Posts Tagged ‘Department of Education’
If you’re like me, you’re not a fan of being in three simultaneous wars in the Middle East and wallowing in mind-blowing national debt, so the odds are you wouldn’t mind seeing someone other than President Obama in the Oval Office come November of 2012 (technically January 2013). If you’re like me, you want to know what your other options are when it comes to picking the President of The United States. If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering who the Republicans will field as their presidential nominee because, let’s be honest, the chances of the Libertarian Party and the other also-rans getting their act together by next year’s election season are smaller than minuscule.
And hey, even if you’re nothing like me, you might even be interested in what I think of the GOP’s current field. Well, look no further – I’ll tell you what’s what free of charge. Let’s first describe what major policy positions I look for in a president before we get going.
- Keep the government out of marriage entirely – including gay marriage.
- Education Reform: Hemorrhaging money to the Department of Education has not produced any improvements in our academic abilities versus the rest of the industrialized world. Give parents choice on where their children go to school by implementing a voucher system (thus simultaneously encouraging educational experimentation via school competition).
- Immigration Reform: Simplify the process by which immigrants become citizens. Implement a robust work visa program to encourage legal immigration and economic stimulus. This would also enable a realistic way to document who is in the country.
- Drug War Reform: The War on Drugs is a complete failure. Legalize marijuana, and readdress the criminal justice system’s approach to drug use and abuse.
- Corporate Tax Reform: We have the second-highest (soon to be the absolute highest) corporate taxes in the world; stop giving businesses an incentive to avoid doing business in the United States.
- Individual Tax Reform: Economic growth happens when people are allowed to spend and invest their money rather than having it confiscated by taxation. Cut taxes to stimulate the economy.
- Entitlement Reform: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will grind to a bankrupt halt along with the rest of the country if we don’t address the practical issues of having tax-funded social programs which are categorically impossible to pay for as they currently exist.
- Federal Budget Reform: We borrow 43 cents on every dollar we spend. We need an immediate, comprehensive plan to stop adding to the national debt and start paying it off.
- End the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. The United States does not benefit from the continued occupation of the Middle East, nor from engaging in even more military operations in Libya or elsewhere.
- Stop foreign aid. We can’t afford our own national programs, let alone those of other nations. Additionally, funding oppressive (albeit convenient) governments based on our own various international agendas hasn’t exactly been without serious long-term consequences (1980s Iraq springs to mind); it’s time to learn from our mistakes.
- Close many if not most of our military bases overseas. A military presence does not endear us to the populace of many nations, nor does supporting the economic growth of other countries by paying for their protection make the faintest bit of sense.
- Stand by our allies. Any aggression against our friends should be met with our unflinching wrath. If, for example, Israel were invaded, my ideal response would be as follows:
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the first wave of Republican candidates. Please note that I’m arbitrarily selecting the five individuals who participated in the debate on May 5th as who I’ll talk about here on Part One of the series. That being said, let’s start with somebody you’ve actually heard of:
He’s been in Congress for quite some time, and he’s famous for vetoing bills left and right for exceeding the scope of the government’s Constitutional boundaries. He ran for president as the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988. He’s a libertarian God.
What I like:
He’s been saying the same thing about our fundamental economic weakness (debt, debt, and more debt) for decades. He despises the Federal Reserve. He wants out of the Middle East. He’d end the drug war. He doesn’t think the government gets to decide who gets married and who doesn’t, he takes The Constitution seriously, and he’s vocal about addressing entitlement spending. Better yet, he could actually beat President Obama.
What I don’t like:
He’s old, and it’s starting to show; he doesn’t educate so much as he raves. He has a tendency to insert earmarks into bills he knows will pass and then vote against them just so he can say he never votes for pork barrel spending.
Odds of getting the nomination:
I give him 20%. The GOP field is weak, but he doesn’t have many friends amongst the Party establishment. Sure, he can win over a lot of independents and every libertarian on the planet, and he’s notoriously good with young voters (read: he can steal them from Obama). Besides, many on the the left can enjoy his tolerance and consistent anti-war credentials if they can be intellectually honest about the president’s fiscal irresponsibility, his tendency towards corporatism, and especially his hawkishness. So, yeah, those are all reasons that Ron Paul can win the general election, but don’t hold your breath on him being nominated. He raised gigantic sums of money during the 2008 campaign, but it didn’t get him anywhere; I don’t have reason to believe 2012 will be different.
He served in the Senate for 12 years, ending in 2007. He’s been very active in defining himself as a “traditional conservative” (you’ll have to excuse me for leaving that topic alone, because I just don’t have the energy). He dipped his toes in the Election 2008 waters until he figured out he had no real following.
What I like about him:
He promotes the missile defense program.
What I don’t like about him:
Most things. He clearly favors an extra-interventionist foreign policy (we’ll bomb the democracy into you!), which I say because his website says:
[…] having supported popular sovereignty abroad, both this and the previous administration have erred in failing to sufficiently support the conditions of liberty and the institutions necessary for a successful democracy. Too often we have acted as if liberty’s first order of business is a vote. Elections should be a consummation and not a commencement to democratic processes.
I have a big problem with that; we have no business being in the business of nation-building; lead the world by example, not by occupation. Here’s how I read that quote, anyway: “We really need to spend more money and blood on countries that we want to install democracy into – certainly long before they have an election of some kind anyway, and let’s not get in a hurry over that little bit either. For instance, ten years in Afghanistan and eight years in Iraq and a trillion or so dollars just isn’t enough, so let’s get ready to up the ante.”
Then there’s an Associated Press (AP)/Santorum discussion on… well, you read it.
SANTORUM: […] Every society in the history of man has upheld the institution of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. Why? Because society is based on one thing: that society is based on the future of the society. And that’s what? Children. Monogamous relationships. In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality —
AP: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I was going to talk about “man on dog” with a United States senator, it’s sort of freaking me out.
SANTORUM: And that’s sort of where we are in today’s world, unfortunately. The idea is that the state doesn’t have rights to limit individuals’ wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire. And we’re seeing it in our society.
That’s just not going to work for me.
Odds of getting the nomination:
15%. He’ll appeal to many party-line Republicans immensely; he doesn’t like homosexuality, he’s very clearly pro-war/intervention, and he continues the Republican Party tradition of talking about spending less while enthusiastically discussing spending a lot more. Unfortunately for him, there’s nothing to really distinguish himself from the other boilerplate Republican candidates except maybe his propensity to poll badly whenever he’s considered running for the Senate (again) or the governorship in his home state. If your neighbors don’t like you… anyway, don’t expect donors to flock to him.
As CEO, he turned a pizza franchise around and made a lot of money. He’s had a fairly varied number of careers (mostly in business, but one with the Navy and a few years with The Federal Reserve). He’s a talk radio host; coincidentally, he did extremely well in the debate.
What I like:
He’s a self-made kind of guy, which I respect immensely. The man came from nothing and succeeded due to a lot of hard work. He’s a political outsider whose understanding of business is personal, not academic. He’s for domestic energy production, he’s vocal about supporting the Second Amendment, and he’s interested in a school voucher system. He says he’d cut the corporate tax rate. On paper, I like a lot more of him than I don’t like.
What I don’t like:
I’m so tired of hearing people talk about how they’re all about small government, and then turning out to be the opposite. Since this guy comes from nowhere (politically speaking), for all I know he’s just mouthing talk radio talking points and riding the Tea Party wave. He keeps calling his foreign policy plan “The Cain Doctrine” (yes, really) but fails to delineate it; come to think of it, he doesn’t delineate any of his policy positions on his second-rate website. At any rate, he is very firm in his desire to “secure the borders.” Well, welcome to fantasy island, Herman, because that ain’t gonna happen – not practically speaking, and not politically speaking.
Lastly, you can’t overlook this extremely damning (and likewise rambling) bit of video evidence:
Odds of getting the nomination:
25%. That number could shoot up pretty easy, or collapse. If he can’t capitalize on his success off of the debate then he could easily go down like the Hindenburg. Oh, and forgive me for noticing and everything, but he’s black. If you don’t think the GOP would do unspeakable things for a viable black candidate (especially versus President Obama), I probably have many clever and disparaging things to say about your political intellect. What’s semi-surprised me, though, is that I’ve read separate articles on Mitt Romney and Ron Paul raking in the cash, but nothing on Herman Cain doing likewise. Romney’s got the establishment and Paul’s got the enthusiastic/rabid base feeding in money, and Cain could get both of those… but he’s obviously not there yet.
A former governor of Minnesota. He’s been unofficially campaigning since 2008 or so, which is his recognition of his complete and total lack of recognition. But here’s the real kicker: he was reportedly on John McCain’s short list for Vice President, but lost to this woman:
What I like:
He’s not Rick Santorum…
What I don’t like:
…but he might as well be. They sounded exactly the same during the debate, and their policies are about the same. Maybe his one distinguishing characteristic is that he was on the wrong side of cap-and-trade, which, even in the spineless Republican Party, is akin to contracting syphilis. He’s a darling of the social conservatives, but that’s already a long line of sameness that’s going to get longer once the rest of the candidates wade into the race. Ultimately, he’s probably the most boring candidate anyone could come up with; he’s worse than Bob Dole ever was (before Bob’s hilarious Viagra ads, that is).
Odds of getting the nomination:
5%. Nobody cares, Tim. Nobody. You have nothing to bring to the table. The only way Pawlenty could get the nomination is if every other candidate died. Well, with the possible exception of:
The former Governor of New Mexico. He is especially well-known for climbing Mt. Everest, competing in triathlons and marathons, and being outspoken on marijuana legalization.
What I like:
I’ve never seen a candidate who I agree with more; he hits every point I listed at the start of this post. He has executive experience, he owned his own successful small business which he built from the ground up, and he was re-elected by a ten point margin in a predominately democratic state by being an honest-to-God libertarian with a track record of success.
What I don’t like:
He did not do well in the debate. He’s not polished. He looks uncomfortable in front of cameras, but on the other hand that didn’t stop Bush from winning twice (not that Al Gore and John Kerry were much better in 2000 and 2004). He doesn’t have a clear policy on what constitutes torture.
Odds of getting the nomination:
1% (rounded up). The Republican Party despises him. No social conservative will ever vote for him: he’s pro-choice, pro-marijuana legalization, and pro-gay marriage. He was a political outsider when he ran in New Mexico, and he hasn’t endeared himself to the GOP since; besides, Ron Paul has most of the Republicans who would support Gary Johnson in the first place. I think Johnson could win over a lot of voters on the left, many of the independents out there, anyone who’s tired of the war, a lot of the hispanic vote, libertarians and fiscal conservatives, and politically apathetic potheads (in other words, anyone on the west coast I haven’t named already). If he ironed his shirt, stood up straight, and took some elocution lessons, he could win an election (seriously, if you thought “Anyone But Bush” was a strong force in politics, just wait for “A Not-Necessarily Warm Body vs. Obama”) … but the nomination? Next to impossible.
So that’s it, ladies and gentlemen. That’s the first five possibilities. Sucks, doesn’t it? I guess we’re supposed to be excited about Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin (maybe running), Michele Bachmann (possibly) and Chris Christie (doubtful). Allen West is even being floated, but we’ll see.
Stay tuned for Part 2.
I’ve mentioned that libertarianism is fundamentally about the principle of self-ownership: I own me, you own you. Self-ownership also means that I own the fruits of my time and labor, just as you do. If that sounds like common sense, that we own ourselves and that what we earn is ours, then that’s because it probably is. In reality, however, our individual self-ownership is routinely violated, typically in the name of the “greater good.”
Wait a minute. So all this libertarian stuff is just a front for being selfish, self-centered, and greedy?
No. First of all, when I say “in the name of the ‘greater good,'” that’s exactly what I mean. Invoking a name, cause, or purpose of any kind doesn’t automatically legitimize what somebody does. For instance, I could take hostages at The Discovery Channel headquarters and threaten to kill people unless my particular demands were met, and I could do this in the lofty name of saving the planet, but that wouldn’t legitimize my actions. Another example is that it would not be acceptable for me to come over to your house, reach into your wallet, and take your money without your consent – no matter what justification I might offer. This behavior wouldn’t be okay even if I really wanted, say, a new car. Strangely enough, if I elect a congressional representative to take your money and give it to me to buy a new car, we call that Cash for Clunkers and get really excited about it. Theft by proxy in this way is considered completely appropriate; sure it’s not my money, but I’ll get somebody to take it from you for me. I’ll vote my way right into your bank account!
Examples that illustrate a broader point typically are. Still, it’s important to realize that a program like Cash for Clunkers – done in the name of the greater good! – penalized some tax payers to support the consumption of others. Quite literally, some people’s wealth was confiscated – taken without their consent – in order to pay for the desires of some others. To a libertarian, this is not acceptable. Why should anyone, congress included, have a higher claim on my earned wealth? Or yours? Or anyone else’s?
That’s ridiculous. You’re just being selfish. Obviously there are some things everyone should pay for.
Without getting too deeply into specific programs (this time), my point is to illustrate the ludicrous fallacy that when government “gives,” everybody wins. Every dime spent by government comes from somebody – namely, the taxpayer – today, tomorrow, next year, next decade, next generation, and so on. When anyone demands that a need be met by the government – even if it’s a totally legitimate need that a large number of people want to have met – a lot of people are going to be robbed in order to implement any given program.
It’s just those rich people getting soaked. So what?
Relative to you, me, or anyone else, somebody is always going to be rich. You’re much richer than the majority of the Earth’s population if you’re reading this, actually. Does that give the rest of the world the right to zero your savings account, ruin your credit, and generally do whatever the hell they please with your justly acquired property? If your paycheck is bigger than mine, can I come take some of your stuff?
Dude. Bill Gates.
You’re completely missing the point. Just because somebody’s an easy target doesn’t make it more acceptable to take from them. You can’t justify taking what you want by blaming the victim, no matter who the victim is; just because you want something or even think you need something doesn’t make it permissible to get the government to steal from people in order to implement your desires.
So what’s the plan then, huh? No taxes for anyone? Close down everything and eat the poor?
The vast majority of libertarians are minarchists (that’s “minarchist,” not “monarchist”), which means we believe in minimum government – alternatively, the smallest possible government. For many reasons, when government does something it always does it in such a way as to penalize one group of people in order to theoretically benefit others. This is just a consequence of how it operates, regardless of which political party happens to be in power. Still, government has a role in our society. The important part is to make sure that governmental control and intervention is as small and as local as possible. The more decisions that are made at the local level, the better.
What’s so great about local government? You keep harping on “the government.” What’s the difference?
“The government” is often a reference to the federal government, but it’s also used to describe government as a broad concept. Context clues are your friend.
The great part about localized government is that it maximizes taxpayer choice and, ultimately, control. I would argue that the number one problem with our government today is that all kinds of decisions are being made for us in all levels of our personal lives (and at ruinous expense!); the second biggest problem is that these decisions are being made by a group of people in Washington D.C. who are not, contrary to what must be popular belief, some kind of elite geniuses that understand what arbitrary rules and regulations work best in our individual communities. I would like to direct your attention to the recently-passed health care bill nobody read, yet is nevertheless projected to cost all of us – and I guarantee that this is a low-ball estimate because they always are – over one trillion dollars. If this number confuses or surprises you, you may be remembering it as the health care program that wasn’t going to cost anything.
Basically, localized control means an enhanced ability to opt-in or op-out of programs, as well as to quickly meet the needs of the community in a direct and customized way. Less inefficiency, pointless regulation, waste, and political posturing gets in the way the closer to home government is. Plus there’s something in a little old thing called The Constitution of the United States of America that delineates what the federal government can and can’t do. You shouldn’t be surprised to note that compulsory health care isn’t in there.
Oh? What about the part in there about promoting the general welfare?
Welfare in that context doesn’t mean socialized medicine, it means prosperity. I promise we’ll talk about that another time.
Okay, so back up. Taxes are bad, federal government is bad, local control is good. So where do we get the resources to take care of big problems? I mean, not everything is putting down fresh linoleum at the community center. Like, NASA and stuff.
The really amazing thing about government is that everyone assumes nobody else could possibly do what they do. It’s absolutely breathtaking to me. Why in the world couldn’t there be, oh I don’t know, something more efficient and profitable than the tax-subsidized U.S. Postal Service (the USPS is $10 billion in debt as of September)? Oh, wait. UPS and FedEx. How about that.
Whenever you want or need something, even if it’s something small, amuse yourself by asking “Can I take care of this, or do I need a federal program?”
But really, how many of our taxpayer-funded federal programs are just so important that the private sector – or at the very least state and local governments – couldn’t take care of it? Well, let’s see, shall we? For instance, we all value education and learning. That’s a big deal, and we want to encourage it, right? Okay, so do we need a federal Department of Education? Has it really done anything useful? Is the quality of our local education improving because we are forced to hemorrhage untold billions of dollars on this federal department? The answer is a resounding “No.” Badly needed innovation and creative approaches to learning have not come from bureaucratizing the school system and imposing inane programs and boilerplate standardization. Thanks in large part to the Department of Education, every aspect of school is a politicized nightmare. Frankly, other government programs and policies abound which similarly set out to accomplish a nice-sounding X, but ended up completely mangling A-W – and usually Z, too. It’s the nature of the beast. And, of course, I’ll be exploring this recurring theme much more in the future.
Basically, we all have wants and needs; the question is, what is the best way to accomplish them? Libertarians contend that government is not the best vehicle for achieving virtually anything. If not for the inherent immorality of taxation, the patently obvious waste and corruption of government, the lack of flexibility, and the stagnation of ingenuity that comes with crippling regulation and inevitable political meddling, maybe the public sector would have more going for it. The fact is, government usually doesn’t need to provide; it doesn’t have to forcibly take money from people to “give” them things – complete with routinely counterproductive oversight – that they may not even want. There can, in fact, be a better way of getting the job done.
Libertarians insist on less government to make sure that you own you, and that means keeping your property in your hands to make your own decisions as much as possible. Localized government helps to ensure exactly that. In short, we promise more by insisting on much, much less.
Comments and questions are always welcome.