Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Indictment

David Sirota has an opinion piece – The myth of “the left” - in the Denver Post this morning.

He wishes to set the record straight: characterizations of the American “left” as being all-powerful are a myth. His argument is that many “progressive” institutions are “just propagandists for Democrats, regardless of what Democrats do.”

Mr. Sirota cites the BP oil spill as an example where a Democrat (Interior Secretary Ken Salazar) compromises his environmental principles in favor of keeping “categorical exclusions” for drilling in the Gulf. He also cites the Elena Kagan Supreme Court nomination as an example where a Democrat serves as Dean of the Harvard Law School, but “did not hire a single black, Latino, or American Indian” in a group of 29 tenure-track faculty (according to Guy-Uriel Charles of Duke University).

Mr. Sirota ends his article by noting that the Democratic Party's decision to elevate politics over principle is “why – regrettably – a powerful left does not exist in America.”

Here are some thoughts...

What Mr. Sirota misses is an understanding of the word “principle.”

The definition has descriptors such as “rule”, “law”, “truth” and “obligation”. The impression is that you stand by principles; you keep your principles.

Mr. Sirota shows us that allegiance to the Democratic Party is actually the governing principle, while progressive ideology is a prop. The ideology can be picked up or discarded, depending on whether or not it brings more power and authority to the Democratic Party. He tells us that environmentalism and affirmative action are “principles” but shows that they are cast aside when they conflict with the objectives of the Democratic Party. One has to wonder, are "principles" meant to be cast aside?

That probably sounds harsh, especially to a person such as David Sirota, who regrets that the American left is not more powerful. He rallies to a cause based upon his principles, and doesn’t like the feeling of being used as a prop.

That feeling is powerful, and appears to be awakening some introspection on the progressive side of our political spectrum. It prompts Mr. Sirota, in his third paragraph, to disclose a political secret:

“Everyone in professional ‘left’ politics knows this reality.”

That’s an indictment.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Why The Numbers Are So Big

R. David Ranson, President and Director of Research for H.C. Wainwright & Co. Economics Inc. recently (May 17, 2010) had a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on Hauser’s Law.

It’s a graph showing that federal revenue from taxes in the United States (vertical axis) has never exceeded 20% of GDP (horizontal axis) since World War II. It dramatically points out that there is an upper limit to the amount a government can tax its people.

Consider the impact: Ever since the Federal Reserve has been managing the money supply, there has never been an instance when our government was able to extract more than 20% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) from taxpayers. That’s almost 100 years, in periods of inflation/deflation, high/low marginal tax rates, peacetime and war. It is an “Economic Law.”

I thought of this in the context of a presentation last night (May 19, 2010) by Jack Arrowsmith, the Clerk and Recorder for Douglas County here in Colorado. Mr. Arrowsmith held a town meeting, and went over the performance of his department for the last few years.

One thing that stood out was that he sets a budget and then meets that budget, year after year.

While his budget varies from $4,000,000.00 to $6,000,000.00 per year (depending on election costs), he watches over that budget and uses it as a management tool. He is a good steward of taxpayer funds.

Americans can relate to a million dollars. We see it in the context of lottery payouts and game show winnings. It is a large number, but has meaning (particularly to our local governments).

Our federal government deals in trillions of dollars. That is a million times a million dollars. If you think of a million dollars as one millionth of a trillion, you see how $1,000,000.00 gets lost in the rounding. It becomes insignificant.

And that’s the power of the “Big Numbers.” They are so big that we don’t want to deal with them; we make them an abstraction. We rely instead on our emotions to guide us, and on what our leaders teach us to believe.

While our political leaders depend on our trust, they often use the Big Numbers to deflect our attention. Political favoritism then gets lost in the overall package.  Earmarks become “insignificant.” Political dreams are used to conceal fiscal reality.

Hauser’s Law is like Jack Arrowsmith’s budget. It must be dealt with and is “real.” When we are told to expect the future to take care of us, we accept this belief at our own personal risk.

As we attempt to tax our way out of these difficult times, it will be fun to see how much room there is in Hauser’s Law.

Then again, it might not be “fun” at all.

UPDATE 5/23/10:
Linked by Left Coast Rebel.  Thanks, Tim!

UPDATE 11/26/2010:
Mr. Hauser himself weighs in to let everyone know that his law is still intact!

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Quiz

The Quiz stirs up controversy. It poses the themes of the Democratic Party in the form of a questionnaire, and makes people uncomfortable. People are forced to momentarily dwell outside their comfort zone.

(For your convenience, The Quiz is available here as a .PDF document.)

The reason for the discomfort associated with this piece of paper is that our anti-Republican culture considers it unacceptable to place a mark in the column labeled “Democrats.” The characterizations that are listed should only apply to Republicans and need not be challenged.

Who should take The Quiz? This is where the fun begins.

Suppose The Quiz is administered to a gathering of behavioral scientists, and they agree that Republicans are associated with the characterization of “homophobic.” Given this outcome, is it possible that a Republican can be cured of “homophobia” by simply going down to the local County Clerk’s office and changing political registration? What if this finding is published as a part of “homophobia research”?

Hopefully, our hypothetical scientists will be intrigued by our American culture and its tenet that only Republicans are guilty of homophobia. Maybe they would consider addressing the issue of gay Republicans having to brand themselves as “Log Cabin Republicans.” While they are at it, they could even examine if any political influences are coloring their work.

Taking the cultural issue a step further, can it be “right and natural” that in America it is humorous to joke about lynching a white woman?

And here’s one more…

Just over a month ago (March 24, 2010), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent out a donation request with a letter from Vice President Joe Biden. The graphic in the letter is a call to arms:

Vice President Biden writes:

Republicans want to exact a political price for our success. Their plan is this: Use the midterm elections to strengthen their numbers, weaken Democrats, repeal health care reform and destroy President Obama. And they are more than willing to lie to do it.
On top of everything else, the Vice President of the United States thinks it is right to characterize Republicans as liars.

Don’t wait for anyone to challenge his legitimacy. Our anti-Republican culture approves.

UPDATE 7/28/2011:
Lisa Gartner at The Examiner writes about a survey given to students in Virginia.  It shows the progression of student attitudes about honesty and cheating from grades 6 through 12.

It would be interesting to see a similar study associated with "The Quiz."  My sense is that with grade progression, our culture instills ever-stronger anti-Republican sentiment in public school students.  It would be interesting to see if a survey bears that out.

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