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Posts Tagged ‘Politicians’

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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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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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 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 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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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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Sometimes during speeches, when explaining why politicians shouldn’t double tax income that is saved and invested, I ask the audience whether it would make sense to harvest apples by cutting the branches off of trees filled with ripe fruit.

In every audience (at least when I’m not talking to politicians), people instinctively understand that this would be stupid. Cutting off the branches, after all, would reduce the crop in future years. This helps them realize why it is so short-sighted to use tax policy to penalize the capital formation that generates future income.

This new video is designed to make a broader point about the greed of the political class, but you’ll see why I thought about my story about taxation and the apple tree. (warning: one F-word at the end)

If you like cartoon videos with free-market messages, here’s one illustrating the moral bankruptcy of class-warfare tax policy.

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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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There’s lots of talk in Washington about spending cuts, with almost everybody saying that there needs to be at least $2 trillion of cuts in exchange for hiking the debt limit. Since the federal budget is about $3.8 trillion and is riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse, this sounds like great news.

But, as you can imagine, things are never what they seem in Babylon on the Potomac. As I’ve repeatedly noted, a spending cut means something different for politicians than it does for those of us in the real world. The political elite claim they are cutting spending anytime they don’t increase spending as fast as previously planned.

You think I’m joking?!? I wish. Take a couple of minutes to watch this new video from the Cato Institute and you’ll understand how politicians are playing us for fools.

Rather than getting sidetracked by empty rhetoric, here’s the best way to understand what’s really happening in Washington. Apply this simple 5-step process when a “deal” is announced.

    1. Find out what spending is this year.

    2. Find out what spending will be next year.

    3. Find the projected spending levels in subsequent years.

    4. Measure how fast spending is projected to grow (or, if there is a miracle, how much it will decline) and compare to estimated inflation.

    5. Then discount everything by 50 percent since promised spending cuts (oops, I mean reductions in previously planned increases) tend to evaporate.

When you follow these five steps, you’ll probably want to go to step 6, which is to inquire about the cost of property in Costa Rica or some other place to which you can escape when America collapses into a Greek-style fiscal crisis.

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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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I’m sure I will surrender to temptation and do a couple of posts with Weinergate jokes, but I want to begin on a higher note and make a serious point about Washington’s latest scandal.

Big government means that politicians have a lot of power over the lives of ordinary people. This is bad for all sorts of reasons, but one of the problems is that it means that people who like to wield control over others are drawn to Washington.

And to add injury to insult, these people who like to boss around the rest of us don’t seem to have positive characteristics that offset their personality flaws. I’ve joked during TV interviews that I wouldn’t trust politicians to mow my lawn, so why would we want to give these buffoons more power over our lives and our economy?!?

Here’s what the always-quotable Mark Steyn said in National Review.

…by its nature Big Government will attract strange people drawn to “public service” for the boundless opportunities it offers the otherwise untalented for unearned perquisites and gratifications of one kind or another. …The bigger the state gets, the more the modus operandi of its princelings will tend to the Weinerian.

And here’s part of what my Cato colleague Gene Healy wrote for the Washington Examiner.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a good old-fashioned political sex scandal. They’re entertaining, and they may even be edifying — reminding us that self-styled “public servants” are often less responsible, more venal, and just plain dumber than those they seek to rule. …Maybe it’s Weiner’s onetime status as a rising left-wing star that’s made liberal journalists queasy about the pile-on. When sex scandals and partisan loyalties collide, partisans get pious and prissy, lecturing us about America’s “unserious” political culture. But one of the few perks of being a libertarian is that you get to enjoy twice as many scandals. Politics is one big smorgasbord of schadenfreude, and I feel sorry for my Republican friends who root, root, root for the Red Team so ardently that it hampers their enjoyment of the wonderful GOP sex scandals of recent years. …H.L. Mencken thought government as practiced in these United States was “dishonest, insane, and intolerable.” But that never stopped the sage of Baltimore from enjoying what he called “incomparably the greatest show on earth.” In Mencken’s version of American exceptionalism, this great nation had elevated politics to “the plane of undiluted comedy” because “we have clowns in constant practice among us who are as far above the clowns of any other great state as a Jack Dempsey is above a paralytic.” So have a guilt-free laugh about Weinergate. Not only are political sex scandals great fun, they serve an important social purpose. They remind us that we should think twice before we cede more power to these clowns.

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Here’s a stomach-turning story from the Chicago Sun Times about how the political class uses special insider deals to get rich (or richer). What’s remarkable is that there may be nothing technically illegal in this story of crony capitalism and government contracts. But does anyone doubt that being the Mayor’s son was not a relevant (if not the key) consideration?

For years, City Hall maintained that Mayor Richard M. Daley’s son, Patrick Daley, had no financial stake in the deal that brought wireless Internet service to city-owned O’Hare Airport and Midway Airport. But it turns out that the younger Daley still reaped a windfall of $708,999 when Concourse Communications was sold in 2006, less than a year after the Chicago company signed the multimillion-dollar Wi-Fi contract with his father’s administration, company documents obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show. …Exactly how the deal was structured isn’t clear. Neither Patrick Daley nor his father replied to interview requests. But the amount that Patrick Daley was paid was linked to the sale price of the company, a source with knowledge of the arrangement said: The more the company was sold for, the more Patrick Daley would be paid. The elder Daley — who left office May 16 after deciding not to seek re-election — is now in business with his son. The two Daleys are working out of offices on Michigan Avenue on international business deals. Patrick Daley’s Wi-Fi windfall was part of $1.2 million he was paid as a result of deals he had with Cardinal Growth, a Chicago venture-capital firm that invested in Concourse and other businesses. Among those businesses was a sewer-inspection company that got millions of dollars in no-bid city-contract extensions. In addition to Patrick Daley, Cardinal Growth also has had business dealings in which it made payments to two of his cousins, Robert G. Vanecko and Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko. …In addition to the $708,999 from those payments linked to the Concourse sale, Cardinal Growth made numerous other payments to Patrick Daley, totaling $543,127, between July 10, 2002, and Oct. 31, 2009, company records show. It isn’t clear what those payments were for.

Chicago has a reputation for this kind of corruption, and I suppose I could make a snarky comment about Obama learning how to be a politician in that environment, but I have little doubt that there are untold versions of this story in every part of government, at all levels of government.

The moral of the story is that big government is the mother’s milk of cronyism, sleaze, unearned wealth, and other forms of corruption. I posted my video on this topic just a few weeks ago, but this is a perfect opportunity to include it again for those who didn’t see it.

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I’ve been writing too much about the Ryan budget, the government shutdown, and other fiscal policy issues. Time for some wholesome politician bashing.

But I’m not going to pick on the U.S. Congress, which is one of my favorite targets. Instead, we’re going to cross the ocean and mock the political elite of the European Parliament (a.k.a., the Potemkin-Village legislature). These lawmakers don’t really have any real responsibility. They largely exist to give faux democratic legitimacy to the decisions of the European Commission.

But they have figured out how to butter their own bread. They are provided lavish pay and benefits in exchange for very little work. And they get all sorts of perks that might cause even American politicians to blush with embarrassment.

For example, they automatically get to travel in business class, courtesy of the long-suffering taxpayers of Europe. And when somebody has the gall to suggest that this is a waste of money, the politicians link arms and defend their privileged status.

Here are some excerpts from a report in the EU Observer.

MEPs have said parliament’s budget should be increased by 2.3 percent next year, at the same time rejecting a proposal for euro-deputies to take more economy class flights in future. …In adopting the report on Wednesday, MEPs also rejected an amendment to save money by ensuring flights under four hours were carried out on economy class, citing procedural reasons. At present, MEP travel is reimbursed to the level of a business class flight or a first class rail ticket. The rejected amendment would have saved between €15 to €20 million a year… A parliamentary source defended the decision. “Most MEPs agree that economy-flex tickets are okay, but they think the budget procedure is not the way to do this,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

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Five surgeons are talking.

#1 The first, a California surgeon, says: “I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.”

#2 The second, a Texas surgeon, responds: “Yeah, but you should try electricians. Everything inside of them is color coded.”

#3 The third, an Oklahoman surgeon, says: “No, I really think librarians are the best, everything inside of them is in alphabetical order.”

#4 The fourth, an Florida surgeon, chimes in: “You know, I like construction workers…. those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over.”

#5 But, the fifth, a Washington, D.C. surgeon, shut them all up when he observed: “You’re all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There’s no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains, and no spine, — and the head and the ass are interchangeable.”

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One of John Boehner’s first announcements after the GOP House takeover was that he would continue to fly commercial. This is in sharp contrast to Nancy Pelosi, who insisted on using luxury jets operated by the military. Boehner deserves praise for that decision, but he only gets two cheers rather than three since, like many other government officials, he is spared the indignity of being groped by the TSA.

This is wrong. The political elite should have to live under the rules that are imposed on the peasantry. Yes, it will be stupid and pointless for Boehner and other officials to be harassed by TSA, but it’s equally dumb for TSA to be frisking little kids from Minnesota, grandmothers from Kentucky, and frequent business travelers from Dallas.

And if we want to force the TSA to use common sense, letting politicians get some first-hand experience (no pun intended) with the process is a good idea. Here’s a blurb from an article in the New York Times.

The Republican leader, who will become the second person in line to assume the presidency after the new Congress convenes in January, took great pride after the midterm elections in declaring his man-of-the-people plans to travel home as other Americans do. In a time of economic difficulty, it was a not-so-subtle dig at Ms. Pelosi, who has access to a military jet large enough to avoid refueling for her flights home to San Francisco. But he is not giving up all the perquisites of power. …Congressional leaders or members of Congress with armed security details are allowed to go around security. The same privilege is afforded to governors and cabinet members if they are escorted by agents or law enforcement officers. Michael Steel, a spokesman for Mr. Boehner, said the Republican leader had neither requested nor received special treatment at the airport security line.

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