Ask a D.C. insider what’s the best way to solve the debt crisis. Nine times out of ten, they’ll recommend taking on more debt. That’s how things operate in the Potomac swamp. Up is down, right is left, digging yourself into more debt is the best way to get out of it. But it wasn’t always like this. In fact, there used to be common sense when it came to the economy. So where did it all go wrong?
Politicians talk about the uninsured. Special interests argue on behalf of those with pre-existing conditions. But why is no one wondering how doctors are affected by the new law? They’re the ones on the frontlines dealing directly with new patients, as well as the red tape that makes bureaucracies go round.
Politicians proclaim the benefits of small business while on the campaign trail. But when they meet in the seedy halls of Congress, they have no problem doing whatever they can to stifle, regulate, and subdue their progress. Instead of siding with entrepreneurs, these politicians often side with political allies and cronies that helped put them into office.
Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you have to stop working. Especially now that you have all the time in the world to do what you really want. Entrepreneurs don’t only come out of Silicon Valley. They come from all walks of life, from all different ages. If you’re retired and want to stay active while you relax, then find out the steps you need to take in order to start, manage, and grow your next small business.
Technology brought the world together. But has it gone too far? Decades ago, mail was delivered by hand. Now it’s delivered in seconds. How has that changed the way you live your life? How has it changed the way people act with each other? These are just some of the questions we need to ask.
The U.S. dollar has been the world's reserve currency for almost a century, and already there are signs it may be in decline. But that doesn't mean it's not still valuable. On the contrary... As Chris Mayer explains, there are many reasons the U.S. dollar will remain relevant on the world stage for years to come. Read on...
Gun control isn’t a modern idea. The rise of gun control laws and limits on your 2nd Amendment freedom go hand in hand with the increase in the size and scope of government. Politicians want you to think the only people who can keep you safe are government forces. But as one renown libertarian economist and thinker will show you, their misguided laws do nothing but take away your freedoms and leave you less safe.
The government will do whatever it takes to make sure it has enough of your money to fund itself. On the surface you might think that means enduring a grueling audit. But the IRS and the government is more than willing to ignore your privacy in the cold relentless pursuit of the money they think they deserve. As they get bigger and bigger every year, the smaller and smaller your paycheck becomes as they leach off it.
The Congressional Budget Office said the government needed to reach 7 million people by the end of March. They claim to have reached the goal and now the debate about Obamacare is over. But what does this milestone really mean in the ongoing healthcare discussion? And more importantly, how will it affect reforms going forward?
If you’re good at something should you be penalized so others have a chance at success? Should award winning actors and actresses be barred from future Oscar ceremonies to give other men and women the chance to succeed? Success should always be rewarded and encouraged. But what happens when you have a government that wants to even the playing field and take away the spoils of success. Gregory Bresiger finds out...
In an effort to cut costs and keep track of patients' records, governments could institute a medical guideline cookbook. Bureaucrats might think they have the best of intentions in mind, but these new rules would drag down the medical process and destroy whatever quality is left in our current system.
Practical people often pooh-pooh fiction reading as a time wasting dalliance, dominated by a Marxist coloring of the world. However, fiction readers were given a scientific reason recently for spending hours absorbing fanciful figments of someone’s imagination.
Argentina is suffering the ravages of government debasement of the currency -- i.e., inflation, the process by which government pays for its ever-increasing debts and bills by simply printing more paper currency. The expanded money supply results in a lower value of everyone’s money, which is reflected in the rising prices of the things that money buys.
When government expansion is allowed to continue unabated or when it casts a heavy regulatory shadow on America’s entrepreneurial spirit, the freedoms that we’ve come to know, and perhaps take for granted, slowly begin to slip away.
The saga of All Saints could soon be coming to a community near you. Thanks partly to the scandal surrounding the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, the agency has proposed a new set of rules for a huge number of social-welfare groups that claim tax exemption under Section 501(c)4 of the tax code.
The new reality of Obamacare’s tax credits has left finance reporters to pen articles warning readers to “take care” when considering a tax credit and providing strategies for how best to “protect yourself.” So what do finance reporters know that the White House doesn’t?
Nihilo ex nihilo fit. Out of nothing, nothing comes. First put forward by ancient Greek philosopher Parmenides in the fifth century B.C., Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine later used this axiom to prove that the universe needed a “first mover” to get things going. Even if the whole thing began with some kind of “Big Bang” moment, it still needed a banger to bang it. Who? God, of course.
What positive steps can we take? The energy that is now expended by well intentioned, freedom-seeking individuals on the destructive course of politics can be turned into powerful steps that will have a positive effect on the future. All are moral, right and just. None require aggressing. Consider the following...
The Affordable Care Act creates a new health insurance marketplace (the exchange). But because of the great uncertainty about what buyers will enter the market and who will buy what product, the law creates three vehicles to reduce insurance company risk.
Politicians and bureaucrats are notorious for manufacturing euphemisms -- clever but deceptive substitutes for what they really mean but don’t want to admit. That’s how the phrase “revenue enhancement” entered the vocabulary. Some of our courageous friends in government couldn’t bring themselves to say “tax hike.”
“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future,” says a proverb often attributed to Yogi Berra. Imagine the world of freedom, or lack of it. Who could foresee the technologies that make our lives so rewarding and convenient? The same technologies have us all under the government’s giant microscope. Thankfully, the brave have turned the microscope around.
In the months since Edward Snowden revealed the nature and extent of the spying that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been perpetrating upon Americans and foreigners, some of the NSA's most troublesome behavior has not been a part of the public debate.
National Treasury Union President Colleen M. Kelly recently described the 2014 IRS budget allocation as “woefully inadequate.” But the agency has not proven itself to be an efficient steward of taxpayer dollars. Here are ten ways the IRS lost the trust of the American people.
It’s easy to be negative about the U.S. economy these days. Find a glint of silver, and folks come running to point out all of the dark clouds looming about. This, of course, is what we got last week when the monthly jobs report was released from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Folks pooh-poohed the number of jobs and whining that they’re not enough or that it’s less than a bunch of economists thought that it might be. But you know what? Stuff ’em.
Given how poorly states like California and Illinois have funded the pension funds for their own employees, one would think that this would stop dead in its tracks any plan to have the government assist in managing private sector funds too. The spate of recent activity, however, suggests otherwise.
Facts are easy. You can check facts. What supporters of the Affordable Care Act are doing, on the other hand, transcends factual bungling. It’s far more advanced: a warping of reality so debauched it looks like something out of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft.
The problem for NSA apologist is that when guys like Snowden disclose that the government conducts comprehensive surveillance in ways that would have made 1984’s O’Brien drool, it puts the entire progressive agenda in jeopardy.
The term “nanny state” actually dates to the 1960s, and that’s not surprising. It was about this time that government ran out of ideas for improving society — it didn’t really improve us, but it claimed to — and turned its attention to hectoring us about all the things we do to ourselves that it wants us not to do. That turns out to be just about everything.
The phrase “nanny state” captures the spirit of this push to regulate our consumption in all areas of life. But the phrase misses the mark when it comes to the methods themselves. Nannies are respectable market institutions. To be sure, if you hired a nanny with jackboots, Tasers and guns with real bullets who punished disobedience with jail and even death, that would be a closer approximation to what we are dealing with every day in the Land of the Free.
Of course, we would never hire a nanny like this. But then again, we never hired the government, either. It just presumes ownership over our bodies, property, businesses and lives and issues edicts about them every day. It is impossible to keep up with the outrages. Nothing is untouched by these people.
And it really does amount to a different style of government. If the government builds a dam, carves presidential profiles in a mountain, constructs a highway or sends some people to traipse around the moon, that affects you and me mostly in what we pay in taxes. These things don’t directly intrude into other choices we make. We are forced to pay for idiotic government programs, but the pain in the neck mostly starts and stops with the bills we are forced to pay.
The shift to the nanny state was really a change because it invites government right into our kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, backyards, garages, medicine cabinets, refrigerators and cubicles at work. Nothing is off-limits. What that means, in reality, is that there is no more freedom, since the idea of freedom is bound up with the right to make mistakes. We are not merely paying; we are obeying (or being told to obey) every minute of the day.
For all these reasons, I’m happy that someone bothered to attempt a nearly comprehensive chronicle. The wonderfully infuriating and deeply alarming book is Nanny State by David Harsanyi. And check out the subtitle: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists and Other Boneheaded Bureaucrats Are Turning America Into a Nation of Children.
“When exactly did we lose our right to be unhealthy, unsafe, immoral and politically incorrect?” the author asks. “What if I want to be fat, drunk, immoral or intolerably stupid?”
These are salient questions. No one asked us. It just happened bit by bit, over the course of half a century. Daily, this trend is ramping up. We think we live in a free country, and then we actually try to do something different, risky, wonderful, productive or whatever and suddenly discover that we are living in a legal minefield, all in the name of making us safer, better, more caring or whatever.
Everything is regulated allegedly for our own good, but there are gigantic problems. First, insofar as the dictates are actually good for us, these are often redundant with existing cultural and market trends (life insurance premiums have done more to cut smoking than all the government warnings). Second, they are universal regulations and allow no dissent and, therefore, violate human liberty (if someone wants to be bad, that’s their business). Third, much of what they dictate isn’t really good for us all (the attack on domestic water use has made our homes much dirtier).
As I read this book, I kept thinking about the irony of this whole trend:
- Government says it is making us safe. Meanwhile, the government’s wars kill tens of thousands and put Americans in harm’s way, and the domestic police state has never been so violent
- Government says that it is forcing us not to harm ourselves, but government threatens us with harm constantly with its guns, fines, courts and 10 million micro-coercions, not to mention its relentless looting of our bank accounts and purchasing power
- Government says it is making us polite and civil, but it unleashes an army of bureaucrats who are the very soul of rudeness, hence coarsening society in so many ways.
What’s also crazy is the high moral tone of all these rules and regulations. We are led to believe that not wearing seat belts is not just unwise, but completely immoral and evil. So it is with smoking, eating fatty foods, drinking raw milk, drinking a glass of wine before driving and telling an off-color joke. A civil religion of sorts has replaced traditional religion, and hectoring political dictates have crowded out traditional moral rules and norms that were self-policing.
The nanny state goes far beyond obvious issues such as smoking and eating, as Harsanyi points out. In New York, it is illegal to feed pigeons, sit on a milk crate in public, put a plastic frame around your license plate, take up a subway seat with a grocery bag, ride a bike without your feet on the pedals and other such outrages. All over the country, we are seeing bans on advertising, restrictions on happy hours and ladies’ nights and every manner of legal carrots and sticks used to force us to eat more carrots and look like sticks.
Nor is this restricted to the left or right alone. Everyone with power has an agenda on how to manipulate our lives and make us all better people, as he defines that phrase.
The book opens with a chapter called “Twinkie Fascists.” I’m thrilled by the phrase because I’m personally fed up with these invasive, coercive, pietistic demands concerning what we eat. It’s gone way too far. It is none of the government’s business. And the more the government attempts to legislate diets, the less Americans care to examine the issue of diets and health themselves.
But there is something else even more remarkable about this movement. The more it pushes, the more people themselves push back. I was at an Applebee’s restaurant the other night, fighting for a table. On my way to my spot, I passed by table after table at which people were eating gigantic portions of hamburgers, fries, greasy everything, followed with massive desserts washed down with larger-than-life beers and per-person portions that would have fed whole families a few decades ago. It’s crazy stuff. Yet I celebrate it all as acts of private defiance.
In fact, such defiance is all around us. We will not be controlled. Take a trip to the local playground and you will see the results of what Harsanyi chronicles in his chapter on “The Playground Despots.” Gone is anything metal. Seesaws, jungle gyms, sky-high swings are all replaced by plastic tubes and other things that are so safe that they are fun. This was not a market decision; it was imposed by government decree.
But observe how the kids use them. Instead of climbing through tubes or sitting contentedly in a sea of plastic balls, many kids balance themselves dangerously on top of the tubes on which they are not supposed to be, and hurling those plastic balls at each other in wicked war games. This is the way adolescent rebels deal with the nanny state: Just as the adults, they find their fun in acts of defiance.
Other acts of defiance are easy to document. Go to a local convenience store and ask the manager the main source of the store’s profitability. The answer will come quickly: cigarettes and beer. If that is not a testament to the utter failure of the nanny state, I don’t know what is. As for those stores in states where such sales are restricted, it’s a wonder they make money at all.
Not enough people have taken notice of the shift in government policy that took place in the 1960s. Harsanyi seems to believe that it stems from a tendency of public officials to treat us like children and themselves as parents. There is certainly truth in that, but I’m inclined to suspect a more-malevolent motive here. The state is even more geared toward removing choice in our lives and forbidding what we want and imposing what it wants. In other words, it is spreading misery, mostly because that’s all it has really ever been good at.
This is all a sign that public policy the world over has gone through an identity crisis of sorts. It is discovering the inner truth about itself — that it really is and has always been at war with our well-being. The only difference now is that it is reaching further into our lives, wrecking them at every turn and daring to try to convince us that we should be grateful for this.
Harsanyi’s book raises consciousness. That’s the first step to overthrowing the central plan for our lives and thereby taking back our rights and liberties.