We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Wednesday, September 5. 2012
I'm a fan of Cory Booker. I do not share his politics, but there is much to compliment him on at a local level. I can appreciate how he has improved Newark, a city very close to where I live, and how he has created a strong working relationship with Chris Christie, the Republican Governor of New Jersey.
When he goes national, though, he tends to put his foot in his mouth. Most recently, there was his commentary on Bain Capital, calling out Obama's campaign.
Now he's given a speech at the DNC which makes a claim that is outlandish.
There was one word which turned Cory's comment here from a great statement into class warfare. That word is "fair". Fair is a subjective term, and I'm certain Karl Marx' view of what "fair" may be is different from what I believe it is. Perhaps it's also different from what Cory thinks it is. But Cory's comment frames this election as being centered on what we think is "fair". Unfortunately, "fair" isn't part of an economic discussion, because any attempt to make things "fair" makes them inherently "unfair".
Thus, Cory Booker's addition of one word creates the tension of class warfare in a speech where he was trying to disown it. Instead, he grabbed hold tightly and slammed us over the head with the hammer of class warfare.
It's worth noting that Cory Booker mentions the Transcontinental Railroad. He used it as an example of 'good government'. While government's involvement in building infrastructure may have started with the Transcontinental Railroad, this event was one of the classic cases of crony capitalism, one of the first highly visible cases where businesspeople learned they could get the government to assume immense amounts of risk for a project they would prefer to profit from without any risk to their own capital. It was a project that cost far in excess of any reasonable value, went bankrupt several times, and enriched many capitalists of the day without them putting up much cash at all. Yet this corpse of 'government infrastructure building' is constantly exhumed to be viewed whenever politicians seek to justify their positions on building projects.
I took a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge this past weekend. I reminded my son that it was built primarily with private funds, and was designed to be a profitable venture. However, getting it done required opening the capital investment to the municipalities, which allowed politicians to play their games. Soon after completion, politicians managed to take over and turned it into a massive public project. One we are justly proud of, but one whose history clearly indicates private capital is superior to government graft.
A final point of analysis would be a comparison of the nearly completed Freedom Tower, and its political travails, to the building of the Empire State Building. Entirely funded by private capital, the Empire State Building was completed under budget and ahead of schedule.
I'm all for paying taxes. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, it's the price we pay for a civilized society. But in Gregory v. Helvering, 293 U.S. 465 the Supreme Court ruled:
For years while Bush was president, Democrats decried the use of patriotism and the label of being a 'patriot' as something which was used to bully them. It was a good assessment of the situation, and they had a legitimate right to be upset. But now they've chosen to follow the same hoary path and use the word in a fashion which is not only unjust, but impractical.
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The transcontinental railroad is an object lesson in government enterprise. Here is a contemporary assessment of the endeavor:
Our legislators have been blind to the lessons of history, or have been corrupt. They have been ignorant of the political and social laws, or they have been wanting in rectitude. In the period of thirty years, ended in 1880, Congress gave to railway corporations over 240,000 square miles, or 154, 067, 553 acres, of the best public lands in the States and Territories of the Union - an area double that of the whole kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, including the adjacent isles.
On the 17th of March, 1883, the Chicago Daily Tribune published a history of these land grants compiled by Mr. Henry D. Lloyd, under the following summary:
"The story of the dissipation of our great national inheritance- thrown away by Congress, wasted by the Land Office, stolen by thieves. A land monopoly worse than that of England, begotten in America. English monopoly is in families; American monopoly is in corporations; and corporations are the only aristocrats that have no souls, and never die."
"Fair" is a vague and ambiguous word with no objective meaning. I concluded that the word "fair" indicates something that makes a politician feel good about himself. The politician gets to deciede what is fair of course.
When is he going to tell the half of the country which pays no federal income tax that they are unpatriotic?
Yeah, don't hold your breath on that one.
"A country of shared opportunities and shared responsibilities, a 'we're-all-in-it-together' society." Sounds a lot like "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." The Democrats have always leaned towards socialism, have always embraced socialist principles but have always been smart enough to hide their beliefs behind a facade of democracy. I am genuinely suprised that they are openly associating with communist and socialist activists and putting their business in the street. Either they are confident they will win and it is no longer necessary to hide their agenda or the far left are in control and this kind of statement doesn't strike them as radical. Either way it is troubling.
classical communist drivel from Brooker, as is to be expected from a Dhimmycrat in the current powerstructure of that party.
Locally, he probably does what's best for himself, which may be what's best for his community at large if he lives in it.
Nationally, what's best for himself is to be a robber barron who eats from the national trough at the expense of others, preferably others far away across the country.
Different ways, same result: Brooker ends up better, irrespective of what happens to anyone else.
Actually, Booker has done many good things in Newark. He was starting from a low base, mind you. Sharpe James WAS a robber baron and enriched himself greatly.
And, to be fair, many Republicans enrich themselves while in office (or set themselves up to benefit greatly when they leave), so I'm not going to say that's an issue of party. It's a reality of politics and life, we all try to enrich ourselves somehow.
Booker is a good local politician because he's been able to go after low-hanging fruit. And once that has finished, he's managed to work with Christie to get some larger issues dealt with. He's generally a practical politician around here, seeking to improve the community in whatever fashion he can. His 'hero' stories are true, he really is a good local citizen.
But in a way, Democratic principles are better employed at a local level. David Boaz once pointed out that libertarian principles actually approve of socialism in small, voluntary groups which seek to improve themselves by binding together.
The problem is when the voluntary becomes mandatory, and mandatory at a national level.