Five Most Wanted Economic Villains

Obama Geithner Credit Downgrade Deal SC Five Most Wanted Economic Villains

Everyone knows that the American financial system has been through a rough few years. Record public deficits, high unemployment, stagnant economic growth, yada, yada, yada. No surprise there. Americans can’t decide exactly who is to blame: Republicans or Democrats? Let’s just split the difference; we’ve decided and have a Republican House and Democratic Senate and Presidency. Maybe when government is closely divided, they’ll end up doing less damage that way. Or maybe not. It seems like the closely divided Congress has done little to ease our economic woes. Both parties bear some of the blame. Who, though, are the individuals who bear the most guilt for what has transpired? Who are the five most wanted economic villains in the modern day USA?

The fifth most guilty individual is Nancy Pelosi, the former majority leader of the House and current minority leader. Why Ms. Pelosi? After all, Congressional scholar Norman Ornstein stated that the House presided over by Pelosi was “on a path to become one of the most productive since the Great Society.” Isn’t that a good thing? Halt. The word “productive” when applied to the free enterprise system and about everything else besides government equals a good thing. When the word is applied to government, it is often a bad thing. The Great Society, as you know, was a massive increase in the size of the federal government. Nancy Pelosi’s “productivity” threatens to have much of the same result: expansion, expansion, expansion. She helped expand the federal government by passing a massive and ineffective stimulus bill, boosted the minimum wage (I thought we wanted less unemployment), and passed Obamacare, an unpopular program that threatens to wreak financial havoc on an already-troubled country. Such are some of Pelosi’s worst deeds.

Hate to hit on a guy who’s out of office, but he deserves it. Mr. Timothy Geithner stood behind some of the worst shenanigans in modern American economic history. Geithner was both head of the New York Federal Reserve and then the Secretary of the Treasury during Obama’s first term. In both positions, he strongly advocated for more financial assistance for big banks, from the budget in the form of TARP and the Federal Reserve in the form of cheap loans. These are probably his worst acts. Other than that, he failed to arrest the economic decline of the country during his time as Treasury Secretary.

Paul Krugman comes next. Mr. Krugman is a Nobel Laureate, professor, and New York Times columnist. His personal motto seems to be “never enough government.” No matter how many billions of dollars in stimulus Barack Obama and the Congress applied to the economy, it was never enough for Dr. Krugman. Whatever happens, he is sure to reply that the problem is insufficient government. No matter that the consensus seems to have emerged around free market, neoclassical economics instead of Dr. Krugman’s Keynesianism. Despite the unrivaled success of the free market, expect him to continue espousing his noxious form of economic interventionism to his death bed.

Now for the man you knew would have to be on the list. President Barack Obama shares the same liberal philosophy as Dr. Krugman, professions of being a moderate aside. He promised hope and has only brought disillusionment to a generation in desperate need of hope. Exploding food stamp use, massive government spending, and even an increased racial divide in terms of wealth have occurred under Obama . According to a recent article in the New York Times, Blacks and Hispanics have suffered far more than whites during his Presidency in economic terms. Of course, there is also Obamacare, which threatens to complete the morphing of the U.S. from one of the best places for medical care on the planet to a laughingstock in the international community.

At the top of the list of economic bunglers comes Ben Bernanke. Dr. Bernanke has failed to fix the economy despite the unprecedented amounts of money he has poured into the economy through his various QE programs. For those of you behind on the lingo, QE programs essentially increase the money supply by using the various tools of the Federal Reserve to do so. If QE 1, QE 2, QE3, and QE4 have failed to work, don’t hold your breath expecting it to work in the future. The unemployment rate is still bad despite Bernanke’s QEs and Obama’s stimulus plans. Economic growth is anemic. One bright spot has been the bubble Bernanke has helped create in the US stock market. But this bubble will come to an end; and when it does, it won’t be pretty.

Thankfully, Americans aren’t stupid like the central planners like to think, and they will wake up at some point to the fruitless attempts Bernanke, Obama, and company have made to stimulate the economy. The only question is: will they do it soon enough, or will America have to reach a place so ugly that we won’t recognize the America of our youth? Let us hope and pray that someone out there will have the gumption to take on the economic failures of the establishment before it is too late.

 

F. Peter Brown is Editor at the Sound Money Institute and Associate Editor at the Western Center for Journalism. He tweets  @FPBLibertarian.

 

Barack Obama: George W. Bush Fan Or Foe?

Barack Obama Change sign SC Barack Obama: George W. Bush Fan or Foe?

Prior to being elected President, Barack Obama came across as a real outsider hoping to bring change to a failing system personified in one man: then-President of the United States George W. Bush. Indeed, much of the criticism leveled against Bush was valid. He and the Congress had started long and costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq at a time when America could ill afford to be spending such amounts, given the precarious state of its public finances. Bush had made compromises with treasured civil liberties by passing the invasive Patriot Act and indefinitely detaining suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Some of these suspects at Guantanamo Bay had been tortured by the American authorities. George W. Bush had been a combination of the worst traits of Republicans and Democrats; he had combined the aggressive militarism and nationalism of Republicans, hated by many people worldwide, with the free spending ways of the liberal Democrats, leading to the worst public finances this nation had ever seen (that is, before Barack Obama’s presidency). He gave Obama a mess that unfortunately has been further complicated by Obama instead of cleaned up. Indeed, while many admired George W. Bush’s personal decency, as far as policy was concerned, many began to see Bush’s policies for what they were: disasters.

Many of these things should be no mystery to anyone after Obama rightfully criticized Bush over and over again in the 2008 campaign. It has been noted by some writers that Obama’s policies have been very oddly a continuation of much of what Bush’s policies were while he was in office. Of course, there have been differences as one would hope to see between a “conservative” Republican and a far-left Democrat, but the similarities have been uncanny. Obama has continued Bush’s interventionist ways and has compiled a record of spending that matches his largess.

That is why it was no surprise to see Barack Obama get up and roundly praise the man whom he had routinely condemned to get elected. To see him chum around with the former Presidents both left and right showed what a sham his criticisms of Bush had been. Bush was transformed from the almost devilish figure he had been to Obama in his early days to a man of “compassion and generosity,” a real example (in Obama’s eyes) of what a leader should be. It is clear that Barack Obama has joined the “world’s most exclusive club” and has forgotten the very reasons why he wanted to be elected in the first place. It was also no surprise to see George W. Bush praised by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton in addition to Obama. Maybe this “conservative” President, this “Reaganite,” is a little more to the left than we had assumed. Maybe our current President is a little more of an insider and a statist than he appeared to be in order to get elected to the world’s most powerful office. Food for thought, at least.

 

F. Peter Brown is an Associate Editor at the Western Center for Journalism and Editor at the Sound Money Institute. Follow him on Twitter @FPBLibertarian .

 

Photo Credit: Dustin C. Oliver Creative Commons

Why CPAC Was Right To Turn Down Chris Christie

Chris Christie SC 1024x781 Why CPAC Was Right To Turn Down Chris Christie

The organizers of CPAC have come under sharp criticism for not allowing Chris Christie to speak at CPAC. Those who criticize are the same RINOs who have been distorting the brand of the Republican Party, trying to turn it into a Democratic Party lookalike. Although Christie has not been uniformly bad, this blue state governor has become far too blue to be invited to the conference.

Al Cardenas, the head of the American Conservative Union, has done a great job of courageously explaining why Christie is unfit to be heard at CPAC. As he said recently, the governor “strongly advocated for the passage of a 60 billion dollar plus pork barrel bill, containing only $9 billion dollars in disaster assistance , and he signed up with the federal government to expand Medicaid at a time when his state can ill afford it, so he was not invited to speak.” Unfortunately, Cardenas did not tell the whole story of why Christie should not speak, as his positions on a number of issues conflict with the limited government stance conservatives stand for.

Chris Christie has strayed so far from the conservative fold that some Republicans speculated whether or not he would be chosen for a position in Obama’s cabinet.  He has bought into the liberal rhetoric in areas as diverse as guns, abortion, and global warming. As recently as this last summer, Christie said that he would be opposed to further expanding Medicaid in his state.  Notably, he praised Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy, at a critical  time when his supposed ally Mitt Romney could ill afford to be stabbed in the back by a big backer. Mr. Christie has a reputation for not reciprocating assistance he receives.

Do we really need someone like this to speak at conservatism’s premier event?

Religious Liberty Threatened At Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt SC Religious Liberty Threatened at Vanderbilt University

The conflict between Vanderbilt University and several Christian organizations has reached a new intensity as thirty- six members of Congress have spoken out against the “all-comers” policy at the university. What is the ‘all-comers” policy? It is a policy that on the surface may not seem to be harmful to religious organizations, but in reality, it is. It is a policy implemented this year at Vanderbilt that prohibits  campus groups from selecting members and leaders based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.  Of these categories, it is religion which has stirred the most controversy. More than a dozen religious organizations have lost their membership as university-affiliated organizations for refusing to abide by the policy. Should religious organizations have to accept members who do not belong to their religion, and should they have to open up leadership to unbelievers?  The answer is no: religious organizations should not have to comply  with a policy that makes them accept unbelievers as members.

As Americans, few rights come close in importance to our rights to choose and practice our religion. Obviously, a public institution that has decided upon a course hostile to religion should  warrant condemnation. What happens though, when it is a private institution like Vanderbilt that decides upon a course hostile to religion?  The answer is that the private institution is legally entitled  to set its own policies, even if such policies are anti-religious.  However, the question becomes significantly murkier when you consider the case of a state giving significant amounts of money to the private institution. Don’t voters have a right to see that their money does not go toward an institution that has an anti-religious policy?  Yes, they do,  and in this case, the state of Tennessee has in fact given millions of dollars to Vanderbilt University.

Fraternities and sororities are understandably exempted from the policy as accepting a person of a different gender for such an organization would be ridiculous. It is likewise ridiculous for faith groups to be forced to accept unbelievers as members.  Religious groups at Vanderbilt should be like religious groups elsewhere: able to exclude from membership and leadership those who do not belong to the faith. However, this does not just apply to Christians but applies to all religions and to the non-religious as well. For instance, secularist groups should be able to select only secularist members and leaders if they so desire. It should be the same for Christian groups, Jewish groups, Islamic groups, and so on and so forth.

Unlike categories such as race and gender, religion is dependent upon the individual’s choice. If a person chooses to subscribe to certain beliefs, then they can belong to a religious group. Obviously, the ability to choose one’s race or gender is not dependent on conscious choice-sex change operations aside. This fact that religion can be consciously chosen and is not something you are born with makes religion a more suitable qualifier for an organization.

A video has even been made by Christian organizations who oppose the new rule imposed by Vanderbilt. It is a nearly seven- minute video that features university students, alumni, and sponsors who oppose the policy.  As noted before, the opposition to the policy has expanded to include some elected officials,  some in Congress as well as some in the Tennessee legislature.

It is time that Vanderbilt stop enforcing its policy and do what common sense dictates: let only  those who belong to a specific religion belong to that religion’s groups.  It is time that religious organizations be accorded at least the respect given to fraternities and sororities on campus and be allowed to impose reasonable requirements for membership and leadership in their organizations.

Photo credit: mosesxan (Creative Commons)

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Free Speech Threatened In Sergeant’s Discharge

constitution 2 SC 300x198 Free Speech Threatened in Sergeants Discharge

Sergeant Gary Stein’s fight to stay in the Marine Corps is one of the most important First Amendment court cases of the year. Given the First Amendment’s central place in our Bill of Rights, this case deserves close scrutiny by those who value our Constitution. For those who are unfamiliar with the case, Sergeant Stein was recently given an “other than honorable”  discharge from the Marine Corps for postings he made about President Obama on Facebook.  Specifically, he wrote: “Screw Obama and I will not follow all orders from him.” Sergeant Stein later clarified that he would not follow unlawful orders from Obama. Why does this case matter? It matters because it deals with a soldier’s right to free speech. Before you say “whoa, soldiers are not entitled to free speech rights like civilians are,” consider what the military has to say on this issue. Troops are encouraged to “carry out the obligations of citizenship” and are allowed to express a “personal opinion on political candidates and issues.” U.S. soldiers are some of the most respected people in our country. If anyone deserves to have free speech rights, it is the military. After all, they risk their lives for the cause of freedom. Shouldn’t they be able to partake in those freedoms as well?

After serving for nine years as a Marine (including time spent in Iraq), Sergeant Stein was given an “other than honorable discharge.” This was a big decision by those who made it. He did not have to be discharged at all for the remarks he made, or he even could have been given a still-negative “general discharge.” Instead, he was given an “other than honorable discharge” typically reserved for those whose conduct significantly deviates from what is expected of a US military member. He will lose most of his benefits and be demoted in rank to lance corporal as a result of the discharge. In short, he will lose his career and lose it in a bad fashion.

Sergeant Stein should have not been discharged as a result of what he said. A broad spectrum of supporters have rallied to his defense, from the Tea Party and the United States Justice Foundation to even the ACLU. On his own behalf, Stein stated: “If I am guilty of anything, it would be that I am American, a freedom loving conservative, hell bent on defending the Constitution and preserving America’s greatness.” A former staff judge advocate for the Marine Corps, Brigadier General David Brahms, came to his defense. Brahms, with 49 years as a lawyer with the Marines, said in a written statement: “I do not believe that… the behavior in question violates the cited UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) provision.” Furthermore, Brahms stated that the rule which Stein is said to have violated, Department of Defense directive 1344.10, is difficult to understand.  He said:  ”If I cannot understand 1344.10 as a 74 year-old retired brigadier general and staff judge advocate to the Commandant of the Marines, there is little hope that a sergeant would understand.” When you consider that Sergeant Stein even put up a disclaimer that the views he expressed were not those of the US military, you have a compelling case that Sergeant Stein should not have lost his job over the comments he made.

Sergeant Stein made a courageous decision to speak out against the Obama administration and lost his nine year career with the Marines as a result. His unjustified discharge should come as a sobering reminder that our rights to freedom of speech may not be nearly as strong as we think.

 

 

 

 

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