The Politics of Small Government

Jeff Alworth

Last week, newly-minted GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul got himself into a peck of trouble when he took a hard libertarian line on the landmark 1964 Civil Rights Act. While he agreed with most of the provisions of the law, the idea that the federal government could stop businesses from discrimination was a bridge too far. He artlessly compared a business's right to discriminate to a bigot's right to say racist things.

The issue inevitably metastasized. Any issue touching on race--especially in Southern campaigns--instantly becomes the focal point. But there was a larger context here, one that has mostly been ignored. It's more obvious in his second gaffe, which came the following day as he tried distract the media from the first. He decided to take a shot at Obama--generally safe--but did so while defending BP, which he felt Obama had unfairly targeted. "I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business," Rand said.

Since Ronald Reagan said "government isn't the solution to our problem, government is the problem," this has been the unexamined mission statement of the Republican Party. Every Republican since Reagan has run against government, and the GOP has built a platform on the idea that markets are always the best solution to any problem. Business can set us free. As the decades have rolled on, this view has become ever less tethered to reality, and so the obvious end point is an America where the GOP are compelled to protect companies like Goldman Sachs, Aetna, and British Petroleum, even when it is clear that failures in their respective markets have led to spectacular harm to the country.

Rand Paul's twin declarations should be a watershed moment in American politics, for they provide us the opportunity to reconsider the role of government. For decades, the burden of proof on the "government is the problem" thesis rested with Democrats. No more. After Katrina, we saw what a failure to support government actually meant. With the financial crisis, the slow-moving health care crisis, and now the BP disaster, we're well-acquainted with the dangers of unfettered markets. This is the world the Republicans spent three decades building. These catastrophes are the direct result of clear decisions about how the private sector should be used to address public policy issues.

Now Republicans need to defend the thesis. The idea that government is the problem--and private industry is the solution--is beyond absurd. The Republican experiment was a disaster. As we enter the midterm election cycle, I'd like to see candidates like Chris Dudley explain how his politics will deviate from anti-government dogma of previous Republicans. His website, slim as it is on information, seems to suggest that he's a run-of-the-mill anti-government Republican. In Dudley's formulation, the biggest problem government faces is the salaries paid to its workers. If Dudley wants the keys to Mahonia Hall, he's going to have to do a hell of a lot better than that.

I hope the media, which has been fairly amenable to the government-is-the-problem frame, will also use this opportunity to press Republicans. Do they, like Rand Paul, believe BP should be given more latitude? How would they have handled the recession that resulted from deregulated financial institutions? Which parts of government are they willing to kill to protect low tax rates?

Paul called the Civil Rights Act a red herring because he felt like it was a sideshow, a way to needlessly inject race into an election. In one sense, I think he's right; it isn't the main issue. It actually just one symptom of a much larger issue. All evidence to the contrary, Republicans still believe business will set us free. We need to make this blindness the centerpiece of every election. Until the GOP quit talking about government as the problem, they shouldn't be trying to get a job in it.

Comments

      • (Show?)

        While I like this obvious play on the old "There are no atheists in foxholes," it is nonsense here just as it is in combat. Been there, and there are plenty of atheists.

        I was also part of the military help sent in the wake of Hurricane Floyd - believe me, there were libertarians in the mess. Despite their politics, or more correct I guess, because of their politics, like most victims in a disaster the shock and trauma tends to vent through their past experiences and perceptions.

        If the victims tended to distrust the military (the government), then we directed civilian relief their way.

        Where republicans seem to have a blind faith in the market and instinctive distrust of government, democrats seem to have a blind faith in government and an instinctive distrust of corporate/rich America. These polar ends of the continuum continue to serve an obvious polarizing function in our country's politics.

        Perhaps that was just a way to vent because I'm not optimistic about our country's chances of coming together - or about the current system's chances of success in resolving anything of consequence without one side or another deliberately marginalizing some element of its populace. This was something democrats once abhorred, but apparently only in terms of their chosen constellation of victims.

        Might not seem like it above I guess, but I really did like the post. You're one of the few writers here that I trust to do your best at "academic honesty." Giving the opposition at least a shot at an honest hearing. Thanks for the fine articles!

        Cheers.

        • (Show?)

          Steven, I think you need to distinguish between politicians and voters. Democratic voters are indeed far more skeptical of corporations than the population as a whole. But Democratic pols love them. Dems got more money from corporations in '08 than the GOP. When they're making policy, Dems tend to be very business-friendly.

          My post was mainly directed at politicians. In times of disasters, local politicians are invariably in favor of federal aid, whether they're anti-gov Republicans or not. Even those governors who wanted to reject TARP only wanted to reject tiny, marginal amounts. I've no doubt that rank and file Republicans have far more steel in their spines during disasters; they might happily reject funds.

          By the way, thanks for the kind words.

          • (Show?)

            Just watch how Bobby Jindal is whining about the (perceived) lack of federal aid coming to Louisiana right now.

            Wasn't he just turning down stimulus dollars for residents of his state suffering from the economic disaster?

    • (Show?)

      The trouble with your nanny state view of the world Mitchell is we can't afford it! My reading of the tea party movement is a desire for the government to live within it's means. Something everyone of us has to do. Why is it virtuous for us to do it and when we the citizens of the US try to extend those views to include our government those people are idiots? The great lie of socialism is that everyone can live off the efforts of everyone else. I for one don't want the government involved in my life anymore than minimally possible. I also worked hard for everything I have made why do you think I owe anything to those who don't? You criticize people who worked hard to get what they have as though they have cheated everyone else by not wanting to support them and when you roll into your name calling it sounds like the same old class envy wealth distribution BS. Who are the idiots here?

      • (Show?)

        Maybe I can help you out here Dr. Robert. A primary reason you see things so differently than myself and other BO progressives is your stunning and sad lack of empathy. You know…..that thing which is essential for civilization. I imagine you actually feel empathy every now and then. You do seem to be able to empathize w/ the wealthy and powerful quite well.

        You see, we tend to empathize w/ the poor, w/ non-humans, w/ different cultures, w/ the oppressed, w/ the voiceless, w/ the underprivileged………you get the picture. Where creatures like yourself tend to focus on……….well yourself. Your philosophy of unbridled greed and selfishness just doesn’t sound very palatable or realistic to us reality-based progressives. No matter how much you tell us that we shouldn’t care about anyone but ourselves, it won’t do much good. However, I’m glad your wasting your time here spewing your me first and screw everyone else ideology where it mostly falls on def ears.

        I think Somalia may be your kinda country pal. No government, everyone for himself or herself. Maybe you could start your own little Tea party there.

        • (Show?)

          You think I lack empathy? Do you think I don't empathize with the poor and underprivileged? Every year I give more of my services away for free than alot of people make in 10 years. It's not possible to do what I do for 14 + hours a day and not feel a tremendous amount of compassion and empathy. If the fruits of hard work over a long period of time and success is what you are describing as unbridled greed and selfishness then you should rethink things and add a touch of reality to your equation. If everyone gets the same money/lifestyle/etc whether they work for it or not then there is nothing to motivate this country forward a.k.a. 'progressiveness' like I said earlier every can't live at the expense of everyone else ...it's not selfishness it's a matter of taking responsibility for your own life. Government was not designed to redistribute wealth that way and governments proper function is not to provide everything for everyone they should be providing for themselves gotta go ...more later

          • (Show?)

            More strawman nonsense. No progressive ever advocate that everyone gets the same money, lifestyle, etc.

            And yes, you lack empathy if you advocate for policies that are social Darwinism writ large.

            • (Show?)

              I disagree Mitchell, the fact that life isn't fair is a sad reality I deal with every single day and there is no way that any combination of government policies are ever going to change that. Social Darwinists promote the Herbet Specer type of view point that laissez-faire economics was an appropiate means of "weeding out" the unwanted of society. This included an intense dislike of charities etc. My belief's (which are probably close to those of libertarians on this issue) are not social darwinistic at all. We all want those people to be taken care of we just don't see the government as the proper vehicle to do it efficiently

          • (Show?)

            What Mitchell said.

            Also, if you’re interested in better understanding my evidence-based theory on the conservative/libertarian mindset, I recommend reading George Lakoff’s “Moral Politics.” I think he has a more condensed version called “Political Mind.”

            I also recommend Jeremy Rifkin’s “Empathic Civilization.”

            • (Show?)

              George Lakoff and his whole berkeley crowd have carved out a very comfy lifestyle regurgitating gibberish to the extreme left wing fringe. I don't think we are as far apart on the notion of a country caring for it's fellow citizens as you think but I can't imagine us being further apart on the proper role government plays in that theoretical model. It's not their job, they are not constitutionally empowered to be everything to everyone and the private secotr delivers almost everything more economically more effectively and more efficiantly

              • (Show?)

                "they are not constitutionally empowered to be everything to everyone"

                Again, nobody here believes this. Another strawman.

                You live in a fantasy world.

                • (Show?)

                  you guys over use the 'strawman' thing way beyond its actual meaning ...Obama is the king of the strawman "there are those who say....(fill in the blank) there is nothing strawman about what the constitution says and doesn't say ...use the term properly or don't use it..it makes you look uniformed

      • (Show?)

        Robert -- correct me if my hypothetical example here doesn't reflect mainstream libertarian views.

        Those who defend Libertarianism, including Rand Paul and yourself, argue that the "free-market" would eventually deal with most economic and social injustices, and all without governmental interference -- but at what cost?

        How, for instance, would a libertarian provide for safe food? If your argument is that, say, a meat packing company whose meat kills people wouldn't stay in business seems to suggest that the people who die from bad food are simply reduced to mere product testers for the rest of us.

        But how can libertarianism provide for the tough government regulations need to keep that meat safe since any government regulation by definition imposes upon the "free-market."

        And while over regulation is certainly a possibility, one does wonder if erring on the side of too much versus too little isn’t the best approach.

        And this doesn't even begin to discuss things like fire and police protection, not to mention libraries. Would libertarians in general want to close public libraries? And if private lending libraries, where people would pay a subscription, took their place, would a Libertarian agree that these libraries could be restricted by race or religion, particularly if they’re the only libraries in a community?

        Beyond the obvious moral implication in Rand's inability to see the value of ending segregation, even in private businesses, the larger point is that Libertarianism as a political ideal doesn't just simply elevate the individual over the collective, it gives the collective few tools to protect itself and its resources. Libertarian is a political idealism that would lead to the most dystopian of societies. It’s fun to consider, but if it were tried, I suspect the fun would end quite soon.

        Communities matter too, and if a community, through its elected representatives, conclude that it’s in its best interests to impose upon private businesses certain ethical standards (like not barring certain races), then so be it, the “free-market” be damned.

        • (Show?)

          And that is really the point though. We have tried these things in the real-world. And it was horrific. Jim-crow laws, sweatshops, unsafe food, etc. etc. The reason why regulations and putting in places laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 occurred was because we saw the real-world effects of unregulated, unfettered "libertarianism" and ruling by extremely wealthy.

          We had the robber-baron era. We had the Jim Crow law era. We KNOW what the effects of libertarianism, and trickle-down economics are when put into practice in the real world. They were disastrous and rightly rejected by civilized society. Yet here we are trying to be sold on the same portfolio of snake oil that has proven itself to be a failure, time and again.

          The straw-man argument used by "conservative" and "libertarian" people is that somehow we progressives and liberals want full-bore statism. WHich is, like many things they espouse, not at all reality based. Only the most fringy of the fringe-left espouse the end of free markets. I am all for free-enterprise as the raw engine of economic life in our society. But a harnessed one, where the abuses, and degradation of the commons and unfair business advantages of the super=wealthy are held in check by sensible, efficient regulatory oversight and enforcement.

          A sensible hybrid of pure free-market, and pure socialism, is what most progressives,s and most sensible people are actually advocates for once you at past the rhetoric. THis is why most people claim to be moderate or even self-identified as "conservative" when on issue by issue basis they actually hold progressive positions.

        • (Show?)

          Rand Paul does see the value in ending segregation and racially driven practices. I am not a true libertarian more of a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. What about a state or community where it's elected representatives start acting in ways not supported by any type of majority public mandate? Like the healthcare 'reform' which lacked the support of a majority of US citizens or even more topical and timely the widespread support for sealing our borders and evicting those with no legal right to be in this country? In the first case government acted in spite of the will of the people and in the second the government refuses to enforce the laws that all lawmakers swore to uphold when they took office? Those are the most recent examples of government getting too large and no longer serving the citizens who it derives it's power from and beginning to serve only itself

      • (Show?)

        I don't have a "nanny state" view of the world nor does anyone else. The only place a "nanny state" exists is in your fevered imagination.

        And spare me the faux "live within your means" bromides. The previous Democratic administration is the last one in literal generations that ended with a budget surplus. Which was handed over to the GOP administration whose laze-fare, deregulation crazy, trickle-down economics policies were put into place and the economy then drove off a cliff. An economic crisis so large that an politically odious government rescue was needed to keep a complete economic collapse from occurring.

        So spare us your attempts to raise the fever-dream specter of some mythical "nanny state" when we correctly point out that unfettered "libertarian" economics are put into practice and it blows up the economy when pout into actual practice. Just like the "libertarian" principles of railing against Government authority to combat civil rights abuses as being a "nanny state" when we have actual real-world experience when such libertarianism is put into practice which lead to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the first place.

        In short, we tried it your way and it failed, repeatedly.

        • (Show?)

          So what your saying is it's okay to spend money today because Congress under the Bush administration spent too much when Bush was in office? How could the money spent during the Bush years be bad but Obama's quadrupling of even the worst of those years all in his first year in office be good? The nearly one trillion dollar boondoggle called a stimulus that stimulated nothing. If you were set back on your heels over the Bush term deficits then the 'progressives' should be apoplectic over what has occurred thus far under Obama. Only Congress gets to spend the money in this country Mitchell and the surplus you speak of was created under a republican controlled congress when Clinton was President. I credit Clinton for helping that to happen but giving credit to the democrats for something they literally had very little control over at the time is just simply not accurate. The Government rescue you claim was needed was a political payback and the cost of every job it created is now estimated to be almost 500k each. Yhe reason jobs aren't being created right now is because of the government not the other way around. Every time small business owners turn around they are blinsided with one new tax or expensive regulatory change after another. The healthcare reform is a perfect example of a whole lot of new and unanticipated expense being dumped onto small business and the only thing the bill didn't do was reform healthcare or do anything to control the increases to the cost of providing care.

          You get no argument from me on the civil rights issues and providing for the safety of it's citizens vis a vie police /fire/ meat inspection I feel are valid governmental functions. Taking over Automakers and firing their CEO is not. Helping Arizona protect their borders is and further involvement into our healthcare system is not. As I recall Reagans economic plan created the most robust period of economic the country has ever experienced in peacetime. I wasn't old enough to be aware of it and appreciate it but Reagan took over an ecponomy that was arguably in much worse shape than we have today and when he left office this country was on a roll. You will say he did it at a cost in terms of a larger deficit but if that was bad then then how can what Obama is doing which is growing the deficit from the spending side of the equation at a pace that makes Reagans tax cuts look like chump change. Please address why the huge deficits today are good and Reagan Bush deficits which were much much smaller were bad?

          • (Show?)
            So what your saying is it's okay to spend money today because Congress under the Bush administration spent too much when Bush was in office?

            I wasn't saying that there, but will say it now.

            Yes it is.

            Why? Because countercyclical deficit spending is needed to get us out of the dire economic straits previous administration polices left us with. The main thing which got us out of the Great Depression was the most massive public works program in human history (aka as WWII). We don't need WWII level of spending, and certainly not on a war. But there are plenty of things we can and must invest in on a large scale via deficit spending which will not only put the private sector back on a hiring basis, but will yield long-term benefits. Things like infrastructure investments such as a true high-speed rail network that can replace most of domestic air-travel, a new smart electrical grid, and massive investments in education to name but a few.

            How could the money spent during the Bush years be bad but Obama's quadrupling of even the worst of those years all in his first year in office be good?

            First your numbers are bogus (your 4x is pure fiction) and since most of the deficit under the Obama administration is actually bringing the Bush wars back on the budget balance sheet, unlike Bush did (pretend that the money wasn't a budget item) your assertions are comical if nothing else.

            Second, what Bush spent the money on was flushing more money down non-productive Wall Street casino economics and not put back into the real economy.

            The nearly one trillion dollar boondoggle called a stimulus that stimulated nothing.

            Every economist disagrees with your nonsense. In fact, most economist say that the stimulus might not have been big enough. Which is 180 opposite of where you seem to be arguing from.

            If you were set back on your heels over the Bush term deficits then the 'progressives' should be apoplectic over what has occurred thus far under Obama.

            Not at all. Flushing over trillion dollars down the hole in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of actually investing in the real economy at home are certainly things that progressives have railed about for a long-time under the Bush administration.

            cont.

          • (Show?)

            I'm afraid your cuckoo for cocoa puffs

            • (Show?)

              Thats how stupid people respond Joshua ...they call names. WE are having a nice civil conversation and discussion of two very different world views and if you aren't smart enough or can't think of anything to add to the conversation except name calling then please go somewhere else to do it. We don't need a troll hijacking a nice respectful conversation between adults

              • (Show?)

                Dr. Bob, let me be clear.......I think you are a dangerous pyscho. I also think there is a very good place for name-calling in American politics particularly at at a time like this when we have a country full of selfish right-wing FOX News morons. I think people need to be more honest about people like you. Generally people are far to respectful of lowlifes like yourself. If more people told you exactly what they thought of you instead of just trying to have a "nice civil conversation" maybe you and other jerks like you would start to get it. Trying to reason w/ you is a little like banging my head against a wall and therefore doing so is a serious waste of resources.

                • (Show?)

                  ha ha ha lol I am going to pass that one around so others can see what they are missing by not quitting their day jobs and following you! lol You have never added on thing to any conversation except name calling Joshua ... not one? I must not be smart enough to appreciate all of the candle power your brain is pumping out. let's just say that you must be alot smarter than I am Joshua ...but lets make this deal can you agree to not vote to raise anyone's income taxes until you at least start paying some? Thank you for your input you made my day! LOL

                  • (Show?)

                    If anyone has any suspicions that Dr. Bob here is a psycho, you're 100% absolutely correct. I just got this serial-killer like e-mail from him which he didn't want to post here for obvious reasons. Here's the first part, the entire crazy ran won't fit.

                    "Subject: You have the brain of Cat Litter To quote Dan Aykroyd from Saturday Night Live.... Joshua you misguided, commie-socialist, America hating, shi for brains, ignorant left wing stooge! hello hello hello hello!!!! The big difference between you and I Joshua is that I am one of the 50% of Americans who actually pay income taxes... you are not! Anyone who can sit here day in and day out defending what the left has done to this country has fallen out of the stupid tree and hit every branch. You and your open borders welfare state loving ilk have spent the last 50 years assaulting every single value which made this country the envy of the world! You have bankrupted this country... and you show no signs of stopping. Thank God your open borders give away of our way of life and our standard of living is coming to an abrupt end as we speak. Not only are you completely devoid of any relevant knowledge on what's best for this country as a non-taxpayer I am not even sure you get a vote. Joshua, in short you are dumber than dirt I read these things that you write and scratch my head wondering how you got out of the third grade. As of November the American people are taking this country back from the renters who trashed it and showed it no respect (This describes things pretty well) The basic idea behind modern liberalism is that the normal human would not act right unless there is something forcing them to do so. Let's take racism for example. Most of us can agree that treating someone badly because of their skin color is wrong. The ultimate conservative approach would be to assume most people understand this, and most people would act accordingly. The few jerks who think they can get away with shoddy behavior would be ostracized by greater society, and the problem would solve itself. The liberal assumes that the only way to make sure racism does not happen is to pass laws that would curb the racist's inclination to be a jerk.

                    Modern liberal thought is elitist thought. The core concept is that there are a few people who are smarter than everyone else, and those people should be given free reign to govern the stupid masses properly. If someone is too stupid to find work and support themselves, then the smarter elite will provide them with jobs. Let there be no doubt Jeff I am much much smarter than you are ... so much smarter it would be hard to measure it! Thank God you people are on your last lap or two ruining this country because you are so ar out of step with the thinking of the majority of this country it's mind numbing."

                    Dr. Bob-please get some therapy

                    • (Show?)

                      May as well post the unedited version Joshua (that's a name from the bible isn't it? Jesus would be so proud!~) What do your left wing anti religious zealots and fellow hate mongers think of your having such a religious name>?

                      To quote Dan Aykroyd from Saturday Night Live.... Joshua you misguided, commie-socialist, America hating, sh*t for brains, ignorant left wing stooge! hello hello hello hello!!!! The big difference between you and I Joshua is that I am one of the 50% of Americans who actually pay income taxes... you are not! Anyone who can sit here day in and day out defending what the left has done to this country has fallen out of the stupid tree and hit every branch. You and your open borders welfare state loving ilk have spent the last 50 years assaulting every single value which made this country the envy of the world! You have bankrupted this country... and you show no signs of stopping. Thank God your open borders give away of our way of life and our standard of living is coming to an abrupt end as we speak. Not only are you completely devoid of any relevant knowledge on what's best for this country as a non-taxpayer I am not even sure you get a vote. Joshua, in short you are dumber than dirt I read these things that you write and scratch my head wondering how you got out of the third grade. As of November the American people are taking this country back from the renters who trashed it and showed it no respect (This describes things pretty well) The basic idea behind modern liberalism is that the normal human would not act right unless there is something forcing them to do so. Let's take racism for example. Most of us can agree that treating someone badly because of their skin color is wrong. The ultimate conservative approach would be to assume most people understand this, and most people would act accordingly. The few jerks who think they can get away with shoddy behavior would be ostracized by greater society, and the problem would solve itself. The liberal assumes that the only way to make sure racism does not happen is to pass laws that would curb the racist's inclination to be a jerk.

                      Modern liberal thought is elitist thought. The core concept is that there are a few people who are smarter than everyone else, and those people should be given free reign to govern the stupid masses properly. If someone is too stupid to find work and support themselves, then the smarter elite will provide them with jobs. Let there be no doubt Jeff I am much much smarter than you are ... so much smarter it would be hard to measure it! Thank God you people are on your last lap or two ruining this country because you are so ar out of step with the thinking of the majority of this country it's mind numbing.

                      • (Show?)

                        A long time ago, the term 'liberal' meant: Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

                        Not anymore. How many liberals are "open minded" to "tolerating" hard-core Christians or die hard capitalists? They are still thinking that hard-core Christians and capitalists are the afore mentioned established, traditional, orthodox, The authoritarian attitudes of our culture are now forced acceptance of homosexuality, atheism, and anti-capitalism (to name a few.) I think the confusion here is that you, and a lot of other people have not wrapped their heads around the simple fact that the 1960s social revolution DID make the changes they set out to make, and the hippies are now "the man" we need to start reforming. The terms "conservative' and "liberal' have been turned on their heads! It is a revolutionary idea that different races, gays, or other people who used to be disenfranchised, do not need special legal protections, because they are equal to white, straight protestant Christians. You have the morals or a streetwalker and the brain of a gerbil. You and people who think like you are the biggest threat this country has. Your radical left wing lunacy has awaked the majority of American’s who think your plans for this country are untenable and crazy! But most of all we will not stand for it for one more second. You can start calling the dance and tune when you start giving away your own money and bankrupting your own country but for now that isn't the case and in November when the tide starts coming back in (complete with Obama's oil stain attached to it no doubt) and you find your group of radicals hell bent on living on the efforts and money of others find yourselves once again tossed back onto the trash heap of relevancy to forever concoct your lunatic fringe left wing pap and NUTcase conspiracy theories just know that your warped and lunatic view of the world has been considered by us all and soundly rejected. You're right it does make you feel better to tell you exactly what I think... but most importantly what a majority of us think. Keep spinning your wheels pretending like you're running the show and anything you think or say matters... Because you're not... and they don't... it's going to take us 10 years together the ditch you have put us into as a state and as a country you ignorant communist ... you are dumber than dirt no really you! Yes you!... Next! and what did Joshua do immediately after his cowardly hate filled anti religious drive by shooting? He did what any other parasitic worm would do ...he ran and hid ... courageous man of convictions aren't you Joshua ./..and it's Rob not Bob...

          • (Show?)
            Only Congress gets to spend the money in this country Mitchell and the surplus you speak of was created under a republican controlled congress when Clinton was President.

            You are correct that Congress appropriates the money (technically the Administration spends it though and sets the rough outline of it). It is worth noting that the surplus was created because of the '93 tax increase which every GOP voted against. Again, taxes went up under Clinton (when the Democrats controlled Congress) didn't get cut under the GOP Congresses under Clinton, and the economy BOOMED and a surplus was left which Bush pissed away.

            You are entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts.

            The fact is that Democratic revenue increases/spending left the economy booming and a budget surplus. GOP tax cuts/wars and de-regulation drove the economy off the cliff. Though I will concede that the last year of the Clinton administration lead to GOP pushed deregulation that the Clinton administration stupidly allowed. Which only underscores my point.

            Deregulation, and trickle-down economic polices have proven over and over again to be an unmitigated disaster. Not in theory, but in fact.

          • (Show?)

            cont.

            You will say he did it at a cost in terms of a larger deficit but if that was bad then then how can what Obama is doing which is growing the deficit from the spending side of the equation at a pace that makes Reagans tax cuts look like chump change.

            Hiring of employees occurs because of an increase in demand of goods and services. This is why Keynesian economics are valid in a major down-cycle in the economy. It's pretty basic.

            This is why extending unemployment benefits, and increased demand side generation is crucial until the economy turns around (which we are beginning to see, though hiring is always a lagging indicator).

            The real long-term economic problem is that real wages have stagnated since the late 70s, as living wage jobs began being outsourced.

            • (Show?)

              Even though every single study done on the unemployment compensation topic have all concluded that the majority of people who's benefits are ending suddenly become employed during the last 3 weeks of benefits and the first 2 weeks w/out benefits. The best thing that could have happened would have been NOT to extend benefits at all. The only growth sector of our economy has been government. Government jobs are not what brings an economy back to life Mitchell because the government acts as the classic "tweener" as it pulls resources from the private sector takes it's vig off the top then spits it back into the economy complete with more regulation and whatever those new government employees do all day. Increasing taxes does NOT cause an economy to BOOM it's just an economic impossibility. We disagree on where the surplus congress handed bush came from but Bush never sent to congress a budget that exceeded revenues by 1.4 trillion dollars a year. I don't know ehere you get the idea that there are very many economists who think governments can deficit spend their way out of a recession. The stimulus was a huge waste of money and stimulated nothing. I read somewhere that the government could have suspended the payment of individual income taxes on all americans for the cost of the stimulus plan ... not that would have worked. It's the people spending money as you pointed out which creates jobs NOT the government borrowing more money to spend. The reality of things is this: we can't afford to spend any more money we don't have...we can't afford it and it makes less secure as a nation to be so far in the hole. We can't afford it and Roosevelts spending on programs only aggravated the depression and extended it ...it did not get us out of it.

              • (Show?)

                Your nonsense is simply that. Nonsense. Between your revisionist history about FDR extending the depression, to bogus "studies" on unemployment, your assertions are simply not borne out by reality.

                In fact, the one thing I, and most economists looking back at the response to the Great Depression, fault FDR for shifting gears in 1937 and focused on deficit reduction which induced a reversal of the improving trends from his earlier New Deal efforts, and created a double-dip recession.

                From Krugman to Robert Solow, there are hundreds of economists that not only advocated for a bigger stimulus bill than what passed, but are on record as of late last year saying we need another one.

              • (Show?)

                I would also add, that you seem to think that government spending (paying teachers, policeman, fireman, etc.) somehow takes money out of the economy. Are you under the illusion that money spent by the government, be it Federal, State or local, somehow disappears into the aether?

                Do you think money the government spends in Salem is burned to heat the capitol building or something?

                Do you think that government workers don't spend their paychecks in Fred Meyer, the local restaurants, car dealerships, etc.?

                • (Show?)

                  Nonsense? I have read those studies and that is our history Mitchell. Sorry if it doesn't play into your big government wet dream for america where no one does anything except sit around waiting for the mailman to bring them their government check

        • (Show?)

          I was agreeing with you, Mitchell, (glad I'm sitting down) until you said "no one has a nanny state world view". Maybe I'm using the term differently, but government does promote certain PC ideas that should be left to individual choice.

          This is a disturbing debate. I agree with both of you, and don't think I'm particularly wishy-washy. Robert has a realistic, eclectic, view, imho, not a fantasy world. It puts progressives off the DPA when they run on "we can do better", but always end up taking the position, "this is the best we can do".

          While it's not exactly the same, I am also troubled at the way that those pushing back at the TEA people accept their definition of libertarian, while correctly rejecting their stupid ideas of what socialism is. Their brand of libertarianism is just as stupid, but the fact that it is accepted by their opponents tells me that their opponents fear the fantasy bogie man as much as the TEA people do "socialist" Obama.

          I'm reluctantly about to accept that both sides have trashed the label to the point it isn't useful anymore. Having already watered down "progressive", what have you left to people like Robert and myself? One has to wonder if we've been left with nothing descriptive because moderates would really rather we shut the f*ck up.

    • (Show?)

      He's already slamming ag subsidies.

    • (Show?)

      Alaska can afford to be socialist Bill ...the US can't. The spending of money we don't have has got to stop because it threatens our national security at this level. That's what the tea partiers are saying .."we can't afford it and it has got to stop" and calling them all of the names in the world but the bottom line is , They are 100% right! We can't afford it because the country is broke.

      • (Show?)

        The country is broke because of a bloated and out of control DoD budget and two wars/occupations.

        http://www.slate.com/id/2243297

        The figure for FY 2011 is $708.2 billion—consisting of $548.9 billion for the "baseline" budget plus $159.3 billion to pay for "overseas contingency operations," mainly the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. ...tack on another $33 billion to the current year's budget, to pay for the 30,000 extra troops (and all their supplies, weapons, and so forth) that President Obama is sending to Afghanistan.

        All told, that's $741.2 billion in new money

        There are about 100,000 military personnel in Afghanistan which cost an estimated one million a year. This does not include "Contractors". You do the math.

        • (Show?)
          There are about 100,000 military personnel in Afghanistan which cost an estimated one million a year.

          Either the dollar amount or the time frame in the above statement is not accurate. A million a day I would accept as a valid figure.

        • (Show?)

          The country is broke because it spends more than it brings in ... the trillion dollar stimulus (that stimulated nothing) certainly didn't help. We have a spending problem and we need to fix it because we don't have the money ..what part of broke don't people understand

        • (Show?)

          Obama owns the Afghanistan war now

  • (Show?)

    Yes, the two instances referenced by Jeff Alworth as being Rand Paul gaffes are, indeed, major and should be noted.

    What really astounded me was when Rand Paul said (very close paraphrase), "Obama went to Copenhagen and made appearances with Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales and apologized for the industrial revolution."

    Really? Obama's been appearing with Hugo and Evo? And he apologized for industrialization? How did I miss this (because, of course, it didn't happen)?

    So, we ALREADY have vast evidence that Rand Paul is nuts.

    But let us get down to the nub: Sure, compared to the GOP, Obama is a paradigm of sanity. But is he taking enough of a different tack than are the GOP so's to assure us of the completely the different outcomes that we and the planet need?

  • (Show?)

    If Republicans think the government is that evil, then why do they want to be part of it? Why do people trust them to be of service to an institution they want to eliminate?

    Would you hire someone as your babysitter who publicly advocated that children should be starved to the point where they could be easily drowned in the bathtub?

    Republican candidates in Oregon and nationwide should be asked if they agree with Rand Paul's stance against the voting rights act, against the Americans with disabilities act, against holding BP and Blankenship financially accountable for the damage their disasters caused. At the very least, their waffling and doubletalk ought to be fun to watch.

    • (Show?)

      Isn't it all rhetoric? Take legal weed. How popular is that in the deep South? How about banning flag burning? Constitutional definition of marriage being one man and one woman? The fact of the matter is that the South LOVES government messing all around in your life. They only yell states rights when they don't like the Federal position.

      Can there be any clearer example than wanting prayer, the 10 commandments, creationism in the schools, under State mandate? That ain't small gov!

      BTW, you the world famous author (FB URL is the main character), or is that an alias?

    • (Show?)

      The conservative arm of the republican party understand that it's not the governments job to feed anyone. It's everyone's job to feed themselves. Rand Paul was having a philosophical discussion with a reporter with an agenda. He stated many times he would have been the first one to March with MLK (a republican) and to boycott any business who refused to serve everyone. He saw the answer as one the market would solve as assuredly as the government and as a libertarian preferred the market based siolution to the gov't driven one. Note here please that it was his view of where the answer to the problem came from that he was talking about Not to be confused with any belief that no problem existed. He was very clear a problem existed, the man doesn't have a racist bone in his body. I think the gov't had to act in the example of the civil rights problem (and the next day so did he) not because the market based answer wouldn't work, it would just because it wouldn't have worked fast enough for my tastes. Buy the answer Miles is Yes. We can't afford the government we have and there is no question government has over reached into huge areas of our lives they have no right or reason to intrude in.

      • (Show?)

        But the market could not nor would not "solve" the issue of jim crow laws in the south. THis wasn't an abstract discussion, but a real world issue that needed real-world solutions.

        You can try and paint it as a "reporter with an agenda" all you like, but the problem was not the interview, which Paul himself was absolutely fair, but that his position is simply unacceptable to almost everyone in society, and even in the abstract, an untenable Constitutional position.

  • (Show?)

    "As the decades have rolled on, this view has become ever less tethered to reality, and so the obvious end point is an America where the GOP are compelled to protect companies like Goldman Sachs, Aetna, and British Petroleum, even when it is clear that failures in their respective markets have led to spectacular harm to the country."

    I think it would be more sincere to include all of the Democrats that are also attached to these companies.

    • (Show?)

      Why would that make it "sincere"...?

      The relevant point is that the GOP are generally for deregulation so companies can maximize profits, the Democrats are generally for regulatory controls to prevent the harm deregulation causes.

      Should Democrats not sided withe GOP at the end of the CLinton administration? You bet. Has a segment of the Democratic party become GOP-lite in many respects? For me yes.

      This is why I have always backed Democrats that come from the Democratic wing of the party where I can. But will settle for a blue-dog Democrat in place of a Republican nut-job every time.

    • (Show?)

      Jason to make that statement is to deny the truth. Goldmna sachs is practically an arm of the whitehouse do i really need to list all of the GS people who are in the Obama govt? GS was Obama's #1 supporter! $1,007,370.85 some of the rest: Lehman Brothers - $229,090 JP Morgan Chase & Co - $216,759 Exelon Corp - $194,750 Citigroup Inc - $180,650 Citadel Investment Group - $166,600 UBS AG - $146,150 Time Warner - $142,718 UBS Americas - $106,680 Morgan Stanley - $104,425 Credit Suisse Group - $92,300 Starting with the supreme court nominee, geithner, paulson, corzine, summers, blankfein. etc can't we keep the conversation accurate at least.

  • (Show?)

    Rand Paul is a fool for opening that can of worms. Though I doubt he's racist or opposed to equality for all, one does not appear on a program hosted by a democratic socialist, attempt to have a reasoned discussion about classic liberal philosophy (otherwise known as "Libertarian") and not expect to have it used against him by the opposition. Bad rookie mistake that's sure to loop on the big media blooper reel a while.

    Personally I took pleasure seeing KY voters kick a crony Republican to the curb in favor of Paul. If nothing else it's a step in the right direction.

  • (Show?)

    Rand Paul seems to be a chip of the old block, a racist just like his father,Ron Paul, who is on the record with numerous racist remarks in his lengthy career.Rand Paul has apparently been happy to receive money from white supremacist groups like Stormfront.org

    Anyone who makes the argument for constitutionally protected segregation, and denial of the right to housing on the basis of race has no place in public service.

    • (Show?)

      Thats not what he said Bill if he had I would agree with you the facts are he just didn't say that and he just shoes no indication of believing any of it either

    • (Show?)

      What government giveaway program isn't popular Jeff (at least to those on the receiving end) but for the 50% of Americans who have to pay for it they are very unpopular. Food stamps for illegal aliens, free health care for illegal aliens, Free healthcare for everyone! Free free free ...only to me that translates into tax tax tax! Government has intruded into portions of our lives it has no business being. I am a physician Jeff not a politician. But as one of the 50% who actually pay taxes my opinion is just as valid (probably more so) than yours as I doubt you are a member of the lucky 50% who pay taxes club. If you guys want all of these give aways lets see YOU get out YOUR wallets and help pay for them...just a thought.

  • (Show?)

    I wonder how far the apple falls from the tree, because I was starting to like Ron Paul, but to hear Rand Paul's question dodging and just looking for ways to elevate himself and compensation for doctors(he is an eye doctor) I wonder how much of what he does is just self serving.

    Im starting to wonder about his dad. I might be voting Independent next election

    I found this youtube video hilarious http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGCAAABD7zU

    Luis portable printers for laptops

  • (Show?)

    I wonder how far the apple falls from the tree, because I was starting to like Ron Paul, but to hear Rand Paul's question dodging and just looking for ways to elevate himself and compensation for doctors(he is an eye doctor) I wonder how much of what he does is just self serving.

    Im starting to wonder about his dad. I might be voting Independent next election

    I found this youtube video hilarious http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGCAAABD7zU

    Luis http://www.portableprintersforlaptopshop.com

    • (Show?)

      Exceedingly well made set of points.

    • (Show?)

      I beg to differ that libertarians say we don't need gov (see above on label confusion). Realistic, traditional libertarians say that we have to perform a benefits and effectiveness analysis, dispassionately, before deciding that the solution to an issue lies with government.

      The libertarians I know were enthusiastic supporters of measures 66 and 67 back in January.

      The rest I agree with.

  • (Show?)

    Jeff, your partial quote from President Reagan raises a pet peeve of mine, i.e., that supporters and critics alike generally leave out the prefatory phrase.

    The complete sentence reads, "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."

    I think Reagan was largely correct at the time. As President, Reagan was certainly not shy about using government to deal with other crises, nor should he or any other President be so.

    I would also argue that Reagan's statement, taken in it's entirety, was more accurate than President Clinton's later statement, "The era of big government is over."

    • (Show?)

      Well W certainly put to lie Clinton's statement at any rate.

    • (Show?)

      Jack: here is the full quote and others. It is obvious that Reagan said, at least, that government action was always suspect and always against the best interests of the people. So :

      In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden.

      I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.

      There are those in America today who have come to depend absolutely on government for their security. And when government fails they seek to rectify that failure in the form of granting government more power. So, as government has failed to control crime and violence with the means given it by the Constitution, they seek to give it more power at the expense of the Constitution. But in doing so, in their willingness to give up their arms in the name of safety, they are really giving up their protection from what has always been the chief source of despotism — government. Lord Acton said power corrupts. Surely then, if this is true, the more power we give the government the more corrupt it will become.

      I'm convinced that today the majority of Americans want what those first Americans wanted: A better life for themselves and their children; a minimum of government authority. Very simply, they want to be left alone in peace and safety to take care of the family by earning an honest dollar and putting away some savings. This may not sound too exciting, but there is something magnificent about it. On the farm, on the street corner, in the factory and in the kitchen, millions of us ask nothing more, but certainly nothing less than to live our own lives according to our values — at peace with ourselves, our neighbors and the world.

      And I have to point out that government doesn't tax to get the money it needs, government always needs the money it gets.

      "Unfortunately, he is a powerful speaker with an appeal to the emotions. He leaves little doubt that his idea of the 'challenging new world' is one in which the Federal Government will grow bigger and do more and of course spend more....One last thought — shouldn't someone tag Mr. Kennedy's bold new imaginative program with its proper age? Under the tousled boyish haircut is still old Karl Marx — first launched a century ago. There is nothing new in the idea of a Government being Big Brother to us all. Hitler called his 'State Socialism' and way before him it was 'benevolent monarchy.'"

      • (Show?)

        Those are all great quotes, Theresa, although as you indicated only the first paragraph is from his first inaugural. And the line "f no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else?" is an obvious paraphrase of Jefferson's first inaugural ("Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.")

        But in any event, the rest of the quotes all support my theme: Reagan, like Jefferson, believed in limited government, not no government. He did not believe that government was the cause of every problem; he just believed that the crisis existing when he took office was largely caused by excessive and misguided policies and I think history supports that analysis.

    • (Show?)

      Jack, I'll let you nurture your pet peeve, but the quote is useful and instructive in this case. It doesn't matter that the entire quote may have had some softening effects--the reality is that it's been the GOP who have run with it. It's the GOP who wanted to drown government in a bathtub, who had oaths to keep taxes low, and so on.

      Reagan may not have meant to breathe life into the monster you reject, but I'm not concerned with Reagan--I'm concerned with the monster.

    • (Show?)

      Well put, other Jack. Back in the day, those that were paying attention would have seen Barry Goldwater going apoplectic over the big gov, nanny state social policies of "conservatives". We've lost track of the ball so much that it's amazing to think that he summarily dismissed Reagan and Bush Sr. with the statement, "conservatives don't have a social agenda". People like junior Bush are about as far from traditional conservatives as ELF is!

  • (Show?)

    Ronald Reagan was simply an irresponsible opportunist of the first order. He vilified Medicare but tried to expand it to include long term care coverage. (Sadly that legislation was overturned shortly after it passed. Medicaid is now the middle class coverage for long term care.) Reagan convinced the American people they could have all the benefits of big government, including a vastly expanded military, without having to pay for it. And so the era of big government and big deficits began in the 1980s. The delusion of supply side economics, that tax cuts increase economic growth and tax receipts is now proven utterly false. We can thank Ronald Reagan, GWB, and the GOP culture of tax cuts for the wealthy for our present day massive deficit.

    • (Show?)

      It's unfortunate that you truly missed out on one of the most prosperous peace time era's this country has ever seen. I missed it too because I was too young .you don't have an excuse. Do you know how fast a true leader with a vision like Reagan could be reelected today... this country is dying for some change with some real hope. He would bury any other possible candidate in a landslide. Which is all the evidence I need to know that your vision of history is loony tunes

  • (Show?)

    "Robert Sumner" has posted a number of comments here. However he decided not to post this one and instead just e-mailed me directly. It's obvious why he didn't want to post it here for all to see. Thought the rest of BO commenters would like to see who they are communicating with. It's too lengthy to post the entire e-mail so I'll split it into two posts.

    "Robert Summer May 29, 2010 at 11:08am Subject: You have the brain of Cat Litter

    To quote Dan Aykroyd from Saturday Night Live.... Joshua you misguided, commie-socialist, America hating, shi for brains, ignorant left wing stooge! hello hello hello hello!!!! The big difference between you and I Joshua is that I am one of the 50% of Americans who actually pay income taxes... you are not! Anyone who can sit here day in and day out defending what the left has done to this country has fallen out of the stupid tree and hit every branch. You and your open borders welfare state loving ilk have spent the last 50 years assaulting every single value which made this country the envy of the world! You have bankrupted this country... and you show no signs of stopping. Thank God your open borders give away of our way of life and our standard of living is coming to an abrupt end as we speak. Not only are you completely devoid of any relevant knowledge on what's best for this country as a non-taxpayer I am not even sure you get a vote. Joshua, in short you are dumber than dirt I read these things that you write and scratch my head wondering how you got out of the third grade. As of November the American people are taking this country back from the renters who trashed it and showed it no respect (This describes things pretty well) The basic idea behind modern liberalism is that the normal human would not act right unless there is something forcing them to do so. Let's take racism for example. Most of us can agree that treating someone badly because of their skin color is wrong. The ultimate conservative approach would be to assume most people understand this, and most people would act accordingly. The few jerks who think they can get away with shoddy behavior would be ostracized by greater society, and the problem would solve itself. The liberal assumes that the only way to make sure racism does not happen is to pass laws that would curb the racist's inclination to be a jerk.

    Modern liberal thought is elitist thought. The core concept is that there are a few people who are smarter than everyone else, and those people should be given free reign to govern the stupid masses properly. If someone is too stupid to find work and support themselves, then the smarter elite will provide them with jobs. Let there be no doubt Jeff I am much much smarter than you are ... so much smarter it would be hard to measure it! Thank God you people are on your last lap or two ruining this country because you are so ar out of step with the thinking of the majority of this country it's mind numbing."

  • (Show?)

    Robert Sumner part 2:

    "A long time ago, the term 'liberal' meant: Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.

    Not anymore. How many liberals are "open minded" to "tolerating" hard-core Christians or die hard capitalists? They are still thinking that hard-core Christians and capitalists are the afore mentioned established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes... but they aren't anymore. The authoritarian attitudes of our culture are now forced acceptance of homosexuality, atheism, and anti-capitalism (to name a few.) The liberal who wrote this is showing they are broad minded enough to accept the idea of work camps- something that would be considered a big no-no by our established governmental traditions.

    I think the confusion here is that you, and a lot of other people have not wrapped their heads around the simple fact that the 1960s social revolution DID make the changes they set out to make, and the hippies are now "the man" we need to start reforming. The terms "conservative' and "liberal' have been turned on their heads! It is a revolutionary idea that different races, gays, or other people who used to be disenfranchised, do not need special legal protections, because they are equal to white, straight protestant Christians. You have the morals or a streetwalker and the brain of a gerbil. You and people who think like you are the biggest threat this country has. Your radical left wing lunacy has awaked the majority of American’s who think your plans for this country are untenable and crazy! But most of all we will not stand for it for one more second. You can start calling the dance and tune when you start giving away your own money and bankrupting your own country but for now that isn't the case and in November when the tide starts coming back in (complete with Obama's oil stain attached to it no doubt) and you find your group of radicals hell bent on living on the efforts and money of others find yourselves once again tossed back onto the trash heap of relevancy to forever concoct your lunatic fringe left wing pap and NUTcase conspiracy theories just know that your warped and lunatic view of the world has been considered by us all and soundly rejected. You're right it does make you feel better to tell you exactly what I think... but most importantly what a majority of us think. Keep spinning your wheels pretending like you're running the show and anything you think or say matters... Because you're not... and they don't... it's going to take us 10 years together the ditch you have put us into as a state and as a country you ignorant communist ... you are dumber than dirt no really you! Yes you!... Next!"

  • (Show?)

    The amazing thing about fellas like Dr. B is that they prattle on ad nauseum w/o a whit of historical context and even less of a connection to reality.

    They insist they've heroically "bootstrapped" themselves to great heights, so what the hell is wrong with the rest of us?!

    They extrapolate that this "Cowboy up" mentality ought to be the national doctrine, but seem limited in their grasp of real economic factors that have led to a worsening economic plight for all but the most wealthy.

    To Dr. B. and his cronies, facts are troublesome and shouldn't be acknowledged. Problem: Republican Administrations explode the National Debt (doubled in Bush2 years from 5.7 trillion to 11+ trillion) Solution: don't mention it.... math and real statistics can be bothersome.

    Problem: Bush had a spending free-for-all by starting 2 wars. Solution: Call Afganistan Obama's war.

    Problem: 30 years of Republican efforts pushing industrial deregulation have led to the collapsing, methane-filled deathtraps for American miners; a crippled banking industry has shoved millions of citizens to the streets; and an environmental catastrophe has exploded in the Gulf from which the South may not recover and from which the ecosystem never will.

    But just don't mention such nuance Dr. B., because we know you're the real American hero with those bootstraps of yours.

connect with blueoregon