Monthly Archives: October 2007

Milton Friedman lives on…

Mike Huckabee would hate this

Speaking of Milton Friedman…on November 2nd, PBS will be showing The Ultimate Resource, which focuses on individuals in five countries (Ghana, Peru, Bangladesh, Estonia and China) and how the ideals of individual choice, freedom, free trade and private property are successfully being spread throughout the world and improving quality of life and self-worth.

It’s not showing in Georgia, but there are some stations around the nation that are carrying it. If you live in one of these places please check it out.

Just to give you an idea of what the program is about…here is the story of Victoria and school choice in Ghana…

I was able to get a DVD preview of it from Free to Choose Media and it made me realize how much we take for granted the ideals that have made this country (individual liberty, free trade and free markets) as prosperous at it is.

Sorry, Doug…I had to the use the video as a segway.

Tom Cruise, The Sex Pistols, And Ron Paul

No, it’s not the setup for some weird joke, it’s the lineup on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno tonight.

Texas Rep. Ron Paul will have the largest audience in his longshot bid for the Republican presidential nomination tonight when he joins Tom Cruise and the legendary punk rock band the Sex Pistols as guest on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

Paul, the only Republican presidential candidate to oppose U.S. involvement in Iraq, will attend a $2,000 per person fundraising reception in the Hollywood Hills after the taping, a campaign aide said.

Paul’s “Tonight Show” appearance comes a day after his campaign began airing television commercials in New Hampshire, site of the nation’s first primary.

Come on, aren’t we all wondering if the Congressman will join Cruise in a couch-jumping session ?

Seriously, while it’s true that this will be one of the larger television audiences Paul has had, The Tonight Show isn’t really known for it’s serious political commentary, and Jay Leno ain’t exactly Tim Russert. This is all about the exposure.

Though I will admit that I’m officially sick of these mandatory candidate appearances on entertainment shows. It all started with Bill Clinton’s ridiculous foray on the old Arsenio Hall show. But then, most things usually start with Bill Clinton.

The Club for Growth Report on Ron Paul, An Analysis

The Club for Growth paper on Ron Paul has generated some discussion over pragmatism vs radicalism. The Club for Growth, while overall praising Ron Paul, took exception over some stances that they believed as too unrealistic. This post will take a look at the actual paper and evaluate which who’s right on any particular issue, Ron Paul or the Club for Growth.

1) Federal funding of elections:

Despite this impressive record, Ron Paul’s history contains some curious indiscretions, including a vote for $232 million for federally mandated election reform (only 1 of 21 Republicans to vote for it)

The Constitution is very clear on elections, states run them, but Congress can pass regulations on how they’re conducted for Federal offices. Without looking at the actual legislation in question, the legislation is clearly constitutional. I cannot comment on the merits of the legislation.

2) Line-item veto:

a vote against the line-item veto[27] -even after it was modified to pass constitutional muster.

The line-item veto is clearly a violation of the Constitution since there is no authority for the president to veto only parts of bills. The president must either reject or sign an entire piece of legislation.

3) Pork barrel spending:

Paul’s record on pork was outstanding in 2006, voting for all 19 of Jeff Flake’s anti-pork amendments in 2006, but his record took a stark turn for the worse in 2007, in which Paul received an embarrassing 29% on the Club for Growth’s RePORK Card, voting for only 12 of the 50 anti-pork amendments.

Some of the outrageous pork projects Paul voted to keep include $231,000 for the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association’s Urban Center; $129,000 for the “perfect Christmas tree project;” $300,000 for the On Location Entertainment Industry Craft Technician Training Project in California; $150,000 for the South Carolina Aquarium; and $500,000 for the National Mule and Packers Museum in California. This year, Ron Paul requested more than sixty earmarks “worth tens of millions of dollars for causes as diverse as rebuilding a Texas theater, funding a local trolley, and helping his state’s shrimp industry.”

In defense of his support for earmarks, Rep. Paul took the if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em position, arguing that “I don’t think they should take our money in the first place. But if they take it, I think we should ask for it back.” This is a contradiction of Paul’s self-proclaimed “opposition to appropriations not authorized within the enumerated powers of the Constitution.”

Paul has no serious defense for this special interest oriented spending for local projects.

4) Trade

Ron Paul embraces the importance of free trade, but lives in a dream world if he thinks free trade will be realized absent agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA. Paul himself argues that “tariffs are simply taxes on consumers,” but by opposing these trade agreements, he is actively opposing a decrease in those taxes. While Paul’s rhetoric is soundly pro-free trade, his voting record mirrors those of Congress’s worst protectionists.

The Club for Growth is absolutely correct, the only way the US will get lowered tariffs on its exports and imports is through trade agreements. There are too many protectionist special interests with too much clout in Congress and overseas, so the only way to get lower tariffs is to have trade agreements that demands other nations to lower their barriers in return for the lower barriers.

5) Social Security Reform:

Just as in trade, this tendency leaves Paul opposing pro-growth reforms of Social Security. He opposes allowing workers to divert some Social Security payroll taxes into private retirement accounts, arguing instead for cutting payroll taxes and leaving it up to workers to do what they will with the savings. While the ideal is admirable, it is not a sufficient reason to oppose the pro-growth, expansion of freedom that personally-owned retirement accounts represent.

I support private retirement accounts, however the Bush plan was a terrible plan. Ron Paul was correct to oppose it, however, he’s wrong to oppose the concept of private retirement accounts in general. Both sides have good points.

6) Welfare Reform:

The Congressman was also 1 of only 4 Republicans to join the Democrats in voting against the extension of welfare reform in 2002. While Paul probably opposed the bill because of his distaste for government welfare in general and the authorization of additional funding, the legislation was an important step towards weaning millions of Americans off the government dole and imposing new work requirements on welfare recipients.

There is no reason for opposing weaning millions off the government. Club for Growth is absolutely right here.

7) School Choice:

Ron Paul’s opposition to school choice stems from his opposition to the government’s role in education, arguing that federal voucher programs are “little more than another tax-funded welfare program establishing an entitlement to a private school education.” He consistently voted against voucher programs, including a 1998 school voucher program for D.C. public school students, and a 2003 bill for a DC voucher program.

Instead, Paul supported education tax breaks and introduced the Family Education Freedom Act (H.R. 612) that provides all parents with a tax credit of up to $3,000, available to parents who choose to send their children to public, private, or home school. While Paul’s sentiment is understandable, it doesn’t change the fact that his votes are a direct impediment to achieving high-quality school choice. By voting against school choice programs, Paul is aligning himself with Democrats and the National Education Association in opposing progress towards achieving a truly competitive, market-based education system.

I also prefer tax credits to school vouchers because of the fear that with government vouchers comes government control of private education. Having said that though, there is a way to come up with a voucher program that does not intrude on private education. Both sides have valid points here.

8) Tort Reform:

Paul recognizes the danger of runaway lawsuits and bemoans “malpractice premiums that cost doctors tens of thousands of dollars per year, and increasingly threaten to put some out of business.” To his credit-and somewhat incongruous-Rep. Paul voted against a measure that would allow negligence lawsuits against gun manufacturers, for liability protection for manufacturers of certain gasoline additives, and for a bill that would move national class-action lawsuits out of local state courts to federal courts in order to stop the pernicious practice of court shopping.

Instead of traditional federal tort reform, he proposes “private contractual agreements between physicians and patients” that “enables patients to protect themselves with ‘negative outcomes’ insurance purchased before medical treatment.” In theory, Paul’s solution may help alleviate the situation, but it is politically untenable. While Paul’s idealism is laudable, he has not offered a viable alternative for dealing with a problem that is hurting American consumers and businesses, while diminishing our international competitiveness.

I agree with Ron Paul mostly on this. I oppose Federal intervention in setting caps on punitive damages because each incident needs to be judged and damages awarded on the merits of each case. I also oppose any Federal measures that restrict the jurisdiction of state courts. Other than that, I am open to tort reform measures that are targeted on the Federal level.

In all, this passage from the Club for Growth’s report describes one of the reasons why I don’t support Ron Paul’s candidacy:

But Ron Paul is a purist, too often at the cost of real accomplishments on free trade, school choice, entitlement reform, and tort reform. It is perfectly legitimate, and in fact vital, that think tanks, free-market groups, and individual members of congress develop and propose idealized solutions. But presidents have the responsibility of making progress, and often, Ron Paul opposes progress because, in his mind, the progress is not perfect. In these cases, although for very different reasons, Ron Paul is practically often aligned with the most left-wing Democrats, voting against important, albeit imperfect, pro-growth legislation.

Ron Paul is, undoubtedly, ideologically committed to pro-growth limited government policies. But his insistence on opposing all but the perfect means that under a Ron Paul presidency we might never get a chance to pursue the good too.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

The King Of Pork

It’s got to be John Murtha, Congressman from Pennsylvania:

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. — If John Murtha were a businessman, he’d be the biggest employer in this town.

The powerful U.S. congressman has used his clout on Capitol Hill to create thousands of jobs and steer billions of dollars in federal spending to help his hometown in western Pennsylvania recover from devastating floods and the flight of its steelmakers.

More is on the way. In the massive 2008 military-spending bill now before Congress — which could go to a House-Senate conference as soon as Thursday — Mr. Murtha has steered more taxpayer funds to his congressional district than any other member. The Democratic lawmaker is chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which will oversee more than $459 billion in military spending this year.

Johnstown’s good fortune has come at the expense of taxpayers everywhere else. Defense contractors have found that if they open an office here and hire the right lobbyist, they can get lucrative, no-bid contracts. Over the past decade, Concurrent Technologies Corp., a defense-research firm that employs 800 here, got hundreds of millions of dollars thanks to Rep. Murtha despite poor reviews by Pentagon auditors. The National Drug Intelligence Center, with 300 workers, got $509 million, though the White House has tried for years to shut it down as wasteful and unnecessary. Another beneficiary: MTS Technologies, run by a man who got his start some 40 years ago shining shoes at Mr. Murtha’s Johnstown Minute Car Wash.

A review by The Wall Street Journal of dozens of such contracts funded by Mr. Murtha’s committee shows that many weren’t sought by the military or federal agencies they were intended to benefit. Some were inefficient or mismanaged, according to interviews, public records and previously unpublished Pentagon audits.

And thus John Murtha, unindicted co-conspirator in the Abscam scandal. Stands as both an argument against pork and an argument for term limits.

Milton Friedman vs. Phil Donohue

If you grew up in the 1970s, you probably remember Phil Donohue, who was a loud-mouthed talk show host before loud-mouthed talk shows hosts were cool. And he was, very, very liberal.

Here’s a classic segment of an interview with the great Milton Friedman where he tries to trap a Nobel Prize winner in an intellectual debate:

Nice try Phil, but you lose.

H/T: Club for Growth

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