These are the ramblings of a young married couple in the great City of Chicago.

Archive for the 'politics' Category

The Day Liberty Arose

Friday, 14 August 2009 Jacob Tomaw

Most American children learn a very basic time-line of events that lead up to the American Revolution.  This often only includes knowing that Parliament imposed taxes on the colonist, sent troops to enforce taxes, and Patriots fought the Red Coats.

This is perhaps mostly accurate, but very simplistic and cleansed of the moral and philosophic arguments the Patriots had.  It is also devoid of important dates for the crucial events of this decades long struggle.

Today is the 244th anniversary of an important date that is lost from this simple history.  14 August 1765 is the date of the Boston Stamp Act Protest.

George F. Smith has a good write up on the events and causes of the protest. Murray N. Rothbard also has an excellent history of the event from his larger work, Conceived in Liberty, that can be heard here. Below I have a brief explanation of the importance of the date.

While the colonies were not the libertarian ideal of the free society, the colonists were free to govern themselves under the crown in England. The king was sovereign and as such could rule over them while expected to protect them from foreign powers. However the British Parliament was understood to have no authority of regulation and taxation over the colonies.

This was tested in 1765 when Parliament passed the Stamp Act in order to raise funds for an American army against the French and Indians. Generally Americans wanted to trade, not fight, with the French and Indians. They also did not want a standing army in there country. The especially did not want a direct tax imposed on them by a parliament they did not elect. To them this was amoral and a violation of common law to be protected by the king.

Sam Adams reacted by forming the Sons of Liberty to protest. They would meet under the Liberty Tree in Boston and burn royal figures in effigy. There methods also turned violent against the properties of the royal appointees who were to issue the stamps and enforce the new law.  These actions and similar throughout America where enough to prevent the implementation of the act.

While this violence can strike us today as wrong, I think this is because we are oddly taught a view of history that is apologetic to the British. We see America as something the came out of Britain in 1776. However the American Patriots saw their nation as separate from and, under the crown, a peer to England. Perhaps a better way of thinking about the reaction from the Patriots would be to imagine if Britain, today, imposed a tax on another Commonwealth nation.  How might Canadians react to bureaucrats sent from London to collect taxes?

Justified or not, this is the date when Americans began to react in a large way to the transgressions from abroad and think about their liberties.  Rothbard wrote, “For many years August 14 was celebrated throughout America as ‘the happy day, on which Liberty arose from a long slumber.’”  Let us celebrate it again and remember the struggles of our intellectual forefathers as we work to protect and promote liberty today.

17th Amendment –> Blago

Monday, 23 February 2009 Jacob Tomaw

I have been meaning to post about the Blagojavich scandal and the 17th Amendment for a while. In my procrastination, George Will beat me to it.

Sen Russ Feingold want to amend the 17th Amendment to force special elections when there is a vacancy in the Senate. However repealing the 17th Amendment would restore some sovereignty to the states and put more incentive on Senators being interested in their state than in being reelected and catering to special interests.

Here Mr. Will spells out how things have gone wrong (but you should read the whole thing),

Furthermore, grounding the Senate in state legislatures served the structure of federalism. Giving the states an important role in determining the composition of the federal government gave the states power to resist what has happened since 1913 — the progressive (in two senses) reduction of the states to administrative extensions of the federal government.

Severing senators from state legislatures, which could monitor and even instruct them, made them more susceptible to influence by nationally organized interest groups based in Washington. Many of those groups, who preferred one-stop shopping in Washington to currying favors in all the state capitals, campaigned for the 17th Amendment. So did urban political machines, which were then organizing an uninformed electorate swollen by immigrants. Alliances between such interests and senators led to a lengthening of the senators’ tenures.

The Framers gave the three political components of the federal government (the House, Senate and presidency) different electors (the people, the state legislatures and the electoral college as originally intended) to reinforce the principle of separation of powers, by which government is checked and balanced.

Although liberals give lip service to “diversity,” they often treat federalism as an annoying impediment to their drive for uniformity. Feingold, who is proud that Wisconsin is one of only four states that clearly require special elections of replacement senators in all circumstances, wants to impose Wisconsin’s preference on the other 46. Yes, he acknowledges, they could each choose to pass laws like Wisconsin’s, but doing this “state by state would be a long and difficult process.” Pluralism is so tediously time-consuming.

If you like the way politics have played out for the last 100 years in Washington, I am sure you are a big fan of the 17th Amendment and the concentration of power, strengthening special interests, and irresponsible government it produced. If you think things would be a little different, perhaps it is time to support diversity, checks and balance, and state sovereignty.

Get Back to Work!

Monday, 16 February 2009 Jacob Tomaw

Are you celebrating today? If so, what are you celebrating?

Are you celebrating how much you love the Emperor by not working? I think our current Emperor comended us to get off our lazy behinds and to work when he was inaugurated. SO you might be pissing him off. But then he is not working to hard today even though the most important legislation ever is awaiting his signature.

Remember this is not Presidents’ Day; it is Washington’s Birthday. So I shall quote the great General,

Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder.

Short, simple, and true. I would add that seeking political office surely indicates you lack this virtue.


Saturday, 7 February 2009 Jacob Tomaw

I have linked to and discussed George Will on the District of Columbia and representation before. Mr. Will again has a good article on the latest movement to pack more Democrats in Congress via the District.

I was just rereading j. donohoe comments from my post 2 years ago. I think he makes good points about why the arguments some people make against DC being a state are invalid. I mostly agree with him. If there were an amendment circulated today making DC a full state, I am not sure how I would vote but suspect I would be for it. The only legitimate argument I see against is that it would have undue influence on government, but I think it already has that in its funky status.

My, and I think Mr. Will’s, argument 2 years ago and today is that there must be a change to the Constitution in order for DC to be a state. It cannot be done by statute. Pres. Obama took his oath to the Constitution twice. Either he thinks it means something or he suspect the Supreme Court still thinks it means something.

However, we all know our elected officials only talk like the care about the constitution and never act like it. The least they can do is as Mr. Will suggests.

When the 51st star is added for the District, Congress should make at least a limited nod to the Constitution by stipulating that the star be bracketed by quotation marks, or have over it a small asterisk. This would be a way of saying: “As if it were a state.”

Polite to a Fault, Plain Old Mean, or Both?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009 Jacob Tomaw

4 Days ago when he was just P-E Obama, Pres Obama was interviewed by John King for CNN. His answer to this question is interesting (emphasis added):

KING: You spent two years traveling the country saying President Bush was incompetent when it came to domestic leadership, had a debacle of a war in Iraq, and had hurt our image around the world. You’ve gotten to know him a little bit better during what by all accounts is an incredibly smooth and professional transition. Anything about him you want to take back or any new judgments about him?

OBAMA: You know, I think if you would look at my — if you look at my statements throughout the campaign, I always thought he was a good guy. I mean, I think personally he is a good man who loves his family and loves his country.

And I think he made the best decisions that he could at times under some very difficult circumstances. It does not detract from my assessment that over the last several years we have made a series of bad choices and we are now going to be inheriting the consequences of a lot of those bad choices.

If I remember the last 4 decades of campaigning correctly, this is the basic proof of why we needed to vote for Obama and not McCain.

  1. Bush made bad decisions, even when presented with good data.
  2. These decisions cased the war, the recession, torture, Katrina, etc.
  3. We do not want more of these bad things.
  4. John McCain is the second coming of Pres Bush.
  5. Thus, John McCain == More Bad Things.
  6. Barak Obama != Jahn McCain.
  7. Vote for Obama if you do not want bad things. QED

Now that he is President, Obama said Bush did the best job he could.

Is he being too polite? Is he trying to heal the nation by trying to move past this highly divisive President? I understand when people want to be polite, but being too polite means you start lying and lying is never good. Being polite is a method of sculpting the fact to your own ends and is morally ambiguous. Lying is universally scorned as wrong.

Is he being mean? Is he saying Pres. Bush did the best he could, which is not very good at all (you know he is an idiot, right?). In that case, Pres. Obama is trying to further divide people. If the nation is divided it should be about issues not about some idiot former President. Like I hope the President tells his daughters, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

However, i don’t think he tells them something so morally unambiguous. He is a politician, which means he both a too-polite-liar and mean. He is a Democrat at that; which makes him full of nuance. Those are just traits that come with the territory. Election 2012 begins.

New Law Disables Americans

Monday, 5 January 2009 Jacob Tomaw

Literally. An expansion of the ADA went into effect Jan 1 and declares many (millions?) Americans as disabled. I am willing to bet many of you are disabled now. Congratulations?

“When in doubt, create a czar.”

Thursday, 18 December 2008 Jacob Tomaw

Laura Meckler in the WSJ backs me up on the czar issue. (But she fails to mention me by name or link to my post.)

My next Fu#%ing Congressman?

Saturday, 13 December 2008 Jacob Tomaw

Greg Mankiw points out that Charles Wheelan is running to replace Rahm Fu#%ing Emanuel.

Wheelan teaches public policy at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. He wrote Naked Economics and lists Milton Friedman as “The Best Economics Writer”. Also, his “My Favorite Obscure Economics Concept” is Seignorage! He sounds Paulian to me. He has a great profile at Yahoo! Finance, where he contributes.

Oh, and his greatest attribute to me…he is not part of a machine like the rest of the wackos running. I am thinking about volunteering for his campaign.

Car Czar, Srsly?

Wednesday, 10 December 2008 Jacob Tomaw

Who is for this bailout? Do you hear a lot of people on the streets clamoring for this?

I only hear people who say we should let the market take its course. This includes people I would normally hear calls of state action from.

It doesn’t matter what you think and politicians know it. You should hear how people scoff at me when I tell them I vote libertarian because of my principles. What is the point of voting, if you are not voting on your principles? There isn’t and this is why I encourage people to not vote. If you are not prepared for the baby, don’t fuck around. If you are not prepared to vote, don’t fuck up the country.

I think people often think we are free because of Democracy. President Bush’s idea of “Spreading Democracy” is popular, only the implementation is not. Democracy only gives legitimacy to any action a politician wants to take if there are no reasons you are voting.

I would gladly trad democracy for more liberty. As long as the system can ensure liberty I would take it. A benevolent dictator sounds great, picking the dictator is hard though.

We are free because over time bunch of people have put action to their principles. They incrementally held their government to greater and greater account. Generally this has involved taking more and more power away and adding more checks on the power that remains.

However, today, we have elected despicable people based on petty political issues and they take away our liberty and set up czars. Czars! How do we stand to allow anything to be a czar in America? Let me quote the Wikipedia,

Originally, the title Czar (derived from Caesar) meant Emperor in the European medieval sense of the term, that is, a ruler who has the same rank as a Roman or Byzantine emperor (or, according to Byzantine ideology, the most elevated position adjacent to the one held by the Byzantine monarch) due to recognition by another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official (the Pope or the Ecumenical Patriarch).

Occasionally, the word could be used to designate other, non-Christian, supreme rulers. In Russia and Bulgaria the imperial connotations of the term were blurred with time and, by the 19th century, it had come to be viewed as an equivalent of King.

Caesar, Emperor, King!

Joscelynn and I decided this morning we will never again buy a car from Ford, GM, or Chrysler. We are in the market for a new car and they are also not in the running.

We are also quickly approaching the time when the ease of visiting our family is the sole reason we remain here. Voting on election day is a very weak way of voting; moving is much stronger. I would rather move to one of the Social Democracies in Europe, who are open about their socialism than live in an America that lies to itself.

The Most Brazen Thing Ever

Tuesday, 9 December 2008 Jacob Tomaw

Did I think Gov. Blagojevich was corrupt? Yes.
This corrupt? Never!

I think Mark Draughn over at Windypundit sums up my thoughts.