Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Agenda 2016+: The Role of Government

Today we continue the Agenda 2016+ series. As I said, this isn’t about winning the 2016 election, it’s about creating an agenda that will permanently win over the public and set America back on course. So let’s start with something basic and vital. Believe it or not, government is needed. Without government, society will devolve into predatory chaos from which will spring a truly oppressive government. But how do we decide what government should and should not do?**

This question is key because it will influence everything we discuss hereafter. What we need right now is a framework for what circumstances would cause us to agree to government regulation and what wouldn’t. As I see it, there are four times when government is needed:
1) To protect the public from those seeking to do intentional harm.
2) To protect those who cannot help themselves.
3) To prevent externalities.
4) To make markets possible.
Intentional Harm
This one is easy. This is about police powers and protecting against foreign enemies. The principle is simple: it is destructive to society and wasteful to make individuals protect themselves from criminals or foreign armies. The role of the government is to keep people safe in their lives and their property AND the exercising of their rights so that society may function.
Those Who Cannot Help Themselves
This one comes in two flavors, helping people who genuinely need it and protecting people who cannot protect themselves.

The idea behind welfare and unemployment is that good people will find themselves hitting upon hard times at points in their lives. Those people need help until they can get back on their feet. Helping them is a valid role for government because it ensures the smooth functioning of society. I know conservatives hate this, but frankly, that’s the way the public wants it. Conservatives need to learn to accept that because whining about these programs and trying to kill them will only scare people. Instead, conservatives need to focus on the word “cannot.” This should not be read as “will not.” In other words, conservatives need to tell the public they have no intention of ending these programs, but they want to make them stronger and more fair by designing them to make sure that only those who actually cannot help themselves qualify. Moreover, they need to include incentives to get people off the program again as quickly and as easily as possible. So change the rhetoric from these people being lazy or leaches to talking only about helping those “who genuinely need help” and talking about “helping them get back on their feet again.”

The other half of this is demonstrated by the concept of caveat emptor. Big Business conservatives and some libertarians hide behind this idea like it’s something noble: let the buyer beware. But the public doesn’t accept it, nor should they. The government has a role in stopping deceptive practices. It has a role in stopping abusive and predatory practices as well. This goes back to the idea of the government helping those who cannot protect themselves. It is one thing to say “you bought something cheap, so you have no right to complain when it breaks” but it’s another when the person buys something that is falsely advertised or contains a genuinely hidden danger or creates a hazard of which reasonable people could not be aware.

The problem here is that conservatives conflate frivolous claims with genuine claims and they turn that into a policy of trying to dismantle things like FDA inspectors who should be monitoring the safety of the food supply or the EPA which should be protecting us from polluters, or consumer protection agencies who should be trying to stop scams and predatory business practices. It is an intellectual nonstarter to tell the public they need to do intensive research to know that their beef is safe, that their bank didn’t defraud them or that their car won’t explode. Nor does the public want to hear that a business has the right to poison the air. Conservatives need to accept that the public wants protection, and they need to focus on making the things the government does more reasonable.
Externalities
This is the hardest for conservatives to accept because they’ve been programmed by Big Business and by misguided libertarians to ignore this. An externality is when a person engages in an activity but doesn’t bear the full price of their actions because they can shift the harm they do onto third parties. Pollution is the perfect example of this. If my factory belches out smoke that makes your land unusable, that is an externality.

If you believe in property rights (or in fairness if you’re a liberal), then you should believe that people should be made to pay the full price for the harm they do through their externalities. Otherwise you basically accept the idea that I can make you pay for my choices. Making sure people pay for their own externalities is a proper role for government. Indeed, where possible, the law should simply allow the aggrieved party to be made whole by the courts. BUT that’s not always practical, and sometimes, its a lot better for society to stop the harm before it happens. In those instances, government regulation is justified to prevent people from forcing others to bear the cost of their own externalities.

As an aside, thinking libertarians should actually be fine with this. For while the lunatics say, “I should be able to do anything with my land,” the reasonable ones will realize that your rights stop when you start taking away your neighbor’s rights.
The Creation of Markets
Finally, there are times when government regulation is necessary to create a market or to make it run smoothly. This is particularly true where you have a chicken and egg problem.


These four instances are the times when government is good and government regulation is necessary. Conservatives need to grasp this and readjust their thinking. They need to realize that the public wants these things and opposing them will only scare the public. So they need to accept them... get over it... and refocus their policies on making sure these regulations are as narrow and limited and harmless as possible while still achieving what the public wants.

They also need to learn to flip this around. Think about this. Regulations that don’t fit these principles are things we should oppose and we will be on safe ground doing so because we have a clear reason for justifying it: “this does not protect the public.” Similarly, this gives us a framework to attack regulations created by interest groups as “cronyism” because we can point out how the proposed regulations don't help the public, but instead help individual companies or donors.

By adopting a solid philosophical framework for when regulations work, we can control the debate while simultaneously putting and end to the public’s being terrified that conservatives want a polluted planet, unsafe toys, and a public at the mercy of predatory business. Moreover, we can flip this around any time to expose the Democrats as stooges for cronies and fools who can’t protect the public. This gives us a framework for defining when the government should act rather than us always trying to defend Democrats advances.


** If you want to tell me to look at the constitution, then forget it. That ship sailed. The constitution is dead. Moreover, it doesn’t say what you think it says. The constitution has all these little spots in it like “promote the general welfare” and “regulate interstate commerce” which have opened the door to pretty much unlimited power.

67 comments:

Mr_Severus_Snape said...

Great article, Andrew! You should be the head of the RNC! I agree with all of your four points. Those are the fundamental duties of Government, they don't really need to do anything else. Government is definitely needed, if you think otherwise, you're retarded.

Mr_Severus_Snape said...

Yay! First comment! Being a nightowl sure has its perks. lol

Tennessee Jed said...

the guiding principle here is that, almost universally, the government that governs least governs best. Military and police are explicit and no brainers, both.

welfare - a long time ago, I did a book review of William Voegeli's "Never Enough." Americans have long sense indicated welfare. What has been the difference between American and Europe? About 10% of GNP. Liberals have no limiting principle. No matter what you give, they want more. This is the area where the fight is, say between 18-28% (govern least, baby.)

Yes, it is true. Regulation is a valid role for government. Sherman Anti-Trust is a perfect example. When business gets too big and doesn't compete, the playing field is too unlevel. That is what Democrats have been selling. We need to make people realize big government is every bit as destructive and unfair as big corporations.

Patriot said...

Andrew......Re your comment: "If you want to tell me to look at the constitution, then forget it. That ship sailed. The constitution is dead. Moreover, it doesn’t say what you think it says. The constitution has all these little spots in it like “promote the general welfare” and “regulate interstate commerce” which have opened the door to pretty much unlimited power."

I don't think people who understand the Constitution deny the ability of those who want to twist it and make it into something it wasn't intended to be. I think the founders and writers understood human frailties and nature and knew that their system was not perfect. But.....it was the best going at the time, and still probably the best extant. With that said, I think you are missing one of the best systems they built into the Constitution....Federalism. I agree with your thesis above on what the federal government should be there for, however, I think we long ago lost the simplicity and really, revolutionary change that the founders created.. that of all powers not explicitly enumerated in the Constitution to be left to the states. This is where we are no longer the republic they wanted. As Franklin stated when asked what the Const Congress had just created, he said "A Republic Ma'am, if you can keep it." Well, we haven't kept it and now we must deal with the reality of what we have today.

There is no going back to the originalists intent. We have what we have, basically what Lincoln, TR and FDR envisioned. So, the question becomes, what do we do with it. I believe we keep fighting the takers and power grabbers, and continue to take care of our own little corners of the world. Not all of us can think big thoughts (or want to) on how society should act. We have our opinions and ideas, but you have to be a zealot to want to enter politics to effect change.

As for me, I want to have my family motto be: "Just leave me the hell alone dammit!"

tryanmax said...

Federalism ended in 1913.

BevfromNYC said...

"There is no going back to the originalists intent. We have what we have, basically what Lincoln, TR and FDR envisioned. So, the question becomes, what do we do with it. I believe we keep fighting the takers and power grabbers..."

I concede that we let the takers and grabbers have it. To paraphrase Margaret Thatcher, eventually they will run out of other's stuff and have to figure out how to creat their own stuff. Then we will have The American Revolution 2.0 where they will fight AGAIN for the right to have their own stuff. Lather, rinse, repeat as it has happened throughout all of human history (and I suspect in the entire history of all living creatures).

StanH said...

As a libertarian/conservative/Republican I say without equivocation that “some” government is a must.

Intentional Harm: This is where I fall away from my libertarian brethren, I believe that the USA should be the biggest, baddest, MF’er in the valley. If not us, then who? China, Russia, not very comforting to me. However, protracted combat, and nation building in $hitholes like Afghanistan, are a fools folly. After 9-11, amen, certain people needed a thumping, but twelve years later, overkill.

The Safety Net/Hammock: We as a decent civil society must help the infirmed, mentally disabled, the elderly, or otherwise impaired. “But!” This must be closely vetted, by not allowing moochers and parasites to bilk the American taxpayer.

As far as agencies in Washington, like the EPA, FDA, DOE, etc, etc, have become bloated jobs programs in search of justification of their own existence. This must be pared back, or we will collapse killing off their in some cases vital missions, in some cases not so much.

Externalities: As a small business man of thirty years, the unintended consequences clobber small business. Where the giant conglomerates can send their man over from K-Street to plea their case, it’s the little guys that suffer. It doesn’t effect me, but I know of entire industries that have pulled up stakes and moved to China, or Mexico moving tens of thousands onto the permanent unemployment line, utterly destroying small communities throughout America. “We all can’t be poets.”

The Creation of Markets: This is a function of wants and needs. The only way that government should involve itself, is maintaining a level playing field.

The Constitution should be restored as supreme. It is simply brilliant in it’s foresight and simplicity, and allows for amendment. As a lawyer is suspect you enforce a binding contract if retained which I believe the Constitution is, a contract bequeathed to the future.

AndrewPrice said...

Snape, Thanks! LOL! Yes, being a nightowl has its perks!

I've been asked by a lot of people when I thought regulation should be allowed and these are the four times that I think it makes sense. And I think that knowing this, gives us a framework we can use to help create a more sane (and smaller) government.

Jen said...

I searched for an email I got from a friend a couple of years ago--right before I read this article, and wouldn't you know, it probably fits right in here (mostly on 'welfare'). She told me about this, and I asked her to email it so I could have it in print. So, I will post it.

"What I said about aid in Africa. I was referring mostly to Niger, which is where I grew up, but I know it is sure to be true in other developing countries who receive a lot of foreign aid. Basically, they have developed the mindset that they are always going to get handouts and therefore take the backseat in trying to improve their own lives, their own country, their families.... In essence, many of them have become very passive in bettering their lives and have no vision for what they could do to improve their economy and their society or to prevent such things as hunger and poverty which are so prevalent. But, people have the capability of changing so there is always hope!"

We had talked about how some of what was going on there could apply to this country as well.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I think a flaw in the conservative position has been our view of government...

On the one hand, we don't have a framework for when we support regulation and when we don't. That means we act randomly in this regard. It means we can't explain when we will act to people. It means we have no justification for opposing regulation except on a case by case basis. And it means we don't offer an alternative vision to the democratic vision of "we will protect you." All of that is bad.

Then we make it worse when we launch into "eliminate the EPA!" That kind of broad-brush statement only leaves the public nervous that we're about to become a land of factories belching out smoke and poisoning water.

Conservatives need a framework so the public understand they don't want to randomly dismantle good things.

Jen said...

Oh, I didn't say, but her parents used to be missionaries. She was born and raised in West Africa--spent most of the time in Niger, and lived there until she was in her mid teens.

T-Rav said...

I was listening to the radio last week when a host said something very similar to point #2. If you can work, you should not be able to receive unemployment benefits indefinitely, etc. Immediately, callers came out of the woodwork to say he wasn't being fair, because they had this or that problem, even though he specified up front that he wasn't talking about the people who couldn't work.

Point is, I think this is going to run into a lot of opposition no matter how you present it, because there's going to be a lot of hemming or hawing about what it means to be truly unable to work. A lot of people more than able to work, who are now receiving benefits, are not going to want those cut off, and are going to come up with excuses like "My leg hurts a lot," or "I have too many kids to look after."

I can support the preservation of a limited safety net for those who really do need it, but in the process, you're going to have to call bulls*** on those who falsely claim they're the ones who really do need it. We're going to be hated for this no matter how much (or how little) we trim back the welfare system.

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, That's true. The constitution of the Founders is dead. The one we have now is the constitution of Lincoln, TR, and FDR. Unfortunately, a lot of the "constitutionalists" and the libertarian-leaning conservatives refuse to accept this. They are "we just need to return to...." But that is delusion. The government is not going back... the people don't want to go back. And to say, "if only we could..." is just a waste of time.

Instead, we need to put our energies into making the current government as conservative, as limited, as unintrusive as possible without losing the public.

That's why we need to discuss a framework. Without that framework conservatives act randomly when it comes to regulation. Some they like, some they don't... and they never know why. And that opens the door to Big Business sneaking in crony stuff, it makes our ability to stop excessive regulation dependent on finding a particular catchy argument against the regulation, and it freaks the public out that we want to wipe out basic protections. In short, it makes us untrustworthy to the public, disorganized for our goals, and easy to exploit.

That's why we need to grasp the fundamental framework before we address specifics.

Individualist said...

Andrew

I will accept that those in need should get some assisitance and that industry needs to regulated. I think the problem is who we think need to be doing this.

In the 19th century there was plenty of assistance to feed the poor. It was done by Religous institutions and private charity. The difference was that charities could deny assistance to someone who was obviously trying to scam them. Government cannot do that. It can't act on subjectiveness. There has to be a system and the rulings can be challenged. This is the issue with government run welfare and why the needey poor have 42 inch flatscreen TV's at home.

As to industry without government there is regulation. As a matter of fact it is usually industry that regulates first. The politicians angle to take it over. Professional organizations set standards for industry. This is done at first so that the owners can insure their products are safe. People that sell beef don't want to poison their customers so in the absence of government they start agencies and get together and determine how to best produce safe meat.

What happens is that a crisus occurs where a mistake has happened. When this occurs the politicians will wag there finger and claim the agencies set up by industry can't regulate themselves and then they will take over. The answer they give is that government will make sure that does not happen again.

This quite frankly is a falsehood. A collective government is no bettern at avoiding mistakes than any one in industry. What is true is that government will see to it that mistakes are no longer reported to the public. Bureacracies are great at hiding their mistakes and spinning negative criticism. This is because the investigation of the matter is left to someone in the bureacracy. As an auditor we would write that deficiency up as "Segregation of Duties in the process of Self Examination by the organization need to be improved" which would be filed away and ignored since the public at large would not understand the significance of it.

My point is this. I don't beleive Government should be funding welfare. I beleive charities should do that whether they are religious or otherwise. If public funding is needed by the government it should be in the form of black grants to these charities with v3ery few specific restrictions.

I don't believe that government should be setting professional standards and I don't belive that the professionals in the industry regulating them should work for the government. I beleive it actually safer for the public if they were in fact independent of the government. Why? Because if any of them are doing something fraudulent it will be the government responsible for investigating, arresting and incarcerating them and cleaning up the aftermath. I kn ow some will talk of governmental agencies being separated etc. but they all report to the same executive branch and if the executives have an agenda...

"the appearance of a lack of independence is the same as an actual lack of independence".

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Federalism has suffered a long slow death, with the mortal would struck in the 1860s and the finishing blow in the 1930.

I think it's futile to try to argue the Constitution as a limit because it no longer acts like a limit and no one is willing to go back to it.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, You are right, this is a battle that will go on forever. And that more than anything highlights the need for conservatives to come up with a genuine philosophical framework rather than pointing to the constitution. People assume that whatever the government does is allowed under the constitution and they focus instead on the kinds of regulations they do and don't want. We need to engage in that battle, not in the futile idea of trying get people to stick to the constitution -- whatever that really means.

Only understanding when we will or won't consider regulation justified can we make a strong case for the kind of government we want.

AndrewPrice said...

Stan, I concur. Benefit programs, the agencies, they need to be carefully designed to not become abusive or patronage. There is a lot that can be trimmed in both areas, and we need to get smarter about attacking it -- use a scalpel, not a hammer.

On the Constitution, I love the document. I think it's brilliant and I would love to see a return to its intent. But I also realize that's wishful thinking. The public just doesn't see this as something that bothers them. And when we talk about it, it confuses them and scares them because they have no idea what we are planning to do -- especially when we combine that with rhetoric about eliminating whole departments.

Changes like that need to be done subtly without telling the public you're planning some massive change.

AndrewPrice said...

Jen, Jobs are always better than handouts for that reason.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, while of course there are lots of shiftless people, I think a partial answer to the issue you raise lies in making it easier to leave welfare. Currently, most programs are designed to keep people in a hole. Who wants to put in more effort when a 50¢/hr. raise means the loss of $100/wk.?

There needs to be a ramp out of the hole, rather than an arbitrary cut off. To the extent that the federal government cannot tailor these programs effectively, conservatives can use this to argue for more authority at the state and local level. This needs to be coupled with incentive to fund programs more locally, as well, but let's leave that for now.

And to address Indie's desire that this is the proper role of charities, I agree, but there needs to be a way to get there from here. Simply cutting off the gov't spigot and saying "let the charities take over" doesn't work for most people. Especially since the gov't establishes guidelines for aid that the charities follow. The irony is that the poorest become lavished with aid from a hundred sources while the struggling but not technically poor cannot qualify for anything.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That's absolutely correct. Some people will scream bloody murder. But remember, we're trying to win the public at large... we don't have to win everyone. And if the sides come down to the Democrats promising to protect people who whine that they can't work because (insert worthless reason) and the Republicans saying "we want a strong system that protects people and returns them to a happy productive life as quickly and easily as possible," we will win that one hands down.

Where we don't win is with the Republicans saying, "we don't want any safety net, if they need help let them find a charity". Unfortunately, that's been our rhetoric for a while now and that makes it ease for the Democrats to sound a lot more reasonable. If the public is left with the choice of "overly indulgent social program" or "world in which they starve if they get fired," they will chose overly indulgent every time.

tryanmax said...

One more thought on "returning to the Constitution." When people bring that up as justification for draconian proposals, it just fosters a flurry of "is the Constitution still relevant?" talk. Right now, the knee-jerk answer for most people on both sides still seems to be "yes." But you can't keep asking the question without causing some consideration, and eventually more people will start saying "no."

BevfromNYC said...

So, Andrew, if "we assume that whatever the government does is allowed under the Constitution", then what possible "framework" can we devise that will ever be acceptable to those whose sole desires are to sit on their asses while others work? Or where we can actually devise "regulations that can possible justify or that we can make a "strong case for"? Haven't we spent 4 years making a strong case for fiscal sanity and spent that entire time coming up with specifics? No one bought it. Not only did they not buy it, they doubled down on not buying it.

I mean, seriously. There IS no battle to fight without a Constitutional framework in which we actually can separate ourselves from our Federal Government overlords who, by the way, have actually turned themselves quite nicely right back into a Monarchy where they get to tell us what we will do and we must submit or be taxed or jailed.

Does ANY OF THIS SOUND FAMILIAR???

Jen said...

I have something else to add to the 'handouts' thing. Last year, my dad cleaned out their freezer because I told them their beef was ready at the processor, and they needed to make room for it (I didn't have enough room in mine). My dad gave the old beef to a neighbor that they don't even know personally--he thought she could use it. Some months later, the woman said to him "Do you have any more of that free meat?" I told him to tell her "No, but I have some I will sell to you".

rlaWTX said...

Bev, may the odds be ever in your favor...

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, A lot of conservatives push the charity argument, but honestly that's a nonstarter with the public. The public wants a guarantee of assistance if they need it. Telling people to seek private charity does not satisfy that need for a guarantee. It leaves people worried that whether or not they will get charity will depend on what church they attend, whether or not enough money can be found by the organizations, and on the indulgence of the people running the charity. People don't trust that, and they aren't going to trust a party that proposes that.

Moreover, the argument in favor of that again highlights the communication problem conservatives have because it suggests that our primary concern is not ensuring that people are protected, it's ensuring that people we don't like don't get protected. That's bad PR.

On regulating industry, I don't agree. Self regulation is a failure for the simple reason that the incentive of those groups is not to protect the public from harm, but to protect their members from harm. And when that harm can rise to the level of a significant threat to the public, the public doesn't want to hear -- hey, the companies will work this out... they wouldn't do anything wrong because it hurts their bottom lines... trust them. We've seen far too often where that is simply not true for the public to believe it.

Individualist said...

Tyranmax

That is a good point. This however is why I state that should public funds be needed they should be in block grants with very general outlines.

Government should not be in the business of providing this need,. They do need to be in the business of regulating the people that do in the same way they regulate industry.

Doing so segregates the individuals responsible for stewardhip of an asset from the indivuals responsible for recording it. This is Internal
Controls 101.

Our current welfare system is not a system to help the poor. It is a system to control them. Charities want to see their clients graduate to better lives so that they can focus their efforts on helping the next in line. Governments want everyone to just keep waiting around in line.

tryanmax said...

Indie, you and I are essentially singing the same tune, I think. A block grant setup would further decentralize the administrative authority. If the conservative movement could just focus on decentralization as a goal, a lot of other things on the conservative wish-list would be fulfilled as a result.

tryanmax said...

Bev, fiscal sanity was on topic for the last four years, but so were a number of other things--many having to do with birth certificates and routes to impeachment--which watered down the fiscal message a lot. As far as specifics go, I still can't really name any I've heard. I feel that "eliminating deductions" is fairly specific, but it still garners a "name one" response. Beyond that, it's all been "repeal Obamacare" which was a pretty broad proposal from the start.

As far as fighting from a Constitutional framework goes, that doesn't work because both sides claim the Constitution while reading completely different things from it. Conservatives have not bothered to build or maintain an ideological framework apart from the Constitution because they have been leaning on it too much. That's part of the reason why conservatism is confused, b/c so many disparate things have been pulled out of the Constitution and self-described conservatives don't know conservatism well enough to understand what is valid and what isn't. A stand-alone conservative framework is essential.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think the key to this debate is to change the mindset that we, conservatives, hate these programs and want to be rid of them. We need to do that to win the public's trust for our other changes -- otherwise they view everything we propose suspiciously through the lens of this just being a ploy to dismantle these things.

I disagree on the charities for the reasons stated above. I think the public wants a guarantee and is willing to accept a few slackers to get that guarantee. Charities don't provide a guarantee, they provide a possibility of help.

I absolutely agree about changing the incentives to get people off welfare. I think a ramping down of benefits as people work should be a no-brainer in these programs... though apparently it is. Nevertheless, you will find people who are happy with the level of benefits and simply won't leave the program. The people need to be tossed.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, I agree. We won't get out of this hole as long as it's more profitable for some people to stay unemployed and draw benefits than to actually get a job. There was an article just the other day surveying lower-class families in Pennsylvania and showing that an employed household actually makes two or three thousand dollars less, on average, than one drawing unemployment.

That's what has me pessimistic about this. People don't mind spending cuts, as long as they're not affected. Once they are, that's when you hear "well, this is a special case; I need these benefits." No doubt some of them do, but many just want to think they do, and if those get taken away, they'll genuinely think themselves robbed.

Even otherwise conservative people think this way. As we're both from farm states, I'm sure the ethanol thing has come up more than once. I know a lot of farmers who otherwise want little to do from the government and are fairly independent-minded, but as soon as cutting ethanol subsidies gets talked about, the tone changes quite a lot and we hear about the necessity of continuing them. I don't know how possible it is to get people not to think of themselves as interest groups jockeying for money, but we need to try.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I feel like this is more proof that Paul Ryan should be our 2016 nominee. Am I wrong to think that? (The correct answer is no.)

Individualist said...

Andrew

The FASB has been the standard setting body for several decades and has done an exemplory job of developing accounting and auditing standards that meet the industries needs.

Now that agency is under the auspices of PCOAB and quite frankly as a CPA that wants fair and honest accoutning standards that protect the public I am extremely worried.

OFHEO recognized the 2008 housing collapse in 2006 and for poltiical purposes it was ignored. Congress eliminated OFHEO in 2008 and then empowered the very organizations that was responsibles.

I simply do not trust that once politicians understand that they can manipulate the reporting of companies in financial statements for their own end that they will not do so. for instance they could try revaluation standards that proport to devalue assets by their carbon footprint. Sounds ridiculous but then again read the US tax code to see how ridiculous the government can become.

To your charity argument. The public will be told that charities will recieve grants from the government so that those needing help will get it. As to the belonging to the right church argument. That never happened in the 19th century. No one was ever denied a spot on the bread line.

To the regualtion of industry. I am not stating government has no role. I am stating that government's role is investigating the industry organizations. By the way the argument that these individuals will seek their own self interest. Yes that is true. Which is why there are so many consumer groups as well.

Here is the problem. Government has the power to set standards for their own end. Give them that power and what they do will be more corrupt than anything industry would ever do.

Industry, consumer groups, professional organizations. As a whole they will not all be corrupt. Only certain members and in the end government will have the role of setting things straight through policing powers. In the end this is Government's legitimate role.

Plato's Republic does not work, you need someone gurading the guardians.

Individualist said...

PS In 2006 OFHEO reported to Barney Frank and Congress that Banking reserve rate should be increased from 2 to 4%.

Had they instead had to go to a commission set up by the banks and saving and loans to watchguard the industry I think that raise would have been implemented and the Mortgage meltdown in 2008 would not have happened.

Instead we took it to Politicians whose job is to lie for a living who told us that was racist.

Kit said...

Here is a link to the lobster case: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, A couple points.

This idea is a fallacy: what possible "framework" can we devise that will ever be acceptable to those whose sole desires are to sit on their asses while others work?

We don't need to win 100% of the public. We need to win enough of the public to get our way, that's all. So while some people will still complain and won't want to get off their butts, they don't matter. The people who matter would be the 50+% who will give us the power to put in place our ideas.

As an aside, I see this with conservatives all the time: you won't convince everyone. We never need to convince everyone, so stop evaluating ideas on the basis of whether or not 100% of the public will buy them!


Secondly, Haven't we spent 4 years making a strong case for fiscal sanity and spent that entire time coming up with specifics? No one bought it.

No, we didn't. No specifics were ever mentioned. No case was made for fiscal sanity. There was a lot of talk about "real cuts" and "Obama is a socialist" and some people talked about killing the EPA, there was a lot of talk about the Bush tax cuts, but no one ever laid out an agenda the public could buy into -- just a generic argument about us spending too much combined with ideas that were too deep in the weeds.

Moreover, this election fell apart for a number of reasons and I would argue that ultimately the one issue that didn't resonate was spending because it got buried in all the social stuff, in the racial stuff, and in the class warfare.

As for the constitution being a framework, it's useless as a framework. How does the constitution address the issue of food safety? It says interstate commerce gets regulation at the Federal level, meaning the Feds can regulate it. Ok, so what is our argument: the Democrats can go ahead and regulate? That's a useless framework. We need a framework that tells people when we will or won't support regulations -- pointing to the constitution doesn't give people that.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Feeling a bit Hunger Games are we? LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Jen, Did she actually think you were handing out free meat or was she just being funny?

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, The answer is to design the government system better to graduate people. Honestly, talking about shifting the safety net to charities is a nonstarter with the public.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Decentralization works, but losing the guarantee does not. So I think the best you can achieve is getting welfare to be entirely a state level issue.

Kit said...

Deleted a previous comment due to a mistake I made

re: EPA

There were two cases. One case involved a man being prosecuted by the US government for violating a void Honduran law involving the importing of Lobsters and sent to prison for EIGHT YEARS despite the Honduran Justice Minister testifying that the law he was be prosecuted for was void. The US government still wanted to go ahead with it.
Then there was a gun club case where the gun club was sued by the EPA for cleaning up the bullets out of the ground in preparation for selling the land. Why? Because, according to the EPA, removing the bullets from the ground was not part of the bullets "intended purpose" and thus in violation of the law.
LINK to gun club case


Maybe a Republican should cite those two cases and then state the following:
"The EPA has a purpose. I don't think that purpose is to send out an Army of Walter Pecks justifying their own existence by harassing American people."
OR
"The EPA has a purpose, but clearly too many people at the EPA are bored with their jobs if they are going after gun clubs for picking up their spent bullets off the ground."

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I argee 100% with your comment to Bev.

1. The fiscal sanity message got lost in the insanity of the movement. We went from "we need to cut spending and restore our fiscal sanity" to Obama's not an American, there are illegal aliens having abortions under my bed, we need to go to the gold standard, let's build the EPA on the moon, etc. There was no clear message because conservatives stupidly, obsessively ran down every rabbit hole they could find.

2. Totally agree on the specifics. Name a single cut that anyone mentioned in the past four years? Even things like the Ryan budge ultimately didn't result in actual cuts.

3. That is the problem with the Constitution in a nutshell -- it's ambiguous, so everyone can point to their side as being right, and conservatives have abandoned the framework they need for what they believe with the bumperstick thought "follow the Constitution." The constitution is only a very broad framework, it allows total leeway in the specifics. That makes it useless to defining when we should or should not act.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav,

We won't get out of this hole as long as it's more profitable for some people to stay unemployed and draw benefits than to actually get a job.

That is absolutely the problem with these programs. They need to be designed to protect people when they need it, to make it easy (and profitable) for them to leave, and then to toss out the stragglers. I think a graduated reduction in benefits is a real key, so is shifting the benefits away from cash as much as possible. For example, I prefer things like food stamps to food money, and then making those food stamps only available for healthy choices... that upsets the people who want to live on these things because it imposes a lifestyle they don't want.

On the spending cuts, people will always be that way. But here's the thing... the public is also stupid. We need to learn that. The key to cuts is to promise that "everyone but you" will get cut. Then you claim to discover that things were worse than expected and you cut everybody while blaming the system.... "I fought for you, but it wasn't possible to help you in the end."

Moreover, there are lots of ways to impose cuts that people never feel -- hiring freezes rather than firings, reducing cost of living adjustments, etc.

Something like ethanol probably needs to be cut in a tricky way. You need to cap the farm size that can receive the subsidy under the guise of not supporting "big agri-business." Then you lower the limits every so often when no one is looking by jamming a lower limit into a huge budget that the farm-state politicians can claim they tried to stop, but weren't able to.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I like Ryan a lot. I do wish he were a little more economically radical though. But right now I would be pretty happy with a Ryan/Jindal ticket.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, FASB is the one organization that probably works as self regulation because accountants truly need the uniformity it provides to do make their profession work. Most other self-regulation is nothing more than public relations -- an attempt to keep the government from imposing changes the public demands.

But that's not even the issues, the issue is what the public perceives. And the public has time and again seen self-regulation as a cynical ploy and they instinctively grasp that you cannot regulate yourself because your incentive is your own profit, not the public good. So whether your point is correct or not, it's not something the public accepts, and beating the self-regulation drum only scares people because it sounds like you want unsafe food and toys and pollution. Conservatives need to stop arguing theory the public won't accept and get into the business of fixing the system we have... not wishing for a different system.

On charities, your own argument disproves you argument. You said the reason to go with private charity is because they can decide who is worthy, the government is not. In other words, you prefer private charity because there is no guarantee of benefits -- each person's need needs to be justified. So how can you argue that while simultaneously telling the public that there is a 100% guarantee that they will be protected if something goes wrong?

Again, public perception is what matters and the public does not trust private charities to protect them.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That is exactly right. The key:

1. Accept the fact the people see the EPA as a good thing because "it protects the environment."

2. Point out the abuses and use those abuses to rein in the regulations to truly only address the things that are needed and not the insane level of control they have now.

But the key is to do both. Right now, conservatives are stuck on "get rid of it!" Which the public hears as "let big business pollute." That needs to stop so that when we talk about abuses people listen and don't see them as just a trojan horse to shut down the agency.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, too true about farmers and ethanol. The only other thing I can think of that is similar is FEMA, which farmers along the river seem to have a very schizophrenic relationship with. Of course they love FEMA so long as they can insure the crops they grow in the flood plain (a risk they wouldn't take otherwise). But as soon as FEMA sends an offer letter proposing to buy up some of that flood plain (and actually save some taxpayer money) it's a conspiracy to drive them off the land! (Dag-nabbit!)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, FEMA is another agency that needs a ton of reform, but conservatives need to stop saying they want to get rid of it. The public just isn't sophisticated enough to understand that you can eliminate FEMA without letting people fend for themselves after a disaster.

Individualist said...

Andrew

Again my argument is not for Self Regulation. My argument is that there is a segregation between the agencies that perform a funtion and the agencies that have oversight i.e the Federal government.

I was on the board of the CVI (Centern for the Visually Impared for a a couple of years before I moved. I know that grants work better because I saw it. The charilty provided services to teach the blind living skills. They did it at 1/3 the cost of the Division of blind Services and the clients prefered the CVI becuase its board members were local members of teh community, doctors and professors at the community college and they got caring service as opposed to red tape.

I think that once you set these things up and local communities get involved and the public will prefer them. Let's take a look at the assets rule. No one on public assisitance can save money in a bank account for fear of being thrown out of the program due to red tape. A charitable organization would understand that an elderly woman on welfare needs that service but her daughter working at BK who saved up six grand for college is not bilking the system and would relax that rule. Bureaucracies can't for the same reason public schools have no tolerance laws that suspend kids for bublegum in the form of dynamite.

This is the selling point. As to industry regulations the answer is that it is industries reponsibility to formulate the rules. It is the government's job to provide oversight. To validate the standards appear reasonable and to audit to ensure that they are.

Part of the our problem is that we have a government that truely believes it should regulate the size of a bottle of soda pop. this is thrust on the people in the industry without even getting their input. It is in industry that the experts who understand this stuff reallym are. That is insane and it why why have regulations that are insane.

What I am arguing is not the industry is on its own. I am arguing that local agencies made of industry, consumers, the opublic at large, etc. be given the responsibilty for managing issues and the federal government limits itself to oversight only.

This would give another benefit. The feds would have to justify their rulings. If industry disagrees with that justification they could then take the feds to court and courts could then evaluate if regulation was actually necessary or if it was superflous or worse political charged. It would mean that unele ted federal bure4aucrats would not be able to act like oriental potentates.

tryanmax said...

Boy, has Rush missed it. He closed his show by claiming that the reason Romney lost is b/c the GOP didn't vilify Obama enough. I only bring it up b/c we already touched on how the conservative fiscal message got lost in all the vilification.

*facepalm*

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That doesn't surprise me.

For one thing, ask yourself why he's still harping on why Romney lost? Shouldn't we beyond that point... looking forward?

For another, ask yourself if you really think he's demonstrating any sort of awareness for strategy or how to really appeal to the public... or if he's just solidifying HIS base?

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I can agree with that for the most part. I think (1) enforcement/oversight and rulemaking should always be separate bodies, and (2) the role of the Federal government should primarily be oversight.

But sometimes, federal enforcement and control is needed. In the case of something like food quality, the public expects it. Ditto on air pollution. The greater the direct harm to the public, the more likely the public will be to want federal control.

Moreover, even if we shift to an oversight only position, the rhetoric is vital. The rhetoric needs to be about improving the quality of the oversight, not about eliminating the federal role. Once you say anything that sounds like "less oversight" then the public gets nervous.

Patriot said...

Andrew......All this is where we need to go back to my approach of (just like the lib/dems) find an extreme case, personalize it, make it the face of the issue and then bludgeon the people to death with it over and over and over until they come around to your way of thinking. Look at the worker in Ohio who's wife Mitt Romney killed by shutting down the company he worked for.

The stoopid party responded by citing facts, denying claims, explaining rationales, etc., etc., etc.... Meanwhile, Americans are empathizing with this poor old guy that Mitt Romney killed his wife! Lib/Dems Game Set Match!!

Why didn't we saturate the airwaves (to use an old term!) with "Obamapho" lady as the face of the libs/dems? Let THEM try and explain that away. The American people are real tired of the "that's racist" excuse. I say hit 'em hard....attack...Attack...ATTACK

Then we level the playing field and can get to real discussions on how to fix the systems.

General George S. Patton said...

"Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack, and attack, and attack some more"

BevfromNYC said...

Do you really think we lose because we are not specific enough? Can you name the specifics of the Democrat platform?? No. Vilification, yes, specifics no.

It's that our specifics do not lead to free stuff. How can you compete with free (fill in the blank) paid for by (fill in the blank) not you. Of course, the "you" anyone who isn't them.

tryanmax said...

Bev, I never said GOP lost due to lack of specifics. I merely challenged that they had any.

The Dems weren't very specific, either. Green energy initiatives, infrastructure spending, hiring teachers, weaning off of fossil fuels, tax the rich. But the GOP only had "cut spending" "lower taxes" "eliminate programs" making the Dem stuff seem a whole lot more specific.

On top of that, ending any program sounds destructive to the electorate for the reasons we've already discussed. All the Dems need to do to counter "cut spending" and "lower taxes" is tie them to "eliminate programs" (not hard) and instantly the GOP is the party that wants everyone out on the curb.

In order to win, the GOP needs a constructive platform. Nothing really needs to change about the platform, it just needs to be couched in terms of job creation and, I think, building programs that are closer to ppl's communities rather than far away in Washington. That's a decentralization message that doesn't sound like one and is hard to counter, given the Dem's love of "community."

And, as Andrew pointed out the other day, freedom always wins elections in America. So start focusing on the ways which gov't intrudes on ppl's day-to-day lives (hint: taxes won't work, most ppl don't notice paying them) and promise to end those intrusions. That's an easy way to get specific that ppl will remember.

tryanmax said...

Follow up thought: Ppl claim to want specifics more than they really do. What they actually want is a PowerPoint bullet list of general ideas. When decision time comes, ppl tend to go with the list that is longer b/c it seems smarter and more detailed.

While I say that the GOP lacked specifics, I really mean they lacked specifics in that sense. To be fair, there are specifics all over the right, too many in fact. So the media boils them down and the GOP ends up with a shorter list than the Dems, who distilled their own.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I think we lose because we have no platform, not because it lacks specifics... it lacks any vision of the future. We have become the party of "not them" and "we will stop anything from changing."

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, in the area where I live, FEMA has caught a lot of flak because it bought up and demolished large portions of riverside towns after '93 and subsequent floods. So there's probably even less love around there than elsewhere. In general, though, yes. They do want to have it both ways. (As unreliable as some of those flood plains are, I wouldn't bother growing anything there anyway.)

AndrewPrice said...

Patriot, Absolutely, you always use the most obnoxious examples to make your case. You really can't argue rationally and win over the public, you need to argue emotionally and in extreme examples.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I think that's absolutely right -- people don't really want specifics, they want the appearance of specifics. What they want is a positive vision that includes promises about how their lives will get better, backed up by enough of a plan to sounds like it could lead to the promises being fulfilled. Anything beyond that gets lost and just confuses the public. And anything less than that makes the public think you aren't offering anything.

The key word, as you correctly point out, is a constructive platform. Tell people what your goal is, make it sounds good, make it sounds like it will make their lives better... and they don't care about the rest.

The Republican "platform" has been "stop the Democrats and make sure nothing changes." That's not a good platform. And it can't compete with the Democrats who are making all kinds of promises of direct payouts.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's always the relationship with government: people want it both ways. I want total freedom, but stop the other guy from doing things I don't like. I want low taxes, but I want a lot of stuff. I want the other guy to feel the pain, but not me. Etc.

That's human nature and the key to deal with that, frankly, is to lie.

Jen said...

Andrew, From what I was told, the woman was serious about the meat. When my mom initially heard what my dad was thinking of doing with the meat, she told me he shouldn't give it to the woman because they didn't even know her, much less talked to her. He did it anyway.

On another note, she probably would have called me 'racist' if I had actually told her I had more--but would sell it, and not give it to her.

As for your reply to my comment on 'jobs are always better than handouts...', I totally agree with that, but how many of these people actually want to work?

Jen said...

Snape, Welcome to the 'Night Owl' club! Not ALL respectable people get up at the crack of dawn, some of us are just getting to sleep. That's one thing I resent about Rush when he talks about those just getting up (around noon), as though all of us that sleep later in the day are welfare recipients, etc. We don't all work bankers' hours.

tryanmax said...

Jen, that's a problem I've always had with Rush. He says very carelessly and needlessly offensive things and then brushes them off with a "you know what I mean." And his supporters do the same. I know I've been in his crosshairs in that regard before, esp. when I was just starting out after school. Occasionally, it catches up with him, like with the Sandra Fluke thing.

I personally can't see the value in aiming to get a rise out of people for its own sake. To me it's just a counterfeit for speaking truth to power. Yes, hard truths naturally stir up emotion and controversy. But Rush oftentimes just goes for easy truths stated insultingly.

Jen said...

Tryanmax, I've heard him make that comment numerous times. He may be the only RWR person I listen to, but that doesn't mean I agree with him 100% of the time.

AndrewPrice said...

Jen, I think a lot of people want to work, but they find themselves in this strange zone where working will reduce their income.


tryanmax, The thing about what rush does is what every blogger and radio host learns, people are most likely to participate if they are upset. As McHattie puts it in Pontypool: "A pissed off listener is a tuned in listener and he's going to call his pissed off buddy and get him to listen."

That's why these people overstate, use hyperbole, get needlessly incendiary and say offensive things... it gets you noticed and it keep people tuned in.

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