Loss of Personal Freedom

Personal freedom is being lost daily. The pace is frenetic. Never has so much been lost so fast. Never have so few taken so much so fast. Even the big men of Russia’s revolution begun in 1917 did not take so much for  they had less to take.

We have every right to be alarmed.

Is there no constitutional challenge available? Has the Constitution been so weakened in the past 70 years that no one can bring a challenge to the recent rash of federal regulations, takings and take-overs?

Let’s start the Three Lantern Society. Remember “one if by land and two if by sea”? Paul Revere rode to warn patriots about the approach of the king’s army. Today they come by both land and sea. Threats to liberty come from all angles, fresh attacks daily.

The scope of government incursions is truly breathtaking. We are living in historic days. Every inch the behemoth gains is a loss to individual freedom. As government prerogative grows, individual autonomy withers.

My friend, the WWII veteran is concerned. He is 92. He was captured by Germans on Valentines day, 1943. He was a POW until May of 1945.

He says, “The American people had better wake up before they find their hands chained behind their back.”

He has seen enough in his life to know when to be concerned.

Hands chained behind the back

Hands chained behind the back

My friend is referring to “the haste” with which things are being enacted in Washington, D.C.

Not Enough Money

Reality is setting in. Health care is not free. National health will not be free. An Associated Press story in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle is a harbinger. Under socialized health care, patients might hear, “Officials say they have about half what they need to operate (on some Indian reservations, in the Indian Health Service), and patients know they must be dying or about to lose a limb to get serious care.”

What have these headlines in common?

  • Promises, Promises: Indian health care’s victims. On some reservations, the oft-quoted refrain is, ‘don’t get sick after June,’ when the federal dollars run out. It’s a sick joke and a sad one because it is sometimes true. (AP)
  • Panel Lists Ways to Rein in Medicare Costs (WSJ)
  • The Price Isn’t Right: Health care bill could cost $1.6T; Dems eye cutbacks (AP)

Take your pick: Do you want Obama-Care to be more like the Indian Health Service or the Veteran’s Administration?

A flabby, indulgent, and thus sick, nation faces reality: there is not enough money for everything.

Saudi Princes, U.S. Princes

Saudi Prince

Saudi Prince

Something I stumbled across today:

“He rode through the sandy streets throwing money into the air. Members of the royal family muscled their way into all the comtracts, commissions, concessions and franchises they could get their hands on.”

“Still not sated, the princes forced themselves into business deals as ‘agents’, or ‘consultants,’ raking in billions in the form of kickbacks and bribes.”

That was 1953 in Saudi Arabia, though it sounds like Washington, D.C., 2009. TARP, taking over entire industries, throwing money into the air, concentrating control.

Quotes are from the book The Looming Tower, by Lawrence Wright.

What Are CAFE Standards?

Economy car

Economy car

Too-yummy milk

Too-yummy milk

Vegan burgers

Vegan burgers

What are CAFÉ standards?

First, some boring explanation of how they operate in the automotive markets, then a couple of examples how such insanity would work in foodstuffs.

Government, prodded by greens, forces the Big Three automakers to sell a gas-sipper for every gas-guzzler they sell. Often people want more guzzlers. What does Detroit do? Discount the sippers in price, sometimes to unprofitable levels. CAFÉ, (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) standards are a bane to the auto industry, one of the causes of their troubles. CAFÉ standards do little to aid the environment and harm car buyers and car makers.

The entire “fleet” of vehicles sold by a given manufacturer has to achieve a certain MPG rating. These ratings are set to go up under new administration rulings. “These new standards include an increase in fuel efficiency targets to 35.5 miles per gallon for new passenger vehicles and light trucks by 2016, four years earlier than required under the 2007 energy bill.” So if you are Ford Motors, and 50 customers want to buy F-350s, you have to find 50 customers to buy the Focus, so that their mileage ratings can be averaged and comply with the government commanded MPG .

How would this work with milk? Some government Czar, of which we have a proliferation these days in the Obama administration, determines that the health of Americans would improve if fewer people drank whole milk. Every time Safeway sells a gallon of whole milk they have to sell three gallons of skim in order to achieve an average milkfat content of less than 1%. What if few consumers want skim? Tough. Safeway cannot set prices based on consumer demand, only on government regulations. They will reduce the price of skim to $1.00, a money-losing price, and raise the price on whole milk to $5.00 to mute demand. It is market interference on steroids. People, stores and farmers cannot decide what items are worth and what to produce. Government is the dictator, dictating results.

How would this work with hamburgers? McDonald’s could be forced to sell a tofu-burger for every meat burger, if the health Nazis decide to write regulations to this effect.

It aint a pretty picture.

That’s how CAFÉ standards work.

When did we give government so much power? Can we take power back?

Collective or Individual?

Soviet stamp celebrating collectivization

Soviet stamp celebrating collectivization

Collective or Individual?

Obama used “collective” at his inauguration.

Government puts people in collectives. They “collect” people.

It’s like a cattle roundup. Government dumps people into programs. Listen to the health care debate. It’s about aggregating people into programs.

This is how Russia did it:  You owned land as an individual. Government took your land. It took all land from everyone. It tore down fences. It made one big, collective farm. It made you an employee working land you once owned, but with a horde of others.  You were to feel inspired to work “for the good of the whole”. There was no private land. No individuals owned land. You were part of the collective.

The productivity of the farms declined. No one had the profit motive. Workers dallied. Many starved.

What are current examples?

  • Much public education has a collective feel to it.
  • Social medicine is a collective.
  • Public housing is a collective.
  • Mass transit, (buses, subways, trains, light rail) is collective.
  • City planning is “for the collective good”.

The opposite is individualism. Prvate property. Private profits, profits you can keep. Private decisions. Free markets. Free expression.

  • Automobiles, not city bus systems.
  • Privately owned homes, not government rentals.
  • Contacting and paying a doctor, not using a government card to “pay”.
  • Design your own family education curriculum, that is, home-school.
  • Start a business instead of working at a government factory.
  • Pursue your own career, not one the government assigns you to.

This website gives further information about collectives as employed by the Soviet Union. The quote below is found at the website.

In 1928 Stalin again abolished capitalism.

Collectivization returned to high gear in the early 1930s when Stalin collectivized Soviet agriculture. This ruthless, merciless policy caused the death of perhaps 16,000,000 people, many by execution but most by famine. Seven to nine million were Ukrainians in what appears to be (I am not an expert in this word) genocide.

The Soviets tried to hide the results of the collectivization: famine, starvation, and death. But, despite corrupt, lazy, incompetent reporting, word eventually leaked to the West.

Since then collectivization has had a terrible reputation.

Recently, collectivization is being rehabilitated. Social policies and intervention give ever more power to the government.

Wall Street Journal Musings

The Wall Street Journal made me think…

The June 12 issue stirred the following thoughts:

Item One:

Headline “Tax Man’s Target: The Mobile Phone”

Part of the story read: “The Internal Revenue Service proposed that employers assign 25% of an employee’s annual phone expenses as a taxable benefit. A worker…could see  $105 in additional federal income tax.”

It seems that my blog post, Youth Taxes for National Health, though I jested that youth might see iPod taxes and Twitter taxes, has a high probability of enactment. Make a joke; watch it materialize!

Item Two:

Headline: “Democrats and the Health Tax Taboo”

Within the article: “The president (during the campaign) attacked McCain for proposing a benefits tax.” Now Obama is inclined to force such a tax.

Deeper in the article we read that cost estimates for the Democrats’ health-care reform have by now hit $1.5 trillion over a decade. Program architects have “been creative in dreaming up ways to pay for it.”

  • Limit tax deductions
  • Penalize soda-pop drinking
  • Tax alcohol
  • Tax salty foods
  • Further raise the price of cigarettes
  • Tax specific companies
  • Charge for carbon
  • Cut Medicare payments
  • National sales tax

My thoughts:

What good are estimates? They are so much falderall. We know how programs mushroom. We’ve seen Medicare grow seven-fold over projections. Government is prone to overestimate revenues for new programs and under-guess costs. In order to get programs passed, officials understate costs. They let it explode later.

Those who oppose government growth find themselves arguing details about malodorous proposals, rather than the merits of the base proposal. By drawing opponents into an argument about details, the game plays on, and the proposer owns the airwaves and attention of the public. It’s like my wife calling from the auto dealer asking me if I want the burgundy Cadillac or the white one.

“ I didn’t know we were thinking about buying any car at all, and now you’re asking me which color. I don’t want either car!”


“Washington Can’t Be ‘Hands-Off’ With GM”

The article reviews some of the public excoriation auto executives were subject to in front of Congress. Senator Bob Corker upbraided the Big Three CEOs at hearing last November, (and is “now working to save GM’s Spring Hill plant from permanent closure.”)

It makes one think of the self-denunciation expected during the Cultural Revolution. Congressional treatment was like a tribunal. Public humiliation was a Maoist tactic. When will captains of enterprise be sent for “re-education”?

Health by Force

Armenian ration card for bread. Tennedy could copy this!

Armenian ration card for bread. Tennedy could copy this!
Bayonets Ready

Bayonets Ready

Vegetarian. Healthy. Slim. Saves the government health program tons.

Vegetarian. Healthy. Slim. Saves the government health program tons.

Health by Force.

Meat-free Diet, Bayonets, Ration Cards

Since all health reform proposals call for the use of force[1], why do they not go all the way?

If force is permitted, bring it!

Here are three fictional ways to employ force to “improve Americans’ health”.

1.Vegetarian mandate.

Senator Bax Maucus’ plan requires everyone to become vegetarian. Ingestion of animal products is a major reason for escalating costs. Stop people from eating animal products. There is a side benefit: global warming is solved.

2.Exercise with bayonets.

Representative Farney Brank will enforce exercise. Regular exercise practically stops diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Why will not people exercise? There is not enough force. Line them up. Fix bayonets on Marine rifles. Poke the citizens; make them run. Lose that weight. Beat obesity! Save 70% on health costs. Force makes everything easy.

3.Ration cards.

Senator Ked Tennedy will limit caloric intake. He will issue federal calorie cards. As a subject buys food, the vendor punches their card. When 6,000 calories is reached, the subject has hit limit for the month. No more food. If a vendor relents, he’s jailed.

Anything Congress invents relies on force.

Force is a time-honored tool of tyrannies, central planners and autocrats. The bellicose strong men[2] of the 1900’s amply applied force. They got things done! Health care reform is so important, any loss of freedom through force is justified, or so the President members of Congress indicate. Watch for the force implicit in each of the proposals coming out of Washington, D.C. Force is usually masked behind a benign verbal screen. Cut through the haze. Call force force.

[1] :House Dems favor insurance requirement”: Bozeman Daily Chronicle headline. Requirements, mandates,  limitations, restrictions, formularies, bureaucracies, applications, taxes, review procedures, certificates of need, licensing,  rationing, exclusions, pay caps; all involve force.

[2] Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, Mao, Lenin, Trotsky, Hitler, Mengistu, Che, Deng, Kim, Lenin

Why Were Communists So Brutal?

Why Were Communists So Brutal?

Soviet delegates.

Soviet delegates.

Why were communists so brutal? This was Niel’s question. We had been reading The Black Book of Communism, 757 pages of bloodcurdling, gut-wrenching, horrifying details of communism’s crimes from Angola to Yugoslavia, with emphasis on China, Russia, North Korea, Cambodia, and Poland. The death toll from worldwide communism “approaches 100 million people killed”[i].

Why did communism kill 100 million? Why did “anyone who deviated from the Party line suffer punishment?[ii] Why was there an “orgy of killing by all sides, with people crucified, impaled, cut into pieces and burned alive?”[iii] Why control all activity in society?

The book’s conclusion provides answers. That chapter is titled “Why?” Soviet Russia is where it started. Lenin and Stalin’s communism was what was eventually exported worldwide. Russians “have a unique sense of particular cruelty in the same way that the English have a unique sense of humor”[iv], said Maksim Gorky. Russians appreciated “human suffering as collective entertainment.”

Fear is the only way to contain people in a system as poor and discouraging as socialism.

“Lenin’s primary objective was to maintain his hold on power for as long as possible. Why should maintaining power have been so important that it justified all means and led to the abandonment of the most elementary moral principles? The answer must be that it was the only way for Lenin to put his ideas into practice and ‘build socialism’”[v].

Marxist axioms were employed:

  • The class struggle
  • The necessity of violence in history
  • The proletariat is the class that brings meaning to history

(What is the proletariat? Unionized workers, the labor class, the “exploited”, toiling people.)

Violence is basic to communism.

Between 1930 and 1953 was Russia’s third revolutionary phase. “It was characterized by widespread terror, which found its strongest expression in the great Purge of 1937 and 1938. Thereafter Stalin found ever more groups to eliminate, targeting not only society as a whole, but also the state and Party apparatus. In fourteen months, 1.8 million people were arrested. Nearly 690,000 of them were killed.”[vi] The Union of Socialist Soviet Republics’s total death toll is about 20 million.[vii]

“Stalin added mystery to the pedagogy of hatred; total secrecy shrouded the arrests, sentences, and fates of the victims. Mystery and secrecy, closely linked to terror, brought terrible anguish to the entire population.”[viii]

Communism was mean because:

  • Marx’s ideas for the triumph of socialism considered violence to be a necessity.
  • Russians, naturally brutal, “invented” communism’s ways, then exported them.
  • People do not accept communism and socialism voluntarily. It must be forced by violence.

That is why.

[i] The Black Book of Communism, page 4

[ii] Ibid. page 745

[iii] Ibid. page 743

[iv] Ibid. page 732

[v] Ibid. page 737

[vi] Ibid. page 745

[vii] Ibid page 4

[viii] Ibid. page 746

Liberty and Tyranny

By Mark R. Levin

This book is about freedom versus force. Overbearing governments entail force, an enemy to personal liberty and prosperity. Levin describes the “statist”, a government promoter, one who sees in government solutions to social ills. He does a good job.

I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the last half. The first half dealt with principles of good government in theory. He eventually treated specific programs where the government has gone too far and usurped the role of individuals, markets, families and associations. Being a stickler for examples in persuasive writing, I was surprised to see my enthusiasm wane when he got into specific examples. His general treatment was better reading, surprisingly. It didn’t bog me down at all.

Portuguese Irregular Verbs

This book title grabbed my attention when it was reviewed by someone in the Wall Street Journal as one of the five funny books they would recommend. It’s funny all right, not in an “uproariously funny” sort of way, but funny nevertheless. Part of my interest stems from my daily reading of Portuguese texts, my effort to learn the language.

By Alexander McCall Smith.