Politics

Can It Be? A Party for Capitalism?

Free-market populism is a political movement with staying power

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For perhaps the first time in American history, seemingly rational adults will sit down and spend significant time dissecting the off-off-year elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and New York's much-discussed 23rd Congressional District.

Naturally, a consensus will emerge:

The angry, hard-right, radical, insane (etc.) conservative base has hijacked the Republican Party and, in the process, further alienated a beleaguered nation—a nation that apparently is hankering for tripling deficits and government takeovers of the health care, energy, banking, and car industries.

Like Democrats, I, too, hope Republicans suffer. By focusing on needless culture wars, nurturing government centralization and growth, and spending without restraint, the GOP has downgraded fiscal conservatism to nothing more than election-time rhetoric over the past decade. And not surprisingly, Republican identification is also at an all-time low.

So how is it, some wonder, that a recent Gallup Poll claims that "conservative" remains the dominant ideological group in this nation—with between 39 and 41 percent of voters identifying themselves as either "very conservative" or "conservative"?

The percentage of independents describing their views as "conservative" has also grown, to 35 percent from 29 percent in just one year.

What does it mean to be conservative these days? I mean, "conservative" happens to be the default self-identifying ideological designation of nearly every Republican politician (and some Democrats, too); so in Washington, at least, we know it means very little.

In the real world, I imagine many non-ideologically inclined voters tend to see themselves as conservative, as well. And with a president who has yet to meet an industry he doesn't believe needs to be managed by the loving but firm hands of Washington, this increasingly must mean fiscal conservatism.

The rise of free-market populism in this country finally has manifested in an election. And judging from the hyperbolic reactions, you know it's a political movement with staying power.

When tepid, traditional conservative candidate Doug Hoffman knocked off liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava—a candidate who was supported by nearly every boogeyman in the GOP handbook—you might have thought that the rabble had stormed the Bastille.

Sophisticated New York Times columnist Frank Rich called the event "a riotous and bloody national G.O.P. civil war" and compared the conservative surge to a murderous Stalinist purge. (Remarkably, the esteemed wordsmith failed to unleash similar histrionic language when one-time-Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman met the same fate.)

Purging moderates is indeed a self-destructive strategy for any national party. But running a party without any litmus tests on the central issue of the economy seems to be similarly self-defeating.

The most impressive trick played by Rich and other liberals, though, is creating a narrative wherein the ones attempting to fundamentally reconfigure the American economy are cast as the moderates.

The nearly powerless who stand in their way? Well, they play the part of Stalinists.

Now, I'm not nearly as smart as Frank Rich, but I do know that the single ideological bond that holds together all factions of the right is a belief in capitalism and economic freedom. Or, at least, it should be.

In fact, as Arthur C. Brooks, American Enterprise Institute president, summed it up, "there is a major cultural schism developing in America. But it's not over abortion, same-sex marriage or home schooling, as important as these issues are. The new divide centers on free enterprise—the principle at the core of American culture."

The next few elections will tell us whether this tenant of American culture has staying power—and whether there will be a political party to champion it.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his Web site at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 THE DENVER POST
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  1. whether this tenant of American culture has staying power

    It is hard to evict a terminally ill cripple.

  2. “Free-market populism.” You need a better term. Populism = Huey Long / Bill O’Reilly / Michael Savage / knee-jerk anti-wealth dumbness and/or opportunism.

    How about “grass-roots capitalism”?

    1. Individual rights, perhaps?

      The current trend in politics is to change relationships from voluntary ones to ones governed by force. The conservative movement is about freedom, plain and simple.

      The most visible proponent of this conservative ideal is the aptly named Campaign for Liberty. Conservatives need to understand in their bones that economic freedom and political freedom are inextricably tied together, and then use the necessary language to make that point. “Individual rights” need to come back, and the free market does too, with an emphasis on the left-wing fallacy of “market failures”, as if government failure is somehow superior.

      1. Don’t forget about social freedoms.

        Note: social freedoms not eqaul to social justice (i.e. liberal bullshit).

      2. “Conservative” = advocates material freedom but spiritual control by the state.
        “Liberal” = advocates spiritual freedom but material control by the state.

        “Free-market” = material freedom + spiritual freedom.

        1. Excellent.

        2. So what do we need government for?

          1. Governments are great for f**king things up. So I would say managing a standing army to threaten foreign foes would fit the bill.

            1. A large and powerful standing Navy, Air Force, and Marines and a large and powerful, trained and ready Army Reserve would fit the bill.

          2. Was that a mere rhetorical question, AST?

            On the off-chance it wasn’t: We need government to protect our lives, freedom, and property from loss to force, fraud & coercion.

            The right of ownership (including the ownership of the self) is at the foundation of both civilization and freedom, and nobody has come up with a more sure way to protect it than having some kind of limited government.

      3. This “conservative” ideal should more accurately be called liberalism, the idea of free markets and social freedom is liberal. The “liberal” democrats are not liberal at all.

    2. How about call it “adherence to the free market principles this country was founded on”

  3. Now, I’m not nearly as smart as Frank Rich, but I do know that the single ideological bond that holds together all factions of the right is a belief in capitalism and economic freedom. Or, at least, it should be.

    I’m going to go with “should be.” The word “conservative” to me is meaningless, and when I hear someone describe themselves that way I assume they are more likely to believe that Obama is a Kenyan spy who wants to destroy America with gay marriage than they are to actually believe in free markets and small government.

    The first thing I assume when I hear a politician call himself “fiscally conservative” is that he wants massive tax cuts and little to no change in government spending.

    1. When I hear “fiscal conservative”, I think it’s a 50/50 chance it’s a Democrat who wants to raise taxes to balance the budget.

    2. That’s the fallacy of not understanding tax revenue. When you cut taxes it increaes tax revenue. 2006 had the highest tax revenue of any year except 1988. And, both were results of tax cuts. Tax increases never increase tax revenue, the left just uses tax increases as penalties, not real sources of tax revenue.

      1. So were taxes raised in 2007 to create the giant drop in revenue? Oh, or maybe 2005 was just the end of a giant run-up in bubble house prices (aided by government meddling by both parties that are both currently desperate to return us to that state) that created a bunch of revenue.

        To the extent that tax cuts create revenue, it happens over a long timespan, not 5 years. It absolutely does not work to get into huge deficits to pay for those tax cuts. You are simply redistributing wealth from your grandchildren to yourself.

        1. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that raising taxes wouldn’t mean an immediate increase in revenue, but rather “it happens over a long timespan”?

          1. That sounds pretty absurd. A tax increase (so long as you’re not taking it to some apocalyptic level) will lead to a short term increase in revenue and a long term decrease in GDP, and may or may not result in higher revenue over the long term depending on how badly it hurts GDP.

            This isn’t the case with capital gains taxes, of course, because you can decide to sell at tax-advantaged times while you get your salary when you get it.

            I would absolutely and unequivocally agree that taxes should be lowered, but to suggest doing so without also cutting spending (to a deficit of at most zero) is blatant generational theft.

      2. “When you cut taxes it increaes tax revenue. ”

        Not always. It’s called the “Laffer Curve” not the “Laffer Line”.

        And arguments about the Laffer Curve put the focus in the wrong place. Tax rates should not be set according to what creates the maximum return of revenue to government coffers. It should be set according to what the minimum revenue requirements are to maintain a stable and safe nation.

        1. Too many people seem to want to believe that the Laffer curve approximates 1/x.

          We should obviously always want to be left of the peak, but never more than is needed to fund needed functions. That assumes of course we live in a fantasy world where the government only provides needed functions.

          1. “a fantasy world where the government only provides needed functions”

            What’s wrong with that?

    3. Well, SG, if you’re that ignorant, maybe you ought to keep your opinions to yourself until really understand what conservatives believe.

      1. If you think the majority of people who call themselves “conservative” believe in free minds and free markets (in practice, not as catchphrases) then talk about ignorance.

        1. If you believe the majority of liberals believe in free minds and free markets, you’re a fool. Wage and price controls and a desire to regulate political speech come to mind – all proposed by Democrats.

  4. The first thing I assume when I hear a politician call himself “fiscally conservative” is that he wants massive tax cuts and little to no change in government spending.

    The first time the phrase really caught my attention was during the Clinton campaign of ’92. He was described as thus, and it was a pretty accurate description with his emphasis on balancing budgets. It usually came in the form of a phrase. ‘fiscally conservative, socially liberal’.

    But your point about the meaning of conservative being amorphous is right, as it also describe Huckabee who is positively Rooseveltian while being socially conservative. I don’t use conservative to describe myself. I’m libertarian, or New Centrist.

    I think this phrase should catch on as it is now accurate for libertarians given the old center could not hold to being authoritative after the crises of confidence of the collapse of Wall Street, and ‘moderate’ blue dogs going along with porkulus.

    Look establishment, you can’t lazily hand Gergen the sceptre of King Centrist for twenty odd years without the gloss wearing thin. We’re taking it.

    1. A “fiscal conservative” right winger is someone who believes that deficits are caused by the government spending too much money. A “fiscal conservative” left winger is someone who believs that government deficits are caused by the government not taxing enough.

      Libertarians are not centrists. Libertarians are sure in what they believe and will stick to it, Centrists have no clue what they believe or why they believe it.

      1. Though the founding father’s were far from perfect, and represented profoundly different and conflicting interest, Libertarians are the closest in our modern era of advocating the tenets of classical liberalism. So, yes, we are the political center and core of this Republic.

        I don’t blame anyone who may find the word centrist as anathema as the MSM typecast the most reptilian politicians like Arlen Spectre as Centrist. But it is time to deny the claim to those who do not come even close to representing a classical liberal heritage the right to that claim.

    2. Clinton only wanted to expand the welfare state at a more incremental pace than the average Democrat.

    3. Huckabee isn’t conservative. He’s a populist. Just look at his speeches during the 2008 primaries. He spent the whole time attacking Mitt Romney for having built a business empire and implying that he isn’t a Christian.

      Huckabee is a demagogue and a charlatan.

  5. The free market has failed us again and again. If it solves all problems, why hasn’t it?

    1. How has if failed us again and again and who said it solves all problems?

    2. It hasn’t failed us, as we don’t have a free market. We have a mixture of socialism, corporatism/mercantlism, and fascism (economic, not political). (you might want to do a little research as to what they are and learn how they aren’t free market economics…)

      The free market CAN solve many problems. But, as we don’t have it, the problems aren’t being solved.

      1. I agree with MBrown. Get your stuff right or stop trolling if your being sarcastic Butlers.

      2. Ahh, the standard libertarian argument of “No matter how badly the market *bleeps* things up, it is always the government’s fault, someway somehow”. Never heard that one around here before, have we?

        Here is a little riddle for you. When I was a kid, my brother and a bunch of his friends got caught up in a comic book bubble. It had all the hallmarks of a classic economic bubble, and of course, ended badly for them…very much like the recent housing bubble. Please explain how government manipulation of the market caused the comic book to happen. Because clearly, this phenomenon could not be part of a free market in comic books.

        1. That was the shittiest riddle I have ever heard. Look, Chad, if your going to try to sound more intelligent than anyone else, make a better attempt than that. That was just insulting.

          And it’s not the standard libertarian comment. It’s the logical conclusion. See, unlike you, libertarians tend to apply reason to what they study, and follow the trail of clues to the best solution.

          1. “Comic book bubble”. What a load of shit.

        2. Libertarians don’t claim that bubbles never happen in a free market. We claim that it’s impossible for the government to predict and pop them before the market does.

          Now, imagine your comic book taxes were being collected by the government. How likely do you think they would be to pop that bubble even if they knew it was one?

        3. The market did not fail. It did exactly what it should, punish your dumbass brother for failing to make sound decisions with his money.

    3. If government solves all problems, why do we still have problems?

      1. If government solves all problems, why do we still need government?

      2. Because the evil insane libertarians stand in it’s way, of course.

  6. I for one hope for an end to the Republican party. Not because I totally disagree with them like I do most Democrats, but because I believe the GOP and conservatism are holding back Libertarianism. Much like socialist believe that the Democrats are holding back their agenda.

    1. I want both/ all parties to disappear so we can stop having party-politics and all the bickering in Congress will decrease.

      1. Absolutely! In a Constitutional Republic with strictly delimited government which derives its power from the people (such as America was at one time), there is no need for parties. In fact, as we can plainly see, political parties can/will/must f*** things up beyond repair.

    2. I say instead of the Republican party just being like the Democrats, but moving much slower to the left, we return it to what I consider true conservatism, which is conserving the principles our country was founded on.

      1. You can’t return to a place you’ve never been.

        1. Had to have been somewhere between the founding and the beginning of the 20th century.

          1. Which would be awesome because we could put women, blacks, Mexicans, et. al. back in their places.

            1. Which party freed the slaves? Way to swallow the Democrat narrative.

              1. Now, did I say anything about party? I merely noted that returning to the “golden age” somewhere between 1783 and 1900 might not exactly delight some people.

                You turned it into something partisan.

              2. I neither mentioned the history of the Civil War nor the history of the Republican Party.

                I merely noted that many of our fellow citizens might find a return to the status quo ante 1900 less than delightful.

            2. “The rights of human nature [are] deeply wounded by this infamous practice [of slavery].” –Thomas Jefferson: Rights of British America, 1774. ME 1:201, Papers 1:130

              To add to that, were their actually “Mexicans” during the US founding, I thought it was just the Spanish and the natives?

              1. Spain recognized Mexican independence in 1821. Which I believe is closer to the beginning of your supposed “golden age” than the end.

  7. I hope Harsanyi is right and free market thinking makes a comeback among Republicans, but the Hoffman v Scozzafava fight is not a good example. The right-wing hate against Scozzafava had more to do with culture issues — gay rights and abortion — than economic issues.

    1. Fortunately, he lost.

    2. Utter bullshit.

      The primary cause of Dede-hate was card check, which goes beyond all reason for a putative Republican. Go troll somewhere else.

  8. Yesterday’s election was simply part of a world-wide trend to throw out incumbents of any party. There may be a hint of “The government shouldn’t spend any money on anything right now”, but that is

    A: Downright stupid and the exact last thing the government should do

    B: No reason to vote for Republicans. The last 30 years have proven that Republicans and controlled spending are utterly incompatible.

    PS:) Your taxes are going up. Deal with it and quit whining.

    1. Gosh, Chad, it’s no wonder liberals want free health care… some of them can’t afford to have the non-back alley lobotomies.

      If your party can avoid “uncontrolled spending”, let’s see it. Put up or shut up.

      Fuck the Republicans, too. But don’t think your gang of thieves is intrinically any better than the last gang of criminals.

      BTW, your comment on taxes is typical.

      1. To control spending, we need to raise the retirement age, utterly reform our medical system, and quit getting ourselves into stupid wars. Even with that, we need tax increases of a similar magnitude.

        That’s a lot closer to the Democratic platform than the Republican one. Indeed, I am pretty sure the Republican platform is 100% in the opposite direction.

        1. Keep spending under control, and there’s no NEED to raise taxes.

          I swear, you fucking liberals would still be clamoring for tax increases if we WEREN’T at war. Just because you like to punish those who do well (except for the Kennedys, who don’t pay estate taxes)…

          1. OK, now you’re just being stupid. We couldn’t realistically cut enough to make any difference.

            1. Keep spending low – hell, freeze it for a year or so – and keep taxes right where they are. One doesn’t need to be Paul Fucking Krugman to figure that out.

              In fact, being Paul Fucking Krugman is a hindrance in this case.

          2. I disagree. There is no way in cold hell that we are going to cut our way to a balanced budget. Even with substantial cuts to military spending and substantial checks on the growth of medical spending and Social Security, we would still be far short of balance. And don’t get started about “pork barrel” spending. That stuff is not a leaf on the tree in the forest.

            1. Tell us, then, how we can possibly raise taxes high enough to cover over a trillion dollars in spending, yet not send the economy back into a death rattle.

              Oh, and do try to contain your glee over the idea of raising taxes.

              1. VAT, carbon tax, increased royalties for resource extraction (ours are a joke), higher income taxes, much higher capital gains taxes (make them progressive…better yet, treat them as any other income, and in return, get rid of the corporate tax)…boy this is fun.

                The federal government needs about a quarter of our income to pay for what we are going to be spending. It has been taking about 19% on average over the last couple of decades. We can close that gap with ease, and no, it won’t have much of an effect on the economy. Our tax rates would only fall in the middle of the pack if we made such changes, actually.

                1. VAT and carbon taxes would be regressive on us poor folk, Chad.

                  Then again, you just don’t care, do you? It’s about raising existing taxes and creating new ones, because there is no other solution to a liberal.

                  1. Much of the spending will be ON poor people. They will come out way ahead.

                    However, those $75k+ (that includes me) are going to take a bit of a hit, and those $250k+ a pretty big one.

                    I guess we are all going to have to wait one extra year to buy our fourth big screen tv or whatever floats our boats. I know that this is an utterly totally massive slap in the face of your precious “freedom”, but you are just going to have to suck it up. I think you can handle it.

                    1. You make four times as much as I do, Chad. And yet, out of the two of us, you are the one spouting tired old wealth-envy bullshit.

                      By all rights, *I* should be the one spouting that bullshit. But I don’t, because I don’t envy those who make more than I do, nor do I want to punish them more via taxation, as you do, to “solve” some problem that could be fixed by NOT SPENDING TRILLIONS OF NON-EXISTENT DOLLARS.

                      Jesus tapdancing Christ, this isn’t rocket surgery.

                    2. Nobody making $75K a year needs to pay more taxes, Chad.

                      Fuck, your lord and savior promised he wouldn’t tax anyone below $250K, and here you are chafing to make him lie and raise your taxes.

                      Don’t you pay enough? Or do you feel guilty making ALL that money?

                    3. No, I am not required to pay enough. I voluntarily pay more by avoiding taking deductions that I am eligible for. It is the most efficient way to donate, as it saves me the bother of tracking crap.

                    4. Why in hell would you VOLUNTARILY pay more when you don’t need to?

                      Do you really thik your “contribution” is going to matter one damned bit? Do you really think it isn’t being wasted?

                      One “donates” to charity. Government is not a charity. Though I can see where you would think of it as such.

                    5. Chad, email me. I’ll give you my address. You send me a check for whatever amount you feel you are undertaxed, made out to the government agency of your choice. I’ll mail it to them for you, and I’ll post here that you’re not a hypocritical liar.

                    6. OR… Chad could send whatever he thinks he is being overpaid, to a reputable private charity.

                      But that would be like cutting his own throat, as he is a whore for the public-sector “charity” racket.

                    7. Oh, I do that too. Several of them in fact.

                    8. Why do you feel the need to “contribute” to government, Chad, when you already contribute to private charity?

                    9. That would require me to calculate it, which is half the point. I save myself a hell of a lot of time by not trying to game the system.

                2. The government does not need to be spending money that will require taking 25% of our incomes.

                  You are a greedy little prick.

                  1. Notice his contempt for “freedom”. Typical liberal.

                    1. No, it’s contempt for your absurd definition of freedom…one where a poor, starving man trapped on a desert island has lots of freedom, while a rich man living in NYC has little.

                    2. This makes no sense whatsoever. Snorting the Kool-Aid straight from the pouch again, Chad?

                    3. You are right, it makes no sense. But it is precisely your logic. I mean, the rich man in NYC is a SLAVE for 20+ hours a week. What a massive abridgement of freedom. Clearly, he would be better off on the island, scrounging for bugs during his vast swaths of free time.

                3. So we can have the phenomenal economy of France?

                  And if you think VAT and carbon tax has “not much effect on the economy” you need to put down the crack pipe, and then you need shot.

                  And you’re obviously one of those retards who thinks those are taxes “other people pay.”

                  1. Pretty much everyone else has a VAT, and you know what, their economies are fine. Most of them have at least a partial “carbon tax”, particularly on gas and diesel. Again, their economies are fine.

                    In fact, a plot of effective tax rate vs GDP for the advanced nations pretty much looks like a shot-gun blast.

                4. Wow, TAX, Tax, Tax is your answer. Mine is STOP SPENDING!

                  You basically want to point a GUN at my head, steal my hard earned work and give it to folks who have not earned it. Did I get that right?

                  It’s no wonder the libs want the ten commandments out of the schools, they want to institutionalize the breaking of Thou shalt not steal and thou shalt not covet.

            2. I could. Eliminate spending on the arts, public media, public education, welfare, corporate and farm subsidies, foreign subsidies, the UN, and eliminate all overseas military bases. I can pretty much guarantee that we’d have subsidies as soon as it could all be accomplished.

              For those things in the list that people think are necessary, the state and local governments can take over the programs, if they so wish.

              1. shit…how did I type, “I can pretty much guarantee that we’d have subsidies as soon as it could all be accomplished. ” I meant surpluses.. argh.

            3. The military uses far less GDP than social programs, actually employs people and pays for and produces research that leads to useful things–like computers and the internet.

              Social programs are feel-good ratholes that do nothing but give money to losers whose sole contribution to the world is gracing is with their presence, which money they promptly waste on booze, lottery tickets, and more kids who want handouts. Fuck em. Keep the military, destroy the welfare state, free up 50% of our national capital, and we’ll eliminate what little REAL poverty there is (hint: I explained to one of our Pakistani contractors overseas that in America, one can have a house, a car, a computer, a TV, free school, enough food to be obese, and have some “liberal” shitbag whine about how unfair and disadvantaged one is. He was amused and appalled at the same time).

              One social program I would keep: Free airline tickets to France for whiners. That’s you, Chad.

              And before you start the neolib bullshit, I’m an immigrant from the UK and Canada, and an OIF vet, so STFU.

      2. What fucks everyone up is that the most fiscally responsible President in my lifetime was a Democrat. The Republicans went from bad to worse, and they seem intent on falling even further.

        But I’ll have to echo Chad. I’ve said it before, and there’s no way around it. You’re going to have to pay up more. That die was cast long ago and there’s no turning back. May as well get used to it, because whining won’t help. In the long run, maybe the pain will be a good thing. It’ll remind people that expanded government hurts.

        1. While it was nice of Chad to grace us with his presence, I do feel bad that it took time away from his alone-time with a copy of The Nation and a can of Crisco.

        2. The most fiscally responsible Congress had a GOP majority, who were not spending nearly enough to satisfy your fiscally responsible Democrat President.

          1. A fiscally-responsible president wouldn’t spend a trillion dollars we don’t have.

            That goes for the current idiot occupying the White House, as well.

            1. No, a fiscally responsible president would be spending like wildfire right now, because everything is on massive sales. Not only are prices low, but since spending on almost anything removes one person from the dole, we get half the money back anyway.

              Borrowing in order to buy good investments can be sound policy. Borrowing in order to buy granite countertops and SUVs is not.

              1. When I’m broke, I don’t spend money. I have no credit cards, and very little debt.

                BTW, why would you want to remove anyone from the dole? You’re a liberal.

                1. And when you have tall cash coming in, you save…unlike Republicans.

                  1. Chad, if saving money is a good thing, why are Democrats spending IMAGINARY money that has yet to be printed?

                    BTW, fuck Republicans.

              2. I’m sorry, I fail to see how this makes any sense at all, unless you have a severe gambling problem. What is that 1-800 number you can call with a gambling addiction? Can someone help Chad out here?

                1. Chad is too busy fellating for Obamacare at the moment. Please leave a message.

        3. Let’s see, clinton went way left his first 2 years, got wacked in the midterm and republican’s took over congress, Clinton moved center. Mr Newt did the “contract for America” and between a center democratc and a center right congress we got a balanced budget. What do we have right now. A LEFT congress and a LEFT president. NO COMPARISON. I would gladly go back to the days of Clinton/Gingrich because we had sound fiscal policy. There ENERGY Policy SUCKED but that’s true of this admin as well. If you are so naive to think it was a single party that pulled it off, you are very mistaken. It was the entire package.

  9. Neither party will admit that the recent elections were not an reaffirmation of Republicans but the voice of people disatisfied with big government who do not seem to realize that a vote for either party only means a continuation of BG Policy. Look at Newt Gingrich’s column. He certainly did an about face. Does he not get it. They (Gingrich’s-rhyme with cheese) only see the elections as a power grab for their party. There is no concern for the economic welfare of the public. The time for Libertarian principles of the founders is now. The ideology of the two party system has become too entrenched with power in detriment to the public.

  10. People vote with their pocket books. When they can afford to be generous they do not vote. When they are broke they will vote against the incumbent.
    When they are ignored they will find someone else.

  11. Once upon a time, two women created the cutest velour hoodies and matching drawstring pants. The line was called
    Christian Louboutin and every starlet in Tinseltown had to have one. Soon after, so did the rest of the world. Now the once little brand has blossomed into a fashion empire, complete with clothing, Christian Louboutin Shoes, jewelry, handbags, and most recently, fragrance.

  12. Hey, where’s Tony? He should be smelling the blood in the water by how…

  13. There’s only 3 Kinds of Conservatives:

    1-Greedy Conservative- Rich fucker who wants to protect what they have instead of handing it to some layabout. I completely understand this.

    2- Fearful Conservative- Middle class person who sees Boogeymen at every pass. Wants to live in the good old days (which only existed on television) before tits and Mexicans, where everybody was Christian and _______’s knew their place.

    3- John Wayne Conservative- Broke ass working class or underemployed yahoo who hates liberals because they seem weak and is conservative despite it being against their own interest.

    1. How about middle class, just making ends meet, who was raised by working class people who earned everything they had from their own hard work, and liked it that way? How about people that respect themselves, and believe in freedom, personal responsibility, hard work, and the value of accomplishment? How about people who believe rightly that if the government would stop interfering, and taking too much of our money, that they could be better off?

      Three kinds of liberals?
      1. Young and stupid, who actually believe their childish dreams of utopia.
      2. Old, wealthy, and guilty white folks that feel guilty about their hand-me down wealth, and closeted racism, wanting to make up for it by forcing others to pay for their guilt.
      3. Elitists that never left the cozy confines of their marxist school halls.

  14. As Rand would no doubt point out, in the question of whether or not a political party in support of a free market has staying power, one need only check one’s premises. Factually accurate and logically-consistent reasoning overwhelmingly favors a free market. Nature is rational and therefore ultimately favors those who think and behave rationally. Contrary to the way things seem, it is the irrational that has no staying power. I believe the enlightenment and its roots and the American revolution proved and continue to prove that point.

    Authentic civilization will survive only by casting away the tribalism of the right and the left for that which is primarily focused on rational liberated but cooperative individual sovereignty – passionate and compassionate and genuinely free enterprise.

    1. Actually there are some pretty well established cases where irrational behavior leads to more optimal outcomes than rational behavior.

      Fortunately, people tend to choose the irrational-optimal choice over the rational-suboptimal choice in those cases without the government forcing them to do so.

      1. Are you refering to prisoner’s dilemmas?

        I am not sure one can make the broad claim that people “tend to choose the irrational-optimal choice”. Even so, there are numerous situations where they clearly chose the “rational-suboptimal choice”, and cost us dearly.

        1. Also the ultimatum game.

          Also the banking crisis isn’t really a case of people choosing rational suboptimal choices. It’s more of an incorrect information/signalling problem. (Risk models and incentives were distorted).

          1. The risk models are always going to be “distored” when the boom-bust cycles take generations to come to fruition.

            But hey, this time is is different.

  15. Where are the Democrats actually talking about raising the retirement age? Where are they talking about replacing the corporate income tax with things like the vat, carbon tax etc? Those are sensible positions, but more likely the left will just add more taxes rather than replace bad ones with more efficient and just ones. While they will continue the short term politicking of giving seniors as much as possible at the expense of the young because most can’t vote and the ones who can don’t.

    Market failures aren’t a fallacy as an earlier poster said, but the left tends to vastly over exaggerate them to justify their positions. They never address government failures, how things like concentrated benefits and diffuse costs combined with rational ignorance and self serving bureaucracy can tend to really screw things up. I don’t know about any comic book bubbles that have been studied, but the housing bubble was caused by low interest rates and a drive to push affordable housing; affordable in the sense that you don’t need income to get a house. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac weren’t exactly paragons of the free market.

    The libertarian point here is that when the government steps in to recoup such people’s losses the government is actually taking the anti regulation position, destroying the one regulation in fear of losses that can actually prevent tons of speculation while of course giving them cheap currency to speculate. They then have to hope that their bureaucrats can magically predict and pop bubbles. So not only do they have to see the bubble coming, they also have to have the political will to inflict short term pain for long term gain; that’s just not going to happen for people who face election every 2 years, while longer terms keep them unaccountable to the people.

    This is where Chad’s sillyness is exposed, you can point out millions of problems with government to him and those problems are just ignored or deemed not important if we get the right people in charge. Which won’t be Chad any day soon if he runs on a platform that lowers the corporate income tax or raises the retirement age, even with other tax hikes; and while these issues present no problems, minor asymmetries of information, free riders on EMTALA, and the “difficulty” of paying a person who contracts a chronic disease like diabetes an annuity represent fundamental market failures necessitating a complete government takeover of the health insurance market.

    I’m not against an safety net for actual poor people, such as education vouchers, a negative income tax similar to Milton Friedman’s or giving poor people contributions to health savings accounts. But the left that always clothes their plans in the garb of social justice inevitably reveals itself to be all about control, because they think people are too stupid to choose for themselves and that every minor imperfection in the market can be solved by a government that faces even more imperfections; full of arrogant know it alls who think their Ivy league degree qualifies them to dictate our actions, blind idealists, and corrupt rent seekers.

    1. This is a well written opinion by an open and rational mind. Tim you transcend the conservative vs liberal gibberish here and that’s good to hear. However…

      I would dissuade you from supporting a VAT. The nightmare scenario is VAT + income tax, but even if you actually replace completely the VAT is big government’s wet dream. It hides all taxation in the price of everything you buy, and when those in Washington raise taxes, corporations take the blame for higher prices. On taxes I encourage you to disregard the VAT, the negative income tax, the carbon tax, and even the flat tax as forms of replacement. Look into the FairTax @ http://www.fairtax.org.

      On market failures, I think we can agree that while there are market corrections as a necessary part of a successful laissez-faire economy, the recessions and depressions of modern times can be conclusively tied to government interventionism. Either its Hoover bungling and FDR destroying, Carter spreading incompetence, Bush with TARP and earlier with .com bandaids, or FDR the 2nd nationalizing everything in sight. If the interventions stop, we would not see this volatility in such extremes.

      Finally I would share the one tenet of Randiansm that I have not tempered with wisdom: the moral case for capitalism. For me this is a morality issue. It is immoral to use the police power of government to take from one and give to another. It is immoral to live off the productivity of others. Making money honestly is a moral action, and most wealthy people fall into this category. Capitalism is not some intellectual and ideological abstraction that is separate from character and virtue. It is morally wrong to support the platform of either major party. The issue here is that neither side recognizes the true implication of their ideology. If healthcare is a right, then you are claiming BY RIGHT the labor of another human being (slavery). If marriage is between a man and a woman, you are saying you have some authority via government over the private lives of other individuals. They should be that way because you say so. Both sides are despicable when they support these positions, and you can see the populace waking to their libertarian roots. America is and always was populated mostly by people who want to be left the hell alone. Now that government is laying on the last straw, the revolution we will see will be glorious to behold. Obama was a better pick then McCain or even Paul/Barr because he has very successfully aroused the sleeping dragon of classical liberalism.

  16. Democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.

  17. Sometimes we have to lose something before we appreciate it. There is plenty wrong with captialism, but who can argue it created the most wealth, ichest, the highest standard of living for its people in the world. It needs government to limit it at times, but the system is awesome.
    Now as we see the present government believing in a different system, we look at it and realize just how lucky we have been to live in a country founded on free market principals.

    We are close to losing it. Very close. If health care passes, the government will control 50% of all the business and wealth in this country.

    That is the beginning of a socialist way of life. And the government becomes our enslaver, our tyrant. We see it already with the strong-handed way this administration is handling banks– Do it our way or we bring in some department to bandrupt you.

    When all is the government, we have no one to turn to, there is no help, we are trapped. Ask the people who lived it! REad your history!

  18. >>> “By focusing on needless culture wars…”

    They are not needless to the Republican politicians. They are the only thing that separates them from the Democrats.

    So every time they help the Democrats institute bigger, more expensive, more intrusive government you can be sure they will start crowing about flag burning or gay Boy Scout leaders or partial birth abortion as a distraction.

    Without that, they are Democrats.

    1. John, I’d disagree with you if I could.

      Sadly, I don’t think the GOP can get its lips from around the Religious Blight’s organ in the next 360 days, nor get therapy for its spending addiction.

  19. America is moving toward Libertarianism not Conservatism.

    Yes the 39% – 41% would see themselves as being econonomically Conservative/Libertarian but socially a great many of those would see themselves as further to the left and more in line with Libertarian thinking than traditional Conservative thinking

  20. “I’m not nearly as smart as Frank Rich”

    I envision a wink accompanying the above. If not, there should have been one.

  21. “(Remarkably, the esteemed wordsmith failed to unleash similar histrionic language when one-time-Democrat Sen. Joe Lieberman met the same fate.)”

    That’s because HE DIDN’T MEET THE SAME FATE as Scozzafava…Lieberman remains a U.S. SENATOR (not remotely the same as a rural NY STATE rep); in fact Lieberman is a very powerful fence-sitter given how badly the dems and GOP need his vote in the senate.

  22. It’s incredible to me that the Scozzafava scenario can be spun as anything but a victory for conservatives. Scozzafava, in my opinion couldn’t have even qualified for the RINO title because of how clearly liberal she is. She was endorsed by liberals, and funded by clueless GOP power brokers, and was run off by a conservative. Fuck her and anyone else like her. It’s not about big tent, little tent, it’s about good governance. It’s about putting people in government that at the very least espouse positions that will improve our situation, not drag us further under the waves of debt, excessive spending, and coddling government programs.

    1. “it’s about good governance”

      Mr. Smith ain’t going to Washington anytime soon, alas.

      Or Miz Smith, for that matter.

  23. My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I’m sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won’t get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there’s more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I’m not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It’s just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight…the Bible’s books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on…the Bible’s books were written by people with very different mindsets..

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  25. What the people want is good governance.

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