I am enjoying election day. The only upsetting thing is the people I know with VERY strong opinions on a number of issues, and to be fair share my opinion on most of the propositions, but are not voting. I fear too many people that might share my opinions will not vote, while the minority (like yes on 8 people) will vote in record numbers.
Anyway, there was a great discussion, and a lot of people brought up some interesting questions I enjoyed covering. Anyway, here they are.
Are we over regulating business or not enough?
People talk about free market like as if it is an anything goes. If that was true, why was "Wealth of Nations" and "The Theory of Money and Credit" such massive works?
Free market theory theory of economics, IMHO, isn't about what the government shouldn't do, it is about what it CAN'T do given the nature of an economy. The government can be a normal competitor, and one with BIG money, but it can't make bad businesses successful. Money doesn't create wealth, no matter how much you give away. We can redistribute wealth, and that costs money. Doing useful work is the only thing that improves the 'wealth of a nation'.
Sure, people are greedy, but people are driven by greed to do really great things. Greed can always lead to corruption, but what? Somehow our politicians are above that? What country have you been living in? At least greedy businessmen have something to loose. I think the most important thing we can do set high standards and educate people. And the balance? Employees are greedy, and nothing is more greedy than a consumer.
I don't get this whole "how much regulation is enough?". No amount of the wrong regulation is going to work. We need to look at what types of regulations can and can not work. Price fixing DOES NOT WORK. Taxes need to be product and revenue neutral. Regulations need to be equal, but the government needs to know its place. Mises says that one of the few roles of government that it can play that are different than any other large consumer is the handling of broken contracts. In particular, when someone provides goods, services, or money today to get goods, services, or money in the future, and one of those parties fails to meet their obligation, then the government can intervene to see that the failing party is treated fairly in the liquidation of it's assets as appropriate. That is why this bailout thing is such a nightmare! Businesses that have proven not worthy of survival, for many different reasons, need to die. The government needs to ensure that those businesses are liquidated in a fair manner. Instead, they are being propped up? Why?!?
Now I know that isn't all that is happening. Anyone can buy these loans, and if the government wants to get into that business, then they can be an equal player, but buying any loan under its fair market value makes little sense.
The place where there can be a problem is when government tried to drive the market in a direction it doesn't want to go. I think a great example of this is the drug war. We spend tons of money, for a number of different reason to artificially reduce the supply of certain drugs deemed unsafe. What happens? price goes up. That isn't regulation, that is just manipulation. Regulation would be oversight into ensuring drugs were made cleanly and that customers knew what they were getting. Government could give oversight to certification programs that have various standards, just like the FDA, BBB, HUD, and such. If someone is brewing drugs in their bathtub, they should be shut down for the fire hazard. If a place has quality equipment that is well maintained, doctors, clean needles, safe rooms, and counseling services, not only should they get an A+ like the health department does for restaurants, but nobody is going to buy from the drug dealer on the street corner. And I thought this was all about keeping people safe. It has worked in European countries that have adopted this, and I think Canada has a similar program, and that was exactly the result. Also, a good number of people cleaned up, not to mention drug crime virtually disappeared. How can we keep saying that the type of regulation we have today is working when the number one cause of accidental death in this country is from overdose prescription drugs?
Free market says the best players win that give the customer what they want with quality and at a low price. Government has the power to encourage the best business, and that is the type of regulation we need. We can also use a lot of it. But the current ideology in regulation is fundamentally and it has been proven for a very long time that it CAN'T work, and it is those types of regulations that need to be eliminated.
What I see by both sides is blaming bad regulations as PROOF of too little regulation by liberals, and too much regulation by conservatives. There are tons of books on this stuff, not just by Mises and Smith, but too often it really looks like Congress is just guessing at what would work. Why not back off, study the market, and then see where they can find the competitive advantage. Personally, I think if the government likes what a company is doing, they should buy the product, not mess with how much money they aren't going to take away from them.
This is in part why I think Fair Tax makes sense. It was the result of a large, quality study. The government needs taxes, not to mention the government supports this great country where the market exists. I like the way the Ferangi in Star Trek see the market, as a large river that must carefully be navigated. Regulating taxes is like building a damn. A consumption tax puts the damn as far down stream as possible, and in just one place where everyone knows. What we have right now is water polution. When it comes to supply and demand, income taxes just discourage income, which manifests itself in some very bizzare ways. Same with payroll taxes, estate taxes, corporate taxes, and other things. We have this crazy mess of nets in this "river", and rightfully so businesses have to traverse it; a businesses ability to navigate the river directly coorilates to competitive advantage. And when somebody wins, they call it a loop hole.
Pull out the unnecessary nets. The market place is difficult enough to figure out without all these artifical barriers. Tax consumption in a fair way as Fair Tax proposes (Personally, I think the prebate would eliminate a need for welfare, but maybe that's just me), and in any place where the market fails, jump in there and compete, and stop just handing out monopolies to the highest bidder that meets some kind of short sighted goal. The market is rough, and every time the government tries to do something unnatural, trying to tame something that can't be tamed, it just keeps resulting in a cascading effect of "unintended consequences".
Did the GOP change McCain?
McCain hasn't changed at all. I think knowing him, Palin was the perfect pick. The issue was that McCain was the perfect pick to put up against Hillary. The PROBLEM is that McCain didn't change his strategy. An over simplification of the issue was that Hillary would have come off as an unrealistic leftist, while McCain made off as the conservative / left moderate. The problem (for him) is honestly Obama's change thing. He wants to revolutionize socialism (what some have called democratic socialism). McCain's plan of attack didn't anticipate this at all, and not knowing how to deal with it, he has defaulted to sticking with a failed game plan OR he is being consistent. Either way, we are now forced to decided between a democrat, and a socialist.
And only one is seen as a traitor to their party.
Republicans have not stood on a conservative platform in over 20 years, and conservatives that loved their party are jumping ship. Republicans on their conservative platform saw the advantage of pandering to the religious right. The problem is that they ended up selling out and letting their constituents take over so far as to sell out on their conservative beliefs.
I consider myself a conservative, and do republicans, but my democrat friends say I am an extreme libertarian. I had hope and belief that Republicans had conservatism as the fore front of their policy, but the constant compromising and this neo-conservative nightmare has become "do whatever sounds nice for the people that support us".
Some people like this. Obviously, otherwise why would the Republicans have adopted it? They just under estimated the number of people that are conservative because it is the best thing for the country, not their self serving interests. There are people that love Palin, and there are Republicans that see McCain's move to the left as a positive, encouraging bipartisanship.
And I think it would have been enough for a win against Hillary. It was just the wrong strategy against Obama when it comes to getting the majority of electorates. I do not fault McCain for sticking to what he believes in, if you can at least believe for a moment that he did that. I think the fault lies more with the GOP. I know many people would say this is crazy, but I think the reason Ron Paul was not supported by the GOP is because he is hated by the media / entertainment industry. The GOP be that it couldn't beat the media at that game. Ron Paul ran on a platform of change. dramatic change back to logic and traditional conservatism that believes in a rational science of politics. I think with the back of the GOP, and unfortunately the religious right that would never have voted for Obama, HIS conservative platform of change, getting the Republican party to what it stood for, and had MAJOR victories throughout the 60's, 70's, and 80's would have brought hope to people that we can get back to what worked, within an enlightened vision, versus this radically untested democratic socialist platform of Obama's. The media would have been forced to back off and cover the election in the way it could to get ratings. McCain's coverage is proof that the media doesn't go light on any candidate it doesn't support, and McCain got hit harder than has been seen in a long time. McCain's actual weaknesses didn't help either.
I really think Paul could have stood up to the heat, and I really wish there could have been a real debate between Obama and Paul rather than that monkey dance we were made to endure. IMHO, the reason McCain could not hit any of Obama's weaknesses was because on his important faults, McCain is virtually the same person. I seriously wish some of those weaknesses could have been addressed by a real, experienced, and lovable conservative.
To anyone that follows business stuff, the GOP was to the entertainment industry what Rubbermaid was to Walmart; a disposable asset that could be manipulated in their favor. And to (certain) music lovers, the only chance they had was what happened between ICP and Disney. ICP may not have done as well, as they could have.. but they are doing a whole lot better than Rubbermaid.
The GOP didn't know when to quit, so their voters did instead.
Why Palin was a good pick for McCain
1) She was/is the highest rated governor in the Country.
2) Alaska joined the Union for its oil reserves, and Palin strongly believes that this country needs energy independence (despite any reasons / understanding or how closely she may have had business with oil companies).
3) She is not a Washington insider / new face
4) She is a role model for women that take the same position as her on women's issues, not to mention she is a very positive example of a person that takes that kind of position
And as I mentioned earlier, all together, I think the pair / plan would have beat Hillary. It is just senseless against Obama. The GOP picked the perfect weapon, for the wrong type of target.
McCain sold the "I am not Bush" plan. Palin is the "I am not Hillary" plan. In addition to being the complete opposite of Hillary with respect to the issues mentioned above, Palin is a more likable person (remember polls saying in 2000 that Bush was the candidate voters would most like to sit with and have a beer? I meant something), and 5) she is really hot.
Hillary never would have had a chance.
When did Obama break?
When do you think it happened?
I think it happened in the last few weeks before the primary. Hillary's hate. McCain's hate. I think Obama saw this as something that was only going to help him, but really sad that he could not have had a real fight debating technical issues.
He is great at the "Hope" "Change" speeches that get all the idiots drooling over him, but he also really has the ability to get down to specific details and argue their merits and set out a clear vision such as his "A Call to Renewal" podcast from 2002.
I said it to myself around the primary that Obama was a great gift, and the best we could really wish for to lead this country... but we don't deserve him, and our petty BS is going to break a really great man. I know this is just what some really hate hearing, but he reminds me of John Coffey from The Green Mile; he was this miracle given to us that by our greed and hate we would destroy for our own selfish, petty reasons.
Now is he broken? Maybe. Could he just need some rest and recover soon after today?
I have Hope.
On a separate note, I hated him a LOT up till recently for supporting the bail out, and further for supporting the PRO-IP Act. But going to give him a chance, and hope it plays out well, like Lessig or Patry being given the position of Internet Czar. Preferably Patry cause I know there is already a position of Internet Advisor Obama has made for Lessig in his cabinet.
United States Naval Academy is nothing to scoff at
While I am not a McCain fan AT ALL, and while it is sad that neither Palin or McCain have ANY higher education, and both Biden and Obama have great educational achievements, it is worth keeping in mind that McCain did graduate at the bottom of his class from the United States Naval Academy, which for any of you who are not military buffs, is about the most prestigious, not to mention most difficult, training facility in the world. It would be little different than criticizing an athlete for getting nearly last place in the Olympics. Yeah, it is nearly last, but it is the MF'n Olympics. Or bottom of your class from MIT, Harvard, or Stanford
I don't think it is really something that can be used to criticize his experience. The disgusting mess of this war? Now that is certainly something well worth using against him... I just think it is a separate issue from his academic achievements.