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The Immortal Corporation

“Politics is a kind of island in the evolutionary stream—isolated, unchanging, incapable of learning because it is insulated against going extinct. Politics is the last monopoly, the Immortal Corporation. You’ll never see a capitol building with a GOING OUT OF BUSINESS sign hanging out front—even genuinely bankrupt, undeniably insolvent political regimes from Argentina to Greece for the most part go on about their business, even after defaulting on their financial obligations. If the bees in a particular hive make a bad decision about relocating to a new tree, those bees die, and if enough members of a species make similarly poor decisions, that species goes extinct. Consumer products follow a very similar pattern. And if a firm offers enough bad products or makes a sufficient number of bad financial decisions, it vanishes, too (unless it is a politically connected Wall Street bank or an influential manufacturing concern—more about that later). Firms learn from their mistakes and from the mistakes of others. And, like individual human beings, they learn by copying more successful efforts. Individual companies come and go, entire industries rise and fall, but the store of knowledge embedded in our aggregate economic practices continues to grow and to become ever more refined: We really do know how to make much better cars, telephones, and refrigerators than we did in 1960. But we do not have better politics. And politics here means both the formal structures of government and those nongovernmental institutions closely enmeshed with them, for example, the ethanol industry, which is a private, for-profit enterprise that by the industry’s own account simply would not exist without a federal mandate that all gasoline contain a minimum percentage of ethanol in the blend. Government-supported firms such as General Motors and General Electric are properly considered part of politics, as are the specific operations of other private firms that operate through the power of government, for example, Lockheed Martin’s defense-contracting wing.”

Excerpt From: Kevin D. Williamson. “The End Is Near and It’s Going to Be Awesome.” HarperCollins, 2013-05-01. iBooks.

This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBookstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/end-is-near-its-going-to-be/id569207288?mt=11

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Misguided Outrage On Campaign Finance Ruling

From The Cato Institute, A Free Speech Kind of Thing By John Samples
This article appeared on Spectator.org, December 15, 2005.

Excerpts:

Eugene McCarthy’s campaign depended on two factors, shifting public opinion and money. Public support for the Vietnam War remained strong for a longer time than we now remember. Only in the fall of 1968 were a majority of Americans willing to say that the Vietnam effort had been a mistake.

McCarthy sensed that his campaign could represent an emerging public sentiment against the war. But to enter the race for the presidency, he needed more than a message, more even than the volunteers that flocked to him that spring.

McCarthy needed money to finance his campaign. He got it. McCarthy received several six-figure donations from affluent individuals deeply opposed to the war in Vietnam. Herbert Alexander, a leading campaign finance expert, estimates that about one-third of McCarthy’s total fundraising in 1968 came from just 50 large donors. David Hoeh, the organizer of McCarthy’s New Hampshire campaign, recalled later that a single “financial angel” saved their media effort at a crucial point.

In our time the men who supported McCarthy’s 1968 effort would be liable for the crime of contributing too much money to a political campaign. Not surprisingly we have many fewer upstart campaigns like McCarthy’s and 98 percent of incumbents win their bids to be re-elected to Congress.

McCarthy himself believed that campaign finance restrictions complicated the lives of candidates and their supporters, increased the influence of special interests, and ultimately made lawbreakers out of people seeking to exercise their right to political association. Most of such laws, he said, violated the Constitution while upholding the privileged status of the major parties. His opposition to campaign finance law was, he explained near the end of his life, a “free speech kind of thing.”

HKO

Campaign Finance Reform attempts to reduce the influence of money on elections, but it ends up reducing the power to challenge the status quo. To contend that these laws are necessary to protect government or collective interests should give liberals a pause.  The first amendment was never intended to protect government interests.

Citizens United also centered on first amendment and many believe it was decided largely on the Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart’s assertion that the Government had the right to ban books that “that contained express advocacy if an incorporated entity was involved.”

In its effort to protect us from the negative influence of too much money, the result has been to protect the two entrenched political parties from disruptive challengers from both within its ranks and from out side the tent.  Perhaps this is why the Republicans and Democrats have agreed on past campaign finance reforms.  Bipartisanship alone does not always make for a worthy outcome.

The recent McCutcheon v. FEC ruling has solicited the same reaction as Citizens United.  Even though the per candidate limit was retained the court removed the total limit in an election cycle.

The reaction is predicated on two myths about money in politics.

The first myth is that money is the only source of power.  One result of the campaign finance laws is the number of super wealthy who have run.  Ross Perot, Steve Forbes, John Kerry, Mitt Romney, and some occasional rumblings from Donald Trump did not succeed even with their enormous wealth.  There are other sources of power such as the institutional strength of the established parties, unions and PACS.

The second myth is the belief that big money favors conservative causes,  Both Eugene McCarthy and Obama have proven otherwise.  7 out of 10 of the wealthiest Congressmen are Democrats.  For every Koch there is a Soros.

If we really want Hope and Change we should not short change the means to achieve it.  The court ruled in favor of individual first amendment rights over entrenched government interests.

A true liberal, Like Eugene McCarthy, would have agreed.

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Fighting the Natural Progress of Liberty

Charles Koch writes in The Wall Street Journal- I’m Fighting to Restore a Free Society:

Excerpts:

A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so. The same should be true of any government that disrespects its citizens. The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.

More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that this could happen. “The natural progress of things,” Jefferson wrote, “is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” He knew that no government could possibly run citizens’ lives for the better. The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle. Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means.

HKO

The more I read and learn about the Koch brothers the more I like, and the more I detest the vile demonizations from the likes of Harry Reid and his ilk, who are so intellectually bankrupt that all they can muster is personal attacks on the people who actually create the wealth he tries so hard to destroy.

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Bad Fortune vs Bad Choices

From the Pittsburgh Tribune Review Donald Boudreaux writes Questions for redistribution’s proponents
Excerpts:

• Suppose that Jones chooses a career as a poet. Jones treasures the time he spends walking in the woods and strolling city streets in leisurely reflection; his reflections lead him to write poetry critical of capitalist materialism. Working as a poet, Jones earns $20,000 annually. Smith chooses a career as an emergency-room physician. She works an average of 60 hours weekly and seldom takes a vacation. Her annual salary is $400,000. Is this “distribution” of income unfair? Is Smith responsible for Jones’ relatively low salary? Does Smith owe Jones money? If so, how much? And what is the formula you use to determine Smith’s debt to Jones?

• While Dr. Smith earns more money than does poet Jones, poet Jones earns more leisure than does Dr. Smith. Do you believe leisure has value to those who possess it? If so, are you disturbed by the inequality of leisure that separates leisure-rich Jones from leisure-poor Smith? Do you advocate policies to “redistribute” leisure from Jones to Smith — say, by forcing Jones to wash Smith’s dinner dishes or to chauffeur Smith to and from work? If not, why not?
Read more: http://triblive.com/opinion/donaldboudreaux/5283716-74/jones-smith-income#ixzz2qBeM8gJo
Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook

HKO

The argument for redistribution often assumes that citizens are only objects subject to the whims of capitalism, and not subjects whose own decisions have impacts on their own lives.  It is true that many fall victim to bad fortune and probability, but many are victims of their actions and choices.  Should we distinguish between these two group, and how should we do it?

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The War of the Billionaires

giving Harry Reid a dose of his own medicine:
Koch Network Fires Back at Liberal Billionaires in New Ad

apparently wealth is an evil influence only if it supports the other side.

even more disturbing:

Docs Show Candidate, Chelsea Clinton’s Mother In Law, Turned To Own Charity In Time Of Need

this shows that money in and of itself is neutral- the evil lies in the people who control for their own ends.