Archive for October 15th, 2010

Sean Penn for President? How about George Clooney? Or what would you think of President Ed Anser? (assuming he’s still alive)

Hollywood is filled with collectivists, probably because of a combination of guilt over immense wealth and a shallow desire to be trendy and chic.

Well, here’s a video of an actor campaigning for statist politicians. Do you think you could vote for him if he ran for office at some point in the future?

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I’m mystified that some conservatives and libertarians are sympathetic to the idea that Mitch Daniels, the governor of Indiana, might be a good candidate in 2012. The main challenge for our nation is the growing burden of government, so it seems that this would disqualify anybody who served as Budget Director for President George W. Bush.

It’s possible, to be sure, that Daniels didn’t want the no-bureaucrat-left-behind education bill, the corrupt farm bill, the pork-filled transporation bill, or any of the other big-spending bills that became law during the early years of the Bush Administration. But there certainly is no evidence that he used his position as Director of OMB to resist these terrible ideas. And he certainly hasn’t gone out of his way to disavow any of the fiscal excesses that occurred during his tenure.

Indeed, it’s quite likely that Governor Daniels is a supporter of big government, just like President Bush. Is there any other explanation that fits? And if you need any additional evidence, Daniels has indicated that he is open to a value-added tax (and energy taxes as well). A VAT would be a fiscal catastrophe for America, paving the way for European-style statism. Here’s an excerpt from Politico.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels opened the door Thursday to supporting both a value added tax and a tariff on imported oil, bold proposals that could cause trouble for him with conservatives as he flirts with a long-shot bid for the presidency.  …The so-called VAT, common in European economies which have stagnated, is a toxic acronym to fiscally conservative activists… Daniels also suggested support for increasing gasoline taxes. …These comments come on the heels of a September profile in Newsweek, in which Daniels said tax increases might be necessary… Daniels has previously clashed with Norquist over the former’s refusal to sign the “No New Taxes” pledge. …In a brief interview after his speech, Daniels downplayed the significance of his comments. He stressed that he would support a VAT “under only the right circumstances,” reiterating his desire for it to be paired with a flat income tax.
Governor Daniels doubtlessly would defend himself by reiterating his “under only the right circumstances” line from the article, but there are no “right circumstances” for a VAT other than getting rid of he 16th Amendment and replacing it with something so airtight that even Justice Sotomayor would be unable to rule that an income tax is constitutional. Suffice to say that this is not what Daniels has in mind.

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It’s tempting to say Ronald Reagan is the best President of the past century, and I’ve certainly demonstrated my man-crush on the Gipper, but earlier today at the Mont Pelerin Society (it’s currently Friday night in Australia) I had the privilege of listening to Amity Shlaes of the Council on Foreign Relations make the case for Calvin Coolidge.

So I dug around online and found an article Amity wrote for Forbes, which highlights some of the attributes of “Silent Cal” that she mentioned in her speech. As you can see, she makes a persuasive case.

… the Coolidge style of government, which included much refraining, took great strength and yielded superior results. …Coolidge and Mellon tightened and pulled multiple times, eventually getting the top rate down to 25%, a level that hasn’t been seen since. Mellon argued that lower rates could actually bring in greater revenues because they removed disincentives to work. Government, he said, should operate like a railroad, charging a price for freight that “the traffic will bear.” Coolidge’s commitment to low taxes came from his concept of property rights. He viewed heavy taxation as the legalization of expropriation. “I want taxes to be less, that the people may have more,” he once said. In fact, Coolidge disapproved of any government intervention that eroded the bond of the contract. …More than once Coolidge vetoed what would later be called farm allotment–the government purchase of commodities to reduce supply and drive up prices. …Today our government has moved so far from Coolidge’s tenets that it’s difficult to imagine such policies being emulated.

But if you don’t want to believe Amity, here’s Coolidge in his own words. This video is historically significant since it is the first film (with sound) of an American President. The real value, however, is in the words that are being said.

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