It’s Time for the States to Strike Back


During his tenure as president, George Washington visited the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. When asked if he would call upon the new chief executive, Governor John Hancock is reputed to have said, “I am the highest ranking public official in the state and he should call on me.”  The humble Washington did so.

Today, every time a president visits a state, we are treated to the pathetic scene of the governor and various state and local public officials waiting on the tarmac for the “King” to emerge from his state-of-the-art aircraft. Sadly, the states have willingly become subservient provinces.  This is not they way it was intended to be. Continue reading

Marching with Marx


Last week I wrote a column about living in an emerging authoritarian state.  Yet I am certain most readers probably believe I have lost my mind and probably need some meds. But before we go that far, allow me to continue on this path by examining a 165-year-old political pamphlet of remarkable influence.  It is, in fact, so significant that it is still widely published today.

In 1848, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels published a short booklet entitled The Communist Manifesto.  Within its pages, the authors laid down ten specific goals for the establishment of the ideal state.  Amazingly, we are on a path to complete the fulfillment of most of its provisions. Some we have finalized; others we have partially implemented and seem to be racing to accomplish: Continue reading

Will the Republican Party finally go the way of the Whigs?


It doesn’t happen very often but occasionally a political party folds up its tent and goes home.  In the 1850s, the once proud Whig Party of Henry Clay, John Quincy Adams, and Daniel Webster collapsed. The main culprit was the expansion of slavery into the federal territories, a volatile issue that became a fissure, splitting the party in two and leading to its ultimate extinction.

It happened before and it could very well happen again.  Just hours after Romney’s loss to Obama, the GOP began handwringing over the possible reasons why the unthinkable happened. Two answers have been put forth so far, with both sides facing off against each other.  A great fissure is shaping up within the party, just like the Whigs in the 1850s.

The Whigs had what amounted to a pro-choice attitude toward slavery.  They could get no consensus on that issue, so they fell apart.  Today’s Republicans seemingly cannot agree about immigration and the continuation of the welfare state.  So that is the essence of the debate: is our problem demographics or the welfare state?  My answer: It’s demographics AND the welfare state.  If not addressed, both issues will kill the party and the republic. Continue reading

Why do Americans have to learn the hard way?


It seems we never learn. Every now and then, the American people hand some poor soul, undeserving in many cases, the national levers of power.  And in each and every instance, it has cost us dearly.  There are several historical periods of note.

John Adams, himself a political giant, was imminently qualified for the presidency, at least on paper.  But he had the most unenviable of tasks, perhaps in all of American history.  He had to follow George Washington as president.  And he did a lousy job.

Rather than reverse course from what Washington and Alexander Hamilton had begun, Adams built on it, continuing an oppressive system of taxation and top-down management of the nation’s affairs.  A people who had just fought a war of independence over taxation now saw the imposition of an even more draconian system, one that included direct federal taxes on everything from whiskey and tobacco to land and homes. Continue reading

Campaigning for the Presidency


In the good ole days of the republic, during the 19th century, it was a cardinal principle of American politics that the man did not seek the office; instead, the office sought the man.  This was especially true in presidential elections when candidates never took to the stump, especially if one held an office and was seeking a second term.  That’s not to say that they were not involved, just not openly and actively involved.

Today it seems we have come full circle.  Rather than concentrate on his work as president, like say, attending all of his intelligence briefings so he can know what’s going on in hotspots like Libya, President Obama has spent the better part of this year doing nothing but campaigning. Continue reading

Early Episodes of American Socialism


In last week’s column, I posed the question of whether Barack Obama was a socialist or not, given the current definition of the ideology.  I think the evidence is clear that he is.

Obama likes to boast that we, as a nation, have learned from our history.  But, as he seeks to implement more socialism, have we really learned anything?

In the academic world it is common to hear defenses of the failures of socialism, most notably the oft-repeated statement that “true socialism has never been tried.”  But alas, my dear friends, it has.  As a matter of fact, it has been tried right here in America, during our earliest years, and it is being tried right now. Continue reading

A Lesson in ‘Kenyan’ Economics


Is Barack Obama a socialist?  Many on the right say yes; most on the left say no.  It is a major question that has pervaded our politics for the last four years with no definitive answer either one way or the other.  But I think the answer is obvious, if one will only look objectively at the clear signs.

First of all, how do you define socialism?  The historical definition is a simple one: government ownership of the means of production and the central economic planning that makes such an arrangement possible.  Yet in the modern era, it has undergone a necessary re-evaluation.

In 1976, Nobel Prize-winning economist F. A. Hayek, in an updated version of his influential book The Road to Serfdom, re-defined it for contemporary times:  “Socialism has come to mean chiefly the extensive redistribution of incomes through taxation and the institutions of the welfare state.” Continue reading

The new Neville Chamberlain


On the 11th anniversary of September 11, 2001, the United States was again the victim of terrorism, as attacks on our embassies in Egypt and Libya, led by Al Qaeda, resulted to the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, including two former Navy Seals.  The upheaval then spread across the region and into Asia.

What has been our response?  To lie, grovel, and apologize, a reply led by President Obama, a graduate of the Neville Chamberlain School of Foreign Policy.

This has happened once before, under the presidency of James Earl Carter, another graduate, when in 1979 extremists in Tehran took control of the US embassy and held Americans hostage for more than 400 days. Carter showed himself to be impotent.  So has Obama. Continue reading

The Re-Distribution of Wealth Debate in 1894: An Excerpt from The Last Jeffersonian


On December 19, 1893, William L. Wilson, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, rolled out a new tariff reform bill, which passed the House on February 1, 1894 by a significant margin, 204 to 140.  Tariff duties were modestly cut by 15 percent.  However, to make up for any projected loss of revenue, the final House version of the bill included a provision for an income tax.  The young Democratic congressman from Nebraska, William Jennings Bryan, introduced the tax amendment and vigorously defended it.  “There is no more just tax upon the statute books than the income tax,” he told the House.

Though not a new concept, a tax on incomes had been first enacted in 1862 to help finance the Civil War, and, despite the Constitution’s prohibition against direct taxes, federal courts had left it alone as a war revenue measure.  The original act created the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the forerunner to the IRS, to collect the tax.  It covered all incomes over $600 a year at two graduated rates.  Income above $600 and up to $10,000 was taxed at three percent, while everything over $10,000 at five percent.  In 1864 the top rate was increased to ten percent.  When applicable, the federal government had actually withheld the tax from people’s income, such as government salaries, dividends and interest from bank stocks and bonds, as well as from railroads and other corporations.  By the end of the war, some 15 percent of households were paying the tax.  In 1872, the law expired and Republicans were content to leave it dead, as the tariff was continually pouring money into the federal treasury, making additional taxes unnecessary. Continue reading

Died of Politics


Confederate President Jefferson Davis remarked during the War for Southern Independence that “If the Confederacy fails, there should be written on its tombstone:  Died of a Theory.”  President Davis was referring to the political theory of states’ rights and how it was undermining the war effort, as state governments were constantly resisting repeated calls for cooperation with Richmond.

Should America fail, our tombstone should read:  Died of Politics.  As the nation stares a serious fiscal crisis in the face, most of the political talk in the last couple of weeks has centered around a Missouri US Senate candidate’s stupid remarks about rape, as the Democratic Party and its allies in the media attempt to tie the comments to every single Republican, including Romney and Ryan.

Our political culture has become so inundated with petty, partisan politics that it is becoming more and more difficult to get much-needed reforms enacted because any serious discussion of major policy changes is meet with the usual litany of demagogic attacks designed to scare one group or another in order to score political points. Continue reading