The Third Perspective

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Ten Governors Fail Fiscal Policy

Posted by Ratman on October 14, 2016 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The Cato Institute released its 2016 Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors showing 10 governors with an “F” or failing grade.

The bottom spots on the list with “F” grades were, from the bottom up, Tom Wolf (D) of Pennsylvania, Jay Inslee (D) of Washington, Kate Brown (D) of Oregon, Brian Sandoval (R) of Nevada, Dennis Daugaard (R) of South Dakota, Dan Malloy (D) of Connecticut, David Ige (D) of Hawaii, Jerry Brown (D) of California, Peter Shumlin (D) of Vermont, and Robert Bentley (R) of Alabama.

Only five governors received the “A” grade in the report. Theses governors were, highest first, Paul LePage of Maine, Pat McCory of North Carolina, Rick Scott of Florida, Doug Ducey of Arizona, and Mike Pence of Indiana, all Republicans.

Chris Edwards, the author of the report, told that to get an “A” grade, governors should pursue tax reforms, restrain budget growth, and limit government. Conversely, the governors who got an “F” increased government spending and taxes.

“Restraining should not be that difficult. The best governors did not slash spending. They restrained spending,” Edwards said, “The average change [among the “A” governors] in per capita spending was three percent. Only two governors cut spending. Indiana restrained spending growth to two percent. There is no reason to increase taxes. As the economy grows, revenues will go up. If education [spending] is important, find spending cuts elsewhere.”

According to the report, California’s general fund has increased 15.7 percent from 2015 to 2016 and will increase 5 percent in 2017. One example of the Golden State’s runaway spending: the $68 billion high speed rail system, which was sold to California taxpayers at a cost of $33 billion which needed a $9.95 billion bond from California taxpayers and $3.2 billion from tax-payers across the United States with private investors chipping in the rest. Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly to some, the private investors have been suspiciously absent.

Edwards points out that California’s situation is worse because the state’s budget relies heavily on the top 1 percent of earners for half of the funds, a situation that even Gov. Jerry Brown knows is problematic.

“We are taxing the highest income earners, and as you know, 1 percent of the richest people pay almost half of the income tax… That’s fair, but it also creates this volatility. So in order to manage this budget, it’s like riding a tiger.”

Edwards noted that a bust or recession is likely to occur in the near future which will leave California’s budget in bad shape. He suggested that California and states in a similar situation not only restrain the budget but move away from their heavy reliance on income tax. He went on to suggest that raising the sales tax would be a good way to create a more stable budget.

But taxes and spending are not the only budgetary problems for states. The report also covers debt as well as unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities.

“The level of pension liabilities varies widely, Edwards said. “The highest liabilities are in New Jersey, Illinois, Alaska, Kentucky and Connecticut.”

Connecticut and New Jersey are the worst, as they are pushing costs off onto future generations instead of using a pay as you go model. According to Edwards, there is a political inventive to spend money or promise to spend money on certain special interests but worry about where to get the money later.

“Government unions lobby for higher pensions or greater healthcare coverage and push the costs off onto the future generations,” he added.

Edwards pointed out that Wyoming and Idaho do not issue debt through bonds to finance infrastructure. Edwards thinks that this is the model that states should follow.

He also noted that the idea in the media that Republicans are “slashing and burning” budgets is untrue since only two governors have actually cut spending. Some GOP governors have even dramatically increased it.

“Nikki Haley’s budget that has gone up 38 percent. Three of the ten “F” [grades] were Republican governors.” He went on to say that Nevada was the worst as it had the biggest increases in state history. Brian Sandoval, the Republican governor of Nevada, promised that he would not increase taxes, and yet, he even imposed a broad-based commerce tax.


Independence Day

Posted by Ratman on July 5, 2013 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Independence Day. The Day we declared ourselves free of the tyranny of England. Many of us realize that tyrants don’t always wear a crown. We are libertarian because we see how controlling someone’s life is as tyrannical as anything the king of England or Parliament did to the colonists. Many of us become very cynical towards the nationalism and party behavior that surrounds the 4th of July now. This may not be the best attitude to take towards this day.

I even started the day with cynical and snarky remarks about how few people pay attention to the true meaning of Independence Day. I went so far as to call it Secession Day (yes, I said this before Julie said it but since she isn’t my friend I don’t know where she got it. xD) and calling folks simply celebrating a day loyalists. Here is where the real problem: I used an ad hominem. Breaking a major rule of argumentation/debate, I just made myself look bad. You should not spend your time attacking people. I can cite another example that libertarians are quite prone to using: statist. This is a major problem. If you know anyone using terms like this, please tell them to stop. It is disrespectful and no matter how true, does not win us any battles. Secession Day may capture one point that is very critical to get across to people; it is probably not going to raise awareness today. People are not going to be receptive of something, if you are trying to change the name to suit your perspective. This may be a great point but I doubt you will be very effective with this tactic.

Now for the major issue, we reject nationalism and the watering down of this important day in our history but do we miss the point ourselves? Be careful not to be too cynical and ignore the very thing that you are trying to point out. For me, it took staring at a fireworks show doing some soul searching before I realized that I had done exactly what I was preaching against: I forgot to truly celebrate the day for what it is. Remember that, even though you may disagree with the nationalist spirit and the party atmosphere that has nothing to do with Independence Day, you should be sharing that spirit. You should be sharing why the day is important to you. There is educational value in everything except cynicism and sulking. I did this and missed some great opportunities to remind people:

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Celebrate Classical Liberalism on Independence Day.


Anarchist vs. Minarchist

Posted by Ratman on May 9, 2013 at 9:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Here, we are again, watching figureheads of the liberty movement take stands. Well, one takes a stand one attacks the other, receives backlash and continues his tirade. I say that because Adam Kokesh and Austin Petersen each have a following. We can quibble over numbers to see who wins but that is pointless as well. Petersen is the Editor at The Libertarian Republic which is a Libertarian news and opinion site. Petersen, as you may have guessed from the word republic, is more of a minarchist.

For those of you who don’t know, a minarchist is defined as a person who wants the least amount of government possible. They tend to want government to do things like police, fire, courts and things of that nature. There are differences of opinion even on that. This is what makes libertarianism great. We have a wide spectrum of people who all share a common central idea of wanting government out of people’s lives and leave the rest up to discussion.

Kokesh has been running his Adam vs. The Man show even after having gone off the air of Russia Today. Russia Today is a news program out of Russia that is state controlled. Kokesh’s show, as are his opinions, has become very anti-government.

So, why are minarchy and anarchy such points of contention? Well, fear of a completely ungoverned world is one thing. Many attacks against people have been thrown around on this issue. Is that fear unfounded? In some ways fears are founded but in some ways the fears are irrational. This may sound wishy-washy but, upon analysis of the issue and discussion, you realize both sides have equally valid points. Anarcho-capitalists tend to reject all notions of force and coercion inherent in the existence of government whereas minarchists think that it is justifiable in the case of protecting people from harm, protecting their liberties, etc. Anarchists tend to have a purist mentality but they don’t have a monopoly on it. All libertarians seem to show some reluctance to letting new people into the movement that claim the title. This has been seen with the backlash over Glenn Beck’s claim of being a libertarian. Both anarchists and minarchists screamed about that one but that’s not how you grow a movement. Welcoming differences of opinion with open arms and discussing it seems to be the best part of libertarianism but, at the same time, the purists want none of it.

So, after the long intro more or less explaining the two sides, we now get to the meat of the issue. What is the problem if these two were to go at it in a public forum to discuss the issues? In a word: nothing. There would be nothing wrong with a real discussion. Even discussing Adam’s plans over his “armed march on D.C.” would be acceptable. The problem as I see it is libertarians attacking each other but not discussing the real issues. Let’s talk about both sides of this discussion. Austin has a serious problem with breaking the law. Makes sense as he is clearly a minarchist and has some respect for the rule of law. Adam on the other hand wants to make a statement using the time honored tradition of civil disobedience. The idea that Adam and his fellow protesters are going to march on the District of Columbia with rifles slung across their backs may seem a little much but it does drive the point home with a peaceful protest. Who is more trustworthy with their weapons? Government or a peaceful group marching through town who want nothing more than the right to defend themselves? Sounds fairly ok but at the same time anything can happen. You really never know what could happen in a situation like that so there is the possibility that things could go badly. I think it is mildly ironic that Austin’s fears are in some way explained by Alex Jones, a conspiracy theorist in charge of, when he says that he fears that agents of the government will incite something and cause there to be a firefight of some sort further justifying government taking away weapons. Now, Austin doesn’t believe that it will be government. He believes that some of the “peaceful protesters” will do something crazy. He even quotes the one person that I saw on Facebook who said something about a revolution to make his point. That is rather one sided reporting Mr. Petersen. You should be ashamed. But maybe he did see more of this and it is cause to fear what could occur. But some are claiming that this should not be done especially in the wake of the Boston attack. This seems weird to me. Much like libertarians who attacked civil libertarians for expressing their distaste and disgust for the Boston and Watertown lockdown in the wake of that attack. That yielded nothing and those who attacked people for speaking out against it were not doing anyone a service with their statements. Many displays of civil disobedience have turned ugly because of the actions of a few nutty individuals. Should they never happen? Even Austin would have to back down from that point. Adam publically speaks of the plan to, if told to disperse, place the weapons on the ground and accept being arrested. That would handle that. While I disagree with the tactic, I respect his commitment to the liberty movement.

The protest might do well to take something from Students for Concealed Carry on Campus who hosts an “Empty Holster Protest” every year to bring awareness to the fact that students are denied their right to self-defense. I could easily suggest that this would be a safer and better idea. I am not going to organize one in D.C. Maybe in California sometime. This is something that could easily be discussed without mocking people. This is occurring on both sides of this issue and has been happening for a long time.

Austin’s public disapproval of the “Armed March on D.C.” protesters has taken a worse turn. He has created an event where he plans to march with others on the day prior (on July 3) to Adam’s protest armed with toys guys. We have gone from a difference of opinion to a mockery of the whole debate. Who is doing a greater disservice to liberty? I would venture to guess that Austin is. While there is a chance that Adam’s protest will turn bad, it is simply a chance. Austin on the other hand has made a mockery not only of the gun debate but made the whole movement look childish. How will libertarians be taken seriously as a movement if figureheads such as Austin take such childish actions over disagreements in tactics? It is childish and needs to stop. Each Austin and Adam have their followings and are doing great services to liberty on their own but we could all stop and think before we act. Childish actions get us nowhere and discredit the entire movement.