Patterico's Pontifications

2/18/2014

Thomas Sowell: Ted Cruz Is Somehow Hurting the Cause He Stands For

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:08 pm

I am an admirer of Thomas Sowell, but here, I think he just doesn’t get it. Read it all and then return here for the criticisms.

Sowell begins his piece by, essentially, arguing that Ted Cruz sure does talk purdy, but so did Barack Obama, and where did that get us? Sowell then quickly arrives at the crux of his argument:

Senator Ted Cruz has not yet reached the point where he can make policy, rather than just make political trouble. But there are already disquieting signs that he is looking out for Ted Cruz — even if that sets back the causes he claims to be serving.

Those causes are not being served when Senator Cruz undermines the election chances of the only political party that has any chance of undoing the disasters that Barack Obama has already inflicted on the nation — and forestalling new disasters that are visible on the horizon.

Sowell goes on to emphasize the stakes. ObamaCare has fundamentally restructured the relationship of the government and the individual. Hear, hear. I have said that in this space often. The new FCC plan to monitor how media makes news is another federal intrusion on freedom. Hear, hear. I noted this here days ago.

The basic, brutal reality is that the federal government can do whatever it wants to do, if nobody stops them. The Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision shows that we cannot depend on them to protect our freedom. Nor will Congress, as long as the Democrats control the Senate.

Until recently, I might have agreed. After all, who is going to stop Obama, if not Republicans? But here is the problem, Mr. Sowell: Republicans have not done a damned thing to stop this. None of them voted for it, true. But that was not good enough. It was still passed. And now, what are we doing to stop it? Are we dreaming that we will retake the Senate and the Presidency and keep the House — and then, if we do, that it will mean something?

Tell me, Mr. Sowell: when Republicans last controlled Congress and the Presidency, precisely what did they accomplish to rein in the size and oppressive ubiquitous power of the federal government? During those golden years from 2003 to 2006, what government excesses were ended? Did we reform Social Security or Medicare? I don’t seem to recall that we did.

Here’s what I do remember: we passed a new prescription drug benefit. We passed some tax cuts but did not rein in spending; instead, we ran deficits of half a trillion dollars per year or more.

So yes, Mr. Sowell: the Republican Party is the only party that could put a stop to what Obama is doing — but the fact that they could does not mean that they will.

It does not matter too much who gets elected if they’re not going to do anything when they get there.

So what is Cruz doing to hurt Republicans’ prospects? Remarkably enough, Sowell doesn’t tell us. But you don’t have to guess, because (if you didn’t already know) I will tell you. For one thing, he is holding Republicans accountable for their decision to continue the temporary abolishment of the debt ceiling:

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sat with eyes glued to his mobile device as the chaos he provoked ensnared his Republican leaders on the Senate floor.

Legislation to raise the nation’s borrowing authority with no strings attached was short of the 60 votes it needed to advance — a threshold Cruz demanded — and without a few conversions, Republicans would be blamed for its failure. The stock market was watching. [Actually, borrowing authority was unlimited before the vote and is still unlimited; the real issue was whether to re-impose the debt ceiling, which was suspended last year and was re-suspended earlier this month. I got this wrong several days ago and had to correct my post; this is probably worth a post of its own. There is no debt ceiling in effect right now; it is suspended and the country can spend anything it wants. — P]

After what seemed like an eternity, a grim-faced Sen. Mitch McConnell, the party leader who faces a tea party challenge back home, finally voted yes. An equally grim-faced Sen. John Cornyn, the party’s No. 2 leader and Cruz’s Texas colleague, changed his vote from no to yes.

Cruz showed no mercy in exposing Republican leaders to widespread criticism from their primary challengers over a procedural vote on the debt limit after their pronouncements about the imperative of spending cuts. It could have been a simple 50-vote requirement, with Democrats delivering the votes to lift the debt limit, but Cruz insisted.

Pressed after the vote about what he made his leaders do, Cruz was unapologetic.

“It should have been a very easy vote,” he told reporters. “In my view, every Senate Republican should have stood together.” He added that the verdict on McConnell “is ultimately a decision … for the voters in Kentucky.”

That is called holding Republicans accountable. You want to give Barack Obama free rein to spend anything he likes? Put your name down on that blank check so we can all see it.

The rest of Sowell’s piece goes from unconvincing to just plain bizarre:

The most charitable interpretation of Ted Cruz and his supporters is that they are willing to see the Republican Party weakened in the short run, in hopes that they will be able to take it over in the long run, and set it on a different path as a more purified conservative party.

Like many political ideas, this one is not new. It represents a political strategy that was tried long ago — and failed long ago.

In the German elections of 1932, the Nazi party received 37 percent of the vote. They became part of a democratically elected coalition government, in which Hitler became chancellor. Only step by step did the Nazis dismantle democratic freedoms and turn the country into a complete dictatorship.

The political majority could have united to stop Hitler from becoming a dictator. But they did not unite. They fought each other over their differences. Some figured that they would take over after the Nazis were discredited and defeated.

Many who plotted this clever strategy died in Nazi concentration camps. Unfortunately, so did millions of others.

What such clever strategies overlook is that there can be a point of no return. We may be close to that point of no return, not only with Obamacare, but also with the larger erosion of personal freedom, of which Obamacare is just the most visible part.

Yes, we are at that point. We are at a desperate point. And the silly Nazi analogy only serves to reinforce that Cruz is doing the right thing. Sowell portrays Cruz as the one who wants to wait, but Sowell is the one who wants to wait: he wants to wait until we “control” the Senate with 50+ Republicans, plenty Republicans in name only, who won’t dare pass anything that means a damn.

Cruz says, by contrast, we have power NOW. We have the House NOW. Let’s use that power. If Sowell wants to go full Godwin on us, then Sowell waiting for the Senate to go GOP is Stauffenberg waiting to assassinate Hitler until he gets Himmler in the room too. Cruz says: we have the bomb NOW, and if we’re not going to set it off when we have it, then we may end up having to wait until we’re in a room with some damned fool who kicks it with his leg. Why wait? If the situation is desperate then we fight NOW, and those who refuse to fight must be named and shamed.

I’m sorry, Mr. Sowell, but as much as I like you, this piece is rambling, odd, and totally unconvincing.

CBO: $10.10 Minimum Wage Could Cost 500,000 Jobs

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:04 pm

Actually, they say it could also cost almost none. Or almost 1 million.

ONE MEEL-YUN JOBS.

Allahpundit: “There’s no problem here that indefinite unemployment benefits can’t solve, my friends.”

As it happens, the good folks at Rolling Stone already had this brilliant idea at the beginning of the year, suggesting some pie-in-the-sky economic reforms that appeal to the kind of people who read and write for Rolling Stone, starting with Suggestion #1: Guaranteed Work for Everybody:

Unemployment blows. The easiest and most direct solution is for the government to guarantee that everyone who wants to contribute productively to society is able to earn a decent living in the public sector. There are millions of people who want to work, and there’s tons of work that needs doing – it’s a no-brainer. And this idea isn’t as radical as it might sound: It’s similar to what the federal Works Progress Administration made possible during Roosevelt’s New Deal, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. vocally supported a public-sector job guarantee in the 1960s.

A job guarantee that paid a living wage would anchor prices, drive up conditions for workers at megacorporations like Walmart and McDonald’s, and target employment for the poor and long-term unemployed – people to whom conventional stimulus money rarely trickles all the way down. The program would automatically expand during private-sector downturns and contract during private-sector upswings, balancing out the business cycle and sending people from job to job, rather than job to unemployment, when times got tough.

Some economists have proposed running a job guarantee through the non-profit sector, which would make it even easier to suit the job to the worker. Imagine a world where people could contribute the skills that inspire them – teaching, tutoring, urban farming, cleaning up the environment, painting murals – rather than telemarketing or whatever other stupid tasks bosses need done to supplement their millions. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Yeah: how awesome would it be if everyone could do what they wanted, instead of doing stupid jobs that are demanded by stupid market forces?

If you think about it, 500,000 jobs lost starts to sound like a good thing. Instead of our economy providing goods and services you want at a low price, it can instead provide 500,000 mural painters. Or, more realistically, 500,000 people watching Celebrity Apprentice on the taxpayer dime, as Munchos fall into the folds of their T-shirts.

What, are you against people being happy? And fat?

So jump on the bandwagon and come on in for the big win! Those who keep their jobs get paid more; those who don’t get to do (and watch and eat) what inspires them.

All we will ask from you, good reader, is that you pay for all of it. Oh, and if you could also shut up and not complain about it, that would be great too.

Racist Pro-Slavery New Yorkers Discuss Secession

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:39 am

The Washington Times reports that there is a secession movement afoot in New York State. Oh, it’s nothing so extreme as wanting the entire state to secede from a country that has taken on debt that can never be paid off. The New Yorkers behind this movement simply want the state government to be split into two regional governments: one for New York City and one for everybody else.

The reason? Racism and pro-slavery sentiment.

What? Isn’t that the only reason that one unit of a government might want to secede from a larger unit?

No, I am of course making that up; the real reason is that New York City and the rest of the state tend to see things very differently. Kind of like L.A. and San Francisco see things differently from much of the rest of California. Or, to put a finer point on it, the way that states like Texas see things differently from the blue states.

But, of course, if someone were to suggest that, say, Texas secede, that person would be labeled a crazy Neo-Confederate (whatever that means). The idea that a state — the unit of government that was originally considered sovereign when the Constitution was formed — might want to withdraw from the compact it entered? Slavery racism slavery we fought a war over this SLAVERY!!!! is the response. You’re crazy to even mention it.

I think states have the right to secede. If I still lived in Texas, I think I would want it to secede.

Aside from the impossible politics of it, I see one very large practical problem. The reason that Texans should want to secede, or one of them, is the absurd debt that the country has run up. But Texas at least theoretically helped do that, and when a group of entities incur a debt, one of them can’t simply leave without first paying their share. And since this debt can never be paid, individually or collectively, because it is already far too large, that means that no state can leave without first paying an impossible-to-pay sum.

So we’re all stuck. Unless someone can figure a way out.

Sorry. I know I need to go flog myself for supposedly being a racist and pro-slavery Neo-Confederate for even raising the issue. I just think to myself on a regular basis: what can people do to respond to this completely absurd and completely untenable financial mess that we have worked ourselves into, which folks in Washington like Barack Obama won’t even acknowledge? Big Media may not talk about it every day, but it is still, by far, our greatest problem — every single day. If a state can’t secede its way out, then what can be done?


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