The View From 1776

Induced Self-Interest

In a centrally managed, liberal-progressive economy, it’s useless to abstain from seeking a place in the line for government handouts.  If you don’t get into the line someone else will take your place.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/28 at 03:21 PM
  1. I suggest that the greedy party that has been first in line for the longest period is none other than Goldman Sachs. For some obviously corrupt reason, Obama has kept them, as well as a few other Big New York Banks, in charge of the Treasury Department, and the Federal Reserve. This favored position has allowed them to not only grab the biggest handouts, but to design the actual handouts to choose from!

    Of course, the unions probably rank first in line, but at least they represent average Americans, whereas Goldman Sachs and its ilk represent the richest individuals in the nation. And they are the least deserving because in their greedy recent manipulation of the mortgage nmarket they destroyed the savings of many fine people and instituions.

    In short, the honest and solid citizens pay twice--once in taxes to subsidize the unions, and secondly in lost savings and investments that are either taken or destroyed by the Wall Street bankers and speculators.
    Posted by bill greene  on  08/29  at  11:55 AM
  2. Thomas,

    The complaint about Ryan was not so much that he asked for stimulus funds for his district, but that he was dishonest about it.

    In congress, he has repeatedly said the stimulus was the tool of the devil -- at the same time he was soliciting funds. To this day, he claims the the stimulus did nothing to stimulate jobs!

    When a reporter asked him whether he had ever asked for funds, he denied it. When letters surfaced signed by Ryan personally asking the Obama Administration for millions of dollars in stimulus funding for jobs in his district, Ryan sort of recanted and tried to blame the confusion on a staff member.

    He said, disingenuously, that requesting millions of dollars for jobs for his district was really just "constituent services" and did not really mean that such funding was philosophically supportable in his Ayn Rand world view.
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  08/29  at  12:38 PM
  3. The issue is not whether a represenative sought to get a share of properly appropriated funds for his state--the point is that the more special assistance appropriations that Congress funds, the more constituencies will seek to gain their share. Poverty and "need" will always expand in direct proportion to the funds made available for its relief. President Johnson declared a war on poverty and, poverty won--there is more now poverty than ever according to the bureaucrats who are paid to eliminate it!

    And the issue isn't even whether the needs are legitimate--the issue is how can the government pay out more than it takes in??

    Posted by bill greene  on  08/29  at  03:43 PM
  4. All of you have raised some interesting points, but also missed a few. Thomas zeroed in on dysfunctional disconnects between intent and results typical of the left, but veered into Ryan’s motivation for seeking handouts inexplicity. J. Jay makes a valid point Ryan veered leftward, but not for the reason he cites (confuses Obama stimuli with pre-Obama ‘stimuli’); or, more precisely, fails to establish what Ryan [allegedly] did was, in fact, ‘stimulus’ seeking.

    Tom’s argument would have been stronger had he not invited a kneejerk response from our resident liberal by prefacing his own argument with a defense of Ryan’s alleged stimulus fund-seeking. No doubt J. Jay would have raised the point of Ryan’s supposed “dishonest[y]” anyway, but why give him the point a priori by implying the charge of hypocrisy has merit? I don’t see that the pre-emptive defense of Ryan added anything to your argument public handouts (regardless who seeks them or type [social-welfare, corporate-welfare, governmental-expansion, inverted accountability, or corrupt us more than they help or improve us]) they are morally corrupting as well as ineffectual. That point is both logically solid and empirically established, and needs no embellishment or defense of its champions (however much they may deviate from message).

    Ordinarily, I would turn J. Jay’s argument to dust. But, in this instance he is at least partially right. Ryan does appear to have sought federal funds on behalf of a constituent, and there does appear to be some sort of link to the 2009 Obama stimulus in that there were negotiations between Ryan, Democrats and GM to garner his vote (i.e., approving the auto-bailout) in exchange for keeping the Janesville automobile plant open. The difficulty with J. Jay (as always) is he doesn’t research facts deeply enough to verify they will stand up on closer scrutiny. Also, he relies way too much on biased reporting by the liberal media for his misinformation. Ergo, in this instance, he has indeed found a smoking gun, but the question remains: does the gun show us what J. Jay imputes for it. A number of these sources (actually one source with lots of repetition and ‘me too’ bloviating) provide a series of factoids strung together which may or may not add up to a valid criticism of Ryan. The main problem with J. Jay’s argument is that, while Ryan was, indeed, involved in bailout negotiations and did correspond with GM and constituents regarding the possibility of forestalling the Janesville plant closure, neither he nor Ryan’s media detractors make clear he was in any wise successful in preventing that from happening (he didn’t) nor that he traded his vote in exchange. Using the same series of factoids and rearranging the spin, I can come up with two or three alternative scenarios ranging from innocent of all impropriety to temporary insanity. What I categorically do not see is the hypocrisy and double-dealing of which he is accused. Thus, we a case of smoke but no gun unless more is disclosed proving the presumed behavior was as characterized.

    Finally, I have to disagree with Bill on at least two points. First is whether it matters less we are fleeced to pay for things that are illegitimate, than that it encourages ‘me-too’ fleecing. It is for this we got in such a mess to begin with and, as Thomas makes clear the damage is more than just fiscal; it is also morally and politically corrosive. We tend to think in terms of corrupt-politicians, corrupt-officials, and corrupt-leaders; but the corruption of which Tom speaks is far more invasive; and, it touches each of us who have some say, however small, in the policies we condone. It takes two to tango, and the partner in the corruption of a nation is the nation. When our votes can be bought and our opinions shaped by corrupt politicians, then we, too, are become corrupt and part of the overall corruption. Worse, we have been corrupted using our own money and resources to do it. Politicians rob others (ordinary taxpayers) to create an illusion of giving. Yet, we (taxpayers) are also complicit in the illusion and the act of stealing each time we accept one of these ‘freebies’ as though having ‘paid our dues’ makes our participation in the fraud somehow more innocent.

    It does not matter the ‘pay-off’ is in the form of a welfare-check, billion-dollar corporate bailout, veteran-benefit, or a federally backed home loan we never consider of as personally corrupting of our scruples. But what is FMAC loan if not an expectation we’ll vote more of the same? Such loans reduce the overall cost of borrowing we would have paid without such backing. As such they have a quantifiable value, and are a monetary consideration. If such a consideration ties you to the politician or party peddling it and biases you toward defending it (or some part of it) thereafter, then we have indeed been corrupted in some degree; and have lost both our independence and innocence. If it were only about the money, I would not be nearly so perturbed by the monumental fraud and waste. What really gets my ire is we are systematically fleeced, reduced to sheep, and corrupted all at the same breath; and the main distinction between them and us is as between rogue and his accomplices.

    Secondly, I must disagree with you regarding unions versus Wall Street brokers. Again, you are splitting hairs regarding relative guilt and innocence, this time differentiating based on the wealth status of individuals comprising each group; yet really without recognizing unions (as distinct from their members) are the entities more corrupt, powerful, and damaging to our freedoms and to the Constitution. You appear to be basing your assessment less on outcomes than on a personal value-judgment that assumes rich people and those having extraordinary influence are inherently more corrupt and, thus, ‘less deserving’ of stolen goods (aka, forced wealth-transfers). This ignores theft is theft regardless the influence used in obtaining a ‘share of the common spoils’ or its size; and the transgression of each receiver of goods he knows to be ‘stolen’ is morally the same.

    Additional readings:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/paul-ryans-dishonest-speech/2012/08/30/16bb62d8-f24f-11e1-adc6-87dfa8eff430_blog.html - article alleges rather than proves Ryan mislead anyone regarding his motives for backing the auto-bailout. It strings together several ‘interpretations’ as proof Ryan knew his district’s Janesville plant was slated for closure when he complained of Obama’s reneging on a promise to save it. Ryan obviously believed Obama’s promise to save the plant, regardless of any insider knowledge he may have had to the contrary. The alternative spin to this WP interpretations is Ryan a) knew of the impending closure, b) got assurances from Democrat operatives the plant would be saved (regardless of GM plans) as part of a deal to push through the auto bailout if he played along with it, and c) got pi$$ed on finding out he’d been played. There is reason to believe (as suggested by the Ryan, Feingold & Kohl letter to GM), that GM was party to a change in plans, and that Ryan had reason to believe GM would be encouraged to keep the plant in operating as part of the bailout. As we now know, that did not happen, yet here is WP using that to tar Ryan as complicit in backing a bailout that would not even save plant in his own district. This, in essence, is the ‘proof’ J. Jay offers us of Ryan’s ‘dishonesty’. My rebuttal to that is Ryan made no effort to disguise he had made a deal with the Devil. Unanswered (but suggested) is whether or not Ryan knew Obama and Democrats had no intention of convincing GM to keep its Janesville plant open.

    In all the articles accusing Ryan of double-dealing, there is a lot of suggestion of impropriety (typical of every smear campaign), but little real substance. One thing I find absent in all such articles I’ve read is a timeline for Ryan’s supposed double-dealing. Also missing is a reasonable explanation why he would consistently oppose something he would thereafter vote for which a substantial ‘quid pro quo’ is absent. Ryan has been in Washington long enough to know better than to make pacts with Democrats without first they put it in writing and publicize the deal (thereby holding them to account should they fail to deliver).

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2012/08/16/paul-ryans-stimulus-problem/ - according to this article, Ryan still maintains he did not request stimulus funds on behalf of constituents, that he simply requested ‘funds’. This is splitting hairs, but he does have a point not all funds are part of the Obama stimuli; that there already were numerous grants and subsidies in place he could tap for constituents. Yet, what is a grant or subsidy if not a form of stimulus (perhaps with a different set of rules attached). Thus, it may be (and there is evidence for this) that Ryan does not so much object to stimuli as he is against piling on new ones at a time they can only do great harm.

    http://votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/26344/ - Ryan’s vote record
    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  09/08  at  07:09 PM
  5. Bob,

    I did not really try and "split hairs" over who was worse--unions or the Goldman Sachs type Wall Street firms. I think my post is clear that they vie for being among the top culprits in gaining special favors from the government. I made the point because the theme in Tom's post is that many people will conclude that it is best to get in line since everyone is, but we should keep in mind that the giant financial firms and unions are the worst and most costly abusers, and that they are enabled by the "crony" politicians who collaborate with them to gain special advantage.

    In a way this supports your observation about the corrupting influence of government handouts. We all see the corruption at the top--politicians and Wall Street fleecing the public and, when needed, getting bailed out, and remaining unscathed. And those cases involve billions of dollars! Knowing that, how can you place too much scorn on the average working stiff, buried in taxes, with marginal wages, who opts to go on disability because his back or knee hurts? I do not condone such moral lapses, but just want to suggest that the moral collapse filters down from the top. With role models like Corzine, Kennedy, and Geithner, it is increasingly difficult for the average citizen to remain totally honest.

    Perhaps I am disagreeing with you when you write: "the transgression of each receiver of goods he knows to be ‘stolen’ is morally the same." The actions of Madoff, Corzine, et al., represent major "thefts," but most handouts are not so clear cut: The acceptance of food stamps, a college tuition loan, cash for clunkers, or even many disability claims are not theft in the strict sense. However, the willingness to skirt ethical boundaries, over thousands of dollars, is certainly made easier when we see outright theft in the billions. And a politician's lobbying for the opening or maintenace of a facility in his district is really a whole kettle of different fish. "Pork barrel" projects are harmful, wasteful, etc., but except in the most egregious cases, they are not theft, nor are they "immoral" if the project will do some good for the citizenry.


    Finally, I did not in any way suggest that "it matters less we are fleeced to pay for things that are illegitimate than that it encourages ‘me-too’ fleecing." I used the word legitimate as an adjective for "needs"--to make the point that even very worthy, or "legitimate" needs--such as repairing a bridge about to collapse, must be considered within budgetary confines. Thus, fiscal prudence dictates that less valid needs, including much of the corporate subsidies and welfare entitlements, are in the end, only allowable if they are paid for within a balanced budget.

    We can debate the details of government handouts forever--some are worthy, some are essential, some are compassionate, many are wasteful and unjust, some involve criminal collusion and outright theft of public funds--but wouldn't their failings and the financial harm they inflict on the nation be greatly alleviated if, whatever they comprised, they were rationed to be funded within the government's actual income?
    Posted by bill greene  on  09/08  at  09:45 PM
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