THE SAPIENT SPARROW: conservatism for commoners

"What has always made the State a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."–Holderlin

STOP! WAIT! COME BACK!

“The truth is, it took nearly a decade of failed economic policies to create this mess, and it will take years to fully repair the damage. But I am confident that we are finally headed in the right direction. We are moving forward. ; And what we can’t afford right now is to go back to the same ideas that created this mess in the first place.”—President Barak Obama, July 23, 2010 in weekly address

In a four page article in National Review Online, William Voegeli systematically argues that Liberalism is dangerous.

If politics is defined as “the way power is organized”, American power was conceived to be essentially organized by individual citizens in a free market who then delegated a portion of that power to duly elected representatives.  Voegeli makes the point that power thus organized is responsive to the electorate, because their positions depend on the support of the electorate.

As the result of Liberalism, we now have a system in which Congressional power is largely (mis)placed in a myriad of Government Agencies: SSA, EPA, US Department of Ed., etc., etc. who can regulate extra-legally.  These unelected bureaucrats are not responsive to citizens, because citizens have no power to fire them.  Thus, the individual is diminished and devalued by huge, faceless Government machinery.

America originated with the idea of an individual with natural, God-given, inalienable rights. This idea preceded laws, regulations and policies.  The rights of an individual citizen of the United States were not changeable, could not be abolished, nor could they be bestowed.  Humans possessed these rights by virtue of being created in the image of God.

Today housing, jobs, health care, transportation, food, childcare are identified as “rights”.  They are not. Furthermore, when we treat them as such, we are treading into an extra-Constitutional boggy swamp.  “Rights” that are invented and then distributed “fairly” after taking money from other citizens to pay for them are simply favors give to specific groups at the expense of individual citizens.

These Leftist ideas should alert us that our Country is traveling into an uninhabitable landscape.  Indeed Voegeli concludes his article with a plea to “turn around and go back”—wise words to cling to during this “Summer of Recovery” when we continue to hear that we cannot “go back”.

Voegeli’s summary is below.  Take the time to read his entire article.  It is well worth it.

“C. S. Lewis wrote that since progress means getting closer to your goal, when you’ve taken a wrong turn and are getting farther and farther from your destination, the truly “progressive” response is to turn around and go back to the right road. Most conservatives believe that America took a wrong turn in 1932, one that has led us farther away from the goal of preserving and strengthening republican self-government. Self-styled progressives talked us into that navigational error, and in the subsequent 78 years their liberal disciples have continued on the wrong road, superintending a rolling regime change that has steadily hollowed out our constitutional republic and replaced it with an administrative state, one increasingly indifferent to ordinary citizens’ concerns and insulated from their opposition.

The conservatives now reviving constitutionalism are rightly insistent on the need to retrace our steps, and to undo the mistakes that have supplanted limited with unlimited government. The point is not to go back to 1932 and stay there, compiling a list of things government cannot do and problems it cannot address. The point, rather, is to resume progress on the road not taken: toward a government that is both limited and vigorous, scrupulous about upholding the principles of republicanism but energetic and prudent about working within the framework created by those principles to respond to economic and social changes with policies that advance the people’s prosperity and security.”

— William Voegeli is a contributing editor of The Claremont Review of Books and a visiting scholar at Claremont McKenna College’s Salvatori Center.

Filed under: big government, , , , , ,

WITH A FRIEND LIKE LINDSEY, WHO NEEDS ENEMIES?

Yesterday, there was a meeting at the White House.  It wasn’t about Healthcare Reform.  It was about how important it is for the Senate to pass a comprehensive energy-climate bill!

Following are excerpts from an AP article concerning this bill:

A bill sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., aims to cut emissions of pollution-causing greenhouse gases by 17 percent by 2020. The bill would abandon a broad “cap-and-trade” approach to reducing carbon pollution. Instead it would apply different carbon controls to different sectors of the economy.

Republicans and business groups oppose [it] because it would raise the price of oil and coal.

Kerry and other lawmakers are looking at cutting the nation’s output of heat-trapping greenhouse gases by targeting, in separate ways, three major sources of emissions: electric utilities, transportation and industry.

The legislation would also expand domestic oil and gas drilling offshore and provide federal assistance for constructing nuclear power plants and carbon sequestration and storage projects at coal-fired utilities.

“There’s not 60 votes doing energy only for offshore drilling. There’s not 60 votes for nuclear power the way I would like. Only when you marry up climate change—cleaning up the air—with energy independence do you get” to 60 votes in the Senate, he said.  “If you’re a Republican, and you believe we should ‘drill, baby, drill,’ now’s your chance,” Graham said.

Really, Senator Graham?  So, in order to exploit our own energy resources, we are to be compelled to pay more to use them.  That’s a pretty small carrot attached to one whale of a stick.  We will pay more for gasoline, more for utilities and more for anything that is shipped, (which is just about everything).  At the same time that we are producing more energy, (if you believe that will ever really happen), we will be forced to use less, due to its upward spiraling price.  This plan, according to our friend, Lindsey, is in the interest of “cleaning up the air”, which he somehow he equates with “climate change”.   This fiction is no longer, if it ever was, a good reason for Government regulation and management of yet another private U.S. industry.

Senator Graham, needs to follow the example of Senator Specter and join the Democrat Party rather than continuing to masquerade as a (RINO) Republican.  Lending support to this bill is in no way supporting American business, nor the American people.  Our friend, Lindsey, needs to hear our voices loud and clear on this issue, and the voices of South Carolina need to be the loudest and clearest of all.

Filed under: U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , , ,

GOING NUCLEAR! So, what’s the catch?

President Barack Obama announced $8.3 billion US in loan guarantees on Tuesday to help build the first U.S. nuclear power plants in nearly three decades, a move he says “is only the beginning.”  So reports Canadian CBC News.  This sounds like (suspiciously) good news.  So, what’s the catch?

First of all, public funds will be used to guarantee 80%, or more, of industry loans in the case of default.  In an industry that has had both loan repayment and cost overrun problems in the past, a loan guarantee of this type puts the taxpayer at risk.  (I thought Obama wanted to avoid risk, hence all of the regulation of the financial sector!?!)  Furthermore, the nuclear energy industry has other demands it wants the Government to meet.

The industry also continues to press for regulatory changes to speed the time it takes the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to approve a nuclear application. Industry officials say the long process of winning regulatory approval discourages potential investors. Utilities like Constellation and Exelon, which operate nuclear plants, also continue to press for a cap-and-trade bill that would give the plants a competitive advantage over coal and natural gas plants that emit carbon dioxide. And Connaughton said the industry would press for an even higher level of loan guarantees. “

Second, Obama pointed out in his announcement that constructing nuclear power plants will create crucially necessary jobs… in about two years.  Ummm, guess we hope people can hang on for that long?

Then there is the problem of storing the waste generated by nuclear energy production.  Since Mr. Obama closed the Yucca Mountain long-term waste storage facility, what are we to do about the ‘waste’ problem?  Carol Browner, Energy Czar has the answer.  Yesterday, she explained about “on site” storage and that it was a “very safe” way to store nuclear waste.  Yet, in January 2006, she was far from definite about the safety of using the Yucca Mountain facility.

Carol Browner expressed reservations about using nuclear power because of the so-called ‘waste’ problem at the C-Span-televised 35th anniversary meeting of former EPA administrators in January, 2006. On January 19, 2001, Clinton EPA Administrator Carol Browner moved to finalize stringent water radiation exposure standards for Yucca Mountain to the White House for signoff.”

Finally, Mr. Obama intimated that now that he has agreed to constructing new nuclear energy plants, he  expects the Republicans to work with him in a “bi-partisan manner” to pass a Climate/Clean Energy Bill.
Can we say “quid pro quo”?  At this point, Republicans have nothing to lose by supporting Mr. Obama’s nuclear power initiative while at the same time opposing any Cap and Trade Bill.  After all, we will have no energy benefit for a number of years from nuclear plants, but we will all immediately, and negatively, be impacted by a Cap and Trade Bill.

NOTE TO SELF:  If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Filed under: congress, LEGISLATION, , , , , , , ,

RIP VAN WINKLE & SOAP OPERAS

Rip Van Winkle is a great story, isn’t it?  Guy lies down, falls asleep and when he awakes everything has—changed!  If only that happened in real life.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been out of commission, first with the stomach flu, followed by dealing with snow, snow, snow.  In that time I have really not been following the news.  Yesterday, I began listening to it again and realized that nothing has really changed at all.  In fact, I think that catching up with the news is very like catching up with a soap opera; no matter how many “episodes” are missed, the story line is always a variation on the same old themes.

Here is what I mean:
-Healthcare reform legislation has not really died.  It is simply tied up in Nancy Pelosi’s office awaiting re-introduction into the story in a piecemeal sort of way.

-The Iranian people are again protesting in the streets against their oppressive, and now allegedly nuclear, regime and are once more receiving no support from the “leader” of the free world.  When will they learn that they will never be more than bit players in this plot?

-The banks and Wall Street are still evil, except when they are friends of our “leader”, and will pay the price for following the orders mandated by Congress.  Everyone likes a good villain, but I’m just not feelin’ this one.  (Note to “leader” villain part needs to be recast.)

-Stimulus is back, although thinly disguised as a “Jobs Bill”.  I think they could have camouflaged this character better.  It was easily recognizable from its unemployment extensions, payoffs and money for “infrastructure”.  Wonder how long it will take for it to be unmasked?

-Our old friend global warming/climate change has returned in the guise of three feet of snow.  I have to admit that I didn’t see that one coming!

-Bush bashing is still the favorite sport, but with a twist.  (I just love twists, they keep things interesting).  Everything that is bad is still Bush’s fault. Anything that has worked out well is not due to him, but to our “Dear Leader”.  Got it?

I did notice the development of a plot hole.  “Dear Leader” stated that he is “agnostic” concerning taxes that will affect the middle class.  It may be entertaining to see how he weaves that one into the narrative.  Stay tuned, Sparrows.

Filed under: POTUS, U.S. GOVERNMENT, , , , , , , , , ,

FIRST, THEY CAME FOR THE BANKS, AND I SAID NOTHING.

Then, they came for Wall Street, and I said nothing.  Next, they came for the automotive companies, and I said nothing.  Now, they are coming for the Health Insurance Industry.  Are you detecting the pattern?

Obviously, the justification that the Obama Administration used for their control of the banks, financial industry and auto companies was that they were given tax-payer money for “bailouts”, and therefore put themselves in the position to expect strict Government intervention, oversight and regulation.  After all, “we the people”, (technically), owned them.  So, what is the justification for Government take-over of the health insurance industry?

Probably the most disturbing aspect, among many disturbing aspects, of the “Health Reform Bill” now wending its way through the Senate is the way it will systematically kill the Health Insurance Industry, (1/6 of our economy), and put it squarely into Government hands.  On September 10, 2009, I published a post called, Evil Insurance Empire.  In that post was a link to a chart that showed the profits of the Health Insurance Industry, (3.2%), and how those compared to profit margins of other industries in 2008.  (It was around 85th, if my memory serves.  You can re-check the link yourself.)  The point is that the Health Insurance Industry does not reap anything like “windfall” profits at our expense.  Despite this fact, the “Reid Bill” currently being passed through the Senate would dictate how this Industry operates with every bit as much strictness as those industries that were “bailed out” with public funds.

The “Reid Bill” would regulate Industry salaries and bonuses.  It would cap the amount of profit that the Industry could make and the amount of dividends that it could pay to shareholders.  In addition, the “Reid Bill”, mandates coverage for pre-existing conditions and removes yearly and life-time caps for pay-outs.  Anyone that can apply common sense can quickly grasp that a business, especially an insurance business, will not be able to remain viable under this type of Government burden.  Might this be the point of this Leftist plan?  Ultimately, if the Health Insurance companies fail, the Government would have “justification” to move in and take them over, running them in fact instead of indirectly through legislative regulation.  Voila, a single payer system emerges–that which Obama has wanted all along.

Constitutionally, there is no provision whatsoever that allows the Federal Government to meddle in private industry in such a way as to actually operate it, while technically allowing its ownership to remain in private hands.  The reason that there are Constitutional prohibitions against such Governmental behavior are apparent.  If the private sector is not protected against such Governmental power, soon the Government, by default, would in reality own and operate every private company according to their own designs, (even if private owners were allowed to remain as “figureheads”).  This kind of Government control has a name–fascism.  Students of history will recognize that this same kind of creeping Government take-over happened in Germany in the years before WWII.  And there was always a “justification” for these actions; always a “greater good” for the “people” was promised.  After all, that was a time of extraordinary economic hardship.

Watch closely, Sparrows.  Educate yourselves.  Be ready to act in 2010.  It has ever been thought that what happened to Germany can “never happen here”.  I beg to differ.  It can.

Filed under: congress, constitution, LEGISLATION, liberal activism, U.S. GOVERNMENT, Uncategorized, , , , ,

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN

IBD cartoon by Michael Ramirez

Mr. Obama is doing his best to make us believe that he is focusing on creating jobs.  He would do better by actually creating an environment conducive to increasing employment.  Alas, our talented POTUS seems to lack that particular ability.  Instead, he convenes a “Job Summit” to which he invites sycophants and cronies, followed yesterday by a private confab with “fat cat” bankers with the very public goal of “pressuring” them to loan more money to small business.

We have seen how well such “pressuring”, coupled with regulations and sanctions, have worked in the past.  In fact, Thomas Sowell wrote a wonderful five part series about how such practices led to the present economic disaster.  His series is well worth revisiting at this point in time, because Mr. Obama seems doomed to repeat the very history that could cause the very economic conditions that he has often said should “never happen again”.  A similar opinion has been voiced by the editorial staff at Investor’s Business Daily.

Here is my question: if so many of us can grasp that the POTUS sets courses, on a myriad of issues, that lead in the exact opposite direction that he says he is pursuing, what does that say about him?  And, what does it mean for the country?

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , ,

Stop the CFPA

Stop the CFPA.

Filed under: congress, economy, LEGISLATION, liberal activism, , , ,

"His eye is on the sparrow, and He surely watches me." --Mrs. Doolittle, 1905

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