November 3, 2008
Free Speech, free markets and free coffee
Posted by Becki Gray at 5:03 PM
Exercise your right to vote tomorrow and Starbucks will treat you to a cup of coffee. It’s all right here.
No word yet on a Budweiser or Veuve Clicquot giveaway tomorrow night after the results are posted.
Is the Free-Market making its last stand?
Posted by Michael Moore at 2:59 PM
Over the last few weeks what is left of the
Free-Market system has taken some major hits, could the Free-Market be
at the end of its road? It might be according to National
Review's James Sherk, in this article United States of France. He sums it up this way:
But hope and change are vague terms that allow everyone
to project onto Obama’s campaign the changes they want. Far fewer
voters realize what changes, exactly, Obama has promised: changes that
would essentially change America — into France.
America is the world’s leading economic power
because American workers are productive and entrepreneurial. The U.S.
economy — and government policy — place relatively few barriers in the
way of upward mobility. Americans who work hard can rise as high and
far as their skills will take them, and many do.
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:18 PM
The electoral winds have been blowing in Democrats' favor this year. "It's a bad year to have an R after your name," as N.C. State political scientist Andrew Taylor told the John Locke Foundation's Shaftesbury Society today.
Among the major North Carolina races, though, there is one potential bright spot for Republicans, Taylor said. Click the play button below to hear Taylor's assessment of the gubernatorial race between Republican Pat McCrory, Charlotte's mayor, and Democrat Bev Perdue, the lieutenant governor.
4:20 p.m. update: Watch the entire 53-minute presentation by clicking the play button below.
You'll find other John Locke Foundation video presentations here.
Socialist health care, Obama, Hayek, Friedman and more
Posted by George Leef at 2:18 PM
Cato's Michael Cannon here takes on Salon's Michael Lind, a fellow who thinks that he is really, really clever but isn't. The subject is whether Obama's health care plan is socialist.
The exchange gives you a good taste of the slick disinformation campaign the leftists are running to disarm the people so we can easily be herded into another of their utopian schemes.
Obama's job fetish
Posted by George Leef at 1:14 PM
Jacob Sullum pens a great column under that title today.
If someone sent Obama a copy of Economics in One Lesson, would he read it?
Excellent article by Max Borders
Posted by George Leef at 12:56 AM
Our friend Max Borders has this excellent article on the Foundation for Economic Education's site today. In it, he counsels against the common mistake of thinking of the economy as a machine we can easily adjust. It isn't, and when politicians who believe themselves to be "mechanics" attempt to fix it in times of distress, the inevitable result is that things get worse.
Charter schools and bonds
Posted by David N. Bass at 11:57 AM
The National Center for the Study of Privatization in Education Teachers College has released a report discussing the impact school choice has on parents' willingness to approve bonds and local tax increases.
The paper's abstract says:
Do charter schools improve the odds for school districts seeking increased funding at the polls? If school choice increases parental satisfaction, and those parents who choose schools are among the most attentive to school district policies, then increasing school choice should increase the likelihood that they turn out to support a district’s request for more funds. (These voters would be more likely to turn out, too, given that few people vote in school referenda elections.)
This paper uses a logit analysis of school finance ballot measures for Wisconsin from 1998 to 2005. The analysis suggests that the presence of charter schools in a district does improve a district’s chances of gaining voter approval for finance issues.
You can download the entire paper here.
More on the Argentine precedent
Posted by George Leef at 10:59 AM
Mary Anastasia O'Grady devotes her WSJ column today to the situation in Argentina, a nation that is strangling itself with government interference with the liberty and property of the people.
I can see no reason to think that the United States won't continue down the same path as Argentina, with politicians and their interest group backers engaging in legal plunder until the carcass is picked clean.
Hayek wrote about the self-accelerating tendency of interventionist regimes (whether called socialist, fascist, or something else) to do more and more coercive things as their central planning and wealth redistribution schemes backfire. Argentina is Exhibit A. I fear that some years from now, people will be writing about the United States in exactly the same vein.
I surmise that 90 years ago there were Argentinian thinkers who warned that the country would pay a terrible price if it followed the socialistic demagogues who promised the people more "fairness" and "security." People like that are always ignored by those who want immediate benefits through legal plunder.
We always hear politicians telling us that we need to do something or other "for the kids." Well, ruining the country with socialism is something we should NOT do "for the kids."
Oh, but our liberals would never do anything like that....
Posted by George Leef at 07:34 AM
Alvaro Vargas Llosa comments here on the seizure of private retirement accounts by the cash-desperate regime in Argentina.
No surprise from Kinsley
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:39 AMWe should not be shocked to learn that Michael Kinsley doesn’t get John McCain’s intense focus on the “spread the wealth” comment Barack Obama made to “Joe the Plumber.”
Kinsley belittles McCain’s response in a new TIME column. The article is useful, but not for advancing Kinsley’s argument.
Instead he demonstrates that he makes the common mistake among those on the Left of confusing sharing — a voluntary activity — with government-mandated redistribution. Kinsley also treats us to this assertion:
We all tend to think that it's someone else's wealth that needs to be spread around and that it ought to be spread in our direction. But the principle that the unequal distribution of wealth is a legitimate concern and government policies should mitigate it has been part of American democracy since at least the New Deal. In fact, it is a commonplace that the moderate wealth-spreading of the New Deal saved American democracy. Today collecting checks from people and issuing checks to other people — or the same people — is the government's main domestic activity.
OK, let’s take this sentence by sentence. Sentence one: wrong. We certainly don’t all think that way. Except for those who believe themselves to be victims of class oppressors, I suspect most of us don’t think much at all about spreading other people’s wealth around. We’d like to keep our own wealth and have the opportunity to build it. Once we’ve satisfied the needs of ourselves and our families, we’re happy to share wealth voluntarily with people and causes we choose.
Sentence two: I’d buy it if Kinsley had substituted “idea” or “notion” for “principle.” By using “principle,” he asserts incorrectly that this idea has had near-universal support. It hasn’t. The battle over wealth redistribution has been a key element of the American political debate for decades. Perhaps Kinsley forgets how the rejection of his “principle” helped propel Ronald Reagan to two terms in the White House.
Sentence three: One suspects Kinsley uses “commonplace” rather than “truism” or “fact” because he knows the idea asserted is false. The New Deal extended the Great Depression and built a modern-day Democratic Party based on interest-group politics. It did not “save democracy.”
Sentence four: Absolutely true. And that’s a huge problem. Government exists to protect rights, not to give governing elites the power to choose economic winners and losers.
Even if Obama believes …
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:34 AM… his rhetoric about limiting tax hikes to families earning $250,000 a year, he’ll be forced soon to change his tune.
So Justin Fox, no critic of Obama’s plans, warns us in the latest TIME:
So where is the dough going to come from? In 2007, 56% of pretax income went to households making between $70,000 and $250,000 a year, estimates the Census Bureau. That's the upper middle class, broadly defined. If we need more money to keep the country running, here's betting that is where it's going to be found.
Want a better idea than soaking the middle class? Steve Moore has a suggestion.
Soaking the … rich?
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:32 AMThe latest issue of Fortune offers a good response to those who support tax increases for families earning more than $250,000 a year.
In true modern-journalism style, the magazine downplays statistics and instead features photos of five families who would take a hit from that type of tax increase. None of those families — including Charlotte’s Drs. Kymberly and John Selden — would strike anyone as the selfish, evil rich.
In the article that goes along with the photos, Fortune dubs these families HENRYs (high earners, not rich yet):
Put simply, the HENRYs are the bulwark of the professional and entrepreneurial class that drives the economy. … They are relentless strivers. Aspiring HENRYs played by the rules and did everything right: They won the best grades in high school, got accepted at good colleges and grad schools, and worked daunting schedules as medical interns or associates in law firms. They're an upwardly mobile group: Most HENRYs used their talent and grit to advance from the middle class, and those who got a hand from affluent parents are determined to do even better for their kids. "These high earners may come from privileged, upper-middle-class backgrounds or be the children of immigrants," says Phillip Cook, a financial advisor in Torrance, Calif. "What they have in common is that they worked incredibly hard to build their careers and work incredibly hard to move ahead." Now this group of superachievers is being targeted as a cash machine.
The article goes on to remind us that Sen. Barack Obama is the one doing the targeting. For more recent Locker Room critiques of Obama’s tax proposals, click here, here, or here.
Time to grow up?
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:29 AMSpend much time with Newt Gingrich, and you’re bound to hear a profound idea about improving American society.
His latest idea — offered in the pages of Business Week — is to scrap adolescence:
The costs of this social experiment have been horrendous. For the poor who most need to make money, learn seriously, and accumulate resources, adolescence has helped crush their future. By trapping poor people in bad schools, with no work opportunities and no culture of responsibility, we have left them in poverty, in gangs, in drugs, and in irresponsible sexual activity. As a result, we have ruined several generations of poor people who might have made it if we had provided a different model of being young.
And for too many middle-class and wealthier young Americans, adolescence has been an excuse to delay work, family, and achievement—and thus contribute less to their own well-being and that of their communities.
It's time to change this—to shift to serious work, learning, and responsibility at age 13 instead of age 30. In other words, replace adolescence with young adulthood. But hastening that transition requires integrating learning into life and work.
Something to keep in mind
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:28 AMAs the election season reaches its peak, the following passage from George Will’s One Man’s America might offer us a useful perspective:
[T]he greatest threat to civility — and ultimately to civilization — is an excess of certitude. The world is much menaced just now by people who think that the world and their duties in it are clear and simple. They are certain that they know what, or who, created the universe and what this creator wants them to do to make our little speck in the universe perfect, even if extreme measures — even violence — are required.
Will wrote these words in 2005, and one suspects that Iraqi insurgents were on his mind. But the same passage could apply to those political partisans today who expect too much from their chosen political candidates.
Today's Carolina Journal Online features
Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:21 AM
The first Carolina Journal Online exclusive of election week features David Bass' report of a recent school choice forum that featured remarks from Charlotte Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory.
John Hood's Daily Journal tackles some late-breaking election topics.
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