Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Rip in America's Social Fabric

By Diogenes Sarcastica
Tuesday, May 25

In 1989, historian David Hackett Fischer described America as having “a social system which for two centuries has remained stubbornly democratic in its politics, capitalist in its economy, libertarian in its laws, individualist in its society and pluralistic in its culture.” A good description at the time, but the two decades since have seen the emergence of a political class engaged, either deliberately or recklessly, in tearing apart the American social fabric. Now there is a movement across the land to mend those tears and restore the American social system.

This movement is apparent in two co-occurring phenomena — the Tea Party and the surging interest in libertarian philosophy. Those of the political class, Democrats and Republicans alike, have reacted badly to these phenomena. Many establishment Republicans kept their distance from the Tea Party movement until the Massachusetts Senate election; now, it seems, there is a rush by prospective candidates to claim that “I am a Tea-Partier, too,” even though many of them are not. The Democrats alternate, sometimes rapidly, between slandering and scoffing at the Tea Party. Witness the immediate Democratic reaction to mildly-libertarian, Tea-Party-endorsed Rand Paul’s primary win in Kentucky — the slanderfest began within 24 hours. Meanwhile, Rand Paul and those like him continue to rise in popularity, while the audiences for libertarian commentators like John Stossel and Glenn Beck continue to increase.

Those of the political class of course pay lip-service homage to American social traditions — but it is not what they say, but what they do that counts. Analyzed in terms of David Hackett Fischer’s description, the list of offenses by the political class against America is lengthy and damning:

"Capitalistic in its Economy" — The political class, Republican and Democrat alike, have worked assiduously to replace free-enterprise capitalism with a Federally-run mercantilism. In the world of Federal mercantilism, politicians and bureaucrats pick the economic winners and losers, bestowing blessings on favored industries (ethanol) and or on connected companies within industries. The free market is increasingly viewed as an annoyance, if not a hindrance. Despite the recent catastrophic failure of social engineering by economic manipulation, we hear calls for more “regulation.” In Federally-run mercantilism, the “cure” for failure is more of the same. Barack Obama condemned George Bush for overspending the Federal budget by $300 billion or so per year — but his “cure” is to overspend the Federal budget by $1.3 trillion per year. And don’t kid yourself that our state governments are any better — Federal mercantilism applies to them, too, and the Federally-controlled flow of money, the picking of winners and losers, mandates that they play by the same rules.

"Libertarian in its Laws" – The political class, Supreme Court included, has “re-interpreted” the Constitution and has adopted new laws which are distinctly anti-libertarian — inimical to liberty. The Kelo decision by the U. S. Supreme Court typifies this terrible trend. The framers of the Constitution sought to guarantee that government would not seize the property of citizens except for public uses and that citizens whose property was taken would be justly compensated. In the brave new world of Federal mercantilism, any government can take anyone’s property and turn it over to a favored person or company on the bare promise that the favored one will someday pay more taxes. In the libertarian concept, the government is obligated to protect its citizens from the crimes and depredations of exploiters, but now the government plays the role of accessory to the crime. Again, don’t kid yourselves by thinking that state governments are any better — most of them apply the “law” exactly as it was stated in Kelo.

"Individualist in its Society and Pluralistic in its Culture" — What we see now are “identity politics” and “wedge issues.” The Democrats have won control of Congress and the White House with these tactics — the Republicans are not guiltless, but the Democrats are far better at such things. This sorry state of affairs has recently been exemplified by the attacks on the Arizona illegal-immigration law, which was condemned publicly by Democratic officials who hadn’t bothered to read the law in question, including Attorney General Eric Holder and Director of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Most of what the liberal Democrats have said about the law is false, but in the world of identity politics and wedge issues truth does not matter; all that counts is hammering away at the wedge.

Fischer wrote of the “stability” of the social system which he described in 1989. Perhaps that stability has not been entirely lost — one interpretation of the restoration movement is that the system is re-asserting itself, preparing to roll back the wrongs of the political class.

Most of those engaged in the movement are not political types — if they had any involvement in politics before, it was tangential or sporadic. Instead, they are folks who would rather be raising their families, minding their business, tending their properties, and otherwise living (not talking about) the American dream. Their involvement in a political process bears witness to a serious purpose. Their willingness to suffer the slanderous beat-downs that the political class visits upon such upstarts testifies to a stoic determination to see things through to the finish.

Fortunately, America is still democratic in its politics and so we still have the vote. The restoration movement aims to stop the destruction of the traditional American social system and I hope it can muster the votes to make a difference in the November elections.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Greece Could Be But Just The Begining

Posted by Diogenes Sarcastica
Wednesday May 12th, 2010

While the ancient Greeks made marvelous contributions to culture, literature, philosophy and science, and gave us democratic government, the modern Greeks provide an unsatisfactory economic model.
Greece has spent itself into a crisis of immense proportions, with some observers predicting a depression not unlike the Great Depression of the 30s. The Greek government has subsidized everything from health care to vacations to pensions, and has a public sector comprising 20 percent of all workers, the vast majority of whom hold constitutionally protected jobs from which they cannot be fired. Some workers can retire with pensions at 45 years of age. Furthermore, tax evasion is rampant, depriving the government of needed revenue.
The Greek economy is tanking, and some observers believe Greece’s collapse signals the end of European-style socialist economies in general, with Portugal and Spain following not far behind Greece.  Athens rang up an outrageous and unsustainable debt, and the bill has come due. The government can’t pay it, so it has adopted an austerity program that includes cuts in government spending, reductions in the size of the public sector, decreases in tax evasion, reforms to the health care and pension systems, and improvements in competitiveness through reforms to the labor and product markets.
None of this sits well with the citizenry. When you have come to depend on the government to support you, as the Greeks have, and then it no longer can, that creates a crisis and the Greek people are in revolt. Violence has broken out across the country, resulting in deaths and anarchy.
We don’t want to become Greece, but we’re on the same path. Consider:
• Estimated receipts for fiscal year 2010 are $2.381 trillion, an estimated decrease of 11percent from 2009. The President's budget for 2010 totals $3.55 trillion.
• The U.S. public debt is 94.27 percent of GDP
• Unemployment rose in April to 9.9 percent
• 17 percent of American workers are employed by government
Federal employees make an average annual salary exceeding $79,197 and the average total annual federal workers compensation in 2008, including pay plus benefits, was $119,982 compared to just $59,909 for the private sector, according to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis. Continued high unemployment, the growth in public sector jobs, the high level of union membership among public sector workers, the dangerously high budget deficits and national debt are ominous signs for the United States.
Our tax receipts are dropping, we have spent more than we have collected, we owe nearly as much as we produce in a year, one-in-ten of us is unemployed, and nearly one-in-five of us is paid by taxes collected from the other four. We have not taken the right steps to speed the economic recovery, but have made the same mistakes that were made in the 1930s, when money circulated more slowly and banks lent only a little of the money available. Anti-business rhetoric and anti-business policies emanated from Washington, creating a lack of confidence.
Unless a good dose of common sense overcomes Washington, we are likely to replay the 1930s and follow Greece into a depression.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Freedom of Expression or Cultural Disrespect?

Post by Publius Minimus

Students Kicked Off Boston Area Campus for Wearing American Flag Tees.
 Bay Area News

On any other day at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, Daniel Galli and his four friends would not even be noticed for wearing T-shirts with the American flag. But Cinco de Mayo is not any typical day especially on a campus with a large Mexican American student population.

Galli says he and his friends were sitting at a table during brunch break when the vice principal asked two of the boys to remove American flag bandannas that they wearing on their heads and for the others to turn their American flag T-shirts inside out. When they refused, the boys were ordered to go to the principal's office.

"They said we could wear it on any other day," Daniel Galli said, "but today is sensitive to Mexican-Americans because it's supposed to be their holiday so we were not allowed to wear it today."
The boys said the administrators called their T-shirts "incendiary" that would lead to fights on campus.

"They said if we tried to go back to class with our shirts not taken off, they said it was defiance and we would get suspended," Dominic Maciel, Galli's friend, said. The boys really had no choice, and went home to avoid suspension. They say they're angry they were not allowed to express their American pride. Their parents are just as upset, calling what happened to their children, "total nonsense."

"I think it's absolutely ridiculous," Julie Fagerstrom, Maciel's mom, said. "All they were doing was displaying their patriotic nature. They're expressing their individuality."But to many Mexican-American students at Live Oak, this was a big deal. They say they were offended by the five boys and others for wearing American colors on a Mexican holiday."I think they should apologize cause it is a Mexican Heritage Day," Annicia Nunez, a Live Oak High student, said.
"We don't deserve to be get disrespected like that. We wouldn't do that on Fourth of July."
As for an apology, the boys and their families say, "fat chance."

"I'm not going to apologize. I did nothing wrong," Galli said. "I went along with my normal day. I might have worn an American flag, but I'm an American and I'm proud to be an American."
The five boys and their families met with a Morgan Hill Unified School District official Wednesday night. The district released a statement saying it does not agree with how Live Oak High School administrators handled this incident.

The boys will not be suspended and they were told they can go back to school Thursday. They may even wear their red, white, and blue colors again, but this time, the day after Cinco de Mayo, there will be no controversy.
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