Monday, December 30, 2013

Memento: The story of liberals who can't seem to learn from reality...

If you’ve never seen the movie Memento, I would highly recommend it… The main character, Leonard, is suffering from anterograde amnesia – the inability to create new memories – the result of a violent attack. Unable to create new memories, Leonard uses tattoos and notes to help him find the person he believes is responsible for the last thing he does remember, his wife’s murder. Throughout the movie we see Leonard writing himself notes and getting new tattoos to help him take the next step in his pursuit of the culprit. By the end of the movie Leonard finds and kills “John G” the man he believes is responsible for his wife’s murder. Or at least he thinks he has, and something we discover he’s apparently done before. At the end of the movie the viewer discovers that despite Leonard’s “system” there really is no correlation between his actions and reality. Even those memories he can recall are suspect. In a nutshell, Leonard is lost in a world where reality simply doesn’t exist. Friends and foes are interchangeable and he knows what he knows only because he reads it in his own handwriting. Actions have no consequences because lessons are never learned.

One has to wonder, is to exist in such a world really living? Think about all of the things you know, from when you first learned the fact that a hissing radiator is probably hot to the realization that not everything everyone tells you is true, most of us never stop learning. It’s how we grow, it’s how we discover what works in the world – and what doesn’t – in the pursuit of solving problems, finding pleasure and virtually everything in between. Without learning we don’t grow and are destined to face an endless cycle of reliving the same exact problems day after day.

Such is the world that liberals have created for themselves… and increasingly have imprisoned the rest of us in. They seem to be unable to make new memories. They seem to be stuck in a universe where reality is disconnected from what actually goes on in the world and they believe what they believe only because they read it in their own handwriting… or in this case the typed letters of the New York Times or the spoken word on MSNBC. Reality simply doesn’t intrude on their universe.

From the trope that throwing money is the solution to America’s education mess to the mantra that more government regulation is the solution to all problems, liberals never seem to learn. One can only look at the performance of American schools and know that money and performance do not move in tandem. What liberals don’t learn is what actually works and what doesn’t. The examples are legion. From the fact that tax cuts actually spur economic growth to the folly that massive government spending can spur an economy to the notion that “You can keep your health insurance”, liberals fail to look at what is going on right in front of them. Or maybe fail to look is the wrong characterization… maybe fail to recognize is more accurate. It’s like when you look at one of those optical illusions with the old lady and the young girl. Depending on what you focus on, you see something different. Liberals look at the economic juggernaut of Ronald Reagan and focus on his tax cuts “for the rich” yet somehow fail to see that 15 million private sector jobs were created under his watch and GDP was booming. That’s 15 million families with a paycheck rather than depending on the government for support and hundreds of billions of dollars in American’s pockets. Conversely they laud Barack Obama because of his concern for the poor and minorities while his policies have resulted in record levels of poverty and massive numbers of people simply leaving the workforce because they can’t find jobs, with minorities hit the hardest.

One has to wonder how is it that liberals consistently fail to learn from the stark failures that are in front of them and have been recurring for decades. Whether it’s the collapse of urban America under generations of Democrat rule to the inverse relationship between government regulation and economic growth, one has to wonder if, perhaps there is not some widespread mental problem there. One can certainly choose to support economic policies that put “fairness” above economic growth, but to proffer the notion that higher taxes, increased government spending and more regulation is good for the economic well being of the nation is to simply ignore the history of the last 40 years. To have watched as government regulation of the housing industry brought the meltdown of the economy and then somehow choose to double down on that very regulation suggests that a portion of America’s liberal’s brains have simply atrophied to the point where they simply no longer process the learning of new material. They find themselves stuck reading the same notes they wrote to themselves decades ago such as “fairness”, “more government regulation”, “higher taxes” and of course the ubiquitous target of everything liberal: “the evil capitalists”. Like Leonard in Mememto, who blindly follows his notes and ends up killing an uncounted number of John Gs, liberals in America follow their notes (or teleprompters) and kill jobs, opportunity, prosperity and perhaps eventually the American Dream itself. One can only hope that at some point they misplace the notes and forget where they’ve put them.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Congress allows Barack Obama to exercise his inner John Marshall... and they will live to regret it.

In 1803 Chief Justice John Marshall changed the face of American government. He did it in such a subtle way that few people understood the consequences of his act at the time. After losing the election of 1800 and in an effort to thwart the power of victor Thomas Jefferson, John Adams sought to place dozens of party loyalists into various positions in the judicial system. He made the appointments and signed the commissions. Some of the commissions were delivered by the time Jefferson took office. Others were not and the new president simply ceased delivery of those, positing that with the commissions undelivered the appointees could not take their seats. One of those commissions belonged to Maryland’s William Marbury, who promptly sued to have the commission delivered.

The resulting case, Marbury vs. Madison, would change American government forever. Although Marshall was a Federalist like Adams, and sympathetic to Marbury’s plight, he decided that the Supreme Court could not force the Democratic-Republican Jefferson’s hand, despite Marbury’s right to his commission. He wrote that that although Marbury had indeed been wronged, the manner in which he sought relief was unconstitutional, because Congress had overstepped its bounds when it passed that aspect of the Judiciary Act of 1789.

And this is where Marshall’s shrewdness becomes apparent. For the first time the Supreme Court acted via judicial review, which is the notion that the judiciary gets to decide what is Constitutional and what is not. Rather than antagonize the new president and congress however, Marshall did exactly what they wanted, he let them win by allowing the commissions to go undelivered and therefore keeping the Federalist partisans off the various bench seats. In giving the Democrat-Republicans what they wanted he assured that they would not challenge the decision, and by extension his assertion that the courts had the power to overturn Congressional legislation it deemed unconstitutional, something not actually in the Constitution. In essence by not objecting to Marshall’s interpretation of the Court’s power, President Jefferson and the Congress were acquiescing to that interpretation and setting a precedent that has lasted for over 200 years and set a foundation for the plague of judicial activism that would emerge in the next century.

That is often how power gets shifted in a relationship – whether it’s a marriage or a government or between nations – with one party acquiescing to another party’s play until the point where the shift becomes accepted as natural.

Congress to its great discredit, is doing the exact same thing that Jefferson and the Congress did 210 years ago, they are acquiescing to Barack Obama single handedly rewriting the Constitution, something it has done before, when the President has used various directives to essentially implement the Dream Act without Congressional action. By using executive fiat to decide who stays and who can be deported the president is explicitly ignoring laws passed by Congress and signed by previous presidents. Can one imagine if Richard Nixon had similarly deemed the Civil Rights Act applied to only certain minorities? Does one imagine there have been more than a few peeps from Congress?

The most egregious example of Barack Obama ignoring the Constitution is his use of more than a dozen “exemptions” or delays for Obamacare. Indeed, he’s taking a page right out of John Marshall’s book as he tears asunder the document upon which our Republic is based. Just as Marshall purchased the acquiescence of the Democratic-Republicans by giving them exactly what they wanted, Barack Obama is buying Congress’s acceptance of his eviscerating the separation of powers by giving them what everyone wants, including their constituents, and that’s relief from the unworkable disaster that is Obamacare. But instead of accomplishing that task through legal means, Obama is simply obviating parts of the law by executive fiat. And Congress is allowing him to do so.

While Senators and Congressmen may stand by for this because they know their constituents (understandably) demand relief, they will rue the day they gave Obama, and every subsequent president, the power to rewrite legislation to their liking. If Barack Obama can simply decide that legislation is not constitutional, if he can just rewrite parts of laws he doesn’t like, if he can enforce laws whenever he feels like it, the real question isn’t what law he will annul or modify or ignore next, the real question becomes how much longer will the fig leaf of a Congress even be necessary?

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Little Sugar Coating and Bit of Demagogy is a Recipe for National Suicide by Regulation

One of the most odious aspects of regulation is the fact that it usually comes in a sugar coated package. Typically they are the result of a law that is intended to “help” everyone or “protect” some group or to give an advantage to a group whose members are perceived to be disadvantaged.

It’s that sugar coating that makes regulations so difficult to challenge. If you oppose pouring more money into a failed school system you “Don’t care about the children”. If you oppose solar power funding or excessive energy regulation, you “Don’t care about the environment”. If you oppose a minimum wage increase you are a shill for big business and “Don’t care about workers” and if you oppose Obamacare you don’t care about the poor and you’re racist to boot.

Of course once those regulations are in place, once they’re on the books, they almost never come off. Regardless of their ineffectualness in actually solving whatever problem they were theoretically supposed to solve, or despite their actually making the problem worse, the answer is almost never to repeal the law and send the staff out into the world to find jobs in the private sector. Instead the solution is almost invariably more laws or regulations to try and patch over the “minor” problems with the first law or regulations.

The Head Start program is a perfect example of this problem. Started during the heady progressive days of LBJ as part of his “War on Poverty” the program has been a consistent failure, showing no material benefits, yet it still exists. Not only that, its supporters continue to push for increased funding for the program. But it can’t be killed “because of the children”. Of course, that is just one of the thousands of programs costing hundreds of billions of dollars each year that were put in place to stamp out poverty. Yet, somehow, despite the distinctly changing nature of the definition of poverty, there remain more people characterized as living in poverty in the US today than at any point in our history.

Another aspect of this tyranny of regulations is the fact that that sugar coating is usually delivered via a bullhorn. Whether its teachers unions striking for more education spending or the SEIU picketing for the right to organize virtually anyone who still has a job to illegal immigrants demanding amnesty to the Democrats and the media conspiring to convince the country that the GOP wants to throw grandma off a cliff, the facts about the costs and consequences of regulations are rarely ever discussed. It’s hard to carry on a fruitful discussion when one side simply shouts platitudes and refuses examine the actual causes of the problems. If throwing money at education were the solution, the United States would have the smartest kids on the planet… Alas we don’t. If the only choice is between throwing grandma off a cliff and spending more money on a Social Security system that will crumble at some point in the future… everyone will want to save grandma.

There are few issues in life that whose salient points can be easily captured on a picket sign. Of those, none are solved by government legislation or regulation. Much to America’s shame that fact apparently doesn’t matter. “What do we want... (Insert relevant liberal trope here)” “When do we want it... NOW!”

It’s no wonder that virtually everyone in America knows the name of Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson but few know Jenny Beth Martin or Thomas Sowell. Sharpton and Jackson are snake oil salesmen with no interest in actually solving problems other than how to increase their media exposure while Martin seeks to solve the country’s problems by shrinking a dysfunctional government and Sowell, as the most lucid and articulate economist in America, simply explains the world as it really is and lets the reader choose their path to solving problems.

Finally there is the single most pernicious aspect of this sugar coated world of laws and regulation: Control. More regulations provide politicians and government bureaucrats with ever more opportunities to persecute those they don’t like and benefit those they do. Not sure about that? Just ask the conservative groups who were targeted by the IRS. How about Gibson Guitars or the insurance companies who criticized Obamacare in 2010. On the other side of the ledger are the green energy companies who’ve just been given carte blanche kill Golden Eagles, illegal immigrants the President has decided not to deport or “community organizing” groups the Justice Department is forcing banks to fund. Not to mention the various unconstitutional delays and waivers President Obama has handed out relating to Obamacare. And those are just federal laws, of which there are tens of thousands. There are hundreds of thousands more at the state and local level. When laws can be implemented arbitrarily the rule of law is gone.

Obamacare is the perfect example of legislation which was sold with sugar coating and whose opponents were pilloried as racists or who didn’t care about the poor. Today, simply because Obamacare was so overarching and so spectacularly dysfunctional, Americans are beginning to see that more laws can’t make everything better. Indeed some are even starting to understand that government action can and often does make things worse. The problem is however that most legislation is not of the supernova sort, but of the rather pedestrian sort that is passed and simply blends into the disordered order of the universe of regulations we’re expected to obey. Eventually the stars of regulation will become too numerous and will block out the dark matter in between them, i.e. the freedom upon which America was founded. At that point we will become a nation where every move, every step, every thought are regulated by the state. We are not quite there, but we’ve seen the future and it is North Korea. When we finally get there we’ll wonder what how we got there because all of the “solutions” we were swallowing tasted so sweet.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Quelle Surprise! Five years of Barack Obama undermining American influence in the world...

The American military is the most powerful in the world. Indeed, we spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined. As one might expect, that amount of military spending translates into a lot of influence around the world, far beyond the bases in Germany or the battlefields of Afghanistan. From leading NATO to acting as the last – and in reality the first – line of defense of nations such as Japan, South Korea, Kuwait and many others, the United States exercises more global power than any nation in history, even during times of peace.

What is unique about the United States however is the fact that as powerful as its military might is, that’s never been the sole source of American influence and indeed during most of the last century, the military was not even the most powerful element of that influence. Since the end of World War II, the two biggest drivers of American influence in the world have been economics and ideals.

The march of free markets around the world over the last 50 years has been largely been led by the United States. From a shining showcase of the prosperity free markets can achieve to the spread of specialization, the importation of products and the outsourcing of services, the economic power of the United States has inspired and lifted billions of people around the world out of poverty over the last half century.

At the same time, the ideals of American freedom and democracy have inspired the world for more than two centuries. From the American Revolution inspiring the French to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor inspiring a papier-mâché version in Tiananmen Square to the rainbow of revolutions over the last twenty years, American ideals, despite their sometimes failed execution both at home and abroad, have inspired (and influenced) patriots and freedom loving people around the world for decades on end.

American prosperity, when combined with the ideals of freedom and democracy have done more to lift the spirits and life spans of more people across the planet than any military of any size could ever hope to accomplish. The military certainly helps spread those ideals however, whether it be helping rescue the world from two World Wars or American ships and planes delivering billions of dollars of water and foodstuffs to disaster zones or famine ravaged nations.

At the end of the day American influence is largely the source of three things: The prosperity created by free markets, the ideals of freedom and democracy, and military strength. Sometimes those drivers work together while at other times they work independently of one another. They manifest themselves in small ways such as providing disaster relief to Haiti, the Philippines or countless places in between and big ways such as political and or military support for allies or a burgeoning democracy. At the same time that influence has created a tapestry of relationships around the world from strong allies to bitter enemies. In an almost perfect example the old adage you get what you give, to the degree that America succeeds in cultivating allies and friends in the world, the more prosperity we enjoy and the fewer times our military is called upon to engage in actual shooting.

All of that may be changing because of Barack Obama. For five years while he was busy inflicting his fascist, redistributitive economic policies on the citizens of the United States, he has been diminishing American influence abroad at the same time. Time and again Obama has come down on the side of leftists and American enemies. The Iran “deal” is only the latest in a very long line.

In 2009 Obama sided with leftist Honduran President Manuel Zelaya as he sought to defy the Honduran Constitution and run for reelection. Eventually Zelaya was forced into exile and as a result of his continued agitation for violence in the streets, Honduras has become one of the most dangerous nations in the world.

That same year Obama bowed to Vladimir Putin and threw American allies under the bus as he abandoned plans for a missile defense shield in Poland. 2009 also brought Iran’s Green Movement. When Iranian students took to the streets seeking to overthrow the avowed American enemy Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Barack Obama ignored pleas for a public display of support, moral or otherwise. In contrast, when protesters – including the Muslim Brotherhood – called for the ouster of one of America’s strongest allies in the region, Hosni Mubarak, Obama quickly called for Mubarak to resign. Not surprisingly, less than two years later Egypt was in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 2011 President Obama helped unleash Hell when he sent American air forces to support the overthrow of an admittedly not nice guy, Muammar Gaddafi. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the chaos that was unleashed has turned Libya into an ungovernable mess where local private militias (some of whom are Al Qaeda) are far more powerful than the government itself. Indeed, according to the Cato Institute “Human rights conditions in post-intervention Libya... are considerably worse than in the decade preceding the war.” It was in the middle of this this ungovernable mess that an American Ambassador and three others were killed by Al Qaeda in 2012. 2011 was also the year he pulled the United States out of Iraq in the worst possible way, leaving the United States with virtually no influence in a country American troops had fighting and dying in for a decade.

Finally we find our feckless president in 2013 leading his march to diminish American power in the world. His first step was to undercut longtime ally Britain in their renewed dispute with Argentina over the Falkland Islands, unlike Ronald Reagan, who was a staunch supporter of the Brits during the Falkland War in 1982. His next step was to let Bashir Assad outwit him while simultaneously turning Vladimir Putin into a credible world leader. Obama accomplished this dual disaster as he blinked at actually doing anything about a chemical weapons red line he had offhandedly warned Assad not to cross. Next he betrayed staunch American allies Israel and Saudi Arabia when he proffered a nuclear agreement with Iran that John Bolton calls “Abject surrender by the United States”. Finally just last week, he essentially acquiesced to a Chinese power grab – and simultaneously undermined allies Japan and South Korea – as the US advised American airlines to comply with China’s demands for notification when they planned to fly over water and islands claimed by all three.

For five years we have seen that whatever the situation, Barack Obama consistently chooses decisions that will weaken American power and influence in the world. The history of an American superpower is not one that is without blemishes, but it has clearly been a force for good in the world. Can you imagine a 2013 where the dominant power for the previous century had been the Soviets or the Red Chinese or some incarnation of Al Qaeda? That ability to influence events and nations requires far more than just a powerful military. It requires a leader who recognizes that American influence has been a significant catalyst for the improvement of the condition of man around the world, and one who is willing to use that fact as his North Star when carrying out foreign policy. Barack Obama has consistently done just the opposite. From supporting leftists in Central America to betraying allies on practically every continent to fueling the replacement of imperfect dictators with whom we could work with Anti-American Islamists or even chaos, for five years he has chosen the path that leads to diminished American influence.

We’ve known from before the election that Barack Obama is no fan of the American Constitution or free markets. From his willingness to diminish America on the world stage at every turn it appears that it’s not just American institutions that Obama despises, but rather the idea of a strong America itself.

Monday, November 25, 2013

From Bambi to Obamacare... When compassion requires death

Earlier this week I was driving back from the gym around dawn when I saw a deer flailing about in a ditch on the side of the road. I thought it might have been stuck and stopped to see if I could help. As I approached him it became clear that he was not stuck, but had been hit and his legs were broken and couldn’t stand. Not sure what else to do I called the police in hopes they would send a wildlife management team to pick him up.

When the police woman arrived she told me that in such cases they typically end up shooting the animal. She said it was the third one that morning and that she hated that part of the job. Once the second cop showed up so that they could block the scene from the street (so as to not traumatize the kids on the school buses) I said goodbye and left. As bad as I felt about the deer’s demise, his swift end was no doubt better than days of suffering in pain and despair as he lay in that ditch unseen by anyone other than opportunistic vultures and coyotes. Like the scene from Last of the Mohicans where Hawkeye shoots Maj. Heyward as he’s being burned alive at the stake, sometimes the right thing to do, the compassionate thing to do is the most difficult.

And so it goes with Obamacare. For years we’ve heard Republicans talk about delaying and defunding Obamacare. Now that Obamacare has begun its rollout and the pain is inexplicably even worse than predicted, calls for delays and exemptions have been heard everywhere. The GOP should not only ignore those calls, but beat them back when they arise from within their own party.

Why? Because the pain being experienced by citizens across the country is not a symptom of Obamacare, it is the whole point. Obamacare only works if the government can force younger, healthier citizens to subsidize healthcare costs of the older and sicker citizens. Obamacare only works if the government limits your choices in terms of the kinds of policies you want to purchase. Obamacare only works if participating doctors and hospitals acquiesce to allowing bureaucrats to determine how much they earn and who they can treat. Obamacare only works if millions of people are forced to purchase insurance policies that are unlike those they would have or could have purchased on their own.

The bottom line is, Obamacare is a disaster from start to finish, with nothing but hidden landmines along the way. By the time Obamacare is fully implemented the American healthcare system will lay in tatters, the American economy will be crippled, and perhaps most disgraceful of all, it will result in tens if not hundreds of millions of people being far worse off than they were before it was passed.

Given the calamity that Obamacare will inflict on the citizens and the economy, the Republicans should fight any attempts to soften the blows of Obamacare in a piecemeal fashion. Softening the blows by delaying its provisions, exempting compliance or expanding subsidies will only result in more long term damage. They will simply temporarily dull the pain of various provisions while the remaining tentacles of the law strengthen their death grip on the country.

Like a frog who cooks in a slowly heated pan of water, the long term outcome is far more damaging than if the frog is thrown in hot water, feels the pain and jumps out. The very reason that Americans are turning on Obamacare and its authors is because they are actually feeling the pain. If the pain is delayed and dulled so that Americans can go about their daily lives as normal, they will be lulled into accepting this debacle before the true consequences are known.

Sometimes, as in the case of the injured deer or Maj. Heyward, killing someone or something to put them out of their misery is the compassionate thing to do in order to save them from their agony and suffering. Other times, as in the case of Obamacare, killing it is not only the compassionate thing to do, but it is the only rational thing to do in order to save Americans from the mistakes they made in 2008 and 2012. Allowing Obamacare to survive in bits and pieces would be the worst thing of all as it would eventually inflict its cancer on the entire population, and not just the young and healthy who are supposed to pay for it. The GOP mantra should no longer be delay and defund, but rather simply do nothing… other than object to President Obama’s unconstitutional edicts allowing delays and providing exemptions. By simply letting Obamacare play out as it was written, Americans will end up feeling the pain that was intended and will respond by seeking to eliminate the source. Unlike the deer, the country will be able to recover from its injuries and may even be emerge stronger as a result, having finally learned the lesson that there is no such thing as a free lunch... even if the other guy is supposed to be paying for it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Of Startups and Meltdowns... Free Market Success vs. Government Failure

I’m an entrepreneur. I’m constantly full of ideas and trying to get businesses started. As I seek to launch my newest endeavor, BrandScanned, I’m trying to get myself involved in the Atlanta startup community. As such, last weekend I had something of a startup adventure. I participated in Startup Weekend at Georgia Tech, where people with ideas and skills get together in a mashup competition to build an idea into something more over the course 54 hours. Inexplicably, BrandScanned just missed attracting enough votes to be one of the projects that went forward, so I joined a team called Zuit. Zuit was the brainchild of a young woman named Megan, who saw an opportunity in the fact that women rarely feel beautiful or confident in off the rack suits. Her customized tailoring website idea was not only brilliant, but the team was amazing. Over the course of a weekend we took Megan’s idea and turned it into something more. The tech part of our team was made up of four coding geniuses, including these guys. They designed and built a beautiful demo website that was nothing short of spectacular.  My part of the team focused on the business model, the business opportunity and putting together the investor pitch while others filmed videos for the site.  

You can of course imagine the scene… Diet Cokes, granola bars, pizzas and lots of coffee. There were computers and iPads and mobile devices and lots of white boarding. Some of the teams had a plan then pivoted 180 degrees after talking to prospective customers. Others, including ours, stayed laser focused on the original idea. And that of course is the beauty of entrepreneurship, you combine what you’re good at or passionate about and figure out how those things fit with what customers need or want. 

While some of the ideas that teams worked on were throwaway and others were quite serious, the takeaway of the weekend was this: Driven people can do amazing things. Essentially a room full of people who mostly didn’t know one another were told to talk about their ideas, split into groups and then essentially “Go do something.” And they did. None of the ideas is likely to save the world or cure cancer, but that wasn’t the point. It was to try and make something. And they did.

The whole thing reminded me of something I’d read a few days before Startup Weekend. It had to do with three guys who developed (an Obamacare clone that actually worked) in just a few days. Somehow, three 20 year old kids were able to build something in less than a week that the government couldn’t figure out how to accomplish in three years with half a billion dollars at their disposal. (Actually the government spent 4 times more building a broken website than apple did building the iPhone that changed the world.) What’s worse, the catastrophe that is Obamacare not only doesn’t do what was claimed it would do, but it actually makes matters far worse than it was on countless levels, and we’re not just talking about a dysfunctional website. Can you imagine if Apple built into the iPhone a tool that allowed convicted felons to track your whereabouts? Can you imagine if your stock broker took away your shares of Google and replaced them with shares of Zynga without asking? How about if you live in Iowa but in order to drive a car State Farm required you to have hurricane insurance? That's basically what the government does with Obamacare.

Thankfully the private sector doesn’t usually work that way. There are two reasons for that. The first is that in a free market consumers have choices, and they can vote with their feet and dollars when a company fails to meet their needs. With government that’s never the case. It decides what’s best for you and you’d better get used to it, because it’s pretty certain that you’re going to be stuck with it for a long time. There is no consequence for failure and as a result most government endeavors fail, miserably.

The second reason is that government operates from a top down mentality. A bunch of politicians, bureaucrats and lobbyists decide they know what’s good for you and then start writing laws and regulations and force you to comply. Unfortunately for you, while the ostensible motivation is your well being, in reality the driving force is usually the accumulation of power, money and of course reelection. Entrepreneurship is just the opposite. It’s a bottom up approach where most ideas come from people who are actually doing things and trying to find real solutions to problems in the marketplace or make their fortune by seizing opportunities where consumers are willing to pay for goods or services.

Which brings us back to Startup Weekend, Zuit and three guys behind Whether America wants real solutions to real problems or frivolous things that are… well, just fun, the source is unlikely to come from government. Genius ideas come about when creativity is fostered, success matters and the customer is the driving force. As Obamacare (which shares none of those things) decimates the American healthcare system it might be time for Americans to remember what created our unprecedented prosperity in the first place: free markets where entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators decided to try and do something and customers voted with their pocketbooks. As more of our resources are sucked into the abyss of government failure, less are available to invest in entrepreneurs like Megan who seek opportunities in building businesses that bring solutions to real problems. If the implosion of Obamacare does nothing else, maybe it will reverse that trend. Maybe that half billion dollars spent will have a positive outcome after all…

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Could Obamacare be the Coup de grâce for Battered Liberal Syndrome?

Years ago I was talking to an uncle who happens to be a martial arts expert. He told me a story about being in a bar when a man started beating the heck out of his girlfriend. My uncle being my uncle, he intervened and separated the two. As he’s standing there confronting the abuser, he was attacked from behind by the girlfriend…

You hear about things like this all the time, a version of what is called “Abused Woman Syndrome” where a woman is abused by a man but continues to stay with him, and as in the story above, often defend him. Often the woman’s friends and family try and convince her that he’s bad for her, but while she admits he has his flaws, she loves him and she knows things are going to get better. Conservatives in America today find themselves in a situation similar to the one my uncle did, but the difference is, it’s not battered women that we face, but rather it’s battered liberals, and the abusers are the politicians in the Democrat Party. And while the liberals continue to stay in and empower the relationship, it’s everyone in the country who gets abused.

The Democrats have been abusing the American people for decades, and we have the scars to prove it:

Education in the United States is a train wreck. We spend more than any country on the planet on education and yet we trail most of the developed world in math, science and reading scores. Not only are students not learning the basics, but more importantly they are not learning to compete in, survive in and thrive in the real, competitive world.

Prosperity and economic growth are being strangled. In the 1950’s when the Federal Register (list of federal regulations) averaged less than 10,000 pages a year the American economy grew at an average annual rate of 4.6% a year (after inflation) – at which rate it would take you 15 years to double your income. Over the last decade when the Federal Register has weighed in at 78,000 pages a year, GDP growth has shrunk to 1.5% annually – at which rate it would take you 48 years to double your income. That means that the GDP growth – read prosperity – has declined by 65% as the Federal Register has grown by 800%.

The number of people on welfare is greater than the number of working people. The workforce is at its lowest level in three decades and those among the Democrat base (women, minorities and youth) are the most adversely affected by all of these issues.

On these and a myriad of other issues the Democrats have been abusing the American people (and in particular their own base) for decades. Nonetheless, when faced with the evidence of the Democrats abuse in the form of failed policies, they always have an excuse. Republicans want to cut education or kill Grandma or destroy the environment or let companies abuse their employees, etc. etc.. And of course the Republicans hate women, workers, blacks, immigrants and basically everyone who’s not rich and white.

And now we have what is potentially the most important event ever in the sordid history of the Battered Liberal Syndrome: Obamacare. Not only was it proffered on a false premise in the first place, it has been nothing but lies since: “If you like your plan you can keep it.” “Premium reductions will save you $2,500 per year” And the lies keep coming: “It’s the fault of the insurance companies”, “You’ll come to appreciate the better plan”, and of course the obligatory “We had no idea any of these problems would crop up.”

For so many years Democrats lied about practically everything as the failures of their policies came home to roost. Because of charlatans like Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank, and Barack Obama they could deflect blame to others for their failures and come out unscathed. But with Obamacare they are facing a different scenario all together. They own it lock, stock and barrel.

They passed the legislation on their own. They wrote the regulations. They built the website. Obama wrote the exemptions. They managed the entire process from A to Z, and they lied about every piece of it all along the way, and none more so than Barack Obama himself. As such, as the entire thing melts down there is no way for them to deflect the blame. Conservatives and many Republicans have been saying for three years that Obamacare was going to be an abject failure, it was going to cost jobs, it was going to drive up healthcare costs and it was going to expose citizens to chaos as government sought to control healthcare. All of those things have come true, and more is on the way.

The failure of Obamacare doesn’t just expose the failure of one program, but rather the failure of the Democrat philosophy in general that all things can be made right and good by simply writing a piece of legislation, throwing money at a problem or by putting the government in control. The failure of Obamacare is just a most explicit version of the policies that have brought us failing schools, the mortgage collapse, green energy sinkholes and countless other failures. The difference is, the only fingerprints on this debacle are Democratic and for the first time in history their failure is being seen as theirs alone. This is partially due to the fact that even the complicit mainstream media can’t cover up a disaster of this magnitude as Americans are seeing their plans cancelled, premiums and deductibles rise, all while choices and jobs evaporate.

Is it possible that Obamacare could be the Coup de grâce for Battered Liberal Syndrome? Perhaps this train wreck will be the incident that finally begins to shake battered liberals out of their blind devotion to the Democrat Party and liberalism. Maybe they will finally step back and look at the bigger picture and recognize that it’s results that count, not soft Democrat whispers of how it’s really someone else’s fault, how they’re just trying to make things better or fair and that they really care. You have to think that after years of battery at some point soft whispers and “good intentions” no longer matter and results finally do. At that point perhaps discussion will turn to the damage that invariably occurs when government seeks to control everything. Maybe 2013 is that point. Perhaps Obamacare is the catalyst… If so there might end up being a silver lining after all.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Vindication of Ted Cruz

Pundits and journalists across the country have suggested that Ted Cruz and friends accomplished nothing with the government shutdown. I’d beg to differ. Indeed, I’d suggest just the opposite. The best parallel I can draw is with Ronald Reagan in 1976 when he angered the GOP establishment by challenging Gerald Ford for the party’s nomination before he went down to defeat at the hands of a peanut farmer from Georgia. Reagan however had made his mark. He was for smaller government and everyone knew it. As a consequence, four years later he won a resounding victory on the strength of the army of supporters he inspired in 1976.

In the same way, Ted Cruz hates Obamacare. He recognizes that Obamacare is an anvil around the neck of American freedom and prosperity. What is most important about his “filibuster” and the shutdown is that he has left no doubt in the minds of Americans exactly where he stands. Not only about where he stands, but also about his willingness to suffer the slings and arrows from both the opposition and those within his own party in order to make a clear statement. And that statement is that big government in general and Obamacare in particular are bad for America.

Many GOP establishment types pilloried Cruz for the shutdown, saying that had it not been for the shutdown he championed, the news from October 1st would have been the failure of Obamacare itself. They are simply wrong. Had the shutdown gone on longer two things would have occurred.

The first is the most telling: Given enough time it would have become clear to more and more Americans that the “shutdown” of the federal government would not bring about the end of the world, despite the warnings from the big government types in both parties. This was the real reason that the media and the Washington establishment focused on the shutdown. By the shutdown demonstrating the irrelevancy of Washington to the lives of so many Americans, they feared that the voting public might just decide that they didn’t really need to be taxed to the hilt and mortgaged beyond their lifetimes to pay for things that didn’t really matter. As such, the war on Ted Cruz and the Tea Party via the shutdown had to be job number one, which it was. The reality of this fact can be seen in the results of a Washington Post / ABC poll. Despite weeks of shrill coverage and apocalyptic predictions, once the shutdown was over a full 78% of Americans reported that they weren’t inconvenienced by the shutdown at all and another 11% felt only minor inconveniences. When 89% of the population barely notices that you’re not showing up for work it’s time to be concerned about your job. The establishment was… and it should be.

The second thing that would have occurred had the shutdown continued is the thing that is happening right now. Americans would have become well aware of the train wreck that is Obamacare because it’s so catastrophic a failure that it would have been impossible to miss. The failures of the website are legion, as are the basic elements of Obamacare itself. As more and more people were feeling the punch – i.e. losing their current health insurance, seeing premiums skyrocket and watching their choices disappear – the reality of the actual damage caused by Obamacare would have become more than the sycophant media cold hide. It’s one thing to read about our Spoiled Child in Chief keeping veterans from visiting monuments to their fallen brethren, but it’s another thing altogether to get a notice from your insurance company telling you you’ve lost your coverage or that your premiums have doubled and your deductible has tripled. Those are the kinds of things people notice regardless of what is going on in Washington.

Which brings us back to Ted Cruz and his alleged tilting at windmills. It turns out that the thing he was warning us about was even worse than even he knew. That said however, in reality Obamacare is just the most obvious example of the thing that Ted Cruz stands against, which is dysfunctional, failed and crippling big government. Listen to his sequester speech, or most speeches that he gives. The enemy is not government per se, but rather a government that undermines on the freedom and rights of American citizens. The enemy is a government that destroys jobs and impedes prosperity. The enemy is a government that listens to Washington lobbyists and bureaucrats while ignoring the voices of the people. The enemy is an unaccountable government that sees no limits to its power, its reach or its checkbook, whether there is money to cover the checks or not.

Ted Cruz may have lost in the Senate and on the shutdown, but those are merely the first battles in the war that will be waged for the heart and soul of America over the next four years. What kind of America will emerge from that war of ideas we will have to wait to see, but Ted Cruz has already signaled a clarity of vision, a willingness to lead, and a capacity to inspire that suggests conservatives may finally have a champion who is prepared to take a stand and give the country a real choice for the first time in a generation. That is a victory not only for conservatives, but for Americans in general because as Ronald Reagan demonstrated, one man with a clear vision and message of freedom can move save a nation on the brink of failure and put it back on the path to prosperity.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Greek Tragedy of Obamacare

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where at some point you stop and ask yourself “how the hell did I end up here?” I have, and like a Greek tragedy, usually whatever predicament I found myself in was the result of a number of poor decisions that seemed to compound themselves until they finally reached a point where I had to stop and say “What the hell am I doing?” At that point I had to figure out if there was a way to extricate myself from the situation without hanging myself in the process…

That is exactly where the country is in reference to Obamacare.

Obamacare was passed in 2009 in reaction to anecdotal examples of Americans who couldn’t get healthcare. According to Gallop, in 2009 there were 50 million Americans who did not have health insurance. That represented approximately 16% of the population. Gallop also reported that of those without health insurance, fully 50% were satisfied with their healthcare. That means that fully 92% of the American population either had health insurance – 80% of whom were satisfied with that insurance – or were satisfied enough with their healthcare not to have insurance.

To give those numbers a bit of perspective, compare them the rest of the developed world. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development publishes the Better Life Index which ranks developed nations by a wide variety of criteria, one of which is health. According to the 2011 Better Life Index survey, in 2009 88% of Americans were satisfied with their health. Of the 34 countries covered in the data, in only two – New Zealand (89.7%) and Canada (88.1%) did citizens report a higher level of satisfaction with their health. Not the United Kingdom (76%). Not France (72.4%). Not Sweden (79.1%). Now, of course health is not healthcare, but the goal of healthcare is to improve or sustain a person’s health.

So, in 2009, when 92% of Americans had health insurance or were satisfied enough with their healthcare not to have it, and 88% of Americans were satisfied with their health, we got Obamacare, a 2,000 page bill that needed to be passed before it could be read.

None of that suggests that there were not people who had challenges, difficulties and, frankly, unfair situations. Those people and those difficult situations did indeed exist. But they exist in every endeavor of man in which human beings play a part. Nothing manmade is ever perfect. But 92% was pretty damn good for a country of 305 million widely diverse people. That doesn’t mean that things couldn’t have improved. From allowing a national marketplace to eliminating tax deductions to implementing tort reform, there were many proposals for improving the healthcare situation in America. No doubt those projects would not solve all of the problems. But then neither does Obamacare. By a long shot.

The problem is, Obamacare not only doesn’t do what it claimed it would do, which was to let everyone who was satisfied with their plans keep them while providing affordable insurance for all those who couldn’t get it, but it has failed in its most basic goals. Millions have lost their health insurance, millions more have seen their hours cut, if they can find a jobs in the first place, premiums are skyrocketing for tens of millions of people and the infrastructure upon which the program rests is a failure of epic proportions.

What’s worse, if that’s even possible, is that Obamacare inserts government bureaucracy and ineptitude and failure directly into the most personal lives of every American. Not only that, the regulations that Obamacare generated (fully 30 times longer than the legislation itself) are nothing but tools with which bureaucrats can provide favors for friends or punish enemies.

At the end of the day, we probably should ask ourselves: “How the hell did we get here?” The answer is actually pretty simple: It’s the 1-2-3 recipe of Liberalism. 1) Take an anecdotal problem that, while troubling, is limited in scope, and project it on the larger population. 2) Propose an overarching government solution that will solve said problem while not harming the rest of the population. 3) Implement a bureaucratic nightmare that not only fails to solve the problem but generally makes the situation exponentially worse.

Such is the history of progressive government. Welfare. Poverty. Mortgages. School bussing. Education – at all levels… Failed programs, over and over again. And now we have Obamacare, where a healthcare system that was meeting the needs of 90% of the American population will be transmogrified into something that meets the needs of far fewer, all while imposing financial and regulatory hardships on hundreds of millions of Americans.  

At what point will Americans figure out that these failures do not happen on their own but rather they are the scripted outcome of a Greek tragedy called Liberalism? By now the audience should know the outcome of the story… Big government doesn’t solve problems. It simply takes bad situations and makes them worse. Perhaps the spectacular failure of Obamacare and everything associated with it will be the wakeup call Americans need to see that for all of its beguiling charm and compassionate language, liberalism is nothing more than a siren’s song, promising an island paradise in a sea of human misery. Not only is there no island, nor paradise, but the waters are filled with jagged rocks which invariably destroy every ship whose folly brings it too close.  If we’re lucky Obamacare will be that rare Greek play where the protagonist learns from his mistakes and changes course before his ship is impaled on the rocks…

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

On Leadership: Winston Churchill & Ted Cruz

In May 1940 the world faced a menace unlike any it had ever seen. After a decade of economic body blows, much of the world was weary. With the carnage of WWI only 20 years past few people had the stomach to fight for much of anything. It was only with great reluctance that in September 1939 the British and the French declared war on Germany after they invaded Poland with the Soviet Union. Nonetheless, even after the declaration, after years of appeasement most British felt that there was little they could do to stop Adolph Hitler.

Things were indeed bleak and spirits were low. On May 10th Winston Churchill would become Prime Minister, and on that same day the Germans would invade and soon overrun Britain’s main ally, France. And so began the most important chapter in the life of the most important leader of the 20th Century.

That chapter had followed many others however. Winston Churchill spent years in the “wilderness” of British politics between the two world wars. For most of that time he had been ridiculed as a war monger for his constant warnings about the growing menace of, first, the Communists, then Hitler and the Nazis. He was considered a crack pot… what some today might call today a “Wacko Bird”.

Nonetheless, Churchill persisted, despite the fact that much of the enmity towards him came from those within his own party… particularly for his advocacy of free trade. By 1940 many in Britain were not sure that the Nazi juggernaut could be stopped.

A funny thing happened on the way to takeover of the entire world however. One man rallied the people of the one country that stood between Nazi dominance of the entire continent: Winston Churchill.

One month after becoming Prime Minister, Churchill gave a speech that laid out clearly why the fight was worth fighting:
We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim?
I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.
This speech, and many others inspired the people of his tiny nation to not only survive the Battle of Britain and deal Hitler his first significant defeat, but to go on and play a leading role in the victory over the Axis powers.

Barack Obama is not Adolph Hitler, the Democrats are not Nazis, and Ted Cruz is not Winston Churchill. Barack Obama is however a statist who seeks to replace free markets and individual freedom with state control and government mandates. The Democrats do however seek to control virtually every aspect of an American’s life. And Ted Cruz understands that victory demands a willingness to say things people may not want to hear, the conviction to stand behind principals worth fighting for, and perhaps most of all, the need to articulate why the fight is being undertaken in the first place.

Churchill was a pariah within his own party and ridiculed from both sides of the aisle, yet he continued to take to the floor of the Parliament and say the things that needed to be said, particularly when few others were perceptive enough to recognize the dangers or had the courage to face them. Eventually the British people recognized that Churchill had been right all along and that he was the man to lead them through their darkest hour. Ted Cruz is not Winston Churchill, but perhaps he carries the spirit of the “Last Lion” with him and if we’re lucky his voice will lead the country past the mortal danger posed by a government that has become too powerful, too dysfunctional, too secretive and too coercive for liberty to survive.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why the shutdown scares the petty vindictive little man Barack Obama

Despite the fact that the average federal employee earns $123,000 (2010 numbers) in salary and benefits while the average private sector employee earns $61,000, my sympathy goes out to those who have found themselves on the sidelines because of Barack Obama and Harry Reid’s shutdown. Despite the fact that they will likely get all of their backpay and perhaps a bit more, it’s always difficult to see people have their finances thrown into chaos. Nonetheless, big government is a cancer on productivity, and while a million federal employees are feeling the pinch of this impasse, tens of millions of Americans are feeling the pinch of no jobs, reduced hours and losing their healthcare because of big government and ObamaCare. Viva la shutdown!

The old saying goes: “Sometimes you have to break some eggs in order to make an omelet.” In this case a more appropriate characterization might be “Sometimes you have to break some eggs in order to put on a banquet.” Given that federal regulations are so costly to American businesses – and consequently to Americans themselves – the extended furlough or firing of the apparatchiks employed to enforce government regulations would allow for a resurgence of economic activity, leading to a return of American prosperity. According to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, federal regulations will cost Americans $1.8 Trillion this year or about $14,000 per household. How would you like to have an extra $14,000 per year to spend? Well, let’s be generous and suggest that 25% of the government’s regulations are both Constitutional and worthwhile. That would mean that the bonus would only be $11,500 per year. How much of a jolt do you think you could give your community if you and every one of your neighbors had an additional $1,000 a month to spend? I guarantee you it’s a lot more than an omelet.

This shutdown is 100% owned, lock, stock and barrel by Barack Obama and the Democrats. As wasteful as most of the government spending is, the House passed a bill that would fund every single piece of it other than Obamacare. The Senate rejected that and the President promised to veto it if it made it to his desk. They can whine as much as they want about obstructionism, but the fact is that they can have everything they want other than something that a majority of Americans don’t want. Cry as they might, the spilled milk has their fingerprints all over the bottle.

Barack Obama is a petty, spiteful, vindictive little man. In order to make sure that Americans knew the shutdown was going on – because most probably wouldn’t notice as they have lives and are not part of the Democrat / Big Government / Mainstream Media Industrial Complex in the first place – Barack Obama chose to inflict the greatest amount of pain possible. If you’ve never been to Washington to see the WWII monument, it’s a beautiful, spacious open air monument with marble pillars, arches and fountains which is accessible 24 hours a day. You don’t need to buy a ticket to see it, there’s nothing for anyone to do to make sure you can enjoy it, all you have to do is just walk across 17th St. from the Washington Monument and you’re there. You just walk around, that’s it. Barack Obama decided to actually spend money to put up barricades so that you could not visit it during the shutdown. When veterans who actually fought in WWII came to see it and ignored his barricades, he spent more money to have the barricades tethered together and then employed horse mounted Rangers there to ensure that the heroes could not visit the monument to THEM! (Until the veterans announced their visits were protected 1st Amendment activities...) What’s worse, according to one Park Ranger: “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.” If that were not enough, at the same time he threatened to arrest supplemental Catholic priests if they volunteered their time to conduct Mass for military personnel who have no priests available to them. He had police kick veterans and visitors off the Vietnam Memorial, which is literally an open air wall and a walkway dug into the ground. He even tried to close the ocean down in Florida. But if he wants to play golf the course on Andrew’s Air Force Base is open.

Like most things in Washington, words don’t always mean what they actually mean. A shutdown in plain English means that something is frozen, stopped, not functioning. In Washington parlance however, shutdown means that 83% of the budget is still being spent. So the shutdown which President Obama and the rest of the lefties are denouncing really only equates to 17% of the federal government, or about exactly what the government spent just a few short years ago.

Ronald Reagan endured half a dozen shutdowns at the hands of the stridently partisan Tip O’Neill and the world did not come to an end. It won’t end now either. This shutdown will not bring about Armageddon any more than sequester did. What it might do however is focus American’s attention on the fact that the nanny state is not as important as those in Washington would like us to believe. Many Americans might be surprised to discover that not only does the sun continue to rise during the shutdown, but the neighborhood supermarket still opens, cable TV is still on the air and their cars still run. Frankly, that’s a danger for Barack Obama and big government types of all stripes, because once Americans rediscover that they can survive without big government they just might start pushing back. And when they start the bell will soon begin to toll for much of what government has appropriated for itself over the last half century... and with it will go the confiscatory taxes that have made that encroachment possible. As such, don’t be surprised to see Obama and Co. continue to look for new ways to inflict pain on the American people. The question is, will the squishes in the GOP be able to stomach the fight long enough for Americans to come to the realization that they don’t need a nanny state to hold their hands from cradle to grave? Let’s hope they do.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Prosperity's Bible & Einstein's Definition of Insanity

Albert Einstein defined Insanity thus: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

One has to wonder what Einstein would think of the left’s continued desire to inflict centralized planning on the citizens of the United States. Central planning has been a failure virtually every time it’s ever been implemented, whether in the Soviet Union, Venezuela or here. And we’ve seen a lot of it here, and, not surprisingly, a lot of failures. Education, check. Mortgages, check. Welfare, check. Amtrak, check. We are already seeing the wheels coming off of their most recent foray into state control, Obamacare.

Despite everything we’ve seen, despite the track record of abysmal failure, liberals seem to think that centralization can solve everything. As disheartening as liberalism’s failures are in the social and education spheres, the real tragedy is what they have done in the economic sphere. It’s economic prosperity that gives liberals sufficient benefits that they have the luxury to chase their fantasy of a world filled with lollipops and fairness. And they are killing the golden goose.

The thing that liberals don’t get is that prosperity doesn’t come from some grand master plan. Rather, prosperity is the result of people taking risks, people working hard, and yes, people seeking to win. American prosperity is the result of billions of decisions made by millions of individuals over the course of two centuries. Decisions to risk everything to start a business. Decisions to start again after one or five or ten failures. Decisions to ignore conventional wisdom and take the road less traveled. Decisions to put a road where one didn’t previously exist. Decisions to invent things that seemed impossible. American history is replete with millions of stories of courage, perseverance, industriousness and optimism. Many of those stories you and I will never hear about or know about, but that doesn’t mean we don’t benefit from them. We do, because those entrepreneurs, innovators, inventors are the oxygen that keep the American economy from collapsing in the face of the left’s burdensome regulatory state. The problem is, as the regulations increase fewer and fewer people have the strength to withstand the onslaught of paperwork and fees and the intimidation by a burgeoning regulatory apparatus.

It might be worthwhile for liberals to look at how we got here in the first place.

Why did most of the inventors and entrepreneurs and innovators who created our prosperity take those risks? There are probably as many reasons as there are dreamers, but one thing is for certain, most of the people who helped build the most prosperous nation in the history were driven by a desire to improve their lot in life. Most of them didn’t come from a life of privilege. Most of them didn’t grow up in risk free bubbles where everything was provided to them by some government agency. Indeed most of them came from middle class households (or below) and wanted to create something better for themselves and their families. Not sure that’s true, check out this year’s Forbes 400 list. Of the 400 richest people in the United States, fully 68% of them made the list as a result of their own efforts, not because they were born in a golden bassinette or with a platinum spoon in their mouths.

A better source might be something call Prosperity’s Bible. That’s not the real title, but it’s appropriate. The actual title of the book is They Made America. From Robert Fulton, Samuel Colt and Cyrus McCormick to Juan Trippe, Ted Turner and Steve Jobs, it’s full of two centuries of the most important innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs in American history. These men – and a few women – built things, invented things, but most importantly, changed things. They helped drive a tiny nation of immigrants to become the most prosperous nation in human history. And they brought their fellow man along with them by creating jobs, opportunity and a dramatic improvement in the standard of living around the world. And in many cases, from Carnegie to Rockefeller to Gates, after they created it they gave much of their wealth away for the benefit of others.

But virtually none of these giants did what they did (except perhaps some of the railroad barons) at the behest of the government. Amadeo Giannini didn’t lend money on a handshake after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake because of any government mandates. Garrett Morgan didn’t invent the gas mask and the traffic signal in pursuit of government contracts. Chemist Leo Baekeland didn’t leave Belgium because there was no government support for his research – there was, plenty – no, he came to America to build a business… which he did, and one of the things he invented was plastic. Rockefeller didn’t rationalize the petroleum market to support some government regulation… although he did save the whales in the process.

And that’s the key to why liberalism has always failed, and always will fail.  It seeks to replace individual drive, individual achievement, and individual responsibility with government mandates, government support and most perniciously, government regulations… all enforced by nameless faceless bureaucrats who have no idea what it takes to succeed in the real world most of us live in.  Liberalism seeks to remove the risk of failure from the human condition.  It seeks an equality of outcome separate from an equality of effort. It seeks to restrict anything that might ever have a negative outcome.   It seeks to mold a world made of imperfect people into a perfect Stepford world where everyone is the same, no one has more than their share and everyone is told what they can’t do and what they must do by regulatory busybodies. 

Obamacare is just the latest in a half century long march of mandates, regulations and other aspects of centralization that have gutted American prosperity and in the process created tens of millions of wards of the state who have no desire to, nor understanding of how to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and go out and make something of themselves, create prosperity for their families and their country, to change the world by doing something of consequence.

Americans of all stripes could benefit from picking up a copy of They Made America. It shows in black and white exactly what it takes to create prosperity on an unprecedented scale. If liberals picked it up they might finally recognize that success can’t be mandated but it can be inspired and stop living up to Einstein’s definition of insanity.