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Pileus / pileusblog.wordpress.com

A Classical Liberal Blog on Political Science, Economics, Philosophy, Law, and More

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Obamacare is "an existential threat to the American way of life." At least, if you define the American way of life as individual rights and personal responsibility, freedom of choice, control of one's body, it is. As constitutional legal scholar Randy Barnett has written in a piece published by The Fund for American Studies, Obamacare "involves our relationship with government with respect to our most intimate, most private, and most important aspect of our lives, which is our health. [The reason repeal of] Obamacare is vital to the future of American liberty is that I really believe that once the government owns our doctors, once government controls our medical care, then we become a servile class - we essentially become subjects of government, not citizens."

The Republicans may make tactical errors and fail miserably at messaging, and further, the campaign to defund or repeal Obamacare may be quixotic, but it is critically important to try ever means possible to slow it down, stop it, repeal it.

There are plenty of fallback positions for Republicans to take, including compromises on the debt ceiling and the continuing resolution. And polls are very deceiving with regard to the end game. Stay tuned….
2013-10-04T16:14:42-04:00 Roger Ream
You didn't put a date on this video, but I assume this was from a presidential debate in 1980. Reagan is challenging Carter for president. Americans are being held hostage in Iran. The fundamentalists have taken over in Iran. The Cold War is on. The Russians have invaded Afghanistan. The U.S. has boycotted the Olympics.

That is the context in which Reagan is criticizing Carter for mishandling our relationship with someone who has been our ally in the region - the Shah. In terms of the national interests of the U.S., we were certainly better served by the Shah in power than the fundamentalists. I wouldn't have counseled Reagan to attack the Shah for his internal policies in the debate with Carter.
2013-08-26T12:46:54-04:00 Roger
How about Woodrow Wilson? Please tell me New Jerseyians have had the good sense not to induct him, even if he was President of Princeton (or perhaps because he was). 2013-06-25T21:50:56-04:00 Roger Ream
They do play in the Charles Koch Arena! 2013-03-31T08:13:37-04:00 Roger ream
Agreed. 2013-01-30T10:01:08-05:00 Roger
You did write that not raising the debt ceiling would destroy the economy. I assumed you therefore think not raising the debt ceiling (authorizing more borrowing) is bad for the economy.

And yes, I do indeed think that authorizing more borrowing, rather than cutting spending and balancing the budget, would cause government to go further into debt. But perhaps I am wrong about that.

I think it is time for the government to reign in spending (stop buying more cars that it can't afford), and leave more money in the private sector.
2013-01-30T09:56:54-05:00 Roger
Shaun, You suggest that the government failing to go further in debt is bad for the economy. I assume that is another of the "lame straw man arguments" you want us to ignore in our comments. 2013-01-30T09:34:42-05:00 Roger
Cutting defense spending caused the economy to contract. Perhaps another war - Mali? Iran? North Korea? - is what we need. Break more windows! 2013-01-30T09:17:43-05:00 Roger
You may want to comment on Randy Barnett's piece in the Wall Street Journal today that a vote for a Libertarian candidate in our political system is a vote for bigger government. 2012-11-06T08:14:28-05:00 Roger
I'm in Jason. I'll take the other side of the Electoral College prediction. Romney a winner with about 301 votes, +/- 5. I think we will see more of a 2004 turnout than an 06, 08, or 10 turnout, which I think bodes poorly for the president. The Romney forces seem more energized and to have regained momentum they lost with the Sandy interlude of a few days. My wager: a beer the next time we are together. 2012-11-05T17:35:39-05:00 Roger
Thanks. If our budget had been larger, we would have been able to film on location in Cuba or North Korea. 2012-10-17T11:40:21-04:00 Roger Ream
I have been told that Part III is due out in 2014, so we will have a bit of a wait to hear John Galt's speech! 2012-10-03T12:33:21-04:00 Roger
I attended the premier last night (in fact, my head appears over Matt Welch's shoulder when he interviews David Boaz of Cato at the 1:52 mark).

I was impressed with Part II. Opinion was divided at the premier about the casting. I thought it was generally better than Part I, with perhaps an exception or two. I preferred Samantha Mathis' portrayal of Dagney as a strong-willed woman with self-confidence.

The message of the novel comes through loud and clear in Part II, as the creators and the looters become clearly delineated and society is breaking down. While this isn't going to win any Academy Awards, and shouldn't, it is a movie well worth seeing. Invite your friends to join you for the opening weekend (Oct. 12) and make this movie a success.
2012-10-03T09:46:18-04:00 Roger
I don’t understand the gratuitous swipe at Reagan’s intellect. Since Reagan left office, there have been no less than seven books of his writings published, edited by Martin Anderson and others. These debunk the notion, created by the liberal media, that Reagan lacked intellectual firepower. These books include his radio commentaries, columns, diaries, and other original writings by Reagan. The topics range the gamut, from sophisticated arguments about the arms race to a detailed critique of enterprise zones.

I would put Reagan up against any other occupant of the White House in our lifetime, and most members of Congress.

A recent piece on this subject can be found here:

2012-08-31T18:42:09-04:00 Roger
Outstanding commentary. Libraries can't possibly stock every book, so they must apply some standards to determine which to buy. Not all books are equal in quality.

Also, we have a great tradition of local libraries being the source of much private philanthropy in the past, from Carnegie forward. Let's build and operate them with private money.
2012-05-22T17:29:11-04:00 Roger Ream
Thank goodness for the Institute for Justice. IJ is on the froutlines in the struggle for economic and civil rights. 2012-05-20T15:04:57-04:00 Roger Ream
Amen...and happy anniversary to Pileus! 2012-04-15T13:55:32-04:00 Roger Ream
Thank you for your reply to my comment. I've got to offer a quick reply now, but perhaps can respond more fully later.

Yes, mistakes can be made in our justice system, despite protections, juries of peers, and perhaps biases toward the accused with regard to the admission of evidence. And, we cannot give someone their life back, just as we cannot give someone back the years of freedom they lose if mistakes lead unjustly to long or life sentences.

But don't we fail to provide justice if we don't deprive a cold-blooded killer of his life? Perhaps justice is more often serve, despite errors, in a system where the penalty fits the crime.

Also, since mistakes are inevitable, would you prohibit the use of lethal force in self-defense? The armed intruder who seems threatening to your family may only be there to steal some food.
2012-04-06T10:22:25-04:00 Roger
I'd be interested in learning why you think repeal of the death penalty is a victory for liberty? Certainly those men responsible for the home invasion you reference forfeited both their rights to liberty and to life. 2012-04-06T08:17:57-04:00 Roger
Can I assume your suggestion that the Ryan proposal "is in sharp contrast to the Obama proposal," is sarcasm, is there is barely a dime's worth of difference in the revenue and expenditure numbers? 2012-04-04T10:59:55-04:00 Roger
Interesting post. Does Heilemann consider the implication of Santorum winning the noimination and then defeating Obama? After all, Obama's negatives are high, so I wouldn't discount any Republican beating him, even someone with comment after comment that is really out there. Santorum has provden he can appeal to independent voters. I even wonder if his snobbery comment directed at Obama yesterday wasn't a calculated effort to appeal to blue collar independents who may not want to subsidize college students. . 2012-02-28T14:26:57-05:00 Roger Ream
Good to read posts by Professor Otteson. You've been missed on Pileus, even if we get a bit of you with Judge Napolitano. 2012-01-25T16:17:04-05:00 Roger Ream
Related to this post, this from Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek:

14 January 2012

Editor, The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10018

Dear Editor:

Your reporter describes Pres. Obama's plan to consolidate six agencies into one as "an aggressive campaign to shrink the size of the federal government" ("Obama Bid to Cut the Government Tests Congress," Jan. 14).

Some aggressiveness. By Mr. Obama's own reckoning his plan will shave only $300 million annually from Uncle Sam's budget over the next ten years. That's 0.0081 percent of the government's fiscal 2012 budget. If a family earning the median household income in America were equally "aggressive" in slashing its budget, the amount that family would slice from its yearly spending would be $4.16 - about the amount they spend on ONE order of a Big Mac with fries.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030
2012-01-17T11:33:55-05:00 Roger Ream
A tea party-related lawsuit has been filed, but the the Atty Gen wisely backed off his initial comments and said he won't support changing the rules in the middle of the game. So, without Cuccinelli's support, nor the support of the Romney team in Virginia, the chances of a change at this point are slim. The rules for ballot access in Virginia have been in place since 2000. Even Alan Keyes got on the ballot in 2000, so they aren't that onerous for candiates with any type of organization in place and willing learn the rules and gather signatures. 2012-01-04T17:40:42-05:00 Roger Ream
Keep in mind that only Romney and Paul qualified for the ballot for the Rep. primary in Virginia on March 6. Paul will be the one and only anti-Romney candidate, should Romney not have the nomination sewed up by then. 2012-01-04T12:07:02-05:00 Roger Ream
This video muddles the point it is trying to make about the role of profits. It confuses prices and profits. The narrator states, "A product that commends a higher price means that there is more demand for the product than there is supply available.... For producers, high prices encourage production."

It is the opportunity for higher profits, not simply high prices, that encrouages production. Otherwise, producers would all be manufacturing airplanes and constructing skyscrapers, and wouldn't be able to determine whether to build cruise ships or cargo ships. It is return on investment - profit margins - that determine how producers invest, not prices.
2011-11-15T09:39:59-05:00 Roger Ream
I shudder when I hear the phrase "tax expenditure." Using the logic of those who like this phrase, a tax rate of 40% is a huge tax expenditure, because it allows a taxpayer to keep 60% of what they earn. Deductions and tax credits that allow taxpayers to retain more of their property help constrain the growth of government at least somewhat. That is Grover Norquist's point. It is hardly consistent to oppose tax increases yet favor jiggling credits and deductions to generate more and more revenue for the government. Therefore, Norquist suggests the offset. The solution is comprehensive tax reform that eliminates special tax breaks while lowering rates, since the only negligibly effective means for 50 years of restraining government spending has been deficits and debt. 2011-06-15T13:44:40-04:00 Roger Ream
You state:

I don’t see classical liberal political theories (particularly the deductive sort) as sufficient for creating or preserving a free society.  This is because they are not grounded in a true understanding of human nature. 

I'd be interested in reading more of your thoughts on this point. While you qualify it somewhat, in what sense do you think they lack this grounding?
2011-03-06T13:49:23-05:00 Roger Ream
A good op-ed today in Bloomberg Government by Dan Mitchell about the "overblown" concern about a failure to raise the debt ceiling. As Mitchell points out, the federal government is due to collect $2.1 trillion in taxes. Interest on the debt is estimated at $200 billion. So, bondholders will be paid even if Congress chooses fiscal responsibility rather than continued borrowing. This is about the only weapon fiscal hawks in Congress have to force spending cuts.

2011-02-21T11:49:23-05:00 Roger Ream
Alaan, Thank you for your thoughtful response. You took my comment a bit too seriously, for which I fault myself. I do think we are at a tipping point in this country, though it is probably a decades-long tipping point. Our unfunded liabilities exceed Greece and thus the cuts that must be made are of such significance that their will likely be violence in our streets. Not this year, perhaps not next, but within a decade as Americans fight for their "fair share" of diminishing wealth.

This is not inevitable, but the odds of avoiding it extreme. Wisconsin is an important test of whether public sector unions can continue to exact the resources of the public treasury without any check on their appetites.

Good points about Egypt.
2011-02-20T12:28:46-05:00 Roger Ream
Interesting question. The mass demonstrations in Madison, Wisconsin may have greater historical importance, as two sides face-off in the struggle to save American civilization. 2011-02-20T11:32:57-05:00 Roger Ream
Let me get this right. If the US doesn't raise the debt limit and issue billions and trillions of more debt, it will harm the confidence people have in us and specifically the dollar? Has the world gone mad? Does the credibility of our currency really depend on raising the debt limit and adding trillions of more debt? Or would the Chinese and others have more confidence in the U.S. if we were to say no to more borrowing and meet the obligations to our debtors through spending reduction and/or tax increases? 2011-02-11T10:42:34-05:00 Roger Ream
A sad note from GMU economist Don Boudreaux: the GMU PhD student who reviewed that book, Doug Rogers, was killed in an automobile accident on Sunday. 2011-02-01T17:33:05-05:00 Roger Ream
When Republicans, such as the Maine sisters Collins and Snowe, support Democrats on legislation or nominations, it provides cover to the Democrats and enables them label Republican opposition as extremist. Sure, Republicans get the votes of Brown and the Maine sister for leadership elections, but otherwise have Republicans support bigger government doesn't do the cause of liberty much good.

Defeating liberal Republicans in primaries sends a message to others in office (read: Orrin Hatch) to vote Republican principles or face defeat.
2011-02-01T08:49:51-05:00 Roger Ream
"David Brooks and his pals at The Weekly Standard." Hmm. This is not the first time Mr. Cleveland has lobbed a cheap shot at TWS. David Brooks hasn't written for them for years.

Most of what I read in TWS has been very critical of Obama, Obamacare, runaway federal spending, deficits etc. For a good analysis of the SOTU address, I recommend this Weekly Standard blog posting:

2011-01-26T13:58:48-05:00 Roger Ream
That is indeed a sad photo for those of us raised with a love of books. I suppose this is indeed a sign of creative destruction. Students seem to have much less use for libraries these days. 2011-01-05T13:27:41-05:00 Roger Ream
Thank you for the shout out to The Fund for American Studies. We are delighted to sponsor Pileus and thank you for the informative, thought-provoking posts throughout the year. 2010-12-23T12:26:08-05:00 Roger Ream
Excellent observation, Jason: 'Every spending increase is a tax increase."

Furthermore, deficit spending isn't paid for by future generations. It is paid for today, through borrowing dollars that would otherwise be invested in the economy. Deficits are financed out of current consumption as dollars that would be invested TODAY in equities and corporate bonds or used for current spending are diverted to finance government spending. The Fed can choose to monetize debt, as it is doing with QE, thus devaluing our dollars we have in our pockets TODAY.

We can't borrow to spend today and leave the bills to future generations. It's not that simple. We pay the price today in terms of lower savings and investment, lower wages, and fewer jobs.
2010-12-13T11:28:29-05:00 Roger Ream
Sven, you choose an appropriate title to your post, Lest we Forget. What we shouldn't forget is government's primary role in causing the financial meltdown in the first place. A new study from Peter Wallison in AEI's October-November 2010 issue of Financial Services Outlook offers a strong and empirically based explanation for the financial meltdown.

This from a recent column by Richard Rahn:

Mr. Wallison argues that the housing bubble, driven by U.S. government policy to increase homeownership, is the primary cause of the financial crisis. He notes: "The most recent bubble involved increases in real (not nominal) home prices of 80 percent over 10 years, while the earlier ones involved increases of about 10 percent before they deflated." Starting in the late 1990s, the government, as a social policy to boost homeownership, required Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to acquire increasing numbers of "affordable" housing loans. (An "affordable loan" is made to people who normally would not qualify.) By 2007, 55 percent of all loans made by Fannie and Freddie had to be "affordable." By June 2008, there were 27 million subprime housing loans outstanding (19.2 million of them directly owed by government or government-sponsored agencies), with an unpaid principal amount of $4.6 trillion. By the middle of this year, foreclosure starts jumped to a record 5 percent, four times higher than any previous housing bubble.

Mr. Wallison concludes his argument: "What we know is that almost 50 percent of all mortgages outstanding in the United States in 2008 were subprime or otherwise deficient and high-risk loans. The fact that two-thirds of these mortgages were on the balance sheets of government agencies, or firms required to buy them by government regulations, is irrefutable evidence that the government's housing policies were responsible for most of the weak mortgages that became delinquent and defaulted in unprecedented numbers when the housing bubble collapsed." The tragedy is that the financial crisis continues because Congress misdiagnosed the problem and came up with a 2,000-page "solution" that will only make matters worse.
2010-11-17T08:06:03-05:00 Roger Ream
If only we had a parallel universe to see what would have happened had the government taken no action. I suspect the consequences would have been a rapid repricing of assets - housing and other articifically, bubble inflated assets - and a quick recovery. Instead, we've had a serious of government interventions, bailouts, and stimuli that will likely be a drag on economic growth for decades. I don't give thanks when government builds onto our house of cards. 2010-11-17T07:49:29-05:00 Roger Ream
What we need in this country is not another tax revolt. We've had plenty of those the past 40 years. What we really need is a benefit revolt. We need middle and upper income Americans to agree to take their hands out of the pockets of their neighbors and refuse to receive Social Security, Medicare, subsidized student loans, farm subsidies, etc. 2010-11-04T09:11:44-04:00 Roger Ream
Senate: 49. Buck will lose in Colorado. The upset win will be either Rosi in Wash or Fiorini in Calif. Rubio, Toomey, and Angle will win, Kirk (IL) and Miller (AK) will be in extended re-count battles. Feingold will go down in my homestate of Wisconsin and Scott Walker will be elected Governor there and chosen in the future to join a ticket as VP candidate.

House: net gain of 57 seats.

Where you have it wrong is that Republicans have a) learned their lessons to some extent and, more importantly, b) will face a base that will hold their feet to the fire. Tea Partiers will continue to pressure Congress. They know the real battle begins on Nov.3. The heat the Dems felt when passing Obamacare won't compare to what the conservative base brings to bear on the Republicans in Congress. Tea Partiers are mobilized to hit the town mtgs next year if Obamacare isn't repealed and fiscal sanity restored.
2010-10-29T15:10:12-04:00 Roger Ream
These is plenty of hypocrisy to go around on this issue. At least a few people, mostly on the right, have put the burden on those who want to build the mosque, arguing that while they have a right to build, they should voluntary move to another site rather than provoke people, especially 9-11 families who have suffered great loss. I have the most disdain for those on the left who fight to prevent Wal-Mart from building stores in cities than vigorously defend the right of those who want to build a mosque. 2010-08-24T08:46:51-04:00 Roger Ream
Perhaps a better question for those who would give the President wide leeway in selecting Justices is what would be circumstances for which a Senator should oppose a nominee? Adler suggests "necessary qualifications and temperament," but what does that mean? Perhaps experience as a judge? Kagen doesn't have any. A law degree? That isn't a constitutional requirement. Temperament? That seems to touch on judicial philosophy. 2010-07-01T11:09:57-04:00 Roger Ream
I wouldn't give a President much discretion. Rather, I'd insist on nominees that show deference and felicity to the words of our Constitution.

Sure, elections have consequences. But that shouldn't mean the party in the minority can't use whatever power it has to oppose the President and majority.
2010-07-01T10:03:55-04:00 Roger Ream
Can one even make an argument that a more radical nominee would differ one bit with Kagen on matters that come before the Court? I see no evidence to support Cole's argument that we could have gotten a nominee that was worse than Kagen. There is no evidence that Kagen's opinions will differ in any detectable way from Cole's imaginary much worse nominee. 2010-07-01T09:15:00-04:00 Roger Ream
I wish this had a share buttom! Powerful post. 2010-06-21T16:30:15-04:00 Roger Ream
Sven, Economist Peter Boettke (also a blogger at Coordination Problem) penned a defense of reading classic works such as Adam Smith in 2000 with an essay that is available on Econlog, Why Read the Classics in Economics? You can find it here: http://www.econlib.org/library/Features/feature2.html.

You might want to read this essay and reconsider (or at least respond to Pete's compelling argument).
2010-05-10T14:39:11-04:00 Roger Ream
On 4 and 5:

4. I noticed the drfit toward muddled thinking and away from free markets nearly two years ago. The last straw wsas their endorsement of Obama. I cancelled my subscription at that point.

5. The penalties aren't too different. Both have degrees of punishment depending on the number of offenses. Cushing got a 4-game suspension (1/4 of a season). I believe baseball calls for 60 games (1/3 of a baseball season).
2010-05-10T12:18:59-04:00 Roger Ream
How about the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, or some other tropical paradise... if you can afford it? 2010-05-04T09:58:10-04:00 Roger Ream
Regarding Jim Otteson's comment on how Europe free-rides on the US, this isn't just in terms of medical research. I recall someone once saying you can have a welfare state or a military budget, but not both. Europe was able to free-ride for the decades of the Cold War on the US for security, thus was able to erect welfare states. Now the U.S. will soon be faced with the classic choice of guns or butter. We can't have national health insurance and all the other transfer programs and a military capable of defending our shores, much less extending its reach overseas (for better or worse). 2010-04-20T17:13:34-04:00 Roger Ream
misterxroboto, pointing out that there are positive externalities to a college education, doesn't seem to advance the discussion of rights/duties. There are positive externalities to most activities, but we don't thereby require taxpayers to subsidies those activities. For example, my the value of my house goes up when my neighbor landscapes his. That makes me a free rider, I suppose, but doesn't justify a government landscaping program.

Our Constitution, instituted to protect God-given or natural rights (not create them), established specific functions for Congress. Subsidizing health insurance and financing education are not among those rights.
2010-04-20T16:43:32-04:00 Roger Ream
Good lists. One I recommend highly is Coordination Problem, formerly the Austrian Economists. It is a blog by mostly GMU-connected Austrian Economists. 2010-04-18T08:31:50-04:00 Roger Ream
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A blog of the NYU Colloquium on Market Institutions and the Leipzig Colloquium on the Market Order

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You write: 'The “scheduled” spending cuts amount to only $136 billion out of a federal burget (sic) of about $7 trillion for next year.' The 2013 federal budget is only $3.8 trillion, about half the number you use. 2012-11-13T17:13:48-05:00 Roger Ream
Read this today in the Milwauke Journal Sentinel online, providing evidence to back up comments above that much of the spending on infrastructure is stupid, wasteful, and unproductive and :

"Milwaukee Public Schools would reap $88.6 million over two years for new construction under the economic stimulus package just passed by the U.S. House of Representatives - even though the district has 15 vacant school buildings."
2009-02-02T09:35:05-05:00 Roger Ream
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The CNN Political Ticker is the hottest destination for the latest political news with dispatches, behind-the-scenes reports, and expert commentary, 24-7. For the latest political news from CNN's Best Political Team, with campaign coverage, 24-7.

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Your headline writer got it wrong. Nowhere in the robo call text does McCain say Obama would be like Castro. The text says under Obama we would get political policies like Cuban. As a libertarian, that is certainly something I fear. We got some under Bush and will likely get more under someone like Obama who believes in the myth of a "living" Consitution that says whatever he wants it to say. That is Castro-like. 2008-11-04T18:40:52-05:00 Roger
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cnn / politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com

The CNN Political Ticker is the hottest destination for the latest political news with dispatches, behind-the-scenes reports, and expert commentary, 24-7. For the latest political news from CNN's Best Political Team, with campaign coverage, 24-7.

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Your headline writer got it wrong. Nowhere in the robo call text does McCain say Obama would be like Castro. The text says under Obama we would get political policies like Cuban. As a libertarian, that is certainly something I fear. We got some under Bush and will likely get more under someone like Obama who believes in the myth of a "living" Consitution that says whatever he wants it to say. That is Castro-like. 2008-11-04T18:40:52-05:00 Roger