Laying Planks into the Chasm

Almost since the recession began, I’ve been wondering out loud what was going to pull us out of it — what unexplored industry, what as-yet-stagnant market, what boom. In the intervening months, it’s been clear that the Obama administration’s strategy has been to prop up the public sector (i.e., insulate government from the downturn), flood some borrowed money into the economy, and hope that the private sector would stumble onto something, as it has proven so proficient at doing. But anybody who’s spent a decade or so, after college, without that magical high-paying job that’s supposed to appear when you take all the right steps and do good work has learned to look for incremental steps, and I’m just not seeing those steps for the economy.
Anthony Randazzo goes so far as to call the currently touted recovery a “myth”:

… a closer look reveals those appealing numbers sit on a dangerously shaky foundation. Economic growth in 2009 was largely dependent on a historic level of government spending that even the president acknowledges is unsustainable in the long term. The root problem of mortgage delinquencies has yet to be worked out. Bank lending is sparse amid ongoing uncertainties surrounding regulatory reform. As a result, manufacturers and small businesses continue to struggle with limited credit. All that translates into historic job losses and a bleak outlook for meaningful growth in 2010 and 2011.
Worst of all, many of the core problems in the housing, banking, manufacturing, and service sectors are being perpetuated and exacerbated by the very federal programs the president credits with jump-starting economic growth. Instead of confronting the roots of the crisis head on, as Obama has repeatedly boasted of doing, his administration and the Democratic Congress have kicked the can down the road, postponing the day of reckoning for real estate, the auto industry, and the toxic mortgage-backed securities that were at the heart of the economic meltdown. These unsolved problems will keep looming over the economy until they’re finally addressed.

At this point, perhaps the best thing we could do, as a nation, is spin a 180 away from big government. Especially in Rhode Island, going from overburdened to liberated would at least attract the growing market of investors, entrepreneurs, and skilled, motivated workers looking for a sanctuary.

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Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“At this point, perhaps the best thing we could do, as a nation, is spin a 180 away from big government.”
Finally time to sign up for the Free State Project, Justin?
We hit the 10,000 half-way mark yesterday. In approximately 5-10 years, the largest political migration in American history will begin and with it the first realistic effort toward limited government in 230 years.
Meanwhile, nationally, over 60,000 laws were passed last year. Good luck turning back that tide.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Strangely enough, I thought about moving my family to the future free state (NH) a couple years ago. Then I realized that Big Government is not the problem – people are the problem. Any people – anywhere.
The odds of the Free State Project ever taking hold are about zero. As it stands, if you want to move to a state where the militia rule, try Wyoming or Idaho.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that the constitution protects corporations as people and also that the state or local government has a right to take property for financial reasons.
Based on just those two decisions, it seems that a state can be free in any way.
Even though disunion may be illegal, I think the Fed government (us) might support if a state wanted to become completely independent or to join Canada or Mexico. That would seem to have more chance of happening than the Free State.
But let’s get back to the issue at hand. Justin wants to know what the next big things are going to be. They are always impossible to see clearly. The current and former booms and economy were largely based on real estate, much of it a false economy. The next boom, IMHO, is likely to be based on cleaner energy, more high tech and medicine of all type – especially genetics based medicine.
How’s that?
So, what are your predictions?

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“Then I realized that Big Government is not the problem – people are the problem. Any people – anywhere.”
How does one even respond to an idiotic tautology like that?
“Then I realized that ______ is not the problem. People are the problem.”
You can fill anything in that blank.
Why does Stuart even bother here? If he had something to contribute I wouldn’t mind the difference of opinion, but he’s clearly just here to waste people’s time and rant and rave. Stuart, RIFUTURE was designed specifically for people like you. Trust me, you’ll be much happier there.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Dan says, “In approximately 5-10 years, the largest political migration in American history will begin and with it the first realistic effort toward limited government in 230 years.”
Interesting prediction, but here’s an honest question, designed to discover where you’re coming from, because I’m not sure.
2010-230=1780.
The Articles of Confederation were ratified in 1781, and the United States Constitution in 1789. Before that, of course, was something entirely different?
So, why 1780? Which version of the past would you like to take us back to?
best,
Tom

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

PS. Does “We hit the 10,000 half-way mark yesterday” mean that you’re a New Hampshire resident?
Just curious.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

I was being approximate, but I did have the Articles of the Confederation in mind. I view that as the last real attempt to make government smaller. The Constitution empowered the federal government far too much for my liking, although to be fair much of that is due to the changing nature of the Constitution in recent years, particularly the Commerce Clause.
FSP “members” are people who have committed to moving to New Hampshire within 5 years of the 20,000 number of commitments being reached. FSP “early movers” are FSP members who decided to move to New Hampshire on their own before the “big move” to start their activism early and pave the way for others. “Friends” of the FSP are people who already live in New Hampshire who support the goals of the FSP. I am a “member” in that I do not live in New Hampshire, but have pledged to move within 5 years of the 20,000 commitment being reached. Sorry, it can get a bit confusing for those outside of the movement.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Of course, the fact that NH has went from solidly republican to a swing state which is often a shade of blue might stop Dan or others.
Dan, you sound like someone who knows the score. What are the odds of even 30% of the people who commit to move – actually moving? I say the odds are less than 1%. What say you?
The concept is a good one for any group. Ask the Mormons – they own Utah. But they are serious. All the right wingers do is talk, they are not people of action it seems. Or, at least, not people of action any different than anyone else.
Making a commitment to move assumes that ones spouse and/or other family members are of the same political persuasion as they are. It also makes the assumption that they have a way to make a living and enjoy frigid weather and mountains.
It appears Dan must own this site, as he purports to speak for the bloggers here. Maybe Justin can inform us if Dan holds a special position or if comments are limited to only those who agree on every subject. You will find that I do agree on many which are fiscally related, but I would never put myself in a camp with any existing political party.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Stuart, it must make you so angry that libertarian-leaning New Hampshire has turned itself into a low tax haven for small businesses through small-government and consistently outperforms big-government states like RI, MA, and especially progressive VT which are all now broke, have soaring unemployment rates, and need to substantially reorganize themselves to stay above water. It must make you sooo angry that NH outshines these states in health, employment, education, and quality of life year after year. I can almost feel your rage from here. You must wish NH would just sink into the earth and stop serving as such a perfect counterexample for your opponents. It must make you sooo angry that 10,000 people have already grown so fed up with your big-government nanny-statist anti-economical nonsense that they actually want to go Galt on you and yank their productivity and financial support with them to relocate to NH. It makes you so angry that you just have to come onto the internet day after day and spew baseless nonsense that you know literally nothing about, like claiming that they are all rightist fakers and aren’t “for real.” Stuart, I’ve got news for you, if the FSP wasn’t so meticulous about making sure people’s commitments are “for real,” the number would already be over 20,000. The way the organization is set up is to verify that the sign-ups are accurate and current so that people can rely upon it. Many people have already moved, and PorcFest, the annual get together of FSP members in NH, has been DOUBLING in size each year for the last several years. Know what? It wouldn’t even matter if a fraction of the FSP members moved in the end, because by all accounts the small amount of people who have already moved have been so… Read more »

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Dan says, “I was being approximate, but I did have the Articles of the Confederation in mind.”
That’s what I suspected. At least you’re thorough-going. Not many people will profess to rejecting the principles laid down in the Constitution but, since it’s clear that the framers’ main goal was to create a stronger central government, it makes sense that you do.
I would have thought it a somewhat unique position, but Googling “return to the Articles of Confederation” reveals you’re not alone. http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/patriotism.html
Am I right in thinking that you’ve taken an oath/affirmation to support said document, despite your personal disagreements with it?

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Oh, heavens no. I don’t support a return to the Articles of the Confederation. There were many problems with the AoC. I am a minarchist and a voluntaryist. I want government involved in “courts, cops, roads” and not much else. Furthermore, I want people to buy into these services or opt out voluntarily. Of course, Free State Project members run the gamut from moderate Democrat and Republican Party members who simply prefer limited government to libertarians to total anarchists (who tend to be some of the nicest and most peaceful people you could ever meet, many would be surprised to learn.). As long as people are peaceful, non-racist, and want to reduce the scope of government to any degree, they are welcome.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

I think I misread your previous comment, Thomas. Were you asking if I have taken an oath to the US Constitution? Personally, no, but I have in an official capacity for my employment. Kind of like how cops enforce the laws without agreeing with all of them. I do believe that ultimately everyone must take responsibility for their own actions though, official capacity or not, otherwise we all end up at Nuremberg saying we were just following orders. I justify it on the grounds that I can make the system better overall by using the discretion I have if I do the smaller things I disagree with to keep the higher ups happy. Standing on principle and getting myself fired wouldn’t do anyone any good, because they’d just replace me with a statist who would use their discretion to harm people instead of help them by getting government off their backs.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Dan says, “I don’t support a return to the Articles of the Confederation.”
Sorry if I misunderstood.
“Furthermore, I want people to buy into these services or opt out voluntarily.”
This made me think. Is there any evidence that any significant figure of our founding generation took this position? I suspect not, but am genuinely curious about this.
I am a little surprised, that the FSP requires a commitment to non-racism. That’s not because I think the FSP is racist. I just don’t understand why there’s a litmus test beyond wanting smaller government. I assume FSP members don’t like the Civil Rights Act of 1964. My guess would be (but you can correct me) that they don’t like state civil rights acts either.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Dan, are you sane?
I admitted considering moving to NH and then you say I must be angry that 10,000 people (out of 300 plus million) have agreed to (maybe) move somewhere?
Check yourself for obsessive behavior.
I have no problem with 10,000 people or 1 million people wanting to move to a state or city and set the political agenda there. It would be a great example to set – only it won’t get done.
Perhaps you are the utopian child of the 60’s who gave up on communes and now want a state commune – albeit with fewer laws.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Oh, this is confusing:
Dan says “Were you asking if I have taken an oath to the US Constitution? Personally, no, but I have in an official capacity for my employment. Kind of like how cops enforce the laws without agreeing with all of them. ”
I do not understand the distinction between a “professional” and a “personal” oath. I would have thought that an oath is an oath is an oath.
If you take an oath to support the Constitution, it means that you agree to set any personal feelings aside and abide by it in all circumstances despite your personal feelings. I also assumed that your professional oath arose from the fact that you are an attorney admitted to the RI Bar, but I might be wrong about that.
If the President of the US ever said “yes I took a professional oath to support the constitution, but it wasn’t a “persona”l oath” I’d ask for her impeachment.
As for the Nuremberg example, if you find out that you pledged an oath to support a system that you personally cannot support, your moral duty is to renounce that oath. I suppose that, under some circumstances, following a higher moral calling might require you to publicly affirm the oath and secretly undermine the system you pledged to support (Plato’s “Noble Lie”) but, if you’re doing that, you shouldn’t say it on a blog,

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

OK, I need to do this. I’m sorry I have to, but I do.
I think Stuart has made some good points here. Some of the usual denizens of this blog have said so as well.
I think Stuart’s last post is very unhelpful.
I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect it will take about 10 minutes before somebody will lump me and Stuart together, accuse us both of being left-wing statists (there are right-wing statists too, you know) and conclude their comments with a sentence that begins “all liberals…”
I hope cooler heads will prevail.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“I am a little surprised, that the FSP requires a commitment to non-racism. That’s not because I think the FSP is racist. I just don’t understand why there’s a litmus test beyond wanting smaller government.”
I was surprised when I first learned of it as well, since libertarians aren’t much for “thought control” or exclusion, but it does make a lot of utilitarian sense for PR reasons. Obviously there is no way to stop a racist person from moving to New Hampshire and working for smaller government, nor would we necessarily be against that, but the idea is to prevent a few isolated Aryan Nation or KKK lunatics who dislike the federal government for purely racist reasons from signing up and bogging down the whole movement with their own personal agendas and hateful messages. Liberals would call us a front group for racists, Conservatives would be scared to associate with us, it would be a disaster. Kind of like the Van Jones communist thing, except reversed. Libertarians already get enough accusations of veiled racism as it is (although most of the FSP people I know of are fiercely egalitarian) without having actual racists in the movement. Matt “Even When It’s Not About Race, It’s About Race” Jerzyk would have a field day over at RIFUTURE, to name one example. I don’t know, it’s a tough call, but I think it was the right one. Better to exclude a very few idiots we don’t care about anyway than to be 100% pure and sacrifice everything.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Hey Brassband,
Just a guess, but I presume you’re reading.
As you’re in a position to know, do you have any comment on the question of a distinction between a “professional oath” and a “personal oath” as regards one’s support of the US Constitution?
If I’m right about Dan- note the references to the Bar exam questions- there might be a young attorney in need of advice.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Dan says, “but it does make a lot of utilitarian sense for PR reasons.”
Exactly what I figured. Thank you.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“I do not understand the distinction between a “professional” and a “personal” oath. I would have thought that an oath is an oath is an oath.
If you take an oath to support the Constitution, it means that you agree to set any personal feelings aside and abide by it in all circumstances despite your personal feelings.”
Hmm, the distinction in my mind is that when you take an oath as part of a job or organizational application and hiring process, it is implied that the oath is in an official capacity and for the purpose of the position and duties you are then going to hold. I think we are in agreement, just perhaps expressing it a bit differently. I have no problem upholding the US Constitution, and I don’t know if agencies would particularly care how I felt about certain parts of it on a personal level as long as I didn’t actively violate them, which I don’t, and have no desire to do so. The fact that there is so much legitimate disagreement about Constitutional interpretation in the first place makes the whole thing largely academic anyway.
When I was talking about exercising my discretion toward smaller government, I was talking more about things legitimately within the system, like whether to dismiss charges in a marijuana possession case or not. Judgment calls. It’s not really about undermining the system for me so much as it is about shifting it. Lord knows plenty of people have shifted it the other way over the past couple centuries.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Dan,
I think your last comment made the conversation much more interesting.
You say, “it is implied that the oath is in an official capacity and for the purpose of the position and duties you are then going to hold. I think we are in agreement, just perhaps expressing it a bit differently. ”
Maybe you are right that we agree in substance. When you take an oath to support the Constitution, you agree to set your personal views aside when you are acting in your official capacity. You are of course free to hold other views personally. The real question becomes “What is the Constitution, and who gets to say what it is?”
you say, “The fact that there is so much legitimate disagreement about Constitutional interpretation in the first place makes the whole thing largely academic anyway.”
“Academic” questions are the most important ones! You’re right that there is legitimate disagreement about questions of Constitutional interpretation. You can call them “academic” but they are really “foundational” and thus extremely important.
Your earlier comments here suggested that you reject the constitutional framework itself. Feel free to do so, but it puts you at odds with the framers and the vast majority of Americans. A conversation about how we should understand that framework is more interesting to me.
Justin, Marc, Andrew and others might appreciate this item. In fact, I hope it makes it to the main page.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/14/weekinreview/14liptak.html?scp=2&sq=tea%20party&st=cse

Ken
Ken
11 years ago

Dan,
Copied from the Tax Foundation: “New Hampshire’s Individual Income Tax System
New Hampshire’s personal income tax system is one of the nation’s most simple and inexpensive systems. With no separate tax brackets, New Hampshire’s 5% flat income tax applies only to dividend and interest income. As a result many citizens have little or no income tax liability. New Hampshire’s 2006 individual income tax collections were $62 per person, which ranked 42nd highest nationally.”
A relative of mine retired to NH from MA and has indicated to me the property tax and school tax are brutally higher than in MA depending on the town you live in.
So much for live free die free!

Donald Botts
Donald Botts
11 years ago

I have a question about the income vs. property tax equation. While I realize higher property taxes might be regressive to low income earners, wouldn’t having zero state income tax vs. a higher town property tax be a better situation. Would you not have more accountability and more input into how your tax money is being spent if the money stays local to your town through property taxes vs. disappearing into a state general fund via income tax?
I’d appreciate any input/opinion.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Trying to understand the US Constitution is a lifelong process. In fact, it is longer than a lifetime, as people have been interpreting it and misinterpreting it for hundreds of years.
I expect that to continue.
I would not expect every American to subscribe to 100% of the Constitution in it’s original form or it’s amended form. That would assume perfection, which does not exist in the writing and interpretations of mankind.
The founders put together the best possible compromise they could, based on their studies of every government in history up until that time. However, even they were unhappy with the final result and ratification was quite difficult in many states.
Trying to read the tea leaves 230 year later is a trying exercise. I think each of us identifies with various qualities in each of the founders, yet may also disagree with some.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Donald, there is a myth that keeping money very local means it is spent more honestly. If you were involved in small town politics, you would learn differently. Everyone, it seems, has a axe to grind. Local pols are often real estate developers, land owners and others with a lot to gain or lose by the town decisions.
I wish I could say that keeping money local was better, but in my experience it is not unless you are 100% sure that you have a honest town government.
In New England we actually have some of these. I’m sure other places also do, but the norm seems to be the pro-development forces who just want to make government bigger. Those two go together because the more you develop, the more tax revenue taken in and services needed.
IMHO, the solution for most places is to avoid heavy development pressures.
NH gets a lot of business from sucking people in from neighboring states and selling them booze or other items. That might save a consumer money, but it is not a formula for long term success. It would be best for a state to rely on internal revenues.
So what is the long term answer? I think we are doomed to boom and bust cycles because we cannot get a handle on personal, corporate and government behavior.
That means you and I have to try to insulate ourselves from the general culture and economy and do the best we can within the existing system. It is far too late to make fast and major changes.

Donald Botts
Donald Botts
11 years ago

I wish I could say that keeping money local was better, but in my experience it is not unless you are 100% sure that you have a honest town government.
I’m not sure what you consider small town politics (i.e. say Tiverton vs. Cranston), but I am involved in the goings on of my local government.
You’re 100% sure you have an honest state government? You seem concerned about developers stacking a town council, but we have a larger mess at the state level with public unions stacking the G.A., 4:30pm start times for the General Assembly limiting who can run for office, etc.
If we were picking the lesser of two evils, I’d stay local.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Ken, NH has no state income tax. Yes, their property taxes are high, but property costs less to offset this and overall tax burden is far lower than other NE states. They also have no sales tax.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Donald, it depends on the town – I’ve seen towns as small as 8,000 with the most crooked set of pols you can imagine.
No, I don’t trust the state government either. I’m just making the point that local government is often just as full of back patting as other levels. It is not, by any means, THE solution to leave money local.
Government is so full of holes that I am somewhat happy if they don’t rape me too much. RI, I think, is about #10 in the tax burden among the 50 states – that is not good. I would rather it be in the range of 20 or so like our neighbor Ma.
Costs are higher for everything in New England, but at the same time salaries are higher and I think quality of life can be better (culture, etc.).
So I don’t ever think New England or Mid-Atlantic states will be very low tax places.

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