Fiscal 9/11

There is a debate over at Cato Unbound on the question: The GOP and Limited Government: Do They Have a Future Together?

When it comes to this issue, I’m a bit of a fatalist. I don’t think that there’s any hope for the Republican Party to become a true limited government party until the system collapses under the weight of government spending, especially Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. In other words, nothing will be done until there is a fiscal disaster that wakes people up to the fact that big government is unsustainable just as Sept. 11 woke people up to the threat of terrorism. Following Sept. 11, neoconservatives gained credibility because their philosophy of transforming the Middle East suddenly became relevant as the U.S. decided how to respond to the terrorist threat. In much the same way, once the impending fiscal disaster becomes reality, libertarian proposals for privatizing Social Security, deregulating health care, etc., will suddenly become relevant.

One unfortunate quirk in human nature is that we tend to be focused on the short term. Polls show that in an abstract sense, most Americans are concerned about the $9 trillion federal debt and the looming entitlement crisis, but people are just not willing to sacrifice their favorite government program to resolve the problem. It’s sort of like a person who eats too much and slowly gets heavier and heavier until he is morbidly obese. Even though he knows that he should cut back on food to improve his health, future health risks are completely abstract whereas bacon double cheeseburgers, french fries and apple pies a la mode provide instant gratification. However, were that person to suffer a heart attack, he would be much more likely to adjust his eating habits. He’s still focused on the short term, but now his health is a short-term problem rather than an abstract long term one. That’s why Americans won’t be willing to cut back on big government until financial disaster strikes and the unsustainable spending levels affect them in the short term.

This doesn’t mean that those of us who believe in limited government should abandon our fight. It’s just that we have to be aware that we’re literally up against human nature.

Hamas Nobel Peace Prize Watch

Sad, but true. The U.S. has already caved:

UNITED NATIONS, May 9 – Yielding to pressure from its allies, the Bush administration endorsed a European proposal on Tuesday to increase aid to the Palestinian territories, including money that could pay the salaries of some civil servants working under Hamas.

Not only has the U.S. officially capitulated to terrorists, but it did so without receiving any concessions:

Hamas signalled on Wednesday it still had problems accepting Western demands to recognise Israel and renounce violence, hours after international peace brokers agreed to channel direct aid to the Palestinians.

Boy, the international community taught them a lesson!

Happy Independence Day Israel!

Israel is celebrating it’s 58th Independence Day (based on the Jewish Calendar), and to mark the occasion the Jerusalem Post has posted online the May 16, 1948 edition of their paper (then called the Palestine Post).

Their coverage included the declaration of statehood made by David Ben Gurion, who would become Israel’s first prime minister. As Israel was born, he said:

“Even at this hour of bloodshed, we call upon the Arabs of Palestine to restore peace in this country. We call upon the Arab citizens to return to their homes. We assure them full civil rights on the basis of full representation in all governmental organs of the State. We are extending the hand of friendship to the neighbouring Arab states in order to initiate mutual cooperation. We are ready to contribute our share to the revival of the Middle East.”

As we all know, every Arab country decided to invade Israel instead.

Bolton calls Seymour Hersh article “fiction”

Just got finished watching John Bolton’s testimony before the House Comittee on Government Reform today, which was broadcast on C-SPAN. At one point, Dennis Kucinich pressed Bolton on whether the Bush Administration had already ordered some combat troops into Iran, as reported in a recent New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh. Bolton said he hadn’t read the article. When Kucinich offered to provide Bolton with a copy of the piece, Bolton replied:

“I don’t have time to read much fiction.”

Bernard Lewis on WOT

Opinion Journal has posted an essay by Fouad Ajami on leading Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, who is turning 90. He asked Lewis to compare the climate of England during WWII with contemporary America as it fights the War on Terror :

“In 1940, we knew who we were, we knew who the enemy was, we knew the dangers and the issues,” he told me when I pressed him for a reading of the struggle against Islamic radicalism. “In our island, we knew we would prevail, that the Americans would be drawn into the fight. It is different today. We don’t know who we are, we don’t know the issues, and we still do not understand the nature of the enemy.”


More on GOP’s $100 Givaway

In my post below on the GOP’s proposed $100 giveaway to address high gas prices, I neglected to note the irony that the Democrats’ proposal to suspend gas taxes for 90 days is actually much closer to a small government, supply side response.

The NY Times reports:

many Republicans opposed the Democratic plan because they feared that oil companies, which pay the gas tax, would not pass savings on to the public, or that the laws of supply and demand would push the price up again.

But one of the tenets of supply-side economics is that reducing taxes and regulation on businesses–i.e. the supply side–benefits everyone.

Meanwhile, the story gives additional details on the GOP plan, which includes “an accounting change forcing oil companies to pay higher taxes on fuel sold from stockpiles.”

A Republican elaborates:

David Winston, a Republican pollster who advises the Senate Republican leadership, called the rebate an intuitive way to show voters that Republicans were on their side. “It is like putting the American family budget ahead of oil company profits,” Mr. Winston said. “How do you help the American families out? Well, give them some money.”

I guess he must be one of those Ted Kennedy Republicans.