Required Reading

“On Liberty and Tyranny”,by Myron Magnet, asks the question

How far does present-day America meet the Founders’ ideal of free government, protecting individual liberty while avoiding what they considered tyranny?

To explore this question, Magnet brings up Kelo v. City of New London, progressive taxation without representation, and Obamacare.

Related, a nice article on WIlliam F. Buckley Jr., who wrote:

“I will not, cede more power to the state. I will not willingly cede more power to anyone, not to the state, not to General Motors, not to the CIO. I will hoard my power like a miser, resisting every effort to drain it away from me. I will then use my power as I see fit. I mean to live my life an obedient man, but obedient to God, subservient to the wisdom of my ancestors; never to the authority of political truths arrived at yesterday at the voting booth.


Interesting, this on rewarding merit and markets.

The fundamental role of an economic system, even an extremely primitive one, is to assign responsibility and reward. In animal packs, the responsibility of leadership and the reward of mating opportunities are generally assigned to the strongest. In human societies, responsibility tends to take the form of employment, and the rewards are money and prestige. Because physical strength has long since lost its importance, economic systems determine in various ways who receives the responsibilities and the rewards. The dominant criterion in traditional society was birth: the king’s firstborn son was the next king; the landowner’s firstborn son, the new landowner; and the son of the company’s owner, the next chief executive. Most modern societies, by contrast, try to select and reward according to merit. Indeed, surveys show that in the abstract, most people in developed countries agree with the idea that merit should be rewarded.

This works, as long as the system isn’t “rigged.”

But nothing upsets people like the perception that the rules don’t apply equally to everybody. When my children were small, they sometimes tried to play Monopoly. These attempts inevitably degenerated into arguments. My daughter, who is two years younger than my son, would claim that my son was cheating. My son, with the official instructions in hand, would protest his innocence. And he was right: he never invented any rule. Nevertheless, my daughter was right, too: my son was engaging in selective recollection of the rules, counting on my daughter’s ignorance and bringing up only the rules that were in his favor. Despite her youth, my daughter understood that something wasn’t fair, so she employed the only response she had available: giving up.

Her frustration was similar to what many people felt after the 2008 bailouts of the financial system. The system was certainly at risk, and some government intervention was just as certainly necessary. Yet it was false to say, as Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury secretary Henry Paulson did repeatedly, that the choice was between the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) as it was proposed and the financial abyss: there were feasible—and, in fact, superior—alternatives. It didn’t escape most Americans that TARP was the largest welfare program for corporations and their investors ever created in human history. That some of the crumbs went to autoworkers’ unions didn’t improve things; in fact, it made them worse, showing that the redistribution was not an accident but a premeditated pillage of defenseless taxpayers by powerful lobbies. TARP wasn’t just the triumph of Wall Street over Main Street; it was the triumph of K Street over the rest of America.

Ok, that’s enough reading for today.

How about some music?

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