Political Job Offers: Abuse of Public Trust and Tax Dollars

Time Magazine’s Mark Halperin — White House Statement On Romanoff Doesn’t Answer All The Questions


Many have dismissed the Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff job offer controversy as political gamesmanship by Republicans. Throwing mud at political appointees that each side uses to further their own goals is political gamesmanship, just as offering  jobs to control who is on the ballot is political gamesmanship. There is already plenty of political gamesmanship in politics.

It’s fair game for Republicans to throw the hypocrisy mud at Obama, because Obama said his administration would be the most “open and transparent” government in history. It’s no different than pointing out the hypocrisy of congressional representative Souder having an affair while advocating abstinence.

Pointing out political hypocrisy generally doesn’t change public opinion. Supporters would say, “The higher you set you moral standards, the harder they are to live up to,” while opponents will declare, “I knew they were full of it the entire time.” Hypocrisy is viewed through the hypocritical lens of one’s political persuasion.

Unfortunately, the political gamesmanship by both sides will overshadow the issue: political appointments as a reward is a violation of the public trust. Offering jobs may be legal and therefore politicians can claim they are not improper, but that does not mean the practice is not harmful.

Elections are supposed to be about voters choosing who they would like to represent them; persuading someone to drop out of a race interferes with the public’s right to pick their representatives and is part of the reason why incumbents are so likely to be reelected.

It would clearly be illegal to offer money to a candidate to drop out of a race, whereas offering them positions paid for by tax payers dollars is not illegal. In essence, these political bribes are paid for by you and me and it’s all perfectly legal.

Then there is the damage done by these political appointments when the people appointed  are not the best qualified for the job. When the “best person for the job” is determined by who best maintains political power, you wind up with an inept, ineffectual and corrupt government.

Share Button

Libertarian Values: Not Mainstream Just Yet

no more hateFrom Chris Stirewalt’s piece titled “Hating the government finally goes mainstream”  at the Washington Examiner. Emphasis added to illustrate libertarian values aren’t described as mainstream in the mainstream media.

Three years ago, the Republican establishment piled scorn on the presidential candidacy of Ron Paul.

Today, he is in a statistical tie with President Obama in 2012 polling. His son, an ophthalmologist who has never run for elective office, is well ahead of not only the GOP’s handpicked candidate for Senate in Kentucky but also both Democratic contenders — all statewide officeholders.

What happened? Did America sudden develop an insatiable appetite for 74-year-old, cranky congressmen from Texas? Is the gold standard catching on?

Paul will not likely be the next president. And his son still faces the most arduous part of his journey as Democrats spend millions to paint him as soft on defense, lax on drug enforcement and too radical on welfare programs.

But there’s no doubt that hating the government and the powerful interests that pull Washington’s strings has gone from the radical precincts of the Right and Left to the mainstream.

…Libertarian sentiment has finally gone mainstream.

Libertarian values haven’t gone mainstream just yet. You’ll know when those values have hit mainstream when they aren’t described with negative connotations. Once a political perspective goes mainstream, it’s described with positive adjectives.

With abortion, the sides are generally described as pro-choice and pro-life. If the sides in abortion were described as baby-haters or choice-haters, it would sound as if they are against something rather than for something. Part of the reason for using the pro-adjectives is both positions are mainstream, in that both groups represent a large number of people.

It’s polite to refer to these groups in a positive sense of what they favor rather than pointing to what they oppose. Referring to others in the positive terms they prefer shows your respect, even when it’s a view you don’t share.

Libertarian values are often not shown the same respect as other views, because they are described as haters, radical or cranky. If others valued or respected those views, they would be framed in a more positive light.

For those who are not trying to alienate others, here are a few suggestions for how to refer to those with libertarian views in a more respectful and polite manner.

  • Liberty-minded
  • Pro-freedom
  • Libertarian
  • Limited government advocates
  • Individualist
  • Fiscally Conservative – Socially Liberal

To other liberty minded individuals out there, if there are other terms you prefer, just leave it in the comments and I’ll update the list; thanks.

Share Button

Better HeathCare Analogies: Coal Miners and Salt

In the health care debate one of the most common analogies has been to compare mandatory health insurance with auto insurance. I want to throw in a couple more analogies to mandatory health care debate as food for thought. Coal miners forced to purchase from company stores and French citizens forced to buy salt.

Where the health insurance to auto insurance analogy matches up:

  • Its insurance.
  • Its mandatory.

Where mandatory auto and health insurance analogy do not match:

  • Not everyone is required to have auto insurance.
  • States mandate auto insurance, not the federal government.
  • Auto insurance is there to protect harm done to individuals.
  • Mandatory health insurance protects profits of the health care industry.

Another analogy to mandatory health insurance can be found in the early days of coal mining, where miners were forced to purchase from the company store.

Coal Miners analogy matches the health care proposal in:

  • Mandatory purchasing from selected stores and products.
  • Mandatory purchasing increases corporate profits.

Where Coal Miners analogy doesn’t match:

  • Everything miners needed to sustain themselves–food, medicine, clothing and shelter–was a mandatory purchase from the company, with the exception of health insurance.
  • The miners had the option of leaving the company town and seeking employment elsewhere.

A better analogy can be made between mandatory health insurance and Gabelle: the French Salt Tax. Prior to the French Revolution, the government mandated everyone above the age of eight years to purchase a weekly minimum amount of salt at a fixed price.

From The History News Network: Will a 2nd American Revolution be French?

There were a slew of other taxes as well, some of them quite creative. For example, there was a salt monopoly tax by which everyone over the age of 7 (as I remember) was required to purchase several lbs of highly-inferior government salt each and every year. The law also proscribed how the salt could be used and imposed heavy fines for misuse, such as in preservation of meat.

French Salt Tax matches mandatory healthcare:

  • Everyone required to purchase.
  • Mandatory amount to purchase.
  • Doesn’t matter if you can afford to buy either.
  • Protects profits of the industry.

Where the Salt Tax analogy doesn’t match mandatory healthcare insurance:

    It’s salt!

Share Button

Utopianism: There is no Panacea for all of Life’s Imperfections

Political debate today seems to be centered around discussions of utopianism.

The ideals or principles of a utopian; idealistic and impractical social theory.

Just about any issue of the day turns into a complete debate about political or economic systems. The debates usually run along the lines of “that is a theory straight from political system X, it won’t solve problem Y, but political system Z can fix this problem.” The rebuttal runs along the lines of “we all know political system Z has been a complete failure, and has been rejected by every thinking person.”

The part consistently left out in the utopia debate is all political systems have trade offs. Each person in the debate has done their own cost-benefit analysis of political systems and has chosen one. There are a host of factors that play into the deciding which political or economic system a person believes will work best.

It’s a delusion that there is a political or economic panacea for all of life’s imperfections. Unfortunately, the popular belief  “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything” is not true. You have to believe a goal is possible in order to achieve a goal; but the reverse is not true–believing something is possible doesn’t make it possible.

Pardon the sarcasm to further the point–if I put my mind to it, I will wipe out poverty this morning, end all all wars this afternoon and if I still have enough energy left, I’ll fix stupid before going to bed. If you put your mind to it you can accomplish solvable problems, but believing every problem can be solved in your lifetime is a bit grandiose.

Putting utopianism arguments aside, I’m in favor of limited government and as much freedom as possible, but I don’t believe it will solve all of life’s problems. It’s not reasonable to expect freedom will solve all problems. However, the cost-benefit analysis I’ve done is tells me the perils of living as free as possible scare me less than any alternative. Someone else put it much better:

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. – Thomas Jefferson

I know its not perfect, but I’d rather try my hand at my own flawed micro-utopia rather than trusting others to create a utopia for me.

Share Button

I’m Retarded but I’m not Braindead

The debate over using the R-word leaves me wondering why it is politically correct to call others braindead. Why is it politically incorrect to call someone slow, while calling someone mindless OK?

Retarded means slow, as in slow to learn or grasp a concept, but still has a brain and can learn. In political discussions those with opposing views are often labeled as mindless, braindead, or zombies. They don’t always come right out and call you stupid for disagreeing, but thats the implication.


I was surprised because I was sure that she was a thinking person’s Republican, a moderate suburbanite not captured by the tea bagger set.

And it’s triply amazing, of course, because as every right-thinking person knows, Barack Obama is soft on terrorism and wants America to fail.

You have the vote of every thinking person.

I will not dwell on that, but any thinking person should recognize the difference and not blur the discussion.

Each of these basically states is you disagree with the views presented you don’t think, you have no mind. I’m retarded, as in being slow, because I don’t always catch being labeled a braindead zombie at first glance. As every slow thinking person knows: I’m retarded but I’m not braindead, because I know when I’m being insulted for disagreeing.

Share Button

If Celebrities Became Presidents

A common tactic in politics is to take some views and expand them to an extreme to make others afraid of them.

One of the most common ones is President Obama will reshape the country into a communist country like Soviet Russia. Even if the President were a devout communist, the slippery slope in American politics isn’t very slippery. The last year has shown even the most powerful person on Earth isn’t powerful enough to reshape America.

This isn’t just a left or right tactic. When Mike Huckabee was running for President, the attacker said the country would become a theocracy like Iran. For Ron Paul, the attack was the country would turn into anarchy like Somalia.

Just because one person isn’t powerful enough to reshape the country doesn’t mean we can’t have fun with the idea. Here are some new forms of government if celebrities were to become President.

  • Abe Vigoda: Immortal-ocracy
  • Barbara Walters: Bahwah-ahquacy
  • Carrot Top: Ginger-ocracy
  • Charlie Sheen: Rehab-ocracy
  • Chris Hansen: Itsatrap-ocracy
  • Joel McHale: Snark-ocracy
  • Kelly Osbourne: Ozzy-ocracy
  • Kevin Smith: Twoseat-ocracy
  • Kim Kardashian: Booty-ocracy
  • Moot: Anon-ocracy
  • Nadya Suleman : Octo-ocracy
  • Snooki: Friggin’ocracy
  • Snoop Dogg: Hip-ocracy
  • Tiger Woods: Player-ocracy
Share Button