This video tells the tale of how Troy, Michigan’s public library cleverly and successfully fought back (with the help of an ad agency) against a Tea Party effort to shut it down in lieu of authorizing a 0.7% tax increase to keep it open. This story is probably a common one in the age of austerity. Although the election was almost two months ago, this is the first I heard of the campaign.
I’d like to believe that the Tea Partiers are sincere in their chagrin over the sense that they’ve lost control of their government. We on the left certainly can understand that. But they repeatedly show poor value judgment, as in this instance in Michigan. They can often seem to embody Oscar Wilde’s quip about a cynic knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. But they’re witless cynics if they don’t know that 0.7% added to a yearly tax bill is a very small price to pay for a library.
Since David Corn and Mother Jones (with the help of James E. Carter IV and an an0nymous videographer) have exposed Mitt Romney as a major spoiled preppy ass, the Republican presidential nominee and his cheerleaders on the right are valiantly trying to make lemonade with the explanation that Romney’s rant against the 47% who pay no income tax was actually a eulogy for personal responsibility. He has even said that most Americans “would like to be paying taxes” (unlike himself?). On the other hand, Romney is also using this “teachable moment” to criticize the notion of what he and his Republican parrots (or puppeteers?) disparagingly refer to as “redistribution,” which they claim Obama once professed to “believe in” during a speech at Loyola University in 1998. (“[T]he trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure everybody’s got a shot,” they say Obama said.) Continue reading →
Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois demonstrates his concept of representative democracy at a townhall held in a bar in his district last weekend. What exercised the Congressman’s patience was the suggestion, apparently popular among the unrattled attendees, that, as I suggested yesterday, private banks were as much at fault for the depressed or recessed economy as politicians. Walsh displays the Tea Party mindset at its most rigid worst when he asserts that consistency of ideology is more important than accuracy of fact. He doesn’t want the people of his district to forget is that he will not stray from the Tea Party (Republican) line that private interests are more important than the public interest.
The bottom line: The people get it. Some politicians don’t and don’t want to get it.
PS: Perhaps the most astonishing moment of this video is when Walsh says, “”What has made this mess is your government, which has demanded for many years that everybody be in a home.” Is a Tea Party Republican actually blaming the American dream of universal home ownership for the economic mess? Is he really suggesting that the American dream is the product of government rather than of individuals? Setting aside the question of whether or not this is right, this seems to be a startling position for a conservative, pro-market, pro-individualist to be taking. I wonder if this will be a new shade of conservatism: anti-American Dream libertarianism.
One thing The New Republic, in its dismissal of the #OccupyWallStreet movement, misled its readers about regarding the John Lewis incident at Occupy Atlanta, and one thing anyone who doesn’t watch the video, painful as it may be, will miss: The General Assembly did not “groupthink” Lewis away, which would imply that the decision was, like the Washington crowd’s bullheaded decision to go to war in Iraq, assumed by everyone present to be a reasonable fait accompli. On the contrary, there was a strong pro-Lewis contingent among the Assembly–so strong that after the facilitator ruled that no consensus had been reached, a chant of “Let him speak!” rose up.
You can see for yourself if you watch the video below, which I recommend, especially to anyone prejudiced into a negative opinion about the Atlanta occupation’s impoliteness. You may draw the same conclusion, but it’s important to be accurate about what really happened there: An agenda had been previously agreed to, Lewis was requesting to interrupt it, and, according to the agreed upon Assembly rules, changing the agenda required “consensus,” which the Assembly was unable to reach.Therefore, the previously agreed to agenda remained in effect and Lewis was unable to interrupt. Lewis himself humbly accepted the Assembly’s decision. Continue reading →
I will try not to spend a lot of time on the latest overblown media spectacle to distract from what really matters. It probably won’t last long anyway. But the Hank Williams Jr. incident does say something about what’s wrong with the way Americans talk to (or around, at, or through) each other about America. Continue reading →
To understand Paul’s third principle for a free society (“Justly acquired property is privately owned by individuals and voluntary groups, and this ownership cannot be arbitrarily voided by governments”), it would be helpful to understand his theory of justice.
One thing seems absolutely certain: it isn’t the same as John Rawls’ theory. In fact, without being explicit about its debt, Paul’s theory, based on what I sussed out of it in the previous twoposts, bears a lot of resemblance to Robert Nozick’s anti-Rawlsian theory of justice formulated inAnarchy, State and Utopia.
Full disclosure: I haven’t read Rawls or Nozick. Does this disqualify me from commenting on the ideas I’ve read about from them? I leave that up to my readers. I’m going to plow ahead because I think it’s necessary to discuss Nozick’s idea of “distributive justice” (i.e., how “justly” resources are distributed among individuals) to understand Paul’s. Continue reading →
“Cutting spending is important, but getting people back to work is more important,” said Diane Sherrell, 56, a Republican from Erwin, N.C. “If people are working, they are more productive. There is less crime, there is less depression, there is less divorce. There are less hospital and medical bills. If you put people back to work, you are cutting spending.”
Stanley Oland, 62, a Republican from Kalispell, Mont., said that the government needed new jobs to generate the economic activity and the revenue it requires.
“That revenue supports the basic foundation for the economy, creates more jobs and stimulates the economy,” he said. “Unless you have working people you don’t have revenue from taxes. If you cut spending, jobs will be eliminated and you won’t get any revenue. Every dollar spent creates jobs.”
Now if they would just apply this wisdom at the polls that allegedly count in November!
Tyler Durden over at Zero Hedge makes a point overlooked by almost everyone who talks about this debt-ceiling limit compared to previous ones (his emphases):
While everyone and their grandmother is foaming at the mouth how both republicans and democrats hiked the debt ceiling for umpteen times over the past x years, the truth is that never before has the ratio of the proposed debt ceiling to the tax receipt ratio been as high as it is now. At nearly 6 times, this means that the top line (forget bottom line) cash inflows into the Treasury are 6 times lower than the current debt ceiling. And following the upcoming $2.5 trillion this number will surge to almost 8 times.
The leaders of US business in the form of the US Chamber of Commerce, the New York Times reports, spent millions of dollars last election cycle electing the extreme right-wing dynamos now holding the Chamber and the rest of us hostage for the sacred Republican principle of a balanced federal budget (well, sacred except to Reagan, the Bushes, and the Congressional Republican leaders of the last 30 years). One of these intellectual giants the Chamber was particularly generous toward displays the kind of logic these new leaders (and, by implication, the rest of us) are at the mercy of:
The chamber spent $436,953 helping to elect Steve Pearce, a New Mexico Republican, almost 20 percent of the total that he was able to raise and spend on his own.
This month, Mr. Pearce told the radio program “News New Mexico” that cutting federal spending was just as important as increasing the debt ceiling.
“We have talked a lot about Armageddon if we don’t pass the debt ceiling,” he said. “There’s an equal Armageddon on the other side if we don’t start curing the spending problems.”
Set aside that the debt-ceiling “Armageddon” is pending next Tuesday and the other has been pending since Bush and Congressional Republicans spent the Clinton-era surplus on tax breaks for the rich, Pearce evidently wants us to believe that in order to hold off the second already held-off Armageddon, it’s necessary to bring on the first.
Hey, Chamber, thanks for sending us this leader. Thanks a lot.
An American's sacred right to property being profaned.
Continuing from my last post, here reproduced are excerpts from the Usenet debates I had in the summer and fall of 2002, mostly, with self-described “anarcho”-capitalists. The original argument concerned “rights” and “freedom,” but it quickly led, as most debates with “anarchos” go, to the question of property. As I mentioned yesterday, these issues, I believe, lie at the very heart of the debates going on presently over the debt-ceiling (actually over revenues vs. spending) in Congress and the media. But you won’t hear our pundits or politicians for the most part bring it down to the very ground it all springs from. Continue reading →