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Archive for September 4th, 2010

From the Galysh campaign:

What do a retired Superior Court Judge, a well-known 70s comic-actor, and a rock musician running for California State Senate have in common?

All three support Proposition 19, also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. It legalizes various marijuana-related activities, allows local governments to regulate these activities, permits local governments to impose and collect marijuana-related fees and taxes, and authorizes various criminal and civil penalties.

Judge James Gray states, “As a retired Orange County judge, I’ve been on the front lines of the drug war for three decades, and I know from experience that the current approach is simply not working. Controlling marijuana with regulations similar to those currently in place for alcohol will put street drug dealers and organized crime out of business, while allowing police to focus on protecting the public by preventing violent crime.”

Famous comedian Tommy Chong, who in 2003 was imprisoned when the feds nabbed him for selling bongs, states, “The privatized jails and the law enforcement budget pigs want to keep it illegal so they can maximize their bottom line. Don’t let this happen any longer. Vote Yes on Prop 19 on November 2!”

Musician Adrian Galysh offers a more libertarian reason for supporting Proposition 19, “People should never be prosecuted for what they own, for what they think, for what they eat, drink, or smoke, or for what they believe. They should be prosecuted only for the physical harm they do to others. We need to jail violent criminals, not peaceful drug users.”

Adrian Galysh, a professional musician, earns a living teaching guitar, performing, and recording. With three solo albums under his belt, he decided to run for California State Senate, in District 20, which includes much of the San Fernando Valley. Galysh’s strong campaign has brought the musician’s message of government spending cuts, lower taxes, and school choice to groups including the Los Angeles Urban League of Students Candidate Forum at USC, San Fernando Valley Tea Party Patriots “Candidate Sampler”, Thousand Oaks Glenn Beck 9-12 book club, LA JEMM Medical Marijuana Awareness Festival, and UCLA’s Young Americans For Liberty.

You can learn more about Adrian Galysh and his campaign at www.ElectAdrianGalysh.com

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Impeachment Redux

I spent much of the Shrub presidency advocating that he should be impeached. Unfortunately, the Libertarian Party missed the opportunity to call for his impeachment for the same principled reasons we once called for Clinton’s impeachment (no, not the blowjobs). For those same reasons, we should now call for Obama’s impeachment as well. But, only if we also call for war crimes trials for Bush and his gang. Otherwise, we look like we only find fault with Democrats, when both wings of the bipartisan bird of prey are equally responsible for destroying our freedom and prosperity.

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Clive McFarlane writes in the Worcester Telegram:

Now, I am no fan of Glenn Beck and the tea party movement, but it would be a lot less stressful if they tell us straight up who they really are: staunch Libertarians.

Instead of claiming that they want to restore traditional American values, they should just tell us that they want to [..] legalize prostitution, recreational drugs and suicide.

They should just say that they would like to abolish federal drug and seizure laws[..]

Instead of paying lip service to national security, why don’t they just tell us that they would like to abolish compulsory military service and dramatically reduce defense spending; end the U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid; and dramatically reduce defense spending?

Instead of trying to win an election based on the backs of illegal immigrants in Arizona and elsewhere, they should just come clean and acknowledge that immigration, like corporations and other businesses, should operate free of any government restraint.

They should tell us that political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries; and that economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I would love it if Beck, Palin and the Tea Partiers stood for these policies. But we all know they do not. So how does McFarlane come to this conclusion, so stunningly at variance with observed facts?

The problem with that message is that the tea party is being bankrolled by two billionaire Libertarians, brothers Charles and David Koch. Their company, Koch Industries of Wichita, Kan., is a conglomerate, the annual revenues of which are estimated to be a hundred billion dollars, according to a recent New Yorker article by Jane Mayer.

Here, McFarlane fails to distinguish between small-l libertarians and the big-L Libertarian Party. While it is true that David Koch ran for Vice President as a Libertarian in 1980, McFarlane conveniently skips the fact that the “Kochtopus” and its funding left the Libertarian Party in a huff in 1983 (27 years ago, but who’s counting) and are now reportedly the largest donors to the Republican Party.

As many readers note in the comments, McFarlane and other critics fail to the note the role of wealthy people all over the political map, such as George Soros, in funding organizations that advocate for their viewpoints.

The actual Libertarian Party, unlike the fictional one subsidized by billionaires that McFarlane imagines, survives on small donations from individuals and small businesses, many of them struggling economically. The actual Tea Party, although in fact having Libertarian origins (The LP of Illinois gave Rick Santelli the idea for his tea party rant that set off the current wave of protests, and the LP has been doing anti-tax protests for many years before the “Tea Parties”), has in many places turned into a Republican Party front, opposed to even allowing Libertarians and independents on the ballot, and in staunch opposition to the wise policies quoted above which McFarlane ascribes to them.

As one reader notes,

Yes. Libertarians want to end welfare, legalize drugs, and allow prostitution. All which ravage the impoverished neighborhoods of America and contribute to the disproportionate imprisonment rates of minorities for non-violent crimes.

They as well as I would indeed like to see the IRS abolished along with the majority of extra-constitutional tasks the government has assigned to itself.

What you fail to understand is the ultimate goal of libertarian ideals. Libertarians are true progressives who envision a society that is well educated and comprised of individuals that have been empowered to choose their own path in life free of force, theft, or fraud. Only then will it be possible for the size and reliance on government to dwindle away as more and more people become capable of self governance.

If I may ask, what is the end goal of your political philosophy?

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Obama’s Policies Hurt the Working Class                                             

Upon taking office President Obama proclaimed that if his $800 billion stimulus package passed into law the unemployment rate would not surpass 8.5 percent.  The measure passed and so did the unemployment rate – past 8.5 and all the way to almost 10 percent unemployment.  One could argue that government spending to stimulate the economy has done more harm than good.    After all, in total Uncle Sam has “invested” over $3 trillion! into the economy in an attempt to grow jobs only to see the unemployment rate continue to rise.  It’s as if all the spending has actually done more harm to workers than good.

Now, I am sure that Bush, Paulson, Bernanke, Obama, Geithner, and all the members of Congress who have supported the government’s spending spree had the best of intentions in mind.  It seems logical that if you put more money in peoples’ pockets, they would spend it on consumer goods, and this in turn would lead to more jobs and an end to the recession.  Right?  Not so fast.  What usually seems like a logical government intervention is not necessarily the case.  Most of the time, these schemes contain many unintended consequences.

Take Obama’s “Cash for Clunkers” program for example.  The scheme used cash incentives of up to $4,500 to get folks with old cars to trade them in for a new, fuel efficient model.  Dealers accepting the trade-ins were required to scrap them. The boondoggle was meant to stimulate car sales, benefit Detroit’s unionized workers and take energy inefficient cars off the road.  Everybody was supposed to win – automakers, workers, and our environment.

Did that really happen?  Automakers did make money during the program, but are still struggling.  The jury is out on whether the environment benefitted since it is very possible that more fuel efficient cars encouraged their new owners to actually drive more miles.  And as far as workers are concerned – it seems like they were the biggest loser in the “Cash for Clunkers” government giveaway.  Because of Cash for Clunkers nearly 700,000 used cars were traded in and subsequently destroyed.  This has led to a used car shortage in America and the statistics bear the facts.  According to Edmunds.com data, used car buyers paid $1800 more for their cars in July than they paid a year earlier at this time.  That represented a 10.3 percent increase year over year.  With lower demand caused by a sluggish economy you would expect prices for all cars to be falling.  But, the shortage in used vehicles caused by Obama’s program was actually big enough to not only cancel out price drops but increase prices substantially.  Of course those hurt the most by this development are college students, the elderly on fixed budgets, and the working class because these folks rely on the availability of cheaper used cars as an alternative to higher priced new models.  Obviously, Obama didn’t intend for this to happen.  But, the fact remains that his program has put many people in a financial bind.

Another Obama backed government intervention that is exhibiting unintended consequences is the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009.  Heralded by Obama as necessary legislation to protect consumers (workers) against abusive credit card company practices, the act caps late fees, eliminates inactivity fees, and requires credit card companies to jump through more hoops when raising interest rates.

Again, this all sounds good on the surface, but like any law there is a lag between the legislative process and when the law actually goes into effect.  Consequently, credit card issuers prepared ahead of time for the new law by raising interest rates to nine year highs of about 15 percent.  Additionally, they cut average lines of credit by 11 percent overall.  Again, at a time when Americans are not borrowing, you would think lenders would be dropping rates and expanding credit limits to entice consumers to spend.  But, Obama has found a way to actually make it financially harder for consumers to use their credit cards.  And again the working class is the most negatively affected since it can least afford to pay higher rates on credit card balances and will find it harder to make ends meet with lower lines of credit.

Statist always claim that the reason small government proponents loath government programs is because they are cold-hearted, hateful, racist, or just plain selfish.  Naturally, that is a gross oversimplification of their motives.  One reason libertarians and to be fair some conservatives object to government programs is because they usually favor some groups over others and because all have unintended consequences.  At an emotional level it is easy to support government help for the dispossessed.  But when you clear away the name-calling and look below the surface, and apply rational thought to proposals, the old saying, “if something seems too good to be true, it is” comes shining through.  After having spent $3 trillion on this recession with little to show for it, you’d think Washington would figure that out.

Article first published as Obama’s Policies Hurt the Working Class on Blogcritics

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina

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