Archive for January, 2010

Tough Questions for Republicans

Over the last couple of years, I have drastically reduced the amount of posts I do on political issues, to the point of doing almost none. This is something I thought was interesting though, and would like to share my thoughts.

The Democrats are licking their wounds after the upset of Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Fortunately for those of us who love Liberty, they seem to be deaf to the message they are being sent. In an effort to try to chip away at Tea Party support for “Republicans”, they’ve devised a list of questions that I suppose they thought would be intimidating. While I am no Republican, and am not running for office (so I’m not one these questions were specifically targeted towards), I thought I’d address them.

*****

Do you believe that Barack Obama is a U.S.citizen?

Short answer: Yes.

Long Answer: This was a poorly crafted question. If you really wanted to draw out the “wing-nuts” (as you see them) the question would be Do you believe that Barack Obama is a Natural Born U.S.citizen? To that I say: Absolutely Not! In my opinion, if the question were such an easy one to settle, it would have been settled during the campaign, or at least before inauguration day. It seems that there are several ways Obama could have proven his place of birth, the easiest being to produce his long-form birth certificate. He has not only refused to do so, he has spent tons of money on lawyers to prevent it from happening.

So do I think there was some conspiracy to get the Honolulu newspapers to print his birth announcement in case he were to run for President over 4 decades later? Don’t be crazy! That is easily explained by the fact that such announcements were done automatically when birth records were created. However, the birth records that triggered the announcement were Hawaii’s “Certification of Live Birth,” not a long-form birth certificate. What’s the difference? The Certification of Live Birth was easy to get, and did not require that a child actually be born in Hawaii. It seems reasonable to speculate that Obama’s mother got a certification of live birth for Barack upon returning to Hawaii after traveling to Kenya in order to make his legal status in the U.S. easier to deal with. There was no conspiracy to create a paper trail for a future President.

The certification of live birth speculation is just interesting, but not even really relevant to the question of Obama’s citizenship status, for many reasons. First of all, the Founders didn’t care about where a child was born, but who a child was born to. Citizenship is passed on from parent to child like any other trait, like eye color. It is natural that if parents are citizens, then child is too. That’s where things get sticky for Obama. His mother was a citizen. However, his father was not. He was a citizen of the United Kingdom. He was from Kenya, which was an English colony at the time of Obama’s birth. Also, under Hawaiian law at the time, the parents had to be at least 18 years old to transfer citizenship to their children automatically. Obama’s mother was 16.

The strongest case for Obama’s citizenship status hasn’t even been made yet. Even if he was born in Hawaii to two citizens (there is no question his father was not, but just for the sake of argument we’ll disregard that), and was a natural-born citizen as the Founders intended, he still has another problem. There are two pieces of evidence that strongly suggest that at some point in his youth, he was not a citizen. The first is his schooling in Indonesia. In order to be enrolled in the schools in Indonesia, he had to be an Indonesian citizen. Indonesia did not allow dual-citizenship, so if he was an Indonesian citizen, he was not an American citizen. Second, Obama admits to travelling to Pakistan in the 70’s. At the time that he says he went there, Pakistan did not allow American citizens into their country. So either he lied about not being a citizen to get into Pakistan, or he lied about going to Pakistan.

The point to showing that at one time he appears to not have been a U.S. citizen is this: even if he was born here, his citizenship would have had to have been renounced. That means that if he is a citizen now (which I have no reason to doubt, he probably is), he would be a naturalized citizen, not natural-born. It is possible to be born a citizen, renounce your citizenship (or have it renounced on your behalf by a legal guardian), and then regain your citizenship later, but then your citizenship status rests on your most recent acquisition of citizenship, the naturalization.

Unfortunately, those with the power to investigate this and do something about it have made it clear that they have no desire to do so. Obama will leave office when his term (be it first or second) is up, not because of his citizenship status.

*****

Do you think the Tenth Amendment bars Congress from issuing regulations like minimum healthcare coverage standards?

Short answer: Yes.

Long Answer: This is a ridiculously stupid question. The only reason it wouldn’t is if you don’t believe it means what it says, or doesn’t matter what it says.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

It’s been a while (like months) since I actually read through the Constitution, but I don’t remember there being anything in there about health care. I just did a search through the text and didn’t find it either, so I feel confident in my memory of the text. The tenth amendment makes it pretty clear that such issue should be dealt with at the state level. Massachusetts did so under Romney, and though I disagree I am not a resident of Massachusetts, have no obligation to their law, but wish them well with it. I think it’s wonderful that states can chose to do things like this on their own as they wish.

*****

Do you think programs like Social Security and Medicare represent socialism, and should never have been created in the first place?

Short answer: Yes.

Long Answer: They were created under FDR, not George Washington, so they clearly weren’t on the minds of the Founding Fathers. It was Karl Marx, Godfather of socialism, that said “from each according to his ability to each according to his need.” Socialism is the transfer of wealth from one class of people to another. Social Security and Medicare work because they tax working people and give to retirees and the disabled.

Besides, the very name is Social Security. Kind of hard to get around it.

As for …and should never have been created in the first place? Not at the Federal level. See the previous question on the 10th amendment, it’s the same thing. If I were in charge, Social Security and Medicare would be phased out over a period of about 10-20 years and either privatized or transferred to the states, or both.

Call me crazy, but I am a Libertarian. Forcing people to pay into a ponzi scheme isn’t exactly conducive to Liberty, and there is a reason that ponzi schemes are illegal when private citizens create them. It should be illegal for the government to create them too (and I believe that the Constitution bans them by not explicitly delegating the power to create them.

Being ponzi schemes, it’s no shock that they are running out of money and scheduled to become insolvent in the near future. It’s time to end them before they end us.

*****

Do you think President Obama is a socialist?

Short answer: Yes.

Long Answer: He calls himself a “Progressive”, but I see no difference. The progressive movement has always had the same goals as those who openly call themselves Socialists. Some people call it a sofa, I call it a couch, but either way it’s a piece of furniture.

Besides, while he likes to mock people who use the word “socialist”, he openly embraces socialist policies from beginning to end.

*****

Do you think America should return to a gold standard?

Short answer: Yes.

Long Answer: There’s a reason that the term “gold standard” carries the meaning that it does. If someone says that X is “the gold standard” of A, they’re saying it’s the ideal. In 5,000 years of recorded history, there have been many different monetary systems tried, but gold has always been the most stable. The Byzantines alone made it work for over 800 years!

The system we have now of fiat currency is failing after only less than a century. The dollar has lost nearly 95% of its value since the creation of the Federal Reserve, and had to be decoupled with gold by Nixon in 1974 because the discrepancy between the values of the dollar and gold reached a breaking point.

Fiat currencies are loved by governments, especially socialist ones, because it allows them to spend money that doesn’t exist. In order to pay for expensive social programs, a government has three choices:

  1. Tax the people to raise the money.
  2. Borrow the money.
  3. Print new money.

The first option is only popular to a point. People prefer taxes they can afford to borrowing against their future. It is always better to pay for what you consume when you consume it, rather than putting the bill off for a future date. However, we cannot afford everything we are consuming, so taxes are insufficient.

That pushes us to our second option. The people will tolerate a level of borrowing, but not much. Also, they will tolerate borrowing when it makes sense. For example, paying for roads with a gas tax makes sense, because that leads to the roads being paid for by the people that use them. Gas taxes are often not enough to pay for a new road at the time of construction though. It is reasonable to borrow the cost of the road and pay for it over the life of that road. Roads don’t need to be built every day, month, or year. They are often built to last as much as 50 years. It’s reasonable to spread the cost over several years, even a decade or two. But people will generally not tolerate borrowing money that is spent on something that is immediately consumed and lost. That is an unsustainable practice. If an individual is borrowing money to pay for basic necessities like food, or fuel, that is consumed and then gone long before the bill comes due, they will quickly be over their head in debt. Governments are no different.

The favorite option of governments is number three. They can print the money they need. That causes inflation, since the supply of money increases when more is printed. They know the effects of inflation won’t be seen until long after the newly printed money is spent, so government feels the effects of inflation much less than the people. It is a hidden tax though, and it effects those at the bottom of the economic ladder the hardest. Printing new dollars means that every dollar out there is worth less. The government gets to take the value of your money from you, without actually touching the money you have. People will tolerate this to a point, and the government can easily put up scapegoats to take the blame for their actions. They’ll just blame big business for rising prices. Most people don’t understand the real cause of inflation, and let them get away with the scapegoating.

The gold standard forces the government into fiscal responsibility. It takes option three away from them. Also, stability leads to prosperity. When people can reasonably assume what the future holds, they will conduct business. When they don’t know what tomorrow holds, they are reluctant to take the risks that business requires. If the dollar will be worth less tomorrow than it is worth today, people will shift their risks to account for that, but that shift will always consume resources and reduce prosperity.

Besides all that, getting off the gold standard has only increased the problems that it was supposed to solve.

*****

There you go, not so intimidating if you ask me. I am actually somewhat glad these questions are out there, as I think Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians should not be afraid to answer them. If someone is, he is probably more interested in power than political solutions to real problems, and wouldn’t be considered for my vote.