The observations of a 50 something with lots of experience in politics, government, life and learning.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A NEW CENTURY

Actually, that's a play on words because I just noticed that my last post was number one hundred. But having attended the swearing in of Governor Deval Patrick, I feel like we ARE in a new century in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Thursday was a day to "keep hope alive" as the Almighty cooperated and gave us a mild day on which to stand outside and witness history. The best decision I made was to show up at the Old South Meeting House and get a seat at the prayer service that preceded the inauguration. The procession of clergy, highlighted by a Native American in full dress feathers, was spectacular, and included virtually every faith tradition you could imagine. Peter Gomes, Harvard chaplain, and recent Republican, gave the main remarks which were punctuated with humor, hope and inspiration. The music was nothing less than spectacular.

Getting to the Statehouse grounds one hour ahead of time proved to be timely enough to be within a few hundred feet of the podium. And it is not too much to say that while Deval was giving his Inaugural address, the clouds parted and the sun came out! I am NOT MAKING THIS UP! And inspirational he was. I will not go into detail about his speech -- you can read it on the internet -- but his announcement that he was changing state government, and that an 80+ year old frail elder had not walked down and back six flights of stairs for us to just give her same old, same old, was the highlight of the day.

Ben Downing was up on the platform in a blue shirt and red tie and looking every inch the Senator. When someone in the crowd (who must have been a State Government groupie and/or employee) said she couldn't remember the name of the new Senator from the Berkshires, I told her it was Ben Downing. "He's a great guy," I said. "He beat me in a primary." One of the people listening said "If his opponent says that, he must be a great guy!" (Note to pol-watchers: Chris Hodgkins and his lovely wife were seen at the Inaugural Ball. Rumors that he has left the state are obviously not true.)

We saw more of Dorchester Avenue than we had planned while trying to find Amrhein's in South Boston, but we had a great dinner with the O'Brien clan and ran into State Rep. Smitty Pignatelli and State Senator Jack Hart so it was obviously the place to see and be seen. Except for the big do, which was $100/person, but TO WHICH I WAS ACTUALLY INVITED. Next time, when I can take it as a business expense.

Yes, everything they said about it being too crowded and having to wait in lines to get upstairs (we'd been upstairs and went downstairs to get a seat -- bad move but necessary with aging backs....) but we did see Deval, Diane, Tim and Tammy up on stage dancing and the best line of the evening was "Someone told me that this was the most integrated event they'd ever attended." (Pause for effect) "Well, get used to it!" Hee Haw! The African-American community in the Commonwealth was out in force, celebrating an amazing experience that many probably didn't think that they would see in their lifetimes. It was a sight to behold and hopefully will lead to lots more dialogue, partying and collaborations on behalf of the Commonwealth over the next decades.

And so to bed. And while getting into town proved a bit elusive, your humble servant deserves some credit for navigating herself and her spouse back to Andrew Square from the Convention Center with nary a wrong turn. See, I AM learning.....

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

How is Deval going to "CHANGE" state government? Increase spending? Increase more failed public programs?

Deval is the hero to all liberals whose only cure to the problems we have is more spending. Have fun with Dukakis II. Massachusetts is going to be losing more business and more residents as a result of his policies.

Government has never and will never solve any problems.

Margeware said...

You know, "Anonymous," I would love to comment on this, but I don't give time to people who won't identify themselves. And because you're that cynical, Deval's message of hope won't resonate with you anyway. I choose to remain positive.

Anonymous said...

Have fun remaining positive about spending and looting from people via more taxes.

Anonymous said...

Forcible Government is Morally Wrong

For traditional, forcible government to accomplish anything, it first must tax. This requires stealing, at gunpoint, money (property) from everyone under its rule – even the people who don’t want done what the government is going to do. This is theft. There is no more fitting term for it. Government gets away with this, first because it has more guns than any individual it’s taxing; and second because the population has usually been convinced, lately through years of government schooling, that such stealing is necessary for civilization.

Hand-wringing philosophers are invited to write me to disagree, but I hold that it’s self-evident that there is no good act that can be performed that requires first the commission of an evil act. As an example, "killing the few to save the many" has never in human history found a practical application outside war, which always involves governments imposing their wishes on each other. There is no natural emergency or shortage of resources that requires first committing evil in order to bring about a good. Bringing about a good never allows beginning with an evil.

Government Never Works

There has been found no domain of activity in which government action is as effective or efficient as solutions provided by entrepreneurs in the market. This extends obviously to schooling and medical care; even the general public knows this. It is less obvious (except to students of history) that this applies also to roads, justice, and military defense. For empirical evidence of these claims, search for the names I listed earlier.

There are two reasons government never works in practice: First, 100% of government employees operate under distorted incentives. No government employees face only the incentive to serve their customers, while 100% of entrepreneurs do.

Wes said...

Anonymous (and all "government is evil" Randroids) reminds me of this great scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian:

Reg: They've bled us white, the bastards. They've taken everything we had, and not just from us, from our fathers, and from our fathers' fathers.
Loretta: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers.
Reg: Yeah.
Loretta: And from our fathers' fathers' fathers' fathers.
Reg: Yeah. All right, Stan. Don't labour the point. And what have they ever given us in return?!
Xerxes: The aqueduct?
Reg: What?
Xerxes: The aqueduct.
Reg: Oh. Yeah, yeah. They did give us that. Uh, that's true. Yeah.
Commando 3: And the sanitation.
Loretta: Oh, yeah, the sanitation, Reg. Remember what the city used to be like?
Reg: Yeah. All right. I'll grant you the aqueduct and the sanitation are two things that the Romans have done.
Matthias: And the roads.
Reg: Well, yeah. Obviously the roads. I mean, the roads go without saying, don't they? But apart from the sanitation, the aqueduct, and the roads--
Commando: Irrigation.
Xerxes: Medicine.
Commandos: Huh? Heh? Huh...
Commando 2: Education.
Commandos: Ohh...
Reg: Yeah, yeah. All right. Fair enough.
Commando 1: And the wine.
Commandos: Oh, yes. Yeah...
Francis: Yeah. Yeah, that's something we'd really miss, Reg, if the Romans left. Huh.
Commando: Public baths.
Loretta: And it's safe to walk in the streets at night now, Reg.
Francis: Yeah, they certainly know how to keep order. Let's face it. They're the only ones who could in a place like this.
Commandos: Hehh, heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh.
Reg: But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
Xerxes: Brought peace?
Reg: Oh, peace? Shut up!

WF

Ross said...

By the way, this "Forcible Government Is Morally Wrong" screed was plagiarized, without attribution, from a Libertarian web site (http://www.lewrockwell.com/edmonds/edmonds161.html). Unless you are the original author of that piece (Mr. Brad Edmonds, a native of Alabama) you are just a lame blog troll with absolutely no wherewithal to make an argument on your own.

Come back when you know how to form and communicate an opinion of your own.

Anonymous said...

Ross, I didn't know you were the god of the internet. I forgot your hero Al Gore created the internet. I guess I should look on his website for the "rules and regulations" of that which he created.

Nice beard, you idiot.

Wes said...

It's generally good form to cite the original source when a lengthy passage is quoted. I'm pretty sure everyone learned that in school (whether public or private) at some point.

Anonymous, when you so flagrantly violate the rules and customs ("I read Ayn Rand! I don't need any of your socialist 'rules!' The free market dictates what I do and do not cite!"), it cheapens your argument.

Not that there's a lot there to begin with, but hey - don't make it worse than it already is.

WF

Anonymous said...

Wes,

Maybe you can petition the government to enforce that rule on citing sources. I'm sure you would love to spend more money on a another government program.

Hope you have fun in the armpit, I mean Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Anonymous said...

I didn't write this. Perhaps you can find out who did with your amazing prowess for searching the actual source. Are you going to fine me (or just berate me over the internet) for not citing the author???


The trouble with liberals is twofold: They have a horrible blind spot with respect to moral principles and they have an abysmal understanding of economic principles. Of course, I’m referring to “liberals” in the corrupted “big-government” sense of the term rather than in the classical libertarian meaning of the word.

We begin with a basic moral principle: It’s wrong to take what doesn’t belong to you. This principle, of course, is codified in the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not steal,” which connotes a way of life based on privately owned property. It is a violation of God’s law for a person to take the property of another person without his consent.

Most liberals have no difficulty understanding that basic moral injunction against stealing. Their problem arises when they begin thinking about the role of government in society. That’s where their moral blind spot enters the picture. The liberal mindset is that, while it’s immoral for one person to take another person’s property against the will of the owner, the same act is automatically converted into a moral deed when it is done by the government.

Consider the following example. Suppose I hold a gun to a liberal and force him to extract $10,000 from his bank account. I explain to him that the money is for my elderly widowed mother, who has no savings. As soon as I get to my mother’s home, I give all of the money to her, and she plans to use it for food, rent, and clothing in the year ahead.

How would the liberal respond? He would cry, “Thief!” and immediately call the cops. In his mind, I would have been committing an immoral act – stealing – because I don’t have the right to take what doesn’t belong to me, not even to assist my mother.

Let’s assume though that instead of robbing the liberal, I travel to Washington, D.C., to visit my congressman and senators. After placing a few bricks of $1,000 donations from well-heeled friends and supporters on their desk, I ask them to enact a law that entitles me (and others) to take money from liberals (and others) to assist my destitute mother (and other elderly people) with living expenses. The law is passed, the IRS begins collecting the money, and the Social Security Administration sends a $10,000 check to my mother.

For the liberal, this changes everything. What the government has done is now considered moral. Moreover, it reflects not only my goodness but also the goodness of everyone else who lives in American society, including those who don’t even vote. In the liberal mindset, the government becomes the engine of moral transformation, converting what would ordinarily be a thief into a caring and compassionate benefactor of society.

That’s in fact why liberals oftentimes sympathize with Cuba’s president, Fidel Castro. While Castro’s violations of civil liberties make liberals uncomfortable, his use of government to take from the rich to give to the poor pulls on liberal heartstrings.

In fact, the socialist economic system that Castro implemented in Cuba is the logical extension of liberal principles. For example, soon after Castro took office, the Cuban government took possession and ownership of large mansions in which rich people were living. Castro let the poor move into them. The government did the same thing with large farms and companies, redistributing them to the poor.

Obviously, Castro was a very popular man, not among those whose property was being taken from them but among those who were gaining the benefits of the booty.

Of course, Castro took everything from the rich, while American liberals favor taking only a certain percentage from the rich and giving it to the poor. But isn’t that only a difference in degree, not in principle?

Ignorance of economic principles

The Cuba situation brings us to the other trouble with liberals – their abysmal ignorance of economic principles. Liberals don’t realize that the tax-and-welfare role they favor for government hurts the very people they presumably want to help – those at the bottom of the economic ladder. That’s why they limit their blame for the horrible economic plight of the Cuban people to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, totally ignoring the adverse effects of Castro’s socialist economic policies.

Imagine that 10,000 penniless people were suddenly stranded on a deserted island, with no chance of being rescued. What should they do to survive? A liberal would say, “Immediately enact a welfare state, so that the poor don’t starve to death.”

They fail to see the fundamental fallacy in their reasoning: the welfare state presupposes wealth to confiscate. If there is no wealth, there is nothing to confiscate and, therefore, no welfare to distribute. In order to have a welfare state, wealth must first come into existence. Thus, the only reason that Castro was able to confiscate those houses, farms, and businesses is that they had already come into existence for him to confiscate.

Thus, liberals always ask the wrong economic question. They ask, “What are the causes of poverty?” when the right question is, “What are the causes of wealth?”

The lesson of Thanksgiving

The history of Thanksgiving in the United States can provide a valuable lesson for liberals. When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and began planting their crops, Gov. William Bradford implemented a type of “share the wealth” system favored by liberals. Everyone was required to deposit his crops into a common pool, whereupon the government would have the responsibility of distributing the proceeds on the basis of relative need.

The result? The same result we see in places like Cuba and Africa, whose societies are based on that same “share the wealth” principle – abject poverty, even famine and starvation.

After a few years of harsh privation and starvation, Governor Bradford issued a new decree changing the colony’s economic system. From that day forward, every family would keep its own crop proceeds and would not be forced to share them with others. It was a system based on private property and free enterprise.

The result? Bounty and plenty! No more famines or starvation! Moreover, people noticed an unusual phenomenon: When families had the right to keep everything they earned, members of the family worked harder and longer than they had been working when living under welfare-state conditions.

Thus, it was Plymouth Rock’s implementation of a private-property system that was the genesis of the first Thanksgiving.

The Industrial Revolution

Jumping ahead in U.S. history, liberals love to point to the horrors of the Industrial Revolution. They implicitly claim that American parents living during that time were guilty of horrible child abuse because they forced their children to work long hours in “sweatshops.” The accusation is based on liberals’ abysmal ignorance of both history and economic principles.

When considering the 1800s, it’s important to compare that century not with the 20th century but rather with the centuries that preceded it. During the preceding eras, life and living standards were horrible. The average life span was in the early 20s, which is one reason that many people got married in their early teens. It is impossible to describe adequately how nasty life was in terms of living standards, especially considering the quality of the food, clothing, water, sewage facilities, medicine, and transportation. The child mortality rate was so high that most couples would have many children, knowing that only a few would make it to adulthood.

Along came the American people and established the most unusual society in history: No income taxation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, economic regulations, immigration controls, or welfare. For the first time in history, people were free to open up businesses without government permission or interference. They were free to keep everything they earned and to decide what to do with it. Charity was entirely voluntary.

The result? The most prosperous – and the most charitable – society in history, despite what liberals claim. Parents didn’t send their children into the factories because they hated them but rather because this was the only way to save them. The Industrial Revolution, while harsh, gave parents the chance to save children who otherwise would likely have met an early death.

Families gradually began accumulating the capital savings that provided them with increasing financial stability. Thus, it wasn’t laws that took children out of the factories but rather the increased financial ability of families to keep children – and later wives – out of the factories.

Moreover, it was the enormous pool of productive capital – savings – that financed the production of better machinery and tools, which made workers more productive, which in turn raised real wage rates. It was capital – not government – that was the foundation of the soaring standard of living of the American people in the late 1800s and into the 1900s.

It was that pool of enormous wealth that attracted the socialists – the welfare-statists – the liberals. Seeing all the wealth that an unhampered market economy had brought into existence was too much for them. Permitting envy and covetousness to take control of their mindsets, their quest became to use government to confiscate the wealth and redistribute it. What they failed to comprehend was that as they confiscated capital, they were dooming the very people they were claiming to help to lower standards of living.

The regulated economy

Unfortunately, liberals didn’t stop with welfare-statism. They also turned to economic regulations, not understanding that such interventions, again, harmed the very people they were supposedly trying to help – the poor and destitute.

Consider, for example, minimum-wage laws, which every liberal absolutely adores. Keep in mind that minimum-wage laws don’t require anyone to hire anyone else. They simply say that if a person does choose to hire someone, he must pay the legally established minimum to his employee.

Let’s say that Congress sets the minimum wage at $100 per hour. Liberals would say, “Yes, that would be great! Finally, everyone would be wealthy!” They’re wrong. It would doom millions of people to poverty. Why? No one whose labor is valued by prospective employers at less than $100 per hour would be hired. That large group of people would remain unemployed. How would they survive? You guessed it: By the government’s confiscating wealth from the citizenry (including business owners) and giving welfare to the unemployed.

“Okay,” the liberal might respond, “then the mistake would be in setting the minimum wage at $100 an hour. Let’s change it to $5 an hour.” The principle is no different. All that has changed is the number of people who are unemployed. That is, all the people whose labor is valued at $5 to $100, who previously were unemployed because of the $100 minimum-wage law, will now be able to find jobs. But those whose labor is valued at less than $5 an hour will remain unemployed.

Liberals have never been able to understand that the results of government programs are not determined by good intentions but rather by economic principles.

Vetoing a welfare bill to assist drought-stricken Texas farmers, Democratic President Grover Cleveland in 1887 expressed the philosophy of the American people when he declared, “Though the people support the government, the government should not support the people.” Too bad modern-day liberals, with their moral blind spot and their lack of economic understanding, have led our nation in the opposite direction.

Margeware said...

Can someone PLEASE tell me how MY blog became the focus for all this? Here I thought I was just a simple State Rep. candidate trying to make a better life for the Commonwealth and all of a sudden there's a firestorm! I used to get dissed by cjtrem for not having anyone comment on my blog. Now it's the place to see and be seen. What gives? To my mind, people like Anonymous are boring and cowardly. They want to post a screed but don't want to sit down at the Cup and Saucer and really discuss the world. But that's just me. Are we EGL'ing on 9 Jan by the way?

Wes said...

Wow. Not only unwilling to cite someone else's work, but an obnoxious jerk about it too.

I'm guessing our new friend is between 14 and 19 years old and just read Atlas Shrugged for the first time.

It is COURTEOUS to cite the work of others. In academia (my field) and many other arenas, it is a REQUIREMENT. Either way, if you didn't come up with it, don't post it without attribution. The blogospheric equivalent of a forwarded e-mail without identification is not the same as discussion.

Marge, a simple solution might be to not allow anonymous commenters. I'm strongly considering that myself.

WF
(who doesn't live in Pittsfield)

Wes said...

Further reflection (after a nice meal prepared by my lovely and loving wife):

If you're posting words that you didn't write and not attributing them, that's no better than passing them off as your own.

Passing off someone else's work/material/stuff as your own is the same as theft.

Theft is a criminal activity. Criminal activity is considered evil. By your own reasoning (or, more exactly, the reasoning of the person whose words you stole), "there is no good act that can be performed that requires first the commission of an evil act."

Thus, no good can come from your continued participation in this discussion, since it came from an act that is wrong by any standard.

Libertarianism - even in its extreme form - is a political philosophy worth discussing and debating. However, in order to properly have this discussion, all involved need to be honest about their involvement and their sources. Dishonest discussion helps no one.

WF

Ross said...

Sorry, Margie. Discussion threads have been around on the internet for over 20 years now, and nothing's changed: cowards who think they're way smarter than they actually are will always find a way to have their say.

See you Tuesday!

cjtrem said...

fyi....i am not the annonomous poster....i sign mine....and i will sit and have a coffee with you, when i have a free minute....

Anonymous said...

I'm an anonymous poster, not the one above who feels taxes are stealing (Ding: You are now free to move about the world) but anonymous none the less.