Capitalism, Constitution, Current Events, Just musing

Taking Out The Trash (Before the Party is Over)

Every great party starts with great guests. Inevitably, if the party goes on too long or happens too often, those guests invite friends. Those friends bring bottles and disposal what-nots. And those friends invite other friends who bring more cans and dishes to wash. And by the end of its life, said party isn’t what it used to be. But come morning’s end, the garbage that needs to be hauled away, damn.

The last we left it, I’m not a Conservative (as thought by today’s meaning). Also, it is better time spent whipping the Republican Party back to its original objective: Promoting smaller government; not back to Reagan, but all the way back to Constitutional limits. And, most importantly, don’t ever, never argue with Democrats or anyone else in the “communitarian” gene pool. You might as well be attending a debate between a pastor and a Imam. At best, hang out, fly on the wall, and listen to their complaints. Then offer the Free Market solution, but only once. Never, ever, never get caught in the back and forth banter I see on social networks.

Quite some time ago, Harry Browne was asked on his radio show if Libertarians should work towards privatizing the Post Office. It was authorized in the Constitution but with the advent of Fed Ex, UPS, etc, the government doesn’t need to be involved in mail delivery any more. Plus, with the Internet, no one writes letters like they used to. Even bills and coupons are being paid and exchanged via the Web. However, as logical as this is, Mr. Browne’s answer was rather well spoken. He said that we were so far from the Constitution that we should at least try to get back to that. Then we could see if chipping away further was a worthy pursuit. I recall that conversation taking place in the late 1990s give or take a few years. And since then, I’d have to say, we’re even further away from the Constitution. Why now we have national health care. Or, I don’t know, maybe we don’t? Something on paper that’s supposed to be health care is out there but no ones really using it. And a government website that, as of this writing, doesn’t work. But whatevs.

It would be nice to say we have the Democrats to thank for the rise in government spending and programs. That way we’d be able to identify the problem. But it’s not reality. The Republican Party is just as much to blame. In fact, it’s an old joke among us Libertarians that the Democrats propose a Bill that costs $4.5 billion but the Republicans fight and it ends up costing only $4 billion and the Republicans say, “See, look at how we’re stopping the growth of government.” Not really. But it makes them feel better.

And it’s a myth, more legend, really, that under Ronald Reagan, spending was curbed. When Reagan took office, the federal budget was only creeping to $700 billion dollars. By the time he left office, it was over $2 trillion. It might be easy to blame the Cold War for the spending but then why didn’t it go down after the Berlin Wall fell? Harry Browne has a wonderful analysis here if you wish to revisit the myth of Reagan.

The fact is, the Republican Party is far beyond its claim of “smaller government”. It’s kind of bi-polar. (We Libertarians have long observed how they campaign like Libertarians but legislate like Democrats). In our last series, we noted that the Grand Old Party suffered from catering to false history. And, it’s paying for it as the recent election shows. In this study, let’s continue to find ways the Republican Party can overcome, be different than the Democrats, and uphold their rhetoric.

1) Start respecting other people’s money:

This year, 2013, marks one-hundred-years of the Income Tax. The Sixteenth Amendment was ratified in 1913 and has been reeking havoc ever since. Combined totals of Federal, State and City Income Tax and you’re take home pay is already in half. On top of that, include sales taxes and all the other ways the government gets your money not-so-discretely and you have to work from January until somewhere around July before you start earning for yourself. Republicans, think of it this way: You’re so pro-family, why not end the Income Tax and other pick pocketing schemes, allowing one parent to remain a full-time homemaker? Right now, families have no choice but for both parents, all adults, to find employment just to keep above water.

In a prior article, we noted several bits of pork the federal government involves itself in. End it and we could have more parents involved in their children’s lives. Less kids raised on the streets. Think about it.

2) Start respecting other people’s personal choices:

End the War on Drugs. Five years after the Sixteenth Amendment, Congress passed the Eighteen Amendment, thus, beginning the war on alcohol. Look how bad that turned out. Corrupt police and judges, gun battles on the streets, making criminals out of otherwise good citizens who enjoyed nothing more than a Tom Collins in the evening. It gave rise to Al Capone and the quality of drink was so poor, people found themselves terribly sick or dead from bathtub gin. Prohibition was such a bad idea that it ended in 1933 and the Eighteenth Amendment was put to scrap. The same should be done for ALL non-violent drug laws.

The War on Drugs has turned otherwise respectable people into criminals. Someone wishing to engage with a little marijuana while watching their favorite television show or composing a song or poetry risks time in jail. Why? Alcohol has shown itself to be a far more dangerous drug yet it remains legal. The War on Drugs has given rise to street gangs, working in an underground economy, giving little incentive to go back to school once they’ve become accustomed to the riches. Why work a minimum wage job for forty-hours a week when you can earn thousands on a Saturday night? Let’s note that while the illegal drug trade is bringing gun battles to the streets over illegal transactions, Miller and Budweiser haven’t lost an employee in their competition for customers. Johnnie Walker hasn’t suffered a gun fight with Jamesons. End the War on Drugs.

Dump the War on Gay Marriage. Get government out of what marriage means. Let individuals decide. There is no more personal of a relationship than two (or more) people choosing how to love one another. Dump the debates in Congress over this issue. Stay out.

Revamp Foreign Policy. We make much marching in other people’s countries, telling them what to do and how to do it. Telling Iran it can’t have nuclear weapons but winking at Israel. We trash China on it’s human rights issues but continue to wage war against casual drug users at home. And then we make war if we don’t likey. I can’t think of any war or “police action” the United States has engaged in since the War of 1812 that really needed to take place. Even the engagement with the Taliban and Al-Qeada after 9/11 could have been less of a cluster fuck. Congress could have enacted the Constitutional Letters of Marque, allowing anyone to go after Osama bin Laden et al. This would have reduced the entire Middle East from hating us, reduced the generation of children who will grow up one or two less parents over “collateral damage”. It also wouldn’t have spiralled into Iraq where, despite President Obama’s pledge to get out of, will never, ever happen. Our embassy over there is bigger than the Vatican. We. Ain’t. Leaving. Revamp Foreign Policy.

3) Start respecting academics and business:

From the Farm Bill to Obamacare (two hot topics as I write this), we are witnessing what happens when government gets into business. Prices go up, choices go down and the only winners are the friends of the politicians. True, the Republican Party has been rather united in standing against Obamacare but, Republicans drink their whiskey while complaining Mr. Smith is enjoying his Vodka. They knock government involvement in health care but have no trouble subsidizing sugar, insuring crops but letting go of some food stamp assistance. Do you see why this is a political disaster? Big business gets a boost but the poor are left to fend for themselves; or, at least, that’s how it looks. If the Republican Party could have just said no in it’s entirety, no government in food, no government in health care, no government in (pick your favorite industry). Allowing government to help some, punish others and forget the rest sets up the game of endless lobbyists for favors.

Imagine if the government ran a supermarket. Imagine the lack of choice. Imagine only one type of ice cream, low-fat and in a government approved cup size. When government regulates industry, that’s how it ends up.

Finally, get government out of academics. A Republican sponsored Bill is asking that the National Science Foundation justify future grants for research by proving that said research will benefit “National Interest”. Yet in so many cases, we really don’t know if the end result will be such a thing. Observing and testing is sometimes just to see what will happen, not knowing the final result up front. The researcher may have an idea but won’t know (can’t prove up front) the outcome until the research is done. As an example, modern chemotherapy has its roots in mustard gas. Mustard gas, a weapon used en masse in World War I for chemical warfare turned out to benefit for a chemical warfare against the Emperor of all Maladies. Get government out of academics. Expect more hurt as government intrudes into the sciences and academy. Republicans: Don’t support these things.

So the Republican Party has a lot of trash to take out. The GOP has hooked into some bad guests and bad policies and is losing for it. This and our last post on it aren’t meant to be exhaustive. There’s a lot of other garbage to remove but, in the interest of keeping this shorter than novel length, we’ll leave it as is. Besides, I’m exhausted. Exhausted talking to Republicans who think they’re Libertarians. Look, implement the suggestions noted above and we’ll call it a good start.

And remember: Don’t argue with Democrats. Save the air for the election night balloon drop when you actually win.

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