Friday, July 19, 2019

Don’t Be Suckered by Pete Buttigieg’s ‘Democratic Capitalism’


In Pete Buttigieg, Democratic Capitalist, Reason’s Zuri Davis writes “The good news: Capitalism is working its way back to the Democratic mainstream. The bad news: This capitalism comes with a whole lot of government.” Davis is referring to Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who is running under the label Democratic Capitalism:

Buttigieg told CNN it's generally assumed that those who support capitalism also support democracy. In his view, though, democracy and capitalism are "coming into contention" with one another.

"It was very alarming to hear recently one of the president's economic advisers said that between capitalism and democracy, he would choose capitalism," said the South Bend mayor. "I would say the reverse ought to be true, that at the end of the day we prioritize democracy. And, you know, having that framework of a rule of law, fairness, is actually what takes markets to work."

But capitalism has always been in “contention” with democracy, with good reason. They are opposites. The first is based on freedom based on individual rights, with people governing their own lives. The second is majoritarianism--that is, top-down government control by elected political elites.

Davis takes heart that a Democratic candidate is introducing the capitalist label into the Democrats’ politics in a positive way. But pro-capitalists shouldn’t take heart. Granted, the term “democracy” is so vaguely understood that it’s hard to know precisely what Buttigieg means by the term. But he is running for president, so I’m taking at his word that by “democracy,” he means democracy. That being the case, Buttigieg’s democratic capitalism it’s just a trojan horse for democratic socialism--which means, socialism.

Another Reason columnist, Brittany Hunter, has a better grasp of what’s at stake. In What Should We Make of Peter Buttigieg’s “Democratic Capitalism”?, Hunter observes:

[Buttigieg’s] views are not all that different than those of other candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. A true believer in individual rights and private property would never sacrifice the free market to the will of the majority. [my emphasis]


Do not confuse democracy with the democratic process in a constitutional republic. If by “democracy” we mean the limited electoral authority in a constitutional republic, there is no conflict between capitalism and democracy, since the freedom of the individual is not at risk. However, capitalism is incompatible with genuine democracy, which places no constraints on the government’s force over individuals. In any conflict between force and voluntarism, force will win--which means, in any conflict between democracy and capitalism, democracy wins, making capitalism nonfunctional.

Freedom is not the right to vote. Freedom is the right to live your life regardless of anyone else’s vote, so long as you respect the same rights of others. In the proper understanding of the terms, democracy can exist without capitalism, but not the other way around. Capitalism, the system of inalienable individual liberty, cannot survive genuine democracy, the system of majority rule.

Related Reading:

Recommended for further study: on democracy and freedom, see Timothy Sandefur, The Conscience of the Constitution, especially Chapter One, “Democracy and Freedom”; on capitalism and freedom, see Andrew Bernstein, Capitalism Unbound: The Incontestable Moral Case for Individual Rights; and on the connection between rights and politics, see Tara Smith, “Moral Rights and Political Freedom.”









Tuesday, July 16, 2019

‘Reparations’; Another Leftist Path to Socialism


New Jersey Senator Cory Booker demands study on reparations for slavery, decries ‘hideous legacy’ during historic House hearing. So headlined a 6/19/19 article in the New Jersey Star-Ledger by  Jonathan D. Salant | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com. “This idea that [reparations is] just about writing a check from one American to another falls far short of the importance of this conversation,” said Booker. Yes, it sure does. Read on:

“As a nation, we have yet to truly acknowledge and grapple with the racism and white supremacy that tainted this country’s founding and continues to cause persistent and deep racial disparities and inequality,” Booker said in his prepared testimony.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., put the kibosh on Booker’s bill a day before the hearing.

I don’t think reparations for something that happened 150 years ago for whom none of us currently living are responsible is a good idea," he said on Capitol Hill.

On Sirius XM Wednesday, Booker lashed back at McConnell, saying his statement contained a “tremendous amount of ignorance."

Booker said in the radio interview that the debate was about obtaining “equality of opportunity, a leveling of our economic playing fields, health playing fields, housing playing fields" and "addressing those past consciously racial harms and wounds.”

At the hearing, Booker said in his prepared testimony that long after slavery ended, blacks were excluded from the programs that helped lead whites out of poverty .

“Many of our bedrock domestic policies that have ushered millions of Americans into the middle class, stimulating generational wealth and opportunity, like the GI bill, and Social Security, were intentionally designed to exclude blacks.”

The article concluded with a quote from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who said “Slavery is the original sin.” By which she means, America’s Original Sin--a term that was first introduced (as far as I know) by presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008. I knew then that Obama was laying the philosophical groundwork for future assault on Americanism.

I posted these comments, edited for clarity *:

I agree with McConnell. I also agree with Booker that there’s more to the story than writing a check. Government policies like Jim Crow and Separate but Equal did oppress blacks. Local zoning powers and government schools suppress economic opportunities today.

But it is not socialist government policies like SS and the GI Bill that “lead whites out of poverty”. It was the individualism of capitalism that liberated productive people to earn their way to middle class prosperity (and in turn fund those programs). The basic historical problem is that capitalist freedom was not at first extended to all Americans. 

The thing is, given freedom, an individual can make an end run around legacies and pursue and achieve success. I think MLK had it right in his Dream speech when he urged America to simply live up to its “promise that all men—yes, black men as well as white men—would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Nobody needs nor deserves equality in any sense but one: Give people equality of rights under law, and who could stop them? 

Yet building on the absurd assertion that white socialism, rather than individual initiative, lifted white people, Booker wants socialism for black people as “reparations.” Like “climate change,” “reparations” is being seized on as a path to power for the Democrats to replace Americanism with socialism. But socialism is antithetical to Americanism.

True, King’s politics drifted toward socialism. But he had it right the first time. People need freedom, not handouts of opportunity, income, health, housing, and whatever life challenges that socialist tyrants might conjure up. Slavery is not some “Original Sin,” a collective guilt that can only be cleansed by perpetual socialist tyranny. Slavery is a form of restriction on freedom, of which only Americanism is the antidote.

Slavery is a stain on the United States of America in the sense that it violated the very principles of Americanism--individualism and equality of political freedom. But slavery is no Original Sin of America. The real story of slavery is America’s original virtue and one of Americanism’s proudest successes--the abolition of slavery. That--Abolition--is the true American legacy. It is the legacy that allows Booker and his ilk the freedom to spin their lies regarding the fundamental goodness of American history. 

* [Note: My comments were subsequently blocked by the Star-Ledger under the heading “content disabled.” I have no idea why.]

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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Clarifying the Corrupt Nature of Social Security


The following essay has been making the rounds on social media:

A woman died at age 65.  She paid into the system for almost 50 years and collected NOTHING?  Keep in mind all the people that die every year that were paying into the system and got nothing!  And these governmental morons mismanaged the money and stole from the system, so that it's now going broke.

BEAUTIFUL! and they have the audacity to call today's seniors "vultures" in an attempt to cover their ineptitude.

   DISGRACEFUL!

The real reason for renaming our Social Security payments is so the government can claim that all those social security recipients are receiving
entitlements thus putting them in the same case as welfare, food stamp recipients.

THIS IS WORTH THE FEW MINUTES IT TAKES
TO READ AND DIGEST!

F.Y.I. By changing the name of SS contributions it gives them a means to refute this program in the future.
It's free money for the government to spend under this guise.  The Social Security check is now (or soon will be) referred to as a *Federal Benefit
Payment*?

I'll be part of the one percent to forward this.  I am forwarding it because it touches a nerve in me, and I hope it will in you.  Please keep passing it on until everyone in our country has read it.

The government is now referring to our Social Security checks as a "Federal Benefit Payment."   This isn't a benefit.  It is our money paid out of our earned income!  Not only did we all contribute to Social Security but our employers did too.  It totaled 15% of our income before taxes.

If you averaged $30K per year over your working life, that's close to $180,000 invested in Social Security.

If you calculate the future value of your monthly investment in social security ($375/month, including both you and your employers contributions) at a
meager 1% interest rate compounded monthly, after 40 years of working you'd have more than $1.3+ million dollars saved!

This is your personal investment.  Upon retirement, if you took out only 3% per year, you'd receive $39,318 per year, or $3,277 per month.

That's almost three times more than today's average Social Security benefit of 1,230 per month, according to the Social Security Administration.  (Google it – it's a fact).  And your retirement fund would last more than 33 years (until you're 98 if you retire at age 65)!  I can only imagine how much better most average-income people could live in retirement if our government had just invested our money in low-risk interest-earning accounts.

Instead, the folks in Washington pulled off a bigger *Ponzi scheme* than Bernie Madoff ever did.  (Lyndon Johnson)

They took our money and used it elsewhere.  They forgot (oh yes, they knew) that it was OUR money they were taking.  They didn't have a referendum
to ask us if we wanted to lend the money to them.  And they didn't pay interest on the debt they assumed.  And recently they've told us that the
money won't support us for very much longer. (Isn't it funny that they NEVER say this about welfare payments?)

But is it our fault they misused our investments?  And now, to add insult to injury, they're calling it a *benefit*, as if we never worked to earn every
penny of it.  Just because they borrowed the money, doesn't mean that our investments were a charity!

Let's take a stand. We have earned our right to Social Security and Medicare.  Demand that our legislators bring some sense into our government.  Find a way to keep Social Security and Medicare
going for the sake of that 92% of our population who need it.

Then call it what it is:

Our Earned Retirement Income.

99% of people won't forward this.

Will you? [sic]

There’s a large measure of truth there. But it’s inaccurate in important ways. Here is my rebuttal:

True; Social Security is thoroughly corrupt—which is why I won’t be forwarding this e-mail.

Your Social Security taxes are in fact not a “personal investment”. They are a wealth transfer payment from you who earned it to those who didn’t earn it. The Social Security “trust fund” is a fraud. The taxes that go into it are immediately paid out to other people—people you don’t even know—or “lent” to Congress to spend as they see fit. Unlike a pension fund, which legally must contain real assets sufficient to fund the vested benefits, the SS trust fund is a pile of IOUs—non-tradeable treasury bonds—that can only be repaid by additional taxes levied on us, the same people whose SS taxes funded it in the first place! The “system” is not “going broke”. It has always been broke, by design.

You have no property right to that money you pay “into the system”—and never have. You are not legally entitled to the promised benefits—and never have been. The politicians can lower or rescind the benefit at any time. As CATO reports, “One of the most enduring myths of Social Security is that a worker has a legal right to his Social Security benefits. Many workers assume that, if they pay Social Security taxes into the system, they have some sort of legal guarantee to the system’s benefits. The truth is exactly the opposite. It has long been law that there is no legal right to Social Security.”

So yes, the benefits are in fact Federal Benefit Payments in the nature of welfare and food stamps—and funded the same way, with other people’s taxes. Social Security payments are not “earned retirement income”. You money is long gone, along with the potential return on investment. Those Social Security monthly checks are literally handouts funded by taking money out of other people’s pockets. What about the money you “paid in” all those years? That’s long gone. A more proper term to describe Social Security benefits is restitution. You are entitled to receive the promised benefits for the same reason you are entitled to get your wallet back from a street thug who mugged you. But that is not a return on investment of your money. Those monthly checks are only made possible by government doing to others what it did to you all those working, taxpaying years. If that isn’t moral corruption, then the term has no meaning.

Social Security, like all socialist programs, is corrupt to it core. It forces everybody into a chain gang of reciprocating slavery and dependency, with the state as the master and “benefactor”. Re-labeling won’t change that. “Need” won’t change that. Social Security shouldn't be saved. It should be phased out and abolished. Until that is politically feasable, I advocate for a personal account system. The taxes future participants must pay—all 15.3% of it—should at least be deposited directly into a real account, in the individual's name, invested as the individual sees fit, inheritable for the individual’s heirs, with an iron-clad statutory ban on politicians, other retirees, or anyone else getting their hands on one nickel of it for any reason.

Government-forced savings are not right, either—but much less bad than the current fraud. At least each “contributor” would see where his/her money goes and watch it grow, via monthly statements, like an IRA or 401k. Only by establishing the individual’s property right to his payments could the money drawn out be honestly called Earned Retirement Income.

I don’t believe for a second that 92% of our population need Social Security; that most Americans are too incompetent to plan for their own futures without picking each others’ pockets. If it is the case that only 8% of Americans still want freedom, then America is philosophically dead, Marxism has won, and economic collapse, Gulags, and gas chambers are only a matter of time.

I don’t believe in the basic incompetence of the vast majority of the American people. But I do believe in the saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” Think of what it could mean to keep the current system going. It’s definitely unsustainable. But the proposed cure is worse than the disease. Many politicians have suggested “means testing” social security benefits; a fancy way of saying if you have private savings built up over a lifetime, the state will cut your social security payments for the sake of increasing benefits of others who “need” them, thus screwing the responsible because they were responsible enough to save. Saving Social Security and Medicare means cutting a lot of people’s benefits. Think it’s bad that the woman who died at 65 got screwed? Wait until people who don’t die at 65 get screwed. That’s what it’ll take to “Find a way to keep Social Security and Medicare going . . .” (Contrary to scaremongers, Social Security can be radically altered or even ended without harming people who have planned their lives around it and now count on it.)

If we’re going to continue Social Security, it should at the very least be radically altered. If we’re going to rename anything, it should be to rename “Social Security” into “Personal Security”—and mean it. We must establish an ironclad individual property right to the money taxed away from each of us as well as the returns generated by means of personal, private accounts. People whose political power depends on keeping people dependent on politicians for their payments won’t like it. Neither will people who hope to collect more than they earned or people who want to evade the responsibility of taking care of themselves. But those of us who believe it is the individual's right and responsibility to plan his own life will be the big winners.

Related Reading:







Private Social Security Accounts: Still a Good Idea -- William G. Shipman and Peter J. Ferrara



Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Electric Buses? How Will You Charge Them Up Under NJ Environmentalists’ Dark Green Anti-Energy Agenda?


Reporting for NJ.com, Larry Higgs expounds on the virtues of electric busses as opposed to diesel-powered ones, now that the first ones have arrived in New Jersey. In Electric buses are in N.J., and more are coming. We tried them, Higgs reports:

In the race to be the greenest, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has put the first electric buses on the road in New Jersey. It purchased 18 Proterra electric buses to use in shuttle service at its three major airports. The first buses went in service at Newark Liberty International Airport on Thursday, running on the airport’s 24/7 shuttle. [sic]

They seem pretty cool. I posted these comments:

Great idea. Seriously. These buses look like technological marvels. It certainly is progressive to replace fossil fuel transportation with electric where feasible. This moves power generation from individual vehicles to central power plants, where air pollution can much more easily be controlled and mitigated.

But how will you keep all these batteries charged, on demand? Keeping these electricity-guzzling behemoths going will need plenty of not just clean but reliable electricity-generating capacity. So-called “renewable energy” notwithstanding, the key word is reliable. Where will that clean, reliable electricity-generating capacity come from if the “Greens” win their war against natural gas pipelines and nat-gas generating plants and nuclear power?  

Of course, the Greens are not interested in progress. Fundamentally, they are ideologically opposed to industrial progress, as such. On principle, “green” means neo-primitive regression to pre-industrial living--or as close to it as is politically feasible. Their agenda is to make human living harder, not cleaner. They seek to “protect the Earth,” not human flourishing and well-being. It is a dark agenda.

People have been trying forever to simultaneously have their cake and eat it. It can’t be done. If “the race to be the greenest” means transitioning to electric transportation, then it also must mean the impediments to expanded reliable electricity generation must be eased, not hampered. This means defeating the Dark Greens’ anti-reliable energy agenda.

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Sunday, July 7, 2019

Nike Shamefully Turns it’s Back on Americanism


Just prior to the Fourth of July, the national holiday was marred by the actions of a great American company, Nike. With a chance to defend America’s core principles, Nike caved to pressure to remove its sneaker line celebrating America’s Founding era because it featured America’s original flag. The Betsy Ross Flag features the 13 red and white stripes representing the original 13 colonies that collectively declared independence from England, and 13 stars organized in a circle, one for each state that then existed. Nike’s pulling of its Independence Day sneaker line is an act of corporate ignorance and cowardice.

According to Bloomberg, the flag symbol offended some people, including Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick:

The design recently has taken another meaning for some Americans as far-right groups have claimed it as a symbol of their cause. It has also been criticized as evocative of an era when slavery was still predominant in the U.S.

And Newsweek reported:

Kaepernick reportedly told Nike he and others found the symbol offensive due to its connection to the United States' slavery era, according to The Wall Street Journal, who first reported the story Tuesday.

Really? The Abolitionist movement is also connected to the slavery era. Should we repudiate all of the brave people who fought--ultimately successfully--to end slavery, including Abolitionist leaders like Frederick Douglass?

The Ross Flag symbolizes the new American nation after their successful fight for Independence and the formation of a governing Constitution. That fight officially started with the signing and ratification of the Declaration of Independence, which represented the official beginning and philosophical blueprint of the United States of America. It’s declaration of political equality and inalienable individual rights of all people inspired pro-freedom movements like the Abolition and Women’s Suffrage, and the fight for emancipation of oppressed minority groups. It was cited by Emancipationist President Abraham Lincoln, Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King and Gay Rights leader Harvey Milk

In declaring that every individual has the inalienable right to live free for his own sake, with her own happiness as the primary purpose of her own life, The Declaration of Independence is the greatest anti-slavery, anti-oppression political document ever written. This is not like the Confederate monuments, which should be removed from all government property. The Confederate monuments symbolize the repudiation of America’s Founding principles in defense of slavery and minority group oppression. The compromises that kept many people from enjoying the benefits of its ideals notwithstanding, the Betsy Ross flag symbolizes the individualist core of Americanism, the exact antipode to slavery and oppression.

I like to think that this episode is a result of misinformed people. That's probaly true for some. But for others, there likely is a more sinister purpose to the reaction against this symbol of Americanism. The Declaration of Independence is not just an anti-slavery document. In the same way and for the same reasons, it is an anti-socialist document. Given the rise of the treasonous (philosophically speaking) socialist wing of the Democratic Party, it’s important to recognize that you can’t build a socialist America on a foundation of individual sovereignty and freedom. You just can’t. So the socialists must obliterate that foundation.

As to the objection that “far-right groups have claimed it as a symbol of their cause,” that is not even worth commenting on. In any event, shame on Nike for caving to the reactionaries. As Harvey Milk, one of the early leaders in the “Gay Pride” fight for equal rights for gays, said at a 1978 speech,

In the Declaration of Independence it is written 'All men are created equal and they are endowed with certain inalienable rights . . . .' That’s what America is. No matter how hard you try, you cannot erase those words from the Declaration of Independence.

Yes. That’s what America is. That’s what the Betsy Ross Flag symbolizes, in my view. As an American, I am deeply offended by Nike’s cowardice. 

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