Its easy for politicians to believe promises of lobbyists.
When a referee of a football game starts choosing sides he gets fired, and Washington’s attempt to become a player rather than a referee in the U.S. economy should cause the same outrage as we would see against a football referee choosing sides. The Solyndra scandal shows how easy it is for governments to back the wrong horse when attempting to become a player, wasting millions of taxpayer dollars and creating unviable jobs when market forces are defied. The entry of the government into the rental market after it foolishly backed private home mortgages is another example of government destruction of the economy when it becomes a player.
The proper role of government vis-a-vis the economy is that of referee, not a player. Government, by its very nature, creates and enforces rule of law. The basic principle underlying governance is power. However, the basic principle that underlies an economy is the market. A market is governed by the principles of production and exchange. These are not the principles that drive a government.
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A Radical Overhaul of Welfare
Growing Vegetables on a Modern Collective Farm
This article proposes the radical overhaul of government welfare in the United States to solve many social ills the present system creates. Instead of cash payouts and food stamps that cause social dependency, despondency, and ghettos where the poor are jammed together in cities, it is proposed that the government provide a social safety net through living on collective farms. This is a type of communism, but not communism for the entire population, only the welfare class. While providing a safety net, it would put people in a constructive setting where they could work for their sustenance or be cared for largely by others who are not employed by the private economy.
This type of system would be a modern version of the Babylonian system of temple welfare that lasted over 1,000 years and was discussed on this blog on August 16. It would dramatically reduce taxes and crime, and provide self-esteem and personal life skills necessary for employment in the private economy. It would provide a path for those who wanted to join the private economy in a productive capacity. These collective farms could both produce healthy organically-grown fruits, vegetables, and eggs and provide places for social security and long-term care for those too old or ill to work who had not adequately saved or have family who can care for them. They could be modern facilities.
This system is not a foreign concept in the United States, in fact this pretty much describes the social function of the Shaker communities that were often places of refuge for the unemployed and widowed in 19th century New England. The Shakers not only cared for their members without state funds, but were also known for their fine hand-crafted furniture. In ancient Babylon the temples may have taught basket weaving and pottery skills and earned some income from the sale of such items.
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The term extremist is used to incite fear
We hear the words “extreme” and “extremist” used constantly in political discourse in the media. This word is used like swear words when people want to vent an emotional release but are unable to provide rational descriptions of what they are referring to.
He told the group to make sure they label the GOP spending cuts as “extreme.” “I always use extreme,” Schumer said. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use.”—Washington Examiner
“Extremist” is a deprecatory word to slur a political opponent, but it carries no content, only an emphasis. It does not paint an accurate description of what an opponent may think; it is not a term that can be used in scientific research; and, it is a term used to blindly scare the reader or listener away from an opponent without cause. It is a term used by liberals and conservatives alike. You might hear people say “left-wing extremist” or “right-wing extremist” when running a negative campaign against the opposing party. Continue reading →
Hilaire Belloc is considered a distributist
Distributism is a term commonly associated with Catholic economic theory. It seeks economic justice by promoting the widest distribution of property to the largest number of people possible. Distributism also relates to the principle of subsidiarity, which means the greatest responsibility to the lowest possible level of society. Distributism seeks to provide everyone with the means of shaping their own welfare and economic destiny.
Distributism is a form of Economic Justice the Opposite of Concentration of Wealth and Redistribution
Distributism, in its widest sense, could also apply to government and to knowledge. With respect to government, it would mean that political power is distributed widely throughout the society. The US founders championed this principle and established a constitution for the purpose of distributing and protecting the distribution of political power to all citizens. With respect to knowledge, this would mean that knowledge is distributed widely. The principle of transparency, widespread education of children, and access to knowledge through publications, books, or the internet is important for the distribution of knowledge. Distribution of power, wealth, and knowledge are all important for underpinning a republican form of democracy.
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The Women's Suffrage Movement. Will the internet provide new enfranchisement of voters?
The End of Politics as Usual
US political parties have controlled Washington politics for a long time. But with the passage of the Wall Street bailout and Obamacare they are seen to increasingly bankrupt the country at the expense of the citizens. The rise of the Tea Party was the first widescale sign of citizen distaste for the agendas of special interests being promoted by the Republican and Democratic political parties. Republican presidential candidates Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul catapulted themselves to the top of Iowa straw poll by identifying with Tea Party concerns. Now we have another option: internet candidates.
Americans have been waiting a long time for a way to get around party politics. George Washington lamented the formation of political parties in his Farewell Address. In Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, Version 4.0, I traced the history of legal reforms that have allowed special interests to control Washington through the political parties and constitutional amendments. Now the internet, which has been a great equalizer by bringing a vast array of knowledge to citizens’ fingertips, is being seen as a method of going around the party system by getting large numbers of internet “signatures” for non-party candidates to go on the ballot.
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A portrayal of welfare as the Road to Hell
Welfare is an important topic that has become divisive in Western politics. In the name of compassion, liberals are supporting the need for social welfare. However, many of the welfare programs they have created have encouraged social dependency and family breakdown, undermining the long-term sustainability of society. Conservatives have reacted with attempts to defund these programs, but they often sound harsh and uncompassionate when they advocate leaving the problems to voluntarism.
In the nineteenth century, before the development of public poor houses and welfare programs, many people who were unchurched received no help from the churches. Immigrants flooding through Ellis Island and concentrating in poor ethnic neighborhoods were too large in number for the churches in established communities to care for. Social compassion demanded that something be done to help these people in need.The problem is that a system developed that became a road to hell paved with good intentions.
The real question is how to provide welfare in a way that promotes growth and maturity of the recipients rather than social dependency. When the government pays women to have out-of-wedlock children, you get more out-of-wedlock children. Statistically, these children enter the world with less opportunity for success. When you provide subsidized food and housing adequate for a subsistence lifestyle, you get more people living a subsistence lifestyle, and the government buys a growing underclass that costs more to support each year. If you pay bureaucrats based on the headcount of the number of people in a welfare program, you motivate them to keep more people on welfare. These are perverse incentives structured into programs rooted originally in compassion: it is just poorly directed compassion, the type that paves a road to hell with good intentions.
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The Middle Class in Pakistan demands social change. Will it be reactionary, revolutionary or integral?
The large budget deficits by governments at all levels and increasing income gaps between the rich and the rest are the result of poor fiscal management and regulation by governments. We hear increased emotional rhetoric as 1) people paying taxes can no longer tolerate government waste, 2) people receiving government checks are threatened to get cut off, and 3) people who work hard to earn a living are watching both governments and financial industries taking or destroying their savings and investments.
This anger is known in sociology as the Frustration-Aggression hypothesis.(1) Human beings, especially in their earlier stages of emotional and moral development, react to frustrating circumstances physically, often lashing out as a perceived enemy. Youngest children often simply throw uncontrolled temper tantrums and lash out at the nearest object. As we learn to reason and rationalize, we make war on our perceived enemies. This warlike response within a society usually takes the form of reactionary or revolutionary behavior.
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The inability of the United States and state governments to produce responsible budgets is part of a widespread problem in which the number of people receiving some type of government checks outnumber the people who don’t. In 2007 the Christian Science Monitor reported that “slightly over half of all Americans—52.6%—now receive significant income from government programs.” This number was expected to grow to 60% by 2040—and that’s before the passage of Obamacare, which would put the nation’s largest non-government industry under the control of the Federal government.
The most recent legislative sessions are revealing the consequences of this situation. Dependents outnumber providers and the national and state budgets mirror the type of budgets that would be produced if children voted on how to spend their parent’s money, teachers voted on how to spend the county’s money, or prisoners voted on how to spend the prison budget. This is a conflict of interest that the Founding Father’s never envisioned, because they could only imagine a small percentage of citizens receiving a Federal or State paycheck, and certainly no retirement check.
Huge New Poll Shows That Our Chances Of Balancing The Budget Are Approximately 0%—Business Insider
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The Collapse of Rome
I wonder whether the United States will act like a big bubble with its elites clinging to power and collapse like the Roman Empire, or eventually rise to the challenge and transform itself, decentralizing and seeking constructive social solutions like China since the rule of Deng Xiaoping.
This week, in a class I am teaching, we talked about whether the centralizing tendencies in the US economy and government can be reversed. There are a growing number of populist movements, left and right, that feel the loss of community and the destructiveness of corruption in both centralized corporations and governments. They have a nostalgia for the old life in the small town, where people took care of themselves and a highway was their only involvement with a state.
Let’s start by asking whether we could revert to small towns, and whether there would be a social consciousness to do so. The United States is much more populated than at the time of the founders, and there is probably not enough land for everyone to have a subsistence farm. Continue reading →