Archives for posts with tag: government

I wrote this originally as a comment to this blog post, and decided it would make a better standalone.

One thing that has always seemed to puzzle progressives is how the middle class individual gravitates towards the more not-interventionist end of the political spectrum. Wouldn’t he benefit from stronger unions and wealth distribution?

This is not how members of the “middle class”, and temporary members of the “lower class” view themselves. The American experience has taught them that each rung of the class ladder is a temporary state, to be passed over as you improve the lot of your family.

In the US, we level up!

Conservative members of the middle and lower class see economic interventionism and graduated taxation for what they are. Rather than taking money from the wealthy to give to the poor, progressive schemes leave the wealth of the rich intact. Where the money actually comes from are those individuals who are actively climbing the ladder from one class rung to another.

Individuals who are already wealthy, such as Woodrow Wilson in his day, and Barak Obama in ours, will stay at the same rung in any case. Their policies make it harder for members of the lower classes, professionals and small business men to join or surpass them. It is an attempt, purposeful or not, to create a new nobility from the wealthy political caste.

The blue-collar workers in America has sensed this trend. They have experienced and internalized the sharp contrast between the years under Jimmy Carter and those with Ronald Regan. They have felt the betrayal under the two Bushes as they were cynically offered bribes of the peoples money, and their freedoms were rapidly eroded. They have felt as though the country is tumbling over a precipice, as the current administration not only keeps the policies of Bush that angered them, but comes up with breathtakingly huge new ways of coddling them and hindering them, making sure neither they nor their children have the same opportunity to climb to the highest rungs of success.

We are the ones that view ourselves not as a European style class, but as a projectile of success. We want everyone to have the same chance for success with as few hindrances as possible. We are voting for our economic best interest.

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I am generally down on the idea of government control. The idea of the government stepping in to tell responsible persons what they may and may not do is distasteful. Indeed, I imagine that I come across as anti-government on occasion. There are certain distasteful things that do fall clearly in the realm of government responsibility though.

First to come to mind are the weak and helpless who are trodden on by the strong. The government is here to protect them, and set things right. By this I do not mean welfare and the like. Caring for the needy, and getting them back on their feet as far as they are able,  is the duty of the individual and charitable groups. This is an act of society. No, the government is there to administer justice when someone takes advantage of the weakened state of another.

Following from that line of thought, I come to human life. Here you shall find me horribly unsophisticated, and irritation will likely manifest in a few readers. While others come up with exotic formulae for when it is and is not acceptable to kill a human, I simplify things. Don’t kill a diploid human. No debate as to vegetative state, feeling pain, mental capacity or self-conciousness. Haploid: kill, diploid: don’t kill. The only exception is self-defence, or the defence of others. Otherwise, it is the duty of the government to protect human life.

I then come to the responsibility of the government to hold citizens accountable to not steal from, break contracts with, or otherwise harm one-another. This is fairly uncontroversial even at this late date. People only seem to get confused if the person being stolen from can be dehumanized in some way, such as being wealthier than the culprit, or an owner of stock in a corporation.

Finally, the government is to protect us from outside threats. This, for me, is a bit tricky. Do we ever act in a peremptory fashion? How many of our citizens do we put at risk if we allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon? In nature, the police state, as seen in multi-cellular organisms, is a very strong higher-order structure. It is able to easily out-compete free-living organisms. Do we disrupt developing police-states in order to safeguard our own liberty? This is perhaps the only significant place where I feel split from Ron Paul. My leanings seem too hawkish for a proper libertarian.

Most other things the government tries to do are usurpations. Yeah, I like the interstate highway system, and I almost can accept it for its significance for national defence. You might talk me into one or two more things, depending on my mood; however, quite a lot that the government does today falls instead in the purview of society.

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Thomas Paine, Common Sense

When we fail in our financial and social responsibility, we give power and control to someone else, whether we realize it or not. We don’t notice when we get what we want as a result of that control. While both sides are to blame, people only notice the problem in the opposing side. When that control stands in the way, then there is wailing and gnashing of teeth. We end up with things like the Patriot Act, SOPA, and secret facilities designed to read all of your email no matter who is in office.

If you watch, the government and meta-government organizations egg on groups like Anonymous, Occupy Wall Street, and the Tea Party. It is as though they are hoping for an excuse to sink their tentacles further into the last open forums of free speech, public assembly and the internet. Already OWS has elicited a legislative power grab, and I look for the Anonymous movement to draw down fire on the interwebs next.

As we struggle against this growing control, lets remember the nature of the thing that we are up against. It grows and thrives in periods of disquiet and confusion. It encourages inane and useless controversies. It feeds on apathy and irresponsibility. In that light, let us stand for our rights firmly, embodying personal responsibility and self control. Make them openly steal our freedoms, rather than passively give them up in our time of confusion and inattention.

My wife and I are getting ready to take our 2.5 children on a road trip. This caused my thoughts to wander, as they often do, to the price of gas. If the prices of gas continue to rise, will my children be able to take their children on road trips. The answer I came to was “Of course they will.” The recent surge in gas prices is due to inflation from Quantitative Easing and zero interest rates enacted by Congress and the Federal Reserve over the past few years. I suppose in the long-run the only people who will be hurt are those who have invested in US currency, like retirees and The Peoples Republic of China. Inflationary policy is effectively stealing from them. (This is also why there is no love lost between China and our current government.)

What is perhaps more interesting to the average person is how manipulating the supply of currency can be used to bypass congress in raising our taxes. With the graduated income tax system we have in the US, people are divided into a number of tax brackets based on income. The higher the income, the higher the percentage of it taken by the government. During inflationary times, employers generally increase their employees’ salaries to maintain their standard of living. This results in a number of them being placed in a higher tax bracket. Although people’s standard of living drops as they pay more in the higher bracket, inflation results in good publicity for the government. The numbers on the stock market go up, the dollar-value of homes increases. Congress may, occasionally, adjust the brackets a little bit higher for “middle-class tax relief” and still come out ahead. All the president and congress have to do is wait as more money is dumped into the system by the Federal Reserve.

So how did the federal government end up with this obfuscated power structure, with no accountability to the voters? Happy coincidence? No, it was thanks to the foresight of the loathsome Wilson Administration, which enacted both the Federal Reserve and the income tax.

So as you prepare for your next vacation, or the next time the news starts talking about the Fed keeping interest rates at 0%, or congress passing another round of quantitative easing, let us remember that it means sneaking through a tax hike and stealing from the elderly. If more people realized this without their eyes glazing over at financial talk, perhaps we could vote for a few more party faithful to take a road-trip back home…