Category Archives: Totty

Who doesn’t love pretty girls?

Rule Five Balkanization Friday

Should we break up the USA?  I’d prefer not to, but here from the Mises Institute is another idea.  Excerpt:

Some of our assumptions are so deeply embedded that we cannot perceive them ourselves.

Case in point: everyone takes for granted that it’s normal for a country of 320 million to be dictated to by a single central authority. The only debate we’re permitted to have is who should be selected to carry out this grotesque and inhumane function.

Here’s the debate we should be having instead: what if we simply abandoned this quixotic mission, and went our separate ways? It’s an idea that’s gaining traction — much too late, to be sure, but better late than never.

For a long time it seemed as if the idea of secession was unlikely to take hold in modern America. Schoolchildren, after all, are told to associate secession with slavery and treason. American journalists treat the idea as if it were self-evidently ridiculous and contemptible (an attitude they curiously do not adopt when faced with US war propaganda, I might add).

And yet all it took was the election of Donald Trump for the alleged toxicity of secession to vanish entirely. The left’s principled opposition to secession and devotion to the holy Union went promptly out the window on November 8, 2016. Today, about one in three Californians polled favors the Golden State’s secession from the Union.

In other words, some people seem to be coming to the conclusion that the whole system is rotten and should be abandoned.

As far as how this would happen?  Author Llewellyn H. Rockwell Jr. doesn’t offer a mechanism, but he offers a reason:

When I say go our separate ways, I don’t mean “the left” goes one way and “the right” goes another. I mean the left goes one way and everyone else — rather a diverse group indeed — goes another. People who live for moral posturing, to broadcast their superiority over everyone else, and to steamroll differences in the name of “diversity,” should go one way, and everyone who rolls his eyes at all this should go another.

“No people and no part of a people,” said Ludwig von Mises nearly one hundred years ago, “shall be held against its will in a political association that it does not want.” So much wisdom in that simple sentiment. And so much conflict and anguish could be avoided if only we’d heed it.

What’s interesting is that the talk about secession these days is coming mostly from disaffected California lefties, disappointed that Her Imperial Majesty Hillary I lost the election they expected her to win.  A few surveys have up to one-third of Californians thinking secession is a good idea.

They should ask South Carolina how that worked out for them.

Seriously, the Rockwell article in discussion here is based on the libertarian argument that no people should be held in a political arrangement against their will, quoting as it does Ludiwg von Mises himself.  But the problem is that libertarians are a pretty small minority of the population, and when those 1/3 of Californians discover all of the problems they’d face in an actual secession attempt, they’d almost certainly change their minds.

I’ve discussed the idea of the United States balkanization before.  It will probably happen someday, in some form.  But I doubt it will be any time soon, no matter who is sitting at this moment in the Imperial Mansion.

Rule Five Asian Alliances Friday

Last weekend, President Trump spent the weekend with the one man that represents America’s best and truest ally in the Pacific save only Australia – Japan.  The Japan Times had this to say about their meeting.  Excerpt:

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might have got exactly what he wanted in his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump. Abe’s three-day visit to the United States, the first since the inauguration of the Trump administration, was marked by friendly overtones and included two nights of dinners in a row and golfing in Palm Beach, Florida, where the president hosted the Japanese leader at his winter estate. Trump gave assurances to Abe over the bilateral security alliance while remaining silent over his earlier aggressive criticism of Japan over trade and currency issues.

But if Trump had merely tamed his protectionist pitch to play up his friendly rapport with Abe, those issues may have just been set aside to be taken up later in the “bilateral dialogue framework” that the two leaders agreed to create to discuss trade and investment matters. A close aide to Abe reportedly said the two leaders confirmed that the trade disputes of the 1980s were a “thing of the past.” But Trump’s remarks before the meeting had been enough to raise the specter of the bitter trade friction between the two countries. It’s not clear whether Abe succeeded in changing the minds of the U.S. president during the talks. The government needs to hold Japan’s ground in the upcoming dialogue.

But here’s the real money (hah) quote – bear in mind this article is written from Japan’s point of view:

What’s worrisome about Trump’s views on trade issues is that they may not be shaped by a correct understanding of the relevant facts. In singling out Japan — along with China — as countries that engage in trade practices that are “not fair” to American firms during his earlier talks with U.S. business leaders, the president reportedly claimed that countries such as Japan “charge a lot of tax” on U.S. products and said that “if they’re going to charge tax to our countries — if as an example, we sell a car into Japan and they do things to us that make it impossible to sell cars in Japan. … It’s not fair.” Separately, he effectively charged that Japan and China manipulate the exchange rates to drive their currencies lower against the dollar — on which he blamed the U.S. trade deficits.

Japan needs the United States, probably more than we need them.  I’ve done a fair amount of business there, and all three companies I’ve worked with sell over half of their output to Americans and American companies.   That makes us their most important market.

It’s odd to my WW2-generation parents – they’ve told me so themselves – but it’s in America’s best interests to maintain a solid working relationship with Japan, not least of which is because of the stare-down our island allies are having with China.  Two major trade partners are snapping at each other, which puts President Trump in a damned delicate situation.

Here’s what I found encouraging about last weekend’s events, at least as far as American-Japanese relations are concerned – the President and Prime Minister Abe appear to get along very well personally, playing golf together and by all appearances enjoying a fine dinner with spouses and aides at Trump’s Florida resort.

Why is that encouraging?  Because of something I’ve learned over almost fifteen years of self-employment:  People do business with people they like.  A good personal relationship with Prime Minister Abe will make it easier for President Trump, a man of business, to do business with Japan.

I confess to some selfish motive here.  I’ve done business in Japan, have lived and worked there, and I have had and always will have a very real fondness for the place and it’s people.  I want to do business there again.  I hope President Trump and Prime Minister Abe agree on a trade deal to make that possible.

Worth Watching!

I never do this, but admirers of the Feminine Aesthetic should check out Charissa Littlejohn.  She is an Air Force veteran, enthusiastic shooter, and absolute knockout.

She is addictive because she possesses a pure heart and a dirty mind ♥️ #happyvalentinesday

A post shared by Charissa Littlejohn 💕 (@charissa_littlejohn) on

Check out her Instagram here.

(Oh, if I was thirty years younger!)

Rule Five Tax Reform Friday

There’s been a lot of talk lately about what the GOP will do in the way of tax reform.  Speaking as a pretty hardcore libertarian, I’m guessing (in fact, I’m pretty damn certain) it won’t go far enough to suit me.

Let me tell you why.

Barry Goldwater once said “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents’ “interests,” I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.”  I agree wholeheartedly; but there’s an important distinction to point out.

There are basically two types of libertarians.  There are anarcho-libertarians, who hope for a society with no government at all, where all government functions are fully privatized and all interactions are voluntary.  I don’t think this is a realistic viewpoint.  An anarcho-libertarian system is dependent on a perfect society, and relies on perfect (or at least pretty damned good) people.  The other type, of which I am a member, are the minimum-government or ‘small-statist’ libertarians, who seek (as Goldwater did) to reduce government to the minimum possible.  I see government as an evil, but a necessary evil, one that needs to be chained in place and confined to a few narrow purposes – otherwise liberty is forever endangered.

So, how does that relate to taxation?  The key word is voluntary.  Now, no system of taxation is ever completely voluntary.  Look at the structure of taxation as it exists today; if I were to start a charity, no matter how worthy, I couldn’t come take you and lock you in a cage for not contributing to my charity.  But we allow government to do what private citizens cannot do.  In this case, we allow government to initiate the use of force to obtain compliance.

That’s a terrible, dangerous power, and must be tightly restricted.  Right now, it’s not.  The Imperial Leviathan grows more powerful with each passing year, and on tax policy, President Trump is proposing to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.  Here is his tax reform plan; the four primary points are:

  1. Tax relief for middle class Americans: In order to achieve the American dream, let people keep more money in their pockets and increase after-tax wages.
  2. Simplify the tax code to reduce the headaches Americans face in preparing their taxes and  let everyone keep more of their money.
  3. Grow the American economy by discouraging corporate inversions, adding a huge number of new jobs, and making America globally competitive again.
  4. Doesn’t add to our debt and deficit, which are already too large.

Don’t get me wrong; as proposed Imperial reforms go it’s one of the better of a bad lot, except for that last bit, which strains credulity just a tad.  But it’s just a reform of the existing system.  That, in my considered opinion, doesn’t go far enough.  It still depends on an involuntary surrender of the citizens’ productivity, a requirement backed up (maybe indirectly, but even so) by men with guns.

I’d rather junk the whole corrupt, overly complicated system.

Instead of taxing production, let’s tax consumption.  There’s already one such proposed system in the pipeline, where it has been sitting for quite a while with no progress; that would be the FairTax.  A consumption-based tax system, like the FairTax, would increase the tax base enormously, from maybe 155 million taxpayers to over 300 million – including tourists, temporary residents, and even illegal aliens.  It would tax the underground economy (drug dealers and con men buy cars, houses, and computers, among other things, and would pay the tax on those items.)

But most importantly of all, it would make the tax system as voluntary as a tax system would be; every consumer has to consume a certain amount (some proposals exclude essentials like groceries, rent/mortgage, and tuition) but one can pick and choose.  Another advantage, and this is a big advantage where privacy is concerned, is that the free citizens won’t be required to disclose all of their financial affairs to the Imperial and various State governments.

I’d like to see more talk about this, but I’m resigned to it not happening.  In the meantime, I’ll settle for the new arrangement of deck chairs.  I guess.

Rule Five CalExit Friday

Could California leave the union?  Well, since I’m on an extended project in Silicon Valley right now, I sure hope that if they do, they give me some time to scoot for home before sealing the borders.  There is some talk about a tax revolt on the part of the California state government,

 As a practical matter, though; could California leave the Union?  Probably not.  (Even though there are days when I think it might just be a good thing for the rest of the U.S. if they did.)  There are an awful lot of details that the CalExit proponents aren’t thinking about.  Let’s look at some of those details.

  1. Federal land in the state.  Almost half of the state’s area is Federally owned; National Forest, BLM, military bases, and so forth.  What would become of those Federal lands?  Would the new California national government pay the United States fair value for those lands?  Or would the state just seize the properties?  If so, how?  Which brings us to:
  2. The military.  Never mind for a moment that the several military bases in California are Federal property, and that the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen on those bases work for the Federal government and are sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, not the state of California.  Would California start their own military?  Their own army, navy, and air force?  How would they pay for it?  More to the point, who would serve in it?  Who would lead it?  There is no Lee in California; no Longstreet, no Jackson.
  3. Water.  California doesn’t have enough native water to support its population.  Instead, they depend on water from the Colorado river.  If California secedes, how will they pay for this water?  Rivers can be dammed and/or diverted.  Colorado, Nevada and Arizona could certainly find good use for the 4.4 million acre-feet of water that go to California every year.
  4. Electricity.  California imports about 1/3 of its electricity from its neighboring states.  Given that the state is not fond of building new power plants – at least, the wealthy coastal elites who effectively run the state are not fond of building new power plants – what will California do for power?  Will the continue to pay to suckle at the United States’ power grid?  If so, how will they pay for it?
  5. Currency.  Will California start coining money?  Who will set monetary and fiscal policy for the new nation – the people who are running California’s economy now?  Welcome to the Greece of the West, folks.
  6. Politics.  California is a big, sparsely populated red state dominated by a few densely populated bright blue population centers – primarily Los Angeles and San Francisco.  The state’s farmers and tradesmen are ruled, effectively, by a well-off coastal elite.  Suppose rural northern California, the Central Valley, and maybe Orange County refuse to go along?  What if those areas vote to stay in the United States?  Will the new California national government stick to their newly found principles of self-determination and allow those areas to remain?  And if they do, how will a tiny coastal nation consisting of a couple of major cities and a few hundred miles of coastline feed itself?  Speaking of which:
  7. Food.  California is largely desert.  The fertile Central Valley produces less and less food all the time, strangled by excessive rules and regulations from the state and (to be fair) the Imperial government.  Should the secession prove acrimonious, could California find the wherewithal to release Central Valley farmers (if there are any left) to start producing grain and truck crops?
  8. Foreign Affairs.  Who would California’s international allies be?  The most obvious one is the mother country – the United States – but just as in the first time this was tried, it’s likely there would be some hard feelings.  Nations have no permanent friends, only permanent interests; who would serve California’s interests in an alliance?  Mexico?  China?

There’s also the 1861 question; should California announce their secession, would President Trump send in the Army to force them to remain?  If so, California wouldn’t be able to resist the way the old Confederacy did.  It’s highly doubtful half the professional U.S. military would defect to fight for California.

Honestly, the folks agitating for a secession of California aren’t thinking this thing through.  The one thing California would have to do to make it as a separate nation is to switch political philosophies and adopt personal liberty, free markets, and minimal intervention by government in the economy and the property rights of its citizens – and this, True Believers, is everything that California is not.  It would be a matter of decades at the most before California sank into a Venezuelan quagmire.  We don’t need that on our western border, and California’s citizens don’t need it in their bank accounts.

Rule Five Citizenship Friday

I found this interesting; Theodore Roosevelt Quotes on Citizenship.  Excerpt:

Enter the words of Theodore Roosevelt. Below you’ll find a small treasury of excerpts from some of the addresses he gave during his lifetime. When you look at anthologies of all his speeches, you find that the themes he hits in these selections were the ones he offered, with only slight alterations, over and over and over again, in every town and city he visited on country-crossing whistle stop tours. You’ll likely be surprised to find how much they resonate, and yet how almost foreign this kind of rhetoric sounds. One finds it impossible to imagine any modern politician speaking this way — using this lost language of virtue, and charging citizens towards both noble ideals and practical common sense.

TR’s words call to us from the dust — challenge us to revive what we haven’t even fully realized we’re missing, and to take responsibility for that which we claim to loathe in politics.

During this election, there has been plenty of head-shaking and tsk-tsking; all that seems foul is the fault of that “other” party, those “other” people who do not share one’s values. Or the problem is the poor slate of candidates, all of whom the average voter finds repugnant to varying degrees. Yet a people invariably gets exactly the candidates it deserves, and they emerge not from one segment of the population, but from the cultural milieu to which every single individual, on every side of the aisle, contributes.

Here are a few gems from the Bull Moose himself:

No law will ever make a coward brave, a fool wise or a weakling strong. All the law can do is to shape things that no injustice shall be done by one to another and so that each man shall be given the chance to show the stuff that is in him.”

The very last thing that an intelligent and self-respecting member of a democratic community should do is to reward any public man because that public man says he will get the private citizen something to which this private citizen is not entitled, or will gratify some emotion or animosity which this private citizen ought not to possess.”

Remember that the greatness of the fathers becomes to the children a shameful thing if they use it only as an excuse for inaction instead of as a spur to effort for noble aims.

We live in a rough world, and good work in it can be done only by those who are not afraid to step down into the hurly burly to do their part in the dust and smoke of the arena. The man who is a good man, but who stays at home in his own parlor, is of small use. It is easy enough to be good, if you lead the cloistered life, which is absolutely free from temptation to do evil because there is no chance to do it.”

But here’s the real kicker, one of my favorite quotes from the man who has long been one of my personal heroes:

The most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice.”

Think on that quote for a moment.  Isn’t that what we just saw happen last fall?  One man stood out in the 2016 Presidential election by giving voice, roughly, crudely and loudly, to what (obviously) a large enough plurality of voters were thinking – and that man now sits in the Imperial Mansion.

It’s probable – nay, likely – that a man of TR’s caliber would not today subject himself to the non-stop scrutiny and abuse that constitutes public life today.  And that’s a shame, especially when you look at the general run of pols we have in the halls of power at this juncture; it would be hard to name a larger body of nitwits, poltroons and nincompoops that those that infest the halls of Congress today.

We still have Teddy’s words and deeds as a reminder.  Would that more people took them to heart.