Monday, October 20, 2008

The Myrhaf Endorsement: Abstain

Interventionism (or the mixed economy or the welfare state), with bipartisan support, has America in bad shape right now. The government just voted a $1 trillion bailout of Wall Street, money to be handed out per Treasury Secretary Paulson's discretion, making him in effect America's economic dictator. Social Security is heading toward a crisis.

Look for the government to inflate the hell out of the dollar in an attempt to manage this crisis without cutting spending or raising taxes. Inflation is a hidden tax, the politicians' favorite tax. Due to widespread ignorance of economics, Americans don't understand that inflation is created by the government printing more dollars. People feel the pinch of rising prices in their wallets and they blame those greedy capitalists who keep raising prices because they are unpatriotic and just in business for their own good. This popular anger at capitalists is music to the socialists' ears.

We are very much in the position of the Weimar Republic right now. Government intervention is causing crises, yet Democrats such as Barney Frank are saying, "The private sector got us into this mess. The government has to get us out of it." The crises will expand and intensify as the government pours gasoline on the fire. America is setting itself up for that which followed the Weimar Republic: a fascist dictatorship.

Since America is the richest and most powerful nation in the world, it would likely drag the rest of the world into dark times with it. If you think depression would devastate America, a nation in which poor children's number one health problem is obesity, imagine how hard times would hit poor countries. We could be on the edge of worldwide starvation, war and the other horsemen of the apocalypse. Parts of Africa could go medieval.

This is the context as we Americans ponder how we should vote. Here is my explanation of how I will vote.

Recently, John Lewis sent an email to the Obloggers group containing this information:

In July the federal Environmental Protection Agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which details their plan to force Americans to reduce emissions of CO2 and other so-called “greenhouse gases.” This follows on an Executive Order signed by President Bush, which was made possible by a U.S. Supreme Court decisions ruling that CO2 is a “pollutant.” (!)

This plan will strip the American people of their freedom, and place them under the control of a single, all-powerful, federal agency. Industrial permits, furnace regulations, auto emissions testing, building permits, transportation, and food production—all will fall under the boot of the EPA. Environmentalists will use lawsuits to pressure the EPA to tighten an ever-shrinking noose around the neck of every American.

This is the first and only time I have heard about this Executive Order signed by the Republican Bush. The statutory framework now exists for the EPA to dictate to every American how much CO2 he can emit. Such a broad Executive Order gives the EPA the power to control virtually every aspect of our lives, from how much we produce to how much we travel to our heating and air conditioning to our very exhalations of breath. The limits on the EPA's power will be determined by what they think they can get away with before people revolt. Using the time-tested frog-cooking method, they will start modestly and ratchet up the controls a notch at a time.

I submit that if Bush were a Democrat president, we would have heard about this totalitarian Executive Order from right-wing radio talk shows, right-wing bloggers and Fox News. The Republicans would be screaming that leftists want to destroy our freedom -- and they would be right. But Bush is a Republican, so we hear nothing. The Democrats have no reason to publicize this Executive Order because they support it; government control of every aspect of every citizen's life is The Way Things Ought To Be. Republicans have no interest in attacking Bush because it weakens their party. Talkers such as Limbaugh and Hewitt focus like a laser beam on the Democrats and, with occasional exceptions designed to counter criticism like this, they ignore Republican folly.

Gus Van Horn has detailed Bush's Statist Legacy. The first two items alone would be enough to vilify him among Republicans, were Bush a Democrat:

  • Sixty-eight per cent. That is how much total federal spending rose under Bush. That is more than double the growth in federal spending over the eight years of Bill Clinton's presidency.
  • Bush was aided and abetted by a Congress dominated by Republicans until 2006. Juicy spending bills were passed on everything from farm subsidies to health (up 44 per cent) and education (up 47 per cent). After all, Bush had run as a "compassionate conservative"; he introduced the largest new entitlement since the Great Society programs of the 1960s: a prescription drug benefit for seniors that will add a US$1.2-trillion liability over 10 years.

And don't forget that Bush, a Republican, outlawed the incandescent light bulb, a dictatorial law that is richly symbolic. I like to think that 100 years from now Bush will be remembered as the man who outlawed the light bulb.

The Ayn Rand Institute calls the recent bailout of Wall Street The Road to Fascism:

The government has announced that it plans to use $250 billion to buy ownership stakes in various U.S. financial institutions. According to the New York Times, nine major U.S. banks have already been forced into the program....

According to Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights, “In herding banking executives into a room and making them an offer they couldn’t refuse, the Paulson regime took its latest and most disturbing step yet on the path to state control of the economy.

“If fascism means coercive state control over nominally private property, then there is no more chilling sign of creeping fascism in America than government’s encroachment on the lifeblood of the U.S. economy—its financial institutions. While the government assures us it will be a ‘passive investor,’ merely funneling cash into the banking system rather than dictating how banks function, this is a lie. Not only does the money come with strings attached--such as restrictions on executive compensation, dividend payments, and the types of investments banks can make—but politicians are already promising a web of further controls. As John McCain recently noted, ‘We will not merely inject billions of dollars into companies and walk away hoping for the best. We will require that those companies be reformed and restructured until they are sound assets again, and can be sold at no loss—or perhaps even a profit—to the taxpayers of America.’

Note that Paulson, Bush and McCain are all Republicans. Republicans, not Democrats, are driving this fascist power grab of America's financial institutions.

This is the most important reason we should not vote for a Republican for president: When Republicans expand state intervention in the economy, no one cares. Poor, hapless Democrats! When they try to get away with a fraction of what Republicans can get away with, those same Republicans scream bloody murder. Yes, the Republicans are laughable hypocrites -- but their hypocrisy is the only thing that stops Democrats from erecting a socialist tyranny. That's the way partisan politics works in America.

Republican presidents do more damage than Democrat presidents. Among the last four presidents, the only one that did not expand government spending was the Democrat, Bill Clinton. The Republicans all spent money like drunken sailors in a Texan whore house.

This year the Republican candidate is John McCain. He gives us even more reasons not to vote Republican. Craig Biddle writes,

On the domestic front, McCain promises to “take on” the drug companies, as if those who produce and market the medicines that improve and save human lives must be fought; he promises to ration energy by means of a cap-and-trade scheme, as if the government has a moral or constitutional right to dictate how much energy a company may purchase or use; he promises to “battle” big oil, as if those who produce and deliver the lifeblood of civilization need to be defeated; he promises to “reform” Wall Street, as if those who finance the businesses that produce the goods and services on which our lives depend are thereby degenerate; he seeks to uphold the ban on drilling in ANWR, as if the government has a moral or constitutional right to prevent Americans from reshaping nature to suit their needs; and so on.

And on foreign policy,

McCain promises to “respect the collective will of our democratic allies,” as if America has no moral right to defend her citizens according to her own best judgment; and he promises to finish the “mission” of making Iraq “a functioning democracy” even if it takes “one hundred years,” as if the U.S. government has a moral or constitutional right to sacrifice American soldiers to spread democracy abroad.

Ryan Calhoun at The Dirty Kuffar reminds us that McCain is willing to reinstate the draft.

McCain has stated time and again that the only time he would support a draft would be "if World War III broke out".

As bad as Republicans are these days, McCain is even worse. He is an ideological nationalist and collectivist. He disdains the free market. He sneers at the pursuit of profit. He believes the essence of morality lies in the individual sacrificing for something greater than himself.

Another reason it would be preferable to have a Democrat president is clarity. When Republicans like Bush expand government, we do not get clarity. Instead, Democrats blame the free market rhetoric of the Republicans for the latest crisis. Thus we get talk about Reagan's "trickle down econonmics" as the cause of the meltdown in September. Under a Democrat president, the destructive policies of government intervention become clear.

By the logic of my argument I should be endorsing Obama here because Democrats are not as effective at destroying liberty in America as Republicans. I can't do it. I've never voted for a Democrat in my life, and I'll be damned if the first one I vote for is a far left radical who has allied himself with anti-Americans and then lied about it when his alliances became politically inconvenient.

Obama, a social metaphysician who prides himself on being a "blank screen" on which others can project what they want to see, is not a fringe character in the Democrat Party. He is the party. He represents most of the base. The entire party leadership has been as radicalized as Obama. If the "Reagan Democrats" understood how far left the party is (if they did not depend on the MSM for their news), they would run from the party.

It is possible that Obama, like McCain, is worse than the average politician in his party. There is the possibility that Obama is an ideological radical who -- with full, explicit consciousness -- is hiding his true intentions in order to gain power and then use the presidency to advance socialism in America. I don't think he can get far without a mandate, but I can't entirely dismiss this suspicion. But if this is true, it makes Obama only a more exaggerated version of all Democrat candidates, for every one of them since the landslide defeat of McGovern in 1972 has lied about how far left he is.

But even if we go just by what he has promised, which would add another trillion dollars to the federal budget, that alone makes him unworthy of our vote.

In voting for the lesser of two evils, there is only so much evil a voter should be asked to swallow. I will feel better about myself not voting for either Obama or McCain. Whichever one is elected, things will get worse. There are arguments for and against both men; they come out to a wash. Who knows which candidate would end up marginally worse than the other?

More important than the presidential vote is your Senate and House vote. It is important that we get Republicans in the legislature. They're the only ones that would slow down an Obama presidency. Perhaps they would moderate McCain's worst statist excesses.

I realize there is risk in my thinking. It depends on the Republicans maintaining their role as a vigorous opposition party. Fewer Republicans have the stomach for fighting every year. At some point, the party might conclude, "We're all socialists now." If so, we'll get to dictatorship a little faster than otherwise. Right now their opposition to Democrat presidents is our last hope.

Go to the polls on November 4th. Vote Republican in everything but president. Don't vote for president. Perhaps a large bloc of abstaining voters will send a message that our two major parties need to give us better candidates for whom to vote.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that on election day I will be sending $100 to the Ayn Rand Institute. With this I will know I am actually doing something to bring about change instead of just casting a meaningless vote.


Anonymous said...

Here in California, it appears that the state doesn't count abstentions at all, even to say "X" number of people who voted otherwise didn't vote for president. My wife and I are planning on writing in a candidate, however, the state even makes this tough with rules for qualification. If you don't meet these rules, your vote for that position is simply dropped.


jhbowden said...

I'm abstaining too. I always knew McCain was a statist, though I initially gave him the benefit of the doubt he would restrain growth in spending. After McCain voted to give $700,000,000,000.00 to the Orren Boyles of our world, it is clear McCain would be leading the charge to Sovietize America. And the Dems and their media pals would blame the disaster on "GOP free market policies," asking for a bigger dose of govt. If we're going red, let the Dems have total power and total credit.

Anonymous said...

In voting for the lesser of two evils, there is only so much evil a voter should be asked to swallow. I will feel better about myself not voting for either Obama or McCain. Whichever one is elected, things will get worse. There are arguments for and against both men; they come out to a wash. Who knows which candidate would end up marginally worse than the other?


Anonymous said...

He's lying big time about his Ayers connection. It's bad enough that he consorts with a terrorist, but why lie about it?

He spent 20 years at the foot of Wright. What if he's spent 20 years at the foot of Ayers as well? Then there's the Cornel West suggestion. I think this guy's not the milquetoast liberal that everyone thinks he is.

As much as I'd like to see capitalism rise from the smoldering remains of the American economy, I'm going to have to live through that. A principled defense of capitalism could still be made with McCain in the White House, just as it could have been (and was) when Reagan was there. It's harder but at least I won't be making it while waiting 6 months for a routine checkup and walking to work because cars are killing the planet.

Mike said...

It gets worse, by the way. Administrative law is my bailiwick, so as soon as I saw the "Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking," I understood the inevitability and likely permanence of the forthcoming regulations in a way I wish I could convey to others. So I'll try right now.

Under the government-slanted Adminstrative Procedure Act, the ANPRM is one of the arcane steps of process by which executive agencies set forth and formalize new rules/regulations. Don't be fooled by the word "proposed." There's nothing proposey about it. The rules in the ANPRM are the rules that are going to be enacted, in substantively final or near-final form.

The APA requires more steps, such as public hearings and formal comment on the record. The agency, however, gets the last word. It is required to answer all written formal comments and all questions or comments from the hearings. All it has to tell the Executive in order for the rules to pass muster and be enacted is that, in the case of Comment A, the Agency determined that the rules will not have the negative impact the commenter indicates, based on X, where X is a government-subsidized study or what have you. That's it. There is very little standing in the way of "proposed" rules becoming law.

Once the rules are enacted, the only way to get them torn down is to sue, and to do that you have to have standing as a person negatively impacted by the rules. But that's not enough! You have to be negatively impacted in a manner and degree not forewarned by the agency in its ANPRM! That's right; the agency can propose rules and state in the economic impact summary that they expect them to impose grievous hardship upon the public, and when it happens like that, the court will dismiss the lawsuit because the impact was stated in advance. "But this ruined my livelihood!" "Too bad. The EPA warned you it would. You should have gone and started a different livelihood or something."

In theory, our ultimate recourse to bad administrative law is to go to the polls and elect a better Executive who will appoint better agency heads who will "propose" only desirable rules. Our secondary recourse is to elect a legislature that will not delegate broad authority to agencies through organic program statutes, so that the agencies' swimming pool is small enough that their rulemakings won't affect too many of us too deeply.

Our choices are Obama and McCain for the executive, and the same bunch of bums we've had for decades for the legislative. I am not optimistic. Those rules will become law, and nothing any of us can do will get rid of them.

Have a great week, everyone!

Anonymous said...

I think it's time to start making little stickers saying "Don't blame me, I didn't vote!"

Zerz said...

I've been planning to vote for McCain on the he-might-do-some-good-by-accident "principle," since Obama is guaranteed to do the bad thing every time, but this post is making me reconsider. In any case, there's a terrible, terrible time coming.

(BTW, I put a link to your blog on my own. It's new: The Four Rs.)

Kyle Haight said...

Myrhaf's reasoning, and proposed course of action, essentially matches my own. My one caveat is that if the Republican in a local race is a serious religionist it might be better to abstain or vote Democrat in that race as well.

Beyond that, all I can say is "Brace yourself." We are about to get a lot poorer and a lot less free. Speak out about what is happening wherever possible. We'll definitely have a target-rich environment.

madmax said...

A poster on HBL addressed this topic recently. His main point was that who to vote for will depend on how bad you think the situation is or on how much time you think we have left. If you think time is short, then we need to buy more of it with a bad McCain presidency. But if you think that we still have plenty of time, then a bad Obama presidency may better allow Objectivism to spread in the culture.

I think he is right and it is not an easy decision to make. There are days where I am terrified by Obama and see him as the end of America. And then there are days where the Conservatives so disgust me that they almost make Obama look good. The best we can hope for is that if Obama wins, he is kept somewhat in check by a reinvigorated Republican contingent in Congress. For the first time in my life I am very fearful for both my and my country's future. I hope I'm just being a worry-wart.

Kyle Haight said...

Sadly, I don't think you're being a worry-wart. The threat is very real.

Anonymous said...

The biggest danger posed by Obama is that he, like FDR, drives the economy into a very long recession/depression -- long enough to see a generation of children raised on the same mindlessness we see now, but with a level of entitlement mentality and consequent resentment that would have appalled even the most ardent New Dealer.

This will give the future Fuehrer plenty of what Konrad Heiden calls "armed bohemians", the raw material from which the SA and later SS were built.

Obama is not the end of America. IMO America ended in the 1960's, when liberalism died. Since then, it's just been a matter of time on a rudderless ship. After two decades of relatively calm and unchallenging weather, here come a storm that we've seen before, and weathered before -- but the last time this happened, we *had a rudder* and a crew that could use it, even if the bridge was still empty, as AR once pointed out.

Now the rudder is busted, and the crew is sitting below decks wondering who's going to tell them what to do.

Paul Hsieh said...

Some of you may have heard that Leonard Peikoff has explained why he will abstain in the vote for President. It's in his latest podcast:

Jeffrey Perren said...

I respectfully disagree with the case Mr. Myrhaf makes. I won't argue with every point now (since I intend blogging on it soon). For now, I'll mention only the one aspect that is rarely mentioned: judicial appointments.

As bad as McCain is I yet believe he will select better judges, most particularly the 1-3 Supreme Court slots that are likely to open up over the next 4-8 years. He and Obama have clearly stated their direction on this all-important issue. Obama would select creatures like Ginsburg. McCain would appoint someone like Roberts or Alito, and possibly even Thomas. Both clearly said whom they would not have voted for: Thomas in the case of Obama, Ginsberg in the case of McCain. You decide for yourself which is worse.

Economic legislation can be watered down. Even bad foreign policy can be endured. The Supreme Court decisions (almost without exception) last forever and the Justices themselves can be in power for decades, far beyond any later administration.

Also, as a side issue (in this context), for those worried about a religious influence, note that it is Obama who wears his Christianity on his sleeve, not McCain.

Think about the future. Hold your nose (til it's bloody, if necessary) and vote for McCain.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

I have thought a great deal about this issue as well. I came to the conclusion that Obama is the fast boat to hell and McCain is somewhat slower. So the election is all about how fast we get to a very bad place.

Given that my state does not count votes if you do not darken the little oval in a particular race, I will vote third party for president as a protest vote. In this way, my vote does get counted as a protest vote.

I will be voting Republican otherwise, even though one on the ballot wants the state to regulate a woman's reproductive choices. However, he may best serve as a speed bump on Obama's Road to Serfdom.

Frankly, I just want to get it all over with so that we can see what we are actually facing and make our personal plans to shelter ourselves and our children the best we can.