Views on the News

December 15, 2012

Views on the News*  

Slavery begins with a posture of mind that, like a fine mist, imperceptibly washes over the land, permeating and tainting what it touches and it no longer arrives in violence and with manacles, but is birthed from the misuse of our freedomThe choices we make forge the links of what is at first a manageable but eventually a ponderous chain: intoxication over sobriety, indolence over diligence, entitlement over gratitude, novelty over tradition, and indecision over tenacity.  By enthroning the pursuit of pleasures and avoiding the pains of rigor and risk, a citizenry paves the way for its dissolution into softened subjects of the regime. Having grown complacent while fawning sheep-like over the material largesse of centralized power, the natural inclination towards self-preservation and sufficiency is effectively bartered away for unmerited gifts.  Distracted by the philanthropic regime, the vigilance and jealousy over a society's inalienable prerogatives and rights diminish unheeded as citizens increasingly become wards and property of the paternal state.  A people that has forgotten the historical calamity of its chains, that is morally reduced to coveting the careless crumbs of a beguiled life over the Promethean first principles of liberty, forbearance, and gratitude, has its steps firmly set on the pilgrimage back to Egypt.  It is a terrible thing to watch the slow-motion destruction of a great race that has accomplished so much and has stood as a beacon of light for the inhabitants of the Earth and having spilled a sea of blood to insure that faces we did not know could escape the whip of despotism, how ironic that we have not the foresight and courage to arrest our own looming fall into slavery.

(“The Prerequisite for Servitude” by Glenn Fairman dated December 8, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/12/the_prerequisite_for_servitude.html )


Slavery is the ownership of one man by another, which is a perversion of the notion of private property, rooted in a fundamental illogic about the nature and source of property itself.  A human being, as an animal, has a natural inclination to self-preservation; however, as a rational being, this inclination is not simply an instinct, but initiates a moral imperative, i.e., it becomes a matter of choosing to live in accordance with his nature, first and foremost by preserving himself.  It is this moral imperative that modern political philosophers termed a "right," in the sense that to thwart or restrict it is to deny a man his very nature, which means to deny Nature itself.  As a rational agent, a man achieves his self-preservation through voluntary effort aimed at providing the means of his survival and prosperity.  Just as the right to preserve himself entails what may be called ownership of his own life, so the man's efforts are also his property, in as much as they are the practical manifestation of his right to self-preservation, i.e., of his self-ownership.  The institution of slavery is a perversion of property rights because it treats as one man's property an entity that already has a natural owner, namely the entity itself, i.e., the slave.  To own the results of a man's work, that is, to own them without mutual voluntary exchange, is to own his labor; to own his labor is to own his time; to own his time is to own his life.  Progressivism espouses the basic principle of slavery.  Unlike past slavery, however, the progressive version does not try to force the square peg of "owned men" into the round hole of property rights.  The progressive simply denies property rights completely, and hence rejects the tortured reasoning of private slave ownership in favor of universal enslavement to the state.  The progressive seeks to nationalize the slave industry.  This is the literal (though unspoken) meaning and source of his demands for confiscatory tax rates, redistribution of wealth, hyper-regulation of industry, and government control of health care and education.  It is the meaning and source of the progressive's mockery of private success in favor of the charms of public dependency, his efforts to redefine and legislate the private family out of existence, and his disdain for religions which teach the dignity of the individual soul, and appeal to men's hearts beyond the reach of their allegiance to the government.  Obama is a man who embraces the core principle of slavery, the denial of individual sovereignty, i.e., self-ownership.  His main difference on this score from the slave owners of the past is that, rather than pursuing the contradiction of defending private property while simultaneously defiling it, Obama merely wishes to undo property itself, thus rendering enslavement a universal principle of government.  If his hopes, which he shares with the Communist Party and all other progressives of the past hundred and fifty years, are achieved, life in the resulting America will make life under George III seem a lost paradise.  Bluntly stated, Jefferson was a great, imperfect man who believed deeply in freedom as an equal right, but struggled to find the best path to its realization. Obama is a resentful demagogue who deeply disbelieves in the notions of freedom and property, who believes only in the equality of shared dependency, and whose planned post-Marxist nightmare presently slouches, like Yeats' "rough beast," towards America to be born. 

(“Obama and Slavery” by Daren Jonescu dated December 10, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/12/obama_and_slavery.html )


The food stamp program can no longer be regarded as an anti-poverty program because nearly half of its recipients are above the poverty line, many of them substantially so and other anti-poverty programs have an even higher percentage of the non-poor among their recipients.  The explosion in costs for these programs has little to do with the higher numbers of Americans who have fallen into poverty since the Great Recession.  Spending for poverty programs received a big boost during the Bush years, a $100 billion increase over eight years, but the Obama spending spree dwarfed those increases.  In his first two years in office, President Obama increased such spending by $150 billion, some of it in the 2009 stimulus package.  The portion of the federal budget now attributable to fighting the "war on poverty" is now roughly equal to the entire defense budget, slightly less than spending on Social Security, but more than on Medicare.  The major changes occurred when the government allowed more lenient standards for eligibility for benefits.  Most of these programs were originally designed to help those who lived below the official poverty line, but over the years, the federal government has lowered the threshold so that even those earning twice the income considered below poverty still qualify.  Over half of the recipients of food stamps (now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP), have income above the poverty line.  The non-poor receive more benefits than food stamps.  Those living at 133-200% or more of the poverty level also constitute the greatest number of beneficiaries of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.  What once were programs to provide a safety net for the truly poor are now programs to boost the living standards of the lower middle class. More importantly, these changes reflect a sea change in social and economic policy. Those who have warned that America is heading toward a welfare state are wrong, because in reality we are already there. 

(“The American Welfare State” by Linda Chavez dated December 7, 2012 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/lindachavez/2012/12/07/the_american_welfare_state )


The left will scream bloody murder if we say that Lincoln objected to the welfare state, but philosophically since Lincoln would not only stand against welfare, he would have fought it.  He would instantly recognize it as another form of slavery, one more insidious than the variety he fought, but slavery nevertheless.  Among Lincoln's chief arguments against slavery were:

·    Natural rights, as spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, meant that all people had a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of skin color. No person (or party) had a right to treat another person as property.  The welfare state results in a loss of choices, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

·    Lincoln believed that man had a right to govern himself.  The welfare state treats the person as property.  Liberals treat the votes of their wards as their property, to be utilized as they see fit.  Democrats need a permanent underclass: gift-giving for vote-getting.  More and more we no longer exercise any choice in some of the most important matters of our lives: health, employment, housing, and provision for retirement.  This is no longer self-government but soft despotism.

·    The welfare state, like slavery, is an assault on the recipient's human dignity.  Not only does the welfare state not encourage citizens to take responsibility for conducting ones' own affairs, it is packed with disincentives against working and raising families.

·    Lincoln believed that all men had the right to the fruits of their labor. The welfare state teaches able-bodied men and women to accept non-working as a condition of their servitude.

·    Lincoln also protested against slavery because of man's innate sense of justice.  No one is talking about a safety net for people in hard times; modern governments have all provided for people under these conditions.  When the fruit of man's labor is gathered in taxes and then divided for others to enjoy food stamps, health care, education, phones, subsidized promiscuity, housing, the rebuilding of millionaires' homes on the tony shores of Jersey and the Hamptons, it violates our innate sense of justice and economic justice.

·    Finally, Lincoln was against slavery because he believed it impaired the general welfare of the country.  The welfare state does not solve any of the truly monumental problems tearing our society apart: broken families, drugs, failing schools. It impairs the general welfare. For anything that keeps any group of the country's citizens in a form of tyranny represents a form of tyranny to the whole nation.

It is clear that Lincoln would be against the welfare state, because it is another form of slavery. Lincoln solved the first form of slavery with its clearly visible shackles and chains and often physical restrictions. In the new form of slavery it is not as clearly visible and the masters or experts appear benign - they "care," but it still affects the deepest parts of the soul, that of man's dignity, and represents no less an assault on it.

(“Lincoln and the Welfare State” by Mary Nicholas dated December 7, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/12/lincoln_and_the_welfare_state.html )


Now that Barack Obama is safely ensconced in the White House for another four years, several items which should have been noticed or revealed before Election Day have finally been discovered by the media. Collectively, they tell us two things: that the pre-election economy was worse than voters were led to believe, and that the prospects for meaningful improvement under the current regime are bleak at best.  Additionally, in at least one instance, economic activity itself was likely manipulated.  The probable gamesmanship occurred at Government/General Motors, which is still effectively under Obama administration control, still on track to saddle U.S. taxpayers with a loss of $25 billion or more, and still losing market share.  Despite already-bloated inventories at its dealers, GM’s production lines ran full throttle during September and October.  GM estimates that its dealers have a 4-1/2 month supply of full-size pickups, if the economy doesn’t tank.  The company “is taking steps to cut excess production,” specifically citing a plant in the critical swing state of Ohio, and “signaled there may be more to come.”  News in the housing market, particularly concerning sales of new single-family homes, suddenly went from pre-election exuberance to post-election bleakness.  The Census Bureau’s final pre-election report told us that new-home sales had reached a seasonally adjusted annual level of 389,000. The administration’s press apparatchiks dutifully reported that figure as the highest in 2-1/2 years.  The bureau’s post-Thanksgiving release revised September’s number down by over 5% to 369,000 and also reported a slight October decline.  Overall, it showed that the housing market has gone nowhere during the past eight reported months.  Now even the press is turning dour on the economy, as if lousy conditions totally invisible before November 6 have suddenly (“unexpectedly“) appeared to ruin things.  The only things which seem likely to arise out of all of this are trillion-dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, continued lackluster or worse economic growth, and indefinitely higher than acceptable levels of unemployment and under-employment, and one more thing: tax increases for everyone.

(“Now They Tell Us” by Tom Blumer dated December 8, 2012 published by PJ Media at http://pjmedia.com/blog/now-they-tell-us/ )

The "Employment Situation" report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that 5.4 million Americans have dropped out of the labor force since Barack Obama took office, and somehow we are supposed to feel OK with this condition.  The labor force declined by 350,000 in November, despite an increase of 191,000 in our working age population.  The true unemployment rate, calculated at the labor force participation rate that existed when Bush 43 left office (65.8%), increased from 10.7% to 10.8%.  This put the true unemployment rate 1.3 percentage points higher than when Obama's so-called "economic recovery" began, almost 3.5 years ago.  As of November 2012, total employment was still 3.2 million below its peak, which occurred five years earlier.  This is particularly ghastly, because America's working age population has increased by 11.2 million since then.  America moved another 246,000 jobs further away from full employment during November.  We had fewer full-time jobs last month than we did in January 2005, which was almost eight years ago.  Reagan produced his recovery via a combination of a strong dollar, tax cuts, and regulatory relief. Obama has continued Bush 43's weak dollar policy, but has added the ObamaCare tax increases and a blizzard of new regulations. And, he has vowed to fight for even more tax increases.  Not surprisingly, opposite causes produce opposite effects.  From an employment point of view, there has been no economic recovery at all.  Part of Obama's new normal involves ignoring the staggering difference between the President's promises and the actual results delivered.  Obama's $842 billion in stimulus spending was supposed to get the unemployment rate down to 5.2% by now.  The actual unemployment rate in November (calculated at the labor force participation rate assumed for the stimulus plan) was 10.8%.  This is not only more than twice as high as the level promised, it is higher than the 10.4% rate (calculated on the same basis) that existed when Obama signed the stimulus bill into law.  As things stand, the American people can look forward to more years of economic stagnation, as well more years of pretending that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but don't worry if your kids graduate from college, only to move back home and play video games in the basement -  It's just the new normal.

(“Under Obama, Economic Stagnation Is the New Normal” by Louis Woodhill dated December 10, 2012 published by Real Clear Markets at http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2012/12/10/jobs_under_obama_economic_stagnation_is_the_new_normal_100035.html )

In “fiscal cliff” negotiations Barack Obama is a terrorist, because he has nothing to lose, he cares only about winning, and the nation be damned. In fact, the economic depredations inherent in cliff diving provide him with an advantage.  By letting lower tax rates on the middle class expire, potentially he has access to so much more money to transform America, along with the ability to blame the Republicans for the entire debacle.  As for the sequester, the second part of the fiscal cliff, half of the spending cuts would be borne by defense, which ties in nicely with his notion of America as more humble in a world of equals, with most more equal than us. The cuts to social programs can be finessed with executive orders, innovative regulatory fiat and imperial diktats.  You see, there is no downside for him.  This is why his first offer at the negotiations was $1.6 trillion in tax increases -- double the position he campaigned on less than a month before, plus an actual increase in spending of $50 billion as another 'mini' stimulus, because stimulus worked so well before.  Even though Barack Obama is a terrible negotiator, it doesn't help that Boehner is a bonehead and a horrible negotiator in his own right.  When in a negotiation, if your opponent offers nothing, and you are willing to make a deal somewhere in the middle, you do not start out in the middle with your first offer.  That is idiocy at worst, lunacy at best, incompetency in reality.  Your opponent will see this as weakness and a likelihood you will fold. Any skilled negotiator would walk away when the initial reply concedes almost everything wanted, because it opens the door to the possibility of getting more.  The bad negotiator, full of visions of personal ascendency, never returns - that's Barack. He could have bargained in earnest and easily gotten $1.2 trillion in tax increases, but he knew better, and decided to hold out for everything. You have to love someone who will not accept victory.  Boehner's first offer should have been "Zero," no tax increases and whatever level of domestic spending cuts that would frighten the heck out of the progressive morons whispering in the moron president's ear.  The House of Representatives, after all, does control the nation's purse strings. Republicans, however, are not exactly unarmed, but a weapon is only useful when used.  Republican Boehner sucks as a negotiator every bit as much as Obama -- lucky America.  But it's not over. There is a time constraint, technically a deal must be done by January 1, 2013, but in reality, an agreement has to be in place before the President's publically funded vacation, it would be selfish of America to expect his royal highness to delay his recreation for the good of the nation.  The smart thing to do would be to send to the Senate a bill permanently extending the Bush tax rates for all with income levels under $200,000 per year individually and $400,000 per year for those filing jointly. This is different from the President's plan, which pines for increases at $200,000 individually and $250,000 jointly, but this should be an easy argument to win for Republicans as a defense of marriage, however marriage is defined.  Leave the sequester in place; defense will suffer, but defense spending has always included a certain amount of bloat and this will serve to wring out at least some of it. And, when the detritus hits the fan, as it will under the leadership of America's weakest president, we will do what we have always done, rise up. Putting defense on hold for 4 years will not destroy America.  Barack cannot veto it either, because it is almost everything he has been on record asking for, at least before he decided to overreach.  Then, he will own it, all of it, the moribund economy, declining employment and increasing food stamp and disability enrollment, the higher costs of gasoline, home heating oil, food and all the basic staples of American existence, as well as the constant challenges to American interests abroad, remember, Chris Stevens was only the first.  The overall decline in the American standard of living will for time immemorial be remembered as the "Obama New Normal" and Barack will finish his Presidency with an approval rating in the single digits, and he and his ideology will be destroyed.  An uninformed America, by reelecting the worst President in modern times has shown itself to be addicted -- to the easy answer and the glib phrase spoken by the least informed among us, read from a teleprompter in dulcet tones and life-affirming cadence.  Addicts need to hit rock bottom before they can get better, so Americans need to suffer before they let go of socialistic dreams, thus Republicans must allow the President to raise taxes on the most productive and destroy the economy.

(“Embrace the Suck” by William L. Gensert dated December 13, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/12/embrace_the_suck.html )


* There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news.  I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning.  Updates have been made this week to the following issue sections:

·  Education at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/Culture/education.php

·  Energy at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/energy.php


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY