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Archive for November 3rd, 2012

I’ve written, ad nauseum, about the economic impact of excessive government spending.

But I’ve also acknowledged that Article I, Section VIII of the Constitution grants specific powers to the federal government.

What I’ve neglected to explore, though, is the key issue of how today’s bloated welfare state interferes with and undermines the government’s ability to competently fulfill its legitimate responsibilities.

Imagine, for instance, if we had the kind of limited federal government envisioned by the Founding Fathers and the “best and brightest” people in government – instead of being dispersed across a vast bureaucracy – were concentrated on protecting the national security of the American people.

In that hypothetical world, I’m guessing something like the 9-11 attacks would be far less likely.

I’m mostly thinking about reducing the inefficiency and incompetence of Washington, but the same principle applies to other levels of government.

Using lots of humor and sarcasm, Mark Steyn elaborates on this issue.

In political terms, Hurricane Sandy and the Benghazi consulate debacle exemplify at home and abroad the fundamental unseriousness of the United States in the Obama era. …John Brennan, the Counterterrorism guy, and Tony Blinken, the National Security honcho, briefed the president on the stiff breeze, but on Sept. 11, 2012, when a little counterterrorism was called for, nobody bothered calling the Counterterrorism Security Group, the senior U.S. counterterrorism bureaucracy. …our government is more expensive than any government in history – and we have nothing to show for it. …one Obama bill spent a little shy of a trillion dollars, and no one can point to a single thing it built. “A big storm requires Big Government,” pronounced The New York Times. But Washington is so big-hearted with Big Government it spends $188 million an hour that it doesn’t have – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and Ramadan. And yet, mysteriously, multitrillion-dollar Big Government Obama-style can’t doanything except sluice food stamps to the dependent class, lavish benefits and early retirement packages to the bureaucrats that service them, and so-called government “investment” to approved Obama cronies. …Last week, Nanny Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, rivaled his own personal best for worst mayoral performance since that snowstorm a couple of years back. This is a man who spends his days micromanaging the amount of soda New Yorkers are allowed to have in their beverage containers rather than, say, the amount of ocean New Yorkers are allowed to have in their subway system – just as, in the previous crisis, the municipal titan who can regulate the salt out of your cheeseburger proved utterly incapable of regulating any salt on to Sixth Avenue. Imagine if this preening buffoon had expended as much executive energy on flood protection for the electrical grid and transit system as he does on approved quantities of carbonated beverages. But that’s leadership 21st-century style: When the going gets tough, the tough ban trans fats. Back in Benghazi, the president who looks so cool in a bomber jacket declined to answer his beleaguered diplomats’ calls for help – even though he had aircraft and Special Forces in the region. Too bad. He’s all jacket and no bombers. This, too, is an example of America’s uniquely profligate impotence. When something goes screwy at a ramshackle consulate halfway round the globe, very few governments have the technological capacity to watch it unfold in real time. Even fewer have deployable military assets only a couple of hours away. What is the point of unmanned drones, of military bases around the planet, of elite Special Forces trained to the peak of perfection if the president and the vast bloated federal bureaucracy cannot rouse themselves to action? What is the point of outspending Russia, Britain, France, China, Germany and every middle-rank military power combined if, when it matters, America cannot urge into the air one plane with a couple of dozen commandoes? In Iraq, al-Qaida is running training camps in the western desert. In Afghanistan, the Taliban are all but certain to return most of the country to its pre-9/11 glories. But in Washington the head of the world’s biggest “counterterrorism” bureaucracy briefs the president on flood damage and downed trees.

Amen. Four Americans are dead in part because the idiots in Washington are focused on things that are not the proper responsibility of the federal government.

I don’t know if this was his intent, but Steyn just made a very compelling argument for the libertarian vision.

Here are a few of my favorite examples of Steyn’s writings.

This post is about the link between effective government and small government, with the obvious implication that the current federal behemoth is largely incapable of handling its legitimate responsibilities. Well, the flip side is that doesn’t do a good job in areas where it shouldn’t be involved, as cleverly illustrated by this cartoon.

P.S. Speaking of libertarianism, here’s some self-mocking humor. We’ll start with a video portraying Somalia as a libertarian paradise, followed by cartoons on libertarian ice fishing and libertarian lifeguards, then an info-graphic showing 24 types of libertarians, and close with a poster showing how the world sees libertarians.

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I’ve had some fun on this blog by comparing moronic government policies in the United States and United Kingdom.

In my never-ending search for cheap laughs and juvenile entertainment, I’ve ever turned this into a contest to see which nation has more pathetic and useless bureaucrats.

The United Kingdom has some very strong contestants.

As a patriotic American, I’m proud to say that we’re giving the Brits a run for their money. As you can see, the United States is filled with equally stupid and clueless government officials.

These are all amazing episodes of bureaucratic stupidity, but I must confess that I’ve been unfair.

I’ve been sharing stories about moronic government officials and completely overlooking examples of idiotic behavior and decision-making in the non-government sector.

To be sure, you’re more likely to find stupidity in government, but that doesn’t mean it’s non-existent elsewhere.

So, to rectify that oversight, let’s share two examples of jaw-dropping stupidity from non-bureaucrats in the U.S. and U.K. (or perhaps we should call them aspiring bureaucrats).

We’ll start with some clowns at Tufts University (a private school), who have kicked a Christian group off campus because it refused to change its internal policies so that non-Christians could be officers.

I’m not joking. Here are some of the absurd details.

After the student leaders of Tufts Christian Fellowship (TCF) declined to revise their leadership policies, the Boston-area research university’s Community Union Judiciary (TCUJ) revoked the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter’s status as an officially recognized student organization. …TCUJ originally suspended TCF for its requirement that any student who wishes to hold a leadership position within TCF must affirm basic Christian beliefs. The student judiciary told TCF that those statements violated the student body constitution’s non-discrimination clause by excluding students who do not share these beliefs. TCF was given the opportunity to adapt its constitution and move the belief-based leadership requirement into its mission statement, which is not legally binding. However, TCF declined, resulting in the final TCUJ decision on Oct. 18.

Too bad they didn’t have this policy when I was at Georgia. I could have applied to be an officer in the Black Student Union. Or Hillel, the club for Jewish students.

On second thought, I would have filed suit to join a sorority! Imagine how much fun I would have had hanging out by the showers. And then another lawsuit so I could have been quarterback for the Bulldawgs. After all, how dare they discriminate against the athletically challenged.

To be momentarily serious, I have to wonder about the students at Tufts who first brought the complaint against the Christian group. I bet they feel like big men on campus right now.

Maybe they should demonstrate that they have some real cojones by launching a similar attack on the local Muslim student group. But I’m not holding my breath waiting for that to happen. Just like I’m not expecting the same from the people in Hollywood who think they’re edgy and brave when they mock Christians and Mormons.

Not that I have any objection to humor targeting religious people. Or atheists, for that matter. But I don’t have much use for cowards who engage in empty posturing.

But I’m digressing. Now let’s turn to our example of private-sector stupidity in the United Kingdom. It deals with bookstore chain that has decided to save impressionable British tykes from the life-scarring horror of buying shooting magazines.

Here are some details from the Telegraph on this ideologically motivated example of political correctness run amok.

WH Smith, Britain’s biggest chain of newsagents, has banned youngsters from buying copies of country sports magazines after a campaign by animal rights activists. The retailer…says it has introduced an age limit on such magazines as Shooting Times because children are not allowed to obtain a firearms certificate until they are 14. However, sports enthusiasts point out that this is wrong. There is no minimum age for holding a shotgun licence in Britain…They question why the high street chain does not restrict the sale of motoring magazines such as TopGear to those old enough to drive. “It is extraordinary that in WH Smith you can buy a car magazine at any age, despite the age limit of 17 for driving,” said Christopher Graffius, of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation. “You can also buy numerous war magazines which depict the killing of people, yet WH Smith is concerned about children buying shooting magazines, a legal and an Olympic sport. “They are also causing enormous offence to adult shooters who are stopped at auto-scan tills.”

Kudos to Mr. Graffius for exposing the absurd hypocrisy of the company, but I gather his is a lonely voice. It’s remarkable that a nation that once ruled half the world now produces people who decide that shooting magazines should be restricted like porn.

Not that I’ve ever had a reason to patronize a bookstore in England, but I will make sure not to visit WH Smith on my visit later this month.

Since I believe in private property, I want to stress that WH Smith has the right to restrict access to shooting magazines. Or to ban their sale completely. But I sure hope English consumers will exercise their rights to patronize other bookstores.

Feel free to comment on who deserves to win the prize for empty and vapid stupidity, the clowns at Tufts or the buffoons at WH Smith.

P.S. I don’t mean to slight the rest of the world. There are many examples of bureaucratic incompetence and political idiocy in other parts of the world, including Italy, Greece, Germany, and the European Union. So I hope nobody gets offended that their country isn’t on the list. There’s only so much time in a day.

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