Saturday, October 03, 2015

Boehner's resigning and the Pope has gone back to Rome: Now what?

The Republican Party needs to stand for something other than just "slightly less big government." That's the position they have been in for 20 years in Washington, as the forces of more big government have been ascendant in both parties.

There is a difference between standing for something and getting something done, though--even if the something is just undoing some Progressive evil.

I’ve seen studies that show that job creation in European countries is far behind that in the U.S. and now even we are dropping behind. I attribute that to the penchant by governments to regulate and redistribute. Regulation creates a straitjacket that makes new job creation difficult.

Just last night I watched on C-Span two panels of experts in different parts of the country speak about how much more regulation there has been the last five years. And turning to redistribution, that is only a temporary palliative that doesn’t solve anything, much like a shot of the kind of hope that the Pope’s visit has been providing.

An article today in the Wall Street Journal talks about the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia. The article states that Philadelphia is two cities, one wealthy and the other poor with a poverty rate of 26% overall. If we are ever going to solve those problems, what we need is for government to get out of the way so that job creation is easier.

Let’s go back to the increase of the highest salaries the last few years. Investors and entrepreneurs would invest more, that is, they would chase even more dollars or pounds sterling through investment if the oppressive regulatory regimes didn’t choke job creation. Instead they focus on squeezing more profits out of existing investment.

A Pope’s visit and redistribution won’t pull up the poor of a city like Philadelphia, only investment and new higher paying jobs will. For that to happen government has to help by getting out of the way, and not just by regulating less, but also by letting private parties provide better education and skills— progressive governments oppose vouchers and charter schools—that are required for the higher paying jobs.

There's a gap between principle and parliamentary success that the anti- John Boehner folks will now have to confront. Will they be the crusty curmudgeons in the corner complaining about everything? Or will they be able to string electoral, legislative, and executive successes?

I wish Republicans would set their priorities right and try to take care of the bigger problems. These include the immense amount of power the Congress has delegated to executive agencies, of which I understand that there are some 70 plus the cabinet departments. We can defund Planned Parenthood but through their regulatory powers, those agencies will find other ways of channeling funds for those purposes.

Those agencies and their unaccountable bureaucrats are now out of control, including having all kinds of powers to in effect write laws for just about anything that meets their or the President’s whim. Nothing illustrates that better than this surprisingly and very happily bipartisan Senate hearing last Wednesday. Democrat Senators in that hearing are as concerned as we are about how much power the executive agencies have assumed for themselves.

What I found most surprising is that the Senators, Democrat and Republican alike, seemed to be frustrated about how powerless they are to stop the abuses of those agencies.

What Congress needs to do is reduce the authority of those agencies, and pass fewer and simpler laws that don’t require as many regulations. If the laws seem too large and complex, then don’t pass them and leave it to unaccountable bureaucrats to fill in the blanks. They are anyway likely to contain too many unintended consequences, so the best thing is to go back to the drawing boards and try something simpler and more predictable.

We should be bringing the issue up with Republican candidates and letting them know that we would like to see the next president work with Congress for them to take back many of the powers they have delegated to executive agencies. If we don’t then the travesties of Planned Parenthood will seem trivial compared to the new surprises that all of those unaccountable agencies have in store for us; just watch the video.

I wonder if Pope Francis realizes the United States is a great nation?

For practically all of the agenda he has been proposing, except some notable items like when life begins, the U.S. has been ahead for a very long time. It is the product of the freedom and morality based, both of which can’t be emphasized enough, political, social and economic system, including capitalism and limited government that it has chosen for itself and has for the most part followed until recently.

When the Pope left the House Chamber after delivering his speech to our legislators, he walked through Statuary Hall where he was taken to the statue of Junipero Serra, who the Pope canonized yesterday. At that moment I told myself that even in honoring that great man this great country has been ahead of the Vatican. Those are the wonders of liberty and morality, which is why they can’t be emphasized enough.

Let’s put to rest the straw man about a few controlling most of the wealth that those who criticize capitalism have been using.

In his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, if one reads the nuance carefully Pope Francis doesn’t really criticize capitalism itself but the amoral people who misuse it. For some reason, when he articulates it outside of that written Exhortation, Pope Francis does come across as being more critical of the process of capitalism itself.

Back to the straw man about a very few controlling all of the wealth and that that is somehow bad. The only alternative is the imperfect socialist stage (according to Marx) on the way to communism, and we’ve seen how well that works.

In a capitalist society someone has to own the means of production which is what liberal progressives call controlling the wealth. We’ve seen how in socialist countries, no less the Soviet Union and currently Cuba and even publicly owned companies in China, those who control the means of production are also extraordinarily wealthy, only for sure with fewer moral values. But that’s not the main substantive argument.

What is important is that the true wealth of a nation is the goods and services it produces, not the means of production that a few of necessity have to control if those means are to be managed. Those that are poor are not going to be better off if more money is given to them but there are no goods and services for them to buy. What the owners of wealth do is produce those goods and services but if their capacity to do so is taken away from them there will certainly not be more wealth.

A central appeal of the Catholic Church is that it remains firm in its convictions over centuries, instead of blowing with the wind like some of the soon-to-be-extinct Protestant sects.

The world needs a fixed moral compass more than it needs another Church that shifts its positions with the Progressive narrative of the moment.

This Pope has a choice to make with consequences for his soul, his papacy, and his legacy.

America is a nation of immigrants, and always will be. That is the message we should be sending to the world, again.

That doesn't mean open borders, or pandering to special interest groups that will vote one way or another. It means having a principled policy of admitting aliens who truly want to adopt American values--which means tougher requirements for citizenship, too.

While we're at it, we probably should require the native-born to go through the same education process about why the U.S. is great. Many existing citizens seem to have forgotten that.

There is still much we don't know about the effect of CO2 on climate and global warming. Alarmists base their positions on the behavior of only one part—greenhouse effects—of the overall climate system, major parts of which we still don't understand well.

I would posit the hypothesis, meaning something to be tested, that the more CO2 we pump into the lower atmosphere, the more seeps into the upper atmosphere to help keep solar radiation from coming through.

There is therefore a balance between greenhouse warming and upper atmosphere cooling for which we don't know the overall net effect. It is suggestive, however, that even as CO2 concentrations in the lower atmosphere have increased, during the last fifteen years the warming predicted by existing models has not occurred.

Pope Francis’ views of capitalism are probably shaped by growing up in a country where inequities are large. It creates a perspective that is wrongly balanced against capitalism.

The Pope's Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium has a better balance and recognition that capitalism is merely a neutral process shaped by capitalists and their morality.

In the Exhortation, Pope Francis calls on capitalists and consumers to be more aware of their obligations towards their fellow men. Yet in his spoken words, Pope Francis makes unwarranted accusations against the system itself. I think he is wrong.

Individuals who have never experienced free markets and have been taught that free markets are bad, as is the case in Argentina and other socialist countries, predictably have a low opinion of free markets.

The problem is made worse with liberal / socialist trends and regulations.  Most everyone recognizes the negative productivity effects.  But the liberal tax is made worse with the every expanding government entitlement spending, sapping motivation and making each new member of society seen as a liability that will consume resources, rather than an asset that will help build the future, as was the case for the first 200 years of our nation.

The final component is poor public education from teacher unions who are supported by liberal parasites, reducing the effectiveness of each student for a life time.  Given the inter-connectedness of immigration, entitlement and poor education, the solution will be difficult.  But if we address these three, prosperity at a level we can't now imagine, is possible.

The lessons of history are clear.  Free market capitalism consistently delivers a better standard of living than socialism over time.  Even China has moved toward free market capitalism, resulting in huge growth and improvement in living standards in China.

Note, capitalism is private ownership and control.  Socialism is, by definition, government ownership and control.  I challenge anyone to provide an example of where socialism has led to an improvement in standard of living, particularly of the poor, over any 30 year period.  Capitalism has plenty of success examples.

Pope Francis should be looking at the formative effects of government rather than those of a neutral unthinking capitalism. I say this with great respect, but better yet, he should stick to spiritual matters and stay out of the economic policy field.

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