Wednesday, February 08, 2006

that elephant in the room smells rotten

When I speak of elephants, I'm actually referring to Republicans. I can't possibly express how sick I am of the various myths portraying the Republican Party as being in favor of things that only libertarians believe in. The two big things to come to mind are free enterprise and reducing the size of government. The Busheviks have done a thorough job trashing such myths over the past few years, but it's of course not acknowledged by those who voted for or otherwise supported them, not to mention those who oppose the current regime but still view free enterprise and reducing government as being conservative goals. (note: they're not!)

I know of a few people who lean to the right who generally haven't followed political issues since the Clinton years except for news concerning terrorism, and they continue to give lip service to the myth of Republicans as being "a lesser of two evils" or "sound on fiscal issues". It's all complete balderdash, but some people simply refuse to have certain illusions challenged for fear of being thrust into some sort of limbo or (gasp) have to consider non-mainstream alternatives.

Over on the other end of the narrow mainstream spectrum, people still buy the typical Reaganisms hook, line and sinker, as if Reagan and his GOP successors all view free enterprise and limited government as being the hallmarks of conservative ideology. I was rudely smacked by this tiresome BS yet again recently while reading the latest by Kurt Vonnegut. Vonnegut may be a great writer and overall nice and intelligent guy, but it's safe to say that he doesn't exactly have the right wing accurately pegged, let alone does he even know what free enterprise is.

Now, with all this said, I of course must state that I also think that the jackass party smells, but the odor is somewhat different. For one thing, if you want to find people in the mainstream who are actually criticizing foreign policy and recent attacks on our liberty, you won't find them amongst the elephant herd. Amongst the actual cretins serving in the House, Logan Ferree has recently shown that most elephants are flat out authoritarian (some seem to be on par with Hitler and Stalin), while Democrats seem to vary. In fact, the libertarian portion of the Nolan chart he presents has only one red dot (Ron Paul), while there are ten blue dots.

Another thing to consider in regards to my occasional targeting of Republicans is that I used to belong to the statist "progressive" left politically and I've always loathed the Republican party. Add to that the fact that Republicans have done more to tarnish noble ideals such as free enterprise and distrust of big government, and you can see why I have an especially high level of contempt for them. The Republican party and it's supporters are enemies of free enterprise and enemies of liberty in general.

It is thus with great pleasure that I present a link to Anthony Gregory's latest column, titled "The Republican Ideology of the Total State". Here's an excerpt:
The Republicans have lost even the thinnest pretense of being a party for smaller government. They might prefer deficit spending to taxing people up front. They might understand economics well enough to know that some overbearing regulations favored by Democrats will kill the host on which their parasitic operations depend. They are lower-tax imperialists, perhaps. But they do believe, when push comes to shove, that the president should have unchecked power to spy, detain, torture and wage war. Perhaps the only Constitutional provision worth observing is the guarantee of a Republican form of government – that is, a government of, by, and for the Republicans.

Wait, there's more! On the subject of Ronald Reagan in particular, here are a couple of other things to check out. While perusing Roderick Long's excellent blog and jumping from link to link within it earlier today, I came across this 2004 post where he posts a letter to the editor that he submitted to the Opelika-Auburn News (but not published) where he reveals Reagan as being a wolf in sheep's clothing:
To the Editor:

Ronald Reagan spoke with such apparent sincerity about free enterprise, free trade, deregulation, cutting taxes, and downsizing government that he somehow managed to convince both his supporters and his opponents that his administration had actually enacted some of those policies.

In reality, the Reagan presidency’s actions were diametrically opposed to its rhetoric.

Reagan’s 1981 “tax cut” was offset by higher Social Security taxes, resulting in a net tax increase for most taxpayers. He then followed it up with the 1982 TEFRA Act, the largest tax increase in American history. The federal government’s tax intake was $252 billion higher in 1986 than in 1980.

The Reagan administration increased federal spending from $591 billion to $990 billion, the deficit from $74 billion to $200 billion, and the federal debt from $900 billion to $2.7 trillion. Entitlement spending soared from $197 billion in 1981 to $477 billion in 1987.

Despite paying lip service to free trade, Reagan pursued a far more aggressively protectionist policy than his predecessors. He did continue the Carter administration’s deregulation initiatives, but launched no new ones, and reneged on his pledge to rein in the federal bureaucracy. The number of civilian government workers rose by 230,000 during the course of his presidency.

The real Reagan legacy is that, thanks to Reagan’s pro-market rhetoric, the free market unfairly gets the blame for the harmful results of his anti-market policies. In that sense, Reagan perhaps did more harm to the cause of genuine free enterprise than any President in American history.

Roderick T. Long

The other thing concerning Reagan that I'd like to share is this classic 2004 Russmo cartoon:
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*Addendum: I just thought of something else that I'd like to add to this post. Another link I came across while perusing Roderick Long's blog today went to Arthur Silber's epic essay titled "I Accuse: To Those Who Pave the Way for the New Fascism". Since the series of entries that comprise that essay were on Silber's old blog that no longer exists, the link doesn't work. Thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine, however, I was able to find the hidden nook within the interweb where the essay can still be found. The entire thing can be found here.

4 Comments:

Blogger Libertarian Jason said...

Wonderfully said... I share your particular contempt for Republicans... With "capitalists" like them, who needs socialists?!?!

11:12 PM  
Blogger rtruxel said...

You definitly give a different view of Reagan. Most denounce him for cutting taxes, cutting social spending and deregulating. This is the first time I seem him reviled for raising taxes, increasing social spending, and increasing regulation!!!

ECONOMICS - VOODOO, TRICKLE DOWN, AND SUPPLY SIDE Vs. REAGONOMICS

The policy reforms of the early 1980’s remain controversial today. Admirers and detractors use various labels to tout or deride the policies and their effects. Some call it Voodoo economics, implying the policies were intended to raise tax revenue. Others call it trickle down, implying they were intended to take from the rich and give to the poor. Others call it supply side, a program to help producers or to increase the number of people willing to work for a given wage level. None of these labels describe the policies, the goals, or the consequences of the reforms.

Voodoo Economics - 1980 - Coined by George Bush and traditional conservative economic policy wonks

Reagan campaigned for lower tax rates, less regulation, and neutral fed policy This platform went flatly against the traditional republican policies of high marginal rates (to increase tax revenues and prevent inflation,) strong fed policy to counteract economic cycles and prevent inflation, and strict regulation of businesses. The goal of these existing policies was “Economic Stabilization.” The Bush campaign came up with the term to slander Reagan’s contention that he would not bankrupt the country, and that rising incomes in higher brackets would offset rate reductions. The purpose of the rate reductions way not to increase revenues. In his own words; :

“No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents out of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector's share.”

One thing I find hilarious in modern critics of 1980’s tax reform is the common statement “while true that tax revenues rose, they failed to rise as a percent of GDP.“ The drop in the ratio of taxes to GDP is the best part.

Trickle Down Economics - 1982 - Political opposition .

This is what happened in the U.S. from the mid - sixties through the early 80’s, as more and more people trickled down to unemployment and welfare. In the 80’s and nineties people were trickling up from no income to low income, and from average income to higher income. The notion that the amount of wealth is fixed and that individuals can only gain wealth at the expense of others is anathema to everything Reagan stood for. He said it best himself in his immortal declaration:

“We have too many people who can't see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they're going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer -- and they've had almost 30 years of it -- shouldn't we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn't they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing? But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater.

Supply Side Economics - 1983 - Ivory tower academics seeking credit for the turnaround.

The theory as developed (and roundly shunned) in the 70’s contended that government policies should pursue an increase in supply, particularly the supply of labor. The Idea was that if more people were working, or wanted to work, the demand for employees would increase. There are several problems here. For one thing an increase in supply rarely results in an increase in demand, but rather a decrease in price (in the case of labor this means lower wages.) For another, they contended that increased profit would result in increased investment. In fact profit never determines investment, rather investment drives profit.
Again this theory is anathema to Reagan’s view because it called for a government policy to manage or move the economy. He would have equally disagreed with a policy designed to stimulate demand. Again, to use his own words:

“this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose.”

Reaganomics - 1983 - Everyone
The policy reforms instituted by the Reagan administration are the most easily understood, yet the most misunderstood of any administration. His fan’s give him credit for the economic turnaround of the 80’s, his detractors consider only things they wish he had accomplished but that he did not intend. In a nutshell,
the policy changes in the early 80’s had little effect on the economy. However, he undid a great deal of things the government had been doing for a long time. The tax rate reductions, deregulation, and pushing the Fed to a neutral policy did not cause the economic strength of the 80’s and nineties. However the previous policies of high rates, regulation, and extremely tight monetary policy did lead to the chaos and economic hardship of the 70’s.



Common Sense - 1957 - RWR

Holly Wood democrat Ronald Reagan’s view of the U.S. tax code was solidified in 1957 when he negotiated a three year contract with Paramount. Two pictures per year with Paramount for an annual salary, & he could make one picture per year with another studio. He quickly got a deal for a picture with another studio that doubled his income. This was a big relief as had recently divorced and gone through an un successful business venture with his brother. After making the third picture he visited his accountant and found that after federal, state, & local taxes he would keep less than 10%. Needless to say he did not make an extra picture in the last two years of his contract. If he had been able to keep, say, 50% of his extra income he would have earned more money, paid more taxes, and stayed out of politics.

Evaluating the Results:
First, forget about the socioeconomics of the 80’s , and forget who was responsible for what.
Second, take a good hard look at where we were and where we were heading at the end of the 1970’s.
Third, take a good hard look at where we were and where we were heading at the beginning of the 1990’s.
Now consider the importance of Reagan. You could do the same looking at the geopolitical picture.

Reagan the great conservative?
Post WW2 Presidents:
Republicans Eisenhower, Nixon, and G.H. Bush all pushed through higher tax rates, stronger regulations, and government intervention in the economy.

Kennedy, Carter, and Reagan all did the opposite. (Reagan was a great admirer of FDR. He left the democratic party, in which he had been an outspoken advocate, in the wake of JFK’s assassination while most of the country was praising LBJ as JFK’s heir and the answer to our prayers.

“You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I'd like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There's only an up or down -- [up] man's age old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

Note: For those who claim Reagan was a figurehead for someone else’s policies, the above quotes were all taken from the 1964 speech “A Time for Choosing” In which he renounced his Democratic affiliation in protest over LBJ’s 180 degree change from JFK’s policies.

Regarding libertarianism - You people should be trumpeting Reagan. He was more opposed to what was then considereder the “right” than the left.

3:27 PM  
Blogger rtruxel said...

Your quote:

"he real Reagan legacy is that, thanks to Reagan’s pro-market rhetoric, the free market unfairly gets the blame for the harmful results of his anti-market policies. In that sense, Reagan perhaps did more harm to the cause of genuine free enterprise than any President in American history."

Reagan's policies greatly reduced the influence of government policy on individual economic activities (individual people and businesses.) I agree that he did not go as far as he would have liked, and especially that we are now moving in the other direction. But he (and to some extent Carter) reversed the direction. The legacy is not that Reagan failed live up to his promise, but that we failed to follow thru on our potential.

3:51 PM  
Blogger freeman said...

rtruxel,

My goodness! Why all the quotes from Ronnie himself? Rule #1 for understanding politics is: Never believe a single word a politician says! Of all the Presidents I can think of, none were as far removed from their public rhetoric than that professional actor who pretended to be a President for 8 years known as Ronald Reagan. If he were constructed of wood like Pinochhio rather than Teflon, his nose would be long enough to poke a new hole in the ozone from all the times he talked about wanting to get government off our backs!

May I recommend checking out some of the great critiques of Reagan carried out by Murray Rothbard? Well, I will anyway. Here are links to just a few of the many things he wrote about Reagan:

Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy
The Reagan Phenomenon
The Two Faces of Ronald Reagan

No genuine libertarian would dare trumpet such a menace to liberty as Reagan was.

And I have no idea what you mean by "we failed to live up to our potential". Who is this "we" you're referring to?

6:53 PM  

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