Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How Not to Fight Against Socialized Medicine

Over at the conservative Big Government website, Ben Domenech tells us about President Obama’s horrifying nomination to head the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in his article, How Donald Berwick Will Run Your Health Care. We read about an enemy of the free market and his "particularly radical agenda when it comes to health policy — an agenda that includes support for massive government rationing and his support of using health care bureaucracy to redistribute wealth."

What's enlightening about this article, which purports to defend America's relatively free healthcare system, is not Donald Berwick's supposedly "radical agenda". Berwick is just another carbon copy of your standard socialist. It’s the free market “defenders” that raises eyebrows. Consider:

[Donald] Berwick "is a great fan of the [British] NHS" who "decries private sector solutions to health care problems, dismissing the “invisible hand of the market” as an “unaccountable system.” Unaccountable, that is, to government central planners. The “invisible hand of the market” refers to the voluntary decisions and actions of free, private individuals, who would become "accountable" to government bureaucrats under Berwick's vision. Yet, this obvious call for dictatorship goes unchallenged.

Robert Goldberg is quoted:

“Berwick complained the American health system runs in the ‘darkness of private enterprise,’ unlike Britain’s ‘politically accountable system.’ The NHS is ‘universal, accessible, excellent, and free at the point of care – a health system that is, at its core, like the world we wish we had: generous, hopeful, confident, joyous, and just’; America’s health system is ‘toxic,’ ‘fragmented,’ because of its dependence on consumer choice.

Goldberg answers Berwick’s charge about the ‘darkness of
private enterprise’ with: “It may not be joyous or just or configured
correctly, but…” No socialist could ever do as much damage to capitalism than this alleged defender who agrees that free markets are not "joyous or just". No amount of utilitarian support for free market healthcare could ever overcome the destructiveness of such a moral concession - and none ever has.

And Avik Roy finds a serious flaw – the First Amendment. “Berwick’s
approach only works if the narrow interests of Congressmen, labor
unions, general hospitals, the AARP, etc., have no influence on the
writing of law.” There’s a solution that would make Berwick happy.
Let’s eliminate “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to
petition the Government…”, and Berwick’s approach “works” just fine.

And Friedrich Hayek comes back to haunt: “the command approach is
doomed to fail because its commanders do not gain accurate information
about what is happening on the ground.” Well, Berwick would probably
say, that problem is now solved. Just give government access to
everyone’s health records electronically, and our powerful bean-
counting supercomputers will give our commanders all of the ground
info they need.

And the final Berwick quote in the article - “The decision is not
whether or not we will ration care. The decision is whether we will
ration with our eyes open.” - goes completely unchallenged
philosophically. In other words, the only choice is between efficient government rationing or archaic free market rationing, agree capitalism's defenders. The real choice, of course, is between Rationing and Freedom. But Berwick, the socialist who "simply believes that the single payer model is the most efficient, and the most easily managed, approach to health care", is simply allowed to get away with it.

Mr. Domenech claims that "Berwick is not particularly ideological". Oh, no? He lays out a consistently statist agenda that is based on fundamental premises such as his "accountability" and "rationing" positions that obliterate the distinction between the governmental and private spheres. Yet, Mr. Domenech offers no rebuttal, implying agreement at root with an avowed socialist.

If one wants an explanation as to why the past 75 years have been a steady progression to where we are now despite the best efforts of the free market Right- at the doorstep of a complete government takeover of American medicine - it's contained in condensed form right in this article. There is plenty of statistical and practical evidence presented here to prove that free markets work better that central planning. Our side has always had the factual proof, yet we continue to lose. Why?

Donald Berwick and his agenda will do tremendous damage to our healthcare. But, he will only be enabled by the accumulation of government power granted to him not only by Obama but by decades of growing government control of medicine. If not him, it would be somebody else. He is just a hitchhiker on a trend. The Right will never win the healthcare battle by conceding all of the basic moral, political, and philosophical premises of the Left.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Russell Crowe vs. the Real Robin Hood

In a recent interview about his new movie, Robin Hood, actor Russell Crowe had this to say:

"The thing that attracts me is that there's some guy out there who will work on behalf of the people who can't do something for themselves. There's a guy there who'll rob from the rich and give to the poor."

I can't help but be reminded of a certain heroic character in a certain novel written by a certain American philosopher, who made it his mission to wipe from mankind's memory the symbol of which Crowe speaks:

"I am fighting the idea that need is a sacred idol requiring human sacrifices - that the need of some men is the knife of a guillotine hanging over others - that all of us must live with our work, our hopes, our plans, our efforts at the mercy of the moment when that knife will decend upon us - and that the extent of our ability is the extent of our danger, so that success will bring our heads down on the block, while failure will give us the right to pull the cord. This is the horror which Robin Hood immortalized as an ideal of righteousness. It is said that he fought against the looting rulers and returned the loot to those who had been robbed, but that is not the meaning of the legend which has survived. He is remembered, not as a champion of property, but as a champion of need, not as a defender of the robbed, but as a provider of the poor. He is held to be the first man who assumed a halo of virtue by practicing charity with wealth which he did not own, by giving away goods which he had not produced, by making others pay for the luxury of his pity. He is the man who became the symbol of the idea that need, not achievement, is the source of rights, that we don't have to produce, only to want, that the earned does not belong to us, but the unearned does. ... Until men learn that of all human symbols, Robin Hood is the most immoral and the most contemptible, there will be no justice on earth and no way for mankind to survive."(page 577)

Ayn Rand recognized that the "meaning of the legend" and the "symbol" were opposites. Russell Crowe apparently clings to the symbol, but perhaps the movie is more true to the actual legend. About the movie, Vulture's Lane Brown saw a Tea Partyer:

"Even though Robin Hood's no-taxation, anti-government philosophy is similar to that of a certain emerging political party, Russell Crowe will have you know that his Robin Hood is no tea-bagger."

No-siree! Robin Hood would be fighting against the First Amendment, which he calls "the monopolization of media". I'm sure he was kidding.

But, sadly, he wasn't kidding in the quote cited above. In an article at National entitled, The real Robin never robbed the rich, John Ridpath, referring to Crowe's personal take on Robin Hood, had this to say:

"It’s an alarming omen to again see Robin Hood heroism mindlessly distorted. Aside from its vacuously erroneous simplicity, this standard image of Robin Hood is grounds for concern about the state of our culture."

Robin Hood, writes Mr. Ridpath, was "an agent of justice" who returned wealth to its rightful owners which "the Norman conquerors and their minions seized, by force..." He was "a defender of the common man’s right to his earned property. He was a courageous enemy of state-enforced robbery."

Furthermore, continues Mr. Ridpath, Crowe's "praising the act of robbery from the rich because it serves the poor, without explaining the context, endorses the immoral principle of forcing the able and productive into sacrificial service of the needy."

The inversion of the legend that turns a hero into the personification of pure evil reminds Mr. Ridpath of a futuristic little novel which carries a desperate warning to us. He concludes:

"Most alarming, however, is the implication of our culture accepting the Robin Hood mantra — he stole from the rich to give to the poor. To the contrary, historians report, and the movie presents by his own words what Robin Hood was after: “Liberty. Under law.” He sought the protection of private property, under law, from robbery by Normans and feudal barony.

"That our culture can unwittingly and with increasing vehemence embrace this unjust and false portrayal of a heroic and virtuous man is evidence of our culture’s intellectual decline. When such virtue is portrayed as economic redistribution for the sake of economic redistribution and equalization, we are on the road to George Orwell’s 1984 — naked tyranny over a citizenry rendered dumb through the abuse of the English language."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Voucher Trojan Horse

The universal pre-school movement and Obama’s federal takeover of all student loans are two overt attempts to extend the government’s education control to the pre-school sector and to higher education, respectively. But the education monopolists are also on the move covertly, under the banner of “parental school choice”. The target is the private K-12 school sector. The means: state-funded vouchers.

Republicans and conservatives are driving the voucher bandwagon in the belief that they are breaking the public school stranglehold. They are making a monumental miscalculation.

Educational freedom means only one thing – no government interference. Put another way, it means the separation of school and state. Government-funded vouchers don’t remove government interference. They reorient and expand that interference, while sailing under the banner of free markets. This is a crucial point to understand. The issue of educational freedom is not a question of which type of government-run education to embrace, but of choosing between government control and no government control. New Jersey is emerging as a major front in the civil rights battle for freedom of education in America.

NJ’s Republican Governor Chris Christie has come out strongly in favor of state-funded vouchers for poor children in “failing” public school districts. That’s only for starters, though. The Record's Washington correspondent Herb Jackson writes of Christie's plans at

“A voucher system that lets any child in New Jersey go to any school, public or private, is the ‘final solution’ to an overly expensive system that continues to fail too many children, Governor Christie said Monday.” (Emphasis added.)

The only silver lining I can see in this plan is that it establishes the principle that parents should choose their children’s school, rather than some government bureaucrat who simply looks at the parents’ address. Once that occurs, we will never go back to the assembly line-like system we have now. That would be a good thing, and at least a small foundation of freedom to build on. Christie’s universal state-funded voucher plan would be better than what we have now, as it would at least embed a measure of quasi-competition within the government-controlled school network. But make no mistake. Vouchers are a bad idea. The Alliance for the Separation of School and State puts it well:

"By creating a flow of money from the state to private schools, vouchers pave a wide road for additional regulations and controls. 'When you reach for the money is when they slip on the handcuffs.'

"A common control is to require voucher-redeeming schools to administer standardized tests [which is included in NJ’s proposed Opportunity Scholarship Act]. These tests, in effect, dictate the curriculum, as the private schools do not wish to have lower test scores than the public schools.

"The net result of these flaws is that if vouchers become commonplace, private and religious schools will become more and more like public schools. In effect, vouchers and other plans for continuing to use tax revenue for schools will kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs of private education."

It should be noted that a bill to establish an initial limited voucher program, called the Opportunity Scholarship Act, is now working its way through the NJ legislature. It has bipartisan, including Left-liberal, support. You can bet that if liberals support something, statism must be lurking nearby.

And so it is. For proof, let’s turn to a leading voice on the opposite side of the ideological divide. The Left-leaning NJ Star-Ledger, the state’s largest newspaper, came out swinging in support of the voucher bill. But contained within their editorial was a clear warning to the conservatives, right on cue – the standardized tests to be imposed on the private schools that receive voucher money, contained in the bill, doesn’t go far enough! The schools must be fully accountable to the state. Here are my posted comments:

Posted by zemack
May 13, 2010, 6:46PM


Parental school choice proponents are walking straight into a trap. Far from bringing competition to the public schools, state-funded vouchers will cripple the private schools, and bring them into the orbit of the government-run public school establishment. The evidence for this position, and a lead to a real pro-capitalist, pro-free market educational reform program, is embedded right in this editorial. The Editors write:

“…the bill fails to hold private schools accountable. It requires them to test voucher students with the same tests given in public schools, and that’s a start. But it has no mechanism to exclude private schools that are failing these kids.”

When the government pays, the government sets the terms. And it will. The issue is not accountability or no accountability, but to whom private schools are accountable. If government determines the success or failure of the private school – the same government that runs the public school monopoly – then the whole point of school choice is moot. Private schools become an extension of the same system that makes choice necessary. So, where does one find a “mechanism to exclude private schools that are failing these kids?” The customers – i.e., the parents – make that determination. That is the whole point of competition. The Editors seem to believe that the parents are smart enough to pick the school, but not smart enough to determine if that school is doing the job for their children. This is a bizarre contradiction. As the Editors make clear, when the government pays, the government controls. This is a prescription for the mediocretization of the private schools.

So, if not vouchers, then what? The Editors point to the solution – tax credits. The Editors seem to be aware of the corrupting and controlling nature of government funding in relation to religion:

“To avoid violating the constitutional separation between church and state, the bill would not send state money directly to parochial schools. The money would come from private corporations, which would be compensated with tax credits…”

The separation doctrine is the critical political mechanism for upholding the First Amendment right to freedom of religion. If we are going to have true school choice – which means, freedom of education – we need to get politics out of education just as religion is free from political interference. We need the separation of school and state for the same reasons we need the separation of church and state. The first step towards that goal is to expand the corporate education tax credit idea to all families and individuals. This idea is more complex than can be dealt with here. But the tax credit idea would keep private schools truly private, for the same reason that tax credits, as the Editors correctly note, would keep religion private. The payment would come from private, not government, sources.

State-funded vouchers provide the rational for ever-widening establishment control. This bill is not capitalism nor is it true competition for the public schools, as some correspondents argue here. A true free market, parental choice alternative leaves parents and educators free to contract voluntarily with each other, to mutual advantage, without government interference except as an enforcer of that contract. Vouchers make that contractual freedom impossible because, as has been shown, the government becomes the arbiter of educational success or failure, rather than the parents who know their children best.

I urge anyone who values school choice to oppose government vouchers with all of the intellectual firepower they can muster. The Opportunity Scholarship Act and any such government-funded voucher scheme is a Trojan horse for expanding the government’s public education monopoly over private schools. (Are you listening, my Republican and conservative friends?) It should be defeated, and a true reform bill modeled on tax credits and the principle of independence for educators and parents is the way to go, as a step towards a fully free market in education.

Governor Christie intends no small, half-way measures. His approach is bold, aggressive, and courageous. He means to engage the entrenched establishment, including the coercive political power of the state teachers’ union, in full frontal ideological combat. He has done us a huge service by bringing education to the front burner in a big way. The government-run public school monopoly has been put on notice - your days are numbered in New Jersey. For this, he deserves enormous credit.

Unfortunately, his energetic enthusiasm is hitched to the wrong solution. While some measure of educational improvement is bound to occur early on, if his plan is fully implemented, the very advantages of private education that makes parental choice so appealing will eventually be washed away. They will get smothered by establishment conditions attached to their voucher checks, as the bureaucratic handcuffs are slipped on and their entrepreneurial freedom such as it is slips away.

We are at a moment in time when the principle of freedom of education is being taken seriously. It is critical that we get it right. Whatever happens now, we are unlikely to get another crack at real education reform for a long time to come. And, if the voucher plan doesn’t live up to expectations – and it is unlikely to – free market solutions will again take the blame even though no free market will have been given a chance. Government-funded school vouchers paid to government regulated schools is statism, plain and simple.

In his speech to the school choice advocacy group American Federation for Children, Christie called the universal voucher idea the “final solution” to our education problems. No, it isn’t. It is the final solution for the full government takeover of all education. The right path to take is for a system of comprehensive, non-redistributive tax credits for education as a step – and only a step - towards true freedom of education: the separation of school and state.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Christie's "War on the Court"

As I stated in my post of 5/7/10, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continued to rile political feathers when he ousted a sitting state Supreme Court justice in favor of another nominee. This was Christie's first of four opportunities he will have to nominate new justices, thus giving him the ability to ideologically reshape the seven-member court to his liking.

Christie and the GOP have attacked what they believe is an "activist" court which "legislates from the bench". There is some truth to this. Their decisions have resulted in the imposition of affordable housing quotas on towns and the creation of the state income tax. Proceeds from that tax are used for what I call municipal welfare, but what is officially called state "aid", whereby revenues are raised from taxpayers in some towns to fund services in others, mostly for public schools.

The court's deep interference into education financing is the biggest bugaboo. Beginning in 1973, the high court began systematically imposing state financing for certain local public school districts known as "Abbott", along with a state income tax to pay for it – by judicial fiat. State funding was ultimately expanded to include all school districts. Municipal welfare now consumes more than half the state budget – almost all of it for public schools. But was the court really resorting to activism by mandating statewide funding of public schools? Or was it simply applying constitutional law? I believe the latter, which exposes a major flaw in the GOP's political strategy. They have declared what columnist Paul Mulshine has called a "war on the Court". But they have declared the wrong war.

In a recent column, Paul Mulshine focuses on the loud political tussle between Christie and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, who vows not to hold confirmation hearings on the governor's new nominee. Mr. Mulshine believes Christie will prevail in this confrontation, and writes:

"I don’t believe the governor truly intended to end up over here with us angry right-wingers. But the longer he hangs out here, the more he might come to like it."

In my posted comments to Mr. Mulshine's 5/6/10 article, I identified what I believe to be the right strategy ... albeit a more difficult one:

Posted by zemack
May 06, 2010, 6:30PM

While I applaud Governor Christie’s gutsy move to remake the court, we on the Right must come to grips with the fact that the fundamental source of the problem is the “thorough and efficient” clause in the NJ constitution. That clause reads:

“The Legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of free public schools for the instruction of all the children in the State between the ages of five and eighteen years.”

Article VIII, Section 4 puts the state on a collision course with individual rights – specifically, the rights of parents to control their own children’s education. The philosophical root of that clause is the idea that every child has a “right” to an education. But a right, under American principles and the laws of nature, is a guarantee to freedom of action, such as freedom of speech or freedom of religious faith and practice. Rights are not an automatic claim to products or services that must be provided by others. Parents have a right to pursue an education for their child, not demand that someone else provide it. Yet, parents forcing others to provide for their own children’s education is exactly what the NJ constitution sanctions. This leaves parents who don’t want to turn control of their children over to the state increasingly out in the cold.

Whenever a government attempts to enforce a right to a material benefit, it must ultimately force people to pay for and/or provide it. This means wealth redistribution and government control. There is no other way. The state must ultimately control every aspect of that industry. We see that process playing out in healthcare. Education is no different.

Republicans have been losing the national healthcare battle for decades because they won’t challenge the idea that there is a right to healthcare. The result will ultimately be totalitarian socialized medicine. Likewise, the GOP will lose the education battle in NJ as well, unless it challenges the principle of a right to an education. In his column of 3/29/09, Mr. Mulshine wrote, “…the Republicans are ready for a bench-clearing brawl. The two most conservative contenders in the GOP gubernatorial primary have declared war on the court.” Now, as he predicted might happen, so apparently has Chris Christie.

The “war on the court” is a good and necessary opening salvo, but that is not where permanent victory will be achieved. The court’s education power grab rests on the “thorough and efficient” clause. Debating the exact meaning and application of article VIII, section 4, or of its original intent, won’t cut it. The problem is not one of interpretation, but of the very existence of the clause. As long as it remains it will have to be enforced, either legislatively or through the courts, regardless of any temporary respite a Christie remake of the court will engender. The court is indeed a cause of today’s fiscal crisis and of the bloated and tyrannical education establishment. Its decisions led to the creation of the income tax-funded municipal welfare scheme, which now consumes more than half the state budget. But the court is not the ultimate cause. The ultimate cause is the NJ constitution.

I submit that the fight must be taken to the constitutional level, which means to the philosophical battleground. The fight is over the nature of individual rights, and the proper function of government. It is a daunting task to amend the constitution and repeal that clause. I acknowledge that. But it is the only real course of action, I believe. This is a civil rights battle, and the question is: Who has the basic right and responsibility to educate the child – the state or the parents who brought the child into the world? As long as the “thorough and efficient” clause remains, the state will win at the expense of the individual rights of the parents and of the taxpayers.

New Jersey needs this ideological debate.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Abortion-Only Laissez-Faire?

A principle is an abstract concept that can literally be applied to a potentially unlimited number of concrete issues. When one announces explicit adherence to a principle, he offers to others a firm yardstick by which to evaluate one's loyalty to that principle as it relates to his position on many issues. One way to evade that scrutiny is to simply deny that principles exist ... i.e., to declare that there are no absolutes. Absolutes do exist, of course, but denying them rationalizes evasion. That way, when confronted with someone who names the essentials underpinning one's opinion on some concrete issue, that person can simply evade the responsibility of refuting the other's argument.

This is the usual liberal mindset. Electing politicians to rob your neighbor to pay for your healthcare is not the same as you burglarizing your neighbor's home to pay for your healthcare because, well, there are no absolutes. Robbery is not robbery if you call it democracy.

So the Left-leaning NJ Star-Ledger offered a welcome surprise when it opened an editorial by boldly proclaiming a principle in defense of its opposition to a new Oklahoma abortion law. It states:

"Anyone concerned about keeping government from getting between doctors and their patients should be upset about what happened last week in Oklahoma."

The specifics of the law are not my primary concern in this post. But to briefly review the legal issue here, I qoute from the Star-Ledger:

"Republican legislators overrode their Democratic governor’s veto to pass a law forcing a woman who chooses abortion to first undergo an ultrasound of the fetus. The law requires her doctor to describe details of the image and turn the screen so the patient can view it."

I do believe that a provider of abortion services has an ethical obligation to see that his patient has all relevant information concerning the procedure and its consequences that she is considering, just as with the seller of any other product. Viewing an ultrasound of the fetus she is about to abort provides relevant information, and so a case can be made that the doctor's patient should understand fully that the fetus she is considering terminating is a developing human being - her own child. Just as with the condition that the hero of Atlas Shrugged imposes on those who join his rebellion against tyranny, it's never good to fake reality in any manner whatever.

I don't believe, however, that it should be mandated by law. A woman has a right to decide for herself, and the doctor has the right to set the terms and conditions of his own practice. Should a woman view the ultrasound, either by her own choice or as a condition for having the abortion? This is clearly a matter between a doctor and his patient.

But that is beside the main point I want to make here. The Star-Ledger has consistently promoted all manner of government interference into healthcare, including its recent loud support for ObamaCare. By boldly proclaiming that government should not be "getting between doctors and their patients", it (unwittingly?) opened up its entire range of opinions on healthcare to scrutiny as it relates to its stated principle. And make no mistake, the national debate on healthcare rests squarely on the question of the doctor-patient relationship.

I seized on the Editors' opening statement of principle, and posted the following commentary.

Posted by zemack
May 05, 2010, 8:32PM

Suddenly, the Star-Ledger supports a free market! Or do they? The Editors write:

“Anyone concerned about keeping government from getting between doctors and their patients should be upset about what happened last week in Oklahoma.”

Exactly!! And “Anyone concerned about keeping government from getting between doctors and their patients” should also be concerned about plenty of other medical issues.

The FDA routinely blocks doctors from writing prescriptions for, and their patients from receiving, promising experimental drugs not yet approved by that agency. Now, if ever there were an example of “government … getting between doctors and their patients”, there it is on a massive scale.

How about the 60-year-old woman who is forced to include maternity care coverage in her health insurance policy because of a state insurance mandate, even though she can no longer have children? There are thousands of such benefit mandates nationwide, with NJ being the worst offender. Now there is an example of government getting between the insured and her health insurer. How about eliminating all mandates and interstate trade barriers, and instituting HSAs for all individuals and families, so that the healthcare consumer can buy a policy that fits his needs and budget, directly from an insurance industry liberated to tailor individual policies according to market realities rather than politically connected special interests demanding mandates?

How about the third-party-payer, or employer-based, system which either ties you to your job for the sake of health insurance, or strips you of that coverage if you lose your job? Now there is an example of the government coming between you and your health insurance.

How about Medicare, which last year refused to cover virtual colonoscopies for people who paid Medicare taxes all of their working lives? Or how about an elderly family member of mine who is suspected of having cancer, but the tests are inconclusive? Her oncologist wants to prescribe an advanced type of diagnostic test called a PET scan which he says will conclusively establish the existence or nonexistence of the cancer, but Medicare refuses to allow it until – are you ready for this? - cancer is already confirmed! Now there are two more instances of “government … getting between doctors and their patients.”

How about ObamaCare, which vastly expands the government’s power to dictate who gets what healthcare when and at what price, and turns insurers into mere conduits for government-approved policies?

The fact is, the Editors have no problem with government getting between the patient and all manner of healthcare providers in all areas of medicine, except where the termination of a pregnancy is concerned. Then, a woman has an unfettered right.

Well, fair enough. I agree with the Editors on the abortion issue. Leaving aside the specifics of the Oklahoma law, I agree with the principle that the abortion decision is an exclusive matter between the doctor and his patient that government should not interfere with. The Editors boldly pronounce that “Anyone concerned about keeping government from getting between doctors and their patients should be upset about what happened last week in Oklahoma.” Well, government interference is definitely a concern of mine, which is why I support a free market across the healthcare board. But not the Editors, whose concern about abortion rights rings hollow.

Only a massive dose of evasion and self-deception can cause the Editors to fail to see that their very same laissez-faire logic in the Oklahoma case applies to all areas relating to healthcare.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Tea Party Movement - A Progress Report

The Tea Party Movement has entered its second year, and there is no shortage of opinions as to what, exactly, it stands for. Attempts to paint the movement as an “AstroTurf” extension of GOP “operatives” flopped under the weight of the evidence. Leaving aside the irrelevant cranks and their smears of “racism” and the like, it is now seen for what it is – a massive, peaceful grass roots uprising whose members have something to say. The NJ Star-Ledger's Mark DiIonno makes this point, calling the movement “largely a non-violent, grassroots movement in the great American tradition of criticizing government.” It’s about ideas, but what ideas?

The fact is, the Tea Party Movement can’t be narrowed down to a single issue or two. But the general direction it will take is beginning to come into focus. Significantly, that focus is being sharpened not by some charismatic voice – the movement is still leaderless – but by the same grass roots source from which it sprang.

So we should turn to real live Tea Partyers themselves. Tea Party Patriots, which boasts many heavyweight sponsors, has recently hosted a “debate” for Tea Partyers nationwide. Participants were asked to submit a list of ten points that they believe should define the movement. The top ten suggestions became what is called the Contract From America, a manifesto derived directly from grassroots America.

What I see is very encouraging. The contract page states:

“The Contract from America serves as a clarion call for those who recognize the importance of free market principles, limited government, and individual liberty.”

When I read the Contract, one thing that struck me is that which is not on the list. The social agenda of the Religious Right – bans on abortion, stem-cell research, and gay marriage, to name a few – is conspicuous for its absence. This is a very healthy sign for the future of the movement.

To be sure, the main themes of “Individual Liberty, Limited Government, and Economic Freedom” are rather weak in their definitions. Under Individual Liberty, we are told that our “liberties [rights?] are inherent, not granted by our government.” Good so far, but undercut by the admonition against “excessive control over our economic choices.” How does one define excessive? Even Obama would claim to be against “excessive regulations”. Limited Government is not bad, but could be more clear. “The purpose of our government”, or any government, is to protect individual rights. The idea that government must “exercise only those limited powers that have been relinquished to it by the people” is an important constitutional principle but is only a means to that end. Economic Freedom is the weakest, relying on the utilitarian argument that free markets merely work best. Economic freedom is the corollary of the moral concept of individual rights, and means the separation of economics and state. These must be clearly articulated.

The action agenda is a mixed bag. Here is my brief take on the ten point agenda:

1. Doesn’t account for the Constitution’s weaknesses. For example, like the “commerce clause” that authorizes the federal government to “regulate” economic activity between the states, the call for freedom “from excessive control” is an opening wedge of statism.

2. Basically OK

3. OK, but government borrowing is not the real problem, the level of spending is. And I question the use of a constitutional amendment.

4. Although I favor repeal, this is good. A flat tax would be much better than what we have now, and more moral.

5. This is perhaps the most dangerous to our cause. A “Blue Ribbon taskforce” has always been an excuse to do nothing. Worse, shifting federal “agencies and programs [down to] the states or local authorities” is no answer to big government. Tyranny at any level is bad. “Assessing their Constitutionality” presupposes an assessment of how our constitution has been watered down and torn from its original purpose of protecting the individual from the government. In our current confused state, strict adherence to the constitution is not enough. A full-fledged, knock-down ideological battle over constitutional principles is called for.

6. No arbitrary formula will work. Runaway spending is a consequence of our lack of respect for individual rights, especially property rights.

7. Good. Must be expanded into a comprehensive, principled plan that ultimately examines every government intrusion into American medicine from Medicare to the FDA.

8. Bad. The best policy is no policy. Get the government out of the way, and leave energy producers free to produce whatever energy they can for whatever their customers will buy, consistent with the government’s role as a rights-protector.

9. See point 6.

10. A good short-term political goal to shoot for. Simple, straightforward, and good economics.

The Contract is vague and focused on non-essentials, and is flawed in many respects. What the Tea Party needs to understand is that compromise is the enemy of its goals. This is something that the Left long ago grasped. They are steadfastly consistent in upholding the “right” of the have-nots to drain the haves, with all that that implies. They lecture Republicans and conservatives about “bipartisanship”, accuse them of “polarizing”, and warn them against being “ideologues” – even as they themselves cleave uncompromisingly to the essential tenets of collectivism. Their current leader, Barack Obama, preaches the gospel of altruism loudly, proudly, and with full certainty that he can get away with it.

Republicans and conservatives swallow this claptrap, and end up compromising on anything. The Democrats give a little legislative ground, throw a bone to the GOP, and almost always end up moving the ball further toward the goal line of socialism. This is how a century of ever-growing statism has whittled away at our freedom. The Tea Party Movement has the potential to end this charade. Embedded within it is the one faction with the philosophical firepower to stand up to the Left – the Objectivists. Objectivists won’t compromise on their ironclad adherence to ethical egoism, individualism, the proper function of government, laissez-faire capitalism, and the belief in the ability and the political and moral right of every person to run and take responsibility for his own life and to pursue his own happiness. Christian conservatives, economic conservatives, libertarians, and all other Tea Party factions must ultimately be won over to Objectivist principles if the TPM is to succeed in turning the statist trend. Like America’s original radicals, the Founding Fathers, Objectivists know that compromise on basic moral principles will be the death knell for their cause. The Left knows this as well. The rest of the Tea Party must learn it, too. I believe they can and, ultimately, will.

My criticism of the Contract From America here is constructive. The flaws in this Contract are fixable. The goals the contract strives for are laudable. But the only way to cohere the Contract into an effective message is to anchor all of its components to common fundamental principles. The principle of individual rights and a government limited by that idea; the epistemological and moral underpinnings of individual rights (reason and egoism); the view of man as an autonomous individual with his own life as an end it itself and not as his brothers’ keeper; the sole and proper function of government as a rights protector; etc., are loosely implied but not explicitly articulated. This is a must.

Despite its shortcomings, the fledgling Tea Party Movement (TPM) is maturing nicely, as we move into Year 2. The secular focus is a good and surprising development, considering the Christian Right’s attempts to hijack it. If it can keep its secular focus, there is a huge opportunity to keep the movement alive, expanding, and on the correct course, while steering the movement toward the right fundamental ideas. The Contract is a good starting point, and leaves the road open to mold, correct, and expand it into a more philosophically focused manifesto. This is vital to the long-term viability of the movement and its effectiveness in evolving into a potent political force. If the TPM is to “fundamentally change the United States of America” for the better (to borrow Obama’s phrase), it must sharpen it message and zero in on fundamental principles.

Although the Left fantasizes about sabotaging the TPM, and despite smear tactics such as Bill Clinton’s sneaky equivocation of Tea Partyers to the anarcho-terrorist Timothy McVeigh, the biggest threat to it comes from the Religious Right, which hopes to gain dominance over the movement. This would destroy it. Religious conservatives claim a hefty portion of the TPM: almost half, by some estimates. They have a right to their opinions, and to advocate their cause through persuasion and their free speech rights. Indeed, the right to pursue and uphold one's values is a key American principle that the Tea Party exists to defend. But the stated goal of Religious Right activists is to impose their rights-violating social agenda by law...i.e., by force. So far, they have not succeeded. They must not be allowed to.

This is not at all a call to excommunicate pro-capitalist, pro-American Christians from the movement. It is a call to keep the rights-violating Christian activist social agenda out of it, because otherwise the Tea Party would disintegrate. If our only answer to the statist Left is to replace it with our own brand of statism, then I and most Tea Partyers are out. The TPM is a movement of, by, and for Independents (regardless of the official party affiliation). Independents, who represent America’s largest political block and who have turned against the Obama Democrats en mass, are best characterized as economically conservative and socially liberal. Independents don’t want government telling them what to do with their property or their bodies, who they can buy what products from or who they can marry.

As we await, hope for and fight for that central philosophical message the Tea Party Movement so desperately needs, the question remains: Is there any unifying message or symbol that can accurately define the Tea Party Movement as it currently stands, and characterizes all of its disparate elements? Yes, I believe there is. Some 235 years ago, as the Revolutionary War got under way, the American rattlesnake emerged as the symbol of defiance and rebellion, culminating in the creation of the Gadsden Flag. If there is one thing that permeates the entire movement, it is the feeling that we are being pushed around, and we want it to stop. Tea Partyers are overwhelmingly fearful of a government that has broken free of its constitutional and moral constraints. This is why the Gadsden flag (“Don’t Tread on Me”), the symbol of the American Revolution, fits the current TPM so well.

The TPM is a powerful phenomenon. Make no mistake about that. It is much, much bigger than the number of active marchers who attend the rallies. Almost everyone I talk to these days - and I am around a lot of trade union types – is fearful of the direction the country is taking. That fear centers around not merely the economy (which is beginning to improve), but the generally growing government control of our lives. Most people I talk to are aligned with the spirit of the movement, whether they know it consciously or not. There are tens of millions of Americans who silently sympathize with the Tea Party activists. This is the insignia of successful national course-altering movements – a small group of vocal activists backed by widespread popular support.

The first political tests of the strength of the TPM occurred with the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial elections followed by the Massachusetts shocker. This year’s mid-term elections will be a much bigger test. I expect the coming midterms to be a firm confirmation of its strength, with the Republican Party being the big beneficiary. How the GOP responds to their anticipated big gains will be a test of their party’s relevance. Will they finally stand on free market principles? Or will it be another hollow “victory”, the final nail in their sorry compromising coffin? The answer to those questions will determine if the Tea Party needs to evolve into a genuine Third Political Party.

The Tea Party Movement could be, I suspect, the beginning of a second American Revolution. There are too many Americans who will not sit idly by any longer as their freedom steadily erodes. Just as with the Revolutionaries who fought for and created this nation, the Tea Party represents perhaps 1/3 to ½ of the population. But just as the Revolutionaries succeeded, so can we – if, like our forebears, we cast off the poison of compromise and adhere to our principles. This nation will not be allowed to slide down the well-worn path to tyranny previously taken by the collectivist hellholes of the 20th century – not without a fight.

The unified rebellion I foresaw developing under a statist Obama Administration continues to exceed my expectations. As of this writing, I can say that the TPM is shaping up to be the first significant resistance to the socialist/statist trend that began a century ago. Obama's declared intention to fundamentally change America may succeed in a way that he could not have envisioned. His aggressive statism may, repeat may, be like a "blowoff top" that signals the end of a stock bull market, represent the terminal stage of the long trend toward dictatorship. Most importantly, it is being led, not by prominent political or intellectual leaders, but literally by we the people. From the TPM we will see emerge, hopefully, the necessary political leadership as the movement continues to evolve. That can only happen when it is understood that ideas determine political direction.

Slowly, those ideas are re-emerging from America's revolutionary past.

Long live the Tea Party Movement, and:

Long Live Lady Liberty!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Racism, Idealism, and Justice

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie boldly moved to reshape the state's highest court when he refused to renominate sitting Supreme Court Justice John Wallace, instead nominating Anne Patterson, a Morris County attorney, to replace him.

To say this move is contraversial is an understatement. Christie rightly sees this court as the driving force behind New Jersey's burgeoning welfare state. Over the years, the high court has literally forced legislation that created the state income tax to fund the creation of municipal welfare. The resulting municipal state aid program has grown to where it now eats up more than half of the state's budget.

The Left is furious. Tom Moran has a column entitled Gov. Christie may have picked a fight he's 'almost certain to lose' with N.J. Supreme Court nominee, in which he lists multiple reasons why this decision is a bad one. There is one reason that didn't draw much attention, if the comments section is any indication. But it is of major importance, I believe, and triggered this comment response from me:

Posted by zemack
May 04, 2010, 5:51PM

There are numerous flaws in Tom Moran's reasoning, I believe. But by far the most egregious is this brief poisonous statement:

"Leave aside even the fury among African-Americans who now have no voice on the court."

No Voice??? Are we to assume that justice is not a concern of African-Americans? Any judge who cleaves to a rigidly objective standard of justice is the voice of all people regardless of the wholly irrelevant issue of race. I most strongly object to the racist premise that underlies this criticism of Governor Christie's decision. I am also very offended.

Justice relates only to the individual actions related to that which is in direct control of a person's volition, or free will. No person has control over his genetic lineage.

The implication is that African-Americans need racial favors from the court, because they are incapable of succeeding in a just society of political equality. They are incapable of individual self-determination, personal goal-directed achievement, self-esteem, and a mind of their own. By implication, the same goes for Italian-Americans like myself. This highly offends me not only because it is a slap at reason and American principles, but because it is a declaration that I too am incapable of the above-cited virtues as well. Do Italians also need a "voice" on the High Court? How about all other ethnic groups? The Racial determinists must say yes. Then you have no justice, because no one is judged as an individual with his own self-made character, but as an inconsequential cell in some racial amoeba which reigns supreme under some self-appointed "leader" or "voice".

Haven't we learned anything from humanity's barbaric tribal past, or from the brutality of 20th century collectivism? Hasn't the American experience shown once and for all that the individual man, and only the individual man, is the one and supreme value?

There is only one voice that belongs to any court of law - the voice of justice. And I don't mean the anti-concept "social justice", which is rooted in collectivist ideology and is designed to obliterate the actual concept of justice. No subjective whims, including race, should ever come between a jurist's judgement of the objective facts as they relate to objective law, and his judicial decisions.

Whatever reasons one has for supporting or opposing Christie's decision, Justice John Wallace's status as an alleged tribal "voice" has no place in the discussion - and no place in the judicial selection process of a country whose very symbol is that of a blindfolded Lady Justice! No civility or brotherhood will ever be possible as long as unchosen group affiliation like race supersedes as a factor of judgement to any degree the volitional actions and natural autonomy of individuals.

It's long past time that we expunged racism in all of its manifestations - Left, Right, or center.

Another correspondent answered me with this:

Posted by DisgruntledAndDisillusioned
May 04, 2010, 6:26PM
To zemack,

I enjoyed your post, I found it inspiring and idealistic, but unfortunately unrealistic. For even though justice is blind, the actors in it's theatre seldom are. The very concept of justice is debatable, which is why there is always at least two sides to an argument. That being the case a jurist is a product of his/her background & experiences, and that background is key component of their judical opinion, like it or not. So with that in mind, aren't we best served by a judical body that is representative of all it's people?

The belief that the ideal is not the practical is very prevalent and very dangerous. It says that the good can not be attained, and that the best we can hope for is some grey life crapshoot that leaves us DisgruntledAndDisillusioned. I attempted to answer this soul as best I can in a short space. It's obvious he is not yet a lost cause, and can still be rescued from today's intellectual muck.

Posted by zemack
May 04, 2010, 7:22PM


Idealistic? Yes. Unrealistic?. Certainly not.

There are indeed “at least two sides to an argument”, but there is only one reality and it exists independent of any man’s consciousness. This means the facts and the truth are out there, and they are the final arbiters of any dispute. The human mind is capable of discovering the facts and rendering a just decision, but only if one chooses to commit oneself to objectivity. The right decisions may not happen every time, as humans are fallible, but that doesn’t mean objectivity is not possible and should not be pursued.

No one is determined by “his/her background & experiences”. Every one of us must choose – to think or not. A person who blindly allows himself to be mentally “shaped” by the influences he is exposed to is not a “product” of his background, but of his own choice not to think and judge. But anyone is capable of rising above any background influences and excercising independence.

The concept of justice is possible as long as there are people unwilling to default on that responsibility to think. There are. Those kinds of jurists, the ones who cleave to reason as an absolute and consciously refuse to allow non-objective influences like “background” to become “a key component of their judicial opinion”, are the kinds that belong on the courts. That is what makes the ideal of justice realistic.

Your final question was answered in my original post.

Thanks for your interest in my comments. The fact that you responded this way shows that you haven’t completely lost your idealism, or become completely disillusioned. The ideal is possible and necessary, but only if we fight for it. Get it back!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Farmer's "All-American Socialism"

Is Socialism "all-American? The Star-Ledger's John Farmer thinks so. In his latest piece, If Obama's policies are 'socialism,' America has had socialism for 150 years, Mr. Farmer argues that "socialism — meaning some form of active federal government involvement in the economy and in the growth of the country — has been with us since the 1860s." While all government intervention cannot be defined as socialism in the narrow sense, they all are based on the collectivist premise that undergirds all forms of statism - the public good or interest.

That government intervention has been going on in America almost since its Founding is certainly true, although he commits the same error that he accuses Newt Gingrich of committing- failing to specifically define his terms. Mr. Gingrich, according to Mr. Farmer, doesn't define "radical". But Mr. Farmer doesn't define "federal intervention in the economy". Instead, he merely asserts that any government action constitutes government economic intervention.

But a proper government protects the individual's right to pursue his own economic interest by ensuring his right to act upon his own judgement, to set his own goals, to freely pursue those goals, to keep and control the property he earns, and to take responsibility for his own economic welfare. An improper government interjects bureaucratic edicts between the individual's mind and his actions, forcing him to act contrary to his own judgement and self-interest where no rights-violating behavior took place. It confiscates his property and/or "regulates it" for the unearned benefit of others, etc. Mr. Farmer pretends to see no difference between the two types of government actions.

But there is a crucial difference. I pointed out his error in these comments:

John Farmer denies that he is arguing for "stand-alone", i.e., totalitarian, socialism, then provides perfect evidence for why we are heading their. Describing the first piece of that evidence, he writes:

"Obama’s national health insurance reform is merely the logical capstone to [FDR's and LBJ's] New Deal and Great Society social revolutions."

That "logical capstone" is part of the logical step-by-step progression towards socialist statism that permeates all areas of the economy in varying degrees. Also embedded within ObamaCare is the "logical capstone" to another Great Society initiative - the Federal Student Loan Program. The government takeover of all student loans that was attached to ObamaCare leads logically to the eventual total federal control of higher education. Obama is no "small potatoes", having built upon two prior statist initiatives to advance America towards centralized control in both healthcare and education with just one signature!

The second bit of evidence is Mr. Farmer's reference to TR's "trust-busting", "surely a major federal intervention in the economy." Surely it was, and his lambasting of the "convenient blindness" of Gingrich and conservatives is spot-on. The last century plus has been a steady, bi-partisan advance towards socialism.

The socialist advance is being facilitated by default because of our failure to understand the proper function of government, and the difference between protecting economic freedom and crushing it. The consequence is the growth of the mixed economy, which Mr. Farmer cherishes. The government's only legitimate role is to protect individual political rights. Mr. Farmer cites two examples of this role and erroneously calls them "interventions into the economy". Protecting settlers from Plains Indians (the military) and the Homestead Act (objective law) are examples of proper government actions. Most of the actual economic interventions cited by Mr. Farmer, including the 1860s federal creation of the railroad monopolies for which capitalism unjustly took the blame, are examples of creeping socialism which a proper government does not engage in. A government in a laissez-faire capitalist society is constitutionally limited to setting rules of conduct based upon objective laws (such as the Homestead Act). Its power is restrained within the limits of the moral law embodied in the principle of individual political rights, which are sanctions to freedom of action, not an automatic claim to the property of others through redistributionist schemes.

A mixed economy is an incompatible conflict between freedom and dictatorship. America's 20th century philosopher Ayn Rand, the moral defender of Americanism and our Last Founding Father, exposed the mixed economy's nature decades ago:

"A mixed economy is rule by pressure groups. It is an amoral, institutionalized civil war of special interests and lobbies, all fighting to seize a momentary control of the legislative machinery, to extort some special privilege at one another’s expense by an act of government—i.e., by force."

Mr. Farmer's beloved "careful mix of market capitalism to generate wealth and enough social welfare to smooth out its inequities" is in reality a steady progression towards what I believe neither he nor most of today's politicians truly want - "stand-alone socialism". Each time some pressure group extracts some legislative initiative to force on all of us in order to correct its own idea of an "inequity" is a step in that direction.

Supporters of the mixed economy such as John Farmer are afflicted by their own brand of "convenient blindness" - the belief that it is possible to strike a balance between the voluntary, uncoerced association and trade of private productive citizens, and the demands of pressure groups backed by legislative force. The guy with the governmental gun (political connections) will win against the legally disarmed (politically unconnected) citizen every time. ObamaCare is proof of that.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Link Between Illegal Immigration and the Welfare State

Objectivist Gus Van Horn, a Boston neuroscientist, has published an interesting immigration piece at Pajamas Media entitled, Treat the Cause, Not the Symptom: Welfare State Is Draw for Illegals The article is in response to a controversial new Arizona law.

His argument is pretty straightforward so I won't comment on it except to state that I agree with his essential point.

I would, however, like to focus on an issue that I will be dealing with shortly. Mr. Van Horn writes:

"Take education. In Texas, where I lived for twenty years, schoolchildren commonly cross the border from Mexico to attend public schools. Many Americans there are justifiably upset about being taxed to educate non-citizens. I sympathize, but see this as a symptom of an even larger problem: I have no children at all, and yet I have been taxed to finance the educations of other people’s children for decades. I still am, even though I now live far from the Mexican border.

"What difference does fencing out “freeloaders” make to me if my own countrymen scoff at the very idea of paying to educate their own children..."

Correspondent Fantom writes in response that if Gus Van Horn is true to his "screed", he would forgo his own welfare state benefits.

There is a crucially important issue here that those of us consistent Rightists must grasp. Do opponents of socialism need to refuse any and all government benefits in order to stay true to their beliefs? Here is how I addressed that question.

My commentary:

The author’s point is well taken. The failure to logically consider cause and effect in this country is a key reason that our problems keep getting compounded by piling legislation on top of legislation while treating only the symptoms.

I’d like to further address Fantom’s point about education, Social Security, and Medicare, with an analogy. He writes early on:

“I am somewhat amused by the Authors use of paying for others children to attend school when he has none himself and calling it welfare. I find it ironic that it is someone else’s kids who will be paying his SS and Mediscam. No doubt Gus will turn down those bennie’s as he will not want to be a hypocrite be accepting welfare after penning this screed.” (April 30, 2010 – 5:13 am)

Suppose I am assaulted on the street by a thug, and subsequently turned over my wallet at gunpoint. Should I then be barred from testifying against the thug in court? Wouldn’t someone like Fantom consider my testimony then to be hypocritical? If not, why not? After all, did I not participate in the crime? But the thug had a gun, right? Well, so does the government and, in effect, does anyone who supports those programs. If I scheme to evade those taxes, I get arrested, fined, and jailed. That government programs are camouflaged behind the legal curtain of law does not change their essential nature.

My wife and I have paid in $414,396 in combined SS @ Medicare taxes, including the employer’s “share” (which is actually paid by the employee), as of December 2008. This is according to our official government statements. Add in a reasonable rate of return over the past four-plus decades and you’re probably looking at a potential nest egg of close to a million bucks. That’s what the government is holding of our money. Yet, Fantom argues that we must either forgo any “bennie” return on our own money or shut our traps!

Participating in a government program I am forced to pay for while simultaneously arguing for repeal is neither wrong nor hypocritical. Declaring that by collecting promised benefits from a program I disagree with morally negates my free speech rights is no different from denying my right to testify against a street thug who robs me at gunpoint.

Fantom has exposed a little-appreciated, hidden danger of welfare state dependency – the covert power to silence the opposition and render the First Amendment irrelevant.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Capitalists in a Statist's Land of Oz

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne’s latest piece is a classic example of a phenomenon identified in the novel Atlas Shrugged – government controls causing economic problems being blamed on capitalism followed by more controls, problems, and blame, followed by … etc., etc., etc. In classic Bush fashion – a supreme irony if there ever was one – Mr. Dionne’s article is entitled Want to save capitalism? Regulate it.

I’ve fired off the following commentary:

“In E.J. Dionne’s statist Emerald City fantasy world, the great and powerful Oz, exemplified by the Goldman capitalist Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre, has wreaked economic havoc under “our deregulated financial system [of] contemporary capitalism”. Nowhere is the role of government interference examined. Instead, by omission, Mr. Dionne wants us to pay no attention to that man behind the curtain – the government’s political and bureaucratic wizards who pull the levers that control the financial industry and manipulate the markets through such mechanisms as Fannie and Freddie, the FDIC, mark-to-market accounting rules, explicit and implicit mortgage guarantees, the government licensed and competition-protected rating agency cartel, the CRA, the FHA, affordable housing crusades, overt and covert pressures on banks to increase low-income lending by lowering loan standards, too-big-to-fail taxpayer bailout policies, the perverse inversion of normal market incentives through socialization-of-losses policies, and that mother of all culprits – that funny money machine called the Federal Reserve.

“Everywhere one looks, one sees the intrusive hand of government. Yet, in his Land of Oz, Mr. Dionne manages to blame capitalism. How? By employing a fallacy – the equation of capitalists with capitalism. Mr. Dionne simply holds up “a few investment bankers” as a straw man labeled “contemporary capitalism”. But “capitalists” can exist under quasi-socialist systems such as Bismarck’s Germany, Mussolini’s Fascist Italy, Hitler’s National Socialism, or our very own welfare state mixed economy. Capitalism, the political-economic system based upon the separation of state and economics and which rests on a foundation of individual political rights, is nowhere to be seen in American finance except for a few fragments here and there.

“The financial crisis is a monumental failure of the regulatory state. It occurred within the context of the most heavily regulated American industry governed by a central bank money monopoly. Any objective examination of the meltdown’s causes should begin with an examination of government. But not for Mr. Dionne, who wants to beat the drum for ever-stronger government control. Instead, he simply follows in the glorious tradition of George W. Bush (‘I had to abandon free market principles in order to save the free market’) … more regulations, more controls, more socialism, in order to “save” capitalism from socialism.

“While private investment banks like Goldman-Saks present a capitalistic-looking face on the financial crisis, the primary and ultimate causes trace straight back to government interference into the market. The toxic financial instruments peddled by irresponsible investment banks were the logical consequence of decades of politicians’ attempts to artificially expand homeownership through governmental coercion. It’s long past time we recognized that the great Oz is merely a mirage, and took a hard look at the political wizard behind the curtain.”

Posted 4/29/2010 6:11:02 PM

What you would find, I might add, is a good little government man frantically pulling the levers of government control, who happens to be just a very bad wizard.

Notice Mr. Dionne’s early statement: “Capitalism has not taken a hit like this since Mr. Potter made his appearance as the evil banker in ‘It's a Wonderful Life.’ ” This Leftist and I have at least this in common: We both recognize that classic as a virulently anti-capitalist movie. Mr. Dionne’s final sarcastic sentence reads: “The surest way to create socialists is for everyone to experience the economic consequences of counting only on the goodness in the hearts of Mr. Potter and Fabrice Tourre.”

For a review of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and its relation to the financial crisis and its causes and consequences, see my posts Potter’s Revenge and It’s a Wonderful Life – in Real Life.

E.J. Dionne makes it crystal clear why I wrote those two essays attacking and exposing the exact nature of a favorite American movie classic. As long as profit seeking is equated with “evil bankers” and “goodness” ascribed to the need-based lending practices of the George Baileys of the world, capitalism will continue to be under withering assault. I have been vindicated by a leading authority from the opposing side of the ideological divide!