Eliminating political careerism

A columnist from Massachusetts points out that Elizabeth Warren’s failed run for the presidency resulted in a loss of representation for the State:

According to ProPublica, Warren has missed 53.5% of her votes during this session of Congress. This makes her the third-most absent member of the Senate. (Remember: We lowly taxpayers pay Warren $175,000 for this job.)

She clearly decided that running for president was a valid excuse to neglect and ignore her Senate duties. Yes, this despite the fact that she pretty much promised Massachusetts voters in 2018 that if they reelected her, she would not run for president. Then, of course, she changed her mind just a few months later and decided to run and skip out on her current office to do so.

This is a slap in the face to the people of Massachusetts, who elected her to a six-year term just in 2018, undoubtedly with her promise to actually serve this term in mind. Turns out, serving in the Senate was just a backup option for Warren in case her presidential aspirations didn’t work out.

In other words, it’s all about serving her interests, not those of her constituents, whom she failed to represent in Washington more than half the time.  This is a bipartisan problem, and I’ve written about it before.  Elected officials should never take their current office as a given, even while reaching for more influence. 

Aside from term limits, the best way to end political careerism is to require people to serve out the full elective term of office (barring debilitating illness, injury or misconduct), and to ban the practice of running for more than one office at once (i.e. president and senate).  It’s bad enough how much running for reelection shapes an officeholder’s term.  Trying to grab the next rung of the ladder while keeping one hand on the current one “just in case” is the opposite of public-mindedness.  Too many special elections (which cost taxpayer $$) occur because John Q. Politician was elected to two different offices simultaneously, or else was picked as a political appointee while serving in an elected office.  In a country of nearly 330 million people, nobody is that indispensable.  If someone believes they are called to greater responsibility, they should demonstrate a commitment to it by fulfilling any current public obligations, then focusing on convincing the public or an executive to give them such an opportunity.  Such an expectation by the people would mean candidates would be out of political work from time to time.  And that’s not a bad thing, considering that also happens from time to time to the citizens they allegedly represent.  Let our would-be representatives live like the rest of us occasionally.

Setting an example

Many of us of a certain age are increasingly concerned about the growing popularity of socialism among the younger generations.  We rightfully point out that the horrors of communist life in the 20th Century have been minimized in our history classes, so that the siren sound of “equality” has regained some of the appeal it lost amid prior carnage.

The truth, though, is that America has been flirting with socialism for about a century ourselves — we just haven’t called it that.  And while the young may not be as wise as we might hope, they’re not completely blind to the hypocrisy:

…the irony is that these old anti-socialists already live in a wonderland of government generosity that bears a passing resemblance to the socialism they so dread.

The federal government already guarantees single-payer health care to Americans over 65 through Medicare. Senior citizens already receive a certain kind of universal basic income; it’s called Social Security. While elderly Americans might balk at the idea of the government paying back hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt, they are already the grand beneficiaries of a government debt subsidy: The mortgage-interest deduction, a longtime staple of the federal tax code, effectively compensates the American homeowner (whose average age is 54) for their mortgage debt, thus saving this disproportionately old group approximately $800 billion in taxes owed to the federal government each decade. The economist Ed Glaeser has likened these policies to “Boomer socialism.”

In this framing, Sanders is not offering his more youthful constituency a radically new contract. Instead, he is extending the terms of an existing social contract to cover more—and, necessarily, younger—Americans.

Now, while I’m inclined to agree with this diagnosis, I don’t agree with the proposed treatment: “Some, but not all, of the problems facing young adults would be well addressed with an expansion of government.”  The socialism we’ve tacitly accepted since the days of the Progressive Era and FDR has already warped our society and economy in harmful ways.  Government spending in the areas of healthcare and education (much of it debt subsidy in the latter) has allowed prices in those arenas to skyrocket far beyond the rate of inflation (itself a result of government meddling with the currency).  Want to reign in health costs?  Put the consumer back in control by forcing providers to post price lists and compete for business that’s paid for at the point of sale.  When someone else is paying the bill, there’s no incentive to reduce costs, and those who don’t have that “someone else” are left priced out of the market altogether.  Same with education – get the government treasury out of it, and institutions will suddenly no longer have funding for “diversity coordinators” that add little value to the transmission of useful knowledge that leads to gainful employment.

For many years I’ve said I’d love to have the option to sign away my claim to any Social Security benefits in exchange for never paying the tax again.  As I get closer to retirement, that’s obviously less of a good deal for me.  But while I’d love to have the taxes I’ve paid in my private accounts rather than in Uncle Sam’s, the fact is that *if* I draw what Social Security currently projects for me (something I certainly don’t count on), I’ll recoup my contributions in less than 6 years.  So if I live another decade or more after that, where’s the money coming from?

The paychecks of younger workers, that’s where — the very generation that realizes the system will not work for them as it has their elders.  Where their contributions don’t cover it all, Uncle Sam’s uses his credit card, the balance of which is a drag on everyone’s fortunes whether they realize it or not.  For example, Sam is desperate to keep interest rates low, so he can continue to carry that balance (and add to it!).  But in doing so, he robs those who dutifully save of the interest they would normally make as a result of their frugality.  Since the elderly on a fixed income can no longer live on interest earnings, Social Security becomes an essential part of most people’s retirement plans… and the cycle begins anew.

That which can’t go on forever, doesn’t.  Our current structures are unsustainable.  We are at a crossroads: either we double down on what is known to be a failed economic model (planned economies), or we get the government out of the driver’s seat.  We need to find a way to set the sun on Social Security and Medicare (just for starters), while putting consumer protections in place like truthful labeling of medical costs and investment risks.  Government is supposed to police abuses of the market, not become the major provider of a good or service.  I’ve said it before: the worst result of our current hybrid system is that it isn’t true market capitalism in many respects, but is believed to be.  As a result, truly free market economics gets a bum rap.

So it’s worth keeping in mind the difficulty of convincing Bernie Bros not to point our nation toward full-blown Marxism when we’re already relying on programs of which Karl would have heartily approved.

How do we honor our dead?

Today – Memorial Day – is supposed to be a remembrance of all those who perished while serving in uniform, defending this nation.  It’s fitting that we have such a day.

But do we really honor our fallen?  This picture captures well the fact that today’s peace is underpinned by yesterday’s carnage:

holding up society

Would you be incensed if the young man in jeans was wearing a swastika armband?  I’d venture most Americans would.  It would show an appalling lack of appreciation how many of the dead represented in the image died to destroy Hitler’s regime.  But what if the young lady were wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt?  Or if the child were dressed in the uniform of the Soviet-era Young Pioneers, complete with a badge picturing Lenin?

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The value of the vote

Caution: this is a long post; that’s why it has a “jump break” on the front page of the blog.

It’s ironic that Bernie Sanders brought this up while I’ve been re-reading Heinlein’s Starship Troopers:

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said he thinks every U.S. citizen, even the convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, should be allowed to vote in American elections.  Sanders offered his stance at a CNN town hall Monday when asked whether he thought felons should be allowed to vote while they’re incarcerated, not just after their release.

He was pressed on whether it was appropriate to enfranchise sex offenders or someone convicted of a heinous crime like Tsarnaev, who with his brother carried out the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that left three dead and injured hundreds more.

“Yes, even for terrible people, because once you start chipping away and you say, ‘Well, that guy committed a terrible crime, not going to let him vote. Well, that person did that. Not going to let that person vote,’ you’re running down a slippery slope,” Sanders said in response to a question about restoring felons’ voting rights.

It appears Sanders is saying everyone should have the privilege of voting, regardless what they’ve done in their lives.  That’s not merely wrong, it’s disastrously dangerous.  Unlike the (poorly done) movie of Starship Troopers, the book discusses in great detail the importance of the franchise.  Indeed, the book is highly controversial for presenting a futuristic society in which the only full citizens with voting privileges are military veterans.  Pardon the excerpt from one of the book’s classroom discussions:

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Mitt Romney disapproves this message

Trump shows again his mastery of Twitter:

trump tweet warren

In case you don’t get it, click here.

While this is a brilliant poke at Warren, I’m sure there are many, Mitt Romney especially, who are holding their noses and saying “that’s not presidential.”

Wrong.

The simple fact is that if Romney had been 1/2020th this willing to dig at Obama’s smug overestimation of himself, we might have avoided a second Obama term.  Not that it would have meant much, since Romney is the epitome of “RINO” (Republican in Name Only), mouthing small government platitudes but doing nothing to actually advance that agenda.  Do recall that Obamacare was advertised as a logical extension of Romney’s own prior government intrusion into healthcare in Massachusetts.

But wait!  There’s more!  Romney is now a Senator from Utah.  Huh?  That sounds like a Hillary move, suddenly becoming a New Yorker to get into the Senate.  What’s more, Romney had plenty of use for Trump in 2012 and 2018, when he sought the man’s endorsement for president and senate, respectively.  But now he wants to bite the hand that supported him:

It is well known that Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination. After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not.

I will support policies that I believe are in the best interest of the country and my state, and oppose those that are not. I do not intend to comment on every tweet or fault. But I will speak out against significant statements or actions that are divisive, racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, dishonest or destructive to democratic institutions.

Well, Mr. Romney, it’s well known a lot of us conservative patriotic Americans didn’t have you as our first choice in 2012, and wish Trump had told you to pound sand when you asked his help into the Senate last year.  Anyone should have seen you would take on the mantle of a McCain or a Flake, sniping at your party from the inside, where you can do the most damage.  You’re not interested in supporting the public’s agenda, only ensuring you are applauded by “all the right folks.”  You know, the ones praising your recent op-ed, but at the time said you were literally Hitler when you dared to run for president as a Republican.  Have you really forgotten?

I admit I wish the president would reign in some of the more gratuitous sniping, and show a little more message discipline.  But to all the “never Trumpers” out there, scratching your head and wondering why Americans could support someone like Trump, it’s simple:

You chatter.  He fights… and gets things done.  Patriots are tired of alleged leaders who will only fight in prim accordance with the Queensbury Rules while our adversaries routinely punch below the belt.  Reversing this country’s disastrous heading is a massive undertaking.  Those who are afraid of getting their hands dirty or their positions criticized by the legacy media are of no use.

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UPDATE: Hey, Mitt — got any thoughts about expectations for the behavior of Congresscritters while you’re at it?  I know… if you criticize her you might lose face with the swamp elites you run with.  Rashida Taleb has already overturned two centuries of tradition so she can wear a symbol of Islamic oppression of women on the floor of the House of Representatives.  Will she also be allowed to make that kind of foul public language standard there, too?  Before you play the moral equivalence game between her and Trump, consider this: at a minimum, the difference is she hates everything traditional America stands for.

Facts versus feelings

The issue of illegal immigration is an emotionally charged one.  I believe far too many of our leaders enable its continuation due to cynical political calculations: if the American people won’t vote them greater powers, they’ll import a people who will.  But for the average citizenry, those who support the continued entry of hundreds of thousands of migrants each year are largely driven by genuine compassion.  Indeed, it’s hard not to compare the conditions many of these people are leaving to those in the U.S. and not feel a sense of obligation to help.

That is why dispassionate examination of the facts of the matter is absolutely essential.  Simply put, this ongoing, unprecedented wave of migration is demonstrably harmful to the citizenry already living within the United States:

A majority of “non-citizens,” including those with legal green card rights, are tapping into welfare programs set up to help poor and ailing Americans, a Census Bureau finding that bolsters President Trump’s concern about immigrants costing the nation.

In a new analysis of the latest numbers, from 2014, 63 percent of non-citizens are using a welfare program, and it grows to 70 percent for those here 10 years or more, confirming another concern that once immigrants tap into welfare, they don’t get off it…

“Concern over immigrant welfare use is justified, as households headed by non-citizens use means-tested welfare at high rates. Non-citizens in the data include illegal immigrants, long-term temporary visitors like guest workers, and permanent residents who have not naturalized. While barriers to welfare use exist for these groups, it has not prevented them from making extensive use of the welfare system, often receiving benefits on behalf of U.S.-born children,” added the Washington-based [Center for Immigration Studies].

The numbers are huge. The report said that there are 4,684,784 million non-citizen households receiving welfare… Compared to native households, non-citizen households have much higher use of food programs (45 percent vs. 21 percent for natives) and Medicaid (50 percent vs. 23 percent for natives).

The American people have historically been a generous one, no doubt in large part to the legacy of Christian charity.  The current level of charity, however, is both unsustainable and unfair to the Americans who have paid into various systems like Social Security and are now unlikely to realize their promised benefits because those funds went to others.  The injustice of transferring wealth from citizens to those who have entered the country (legal or illegal) only to become a burden on it should be obvious.  Given the fact the United States is already flirting heavily with insolvency, carrying trillions of dollars in debt and routinely hearing warnings about Social Security and other programs running out of funds for promised benefits, it’s clear the current situation cannot be tolerated.

The soothsayers who want to allow the status quo to continue try to shame concerned Americans by pointing to our history as a ‘nation of immigrants.’  In doing so, they omit certain critical data points:

  • Past waves of immigration, such as the early 1900s, were conducted according to strict legal protocols, requiring processing at such places as Ellis Island.  It was not a free-for-all “rush for the border” as we have today.
  • Previous immigrants had to prove, among other things, that they had the means to be self-supporting.
  • Previous sources of immigration were mainly from Western European nations with at least a tenuous connection with the English social and political context that framed the United States.  Today, not so much.  (Note the dramatic change on this animated map, both in terms of volume and sources of immigration, starting about 1970.)

This is not to say that individual people from other parts of the world are any less human. It acknowledges, however, that culture is an essential facet of any country, and is not easily discarded in favor of a new worldview. In short, we have allowed alien ways of thought to establish themselves among us, with major implications for the future of our Constitutional heritage.

Much, if not most of our current inflow of people is from Latin America.  Is it not prudent, then, to examine the fact Latin America is “the murder capital of the world?”

With just 8% of the world’s population, Latin America accounts for roughly a third of global murders. It is also the only region where lethal violence has grown steadily since 2000, according to United Nations figures. Nearly one in every four murders around the world takes place in just four countries: Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia. 

The linked article goes on to note most of these murders are never solved, a result of the very weak legal systems and lack of accountability that exist in most of the countries south of the Rio Grande.  Gangs like MS-13 represent the effective local authority, and it should be no surprise that as we continue to receive large numbers of people from this area, that the established gangs export their influence north with it.  It’s understandable to want to help people fleeing such lawlessness.  But such an impulse has to be tempered by at least two questions:

  • Given the pervasiveness of violence and lawlessness, are we willing to import the entire populations of countries like El Salvador or Honduras to allow their people to escape it?  For how many nations are we willing to do this?
  • Does it do any good to permit large-scale immigration from this region that results in importing to the U.S. the very social problems so many profess to be fleeing?

The first duty of any legitimate government is the protection of its own citizens, not provision to outsiders.  Yet many of our leaders seem to turn that on its head, viciously attacking and slandering any who then question their priorities.  In turning the U.S. into the world’s charity, we have forgotten a warning given to us in the famous parable by C.S. Lewis:

Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.

Indeed, the benevolence we think we bestow when we allow people to move to America only to become trapped in ethnic enclaves as wards of the state, is indeed largely imaginary.  Worse, it breeds understandable resentment among citizens who see their job prospects (see: H1B) and sources of public support diverted to newcomers, many of whom already broke our laws just coming here.

Our commendable compassion is being used to subvert us, and it’s well past time that stopped.  It isn’t compassionate to destroy one’s own nation trying to provide dubious help to others.  Universal birthright citizenship and the resulting “anchor babies” need to go, as does the vast majority of immigration of any kind for the foreseeable future.  When the lifeboat is already leaking and listing as the U.S. is, it’s suicidal to keep adding to the passenger list.

On laws and the flouting thereof

Every day brings new evidence that the desired state of being “a nation of laws, not of men,” is no longer true of America:

Federal immigration agents arrested more than 150 people in California in the days after Oakland’s mayor gave early warning of the raids, it was announced Tuesday…

On Saturday, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf warned residents that “credible sources” had told her a sweep was imminent, calling it her “duty and moral obligation” to warn families.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, about 800 individuals sought for arrest eluded the organized crackdown, most with criminal records and multiple previous deportations.  So how is the mayor’s warning not a case of obstruction of justice?  In fact, why isn’t the entire “sanctuary state/city” nonsense chargeable as conspiracy to obstruct justice?

While we’re talking about illegal immigrants, let’s note that Rahm Emmanuel’s Chicago has created a municipal identification card “for undocumented <read: illegal> immigrants and others” that will be considered valid ID for voter registration and votingMeanwhile, 12 States and the District of Columbia issue drivers licenses even to illegal immigrants who cannot provide previously required documentation such a Social Security card.  When you add this to the nationwide push of “motor-voter” laws, it’s easy to see how we could have tens or hundreds of thousands of foreigners voting in our elections each cycle.  Indeed, Pennsylvania currently faces accusations that about 100,000 illegal immigrants are registered to vote in that State.

Here’s the irony: the investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign is allegedly supposed to determine whether it “colluded” with Russian influence to win the election.  In other words, foreign interference is undesirable (on that, at least, we can agree).  But if that’s the whole point of the investigation, why are there not similarly prominent efforts to look into and prosecute the facilitation of foreigners living and voting illegally in the United States?

Immigration and naturalization are the purview of the Federal Government under the Constitution.  Any State or local official who deliberately interferes in these matters should be held to account.  Many do so today because such “virtue signalling” to our invaders and their domestic supporters carries a nonexistent personal cost.  Sure, a few would be willing to act as “martyrs” if we got serious about accountability, but the vast majority are crybullies who would think twice if others hit back.  It would send a tremendous signal if Federal agents arrested the mayor of Oakland for harboring fugitives with her warning of ICE raids.

Don’t worry, though — I’m not holding my breath that such true accountability will occur in these lawless times.  *IF* the rule of law ever returns to this country, it likely will only be after a harsh period of restoring discipline and individual accountability.  The pendulum has swung too far for it to be otherwise.