paying less taxes, you might weven want lower taxes for everybody!

Lower taxes means less money, so government has to make itself smaller! Well, that's the theory, anyway.

So here's the deal: on Monday, April 18th at noon, the "more money for bigger government" liberals will have a "Make Them Pay!" rally at the State Capitol - organized through MoveOn. After the rally, participants will drive to the Chase branch at NW 23rd & Western where they will "respectfully" ask Chase to pay its "fair share" of taxes.

Wouldn't it be fun if some people showed up with signs that read, "Lower Taxes for Everybody! Make Government Smaller Not Bigger!"

Just a thought.

ADDENDUM - 4/17: Mr. Moore needs to be reminded that 45% of Americans pay no income tax.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Washington returns to business as usual. Run for your lives!

The Senate has issued its report on the economic crisis and found that - aside from a few minor conflicts of interest involving agencies tasked with regulating the banking industry - it's all the banking industry's fault.

In other words, the government had nothing to do with making the banks hand out all those questionable mortgages in the first place.

No, the government had nothing to do with trying to get more people to buy homes and bullying banks into lowering their standards in the name of altruism. Oh no, absolutely not. Move along. There's nothing to see here.

And altruism had nothing to do with making the banks more compliant, more eager to do the bidding of their regulatory overlords. Or getting said overlords to look the other way while bankers made riskier and riskier loans because, after all, owning your home is good for the country!

Why, no. Of course not! Why would anybody ever even think such a thing?

So now, after
a two-year investigation . . . that included four public hearings and the collection of hundreds of internal documents
- according to the story on - everything's all better now, it was all those nasty bankers' fault anyway, and if the government did do anything wrong it was only because it wasn't regulating the banking industry enough!

So now it's safe for Washington to go back to business as usual. All we need, if anything, is more regulations.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Principles: Freedom: For Whom and From What?

The second in the series of debates between Demos and the Ayn Rand Institute takes place Thursday, April 7th, and will explore the nature of freedom.

Debating for Demos will be political theorist Benjamin R. Barber and for the Ayn Rand Institute will be Objectivist philosopher Harry Binswanger.

The debate will be livestreamed starting at 5PM Oklahoma time on Facebook at the page of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.

Notes on the event and preliminary remarks by the debaters can be found at It's A Free Country.

Ideas matter

One of the challenges faced by Objectivists wishing to capitalize on the Atlas Shrugged movie's release is how to explain Ayn Rand's philosophy to those who may experience only a smattering of the political implications of her philosophy while watching the movie, due to the inevitable compression Rand's novel will have undergone to render even a third of the book into a reasonable length film.

Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Institute, recently gave an excellent example of how the current political situation relates to Rand's system of ethics - showing how political ideas rest on a deeper foundation of ethical, metaphysical and epistemological assumptions - and he did it in only 30 minutes!

The event was "Ideas Matter: Ayn Rand's Message to Today's World" - a webcast streamed to several college campuses across the country, in addition to being available on the Internet. It was organized by The Undercurrent, a national newspaper published by Objectivist students for distribution on college campuses. (Not to be confused with the paper of that name at OU!)

Unfortunately the video now available of this event begins with about 15 minutes during which the camera was on but the event had not yet begun, but you can just skip right past that and get to the main event. After Brook's speech, he answered questions from the audience for another hour or so.

Watch live streaming video from ideasmatter at

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Atlas Shrugged" movie coming to OKC

It's official: I received word from the folks at Harkins Theatres today that Atlas Shrugged Part 1 will be opening at the Harkins Bricktown here in Oklahoma City on April 15th.

Apparently the campaign by the film's producers to motivate fans to ask for the movie at their local theaters is working. In the past few days, bookings have jumped from about a dozen to over 80 theaters nationwide, and reports are already starting to surface of sold-out showings.

I plan to be there on opening night. You're more than welcome to join me! If you're interested, let me know on Facebook at Atlas Shrugged Part 1 in OKC!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Atlas Shrugged movie

Here's a clip showing the passage in which Dagny Taggart meets with a union rep about the John Galt Line:

This movie DEFINITELY needs to come to OKC! Do you hear me, theater owners?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Meth and philosophy

Here's a comment I posted online this morning at an editorial on
The anti-pseudoephedrine argument sounds SO familiar: "If only we could limit access to guns, there would be less crime." Wrong.

What motivates people to take drugs like meth in the first place? If they know how it undermines their mental capacities, could it be possible they've been taught that the mind is something NOT to be valued?

Could ultimate responsibility lie in a culture that teaches people to depend on others to make their decisions? To rely on faith rather than reason? That human beings are monsters (Originial Sin) but they'll be allowed to get away with whatever they want (grace)? Have you seen the Diesel ads that proclaim that being stupid is cool?

Or perhaps we should blame the philosophers that lay the foundations of a culture? Such as Immanuel Kant who sought to destroy reason by turning it against itself because he saw the Enlightenment as a threat to the political power of religion?

As long as we continue to evade such issues, our culture remains at risk.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Government: What Is Its Proper Role?

This is the question that underlies every discussion of what government does and how much it should spend.

It is the topic of a debate that will be held at New York University tomorrow evening from 5-7 Oklahoma time. The debaters are Yaron Brook, president of the Ayn Rand Center Institute and Miles Rapoport, president of Demos.

The event will be livestreamed through the Facebook page of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights.

Some preliminary discussion of this issue has already taken place online between Brook and Rapoport. You can read those comments here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Honesty, humility and integrity

Just posted the following comment at Russ Florence's Journal Record column, "Score one for integrity":
Hey Russ - Honesty and integrity don't require humility. In fact, it is possible for a self-effacing person to be dishonest about his abilities and achievements. Such a person can actually undermine himself by appearing to undervalue himself.

Honesty and integrity do require rationality and objectivity - by objectivity I mean the ability to accept reality for what it is - not to distance oneself from it.

This leads to a healthy ego, not a lack of one.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The real debate's lead editorial this morning is entitled "Not inconsistent to want smaller government and snow removal".

It is the writer of this editorial who is being inconsistent.

Here's the comment I left:
"Government exists, in part, to deliver essential services,"

NO. Government exists to protect individual rights.

"Only government is equipped to remove snow from public property"

Here's part of the problem, right here. Over the past century, an idea has been cultivated that only the government can and should do things like build and maintain roads. Yet, prior to that, it was commonly accepted that it was perfectly okay for private concerns to do that - and, in fact, most roads were privately built.

This is where the real debate should be: should the government be involved in things like education, health, roads - and, yes, snow removal - at all?

A government that does step beyond its constitutional mandate must inevitably violate the rights of citizens. If those rights are to have any meaning at all they must be held to be inviolable.
For a while it was commonly accepted that only the government should do things like education and roads. But now there is a growing movement away from that view. Will we ever reach the stage where the idea of a complete separation between the state and things like education is a popular one? It's the way we did things in this country at one time.

What would it take to get back to that? This is the discussion we should be having.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

Here's a great column by Richard Salsman who argues that, yes, there really was a time when it was possible to cut the federal budget - and by susbstantially more than the measly 2% or whatever that the Republicans are currently promising:
U.S. federal spending was cut by 5% in the year through July 1960 compared to the year earlier, and cut by 10% during a previous two-year period (1954-1955), but the biggest cut came with the “demobilization” after World War II. Total federal spending was slashed from a peak of $93 billion in 1945 to $55 billion in 1946, $35 billion in 1947 and $30 billion in 1948, before rising again.

The total, three-year reduction in federal outlays after World War II (1945-1948) was 68% of the prior peak spending level.
Contrast this with Spiropoulos' argument that the government needs more money so it will know how well it's spending our money.

Yeah, right. I guess that "stimulus" argument just isn't working any more, is it, Professor?

Dear Oklahoma Legislature: Just say "No" to Professor Spiropoulos

The Journal Record has posted a guest editorial by OCU professor Andrew C. Spiropoulos, who - believe it or not - actually admonishes Oklahoma's legislators to increase the government's budget, not decrease it!
But if the Legislature cuts its own budget, it isn’t helping the cause of fiscal responsibility – it’s seriously harming it.
And later:
It may sound strange, but if our Legislature is serious about right-sizing government, it needs to increase, not cut, its budget.
Spiropoulos seems to be arguing that the state simply doesn't have enough bureaucracy to oversee its own agencies:
The sad fact is that most legislatures lack the resources to effectively oversee the operation and budgets of state agencies. Each house of our Legislature, for example, has fewer than 10 fiscal staff members to analyze the budgets and operations of about 80 state agencies that receive tax funding. Given this crushing workload, it is impossible for the Legislature and its staff to know whether an agency is wasting money. They are forced to take the word of the agency that its programs are working and deserve to be funded. It would be a rare agency, indeed, that admitted that its programs should be cut.
Well, Professor, first of all I would like to respond that if it's purely a matter of manpower, perhaps if the actual members of the Legislature pitched in with analyzing the agency budgets, I'm sure they could take up the slack.

But I think there's a more important issue here and that is the standard you are using: whether or not an agency is wasting money. A state agency may be doing a perfectly good job of fulfilling its mandate - including spending its budget effectively - and still be in violation of the principles of proper government. The proper function of government is the protection of individual rights and every agency that does not directly contribute to that is, in fact, undermining it.

The proper standard to judge whether a given government agency should exist is the role it plays in protecting individual rights. Of course those agencies should be held accountable for their use of government funds, but creating an entire new layer of bureaucracy just so the government can oversee a bunch of agencies which shouldn't exist in the first place only serves to perpetuate a government that violates rights rather than protecting them.

By the standard of protecting individual rights, such agencies - indeed, the vast majority of the state's entire bureaucracy - should, in fact, not exist.