Senator-elect Laura Ebke with (some of) her winning team. Image credit.
Laura Ebke, Senator-elect to the Nebraska legislature, keeps us posted regarding the goings-on during the first days after her victory.
I've always loved Laura's incisive and graphic writing, and it is exciting and a joy to be able to follow her topical accounts from her new life in the world of state legislature. Share in the delight, go visit Laura Ebke's campaign page.
Third day of orientation is over with. I think most of the senators-elect are getting more comfortable walking through the beautiful building that is the Capitol. We've all figured out where the restrooms are (not an unimportant thing in the first floor office spaces that resemble a labyrinth).
We've gotten to know each other--as part of a "class", and I suspect many of us have started to get a feel for hot buttons for our colleagues.
Today, retiring senators--Speaker Greg Adams, Sen. John Harms, and Sen. Annette Dubas--spoke to us. They are leaving--term limited out--as part of the first *big* class of senators post-term-limit passage.
In the next week or so, I will be creating another page, separate from this campaign page, as well as an "official" Twitter account. On that page (and account), I will (eventually) post those things which will be more official in nature. I'll let you know where I've been and what I've done as part of "official duties"--but that's where I'll also post ALL of my votes (with explanations) for constituents and others to follow along.
I campaigned on a promise of transparency--never expecting that everyone would agree with every thing I did, but believing that everyone in the "second house"--citizens of our state--had the right to know WHAT I was doing, and to hold me accountable. I will post a link to the new page here, when I get it set up, and those who are interested in following it, can. This page will then probably go more quiet after the first of the year.
With the hostess of this blog having become a Senator in Nebraska's one house State Legislature, issues related to federalism assume particular interest and topicality to me. As for the post's title and the proposition spelled out below, note, however, Nebraska's Legislature is unusual in that it is unicameral and nonpartisan. But what does that mean, especially in regard to the below hypothesis?
John O. McGinnis propounds an intriguing thesis.
Many people worry about our democracy today because our political parties have become more purely ideological. But federalism harnesses such partisanship and puts it to good use. Because of greater partisanship, we are seeing more states with a unified government in which Democrats or Republicans control the governorship and both houses of the legislature. They are then able to enact a relatively pure version of their parties’ very disparate political positions. With the support of a Republican legislature, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has reduced the power of public sector unions. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has very substantially cut personal and business taxes. In contrast, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy was reelected after raising taxes and making no substantial changes to union power. In California, Jerry Brown was victorious with much the same policies.
Such partisan federalism now gives us the chance to observe the results of such policies over the longer term. At its best, democracy is a system where people vote on the basis of consequences as well as values. On many issues there is substantial consensus as to the goals but substantial differences as to how to achieve them. Republicans believe that a smaller government generally leads to better results in economic growth and broad-based prosperity. Democrats disagree. But both must pay attention to results, which can move independent voters and indeed weaker partisans.
My posts, including the present one, are never coordinated with Laura Ebke, who generously allows me to express my views as I see fit. The responsibility for the contents of my posts lies exclusively with me. The views expressed in my writing are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, any other person associated with RedStateEclectic. Georg Thomas.
It is disturbing for me to read pieces by libertarians in which they discount the American political system as a source of unmitigated evil, when at the same time I am witnessing the enormous efforts of millions of Americans organising and partaking otherwise in elaborate and expensive political campaigns in the run up to the mid-term elections 2014.
Freedom necessitates democracy - the possibility for political participation for everyone -, and democracy depends on a political culture maintained by people that value and practice political participation, even at considerable cost to themselves. The importance of these personal political efforts for our freedom cannot be overestimated. Yet, in typical libertarian manner:
With a snap, as it were, a commenter on Arnold Kling's "My Election Take" dismisses the democratic system, in view of:
1. The unelected “staff” and other administrators (bureaucrats) to whom the elected have devolved the authority to legislate by regulation and “policy.”
2. The extensive “lobby” system operatives, especially those for particular interests (that includes social policy objectives as well as economic objectives). These people “write” the laws, modify the regs and “capture” the regulators.
3. The Principals (politicians within groups such as workers, teachers and scientists) who use the numerical or reputational significance of groups they purport to “stand” for or whose members they purport to represent – so called “leaders;” subsidiary politicians.
4. The money-hungry media and its wordsmiths whose constant efforts are to “wage influence,” not to inform. They are the reason money is so effective in politics. Less so, with the growing importance of “ground games” (get out the vote).
You put your case well; still, I have reservations one may subsume under the term “the public choice syndrome.”
Valuable as many of the insights typically delivered by public choice thinkers are, their approach is highly problematic. It reminds me of advertising a book on “The Elephant”, when, in fact, the book is entirely about “Elephant Diseases”.
Your four points represent generic categories: (a) “(executive) delegation”, (b) “lobbyism”, (c) “group/identity building”, and (d) “media”.
Any desirable political system would have to provide services subsumed under the above four categories, and the US political system does achieve precisely that – in large enough a measure to make the USA one of the politically most stable and freest countries in the world.
For a realistic picture of politics, it is not helpful, to conceive of these categories exclusively in terms of abuse.
My fellow-libertarians are rather good at detecting violations of freedom, unfortunately they are not equally good at knowing freedom when they see freedom.
Freedom (= life in civil society) is as non-clear-cut, messy, and intricate as politics; you must search hard to find the good in the mess, yet the good does exists, and its operative existence is vital.
As a result of an overly rash presumption against politics and the state, libertarians don’t look carefully enough at politics as an unrenounceable condition of freedom, preferring to constantly hibernate in a (to a significant extent) self-made winter of discontent, producing little to better understand the difficult business of surviving peacefully and productively in a world in which politics is indispensable.
And I was rather taken aback when I read the following in Arnold Kling's post:
Arnold you write:
“ I really do not understand why people think that democracy is so great.  Its chief advantage is that it provides for peaceful transitions of power.  I continue to believe that markets, imperfect as they often are, produce better outcomes than voting.”
Three sentences containing three major errors in the thinking of liberals (European meaning):
As for : Try the absence of democracy. Liberals ought to be committed defenders of democracy. After all, a free society is one that allows, indeed, promotes political competition and diversity more than any other social arrangement. Liberals should be at the forefront of institutional change and design to improve the democratic processes of political competition.
As for : At the bottom of anti-democratic tendencies in liberals is the fallacious notion that markets can do the job of the political system. Markets are incapable of creating their own preconditions, and the latter are of a political nature. Markets are not capable of resolving the problems of political scarcity [the paucity of unanimity on issues considered vital by large numbers of people]. It is an illusion to think that markets create peaceful reciprocity; they presuppose a political order that does well at managing political scarcity. Democratic structures are good at managing political scarcity – see “As for “.
Put differently: A market transaction presupposes that there is no conflict between the transacting parties, and that both have recognised a mutually advantageous trading opportunity. A market transaction does not create concordance between the trading parties, rather it presupposes the compatibility of their respective interests. Market transactions are not a means to overcoming conflict, instead they are engaged in to take advantage of mutually complementary benefits already present.
As for : Once one has formed a preconception of democracy as being an ineffective oddity or indeed a systematic threat to liberty, one is not likely to look at the phenomenon with the requisite patience and precision, falling prey to a naive and one-sided take of democracy.
Democracy is a complicated set of institutions, cultural rites and preferences with more than just one set of functions: it fulfils an intricate symbolic function and is a discovery procedure no less than a free market, yet adapted to issues that markets cannot cope with. Democracy is a way of discovering good practices and ideas about how to live together peacefully and on a high level of productivity in extremely large human communities. Its function is to signal and thus ensure enough trust among total strangers so that most people are most of the time protected against lethal distrust by others.
Enjoy a wonderful post by Laura Ebke on the occasion of concluding her campaign for the 32nd District legislative seat in 2014.
One last thing before I go to bed, knowing that tomorrow at this time, this will all be over...
Many of you have said that you were praying for me during this effort. I appreciate that more than I can express. There have been rough times in the last few weeks, when I felt that the substantive campaign that both sides were running had run off the rails. There were times when--although it's part of the political game, and I knew that going in--that I'd felt kind of beat up.
Your prayers have helped to sustain me, and to encourage me.
For those of you who pray, I'm going to ask for your prayers one more time--tonight, and through the day tomorrow. Not for me (although I certainly appreciate it), but for my family, who has been put through the ringer, especially in recent weeks. My parents, and my mother-in-law, in addition to numerous other relatives, have seen the "hit pieces." My kids have seen and heard us talking about them--after spending a summer doing fun things on the campaign trail, they've now seen their mom beat up with mail pieces that distorted the truth, and robocalls that called her a liar.
Whatever happens tomorrow, they're going to have to face their classmates and teachers on Wednesday morning at school. I hope that they'll be led to deal with the results with humility and dignity--and that their mom is able to do the same.
As I write this, it's just over 24 hours till the polls open. Many of you have voted early, and I thank you for taking the time--regardless of whether you voted for me, or my opponent, in the Legislative race.
If you haven't voted yet, I would respectfully ask for your vote--but I would ask for you to cast an informed ballot.
Check out both of our Facebook pages. Which candidate seems to be the most open to communication with citizens. Who answers questions? Who posts frequently? I have promised to post EVERY VOTE I MAKE in the Legislature on Facebook and Twitter. Does my record show me capable of doing that?
Check out our websites. Whether you agree with either of us on every issue or not, which of us has been willing to talk about specific issues, etc.?
Check out the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure website if you don't trust the numbers that I've give here (http://lauraebke.com/blog/item/32-by-the-numbers-follow-the-money#.VFdxi_nF8rU)--you'll have to download the attached spreadsheet to see the side by side comparisons. Unfortunately, we've both had to raise a lot of money to compete in this race. I have no single group that has given me 30% of my campaign receipts, and more than half of my campaign resources have come from individuals--some giving $3, some $10, some $50, some $500. Do the math. What does commonsense tell you about who is likely to be influenced the most by the political agenda of one or two groups?
Some of you have called me throughout the campaign--and in recent days--to ask for clarification of my views on issues, or to straighten out misunderstandings created by supporters of my opponents mailings. I thank you for doing me that courtesy, whether I was able to win your vote or not. If I am elected, not only will my door be open, but so will my cell phone and my personal email.
I have tried to take the high road throughout this campaign. I have not resorted to impugning my opponents character through robocalls and Facebook. And I certainly wouldn't have done that without providing proof--whereas I have been called a "liar" on numerous occasions--publicly--without any documentation to contradict what I (or others he claims I am associated with) have said about him. Saying it is so, doesn't make it so.
As I mentioned elsewhere--"lying" implies knowing intent to deceive. When I had the opportunity to ask him why he was telling people on phone calls that I was lying, the response I got was "it is what it is" as he walked away from me. The next day, the call--made by his campaign treasurer came through--again calling me a liar.
Friends, I ask you to consider, yes, the issue views of your candidates for office. But where it's not possible to discern issue positions because of silence, consider the way that we've conducted our campaigns--who has energized the most young people, who has attempted to remain positive, who has provided the highest level of transparency. I hope you'll vote for me, but more than that, I hope you'll cast an informed and reasoning vote.
Oh, and please share this with your friends. I need help in these last 24 hours spreading the message.
Make sure to visit Laura's facebook pages here and here.
I am increasingly interested in the trans-ideological dimension of freedom.
Following up on my post On Feeling Lovely, I think it is worth your while listening to what Jonathan Haidt has to say about the righteous minds of liberals (US meaning) and conservatives -- see the below video.
Arnold Kling classifies the fundamental paradigmatic reflexes of the preponderant political forces in contemporary America along the following lines:
My hypothesis is that progressives, conservatives, and libertarians view politics along three different axes. For progressives, the main axis has oppressors at one end and the oppressed at the other. For conservatives, the main axis has civilization at one end and barbarism at the other. For libertarians, the main axis has coercion at one end and free choice at the other.
Adding a little flesh to the bare scaffolding, Arnold Kling illustrates:
A conservative will exaggerate the extent to which a practice leads to barbarism. Again, I use the example of illegal immigration. A conservative emphasizes that it is illegal, therefore the immigrants are lawbreakers by definition, hence the threat to civilization is intrinsic. In general, I think that conservatives view social trends as much more dire than I do and see society in decline more readily than I do.
A progressive will exaggerate the extent to which people fall into classes of oppressors and oppressed. If you look at the biography of UN Ambassador Susan Rice, she apparently both inherited and married into wealth, received an elite education, worked for McKinsey, and now has a net worth of over $20 million. Yet people on the left describe her as oppressed, because she is African-American and female. I want to say, “Really?”
A libertarian will exaggerate the extent to which a practice represents coercion. They are fond of saying, “If you don’t comply with xyz policy, men with guns will come and take you to prison.” I understand this argument and I generally take it as valid. However, I can also understand how someone with a different point of view might argue that when they pay taxes what they get in return is a fair deal.
I also believe that the three axes are different. A practice can be barbaric without being coercive or oppressive. Body piercing, for example. A practice can be coercive without being oppressive or barbaric. Social Security, for example. A practice can be oppressive without being coercive or barbaric. Owners of restaurants refusing to serve non-white customers, for example.
Image credit. A question of which system is better adapted to which task.
Law of Markets argues:
With QE we are not talking about troubled assets or dealing with an emergency. It is just straight out inflation.
Second, inflation has now come to mean rises in prices when once it meant printing money. The Keynesians switched the terminology to movements in prices in the 1930s so that their policies would no longer be immediately described as inflation (discussed in the 2nd ed of my Free Market Economics [FME2] pages 406-408). But let’s not quibble about this. What ought to be understood instead is that the effect of inflating the money supply to fund public spending has a number of possible effects of which higher prices is only one. Without militant unions and continuous labour market pressures to push wages up, inflation in the form of price increases is subdued. And whatever else may be the case at the moment pretty well everywhere, only those in very protected environments are in the mood to be pushing for significantly higher wages that would put their jobs at risk.
The real issue is that the way in which the re-direction of expenditure to the public sector is and will continue to manifest itself in a crumbling capital stock (see FME2: p410). The economy of the United States is falling to bits. It will take a longish time since it has a massive asset base but it is being eroded fast enough, which is evident in the median income data and elsewhere.
Is this view in conflict with what Arnold Kling - in The Segmented Wealth of Nations (see especially the paragraph at the bottom of the post) - identifies as the sources of crisis and contemporary economic change? I don't think so.
For a reminder why shifting toward public sector provision of goods and services is a decision for high cost production, take a look at Government - High-Cost Producer.
The other day, I was sternly encouraged by one of the figureheads of German liberalism to boycott Amazon and support retail booksellers by my patronage. The appeal struck me as incongruous. To me Amazon, including the whole new ebook culture, have brought about a welcome revolution that empowers - in the best tradition of freedom and capitalism - the consumer, as well as rewarding consumer-oriented suppliers and widening the options and commercial prospects of those seeking to publish their written work.
Especially, as a rather undiscerning youngster, my mind was to a large extent shaped by the sales mix of the local book shops. With the additional help of newspapers and the school, uncontested sources of authority, my mind was being put on a one-track trail.
I suspect that with the internet's dramatically widened spectrum of knowledge offerings and increased discretion in the choice of information (including information contained in books), we are lifting the level of tolerance among us, strengthening civil society's ability to resist the political ascendancy of radically one-sided views.
In an article well worth reading, Matthew Yglesias argues that the publishing industry nowadays
adds almost no value, it is going to be wiped off the face of the earth soon, and writers and readers will be better off for it.