[I just posted this on Google+, but I figured it was worth posting here as well.]
The debt ceiling is just for show; it hasn’t stopped the federal debt from increasing and politicians just keep raising the ceiling when it’s reached.
Failing to raise the debt ceiling will not necessarily result in default. The federal government has plenty of revenue to cover interest payments, even if it must shift that money out of other parts of the budget. Any claims of immediate default and imminent financial collapse are disingenuous fearmongering designed to fool a gullible and economically ignorant public and force an increase of the debt ceiling and an increase in taxes.
Tax cuts are not the reason for the debt crisis — spending is. Spending in excess of revenue is the cause of any debt, public or private. The federal government has been increasing spending with and without tax cuts for a very long time, under both parties.
The CBO’s inclusion of tax cuts as a major source of current and future federal debt is disingenuous. Why?
- Tax cuts are not spending anymore than tax breaks are subsidies (sorry Rachel Maddow).
- All of that estimated debt increase can be eliminated by cutting spending without eliminating tax cuts or raising taxes!
The solution is not to eliminate tax cuts and loopholes, let tax cuts expire, or raise taxes. Increasing taxes, however you do it, will inevitably lead to more spending because governments will find something to spend that increased revenue on and then some.
When Michelle Bachmann confessed to taking the writings of Ludwig von Mises with her on vacation, I assumed she used the august Austrian economist as a soporific — not because Mises isn’t worth reading, or not exciting to read (I can’t tell you how my heart pounded when I first unleashed myself onto The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science), but because Bachmann has never said anything to suggest a scholarly or subtle mind, the kind of mind best suited for pleasure in reading Mises.
But a Salon writer, Andrew Leonard, has proven himself less dismissive of Bachmann than I. He, knowing nothing of Mises, set out to read Human Action. His conclusion? Well, he didn’t get very far into the book. But he did get far enough to tell us what he found. After reading a few chapters, he was struck by
Though John Hospers was never my hero, he came close. Now he’s dead, like most of the other philosophical writers I admire.
He died yesterday, a few days into his 94th year.
Since I grew up in one of the two states of the union in which his name appeared on the ballot for the U.S. Presidency, I must’ve come across his name in that year of 1972. But it didn’t stick. The renegade electoral college voter, Roger MacBride, who cast his ballot for the Hospers/Nathan Libertarian Party ticket, did leave an impression four years later, with his direct-to-the-camera spiel following the Democratic Nominating Convention.
That was probably my first notice of the word “libertarian” alone and naked, not prefixed by “civil.”
Ilya Somin over at The Volokh Conspiracy, it seems, is no more a fan of Ron Paul now than he was four years ago. His criticisms remain about the same. This time around, though, he’s got a candidate to contrast Paul with in Gary Johnson. His conclusion? Johnson is a better libertarian than Paul. My first response to this was laughter. This is my second response:
To start, Somin nearly lost me in his first sentence when he suggested that Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was even on the radar for libertarians considering voting. If anyone thinks a hypocritical drug warrior, who might be most charitably described as untested on foreign policy issues (and much less charitably described as a propagandist for the Empire), should even be in the running, then they should probably be disqualified from commenting on the question of who the most libertarian candidate is. All that said, we’ll give him the benefit of his doubts about Daniels for now and move onto his criticisms.
Ron Paul’s Unlibertarian Positions?
Somin claims that Ron Paul “has very nonlibertarian positions on free trade, school choice, and especially immigration.” He goes on to criticize Paul’s views on the Fourteenth Amendment. He doesn’t spell these criticisms out in this piece, but rather directs us to an older article from 2007. We’ll take each one by one.
Supporters of free markets are often attacked for their “Do Nothing Principle” position, which tends to deeply upset policy wonks and media talking heads alike. Obviously this is buncombe, and to the contrary it is these would-be do-somethingers who are intellectually or ideologically incapable of grasping the sweeping scope of necessary changes that free market advocates are calling for.
For example, the charge that “Hangover Theorists” are selfish moralizers who want poor and middle-class families to needlessly suffer during a recession is prima facie incorrect. The interlocutor is simply misled by my yawning enthusiasm for his policy prescriptions into thinking I have no “serious” and “realistic” plan to help society, and that I want to “do nothing.”
Do nothing you say?
To the contrary, I advocate doing a lot, including the complete abolition of the Federal Reserve, the US Treasury, the US Federal Mint, the US departments relating to labor, trade, banking, securities, etc. It is those who want to merely tweak a bit here and there who are hem-hawing over making serious policy changes, and who have the gall to accuse me of advocating to “do nothing”!