Thursday, March 24, 2016

Living in a Fantasy World

Fantasy can be fun. Movies, books etc. that show life outside what we live on a daily basis entertain us. They are especially attractive to children who do not yet fully understand the world we live in. Who among us, when young, did not think that maybe we could learn to fly like Peter Pan or to use magic to get what we wanted?

That is normal for children. Adults however, if they want to live reasonable lives, must face reality. Tinker Bell will not sprinkle pixie dust on us, nor will we find any magic wand capable of creating the food or anything else we want. As we grow up, we should learn that we get what we need by understanding reality and working with it, not by trying to change that reality – or worse, by pretending that reality is different from what it really is.

Sadly, many “adults” today do not seem to understand those simple facts, and their fantasies do more than their share of damage. We have just seen this in Belgium as Islamic fanatics murdered people at the airport and a metro station. Much of Europe has swallowed the line that, if only treated kindly, those fanatics will become good, law-abiding people. That is an attractive fantasy, but reality refuses to go along. If those European rulers were to look at the record they would see that the fanatics have never changed their goals nor their willingness to use violence to achieve those goals. Their pixie dust is an illusion. Those fanatics believe that they have a divine mandate to impose Sharia law on the world, and they are willing to die to reach that goal. No amount of kind welcoming will change that.

Nor is our U.S. president immune to such magical belief. He wants to admit Islamic “refugees” by the thousands, but offers no way to separate the dangerous potential terrorists from the real refugees. That kind of magical thinking gets people killed.

But why do we have leaders living in Fantasyland? In a democratic system there is an obvious reason: too many voters live in Fantasyland, voters who think government has some magical solution to all our problems. They fail to notice that:

Government has no magical source of goods or services to provide to the people. It only has what it takes from those people.

Government has no source of wisdom beyond that of ordinary people. Imperfect people select government functionaries from among the imperfect people actually available in this imperfect world.

Government has no greater integrity than that of those imperfect people who select other imperfect people to hold power.

Voters must think reality, not fantasy. Our security, our economy, and our freedom depend on it. We must reject the pie in the sky fantasy that many politicians promise. Those promises may sound attractive, but the real world rejects them.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Presidential Elections: The Longest Lasting Consequences

There are many issues for voters to consider in any presidential election. However, the longest-lasting legacy of any president must be among the most important. Most presidential decisions can be changed a few years down the road but there is one exception: Supreme Court Appointments.

The Supreme Court is effectively the last word, accountable to no-one. Five justices form a majority on that court, giving them the closest thing we have in this country to dictatorial power. Indeed, at times they do seem to have dictatorial powers. Their decisions stand, and the voters have no means of changing those decisions.

Voters must consider carefully what kind of justices the next president is likely to appoint. That president will probably appoint at least three new justices. Obama's two appointees, Sotomayor and Kagen, will likely remain on that court for decades, as will those three new justices. If the new appointees are similar to the Obama appointees, that will give them decades of absolute majorities on that court, the ability to impose unchangeable rulings on the people.

So which candidate is most likely to appoint good justices, rather than leftist sycophants? Certainly not either of the democratic candidates. Clinton or Sanders would appoint leftists to that court. Trump? That is essentially unknown, the only hints we have are his history of supporting things like condemnation of private property to give it to other private entities, and federally controlled health care. The probabilities do not look good, it is doubtful that he would appoint defenders of constitutional freedom to any court.

Of course there are always a lot of unknowns in electing a president. However, I believe that the candidate most likely to appoint good justices is Ted Cruz. Of all the candidates, he is most committed to the constitution. Voters must consider that when deciding how to cast their ballots.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Cutting off Your Nose to Spite Your Face

Voters are angry, justifiably so. They gave control of both house and senate to the Republicans on the promise that those elected would do things like stop executive amnesty, funding of Planned Parenthood, stop Obamacare, etc. The Republicans then turned around and acted like Obama sycophants. Their campaign promises were as trustworthy as a Hillary Clinton claim. They betrayed the voters who now want revenge.

Unfortunately, that anger is not a good guide for voters. In their desire to strike back, many of those voters are harming the very causes they support. Let's face it, Donald Trump is unlikely to do any of the things voters supported in 2014. Even his main issue, the promise to build a wall along the border, is in serious doubt. Allegedly, in an off-the-record interview with the New York Times, he said he doesn't really believe what he is saying about stopping illegal entry. The fact that he refuses to have the tape of that interview released leads me to believe that the claim is true, he has no intention of building a wall or otherwise restricting illegal entry to this country.

If we make the mistake of electing Trump, I doubt we will see much of anything different than if we elect Hillary Clinton. Reacting in anger can cause us to jump from the proverbial frying pan into the fire.

Related to the issue of illegal aliens are the job losses and underemployment many families face. That is partly, but not totally, due to illegal aliens taking jobs otherwise available to citizens. Again, reacting in unthinking anger is national suicide. That is reminiscent of the way Hitler took power in Germany. As I wrote in my book, Freedom or Serfdom?:

How could Hitler get enough voter support to become chancellor? The answer is that the Germans were desperate, and desperate people may grasp at any straw. The Treaty of Versailles imposed onerous reparations on the country. That and other problems devastated the economy. Formerly prosperous families found themselves with little or nothing. As Hayek puts it, “It should never be forgotten that the one decisive factor in the rise of totalitarianism on the Continent, which is yet absent in England and America, is the existence of a large recently dispossessed middle class.”[1]

As I write this, the American middle class is under siege. Should much of that middle class fall on hard times, that could open the way for a demagogue to take power .”

When I wrote that, I had no idea that Trump, who I consider to be very much a demagogue, would seriously contend for the presidency. I did suspect that another demagogue, Hillary Clinton, would be the democratic candidate but it had not occurred to me that voters in November might face the choice between two such demagogic candidates. I do not want to claim the mantle of prophet, but I'm afraid we might face exactly that. I may vomit in the election booth.

Let us hope that voters will wake up and not let their anger do the voting, rational thinking is much better.

[1]      Hayek, op cit, p215