To anyone in the liberty movement within the GOP who has been paying attention it is very clear that there is a struggle between the liberty wing (libertarian, Tea Party, etc.) and the established or governing wing. After the 2010 and 2012 elections where scores of liberty aligned GOP candidates won primaries and general elections - their presence is starting to be felt in Congress and state houses all over the country.
The "establishment", which can best be described as those in the positions of power within both parties who seek to maintain the status quo in government (perpetual growth and spending) do not appreciate the challenge to their smoothly running machine. Those who benefit the most from the status quo (large businesses that get special government privileges, private government contractors, politicians, and government employees and pensioners) are understandably upset about this challenge to their system. And they will not stop until they have marginalized and squashed the opposition.
Much has been written about the "business community's" pushback against some of these candidates like Rep. Thomas Massie, Rep. Tim Huleskamp, and Rep. Justin Amash. The driving force behind these challenges is similar - to get someone who will work with the system and 'get things done.'
How serious is this challenge?
That is the hardest part to evaluate. Without doubt, these three are troublemakers for the House leadership as they all voted against Speaker John Boehner in defiance with the usual protocol for majority party members. In fact, Amash has often been cited as one of the ringleaders of the coup and was stripped of some committee assignments because of his unwillingness to agree with many of the House GOP's plans to increase spending and raise the debt limit.
So his race is probably the best way to gauge the strength of the establishment of the GOP. He already struggles to raise any significant money from PACs precisely because of the way he votes and legislates (no point paying for influence if it doesn't buy you any). Therefore, he is relegated to raising his funds almost entirely from individuals. This is an extremely difficult thing to do for a member of Congress who is new (second term) and has no large personal fortune. And unfortunately for Amash, he has drawn a personally wealthy primary challenger who has the apparent support of some prominent businessmen from his district.
His opponent, local school board member and financial advisor, Brian Ellis has said he is willing to commit one to two million dollars to his campaign to unseat Amash. He has shown his willingness to spend already by putting up billboards and large buys on talk radio attacking Amash for months.
So the first and most important test for Amash is whether he will be able to raise money?
If he can raise money and raise it early enough it will send a resounding rebuke to the established wing of the party both locally, at the state level, and nationally. It would also show that it is possible to survive politically (even thrive?) by setting your own agenda and taking on the true beasts of government. His current crusade against the security state and the National Security Agency's blatant disregard of the Bill of Rights is going to be successful and certainly makes him enemy number one, two, and three for the established types.
In only a few days, the last quarter of 2013 fundraising will come to a close. Simply put, Amash needs to show that he can raise money and raise lots to put away his challenger. The campaign might take between $1-2 million to defend in the primary meaning Amash needs to already have raised a decent sum to show his contributors that he can successfully defend himself.
Simply put, Amash needs to raise at least $250-300 thousand for the last quarter. Anything over $400 thousand would lay an imposing foundation for his challenger to overcome. The grassroots in the district is certainly behind him and he will have a sizable advantage with name recognition.
It's hard to know how well he has done but we do know from his recent money bomb on December 16-17 that he raised a little over $100,000. According to his campaign coordinator, they received donations from over 1600 individuals from every state, DC, and Puerto Rico (not Guam or Palau?). That also means the average donation was less than $100 leaving him a large reservoir to tap aver the following eight months before the August primary.
The real question will be if the money bomb will be the bulk of his quarter or only a fraction. If it's a fraction of his total haul then Ellis' local business backers may be experiencing a serious case of buyers' remorse.
Why are libertarians always angry? Because there are innumerable and incessant attacks on freedom. Fair enough, the libertarian will not rejoice in a bad state of affairs, and she shouldn't.
But what about the innumerable and incessant instances of the presence of freedom in our world. Why not smile and feel thankful and happy about them?
It would seem, many libertarians tend to overlook that freedom is not what will happen when all threats and violations of freedom are eventually eliminated. No such situation will ever arise - after all, not even libertarians could agree on the criteria of fulfilment.
Freedom is mixed into the character of the West's political order, which contains other ingredients, many not that agreeable with freedom.
Freedom can only exist as a corrective in a mixed order in which anti-individualism and collectivism have an enthusiastic natural following, too. Freedom can alert us to the detrimental potential of collectivism, it gives us criteria to perceive and understand the dangers of unfreedom, and ways to avoid them. But freedom is incapable of reaching a state cleansed of elements and currents opposite to her.
Freedom is Sisyphean in that the hard work of maintaining her never ends - good thing we have important and welcome helpers to lead and back us in the thorny endeavour. The efforts in favour of freedom are Sisyphean, but they are not without progress.
Our daily life attests to the enormous progress freedom has been and continues to be making in the face of ongoing contestation. Tip: try to figure out just how many rights of freedom are real-time operative so as to allow you to go shopping the way you do. However, many libertarians apparently need to relearn the knack of making out liberty in their ordinary lifes. Once they get better at it, they will discover:
Friends of liberty have plenty to smile about.
Matt Ridley reminds us:
The best understanding of how morality evolves comes from the work of Norbert Elias, a sociologist who had four horrible experiences of violence: a nervous breakdown in the First World War when fighting for Germany, emigration to escape Nazi persecution in 1933, internment by Britain for being a German in 1940 and the death of his mother in Auschwitz. Yet half way through this series of blows he published a book that argued the world was getting less violent. The year 1939 was not a good year to disseminate such a message, let alone in German. It was only when it was translated into English in 1969, by which time Elias had retired from Leicester University, that the book (called The Civilising Process) shot him to fame.
Elias had spent many hours delving into medieval archives, concluding that life in the Middle Ages was routinely much more violent than today. He also argued that manners and etiquette were coarser in the old days and he linked the two. The book’s revival was helped 12 years later by the compilation of a graph that showed a hundredfold decrease in homicide rates per 100,000 people in England since the 1300s: statistical evidence for Elias’s hunch. Till then, most people thought the modern world more violent than the old days; plenty still do.
The psychologist Steven Pinker, alerted by the graph and others like it from all across Europe, documented in his recent book The Better Angels of our Nature the inexorable, widespread and continuing decline in the West in virtually all forms of violence: homicide, rape, torture, corporal punishment, capital punishment, war, genocide, domestic violence, child abuse, hate crimes and more. Pinker agreed that etiquette changes were part of the same trend.
Pinker summarises the Elias argument thus: beginning in the 11th century and maturing in the 18th, “Europeans increasingly inhibited their impulses, anticipated the long-term consequences of their actions, and took other people’s thoughts and feelings into consideration”. The root of this change lay in government and commerce. As monarchs centralised power in feudal societies, being polite at court began to matter more than being good at violence. And as commerce replaced feudal obligations, people had to learn to treat strangers as potential customers rather than potential prey.
Whatever the explanation, there is no doubt that — with occasional backward lurches, and some exceptions — morality has progressed towards niceness.
Seventy-two percent of Americans say big government is a greater threat to the U.S. in the future than is big business or big labor, a record high in the nearly 50-year history of this question. The prior high for big government was 65% in 1999 and 2000. Big government has always topped big business and big labor, including in the initial asking in 1965, but just 35% named it at that time.
The weatherman predicts there will be no white Christmas in Germany, which is fine with me. More importantly: we are to expect incredibly mild temperatures, 5°C - 12°C, 41°F - 54°F. Hurrah! But it is going to be very windy. I hope not quite like this:
And for a scientific background analysis of wind watch this:
Ms. Yellen asks: "Do policy-makers have the knowledge and ability to improve macroeconomic outcomes rather than making matters worse?" And she answers: "Yes."
The former economics professor is certainly asking the right questions -- and giving the wrong answers.
Her first question, whether free market economies can achieve full employment without government intervention, is a purely factual question that can be answered from history. For the first 150 years of the United States, there was no policy of federal intervention when the economy turned down.
No depression during all that time was as catastrophic as the Great Depression of the 1930s, when both the Federal Reserve System and Presidents Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt intervened in the economy on a massive and unprecedented scale.
Despite the myth that it was the stock market crash of 1929 that caused the double-digit unemployment of the 1930s, unemployment never reached double digits in any of the 12 months that followed the 1929 stock market crash.
Unemployment peaked at 9 percent in December 1929 and was back down to 6.3 percent by June 1930, when the first major federal intervention took place under Herbert Hoover. The unemployment decline then reversed, rising to hit double digits six months later. As Hoover and then FDR continued to intervene, double-digit unemployment persisted throughout the remainder of the 1930s.
Conversely, when President Warren G. Harding faced an annual unemployment rate of 11.7 percent in 1921, he did absolutely nothing, except for cutting government spending.
Keynesian economists would say that this was exactly the wrong thing to do. History, however, says that unemployment the following year went down to 6.7 percent -- and, in the year after that, 2.4 percent.
Under Calvin Coolidge, the ultimate in non-interventionist government, the annual unemployment rate got down to 1.8 percent. How does the track record of Keynesian intervention compare to that?
And a critical rejoinder. Mind you, in this post, I am mainly interested in the historical facts that Sowell juxtaposes with the stock account of the Great Depression.
Although I have read a fair bit of Austrian monetary theory, it now seems to me I am only at the beginning of my monetary studies - which I may never find the time to take up in a sufficiently comprehensive way. Despite voracious reading on the subject matter, I feel like a beginner because I no longer trust Austrians - especially the dogmatic and stagnant epigones, who unlike the long deceased founders of the school show little scientific vigour, instead emphasizing ritualistic worship at the expense of curiosity and a willingness to discover new insights, including novel findings that may require a revision of the extant body of knowledge.
Austrians may be right, but I no longer take their postulates at face value. More than ever, I insist on comparing them with other offerings in the market place of ideas.
RSE readers know, I am awfully fond of Belgium. Even people from my region are usually not aware that a leisurely two hour drive will take you to Belgium.
On Sunday, I made a trip to Stavelot in the Ardennes, a picturesque town with a wonderful abbey, the motor racing circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, Spa itself, the world's pioneering spa, and beautifully situated Malmedy, one of the places in that region that remind me of the terrible hardship and losses suffered by the American forces on their way to liberating France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and, of course, Germany from the Nazi pest.