Thursday, February 14, 2008

Government meddling, part 2

I didn't intend this blog to be a rant about government, but there are some things happening right now that really bother me. If the Democrats were in control and these things were happening I could live with it, but from the party of "less government and free markets" it's unconscionable.

President Bush has approved the stimulus package passed by Congress. That means Americans will be getting some amount of money from the government. Our government leaders hope we will spend the money to stimulate the economy. Deception is going on here; you see the market cannot tell who spends money. Whether it's me, you or the government, money that is spent stimulates the economy. During FDR's administration billions were spent by government to "stimulate" the economy. This time around our government wants to make us feel like they are doing all they can to rev up the economy by benevolently giving us money to spend.

My problem with this is where did our government get the money in the first place? The government is not a for profit entity it's a consumer. It can only get money from taxes and levies, borrowing, or printing more money.

If it took money from us (taxes and levies) why did it take more than was needed to run the government? Excesive taxes are unacceptable. We should spend our money as we see fit. Just because our leaders--and I use the term loosely--decide to give some of our money back does not make them the generous and benevolent people they want us to think they are.

If the government borrows the money to give to us then eventually it must be paid back and where will the funds come from to do that? From us! I don't want our leaders deciding when I should borrow money, that is unacceptable also. The only exception would be to defend our nation, but I won't get into the war at this time.

If the government prints excess money that's called inflation. Inflation is an economy killer and would do more damage than can be overcome by the stimulus package. Spending can stimulate the economy, but you have to follow the process all the way through to see if it makes sense. I want more accountability from government and less tinkering with the economy.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Government meddling only makes things worse

When it comes to the functioning of a free society there are some rules that hold true even if we choose to ignore them. Freedom works best when there are a basic set of rules that govern conduct. Whether we are talking about not punching your neighbor in the nose or how things are owned the rule of law must define what is appropriate.

The rule of law--like the rules of a game, say baseball--defines the boundaries for play and how the game is played, but it is not the same as playing the game. Once the boundaries and rules are set referees enforce the rules when the game is played, but neither the rule makers nor the referees tell the players what strategies to employ.

Even though central planning has failed dramatically during the 20th century--Soviet Union and Communist China are two large examples--there is a group of intellectuals within our society that believe some social functions must be provided by the rule makers rather than the players. In fact they believe the rule makers can provide better service than the players. There are so many examples of this in our society it's impossible to list them all, but a few recent examples include the No Child Left Behind requirements for public schools, health care requirements enforced by government and the economic stimulus package just approved by President Bush.

The temptation, by those who are elected or appointed to serve in government, to believe that if really smart people --defined as them--do the central planning it will work, but there is an inherent flaw in this reasoning. Thomas Sowell explains why even the very smartest can never know enough to efficiently manage the entire economy.

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Monday, February 11, 2008

In his book What On Earth Have I Done? Robert Fulghum brings me back from the Solar System to the neighborhood. Pick a question and answer it.

Did you ever have a great teacher—in school or out? Tell me.
What would you be learning—if you had the time?
What would you have learned to do if you knew then what you know now?
What would you teach, if you were asked?
Teach me something. Anything.
Do you know any silly tricks? Coins, cards, face contortions?
If you could be an eyewitness to some event in history, which one?
If you could see anyplace in the world before human history—where and why?
Who would you like to see naked?
Who do you admire? Who admires you?
Answer the unasked question—something you know but nobody would ever ask about and you would never volunteer.
Decisions of consequence—what forks in the road were on your Way—and what if you had taken the other path?
Pick another place/time in modern history—since 1770—to live.
Book, movie, you’ve read/seen more than once. Why?
What ability/talent do you not have but would like to have?
Ever thought about changing your appearance or identity? And?
If you were a spy, what would be your cover?
What was the worst/best summer job you ever had?
If you could know how your life will end but you still could not change it, would you want to know? Why or why not?
If you could live one short episode of your life over again—a day, week, month—which would it be? And Why?
Do you remember your first love? Tell me.
Have you ever experienced the kindness of a stranger? How?
Do you ever have any bizarre thoughts?

More on this later.

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The Endless Dance

Ships that pass in the night? Jupiter and Venus in the morning sky on January 31, 2008. They look so close together and yet Venus' orbit is closer to the Sun than Earth's orbit; Jupiter's orbit is way out past Mars. They looked close together that Thursday morning because of their respective orbits around the Sun and where the Earth is in its orbit. Venus, the smaller planet, is the brighter object because it is so much closer than Jupiter is to Earth.

Still these planets have a relationship with each other and all the planets in our Solar System; if we could view them from above and if they left a trace of their path we would see a spiral-like design moving through space, somewhat like a couple waltzing around the edge of a dance floor. This has gone on for millions of years.
We are part of that waltz. Do we make a difference?

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