Saturday, January 06, 2007

Congressman Not-So-Frank

For decades the Democrats have been unable to speak honestly about their goals. If they bluntly said, “We’re socialists and we want more government intervention in the economy,” the party would go the way of the Whigs within a year. So they develop rhetorical tricks that evade and muddy the truth and appeal to emotions, calling government intervention in the economy a “partnership with business,” talking about the children and so on.

One of the new two-bit Democrat dictators, Congressman Barney Frank, has come up with some new Orwellian double speak.

( - American companies can expect proposals mandating increased wages and health care, a boost in union membership and greater scrutiny of trade agreements, a key Democrat promised Wednesday.It's all part of the new Democratic congressional majority's agenda to reduce what Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) calls "inequality" that inhibits economic growth.

How does inequality inhibit economic growth? As I understand it, economic growth depends on capital saving for future investment. If you take money from the rich and redistribute it to the poor, you get more consumption and less saving and investment. So inequality helps economic growth, doesn’t it?

"Inequality is not necessarily a bad thing. It's necessary in the capitalist system, and I'm a capitalist," Frank said during a speech to the National Press Club. "But we do not have to have a government that reinforces it."

(If Barney Frank is a capitalist, then the word has no meaning.)

What does he mean by the government reinforcing inequality? He wants to use the government to force corporations to redistribute wealth to workers, so what he is saying here is: if the government does nothing, it reinforces inequality. It’s a nice linguistic trick. If freedom leads to an undesirable result, then the government is reinforcing that result by doing nothing. He turns inaction by the state into a form of action. If doing nothing is the same as doing something, then the government might as well intervene in the economy.

Let me spell this out for any socialists who are accidentally reading this blog. There is a fundamental difference between the government doing something and doing nothing in the economy. When the government intervenes, it violates individual rights. Laissez-faire capitalism means the government does nothing. This inaction has other old-fashioned, politically incorrect names, such as freedom or liberty. To call this lack of intervention “reinforcing” whatever economic results might happen is nonsense. It evades the fundamental distinction between freedom and government control.

Frank said members of the working class would not care about economic growth if they did not see any benefit for themselves. This created "gridlock" that prevents pro-business legislation from passing, and therefore bridging the income gap was in the best interest of business, he argued.

More verbal legerdemain from Congressman Frank. What is pro-business legislation? That would be deregulation or laws that keep the government off the back of business so that people can make money in freedom. Anti-business legislation is laws that restrict freedom. His term “gridlock” implies that pro-business legislation (freedom) and anti-business legislation (control) are just two separate but equal forms of lawmaking. Congressman Frank is actually blackmailing business, saying they must redistribute profits to the workers in exchange for the government allowing them to exist with a little more freedom.

Frank was not specific on every proposal, but he said he intends to hold hearings into income disparity and what the government can do about it. He is also proposing a "grand bargain" that will tie trade bills, regulatory relief and other business-friendly legislation to mandates on increased wages, union empowerment and health care coverage.

“Grand bargain” is more fancy talk from Congressman Frank. You can only have a bargain among traders who have something of value to trade. Congressman Frank's "bargain" amounts to the government allowing more freedom in certain areas if the corporations become little welfare states that redistribute income to the workers. This “bargain” is equivalent to the Godfather’s line, “Make him a deal he can’t refuse.”

And if regulations were so important in the first place, how is it that they can now be used as bargaining chips? The cynicism of power lies beneath the facade of Congressman Frank's words. The real purpose of regulations is not to protect the environment or workers or anything else; it is to give the state power over individuals. All the justifications for regulations are just window dressing for power.

"Government doesn't have to interfere with the free enterprise system, but we can work along with it to reduce inequality," Frank said.

More BS. The only way the government can "work along" with the free enterprise system is to interfere with it. The government has no value to offer business, it has only a gun. Offering to let business have a little more freedom if it redistributes income is not “working along with it.”

Unfortunately, business is intellectually unarmed and helpless before strutting caesars such as Congressman Frank:

Hank Cox, spokesman for the National Association of Manufacturers, said that with the new Democratic majority in Congress, the business community would face the need to compromise.

"It's a new world we're going to be in," Cox said. "It's safe to say we'll be playing more defense than offense. That does not mean we're going to fold our tents and go home. More deal making will go on."

The battle is already lost. The corporations will cut “deals” with the Democrats, hoping to get a little freedom in other areas in exchange for becoming little nanny states that take care of workers. It’s a nice deal for the government, because it expands the welfare state at the same time it clouds the issue of who is in power. Workers will complain about their employers not doling out enough health care, profit-sharing, benefits and so on, not understanding that government guns are behind the whole set-up. This already happens with health care benefits, to give one example. Corporations began giving health care benefits in the 1940's as a way to get around income tax, since wages were taxed but money that went to health care was not. 60 years later, people think of corporations giving health care benefits as just the way things are, a metaphysical fact like the air we breath, when actually the practice came about because of government intervention in the economy. In a free economy workers would be responsible for their own health care, which they would buy with their wages like they buy everything else. (And health care would cost a fraction of what it now costs under massive government intervention.)

Come the next crisis, the corporations will get the blame while politicians shout indignantly about greed and preen about their compassion. This is why American politicians prefer the fascist style of socialism to the communist, in which the government owns the means of production. By allowing the means of production to stay nominally in private hands, the state evades responsibility and blame. (This is why Congressman Frank calls himself a capitalist.)

"Ultimately the thing we've got to work on is becoming more competitive and surviving in the global market place," Cox said. "We can't do that if we have to go it alone with all these new requirements. The answer is not arbitrary rules that drive the cost of doing business even higher."

One way to stay competitive in the global market place, Frank said, is to use the U.S. leverage to push other countries to adopt similar workplace standards. Ultimately, he said, countries will bow to U.S. demands for their own economic survival.

So part of the deal is that the US will force other countries to hamper their economy as much as ours is hampered, which will help US companies compete in the global market place. Instead of being the world’s last best hope, the Democrats are turning America into a force that makes the whole world less free.

Frank is the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission and sets policies for the banking, securities and housing industries. As such, he will be among the most powerful members of Congress in setting economic policy.

Be afraid.

UPDATE: Revised.


Dismuke said...

"Be afraid."

I am more than afraid - I am downright horrified.

At the very least, evil bastards like Frank & Co. will damage the economy which will mess with my life as well as cause all sorts of neat things that would have been brought into existence not be be. And the chances of some wonderful medical breakthrough being found in time for me to be able to live to age 140 or better will be significantly reduced as these people are resolved to punish and destroy the pharmacutical industry and hell bent on shoving full blown socialized medicine down our throats. It would be mild to say that I hate these people and everything they stand for - and seeing news reports in recent days has been downright disgusting and depressing.

One cannot even look to the Executive branch and say we have a divided goverment. Bush wouldn't stand up to them when they were OUT of power. Now that they are in - well, is there any doubt that this Bush will behave just like his daddy did?

What gets me most is the terrible injustice of it all - that evil powerlusters and second handers like this actually have power and control over things that will have a very real impact on my life and future and the lives and futures of other decent and civilized individuals.

And the double standards when it comes to these people drive me beyond batty. To take just one hideous example: What do you supposed would happen if I got drunk and drove a bimbo off a bridge causing her to drown and then left the scene and did not report what happened? Is there any doubt that I would spend time behind bars? And decades afterwards, I sure as heck would not be sitting as a Senator from Massachusetts or anywhere else. I would be flipping burgers somewhere because the very moment they considered promoting me to second-deputy shift leader my employer would conduct a background check and see that I did hard time. Or, if I were a pathetic alcoholic like a certain senator, I would be on skid row. Indeed, I suspect that all the broken down wrecks you find on skid row put together have harmed far fewer people than has that one Senator who, if truth be told, belongs right where they are.

And how long do you think a Republican congressman would last if it came out that some man he paid to have gay sex with had operated a prostituion ring out of his apartment? We wouldn't even get a chance to see how his allegedly biggoted consituents would react in the next election because the very same Stalinists who support Barney Frank would be calling for his head faster than you could say "Mark Foley."

Of course, none of this is new and, as both of these examples illustrate, it has been going on for decades. One would think I could make peace with it somehow and not become so outraged everytime I think of these people or see their pictures. But I have yet to figure out how to do it. So whenever I hear or see a news report showing that these people are having a good day - well, if I am not careful, just the mere sight of it can totally ruin my day.

The one thing that I keep trying to remind myself is the moral is the practical and that these people have a tendency in recent years to self-destruct. Let's hope that pattern continues and that it happens sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem Dismuke. The Conservatives infuriate me for all the reasons that an Objectivist is infuriated by Conservatives. But the Left makes me physically ill. Just looking at Nancy Pelosi makes puts me in a depressed mood. I have such a visceral disgust and hatred for the Left that I am seriously thinking of avoiding all television media for the next two years. Is that even possible?

You know, one day at some point in human history, there is going to be a fully rational culture. Could they ever conceive of what their rational ancestors had to put up with?

Bill Visconti

Dismuke said...

"I have such a visceral disgust and hatred for the Left that I am seriously thinking of avoiding all television media for the next two years. Is that even possible?"

Sure it is possible - heck, I've done just that for a lot longer than two years. The only time my television set ever gets used besides when there are tornadoes in the area is on the rare occasions I decide to watch a VHS or DVD. The only time I have watched television news in the past few years has been in hotel rooms when traveling. Now that I have a laptop, I make it a point to stay at hotels with high speed Internet so now even that television set stays turned off.

The last time I watched TV news was a month or two before the election at a hole-in-the-wall pizza joint I decided to try which was playing CNN News. It was disgraceful - there wasn't a single story run during the entire time I was there that wasn't twisted in such a way as to make either an explicit or implicit jab against President Bush or the war in Iraq. It was like watching a propaganda film - and a not too clever one at that. I'm no fan of Bush - but most of the attacks were centered around how the Europeans and the rest of the world don't like us. Let's just say that I finished my meal quicker than I otherwise would have.

That I do not watch television was not the result of any sort of boycott or conscious decision. I just fell out of the habit of watching. I barely have enough time to keep up with all the Internet websites I enjoy and I have a huge music library as well so it never even occurs to me that I could instead be watching television - and seriously doubt that there is even a single program still on the air that I have ever actually watched.

But even without television, it still very difficult to totally isolate one's self from the world. I get most of my news from the Internet and, to a lesser degree, from the few conservative talk show hosts that I can stomach. On the talk station I listen to they run top of the hour news digests from ABC - and even they tend to be badly slanted Left.

"You know, one day at some point in human history, there is going to be a fully rational culture. Could they ever conceive of what their rational ancestors had to put up with?"

No - I don't think they could conceive of it in the same way that I rather doubt that any of us would be able to fully conceive of the sort of mindset people had during the Dark Ages. People can describe that mindset to us and we are able to grasp what they are saying in an abstract sort of way. But to grasp the day-to-day, moment-by-moment implications of Dark Age mindset and how it would permeate even the most basic of tasks and decisions a person has to make - I just don't know that is even possible. Think of all the time and energy, not to mention the frustration, disappointments and various other agonies that a rational person has to spend just trying to cope with and carry on in the midst of the various institutionalized irrationalities, evils and injustices around him - and then imagine what life would be like if one never had to mess with that. Now try to imagine describing what we have to go through to someone who has never even experience it.

There is a character in The Fountainhead that I have always been able to very much relate to: Steven Mallory the sculpture who took a shot at Ellsworth Toohey and who became profoundly upset when he saw certain stories in the newspaper. I have never been able to achieve - and, to be honest, I have never fully understood - Roark's wonderful sense of isolation and indifference to the irrationality around him. Let's look at it this way: If John Kerry asked me what I thought of him, my response most certainly would not be "but I don't think of you." What I would say would not be publishable in a civilized forum - and even that would be after I exercised every ounce of self-control towards not expressing myself with my fist.

Michael Neibel said...

dismuke and anon,
I haven't listened to the TV news for about a year now. I got tired of the incessant hatred of America displayed by the media. I get my news from the net. I buy the Detroit papers not for news, but to look for irrationality and they seldom make me wait.

Myrhaf said...

I have only watched sports for months. I missed the coronation of Queen Nancy, and that was good for my sanity.

Toiler said...

"I missed the coronation of Queen Nancy..."

Heck, it's been so long since I watched the news that it took me a second to figure out whom you meant by Queen Nancy. I thought maybe the French had elected a monarch while I was away. Wouldn't surprise me.

Seriously, though, one of the reasons it makes me physically sick to watch the Left is because they're so unprincipled. It's an embarrassment to witness men behaving like spoiled-rotten imbeciles. However, that it makes me sick to watch them does not necessarily mean that these fumbling dorks are the most dangerous.

On principle, I also understand and appreciate some Objectivists' rather dire warnings about the Right. The fact that some on the Right appear to be more principled -- or slightly less unprincipled -- than most on the Left may make them more dangerous in the long-term. It's not that they will be the sole destroyers of America -- hardly! -- but rather that they will be the ones who (gleefully) drop the final chop that severs the head.

There is more than a little historical precedent for such a process, that is, of social decay followed by a kind of "order" brought about by a strong leader.

Augustus Caesar comes to mind, as does the one and only memorable line in the last Star Wars set, spoken by Padme: "So this is how liberty dies, to thunderous applause."

So I think there's something to be said for asking, not who is the most difficult to watch, but who is the most likely to effect lasting change in the long-term. That's an open question. I'll take my answer off-line. :-)

Dismuke said...

"Heck, it's been so long since I watched the news that it took me a second to figure out whom you meant by Queen Nancy. I thought maybe the French had elected a monarch while I was away."

Actually, she would be perfect as the Queen of France. After all, France is the model she and her corrupt cronies seem to have in mind for what they want to turn the USA into. Too bad we can't just send her there - and have her take that hippie with a haircut buddy of hers, Jacques Francois Kerry, along with her.

Dismuke said...

"Heck, it's been so long since I watched the news that it took me a second to figure out whom you meant by Queen Nancy. I thought maybe the French had elected a monarch while I was away."

Actually, she would be perfect as the Queen of France. After all, France is the model she and her corrupt cronies seem to have in mind for what they want to turn the USA into. Too bad we can't just send her there - and have her take that hippie with a haircut buddy of hers, Jacques Francois Kerry, along with her.

Dismuke said...

Yikes! Sorry for the double comment. I had trouble getting it to post - and somehow it put it up twice, once with a "_" as my name and then again with my name. Very odd.

Anonymous said...


Avoiding TV news is easy, and by no means requires being one of those tv-hating misanthropes. Just get a TiVo. It only shows you what you want to see.


Man did you ever hit the nail on the head. Although I'd say that the Republicans more induce fear, while the Dems induce rage.