How to Build a Better GOP

May 25th, 2010 at 11:14 am | 30 Comments |

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If Republicans are able to regain some measure of power in 2010—an increasingly likely possibility—their victory will, discount as of this moment, be due less to Republican policy successes and more to a fantastic display of self-immolation on the part of their Democratic rivals.

The tactics of opposition, however, are not a substitute for a forward-looking policy portfolio.  Running as the not-Democrat may be, at the moment, an effective electoral tool, but it need not be an effective political one in the long term.  Democrats ran very effectively against George W. Bush in 2006 and 2008, yet they now seem to have hit the rough waters of actual governance.  It was in part the policies of the 2000s that set the stage for the GOP’s electoral drubbings in 2006 and 2008.

Whether or not Republicans are able to take control of Congress and the presidency again in the next few electoral cycles, they will need a new policy regime.  This policy regime will have to confront political on-the-ground realities.  It will also need to have realistic expectations.  Pie-in-the-sky dreams often prove a fragile foundation indeed for a political program.

It is probably not enough to govern as a party pledging to roll back the policies of the Obama administration.  Even if these policies are rolled back, the rolling back will not solve the underlying problems that these policies were created to solve.  Focusing merely on the repeal of the leftist agenda also risks surrendering policy direction to the left, allowing it to define the debate.   If the right wants to run something other than a gradual retreat from leftist ideology, it will need to change the terms of political discourse.

These are some points toward a rhetorical reform of the GOP agenda.  These points are not meant to be a total system but instead suggestions in the direction of a political rethinking of the GOP’s purpose.

End the bad faith libertarianism. This is not a criticism of libertarianism as such, but the GOP can no longer run as the party that says with its lips that it will reduce the size of government while its hand signs into existence huge expansions of government.  The hypocrisy is made worse by a kind of policy schizophrenia, in which anti-government thinking is erratically applied.  So we have No Child Left Behind and managerial incompetence, government subsidizing of inflated mortgages and non-regulation of much of the financial markets.  This schizophrenia—loving tax cuts and spending hikes—is a recipe for fiscal disaster.

Realize that the government is not always the enemy. Relentless unfocused ranting against the government misses one of the key selling points of liberal democracy: having a government that is aligned with the principles of human freedom (very different from no government).  Reagan’s statement that, “[i]n the present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem” shows a fine balance of particular circumstance and liberal principle.  It is not an enraged attack upon government itself but a precise critique of the actual practices of a particular governmental moment.  Republican discourse about government needs to strive for that register.  The American people, for all their complaints, do not hate the federal government, and Republicans, as their political practice shows, aren’t exactly opposed to it either.  If Republicans aren’t going to drown the government in the bathtub, they should work for a government that is efficient, appropriately limited, and credible.

Reinforce the civic compact. Our sense of civic togetherness has taken a beating since the 2000 election; a shoot of common fellowship after 9/11 soon withered before a burst of almost pathological anxiety, social alienation, partisan cynicism, and civic despair.  Americans may have hoped for a return to a civil fellowship in the election of Barack Obama, who supposedly promised a transcendence of the old culture war antagonisms.  They seem to have gotten instead just a further radicalization of them.  Republicans should take the lead in working to restore a sense of civic exchange.  The kind of sacrifices and changes that may be necessary in order to restore some level of fiscal and governmental sanity may only be able to occur in a society in which citizens feel somewhat on the same boat.  Republicans should redirect the energies of the culture wars to craft a common space for dialogue and civic engagement.  They should stand for an authentic multiculturalism of engagement, not a pretend (and all too common) “multiculturalism” of cultural antagonisms and the cynical exploitation of these antagonisms.

Become the party of sustainability. Since World War II, Republicans have often been the voice for sustainability for the government: think of Eisenhower’s fiscal sobriety, the post-1968 emphasis on law and order, and Reaganite policies to reform the welfare state.  Unfortunately, over the past decade, we have witnessed an indifference to sustainability in the pursuit of temporary partisan gains (borrowing policies that would make an addict drool, reckless expansions of government programs, etc.).  Republicans need to step forward to make sure that our entitlement programs remain sustainable and more effective.  This includes market-oriented health-care reform as well as a serious eye to new spending.

Embrace a common prosperity for individual enrichment. It can clearly be seen that the attempt to create the illusion of wealth through capacious borrowing (even as the advanced labor and manufacturing components of the economy are hollowed out) leads to a political and policy nightmare.  Some have advocated using the power of government confiscation to cope with the growing economic inequalities of American society.  Republicans should make the case for a free-market order that allows for economic upward mobility.  This approach may demand a rethinking of trade deals and immigration policy, as well as the enforcement of labor laws.  It might also offer an incentive for an investment in infrastructure, which provides a common foundation for individual achievements.

Know the virtues of freedom and federalism. In devising new solutions to new problems, the fifty states provide fifty different testing grounds.  Federalist diffusion also allows for a moderating of hot-button issues.  Freedom in civic discussions is in part its own reward, yet this freedom brings many other rewards, too—of satisfaction, prosperity, and independence.

Abraham Lincoln’s Republican party fought for freedom, federal legitimacy, and industrialization.  The times are different, and the precise policies will change, but Republicans today would have much to gain by following in that legacy of liberty, civility, and opportunity.

Recent Posts by Fred Bauer

30 Comments so far ↓

  • WillyP

    One could take much to task in this article, but one also may not have the time. Quickly, Mr. Bauer says,

    “If Republicans aren’t going to drown the government in the bathtub, they should work for a government that is efficient, appropriately limited, and credible.”

    One point at a time, though out of order-
    “Appropriately limited” – Who is to define appropriate? The proverbial King is limited to some extent, no doubt, for he always has to answer to his protectors. Yet there was rarely a document limiting what a King could do. We do have a document that limits what our Federal government can do – the Constitution. There’s no need to speak in vagaries or generalities; simply abide by our founding document, which, after all, established the nation’s government. A long discussion could be had about the proper role of the courts, who ultimately either limit or expand government if it steps beyond it’s traditionally recognized boundaries. Suffice to say that there is no limited government in America if our Supreme Court is not staffed with strict constructionists. A brazen (“bold”) group of justices are no more protectors of liberty than a “bold” president (cf. Obama).

    “Credible” – The only way a government remains credible is if it sticks to its adumbrated responsibilities. Again, reference the Constitution. Although, in another sense, even a government that sticks by the letter of the law loses credibility if it fails to enforce the law. See our immigration policy. We currently have an administration that has no respect for our immigration laws, and has recently hosted the President of Mexico so he could air his discontents with Arizona’s new law. Government also loses credibility when it starts picking winners and losers, and does this each time it enters the commercial sector. Outside broad-based, common sense regulation, corporations utilize political bribes to erect barriers of entry and instigate lawsuits against competitors. The solution here is not to “take money out of politics,” an impossible, ignorant suggestion in a democracy, but to limit government.

    “Efficient” – I’m tempted to say to Mr. Bauer, “Name one efficient government institution.” Of course, there is only one right answer – the armed forces. I was watching a show on the Marines the other day, and a military historian said (and I paraphrase): Until there is a monopoly on the use of force to bring civilization out of anarchy, there will be no civilization. The marines (the armed forces as a whole) are that monopoly; force is otherwise antithetical to liberal democracy. No government business will be “efficient” on par with the private sector. This is a lesson provided by the study of economics. As briefly as possible: If a government bureau were to operate strictly on profit/loss guide, they would be functionally no different than a private company. Clearly, the “philosophy” behind government programs in general is that they are “insulated” from market forces; i.e., they ignore profit and loss direction. There are other general cases: highly regulated sector, such as nuclear power. But in this case, we simply observe government grants of monopoly to preferred parties. Some claim this is good oversight, and that we need government to “monitor” dangerous industries. Perhaps, but the oil industry is likely the most heavily regulated outside of health care, and look at BP.

    Government is efficient at what it is supposed to do, and we are able to grasp the proper commercial scope of government only with an understanding of economics. We are fortunate indeed to have had Framers who understood the nature of government better than most men in history. That our current political class has tossed aside these constraints with hubris should serve as a good indication of what a bunch of coconuts we’ve elected. Democracy at its finest!

  • Rabiner


    The military is not efficient. They are effective. Big difference between the two.

    If you are looking at programs that are efficient please define efficient. Are you talking about a lack of waste and fraud? lower management costs? Allocating goods in the most efficient manner? Overall I’d say Social Security is an efficient program with very low management costs that does its job effectively. Medicare has extremely low overhead costs associated with the program, but it also has a deal of fraud occurring and health insurance never was efficient in allocating health care resources for healthy outcomes. The military, particularly the Pentagon, is inefficient in dealing with waste and fraud, expensive overruns for projects, a low success rate on projects, and builds extra engines for planes because politicians want jobs in their district.

  • WillyP

    And now the clueless frummies chime in.

    Efficient only has one meaning – that resources are utilized to their greatest potential. All other “definitions” of efficient are subordinate.

    Citing Social Security and Medicare as “efficient” government programs is truly laughable. These programs are quite literally bankrupting the nation. Let that sink in – the two programs you incredulously cite as “efficient” are the two largest items on the budget, and are bankrupting the nation.

    Besides, what exactly do these programs “produce,” besides armies of bureaucrats who redistribute wealth? Social Security is funded by a general tax, which is spent as it comes in, and not put away for insurance purposes. It’s a giant scam, and FDR knew this as much as anyone. He was told by the court that there was no mandate for a “social insurance” program (originally a contrivance of Bismark) in the Constitution, and so FDR told them it was just another tax. People talk about how the Fed should be run by a computer (I disagree, but won’t digress); well, the Social Security bureau could literally be run by a computer, because it is very simply rule based.

    Insurance companies, the private sector “equivalent,” examine and price risk pools. Social Security ONLY taxes, redistributes, which leads to fixing prices and discouraging doctors.

    The military is efficient because the alternative – multiple “grassroots” militias – presumably has more expensive social costs.

  • Slide

    You have to love this mind numbing thought in WillP’s post, “Some claim this is good oversight, and that we need government to “monitor” dangerous industries. Perhaps, but the oil industry is likely the most heavily regulated outside of health care, and look at BP.”

    Republicans don’t like government. We get it. So when they get into power they don’t take their oversight and regulatory responsibilities seriously. Consequently, they put in their cronies (“heck of a job Brownie” ) in positions for which they have no expertise whatsoever and in other cases, they put the fox in charge of the chicken house. We ALL know what I am talking about. The very industries being regulated supply the regulators in Republican administrations.

    Then when these agencies do a terrible job and we discover lead in children’s toys, or oil spills in the gulf, or contaminated food supplies or unsafe mines, etc. they point to how “inefficient” government is. And how “regulation” doesn’t work. Amazing.

    Just to give you an example of how the Bush administration systematically destroyed the effectiveness of the EPA:

    A”t long last, the UCS findings came out last week, and sure enough, the results are appalling. The nonprofit group received responses from 1,600 EPA scientists, and found an “agency under siege from political pressures”: 60 percent of respondents said they’d personally experienced political interference in their work in the past 5 years. Meanwhile, just over half of respondents—783, by number—said they could not freely share their findings with the media. These results might help explain recent actions by a group of unions representing EPA’s 10,000 employees, who in March broke away from the agency’s management, citing, among other complaints, systematic undermining of EPA’s scientific integrity principles.

    But to be honest, we’d be fortunate if scientific integrity was the only trouble spot at EPA these days. Even as its scientists languish, the agency’s regulatory decisions are also being dramatically undercut on issues ranging from global warming to mercury pollution. Not only does EPA have problems heeding the research; it also has huge problems following the law.”

    Democracy at it’s finest indeed.

  • forkboy1965

    First, an interesting article. It preaches to the ideals I recall the Republican party having when I was a registered Independent. It preaches the ideals which inspired me to vote Republican just as much as I voted Democrat. However, those days are long gone and with the marked shift towards the fundamentalist right I have little expectation that I will vote Republican any time in the near future.

    Regarding WillyP: one of the favoured Republican mantras of “the Constitution” and “constructionist judges” never fails to make me laugh. The opening preamble of the Constitution states “…promote the general welfare…” I can think of a great many policies, programmes, acts and agencies created over the last 200-years whose sole purpose were to do just that… promote the general welfare. Acts and agencies like the EPA and OSHA didn’t come into existence in a vacuum. The electorate wanted these things and they voted for representatives who would bring them into existence. To bring about a better life for Americans.

    This whole constructionist b.s. is just that: b.s. It’s all about wanting to undo those things in which you don’t believe or support regardless of the fact that others do and have supported them.

  • Rabiner


    Efficient does mean that, but you’re shortsighted in your views as what constitutes “resources utilized to their greatest potential”.

    Having a national military is efficient but how it operates is not. But whats a few hundred billion dollars a year extra spent here and there, it’s efficient since grassroot militias would do it worse.

    Have you ever studied Utilitarianism? Social Security and Medicare’s missions are based on it and by achieving their missions while having low operating costs (management) and relatively low fraud and waste would be considered efficient (Social Security far more efficient than Medicare due to fraud).

    “Social Security ONLY taxes, redistributes, which leads to fixing prices and discouraging doctors.”

    You mean Medicare right? Social Security has nothing to do with doctors.

    “Insurance companies, the private sector “equivalent,” examine and price risk pools.”

    What’s efficient for a company is profit maximization. Profit maximization doesn’t mean society gets the best outcomes but rather only the company does. If profit maximization by an insurance company means that individuals couldn’t get health insurance at affordable rates or if they ever did get sick, they’d lose their insurance through price hikes to purify the risk pool, then I don’t see how society is winning.

  • sinz54

    Rabiner: The military, particularly the Pentagon, is inefficient in dealing with waste and fraud, expensive overruns for projects, a low success rate on projects
    The military has to push the state of the art, because our enemies frequently do. If we don’t build the F-23 fighter jet, Russia and China will still build their fifth-generation fighters and sell them to our adversaries.

    And when you push the state of the art, there are numerous failures and much wasted effort, before you find out what works.

    But in fact, the military is far more efficient at what it does than it used to be. It used to take enormous fleets of bombers with dumb bombs to have a hope of reducing a few checkpoints. The accuracy rate of bombing used to be 10%. Nowadays, a few precision-guided cruise missiles can do the same mission more effectively and for less money. The accuracy rate of today’s weapons is as high as 80% — that’s a 700% increase in efficiency of targeting.

    Social Security is a conservative program, in that there are few pressures for major change. Nobody talks about pushing the state of the art with Social Security.

    A better analogy for the military is medicine. Medicine too pushes the state of the art, because no one wants to die and desperate patients will try anything to stay alive. Thus the cost of medicine continues to skyrocket.

    Liberal hostility to the military is rationalized by economic concerns. But in truth, they just find war icky.

  • Slide

    Well, the GOP is coming up with some innovative ways to get new ideas:

    “House Republican leadership unveiled a new interactive website on Tuesday which they hailed as “revolutionary” in its democratization of the political process. But while it may deserve some acclaim for presenting a new way for voters to join the debate, the GOP initiative is sure to invite mockery by stumbling minutes after the site launched.

    On Tuesday morning, GOP leaders unveiled, a website that they pitched as a “giant step forward” towards popularizing the Republican platform. The idea is simple — allow viewers to suggest legislative remedies that they and others could then debate and vote upon. The top suggestions would, naturally, rise to the top.

    But opening up the process of debate means inviting in uncomfortable voices. Within minutes, a poster on the site suggested repealing Section II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it was “UNCONSTITUTIONAL, PROGRESSIVE and HITLER.” [yes, they used Hitler as an adjective]. (That entry has since been shut down by the GOP.)

    Another poster called for government authorities to watch Muslim-Americans more closely than others — “if they’re not doing anything illegal, what do they have to worry about?” — while a third insisted that all illegal immigrants should be let in the country. “Put the burden on those that employ them,” the post read.”

  • sinz54

    Mr. Bauer:

    I would like to add one more to your list:

    Embrace science again.

    On science blogs and discussion forums, Republicans have become a laughingstock owing to the widespread belief among Republicans that global warming is not happening and is some kind of deliberate Al Gore hoax.

    The flirtation of well-known conservatives like Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin with creationism is also earning the contempt of the scientific community.

    Today’s young people have grown up in a scientific age. They will be suspicious of a party that allows scientific truth to be trumped by politics. As well they should be. There was a time when patriotic Americans looked down their noses at Lysenkoism in the former U.S.S.R. Now we seem to be repeating that same mistake here.

    Science is important to national defense, to economic vitality, and even to national prestige (the polio vaccine, the manned moon landing).

  • WillyP

    Haha the replies are pathetic. Agencies cited include such tremendous successes as Social Security (bankrupt), Medicare (bankrupt), and the EPA (useless, destructive, political).

    The usual liberal cant follows:
    “What’s efficient for a company is profit maximization. Profit maximization doesn’t mean society gets the best outcomes but rather only the company does.”

    As if there is no counter party to every single transaction done with a “company.” You know, nobody is forcing people to shop at Walmart or buy gasoline for their cars. They do so out of necessity or desire. Voluntarily, you know? Who pays into Social Security voluntarily? Hint: Nobody.

    “Regarding WillyP: one of the favoured Republican mantras of “the Constitution” and “constructionist judges” never fails to make me laugh. The opening preamble of the Constitution states “…promote the general welfare…” ”

    Well, forgive me for advocating Constitutional government. Why don’t you name JUST ONE PROGRAM that doesn’t purport to promote the general welfare? Where is your limit on Federal government power? You have no idea; you’re unmoored and confused; you have no philosophical basis for governing; you would like to be king, or elect someone who you feel represents your necessarily parochial views!

    In other words, you exemplify the automaton in Democracy – speaking in meaningless, unexamined slogans, operating with absolutely zero theoretical framework of what constitutes a healthy society. You’ve never found a government program you disagree with if it’s been sold by an adequately slick salesman.

    You creatures will (and have) brought tyranny down upon yourself and are too dull to realize it. Again… Pathetic!

  • TerryF98

    “You creatures will (and have) brought tyranny down upon yourself and are too dull to realize it. Again… Pathetic!”


    So very funny.

  • gmckee1985

    Anything is better than Obama and the Democrats.

  • WillyP

    I’m glad you think this is all so funny. For those of us who don’t get a gut laugh out of a whirlwind economy and ~20% underemployment, it’s not so comical.

    For over a year now I’ve been explaining that having the government intervene massively in every single sector of the economy would lead to stagnation and eventually decline. What do you think you think you’re looking at? A robust, vibrant recovery?

    No – what you’re looking at is Herbert Hoover Deux. You’re looking at a population languish because of its incorrigible legislature and gluttonous bureaucracy; the inevitable failure of economic interventionism as an intellectual paradigm and the suffering of modern, Western democracies.

    Or are things peachy? Should we start price fixing and rationing? Raise taxes more, redistribute more? Spur demand by deficit spending? More corporate bailouts, more red tape, more oversight? Maybe we should encourage the Supreme court to whimsically change laws they find inconvenient for “social progress?”

    Or, maybe we could go back to being a largely self-managed nation, and not spend all day clamoring for more and more intrusive government to rectify our sinful ways?

  • LFC

    Or are things peachy?

    I guess you don’t grasp that deregulation and failure to uphold existing regulations is what allowed the current mess to occur in the first place. And also that when you have a massive worldwide financial collapse, things don’t magically pop back in a year or two.

    You creatures will (and have) brought tyranny down upon yourself and are too dull to realize it. Again… Pathetic!

    You just crossed well into tin foil hat territory.

  • forgetn


    What in God’s name are you going on about.

    This is insane, the post was about how the GOP/RNC can win the mid term, and build on that success to take back the White House in 2012. You’re off into “nuts country” on the military being efficient — where did you get that crazy idea. Military establishments are not efficient! Their job is to be foreign policy tools and killing machines. Did you never wonder why there were so many people in military ships and subs — its people die in a war, you need redundancy (and lots of it).

    Military organisations are not cost efficient — its not part of their make up. And please, for the rest of us, stop hijacking these post for your own weird world view

  • WillyP

    forgotn/lfc (both who accuse me of being, basically, deranged),

    As this post was about “How to Build a Better GOP,” and loaded with such useless, crappy, and demonstrably false assertions, I present an alternative.

    I’m quite aware of the purpose a military serves in society. I think I’ve done a good job explaining that, and if you’d read what I wrote, you’ll notice that I referenced a military historian who was speaking about the Marines. This isn’t “nuts country,” it’s political theory, history, sociology… whatever term you want to give to the study of the emergence of civilization.

    I have no idea how you’d define “cost efficient” when speaking of a military. By calling them “efficient,” I mean they actually accomplish what they set out to accomplish, rather than languishing endlessly in bureaucratic red tape for generations all while exacerbating the problems they set out to solve.

    Government cannot run business because government does not function like business, especially because we’re off the gold standard. There is no mechanism to judge profit/loss. There is no objective criteria by which to evaluate economic tradeoffs.

    All sounds so tin foily to you two, I’m sure. But that’s only because you’ve never really thought about why we depend on honest financial accounting. The reason is that without it, there is no economic coordination, calculation, or in any sense rational economy. Why don’t you pick up “Individualism and Economic Order” by F.A. Hayek, and get back to me.

  • forgetn


    Don’t want to rain on your military parade but the facts you are inclined to use about the U.S. military efficiency is wrong even in your use . Over the past 40 years the American military have been involved in four major conflicts (Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan). I don’t think you can call any of these ventures a success, not one! (lets not talk about Panama…)

    The U.S. spends as much on its military might as do the next 26 countries on the list. That’s a lot of guns. Forgetting for a second 9/11 which was not a military operation. Foreign wars are almost impossible to win, ask the French and the Brits how it worked for them. I was being snarky because you hijacked (and you continue) the discussion (although I enjoy this).

    Cool you read Hayek , there’s hope for you yet. I met the man when I was at LSE (he was being honored by Thatcher)– he was first and foremost a rational thinker and this book of his was a discussion between capitalism and planned economy. If you are suggesting that the U.S. is a planned economy there’s not much to talk about here.

    I’m all for honest accounting by the way, I think level 3 assets should not be allowed to exist (they don’t elsewhere in the world). FASB159 is a travesty of accounting, but what’s the solution? let all the banks go bust, how’s that going the help America?

    The issue here was always by the way how can the GOP/RNC move away from the party of No! That’s the topic, and its a difficult one since it raises questions that the Party doesn’t really want to address. Frum made an ausing comment when Obama became President — thank God we are not in charge, the implication was that the required solutions were unappealing to the RNC and its base.

    First, the RNC/GOP has to articulate its own solutions; and this cannot be half baked ideas. It has to be real in terms of what can Americans afford and what is beyond their means, affordable health care may be one, Social security may be doomed in its present form — maybe Americans need Superanuation funds (basically a form of privatized social Security), maybe armed forced that eat about 1/5th of the entire budget is too much. Its possible that America cannot afford to be the world’s policeman. America’s military was always aware of the limit of its powers — America funded and armed the Afghans against the USSR, they enabled a ragtag bunch of “freedom fighters” to bring the world’s second largest military power to its knees!

    First, there has to be a realization that America has an unsustainable budget deficit that began under a republican administration (maybe they were RINO too), I’m not sure that selling the idea of a diminished America will go well with the electorate, but somewhere somehow these discussions have to occur. If America is to avoid Japan (or Europe’s) faith clear thinking is required. Two years ago it was too early to talk about a republican administration and its solutions for America, now the mid terms are a few months away and the discourse remains out of the GOP/RNC remains unchanged.

    You cannot bet on the other side the “screw the pooch” as an electoral strategy; by definition you lose control over the process and the message.

  • WillyP

    honestly, forgotn, i have no idea what you’re talking about. hate the military, like my limited gov’t message but call me a tin foil hat wearer, aren’t able to distinguish between failed banks and a failed banking policy, want republicans to admit they’re responsible for entitlement programs that are sinking the budget but also get trust to fix the problem…

    if you expect your garbled message to carry the day, well… i suppose this is why you’re a frummie.

  • msmilack

    I would add another point the GOP should consider: STOP TALKING ABOUT GOD! The separation between church and state is about as fundamental a principle of this country and our constitution as possible. I just saw an ad for Haley’s campaign, pictured with S. Palin, above the words “Through God All Things Are Possible.” Are they serious? Of course they are but why doesn’t a credible member of the GOP step forward and make clear once and for all that it is not okay to mix up church and state. Palin has actually taken to rewriting the constitution and other historiccal facts to fit her worldview: e.g. that Susan B Anthony was against abortion (a total fabrication) and that the founding fathers really meant to include God even though they forgot to mention God. How can anyone take a party seriously that allows such bunk to be broadcast in the name of the GOP? When someone stands up to Palin and the religious right and says “no more” the GOP will have a fighting chance to be in a position to govern and effect policy. Until then, it is not possible to take any of their candidates seriously. I am speaking for myself but know I am speaking also for others.

  • Rabiner


    “The separation between church and state is about as fundamental a principle of this country and our constitution as possible.”

    Sadly the Texas School Board of Education thought otherwise on this point.

    And WillyP:

    You really lack the concept of efficiency by continuing to state that Social Security is bankrupt, Medicare is bankrupt and thus are inefficient. Efficiency is to maximize your resources, these two programs do that through having as little management and administration as possible for such a program. They do their jobs very well and the fact they are going bankrupt is not due to inefficiency but rather the fact politicians have refused to either 1) reduce benefits or 2) increase ‘prices’ (taxes) to pay for them.

    However I find it very humorous that you ignore Defense as a cause of our deficit when talking about efficiency given that our deficit yet use that particular argument for why Social Security and Medicare are inefficient.

    It isn’t that we hate the military, we just believe that spending 48% of the world’s dollars on defense is absurd. That amount of spending is contributing to the ‘sinking’ of the budget as well.

  • ottovbvs

    WillyP // May 25, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    “forgotn/lfc (both who accuse me of being, basically, deranged),”

    ……..I’m not the only one then?

  • oldgal

    sinz54, I would add to your science argument that science was fundamental to the success of the economy over the past decades. The U.S. has led in computer technology and always come up with the next thing by the time others have become competitive. Our agricultural supremacy is due to science. The spin-off fromNASA to private industry has been immeasurable. We would not have the internet without the Department of Defense. On the flip side, we would not have complex financial instruments if it were not for advanced mathematics. It is to the detriment of the economy that we are not the leaders in green technologies.

  • forgetn


    No your are not the only one! WillyP is good for a laughs, he’s probably a huge fan of the Barracuda! Why let facts get in the way of a good story. BTW it always amuses me when I am “referred to” an author (Hayek in this case), it is always funny to realize that the intent is to make a “gotcha” shut the hell up moment, when in fact WillyP has clearly never read the book, did not understand the context in which it was written he may have read the Cliff Notes, but that it.

    I met Hayek at LSE, he was by then a very old man (mid 80s), I was doing my graduate work when he visited LSE (where he had thought for many years), and when asked what he would do differently, he mentioned that he wished he had done like Kaynes and had been more cryptic in his writing (just to make it clear my thesis supervisor had been one of his students, hence the invite to meet the great man). He was a philosopher of the old school, and new absolutely everybody in the field. He was a huge fan of dialectics, one of those men (they were mostly men then) who were unencumbered by pride and always keen to explore new ideas — as he joked, you become more open minded once you’ve won the Nobel prize!

  • WillyP

    Yes, well you two clowns can yuck it up for a bit longer I suppose.

    Truth wins in the long run, and so I shall, obviously, be proven right. In fact, anybody who isn’t stubborn as hell and partisan can recognize that since the collapse of Bear Stearns in March ’08, the economy has not markedly improved. It went from bad to worse quickly, and is getting worse still, if less quickly. See, 20% underemployment is a sign of a sick society. You might want to let this datum alter your thinking.

    Referencing Hayek was done because he was an old school economist!!! (not really a “philosopher” proper), with an emphasis on the market process. What otto does not get, and forgotn apparently doesn’t appreciate or finds trivial, is that the continued incursion into the market process will slow it down and muck it up. Hence, the reason why Obama, despite his attempts to “stimulate” the economy and “grow” the economy, is a failure – a complete and utter failure (not to mention on foreign policy and other domestic issues, such as healthcare).

    Could this get more technical? Sure. Could I explain the foundations and assumptions? Sure. But this is why we have books – see “Principles of Economics” by Carl Menger, to start.

    If you don’t respect the market process and the sovereignty of the individual, you’re a guaranteed loser. And so Obama is – a loser! And he’ll lose at least 40 states in 2012.

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  • forgetn


    Not a philosopher…. are you joking, 90% of his writing was pure philosophy, 10% was economics. You are entitled to love the Austrian School, not sure the Austrian school loves you — to be honest I never read Menger, most of his writing was done in the 1870s. Pre-modern institutions, which speaks volume for your thought process. Think about it, Menger wrote during a period were ordinary banks were issuing their own money, economic and political crisis were severe, and there were no monetary authorities… sure its interesting but not terribly relevant in the age (and complexity) in which we live today.

    By the way its been fun, but I’ve actually got to go

  • WillyP

    OK, you’re partially correct in that Hayek did extensive work in the field of epistemology. 90%? No. 50%? No. Probably more like 15% was “pure philosophy,” which is to say that it contributes independently to the field of philosophy. He was good friends with Popper, and they influenced each other. See ‘The Counter Revolution of Science.”

    But not 90%. Prices & Production? The Road to Serfdom? The Fatal Conceit? The Pure Theory of Capital? Law, Legislation, and Liberty? Individual and Economic Order? These are works of economics and political philosophy that (necessarily) incorporate (true) philosophy. Was Alexis de Tocqueville a philosopher? How about someone like Bastiat? I think you’ll admit that in fact these were economics/social theorists, and not philosophers qua philosophers. To say that only 10% of Hayek’s works were on the topic of economics, well, this is just ignorance masquerading as bravado.

  • forgetn

    That’s right, take the big books, forget the articles forget his entire teaching career, that could for nothing. Enough already,

  • WillyP

    Haha, well if you can provide me with links to Hayek’s extensive writing as a career philosopher I’d be curious. I don’t think you can, because I don’t think it exists.

    And yes, generally taking the major works of someone’s life, the works that constitute their lasting legacy, is how you go about judging their interests and life’s work. I’m sure Hayek wrote here and there about metaphysics, but the bulk of his work concerned classical liberal political theory and Mengerian-based economics.

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