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Archive for the ‘Politicians’ Category

The official motto of the United States is “In God We Trust.”

The official motto of Washington, DC, is “Justitia Omnibus,” which means “Justice for All.”

These are nice statements, but they apply too broadly. We also should have a motto specifically for politicians. Something that captures the zeitgeist of our overlords in Washington.

I can’t claim this is my idea.

I’m pushing the concept after seeing a statement on Twitter that would be a perfect motto for the political crowd in DC.  Feel free to come up with alternatives, but this one will be hard to beat.

Heck, it also could have been a replacement for Obama’s unofficial campaign slogan.

Politician Motto

Very similar, in spirit, to these great cartoons from Chuck Asay and Glenn McCoy.

And if you like mocking the political class, I have lots of other material for you to enjoy. You can read about how the men and women spend their time screwing us and wasting our money.

We also have some examples of what people in Montana, Louisiana, Nevada, and Wyoming think about big-spending politicians.

This little girl has a succinct message for our political masters, here are a couple of good images capturing the relationship between politicians and taxpayers, and here is a somewhat off-color Little Johnny joke.

Speaking of risqué humor, here’s a portrayal of a politician and lobbyist interacting.

Returning to G-rated material, you can read about the blind rabbit who finds a politician. And everyone enjoys political satire, as can be found in these excerpts from the always popular Dave Barry.

Last but not least, let’s not forgot to include this joke by doctors about the crowd in Washington.

P.S. The unofficial motto of DC, which can be found on license plates, is “Taxation without Representation.”

I’m not overly sympathetic to this message because its part of a campaign to make the federal city into a state and we definitely don’t need two more Senators with a vested interest in ever-expanding government.

But since I’m always looking to find common ground, maybe we can strike a deal. The folks in Washington can have “taxation with representation” if they’re willing to let the rest of us choose “no taxation and no representation.”

Suffice to say I’m not expecting many takers.

P.P.S. For what it’s worth, I think my license plate is better than the ones in DC.

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In the famous “Bridge of Death” scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, some of the knights are asked to name their favorite color. One of them  mistakenly says blue instead of yellow and is hurled into the Gorge of Eternal Peril.

I can sympathize with the unfortunate chap. If asked my least favorite part of the tax code, I sometimes get confused because there are so many possible answers.

Do I most despise the high tax rates that undermine economic growth?

Am I more upset about the pervasive double taxation of income that is saved and invested?

Or do I get most agitated by a corrupt and punitive IRS?

How about the distorting loopholes for politically connected interest groups?

And the anxiety of taxpayers who can’t figure out how to comply with an ever-changing tax code?

Depending on my mood and time of day, any of these options might be at the top of my list.

But I also might say that I’m most upset about the way that the tax code facilitates a perverse form of legalized corruption in Washington. In this FBN interview, I explain how even small tax bills often are vehicles for lining the pockets of lobbyists and politicians.

To elaborate, some taxpayers may pay more when there’s new tax legislation and some may pay less. But this “winners” and “losers” game only applies outside the beltway.

The inside-the-beltway crowd always wins. Whether they’re lobbying for or against a provision, they get very big checks. Whether they’re voting yes or no on legislation, they’re getting showered with campaign contributions.

This chart, showing the growing number of pages in the tax code (by the way, we’re now up to 76,000 pages of tax law), also could be seen as a proxy for how the Washington establishment has gamed the system so that they always profit.

Or, to be more specific, it’s an example of how government has become a racket for the benefit of insiders. All of us pay more and endure less growth, but Washington’s gilded class lives fat and happy because there is always lots of money changing hands.

So how do we solve this problem?

The answer, at least for a period of time, in the flat tax. This video explains how this simple and fair system would operate.

But even though I’m a big advocate of tax reform, the flat tax is only a partial solution.

Simply stated, there’s no way to reduce Washington corruption until and unless you shrink the size and scope of the federal government.

That means somehow figuring out how to restore the Constitution’s limits on Washington. For much of our nation’s history, federal spending consumed only about 3 percent of our economic output.

And when the public sector was small and government generally focused only on core competencies, there wasn’t nearly as much opportunity for the graft and sleaze that characterize modern Washington.

P.S. The bad news is that all the projections show that the federal government will get far bigger in the future. So before we shrink the burden of government, we first need to come up with ways to keep it from growing.

P.P.S. The national sales tax is another intermediate option for reducing DC corruption, though that option requires repeal of the 16th Amendment so politicians don’t pull a bait-and-switch game and stick up with both an income tax and consumption tax.

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Last year, while writing about the sleazy and self-serving behavior at the IRS, I came up with a Theorem that explains day-to-day behavior in Washington.

It might not be as pithy as Mitchell’s Law, and it doesn’t contain an important policy prescription like Mitchell’s Golden Rule, but it could be the motto of the federal government.

Simply stated, government is a racket that benefits the DC political elite by taking money from average people in America

I realize this is an unhappy topic to be discussing during the Christmas season, but the American people need to realize that they are being raped and pillaged by the corrupt insiders that control Washington and live fat and easy lives at our expense.

If you don’t believe me, check out this map showing that 10 of the 15 richest counties in America are the ones surrounding our nation’s imperial capital.

Who would have guessed that the wages of sin are so high?

But even though the District of Columbia isn’t on the list, that doesn’t mean the people actually living in the capital are suffering.

Here are some interesting nuggets from a report in the Washington Business Journal.

D.C. residents are enjoying a personal income boom. The District’s total personal income in 2012 was $47.28 billion, or $74,733 for each of its 632,323 residents, according to the Office of the Chief Financial Officer’s Economic and Revenue Trends report for November. The U.S. average per capita personal income was $43,725.

Why is income so much higher? Well, the lobbyists, politicians, bureaucrats, interest groups, contractors, and other insiders who dominate DC get much higher wages than people elsewhere in the country.

And they get far higher fringe benefits.

In terms of pure wages, D.C., on a per capita basis, was 79 percent higher than the national average in 2012 — $36,974 to $20,656. …Employee benefits were 102 percent higher in D.C. than the U.S. average in 2012, $7,514 to $3,710. Proprietor’s income, 137 percent higher — $9,275 to $3,906. …The numbers suggest D.C. residents are living the high life.

Now let’s share a chart from Zero Hedge. It uses median household income rather than total personal income, so the numbers don’t match up, but what’s noteworthy is how DC income grew faster than the rest of the nation during the Bush years and then even more dramatically diverged from the rest of the country during the Obama years.

In other words, policies like TARP, the fake stimulus, and Obamacare have been very good for Washington’s ruling class.

Want some other concrete examples of profitable Washington sleaze? Well, here are some excerpts from Rich Tucker’s column for Real Clear Policy.

The real place to park your money is in Washington, D.C. That’s because the way to get ahead isn’t to work hard or make things; it’s to lobby Washington for special privileges. Look no further than the sweet deal the sugar industry gets. It’s spent about $50 million on federal campaign donations over the last five years. So that would average out to $10 million per year. Last year alone, the federal government spent $278 million on direct expenditures to sugar companies. That’s a great return on investment.

Big Corn may get an even better deal than Big Sugar.

Then there’s ethanol policy. Until 2012, the federal government provided generous tax credits to refiners that blended ethanol into gasoline. In 2011 alone, Washington spent $6 billion on this credit. The federal government also maintains tariffs (54 cents per gallon) to keep out foreign ethanol,and it mandates that tens of billions of gallons of ethanol be blended into the American gasoline supply. Nothing like a federal mandate to create demand for your product. How much would you pay for billions of dollars worth of largesse? Well, the ethanol industry got a steep discount. In 2012, opensecrets.org says, the American Coalition for Ethanol spent $212,216 on lobbying.

Rich warns that the United States is sliding in the wrong direction.

What makes Washington especially profitable is that its only products are the laws, rules, and regulations that it has the power to force everyone else to follow. …we seem to be sliding toward what the authors term “extractive” institutions. That means government using its power to benefit a handful of influential individuals at the expense of everyone else.

And let’s not forget that some people are getting very rich from Obamacare while the rest of us lose our insurance or pay higher prices.

This Reason TV interview with Andrew Ferguson explains that there is a huge shadow workforce of contractors, consultants, and lobbyists who have their snouts buried deeply in the public trough.

I particularly like his common sense explanation that Washington’s wealth comes at the expense of everyone else. The politicians seize our money at the point of a gun (or simply print more of it) to finance an opulent imperial city.

So if you’re having a hard time making ends meet, remember that you should blame the parasite class in Washington.

P.S. The insider corruption of Washington is a bipartisan problem. Indeed, some of the sleaziest people in DC are Republicans.

P.P.S. Though scandals such as Solyndra show that Obama certainly knows how to play the game.

P.P.P.S. Making government smaller is the only way to reduce the Washington problem of corrupt fat cats.

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Let’s do a simple thought experiment and answer the following question: Do you think that additional laws from Washington will give you more freedom and more prosperity?

I don’t know how you will answer, but I strongly suspect most Americans will say “no.” Indeed, they’ll probably augment their “no” answers with a few words that wouldn’t be appropriate to repeat in polite company.

That’s because taxpayers instinctively understand that more activity in Washington usually translates into bigger and more expensive government. Or, to be more colloquial, this image summarizes how they view Washington. And the last thing you want is more “action” when you’re on the lower floor.

Sort of like living downwind from the sewage treatment plant.

So what’s the purpose of our thought experiment? Well, new numbers have been released showing that the current Congress is going to set a modern-era record for imposing the fewest new laws.

But while most of us think this is probably good news, Washington insiders are whining and complaining about “diminished productivity” in Congress. The Washington Post, which is the voice of DC’s parasite class, is very disappointed that lawmakers aren’t enacting more taxes, more spending, and more regulation.

…this Congress — which is set to adjourn for the year later this month — has enacted 52 public laws. By comparison, …90 laws were encated during the first year of the 113th Congress and 137 were put in place during the first year of the 111th Congress.

Just in case you don’t have a beltway mindset, another Washington Post report also tells you that fewer laws is a bad thing.

…whatever gets done in December will still be part of a year with record-low congressional accomplishment. …According to congressional records, there have been fewer than 60 public laws enacted in the first 11 months of this year, so below the previous low in legislative output that officials have already declared this first session of the 113th Congress the least productive ever.

Let’s actually look at some evidence. The first session of the current Congress may have been the “least productive” in history when it comes to imposing new laws, but what’s the actual result?

Well, there are probably many ways this could be measured, but one of the most obvious benchmarks is the federal budget.

And it appears that “record-low congressional accomplishment” translates into a smaller burden of government spending.

Indeed, government spending actually has declined for two consecutive years. That hasn’t happened since the 1950s.

And it’s worth reminding people that you begin to solve the symptom of red ink when you address the underlying disease of too much spending. That’s why the deficit has fallen by almost 50 percent in the past two years.

Interestingly, the Washington Post accidentally confirms that you get better policy when you have fewer news laws.

In 1995, when the newly empowered GOP congressional majority confronted the Clinton administration, 88 laws were enacted, the record low in the post-World War II era.

Needless to say, the author isn’t saying that we got good policy because there were a “record low” number of laws in 1995. But if we look at fiscal policy during that period, that’s when we began a multi-year period of spending restraint that led to budget surpluses.

In other words, we should be very grateful for “unproductive” politicians.

Now for some caveats.

It’s obviously a gross over-simplification to assert that the number of laws is correlated with good policy or bad policy. Sometimes politicians impose laws that increase the burden of government (with Obamacare being an obvious example).

But sometimes they enact laws that increase economic liberty and reduce government (with the sequester being a good example, even though very few politicians actually wanted that result).

To conclude, the message of this post is that we shouldn’t worry about “diminished productivity” in Washington if it means fewer bad laws.

That being said, we’ll never fix a corrupt tax code or reform bankrupt entitlement programs unless there are new laws to replace old laws that created bad policy.

P.S. Since we’re talking about low productivity in Washington, there’s good evidence that bureaucrats don’t work very hard compared to workers in the economy’s productive sector. But that’s probably a good thing. After all, do we want bureaucrats (like this one) being more diligent? That’s why we should focus on reducing their excessive compensation rather than encouraging them to put in a full day’s work.

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It’s always the right time to make fun of our overlords in Washington.

Sometimes we can laugh at cartoons, like this portrayal of a politician and lobbyist interacting.

In other instances, we can enjoy good jokes, such as the blind rabbit who finds a politician.

Or we can be amused by satire, such as these excerpts from Dave Barry.

Today, though, we have a very good image. Fans of Star Wars will appreciate these words of wisdom from Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Star Wars Politicians

You can read about how these men and women spend their time screwing us and wasting our money.

And we have some examples of what people in Montana, Louisiana, Nevada, and Wyoming think about big-spending politicians.

This little girl is rather blunt about our political masters, here are a couple of good images capturing the relationship between politicians and taxpayers, and here is a somewhat off-color Little Johnny joke.

Last but not least, let’s not forgot to include this joke by doctors about the crowd in Washington.

P.S. If you want humor specifically targeting Obama, you’ll enjoy this Pope message, this Pennsylvania joke, this Reagan-Obama comparison, this Bush-Obama comparison, this sign, this video satire, and this bumper sticker.

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I had some fun back in April when I noted that politicians and staff on Capitol Hill were getting very agitated about having to be part of Obamacare.

Well, it seems that the way the law applies to them is so costly that many of them are thinking about calling it quits.

Here are some of the heartbreaking details from a story in Politico.

Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting. The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive.

Gee, cry me a river. It’s about time that these pampered potentates on the Potomac learn how it feels to live in the real world.

The story warns of potential consequences.

If the issue isn’t resolved, and massive numbers of lawmakers and aides bolt, many on Capitol Hill fear it could lead to a brain drain just as Congress tackles a slew of weighty issues — like fights over the Tax Code and immigration reform. …Sources said several aides have already given lawmakers notice that they’ll be leaving over concerns about Obamacare. Republican and Democratic lawmakers said the chatter about retiring now, to remain on the current health care plan, is constant.

Oh no, what a threat! The politicians who have spent years (or decades in many cases) imposing more taxes, more spending, and more regulation are saying they may leave? Well, my attitude is that we should tell them “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

Maybe some new blood would lead to more rational – or at least less irrational – policy from Washington.

I’m heartbroken with grief for the unfortunate politicians

And it would be good to go back to the days when we had fewer congressional staffers. Maybe they wouldn’t dream up so many bad ideas if each office had only 3-4 staff.

Now that I’ve vented, I suppose it’s time to take a deep breath and acknowledge that the crowd on Capitol Hill has a legitimate gripe. Because of sloppy legislative language in Obamacare, it appears that the politicians and Hill staffers will have to pay for health insurance with after-tax dollars out of their own pockets.

That’s actually the way the health insurance market should work, but I doubt lawmakers and Hill staffers want to be the guinea pigs for the new system. They’d rather experiment on us.

But you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. And if things get too hard for those blokes and gals, maybe the powers that be on the Hill can re-hire the grief counselors who were put on the payroll after the 2010 elections.

Not that they deserve any sympathy. As illustrated by this article, staffers and politicians quickly get hired as lobbyists, thus further contributing to the culture of corruption in Washington.

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As a general rule, I don’t like lobbyists.

Yes, a few of them behave honorably, seeking to protect their clients from bad tax and regulatory policy, but most of them are in the business of seeking special favors. And as government gets bigger, the opportunities for this type of corruption expand.

This lucrative “industry” also helps explain why Washington is now the richest metropolitan area in the country.

And it goes without saying that I also don’t like politicians (including Republicans!).

So if I have a chance to simultaneously mock both lobbyists and politicians, you know I’m unable to resist. With that in mind, here’s a cartoon (I assume from the New Yorker) that showed up in my inbox.

Lobbyist Whipping Politician

Though, to be fair, sometimes the relationship is reversed, with politicians holding the whip hand and extorting money from lobbyists.

Anyhow, if you like anti-politician jokes, here’s some additional material.

You can read about how these men and women spend their time screwing us and wasting our money.

And we have some examples of what people in Montana, Louisiana, Nevada, and Wyoming think about big-spending politicians.

This little girl is rather blunt about our political masters, while a blind rabbit thinks he has found a politician.

And  here are a couple of good images capturing the relationship between politicians and taxpayers, and here is a somewhat off-color Little Johnny joke.

Last but not least, let’s not forgot to include this joke by doctors about the crowd in Washington.

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Time for some well-intentioned humor targeting our political masters.

These are the men and women who spend their time screwing us and wasting our money.

We already have some examples of what people in Montana, Louisiana, Nevada, and Wyoming think about big-spending politicians.

This little girl is more blunt.

And  here are a couple of good images capturing the relationship between politicians and taxpayers, and here is a somewhat off-color Little Johnny joke.

And let’s not forgot to include this joke by doctors about the crowd in Washington.

So with all that as warm-up material, here’s the latest political joke to reach my inbox.

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One morning a blind bunny was hopping down the bunny trail and tripped over a large snake and fell, ‘kerplop’, right on his twitchy little nose.

‘Oh please excuse me,’ said the bunny. ‘I didn’t mean to trip over you, but I’m blind and can’t see.’

‘That’s perfectly all right,’ replied the snake. ‘To be sure, it was my fault. I didn’t mean to trip you, but I’m blind too, and I didn’t see you coming. By the way, what kind of animal are you?’

‘Well, I really don’t know,’ said the bunny. ‘I’m blind, and I’ve never seen myself. Maybe you could examine me and find out.’

So the snake felt the bunny all over, and he said, ‘Well, you’re soft, and cuddly, and you have long silky ears, and a little fluffy tail and a dear twitchy little nose. You must be a bunny rabbit!’

The bunny said, ‘I can’t thank you enough. But by the way, what kind of animal are you?’

The snake replied that he didn’t know either, and the bunny agreed to examine him, and when the bunny was finished, the snake asked, ‘Well, what kind of an animal am I?’

The bunny had felt the snake all over, and he replied, ‘You’re cold, you’re slippery, and you haven’t got any balls…  You must be a POLITICIAN’.

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By the way, while I appreciate the spirit of this joke, I must protest on behalf of reptiles everywhere.

Adam and Harriet

Adam and Harriet

My kids have had snakes for a dozen-plus years and they actually make very good, low-maintenance pets.

Here is my youngest, back in 2001, with his cuddly pet named Harriet. Sadly, Harriet went to the great snake cage in the sky a couple of years ago, but she was always a hit with the neighbors.

P.S. You can read some good Dave Barry satire about politicians here and here.

P.P.S. Here’s another good joke, but remember that we should be thankful that we don’t get all the government we pay for.

P.P.P.S. And if you want humor specifically targeting Obama, you’ll enjoy this Pope message, this Pennsylvania joke, this Reagan-Obama comparison, this Bush-Obama comparison, this sign, this video satire, and this bumper sticker.

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This Craig Ferguson one-liner may be my favorite political joke, but I also enjoy a short story with a good punch line. Especially when politicians are on the receiving end.

After all, they spending their time screwing us and wasting our money, so it’s only appropriate and fair that we return the favor.

We already have some humorous examples of how people in Nevada and Wyoming react to big-spending politicians. Let’s see what folks in Montana think about their overlords in Washington, DC.

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Chuck Schumer called Harry Reid one day and said, “Harry, I have a plan to win back Middle America!”

“Great Chuck, but how?” asked Harry.

“We’ll get some cheesy clothes and shoes, like most ordinary Americans wear, then stop at the pound and pick up a Labrador retriever. Then, we’ll go to a nice old country bar in Montana and show them how much admiration and respect we have for the hard-working people living there.”

So they did, and found just the place they were looking for in Bozeman, Montana. With the dog in tow, they walked inside and stepped up to the bar.

The Bartender took a step back and said, “Hey! Aren’t you Harry Reid and Chuck Schumer?”

“Yes we are!” said Chuck, “And what a lovely town you have here. We were passing through and Harry suggested we stop and take in some local color.”

They ordered a round of bourbon for the whole bar, and started chatting up a storm with anyone who would listen.

A few minutes later, a grizzled old rancher came in, walked up to the Labrador, lifted up its tail, looked underneath, shrugged his shoulders and walked out. A few moments later, in came another old rancher. He walked up to the dog, lifted up its tail, looked underneath, scratched his head and left the bar.

For the next hour, another dozen ranchers came in, lifted the dog’s tail, and left shaking their heads.

Finally, Chuck asked, “Why did all those old ranchers come in and look under the dog’s tail? Is it some sort of custom?”

“Lord no,” said the bartender. “Someone’s out there running around town, claiming there’s a Labrador Retriever in here with two a–holes!”

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If the last word in that joke doesn’t offend you too much, you may enjoy what this little girl has to say.

And in jokes related to that particular orifice, here are a couple of good images capturing the relationship between politicians and taxpayers, and here is somewhat off-color Little Johnny joke.

P.S. Oops, can’t believe I almost forgot to include this joke about the crowd in Washington.

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I get several emails per week asking my view on various topics and many of the questions raise very interesting issues.

So I’ve decided to start a new feature. Every weekend, I will endeavor to answer one question.

My first chore is to explain why I hate Republicans, and as you can see here and here, there’s certainly ample reason to think I hold GOPers in low esteem.  The actual question, though, is:

You seem to be more critical of Republicans than Democrats and you went out of your way to attack Romney. Doesn’t that play into the hands of Obama?

The answer is yes and no. I don’t mean to sound like a politician, but I view my job as providing nonpartisan analysis on public policy issues. That means I criticize the statist schemes of the folks in Washington, regardless of whether the politicians have a “D” or an “R” at the end of their names.

To be fair, I’m probably a bit harder on Republicans, but only because they’re the ones who often pretend that they are on my side.

And sometimes they are on my side. My two favorite presidents are Reagan and Coolidge, and I have great admiration for those few politicians – such as Ron Paul – who almost always do the right thing.

But I also have discovered that bad Republicans usually do more damage than Democrats. Nixon was one of the most statist presidents of my lifetime, and Bush 41 and Bush 43 were almost as bad.

And even the politicians I’m willing to praise, including Ron Paul, sometimes do the wrong thing. And as much as I praise Reagan, he had some huge mistakes, such as the catastrophic health insurance program.

My simple rule of thumb is I will support a politicians who, in my estimation, will be a net plus for liberty. So notwithstanding my reputation for being a libertarian ideologue, I have a very practical approach to politics.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s rather disappointing that so few Republicans satisfy that simple test.

But now let’s return to the question. Doesn’t that view play into the hands of Obama? As I said, yes and no

“Hey, you libertarians should vote for me”

I want to maximize liberty (or minimize statism) in the long run. So if I have a choice between a big-government Republican and big-government Democrat, I sometimes think we’re better off if the Democrat prevails.

Jimmy Carter, for instance, probably wasn’t that much worse than Gerald Ford. And he paved the way for Reagan.

And Bill Clinton, in retrospect, was a much better choice than Bush 41. And he paved the way for the GOP landslide in 1994.

So the question before us today is whether Barack Obama is paving the way for a good Republican…or whether he’s a Lyndon Johnson paving the way for a Richard Nixon.

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In this modern era where we’re all supposed to share our innermost thoughts, I’ve openly discussed my fantasies.

I confessed to the world, for instance, that I have a fantasy that involves about one-half of the adults in America. And I’ve also admitted to a fantasy involving Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.

Now I’m fantasizing about something new, and it’s all the fault of the Cato Institute. In a violation of the Constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, I have to watch tonight’s presidential debate in order to add my two cents to Cato’s live-blogging of the clash between Obama and Romney.

That got me thinking about some of my least-favorite episodes from past debates, and this moment from 1992 is high on my list (I had to watch that debate because my then-wife worked for the Bush Administration and I had to offer some insincere moral support).

The clip is a bit over three minutes, but it will only take a minute or so to see why this was such an unpleasant segment.

Here’s my latest fantasy. If there’s a similar question tonight, I hope either Romney or Obama gives the following response:

I’m not your daddy and you’re not my child. I’m running to be the President of the United States in order to oversee the legitimate executive branch responsibilities of the federal government. And I hope to reduce the burden of government to give you opportunities, not to take care of your needs. You’re an able-bodied adult. Take responsibility for your own life and provide for your own needs.

But I don’t expect my fantasy to get fulfilled. If a question like this is asked, both Obama and Romney almost surely will express sympathy and support.

The good news is that there have been a few politicians in American’s history who have been willing to say the right thing. Here’s a quote from Barry Goldwater that warms my heart.

I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. …I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.

The bad news is that he got his you-know-what kicked in the 1964 election.

On the other hand, America did elect a President who said during his inauguration that “government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

And a 2011 poll showed that Americans – unlike their European counterparts – do not believe it is government’s job to guarantee that “nobody is in need.”

In other words, Julia, the fictional moocher woman created by the Obama campaign, is not representative of America. At least not yet.

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I periodically mock Republicans for being the stupid party. Yes, some of them probably mean well, but they have this lemming-like instinct to throw themselves on hand grenades.

But I noted back in April that the supposedly right-wing Christian Democrat party in Slovakia put on a display of stupidity that was so mind-boggling that it made GOPers look like rocket scientists.

Notwithstanding their original protestations to the contrary, the Christian Democrats (who were the lead party in the governing coalition) decided to support the bailout of Greece.

And when Slovakia’s pro-freedom SAS Party (part of the governing coalition) refused to support this terrible idea, the top Christian Democrat politicians decided that the bailout was so important that they struck a deal with the Social Democrats to get their votes in exchange for early elections.

Which, of course, meant that Social Democrats prevailed and the Christian Democrats lost power. And, much to my dismay, the Social Democrats are now poised to repeal the flat tax.

But that terrible development is only happening because the Christian Democrats were so breathtakingly stupid that they threw away power in the first place. And they gave up power so they could do something bad for Slovakia. Amazing.

It seems stupidity is infectious, because something similar is now happening next door in the Czech Republic.

Just as was the case in Slovakia, there’s a supposedly right-wing government in charge of the Czech Republic. So you would think that this government would be focused on controlling spending and lowering tax rates.

But that’s based on the assumption of competence, intelligence, and principles. Those characteristics seem to be in short supply. Here’s an excerpt from a report in the Washington Post.

The lower house on Wednesday rejected a 1 percent increase in the sales tax on retail goods and a 7 percent income tax increase for the highest-earners. The parliamentary refusal came after six lawmakers from the conservative Civic Democratic Party of Prime Minister Petr Necas voted against because they said the tax hikes are against their party’s values. Necas said Thursday a new vote should take place in three months and the government is linking it to a confidence vote. If that vote also fails, the coalition government will fall.

Just in case you’re not familiar with the workings of parliamentary systems, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic is throwing a tantrum and threatening to have an election (which he almost certainly will lose) and turn the country back over to the leftists.

“Read my lips, let’s screw the people”

Unless, of course, he can convince a handful of principled lawmakers from his own party decide to stab taxpayers in the back and support a big tax hike. But not just a big tax hike. The Prime Minister wants to get rid of the flat tax by imposing a special, Obama-style class-warfare tax rate on the so-called rich.

I hope the six lawmakers mentioned in the news report hold firm, even if they’re only doing the right thing for non-principled reasons. It soon will be very obvious that they are/were on the side of the angels and that the Prime Minister and the other members of the party are a bunch of hacks who are willing to screw taxpayers in a lame and pathetic effort to buy votes with other people’s money.

I’m not sure which politician is most deserving of scorn. Is it Prime Minister Necas, who is channeling the spirit of George H.W. “read my lips” Bush as he leads his party over the cliff? Or is it Prime Minister Radicova of Slovakia, who got her party tossed from power because she decided her nation’s taxpayers should support the corrupt vote-buying schemes of Greek politicians?

Or maybe I should augment the list by including other supposed right wingers of Europe, such as Sarkozy, Merkel, Cameron, and Rajoy, all of whom seem to specialize in betraying taxpayers.

I’ve had friends tell me that this is inevitable because smart right wingers go into business, leaving the dregs for politics. It’s just the opposite for the left, they say. The smart leftists have no desire to dirty their hands with real work (Obama viewed his tiny bit of experience with the private sector “working for the enemy”), so they gravitate to government.

I think that’s way too simplistic of an explanation. I suspect the answer can be found in the insights of public choice economics, which explains that government and politics are corrupting institutions.

Perhaps that’s why it is so rare to find right-wing politicians – such as Reagan and Thatcher – who generally do the right thing.

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Although this line is attributed to many people, Wikiquote says that Gideon Tucker was the first to warn us that “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

This cartoon about Keynesian economics sort of makes the same point, but not with the same eloquence.

But that’s not the point of this post. Instead, I want to focus on this grossly misleading headline in USA Today: “This Congress could be least productive since 1947.”

I don’t think it’s a case of media bias or inaccuracy, as we saw with the AP story on poverty, the Brian Ross Tea Party slur, or the Reuters report on job creation and so-called stimulus.

But it does blindly assume that it is productive to impose more laws. Was it productive to enact Obamacare? What about the faux stimulus? Or the Dodd-Frank bailout bill?

Wouldn’t the headline be more accurate if it read, “This Congress could be least destructive since 1947″?

Here are the relevant parts of the USA Today report.

Congress is on pace to make history with the least productive legislative year in the post World War II era. Just 61 bills have become law to date in 2012 out of 3,914 bills that have been introduced by lawmakers, or less than 2% of all proposed laws, according to a USA TODAY analysis of records since 1947 kept by the U.S. House Clerk’s office. In 2011, after Republicans took control of the U.S. House, Congress passed just 90 bills into law. The only other year in which Congress failed to pass at least 125 laws was 1995. …When Democrats controlled both chambers during the 111th Congress, 258 laws were enacted in 2010 and 125 in 2009, including President Obama’s health care law.

To be sure, not all legislation is bad. Now that the Supreme Court has failed in its job, Congress would have to enact a law to repeal Obamacare. Laws also would need to be changed to reform entitlements, or adopt a flat tax.

And some laws are benign, such as the enactment of Dairy Goat Awareness Week or naming a federal courthouse.

But I’m guessing that the vast majority of substantive laws are bad for freedom and result in less prosperity.

So let’s cross our fingers that future Congresses are even less productive (and therefore less destructive) than the current one.

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I endorsed Francois Hollande, the Socialist, in his race to become President of France. I wasn’t under any illusion that he would do the right thing, but I figured anything was better than another term for Sarkozy, who was a de facto rather than de jure socialist.

“Mon Dieu, it is time to raise zee taxes!”

Hollande largely has pursued a statist agenda of higher taxes and more wasteful spending since taking office, which is par for the course, but I will give him credit for cutting back on some of the personal excesses of  France’s ruling class.

Here are excerpts from a CNBC report.

Mr. Hollande, a Socialist, and his prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, have ordered downgrades in official luxury… Mr. Hollande has actually taken the train to Brussels, without a state jet following him, and his ministers have been ordered to hit the rails when possible (with a free pass on the national railway system). When they fly, they are encouraged to travel in coach class on commercial airlines. …Official cars have been diminished in size and in luxury. Mr. Hollande has given up the presidential Citroën C6 for a smaller but hardly shabby Citroën DS5 diesel hybrid. He has reduced the ranks of his official drivers to two from three, and they are now supposed to stop at red lights.

I’m not naive. It’s quite likely that Hollande is taking these steps solely to score political points. But that’s still more than can be said of Obama and the rest of the political elite in America.

I’m particularly impressed that Hollande is going to obey traffic laws and not inconvenience other people. It is nauseating how Obama’s security people will block traffic for 20-30 minutes ahead of of time because of a jaunt around town. And the same happened during the Bush years, so my grousing has nothing to do with party labels.

Other French politicians also are downgrading their means of transportation.

Mr. Ayrault gave up his C6 for a cheaper Peugeot 508. Cabinet ministers have also traded down, and the housing minister, Cécile Duflot, an ecologist who was criticized for wearing jeans to an Élysée Palace meeting, has ordered four official bicycles.

Yes, the bicycles are another empty bit of political posturing, but wouldn’t it be a splendid idea to see some department heads in the United States wobbling along on busy streets, particularly in the heat of summer or cold of winter? Though maybe we’ll give Treasury Secretary Geithner a riding lawnmower since he’s the Forrest Gump of this Administration.

Even security has been put to the knife, at least a little. Junior ministers no longer get bodyguards, and the number of security workers attached to the presidency has been reduced by a third. …Mr. Ayrault has ordered his ministers to reduce their official budgets sharply, by 7 percent in 2013 and by an additional 4 percent in each of the next two years.

Bravo, as the French might say (or is that Spanish?). I understand that the President of the United States is an attractive target for dirtbags, so I don’t object to a strong security presence for Obama, but do we really need a Praetorian Guard for a bevy of other government officials? At best, it’s a bit unseemly, sort of reminiscent of some third-world military junta.

I’m also impressed that French ministers will be cutting their budgets, though I recognize that they may be using the same kind of dishonest budgeting we use in America (“Sacre bleu, we raised spending by 5 percent instead of 12 percent, so that’s a 7 percent cut!”).

The only American official (that I know of) who has done something similar to Hollande is Speaker John Boehner, who chose to do without the taxpayer-funded personal jet that Queen Pelosi used for trips back to California.

That being said, I wouldn’t mind giving politicians all sorts of expensive perks if they did things that advanced freedom. So Hollande could upgrade his car if he gave the French people a flat tax. And Boehner could take the private jet out of mothballs if he allowed Americans to shift their payroll taxes to personal retirement accounts.

But so long as they keep screwing us with bad policy, then politicians don’t deserve anything. Other than perhaps rusty old bicycles.

P.S. Cutting back on personal luxuries for the political elite is not the only area where the French are ahead of the United States. They also have a more dignified way of treating folks who choose to expatriate. And a lower corporate income tax rate.

But I’m not quite ready to trade places, no matter how hard Obama tries to make us more statist, I suspect the French will always be worse.

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I like to think people in the United States still believe in liberty, and I’ve cited some polling data in support of American Exceptionalism.

And it seems like that philosophical belief in individualism and limited government sometimes has an impact in the polling booth. According to a recent study, Obamacare was poison for Democrats in 2010.

Here’s an excerpt from a report in The Hill.

Voting for President Obama’s healthcare reform law cost Democratic incumbents 5.8 percentage points of support at the polls in 2010, according to a new study in the journal American Politics Research. The study helps explain why Democrats lost 66 House seats, significantly more than the median academic forecast of 44 to 45 seats, study co-author Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College writes on his blog. Democrats in the lead-up to the elections took a number of tough votes — notably on the Wall Street bailout, the stimulus and cap-and-trade — but none was as unpopular as their support for the healthcare reform law. “We show that the roll-call effect on vote share was driven by healthcare reform. Democratic incumbents who voted yes performed significantly worse than those who did not,” Nyhan writes. “We then provide simulation evidence suggesting that Democrats would win approximately 25 more seats if those in competitive districts had voted no, which accounts for the gap between the academic forecasts and the observed outcomes.”

As with any statistical study, you should take the results with a big grain of salt. That caveat aside, the conclusions of the study seem quite plausible. And since I’m not a fan of Obamacare and think the law will be much more costly than advertised, I’m not shedding any tears for politicians who lost their jobs after voting for the new entitlement.

But the 2010 election may have been a Pyrrhic victory – a short-run victory that paves the way for long-run defeat.

I think the left made a clever calculation that losses in the last cycle would be an acceptable price to get more people dependent on the federal government. And once people have to rely on government for something like healthcare, they are more likely to vote for the party that promises to make government bigger.

One of the most-viewed posts on this blog is the set of cartoons drawn by a former Cato intern, one showing how the welfare state begins and the other showing how it ends.

This is why Obamacare – and the rest of the entitlement state – is so worrisome. If more and more Americans decide to ride in the wagon of government dependency, it will be less and less likely that those people will vote for candidates who want to restrain government.

Europe is a good example. The supposedly “conservative” leaders of major nations such as SpainGermanyFrance, and the United Kingdom are a bunch of big-government statists.

That being said, I’m not a complete pessimist. The Medicaid and Medicare reforms in last year’s Ryan budget would largely solve the problem, especially since any Obamacare subsidies presumably could be eliminated as part of such reforms.

I’m just not holding my breath that we’ll get real entitlement reform in the next four years.

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I like to think I despise politicians more than 99.9 percent of the population. Even in my kindest moments, I see them as occasionally well-intentioned souls who are easily corrupted. Most of the time, they are a plague on society, as this cartoon illustrates.

So you might think I’m in favor of throwing them in prison on the slightest pretext. That’s surely an appealing thought, but one of the main traits of libertarianism is a belief in the rule of law. Arbitrary arrests, trumped-up charges, and unjustified imprisonments should not exist in a civilized society (though I’m ashamed to admit that such things are happening with increasing frequency in the United States).

I raise this topic because of a story I saw in the EU Observer. The former Prime Minister of Iceland is on trial, but as far as I can tell, his only crime is to have been in charge when that nation’s financial bubble expanded and popped. Here are some details from the story.

Iceland’s former Prime Minister Geir Haarde on Monday (5 March) became the world’s first leader to be put on trial on charges of negligence over the 2008 financial crisis. Haarde, who was a premier from 2006 to 2009, is being accused of “gross negligence” in failing to prevent the collapse of Iceland’s top three banks – Glitnir, Kaupthing and Landsbanki – all heavily involved in risky investments on the US real estate market. One of the main architects of Iceland’s transformation from a fishing nation into a financial services hub, Haarde is also accused of failing to control the country’s fast-growing banks and of having withheld information indicating the country was heading for financial disaster. He faces a sentence of up to two years in prison if found guilty. “None of us realised at the time that there was something fishy within the banking system itself, as now appears to have been the case,” Haarde told the Reykjavik court on Monday. He denied all charges and said that “only in hindsight is it evident that not everything was as it should have been.”

So what crime did he commit? If economic mismanagement and/or bad timing are crimes, can we make a citizen’s arrest of Obama? Of the entire Congress (other than Ron Paul and a small handful of compatriots)?

It is a good idea to hold politicians accountable for their actions, of course, but isn’t that what elections are for?

The bottom line is that politicians are despicable creatures and part of me wants to throw most of them in jail for the things they do to reduce freedom and undermine prosperity, but after-the-fact trials are not right unless real evidence exists of a law actually being broken.

So this is one of those cases where I’m conflicted. My emotions lead me one way, but I can’t overcome my belief in the rule of law. I don’t know if Iceland uses jury trials, but I’d be a not-guilty vote unless somebody showed evidence of genuine criminal behavior on the part of the former Prime Minister.

If you enjoy pondering this type of moral dilemma, here are some previous posts dealing with rather thorny topics:

o Vigilante justice

o Brutal tax collection tactics

o Child molestation

o Sharia law

o Healthcare

o Incest

o Speed traps

o Jury nullification, and

o Vigilante justice (again).

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I’ve written before about how big government is enriching people in the Washington metropolitan area. This is for two reasons.

First, bureaucrats are paid too much, getting twice as much compensation, on average, as people in the productive sector of the economy.

Second, lobbyists, contractors, and interest groups have figured out how to get lucrative positions at the federal trough.

A new report from MSN Money illustrates how the political elite is getting very rich by plundering honest Americans. America has 3,033 counties, and they identified the 15 richest jurisdictions from that list.

Of those 15 super-elite counties (the top 1/2 of one percent), 10 are in the Washington metropolitan area. I’ve identified them with stars in the map.

You may be wondering, by the way, about the location of the other counties in the top 15. Well, four of them are suburbs of New York City, meaning that they are home to rich Wall Street people who mooched from the taxpayers thanks to TARP bailouts and other subsidies.

So if you really want to be cynical, you could count them as auxiliary counties of Washington, DC. That’s probably an unfair conclusion, but TARP was unfair to honest and hard-working people, so I don’t feel too guilty.

As far as I can tell, the only untarnished jurisdiction in the top 15 is Douglas County, Colorado. And given that these are the folks who are implementing a good school choice plan, it seems that we have a group of productive people who also believe in doing the right thing.

For more information about the overcompensation of bureaucrats, this video is loaded with information.

Most important of all, remember that any proposals to increase government spending will further widen the income gulf between the political elite and regular Americans. And any initiative to boost the tax burden would lead to the same result.

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When I read the story from England about needing photo ID to buy teaspoons, I thought British bureaucrats built an insurmountable lead in the U.S. vs. U.K. contest for stupidest government action.

But I should have had more faith in the hare-brained politicians of Illinois. When they’re not busy driving businesses from the state with punitive taxes or lining the pockets of the political elite with graft and corruption, these geniuses display impressive levels of brainless behavior.

In this case, they decided to require identification – and a log – for the purchase of drain cleaner and other caustic products.

Why? Well, because somebody could use them in the commission of a crime. Sort of like the killer teaspoons from England.

Here are some excerpts from a local media report.

A new state law requires those who buy drain cleaners and other caustic substances to provide photo identification and sign a log. It’s getting a rough reception from customers and merchants alike although perhaps none more than a cashier at Schroeder’s True Value Hardware in Lombard. “They’re not very happy about it at all,” said Don Schroeder, one of the store’s owners. …The law, which took effect Sunday, requires those who seek to buy caustic or noxious substances, except for batteries, to provide government-issued photo identification that shows their name and date of birth. The cashier then must log the name and address, the date and time of the purchase, the type of product, the brand and even the net weight. …Jewel-Osco has removed the few items it carried from its shelves, but Schroeder said he does not have that option as a hardware store. He said he does not believe that the precautions written into the bill will prevent such crimes from occurring. “How are they going to find out, by asking every customer, what kid might have done that? It’s not going to solve any problems,” Schroeder said. “It’s not going to cure anything.”

The legislation is disliked by both businesses and consumers, so one might be tempted to think it will be repealed.

But that’s a silly assumption. You have to remember that the bureaucrats in charge of enforcing the law doubtlessly like having another excuse for bigger budgets.

And since Illinois is a state where bureaucrats engage in public protests for more money, they probably have more political influence than the poor saps who actually pay the bills.

One more nail in the coffin of a state that is vying with California to become the Greece of America.

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I’ve written many times about politicians and bureaucrats screwing taxpayers with lavish compensation packages, but this story from Philadelphia is jaw dropping.

Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco is retiring Friday, but only so she can collect a $478,057 pension check and return to work Monday, when she will be sworn in for her seventh term. Tasco was one of six Council members to enroll in the city’s controversial Deferred Retirement Option Plan, better known as DROP. She did not immediately return a request for comment. …When DROP was introduced during the Rendell administration, it was thought that it would cost little or nothing. But a study by the administration of Mayor Nutter said DROP had cost the city $258 million over 10 years.

Remember stories like this every time ones of these reprehensible politicians claim that spending has been cut to the bone and taxes have to be raised.

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Mark Twain famously observed that, “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”

That’s a generalization, of course, but one that makes a lot of sense. Especially since I’ve written about the sleazy practice of swapping earmarks for campaign cash and also about the revolving door between Capitol Hill and the lobbying community.

Indeed, the culture of legal corruption in Washington is so pervasive that even the New York Times had to give credit to Sarah Palin for making it an issue.

Another sign of sleaze in DC is the degree to which politicians manage to get wealthier while in office.

In other words, how is it that some politicians come to Washington with modest amounts of wealth and somehow become multimillionaires? Especially when they are getting richer while the rest of the nation is treading water – even though we know they are some of the nation’s least competent people?

Here’s part of what the Washington Examiner has to say about this phenomenon.

According to an analysis by the Washington Post of congressional financial disclosure data for the period of 1984 to 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House of Representatives, excluding home equity, more than doubled. Over the same period, according to the Post, the wealth of an average American family declined slightly. The Post paints the growing wealth gap between Congress and average Americans as reflecting rising income inequality more generally. But that’s a tough sell in view of other data released yesterday. The New York Times reported that while the median net worth of the richest 10 percent of Americans remained essentially flat from 2004 through 2010, the median net worth of members of Congress rose by 15 percent over that same period. …Why are members of Congress not getting rich? Hoover Institution Fellow Peter Schweizer addressed this question in his recent book, “Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison”. It’s not rising congressional pay because congressional pay has actually fallen in inflation-adjusted dollars over the last 25 years. Members of Congress are getting richer because so many of them are masterful manipulators of their perks and positions in government. For many, that means making lucrative stock deals based on insider information or participation in special Initial Public Offerings. Or it can mean securing an earmark to build a road that doubles the value of a recently purchased piece of property. In short, wealth can come from having the inside connections, specialized information and privileged access that only comes with being a senator or representative.

There are two conclusions to draw from this analysis. The obvious lesson is that big government breeds corruption and illegitimate wealth. Simply stated, politicians wouldn’t be able to accumulate so much unearned riches if government didn’t have so much power and control over the economy.

The second lesson is less obvious, but perhaps more important. As I’ve noted before, perhaps one of the reasons why politicians despise “the rich” and favor confiscatory taxes is that they generalize from their own experiences (as well as from their relationships with powerful special interests) and assume all wealth is obtained immorally.

Indeed, I’ve been mulling this over and think I need to augment Mitchell’s Law and Mitchell’s Golden Rule with something like Mitchell’s Inverse Corollary of Taxation and Illegitimate Wealth. But that’s too wordy, so I’ll have to keep thinking about it.

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The joke reprinted below deserves a chuckle.

And if you like the theme of Washington vs. the rugged individualists of rural America, you’ll probably also like this joke.

====================================================

A man is sitting in the Bull Moose Saloon in Alpine, Wyoming, and was far from home when Barack Obama comes on TV. The man looks at the TV and says, “Obama is a horse’s ass.”

Out of nowhere, a local jumps up and punches him in the face, knocking him off his bar stool, then stomps out.

He gets back up, rubbing his cheek and orders another beer.

Shortly after, Michelle Obama appears on the TV. He looks at the TV and says “She is a horse’s ass too!”

Out of nowhere, another local punches him in the other side of the face, knocking him off his bar stool again.

He gets back up and looks at the bartender, “I take it this is Obama country?”

“Nope.” replies the bartender. “Horse country.”

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I’m not sure why, but this also reminds me of this great bedbug joke from Craig Ferguson.

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In past years, I’ve shared posts about taxes and Thanksgiving, political correctness and Thanksgiving, a serious look at how shifting from communism to private property led to Thanksgiving for the Plymouth Colony, and a humorous look at what Thanksgiving might be like if Mayor Bloomberg of New York City ever becomes President.

In the spirit of the season, here’s a cartoon based on the biggest turkeys in America, the political elite in Washington. As you may have read, they have an uncanny ability to get rich by trading stocks based on their insider knowledge about what is happening with legislation.

I suppose the cartoon is funny, but it’s actually rather outrageous that these jackals come to Washington with modest wealth and leave town decades later as multi-millionaires.

But since this is supposed to be a happy day, here’s a non-political Thanksgiving joke, and here’s another one that’s quite amusing, though I’ll warn you it is R-rated.

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As you can see here, here, and here, I enjoy mocking politicians with humor. But this may be the joke that best captures the political mindset.

The serious point to be made is that politicians genuinely believe that spending other people’s money is the way to show compassion. So it is a foreign experience, as shown in the cartoon, when they spend their own funds.

The second cartoon reminded me of this post about private bail bondsmen because it illustrates the government-must-be-involved mentality that pervades Washington.

To cite just one example, why do the clowns in DC think that the housing sector would crumble without government handouts, intervention, and subsidies?

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The Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, is infamous for conveniently forgetting to pay tax on $80,000 of income and then getting kid-glove treatment from the IRS when his crime was uncovered.

Not only did Geithner avoid even a slap on the wrist, he was confirmed to head the department that includes the IRS. So you can understand why a clever person came up with this t-shirt mocking the Treasury Secretary.

But it appears that Geithner’s elitist disdain for the law is shared by high-level left-wing political figures in other nations. Here’s a very similar story from the United Kingdom, where a cabinet official got caught for not complying with the value-added tax.

Here are some excerpts from the UK-based Independent.

Mr Cable was hit with a £500 penalty from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) after the blunder over a VAT bill of up to £15,000 on his media work. The Business Secretary – who has criticised firms which seek to avoid tax – admitted it was a “bit embarrassing” that his VAT liability “wasn’t spotted earlier”. But he insisted that he “made no attempt to avoid tax” and the “oversight” had happened in good faith. Downing Street said it regarded the incident as “closed”, adding that Mr Cable retained the Prime Minister’s full confidence.

If you recognize Mr. Cable’s name, there’s a good reason. He is member of the parasite class in England most associated with the push for higher tax rates on capital gains – which led to a clever set of posters attacking his destructive proposal.

Makes you wonder if there is some secret fraternity of politicians, with initiation rites involving the chant: “Taxes for thee, but not for me.”

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Sounds like the beginning of a joke, sort of like, “A priest, a rabbi, and a minister walk into a bar…”

Setting for my weekend research

But I have a serious point to make. I’m currently in Anguilla (yes, this is just one of the sacrifices I make in the fight for liberty), where I just gave a speech to a local business group.

One of the topics I addressed was Anguilla’s fiscal policy.

Like many jurisdictions around the world, Anguilla has a red-ink problem. And like all the other places we could mention, the deficits and debt exist because government spending rose much faster than inflation over the past 10 years.

So I decided to create a new “Golden Rule of Fiscal Policy” based on all these observations (I would have called it Mitchell’s Law, but I’ve already used that title for another purpose).

Good fiscal policy exists when the private sector grows faster than the public sector, while fiscal ruin is inevitable if government spending grows faster than the productive part of the economy.

This is the underlying message of my video showing how to balance the federal budget. Moreover, all of the countries in this video enjoyed significant fiscal progress by following the rule. And it explains why I’m very impressed with Senator Corker’s proposal to cap the growth of federal spending.

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The good people at Reason have a very interesting quiz, featuring anonymous quotes from the various candidates on nine different issues.

I picked the quotes I liked best and the computer says Ron Paul is my guy.

I suppose that makes sense, at least to some degree, since I first voted for him in 1988, when he was the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate.

In the interests of full disclosure, though, I should state that I don’t have a candidate at this point.

But I do have a simple test. I will vote for any candidate that will (in my estimation) reduce the burden of government.

Sadly, no Republican has passed this test since 1984. It remains to be seen whether the GOP will nominate someone acceptable in 2012.

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I’m not sure why it has become my job to defend Grover Norquist from attacks, but I’ve done it before and now it’s time to do it again.

But I’m not really defending Grover. Instead, I’m defending the wisdom and value of Grover’s no-tax-hike pledge.

Especially when it is being attacked by a columnist who worked for the failed Bush White House and was closely associated with the oxymoronic notion of “compassionate conservatism” or “big-government conservatism.”

I also can’t resist criticizing people who are so sloppy (or disingenuous) that they can’t even get their facts straight.

Let’s look, for example, at what Michael Gerson writes in today’s Washington Post. To attack Grover’s no-tax pledge, he cites the speech of a long-serving GOP Congressman.

Wolf’s economic case that merits more attention. He is one of the House’s old Republican bulls, having taken office the same year that Ronald Reagan became president.

In other words, Gerson think a professional politician who has been in office for more than three decades is automatically worthy of respect, while a taxpayer activist is wrong.

Gerson also conveniently forgets to mention that Rep. Wolf is a member of the Appropriations Committee. That’s a rather important piece of information to omit, since it is the “old bull” appropriators that are the biggest proponents of the corrupt system of earmarks and big government.

Anyhow, here’s more of Gerson’s column.

In Wolf’s view, one of the main obstacles to fiscal seriousness is Norquist’s anti-tax pledge, signed by nearly all Republican members of the House (though not by Wolf himself). The document forbids support not only for tax increases but also for the closing of tax loopholes that aren’t offset by spending cuts. …“According to Mr. Norquist’s pledge, anyone who opposes the myriad of tax subsidies that allowed General Electric to avoid . . . taxes last year would violate ‘the pledge.’ ”

This is a remarkable passage. It includes a glaring factual error by Gerson and it quotes Rep. Wolf uttering a blatant falsehood.

Contrary to what Gerson wrote, the anti-tax pledge does not prohibit the closing of loopholes. It prohibits the closing of loopholes if the money isn’t used to lower tax rates. In other words, the pledge reflects the spirit of the 1986 Tax Reform Act – fewer loopholes and lower tax rates.

Congressman Wolf also demonstrates his lack of accuracy (we’ll set aside the issue of whether his falsehood is deliberate) by saying that the pledge forbids going after loopholes for politically connected companies such as General Electric.

Once again, this is wrong. It is perfectly okay to get rid of GE’s loopholes so long as the money is used to lower tax rates and not to give more money to the big spenders on the Appropriations Committee.

Gerson then goes on to make other silly statements.

Republicans — despite taking the risk of voting for the budget put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan — don’t seem capable of making a coherent case for structural changes in Medicare that would stabilize the program and reduce future risks to seniors.

This is a noteworthy passage because GOPers (for the first time in a long time) actually did try to do something meaningful. The Ryan budget contained sweeping structural reforms to both Medicare and Medicaid.

One wonders whether Gerson has any idea of what’s actually happening in Washington.

But let’s close by acknowledging that Gerson wrote something that is 100 percent accurate. He points out that the no-tax pledge is designed to tie the hands of entrenched incumbent big spenders.

Wolf’s frustrated attack on Norquist’s pledge is really a defense of the political profession. Pledges are designed to constrain politicians, who are viewed by activists as eager for corrupt compromise.

I couldn’t have put it any better. But unlike Gerson, I recognize that the political elite is the cause of America’s problems, not the solution.

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Since this story is about an Italian porn star who because a politician, the title of this post could have more than one meaning, but we’re going to limit our conversation to whether it’s appropriate for politicians to receive extravagant pensions

And this is not just an Italian issue. Disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner is eligible for more than $1 million of pension benefits according to the National Taxpayers Union, and top bigwigs from the European Union have become experts at fleecing taxpayers.

But what’s interesting about the Italian controversy is that taxpayers in that nation may have (finally) reached a boiling point. Who knows, maybe they’ll form a tea party. Here are some excerpts from the story in the UK-based Guardian.

She is famed for being the first woman to uncover her breasts live on Italian television, for recording a song entirely about the male organ, and for offering sex to Osama bin Laden (in return, she said, for giving up terrorism). But now Ilona Staller, better known as Cicciolina, is the unlikely centre of a bitter row over the cost to ordinary Italians of the perks enjoyed by their country’s tens of thousands of politicians. It emerged on Monday that the Hungarian, who starred in almost 40 hardcore pornographic movies, will soon be enjoying a €39,000-a-year (£34,000) pension, provided by the taxpayers of her adoptive homeland. The stipend, which is for life, is her reward for labouring as a member of parliament for all of five years, from 1987 to 1992. Staller was elected for the libertarian Radical party and sponsored a number of mainly sex-related bills, including one to set up “love parks and hotels”. …According to one recent estimate, Italy’s cohorts of politicians cost the taxpayers almost €1.3bn a year. With four levels of government – national, regional, provincial and municipal – the country has an inordinately large number of elected representatives. But that has not stopped them from giving themselves a distinctly comfortable lifestyle. According to the Italian parliament website, the gross salary of a member of the lower house is €140,000 a year plus an attendance allowance of up to €42,000 and a contribution towards expenses of up to €63,000. They are also entitled to free public transport, free air and sea travel within Italy and exemption from motorway tolls.

The right approach is that politicians should face exactly the same laws – for pensions and in all other regards – as regular people. That means they should be trapped in dismal Social Security systems and be subject to the market if they do private savings (heck, maybe that would encourage them to adopt pro-growth policy).

I can’t resist making two additional comments. Ms. Staller is identified as being a member of the “libertarian Radical party.” But the story also says that she introduced legislation to have the government finance “love parks and hotels.”

At the risk of speaking for all libertarians, that doesn’t sound like a legitimate function of government. Maybe the reporter should learn the difference between libertarian and libertine.

Last but not least, I wonder whether Ms. Staller’s parents were more embarrassed when they learned she was a porn actress…or when they learned she was a politician.

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I was tempted to write something serious about the debt limit fight, but a friend emailed this bird cartoon that is too good not to share.

It reminded me of this outhouse image, so let’s make this a contest. Which one best shows how politicians treat taxpayers?

P.S. If you want my thoughts on the debt limit, this post from back in April is still completely on target today.

P.P.S. I prefer the outhouse image. The bird cartoon is funny and clever, but it implies state politicians are victims when they actually should be considered co-conspirators in the raping and pillaging of the American people.

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Michelle Malkin hits the nail on the head, explaining that ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner is a wretched (but not unusual) example of the modern politician – a life spent mooching from the public, lining his pockets while making life harder for people in the productive sector of the economy. And every time people like Weiner (including many GOPers) expand the burden of government, that further enriches and empowers the political elite at the expense of real America.

Weiner’s life has been nothing but Congress. Nothing but government. Nothing but taxpayer-subsidized self-perpetuation. In other words: the life of a pathetic public leech. …Last year, the now-jobless Weiner joked on former roommate Jon Stewart’s cable comedy show that he didn’t “have a lot of marketable skills.” It’s one of Weiner’s rare truthful utterances over the past year. A protege of fossilized New York Sen. Charles Schumer, Weiner has spent the past 20 years in politics — straight out of college to the present. Through seven consecutive congressional terms, he has stridently advocated job-killing policies in the name of the working class, about which this ruling-class elitist knows nothing. …Weiner served faithfully as one of liberalism’s loudest mouths opposing entitlement and debt reform. Meanwhile, he locked in his public pension and racked up hefty private credit-card bills. (Financial disclosure forms show he owes some $15,000 on an annual salary of less than $200,000.) He married another career political servant, Clinton intimate Huma Abedin, who has worked in government since taking on a White House internship in 1996. Now, they are expecting a child — and he is counting on the Beltway/Big Apple revolving door to put food on the table. History, alas, is on his side. The incumbency racket eternally rewards big spenders and big redistributors of collective wealth. Among all the other sordid lessons Weiner-gate has taught us, it has reminded us that the progressive notion of “public service” is really private-job protectionism on the public’s dime.

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