Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bobby Jindal

I'm hearing more and more rumors that Bobby Jindal might be John McCain's pick for Vice-President. Let me first say that he's absolutely perfect for the job. He's a rising star of conservatism in America; he has already done fantastic work in Louisiana; and he offsets most of McCain's weaknesses.

Having said that, he should not take the job. He has a chance to demonstrate Federalism in action in a way that I don't recall happening before in my (rather short) lifetime. He has come into one of the most publicly broken states in the nation and has the chance to show that conservative policies do work by turning things around before the inevitable next hurricane comes through. Also of importance, if he is removed from LA the next governor will be Mitch Landrieu, who will almost certainly return to something more like Blanco's policies.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Justice and Taxes

A few weeks ago I was listening to an interview with E.J. Dionne about his new book "Souled Out". He made the comment that as Christians we should all favor "a more just tax system", by which I presume he means one which taxes those who have more at an even greater rate than they do now.

Christ gives us little to go on concerning how to structure a state, so in coming up with one the founders of this country applied logic in light of scripture (after all, "In the beginning was the logos (reason, often translated 'word')") to come up with foundational precepts of Christian government. If we follow the same process I submit that we will come to the same conclusion and that that conclusion, while precluding slavery (as the founders did not) will also preclude the redistribution of wealth (as the founders did). Locke stated that all men are entitled to the fruits of his labor. This is what Jefferson meant when he said "All men are created equal;" that no man is entitled by some divine ordination to the fruits of another man's labor. Given that nothing in Christianity or reason points to some men being innately entitled to the product of another's labor, I fail to see how we can escape the conclusion that the rights to labor, and thus the property resulting from it, either belong to he who creates it or do not exist at all.

I realize I'm dodging Rousseau's position, but a full exposition on that would take more room than I want to use in a blog post. To deal with that I'll merely point out that Rousseau's theory of property mainly dealt with the produce of the land and most of the produce of labor in our industrial society is not based on agriculture. It seems irrational when the overwhelming majority of income is derived from labor to assume that the product of that labor belongs to all of society.

In order to avoid the issue of capital I'm going to take up the cause of a hypothetical CEO making $10 million per year. That $10 million is issued to him for his work in running the company, not as a result of the increase on his stock, so even if we accept Marx over Smith (as I decidedly do not) it is the product of labor and not capital. If his talents, time and effort have lead him run a major company and his efforts have produced $10 million in value (often more), how is it just to take half of that from him and give it to others who did not thus labor?

I'm not arguing that we shouldn't have a safety net for those who deserve charity (though certainly I would prefer something like churches or civic organizations to the government), but this is by nature unjust. We might feel bad for the single mom of three kids who has honestly fallen down on her luck and is trying hard to get ahead, but the just response to that cannot involve the forcible taking of another man's property to rectify it.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Third Parties

I heard on the radio this morning, a host saying that it's probably about time for a third party to rise. He explained that he hears everywhere dissatisfaction with the existing parties, so if nobody likes Democrats or Republicans it's high time for somebody else to come along and capitalize on that.That's a compelling argument unless you think about it.

I am personally very disappointed with the Republican party, and as I previously noted John McCain was one of my least favorite candidates for President. But that doesn't make me likely to vote for Nader. The problem with the overwhelming disappointment with the two parties is that there isn't a huge number of people who take a single concrete position on some important issue that disagrees with the two parties.

The Republican Party was formed by an almost overwhelming desire in the Northern United States to have politicians dedicated to the "elimination of the twin relics of barbarism — slavery and polygamy." I doubt there is any issue on which a substantial minority would come together to create a new party. Lots of people dislike the current tax code, but some of them want taxes to be more socialist, some of them want them flatter, some of them want to tax something else, some of them just want less taxes, some of them want more user fees... You might be able to find a large number of people who in theory support lowering the National Debt, but some of them would want to cut programs and some of them would want to raise taxes. Nearly all of them would find another issue more important, probably even one that would end up raising the debt. I personally think the debt is unacceptably high and the unfunded future liability of Medicare even worse, but I don't accept that raising taxes is an acceptable (or effective) way to fix that.

People may disagree with the major parties, but they don't agree with each other, either. If they did then one (and probably both) of the primaries would elect candidates who pandered to their desire.

Obama and Mr. Wright

I've been listening to several conservative talk radio shows the last couple days and I think they've all missed the core issue with Obama's late coming repudiation of his spiritual mentor. Scott at Power Line had a post today that finally hit on what I see as the most interesting part of his statement Tuesday.

If we take Obama at his word he isn't denouncing Wright because he stated that blacks and whites can't learn in the same school because they're practically different species (the original meaning of "race" and the slave holders' intention for using that term) . He didn't denounce him because of his insults to Jews, or Italians, or whites, or America. The straw that broke the camel's back was Wright insinuating that Obama was duplicitous and said the things he did because he was a politician. Laura Ingraham this morning derisively quoted a New York Times article essentially prepared by Obama aides because it shows Obama as suddenly realizing that Wright was offensive after his Press Club interview, glossing over the fact that even that puff piece article again cites that Obama "felt dumbfounded, even betrayed, particularly by Mr. Wright’s implication that Mr. Obama was being hypocritical. He could not tolerate that."

Far from insulating Obama from future questions about his erstwhile mentor, Obama's posturing on Tuesday leaves me with the idea that it's okay to attack Israel, to claim the US government created AIDS, to claim that blacks and whites can't learn in the same school because they're so different, just don't attack Obama.