Don’t Call it Socialism!

Jonah Goldberg makes several good points about the term socialism and its application to the economic and political situations we now face. Of course, as Goldberg points out:

The government effectively owns General Motors and controls Chrysler, and the president is deciding what kind of cars they can make. Uncle Sam owns majority stakes in American International Group, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and controls large chunks of the banking industry.

Our economy may not be completely socialist, but we are sufficiently socialist to make Hugo Chavez jealous. Facts are facts and we are moving rapidly in the wrong direction — at least if individual liberty is important.
My only quibble with Goldberg is that he attempts to paint socialism (or corporatism) as creatures exclusively of the left and the Democratic Party. He fails to appropriately castiate Republicans, particularly GW Bush for his massive spending and expansions of government into so many new areas of our lives.

Measuring Overall Freedom in the States

There are lots of indices of various kinds of freedom out there, but this new “Index of Freedom in the States,” which is put out by the libertarian Mercatus Center at George Mason University, is the first that combines economic freedom measures with personal freedom.
Not surprisingly, New Mexico fares rather poorly on fiscal policy (45th), regulatory policy (37th), and economic freedom (43rd). The good news is that New Mexico’s personal freedom ranks very high at 3rd best in the country. Overall, New Mexico scores 36th. Not surprisingly, New Hampshire which lacks both a sales and income tax ranks as the freest state in the nation and New York is a dismal 50th. Certainly, New Mexico has a lot of work to do in the realm of economic policies before residents of The Land of Enchantment are as wealthy as they are personally free.

Republicans: Want to get back to power? Read this.

Rep. Jeff Flake a Congressman from Arizona is one of the most intelligent and principled members in the United States Congress. He wrote an article in the Washington Post that appeared in the Albuquerque Journal today in which he laid out a plan for Republicans to re-take Congress by adopting principles of fiscal responsibility. Among Flake’s cures for what ills conservatives:

At the top of that list has to be a recommitment to limited government. After eight years of profligate spending and soaring deficits, voters can be forgiven for not knowing that limited government has long been the first article of faith for Republicans.
Of course, it’s not the level of spending that gets the most attention; it’s the manner in which the spending is allocated. The proliferation of earmarks is largely a product of the Gingrich-DeLay years, and it’s no surprise that some of the most ardent practitioners were earmarked by the voters for retirement yesterday. Few Americans will take seriously Republican speeches on limited government if we Republicans can’t wean ourselves from this insidious practice. But if we can go clean, it will offer a stark contrast to the Democrats, who, after two years in training, already have their own earmark favor factory running at full tilt.
Second, we need to recommit to our belief in economic freedom. Adam Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” may be on the discount rack this year, but the free market is still the most efficient means to allocate capital and human resources in an economy, and Americans know it. Now that we’ve inserted government deeply into the private sector by bailing out banks and businesses, the temptation will be for government to overstay its welcome and force the distribution of resources to serve political ends. Substituting political for economic incentives is not the recipe for economic recovery.
Most House Republicans opposed the recent bailout and will be in a strong position to promote economic freedom over central planning as the Obama administration stumbles from industry to industry trying to determine which is small enough to be allowed to fail and which is not. Since timetables will be in vogue, perhaps Republicans could even insist on a timetable for getting the government out of the private sector.

Republicans here in New Mexico and nationally should heed Flake’s call for real change towards fiscal responsibility. Otherwise, they’ll be in the wilderness for a long time.

Union “Card Check” Rule a Fantasy Win for Big Government

The upcoming election is being fought over a number of issues: Iraq, health care, taxes, and an array of social and cultural issues like age and race as well. One of the subtexts of the election that is not being discussed is so-called “card check” legislation that would give labor unions an ace in the hole when it comes to organizing.
Card check is an effort by the unions to replace secret ballot elections with simple “card checks” by union bosses as a tool for organizing. Certainly, those who so often espouse the greatness of “democracy” would be expected to support the most democratic method of decision-making possible when it comes to forcing the employees of a particular business to join a union. Unfortunately, when self-interest is concerned and expanded membership is concerned, democracy flies out the window.
I’m glad that presidential and congressional elections are private and anonymous. I certainly wouldn’t want to have to vote with union thugs looking over my shoulder and neither should those who work for Wal Mart or any other business.
Unfortunately, New Mexico’s House of Representatives is trying to push Congress in this economically-harmful, anti-democratic direction. It passed a “House Memorial” in 2008 urging Congress to pass the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act” which would impose Card Check.

“Celebrating the New Deal”

In case you missed the recent reporting, New Mexico is “celebrating” the 75th anniversary of the New Deal this year.
According to the state’s Historical Preservation Division, “Nearly every town in New Mexico has a building, structure, artwork, roadway, park or infrastructure built between 1933 and 1942 that would not have been possible without the New Deal.” The Division is hoping to compile a list of New Deal resources in towns throughout the state. By the end of 2008, HPD wants to round out its New Deal Register nominations so each of the 33 counties has at least one listed resource, which will result in there being more than 100 New Mexico New Deal resources listed.
Thankfully, while bureaucrats and those in the government celebrate the New Deal, Jonah Goldberg has an excellent new book out now which details the truly fascist nature and negative short and long-term impacts of the New Deal. These include its failure to bring America out of the Great Depression and its legacy of an eviscerated Constitution which haunts us today.

John Stossel Destroys Michael Moore’s Premise

The entire debate over socialism vs. free markets comes down to two simple facts: 1) the left doesn’t understand economics and 2) the left confuses compassion with government action. Michael Moore has made these mistakes in spades throughout his career, nowhere more often than in “Sicko.” Unlike most of the mainstream media, John Stossel calls him on the lies and obfuscations that Moore perpetrates.
Hating Michael Moore is not going to win any arguments; instead, those who philosophically disagree with his socialist worldview need to come up with alternatives of their own that are superior to the snake oil Moore is selling. Kudos to John Stossel!

The Double ‘Thank-You’ Moment

John Stossel is one of my heroes and, especially considering his role as a commentator/reporter within the mainstream media, his strong grasp of economic and political issues from a pro-liberty perspective is astonishing. One of his most recent columns is all about that moment when you are speaking to a store clerk and both of you say “thank you.” This, Stossel points out is the essence of free market capitalism and is the greatest single difference between voluntary exchange and government force.
The essence of the “thank you” is that you are getting something you want, say a cup of coffee, and the company/employee is getting something they want, namely money. Both parties consider themselves to be “winners” in the transaction.
This is rather different from government interactions. How often do you enclose a “thank you” note with your income tax return? Not often I’d imagine. Ultimately, international trade is no different from the interaction between a Starbucks employee and a customer. Rather than getting in the way, the US government should abandon tariffs and subsidies, especially on agricultural products, and allow Americans to trade freely with citizens of other nations…even Cubans.