Jobs Alone Aren’t The Answer

English: Calvin Coolidge. 30th President of th...

English: Calvin Coolidge. 30th President of the United States (1923-1929) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is, as always from Amity Shlaes, excellent. It has often seemed to me that our politicians think the electorate is very stupid, not to mention having no memory at all.

While this seems more obvious on Democratic side of the aisle, it’s pretty bipartisan, as watch Congress continually indulge in get-rich quick schemes for Congresscritters and their sycophants, especially in the lobbying industry. Truly I have come to believe we have the best Congress money can buy. Somehow, I don’t think that is quite what Jefferson, Washington, Madison, and the rest had in mind. Who comes to my mind is a chap named Nero, a famous violinist who thought he was more than that.

From Amity

But 18-year-olds are wiser than their elders realize. Jobs alone won’t suffice to keep them. Young people seek something else: prospects. The distinction feels trivial, but there’s a difference between jobs and prospects. That difference is one of time. “Prospects” means long term, and long term is how many youths think.

This became clear in a contest recently conducted by the Vermont-based Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation, where I work. The foundation asked high school students to answer a simple question regarding the Green Mountain State: Should I stay, or should I go?

That’s indeed the question we have all faced isn’t it. The perennial American question, ever since the Pilgrims landed. Is the grass greener someplace else, or is this rockpile as good a farm as there is. usually itching feet have prevailed, and we have indeed, “Go west, young man, go west.” and what we have usually found is the chance to build something to be proud of, whether it was a farm, a business, a church, or indeed a nation, which has become second to none.

Still, the kids were just breaking bad news gently. And that bad news was that they were indeed departing. One semifinalist established the imperative of migration: “In times such as these, the world needs people to step up and keep it from collapsing in upon itself. … While I do not think every Vermonter should leave the state, I think those of able mind and body should.”

The winner put her conclusion more bluntly: “I need to get out of Vermont to see different places around the world and to meet different people. I need to experience those things in life that Vermont simply cannot offer.” Another pupil wrote in rap-style slang: “Not necessarily the state for success. … So competition is weak/ People need to travel so they can raise to their own peak/Vermont’s getting older.”

Now mind you, I’m very traditional but you know, if I was growing up in Vermont, and it’s as lovely as everyone says, I’d leave as well. Why? I like to eat, and I believe in earning my own way. The view out the window is important but not as important as that.

The economist Milton Friedman, who once had a house in Vermont, labeled a phenomenon he observed as the “Permanent Income Hypothesis.” People, Friedman posited, were not rabbits. They would spend not according to what cash they had on hand but according to their estimate of what money they’d have in their lifetime. The PIH holds for decisions beyond saving. You choose a home not just because it pleases you this year but because it might prove a good investment over a lifetime.

The essays of the perspicacious Vermont teens suggest that states around the nation may want to alter their pitches. Jobs matter, but less than education. Regulation matters. Tax rates matter, even top rates—again, because of prospects. The ambitious consider what rate they’ll pay tomorrow, not the rate that applies to them as they start out.

Well, of course they do, we all do. And that is why what Washington does increasingly is so pernicious. When you kill people’s dreams, which is what our welfare system has done systematically in our cities for fifty years now, we train whole generations to believe they are worthless, that the best they can hope for is to be paid for existing, so sit down and shut up.

But it’s even more than that, isn’t it. I’m a highly skilled tradesman, living in one of the better states for business, and yet, as I’ve written before, because the state itself has a habit of ignoring its laws, to take care of its guild members, I’m unlikely to work again. When a guy like me becomes convinced that my best chance to retire is to win Powerball, you are doing something wrong.

Jobs Alone Aren’t The Answer – Forbes.


This is more an aside than anything else but, am I the only one who thinks the national Democrats increasingly look old and tired, yesterday’s news. I mean jeez, guys, I’m in my early sixties myself, and when you look old and shopworn to me, what must you look like to the 30 year olds that you built your party on. It’s the people, to an extent, we’ve been talking about the Clinton’s for what seems like forever, is it really only twenty years? Then again, do you have anything else that you bought in 1990?

Nor does it help that they are still pushing the same programs that have failed everywhere they’ve been tried, usually catastrophically and they haven’t changed a jot or tittle since Wilson was president. I is a further handicap to at least some of us that not a single one of the member of the nomenklatura has ever held a real job even (mostly, anyhow) ever served in the military.

Time to consign them to the dustheap of history and move on.

The First Gasoline Tax: Less Than Romantic (Oregon: 1919) – Master Resource

Did you ever wonder how the gas tax came about? I did occasionally but never enough to study it and find out. Not surprisingly it turn out to be a sordid story of self-interest and government cronyism. From Masterresource.

“I was asked to draw a state highway map that would win the votes of a majority of the members by placing roads [so] they could take them home with them as pork wrested from Portland…. This map ran in front of the farm homes of enough legislators that . . . 37 representatives joined in introduction of the bill…. It took all day . . . to get the map changed so a majority of the Senate would vote for the bill…. My poor map was almost unrecognizable, but it served its purpose.”

– C. C. Chapman, “father of the gasoline tax,” on Oregon’s passage of motor-vehicle fee in 1917, which became a gasoline levy two years later.

Was Oregon’s tax the work of a far-sighted reformer with the special interests keeping a safe distance in the interests of fair and balanced government? Or was it the result of a confluence of private and public interests creating a supply of and a demand for special government favor?

Unlike the textbook view, it was the latter. And “Big Oil” was involved in Oregon’s historic public-finance moment. The major oil companies calculated that the total revenue from gasoline sales would rise more with tax-financed road construction than if gasoline was cheaper by the amount of the tax and fewer (public) roads were constructed.

Nothing very novel or even unusual there, really. that’s how political sausage is made And in some ways, the fact that the government built roads, in a political environment is likely better than if they’d turned the map over to ‘experts’. And even with my libertarian tendencies, it’s hard for me to see how local roads at least would be overly rational as private property. So maybe it’s not the worst thing ever, really. federal highways and Interstates are likely a different sort of animal but that’s another discussion.

Oregon’s beginning led to road taxes in all 48 states within a decade to fund road construction. But, gas-tax revenue started to be diverted to other uses to the chagrin of the oil majors, now organized as the American Petroleum Institute (API). “Phantom roads” became an issue.

Government intervention giveth and taketh away. Expect the same for any ‘starter’ carbon tax.

That does bother me. We approved of the gas tax to build and maintain road, not for any other purpose (seems like the usual suspect these days is so-called: light rail). Which if there was enough demand for it wouldn’t need government subsidies. But it does, and where it has been built, (like the interurbans before it) it has failed.

The First Gasoline Tax: Less Than Romantic (Oregon: 1919) – Master Resource.

There’s quite a lot more at the sourcelink but I see little point in reproducing it. You should rhe link, include some from Heritage. cronyism is always going to exist, the trick is to keep it at a low (and local) level so it doesn’t do too much more damage than the good it can do.

Libertarian Nationalism

1904 cartoon. United States threatening Morocc...

1904 cartoon. United States threatening Morocco for release of citizen held. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I ran across this article, with a hattip to  @MZHemingway. He pretty well sums up my feelings but I won’t let that shut me up! ;)

For instance:

It’s worth remembering that libertarianism is a political philosophy regarding the nature of the relationship between citizens and states with whom they are in political compact; a philosophy that places a high premium on individual autonomy and the enforcement of negative rights. As such the government of the United States exists for the benefit of its citizens, not those of other countries. While foreigners have the same inherent, inalienable rights as Americans, their protection is simply outside of the responsibility of the United States government.

Got that? We, the Americans, created the US government to the benefit of us, the citizens of the United States.

Not really for the benefit of Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys everywhere. It’s OK if they benefit from our thoughts and actions but it’s not ever our primary aim. If you want to live like an American, you have two choices, come on over and be a US citizen, or change your government to be more or less like ours. Both work, both have been done successfully, and both have been tried and failed, it depends on you, mostly.

Or this:

We should seek non-aggression pacts with all who will treat us honorably, and alliances with those of good reputation whose interests align closely with our own and who can carry more than their own weight militarily.

With regard to nations that lack civilization, seek conflict with us, or simply wish us harm, however, a nationalist libertarian policy should have one overarching principle: if you lay a finger on one of our citizens — or otherwise violate their rights as we understand them — it will end badly for you. The nature, degree, and timing of your punishment will be of our choosing, and we will be less concerned about inflicting collateral damage or injustice on those around you than we will be in seeing you suffer for your wrong. Indeed, the harder you make it for us to punish you, the more likely it is that we’ll have to get sloppy about it. If that concerns you, we encourage you to reconsider your actions and refer you to infographics such as this for calm reflection.

There is a Marine Corps T-shirt around that summarizes this well:

No better friend

No worse enemy

Teddy Roosevelt was a mixed bag as President. An admirable man, he had huge flaws as well. What else can you say about a man who started our slide into (misnamed) Progressivism, and almost single-handedly gave us the idiotically stubborn and freedom-hating Woodrow Wilson as President. Thanks TR.

But when Ion Perdicaris was kidnapped by a non state actor (the Raisuli) in Morocco TR sent the whole Atlantic flotilla (although nobody had a clue what to do) to make the point that we cared about that individual American. You may remember the phrase,

This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.”

When he was released Perdicaris commented while looking at the fleet gathered in Algiers harbor, “It was that flag, aye and that navy, and that nation, to which I owe my freedom.” or something like that, since I can’t find the quote right now. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

And this:

Punitive campaigns against nations who harm their own citizens but do not otherwise affect the United States’ interests should, therefore, be avoided, unless cogent arguments can be made that failure to intervene will harm the United States.

He uses the example of Gaddafi, which is an excellent choice. There are plenty of other examples, which might include Iraq, and Syria (or ISIS, if you prefer).

Pointedly, I do not include Afghanistan, which allowed a state sponsored terrorist group to mount an attack, using weapons of mas destruction, against civilians, in the US homeland. As such, according to doctrine, 48 hours later Afghanistan should have been a smoking, radiating, sheet of glass, but we didn’t think it necessary.

He ends this way:

More simply, our foreign policy should be motivated solely by our interests and limited only by our morality, rather than the other way around.

The Case For Libertarian Nationalism, Part II: Defense | Ricochet.

I have little to add to that.

Should We (or for that Matter Britain) Have Entered World War I

downloadThis is an exercise in thinking for yourself. it came up in a comment stream (yes, we were off topic) on AATW last week, and it interesting one. There is simply no doubt that the infusion of American arms and money won the Great War for the Allies.

But should we have entered, there is some truth that we entered because Wilson was outraged that the Kreigsmarine ignored his warnings about submarine warfare, and some truth that America was outraged by the Zimmerman telegram. On the other hand it hard to see how we were going to collect the loans we had made to the Allies if we didn’t.

Nor was this a small matter, sometime in 1915 or 1916 the world’s financial center had moved from London to New York, as the British went from being the world’s largest creditor nation to being the world’s largest debtor nation. Without that there is no American century. By the time of the Armistice, Germany was literally starving to death (that’s true in World War II as well, but irrelevant for now). this is when America became the “indispensable nation”. there are lessons in that for us today that we would be wise to take to heart as well.


But to me the more interesting question is this. What if Great Britain had sat out the Great War? Here are four eminent British historians talking about that very idea. Watch the video and then we’ll talk a bit more.

I think I’ve run this before but no matter, it’s quite valuable, and directly on point. One thing that is very hard  for us all is that one can only consider the information they knew at the time.

You heard quite a bit about shopping lists and Bethmann-Hollweg’s demands. If I remember by about October 1914 Germany was so far in debt that she had to make ridiculous claims to pay off her debt, she, of course, didn’t have the British (and then American) banks to hold her hand, and you do remember what happened to Weimar Germany in the 20s, right?

What do I think, overall? From the viewpoint of what we now call Realpolitik there is simply no question, there were no gains available commensurate with the risk of war for Great Britain. And the outcome of her victory could have hardly been worse, if she lost. That is not entirely her fault of course. There are other actors, I, personally would lay a great deal of the blame on the idiotically inexperienced and stubborn Woodrow Wilson But there, are, in fact, no clean hands in this mess.

And the other fly in the ointment is this. Germany should have won anyway, and in 1914. von Moltke the Younger weakened the Schwerpunkt to strengthen the defenses in the Ruhr unnecessarily (the French weren’t coming). That led to the necessary shortening of the right hook and is the reason the First Marne happened instead of the fall of Paris. Then he panicked when he saw the mobilization of Russia proceeding faster than the Prussian plan said they would, and diverted a further three corps from the attack to Hindenburg in the run-up to Tannenberg. When he was told they were coming Hindenburg reportedly said, “Why, I have no use for them. And he didn’t.

They got there after the battle had been fought. So they spent the entire decisive stage of the war riding around on trains across Germany. And so, “the Miracle of the Marne” was actually that the Germans panicked.

And so the whole thing settled into stalemate. The apologists would like you to believe this couldn’t have been foreseen. They’re wrong, it could have been, and should have been. Europe, then as now, believed so much in their superiority that they never looked around. They didn’t have to look far. The 1864-65 campaign of the Army of the Potomac against the Army of Northern Virginia, looks very similar. To change the paradigm was going to take the development of practical combustion powered armored force vehicle which didn’t happen until the 1930s.

And so a clear win for the non-interventionists. Or is it?

Because in the cold logic of realpolitik it seems pretty clear, there remains that nagging little voice, “What of Honor? What of our commitments, and our word?”

And as I sit here in a United States whose feckless government has seemingly forgotten (or never knew) the terms, let alone what they mean. I’m inclined to think they do, other countries need to know what a great power will, in general do. that it will keep its word. And while here, we have been talking of the beginning of the wars of the twentieth century, those wars ended when an American, British, and Polish, person of honor showed the way. Perhaps honor does matter. I think so, i think it makes us better, much better. Otherwise, we are simply a pack of wolves, arguing over the spoils.

A couple of points. World War II is simply not conceivable (at least as it happened without the Great War. I think Churchill correct, when he called them together a new Thirty Years War and the same is true for the Cold War.

Those debating for the proposition in the video have one point that is hard to overstate. It is hard to conceive of an outcome that is worse than what we got.

Perhaps Churchill was also right when he said of the times.

Great Events and Small Men

He excluded himself from that judgement, of course.

British Conservatism

uk-us-shooping-0211I wanted you guys to see this because many of my British friends think he is pretty much of a right-wing conservative. Personally I see him as a warmed over squish someplace between John Kennedy and Walter Mondale.

And in truth that is why so often we and the cousins seem to talk right past each other. Where for us, the Constitution is bedrock very similar, in fact, to what the Catholics call “the ordinary Magisterium”, the interpretation can be explained and the meaning twisted (slightly) because of the times but essentially it means exactly what it says, no more and no less.

These types of basic principles don’t play for our British brethren, mostly anyway. Their history tell tells them that all is pragmatism, does it win elections. Rather like HMS Victory at sea in fact. They know what they think is right, but they are dependant on the electoral winds to get there. That is what their history tells them.

When we separated from them, we set up safeguards so that no branch could wield power on its own; that’s what our Constitution does, although it does require some integrity from some number of members of the government. Our president was originally to be rather a constitutional monarch, his power proscribed by the other branches.

The cousins are different, the system until 1689 was essentially ‘The King in Parliament’ which had at least some features of separation. Since then the monarch has been rendered increasingly irrelevant (as has the House of Lord’s) leaving Britain ruled by the Prime Minister (a creature of the commons) ruling in the House of Commons, without anything resembling a check on what they can do. Both Magna Charta and the English Bill of rights have long since, almost totally been repealed. No Checks, No Balances, No Appeal. It’s democratic in the sense that you can vote for whichever creature of Westminster you choose if you can see any difference.

Anyway, here’s Michael Gove speaking to the Legatum Institute

[Unless you really like their backdrop you can safely skip to about 11:00]I think he has a few good ideas, but it’s hard for me to judge a house built on sand, and in truth, how they run their country is their business.

But he’s also got that peculiar British blind spot that you can drive a Nimitz class carrier task force through. That the NHS actually works, and is better, contrary to all (and I mean all) the evidence, that it is actually better than Zimbabwe’s system. It’s simply an ethnic religious belief, because not only can it not be proved, it can be disproved by anybody at all with about five minutes research.

We’ve  (both Jess and I) have written about it a fair amount here, because the so-called system, which might be better than Stalin’s in the 30s is the model for Obamacare.  In one of her posts on it, Jess said this.

Someone recently said that the National Health Service (NHS) was the closest the British now have to a religion. At the opening ceremony of the Olympics there was a section given over to celebrating the NHS. We are always being told it is the ‘envy of the world’, and in something close to brainwashing, any criticism of it is usually quickly closed down by the media. We’ve been fed a version of its history which tells us that before it poor people were toothless and dying in the streets for lack of money, but that now it cares for us all regardless of cost on a basis of ‘need’ only. It is, in short, the last argument left for socialism. That may be why so many in our media circles refuse to see, even when they get a report like this, that their story no longer holds water.

There’s no such thing as ‘regardless of cost’. The NHS is the largest employer in Europe. Every doctor and nurse in every hospital, every porter, every workman in hospitals, every local doctor, every midwife and social worker, they are all NHS employees. The bill of this is huge. Whether, as some say, it is £100 billion, or £101.5 billion, it costs each of us about £1500 a year.

The BBC, funded by a compulsory tax on every household with a TV, tells us how wonderful it is and how much better than what the Americans have. It is certainly true that no one in the UK needs to worry about paying if they get ill. The NHS will take care of you – the problem is not the money, it is the ‘care’.

She also recognized that it is very politicized, and in fact Jess, who is very well connected politically, although like me she tends to not use her contacts, does, I think, owe her very life to connected people who were able to threaten the NHS effectively on her behalf. I had the distinct impression, that left to themselves, the NHS would simply have left her to die unattended, like they have so many others.

And that is the model we have chosen for American health care as well. God help us.

CPAC 2015

Gladstone quoteI haven’t been doing much politics lately. That doesn’t mean that I no longer care, I do as much as ever. It means that for the present all we can really do is hold, and frankly I’m very disillusioned with the Republicans, who have turned into democrat (not so) lite.

Still CPAC is different. Even though they let some of the ones we derisively call RINOs talk, it’s about conservatism, and doing things that work. So, here’s a selection from last weekends CPAC 2015.

My overall thrust remains what it always has been. It is summarized quite well in the lead quote in the sidebar.

This you really want to listen to, it is that important!


And we’ll finish off with a man who knows all to well what Brent Bozell was talking about. If what you know about UKIP comes from the British press, you’ve simply been lied to. Unless I had a very good reason for voting for somebody else, and some do, I’d vote UKIP in a heartbeat.

 

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