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Thursday, October 30, 2003

Medicare Blimps? Hayek is Proven Right Again.
Medicare has been spending $600,000 on a blimp to advertise a phone number. This is the sickness of socialist government programs. Not only is it absurd to advertise a number that is easily found in the phone book and a waste of money, but it is symptomatic of government agencies with a sick sense of their own importance.

Clearly a blimp is ridiculously over the line of what should be spent. But where is the line? Of course, as F. A. Hayek demonstrated in "The Road to Serfdom," that is the whole problem.
Some Medicare executive might think that putting an ad in the Yellow Pages might be acceptable. What does he care if he spends money on a blimp? It doesn't affect his bottom line. In fact, he might see it as increasing visibility to the government subsidies that he is authorized to dispense. Increased visibility might in his sick mind be the justification for this waste of our money, but I'll bet his real goal is to use that increased visibility to get more money for next year's budget. Advertising may convince some legislators to grow the Medicare program more and more.

Hayek's brilliant point was that whenever you have a program that forcibly takes money from people and redistributes it, you will end up with corruption, and eventually despots. Let's take welfare as a quick and easy example. Someone has to decide how much to take from the people, and someone has to decide who to redistribute it to. When a program is first implemented, it's entirely possible that the intent is honest and well intended (the realist in me knows better, but let's just pretend for now that politicians are capable of honesty), and that only the truly indigent are intended to be helped.

But here's the problem. What does indigent mean? Does it mean living on the street over a grate? Or does it mean only having two televisions? This has to be decided, and it also means that someone has to make that decision. And as Hayek showed, when someone has to make this decision, you tend to get people in charge who like to make that decision, and who like to use that decision to further their own aims.

It's been the same throughout time. The Romans had their "bread and circuses." Hayek, when he wrote this, had just escaped from the early years of Hitler's Naziism and had this example most clearly in mind. As both examples show, the larger the amount of people you give free things to, the more power you can attain.

What we're seeing in this particular example of blimpish excess, is a government agency being run by a political power seeker. Well, let's be honest. It is being run directly by a lackey, but there are real power seekers whose bidding he is doing. They are using funding that most Americans assume is being used to help people in order to increase their ability to take our money from us and grant it to those that they think will help them achieve power.

Make no mistake. This blimp may seem nothing more than a bit of excessive ego or maybe even just a silly expense, but it is a symptom of the brazeness of the socialist state that we have become. It is nearly impossible to end socialism once it starts because the people want their bread and circuses, and they will elect those that give it to them. Only one thing can help us, and that is if the courts rule that the federal government has no legal role to redistribute wealth, but that isn't about to happen. We're doomed for a long time to come to undergo growing socialism. Let's hope that someday it will be ended and we return to freedom before we end up under the boot of some despot.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Strikes in California, Clark's Call for a Civil Corps and Other Omens of Bad Times Ahead
California is being wracked with strikes across the state right now. Hmmm. They just ousted the Democrat governor. Coincidence? Not!
The Democratic Party, long dominated by Soviet spies like Harry Hopkins and by communist sympathizers and other ultra socialists, has been smacked in the face, the rug pulled out from under them by the election of a moderate socialist to the Executive branch of the state of California. The new governor is hardly differentiable from a democrat with his support for socialism and gun control, so why are they so upset? The obvious answer is because politics isn't about ideas, it's about power. Ideas are only used to get the people to grant them power. Thus, anyone on the opposite side of the power aisle who shares their ideas must be attacked more ruthlessly than those whose ideas are different.

I'm always surprised that the "brilliant" pundits never see this. Why did Stalin attack Trotsky? They were both brutal killers, believers in absolute control of the people by a dictatorship of the elite. Their only difference was that Stalin thought that he should be that elite dictator, and Trotsky thought he was the one to do it. I've no doubt that Trotsky would have killed nearly as many people that Stalin did had he been the winner.

Why did the communists hate the fascists? Because their philosophies are nearly identical.

Why do the Democrats attack centrist Republicans so viciously? Because if the Republicans were to drift left, the Democrats would no longer be able to claim that part of the political spectrum as their own.

So now the discipline of the ComIntern, er, I mean the Democrats has declared that they will make the new governor's term as chaotic as possible with strikes and mayhem. Watch and wait to see more and more unions strike, and watch and wait as the violence and vitriol ramp up as the polemicists sling lies and distortions for the purpose of agitation and propaganda. The Soviets call this agitprop.

On the other side of the country, an old idea is being floated by Wes Clark: He wants a civilian corps to respond to emergencies and be called up just like the military reserves are. This idea has been put forward many, many times. Clinton started the fraudulent and patronage laden Americorps on the same idea. It has been floated in military journals like the U.S. Naval Institute "Proceedings" and won't seem to go away. There's a reason it keeps getting brought up. It's a great way to control more and more of the population, a primary goal of all politicians, and it promises to let them pay people to be full time activists.

Think of it like this. Americorps has been nothing more than a way to take young activists and give them a salary while they do nothing except agitate for the Democratic party. It was a great success only from this perspective. Now, not only would this small corps be available, but people who can get their own jobs can be called away from those jobs without risk of losing them.

Whom would this benefit? Unions. Not the castle in the sky idea of unions working for better wages and working conditions, but the unions that really exist that are only concerned with power.

Who financed and managed the World Trade riots in Seattle? Unions, specifically the ILWU among probably others. How were these people able to do this? Well, they couldn't keep up the pace, because their riot instigators only get so much vacation time. However, if the federal government would pay their salaries while they went away for a few weeks a year for training, and were able to be called up in "emergencies" as needed, the union can get their members paid and at the same time get new members hired at the companies that need them, increasing their dues while at the same time creating small armies.

You think I'm stretching this too far? Time will tell. But if you give the President of the United States, or any political leader, the ability to call up non-military armies for whatever pretense he wants, this is what will happen.

Why then don't they just do this with the military reserves? Well, they sometimes do, but only outside of the country. The Posse Comitatus Act which prohibits using the military in a domestic police role keeps this from being abused, as does the military's culture of being apolitical.

Notice that the most blatant abuse of Posse Comitatus was committed by Wes Clark himself. As the Commanding General of the Fourth Infantry Division in Fort Hood, Texas General Clark volunteered his troops and equipment to slaughter the Church members of Waco. I wonder what uses he could find for a trained crew unfettered by Posse Comitatus and controlled solely by him.

With this new idea, the unions that are striking in California now would be augmented by this corps. In a really sick twist, if the strikes get especially bad, a President like Clark could order the new civil corps to take over the work of the striking workers or enforce the unions' ability to inflict damage on the companies resisting union demands. For instance, if the ILWU strikes they could stop loading and unloading ships at the harbor. The corps would then be called up as an emergency measure to handle strategically necessary ships at another facility, or even at the same facility, but bypassing the control of the port authority.

This civil corps being called for by Wesley Clark is a bad, sick idea. I'm not surprised that a Clintonista is supporting it. The power of the Clintons is undiminished by being out of the White House and will only falter if their lackey loses the nomination. Let's hope that Howard Dean succeeds. For all his faults, he at least appears to be anti-Clinton. If I see the Dean campaign correctly, he is being fought by the Clintonistas not because his ideas are so different from Clinton's, but because if he wins he will strip Clinton of most of his power. Until a Democrat gets in the White House, Clinton and his estranged wife will continue to be viewed as the leaders of the the party. If Dean wins the nomination, then even if he doesn't win the election, he will have severely weakened Clinton's hold on the Democratic party. Maybe when that happens, we'll be able to learn why Clinton was taking all those trips to Moscow when he was young.