I had an argument with someone of the Left last night. We both agreed that crony government protections and favors of businesses were one of the worst problems in the country. But we couldn't agree on solutions. It was a chicken and egg thing. She thought corporations were at fault for seeking them. I argued that the problem was given the government the power in the first place to grant such requests. She thought the only way to fight it was by empowering government to put more restrictions on business. My argument was that increasing the power of government to intervene in the economy only increased the problem. No resolution. I run into this all the time and need to think my way through a better way of expressing my concerns.
Anyway, I am reminded of all this because Stossel has a nice piece on the parasite economy and cronyism.
Postscript: I can say from this discussion that OFA and Media Matters and Common Cause and the like have really done their job on the Kochs because this particular person was absolutely convinced the #1 best thing we could do to improve the future of America was to shut the Kochs up and prevent them from spending any more money on politics and speech. My son says that is nearly impossible to argue any issue at all on campus without someone laying into the Kochs at some point in the conversation. I find this whole tendency to conduct politics by vilifying individuals rather than discussing issues -- individuals with absolutely no political position -- totally depressing. But it must work, because the Republicans did it too, in fact really pioneered this when they went after George Soros and made him the the secret villain behind everything Conservatives hated. People like Rush Limbaugh may get on the Left nowadays for vilifying the Kochs but go listen to his radio shows from 5 or 10 years ago -- he couldn't go three sentences without saying "Soros".
It happens all to seldom, for reasons I understand well. Oil companies and Wal-Mart and other vilified private entities that are the object of populist and cynical political attacks very seldom fight back. The reason is not because they are in the wrong, but because the government has the power to gut them like a fish in a myriad of ways, and are populated by petty little thugs who love to dish it out but can seldom take any criticism.
That is why its great to see Koch Industries telling demagogues in the Democratic Party to take a hike. For some bizarre reason, perhaps because the Left saw how much fun the Right had vilifying George Soros for everything, the Koch brothers are not the source of all imaginable plots and schemes.
Check out this letter, where Koch Industries responds to Democratic fundraising pitch.
So we now discover yet another similarity between Left and Right -- they both seem to get powerful motivation by singling out a billionaire on the opposite side of the political spectrum and then blaming all manner of conspiracies on him. The right has had fun for years vilifying George Soros and so the Left, sad to be left out of the fun, has latched onto the Koch brothers. The objective is to tar an individual so thoroughly that mere suggestion that he supports a particular issue casts so much doubt on the issue that its merits do not even have to be argued. This is a game that climate alarmists were really pioneers at devising, tarring skeptics for years at the mere hint that some organization they are related to got 0.1% of its funding from Exxon. I know folks play this game in my comment section from time to time.
This is a game I find utterly exhausting and absolutely without merit, a black hole of intellectual productivity. For God sakes there are 524,000 Google results for "soros-funded." Of what possible value is this adjective? Perhaps at its best it is a proxy for "left-leaning" but then why not just use those more descriptive words?
I must say I am feeling pretty good about my comments from Inauguration Day two years ago. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote:
Folks are excited about Obama because, in essence, they don't know what he stands for, and thus can read into him anything they want. Not since the breathless coverage of Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone's vault has there been so much attention to something where we had no idea of what was inside. My bet is that the result with Obama will be the same as with the vault.There is some sort of weird mass self-hypnosis going on, made even odder by the fact that a lot of people seem to know they are hypnotized, at least at some level. I keep getting shushed as I make fun of friends' cult behavior watching the proceedings today, as if by jiggling someone's elbow too hard I might break the spell. Never have I seen, in my lifetime, so much emotion invested in a politician we know nothing about. I guess I am just missing some gene that makes the rest of humanity receptive to this kind of stuff, but just for a minute snap your fingers in front of your face and say "do I really expect a fundamentally different approach from a politician who won his spurs in "¦. Chicago? Do I really think the ultimate political outsider is going to be the guy who bested everyone at their own game in the Chicago political machine?"
Well, the spell will probably take a while to break in the press, if it ever does "” Time Magazine is currently considering whether it would be possible to put Obama on the cover of all 52 issues this year "” but thoughtful people already on day 1 should have evidence that things are the same as they ever were, just with better PR. For God sakes, as his first expenditure of political capital, Obama is pushing for a trillion dollar government spending bill that is basically one big pork-fest that might make even Ted Stevens blush, a hodge-podge of every wish-list of leftish lobbyists that has been building up for eight years. I will be suitably thrilled if the Obama administration renounces some of the creeping executive power grabs of the last 16 years, but he has been oddly silent about this. It seems that creeping executive power is a lot more worrisome when someone else is in power.
To this last point, the recent recommendations by the Center for American Progress to Obama are pretty chilling.
[The] Center for American Progress today is releasing a report, "Power of the President," proposing 30 executive actions the president can take to advance progressive change in the areas of energy, the economy, health care, education, foreign policy, and national security. "The following authorities can be used to ensure progress on key issues facing the country today: Executive orders, Rulemaking, Agency management, Convening and creating public-private partnerships , Commanding the armed forces, Diplomacy.
The New York Times fleshes out these proposals with some suggestions about policy changes across the board. The ideology of George Soros shines through the Center's report as it justifies this forceful approach to circumvent Congress when it states that:
[The] legislative battles that Mr. Obama waged during his first two years "“ notably on health care and financial regulatory reform "“ have created a weariness among the general public with the process of making laws. And it hints it has not helped Mr. Obama politically in the process.
In other words, when Congress passed a variety of laws Americans became dismayed by the horse-trading and bribes that were resorted to by Democrats to impose these policies on us. Instead of compromise and listening to the American people, Soros counsels that more forceful measures should be used to override the will of the American people.
The Online Coalition, put together to fight FEC restrictions to free speech rights as they apply to bloggers, has posted their official response to the FEC. (hat tip: Captains Quarters)
This is one of those efforts that leave me torn. In effect, the rulemaking process is considering whether the media exemption in campaing finance laws should be extended to bloggers. My point of view is that the media exemption should be extended to everyone. That, 1) limits to money spent are the equivalent to limits on speech and 2) it is particularly insidious to create multiple classes of citizen, where one class of citizen (exempt media) have more political speech rights than others.
So, while I agree with their comments on blogging narrowly, I disagree when they make broader statements, like this one:
Finally, your rules should be informed by the regulatory purpose of the Federal Election Campaign Act. Your rule should address corruption, the appearance of corruption, the involvement of foreign nationals, or the use of the corporate or labor forms of organization and their "aggregations of wealth" in ways that drown out the views of others.
What does that last part I bolded mean? Why is the Republican Party or one of George Soros's organizations proper aggregations of wealth for the political process but corporations and labor unions improper?
Anyway, campaign finance reform is one big hypocritical unconstitutional mess. Let anyone give whatever they want to whomever with the only proviso of full disclosure over the Internet of all sources of funds.