The Legacy Of Bankruptcy

…of “progressives.”

The Founders’ understanding of the origin of government, in turn, proceeds from a recognition of the difficulty many individuals have in honoring the obligations that flow from the equality principle. Government is formed, in other words, for the express purpose of better enforcing this duty among men, thereby better securing the freedom of all. “If men were angels,” as Madison famously wrote in Federalist 51, “no government would be necessary.” Precisely because men are not angels, because many are strongly inclined to violate the rights of others when it is in their interest to do so, individuals consent to enter into the social compact, and establish government on the understanding it will use its powers to restrain those domestically and internationally who would violate their freedom. In principle, then, the power of government is not absolute but is limited to whatever actions are necessary to secure the natural rights of its members.

By rejecting the existence of natural rights, accordingly, the Progressives consciously repealed this limit: “It is not admitted that there are no limits to the action of the state,” Merriam observed, “but on the other hand it is fully conceded that there are no ‘natural rights’ which bar the way. The question is now one of expediency rather than of principle. . . . Each specific question must be decided on its own merits, and each action of the state justified, if at all, by the relative advantages of the proposed line of conduct.” In devising the content of the law, legislators need not worry about respecting the individual’s natural right to rule himself, because “there are no ‘natural rights’ which bar the way.”

In principle, accordingly, all of the rights previously believed to inhere in the individual — e.g., the rights to life, to physical liberty, to decide whom to marry, to enjoy the fruits of his labor, to speak freely, etc. — were now subject to public disposal. Whether and to what extent government allows individuals to control any aspect of their personal concerns was now purely a matter of how it viewed the consequences of doing so. To illustrate just how far the Progressives were willing to take this, Merriam, in drawing the foreign-policy implications of this change, declared: “Barbaric races, if incapable, may be swept away; and such action ‘violates no rights of these populations which are not petty and trifling in comparison with its [the Teutonic race’s] transcendent right and duty to establish legal order everywhere.’” As Progressive economist and New Republic editor Walter Weyl summed up this shift in 1912, America was now “emphasizing the overlordship of the public over property and rights formerly held to be private.”

Read all.

Why Not Rhode Island?

Why is the administration picking on Arizona, when Rhode Island has been doing the same thing for years?

And why aren’t filing lawsuits against so-called “sanctuary cities,” when what they’re doing is not enforcing federal immigration law, but defying it?

That was a rhetorical question, of course.

I also found this amusing:

The border’s too big. The hole in the Gulf is too deep. The recession is too stubborn. Maybe we should find the president a smaller, easier-to-manage country to govern. You know – send him to the minors for a few years.

I guess “Si se puede” has become “No, we can’t.”

Layers Of Fact Checkers And Editors

There’s kind of a weird editorial by Joshua Green over at the Boston Globe today. I don’t understand the title (Takeoff?), and he doesn’t seem to know the name of either the senior senator from Florida or the NASA administrator. And this kind of statement is always sort of annoying:

The real shock came in January, when President Obama killed its successor, Project Constellation, which aimed to return Americans to the moon by 2020.

What does it mean, to call Constellation the Shuttle’s “successor”? I guess it is, in the sense that it was the next human spaceflight program that would absorb all of the NASA personnel that were working Shuttle, but it’s not like it actually replaces the Shuttle in any functional sense, other than the ability to get crew to and from LEO. And then we have the usual dumb comments from people like Tom Delay:

Critics reply that killing Constellation and reorienting NASA is foolish and costly. “The innovations that have come out of the space program are phenomenal,’’ DeLay said. “With our failing manufacturing base, it is extremely important for our economy to maintain them.’’ Private space flight has shown promise, but it will be years before a commercial company can safely launch astronauts into space. Lacking the capacity to send US astronauts to the International Space Station, we’ll soon pay Russia to ferry them there, which won’t be cheap.

What “innovations” were going to come out of Constellation? The whole point of the project was to avoid innovation, with its associated technical risk. And I suppose that it’s technically true that it will be “years” before a commercial company can safely launch astronauts into space. But it won’t be as many “years” as it would have been with Ares/Orion. There’s no reason that the number of years need be more than two or three, except for resistance from Congress to fund it for dumb reasons like this:

…the loudest complaint regards “American greatness’’ — the idea that the willing forfeiture of our leadership in space amounts to a kind of moral trespass that will cede to nations like China and India the next great strides in science and technology.

This is mindless. We aren’t “forfeiting our leadership in space” by sensibly having private companies perform the mundane task of getting astronauts to and from there, half a century after the dawn of the manned space age. And China and India are both a long way from doing anything that will vault them ahead of us (and even longer, if we follow the new course instead of the moribund Constellation).

Where his critics have a point is in arguing that NASA lacks a clear mission. Without a directive and funding, talk of visiting Mars or an asteroid is grandiose but empty.

While the funding is lacking, due to squabbling on the Hill, there is a directive — to develop the technologies needed to make going beyond earth orbit affordable. But for people who look at the world through Apollo-colored glasses, unless it has a destination and date and unaffordably huge rocket (i.e., a five-year plan for the celestial crops), it’s not a real space program.

Grazing Dinosaurs

Wow. Am I unimpressed with ESA’s plans for a new rocket:

Multiple designs for a two- or three-stage rocket with cryogenic, solid-fueled and methane/oxygen main stages will be studied not only for their performance, but also for their long-term operating costs.

While no decision has been made, the early design work will focus on a vehicle that would add or subtract strap-on boosters to lift satellites weighing as little as 3,000 kilograms and as much as 7,500 kilograms into geostationary transfer orbit, the destination of most telecommunications satellites.

Unlike the current Ariane 5, the next-generation launcher would, under the preliminary designs being investigated, launch one satellite at a time into geostationary orbit, not two as typically is the case with the current Ariane 5.

And this huge breakthrough in launch technology will be available in only fifteen years.

Between 1945 and 1960, we went from the DC-3 to the 7407. Between 1955 and 1970, we went from Aerobees to moon landings. And between now and 2025, the Europeans want to develop yet another expendable rocket. I guess they learned the lesson of the Shuttle. It was the wrong lesson, but at least they learned a lesson, right?

Now I’ll Have To Rethink My Position

Are the elite starting to turn against Obama?

“If you’re asking if the United States is about to become a socialist state, I’d say it’s actually about to become a European state, with the expansiveness of the welfare system and the progressive tax system like what we’ve already experienced in Western Europe,” Harvard business and history professor Niall Ferguson declared during Monday’s kickoff session, offering a withering critique of Obama’s economic policies, which he claimed were encouraging laziness.

“The curse of longterm unemployment is that if you pay people to do nothing, they’ll find themselves doing nothing for very long periods of time,” Ferguson said. “Long-term unemployment is at an all-time high in the United States, and it is a direct consequence of a misconceived public policy.”

But…but…Nancy said that paying people unemployment was the fastest and best way to create jobs!

Ferguson was joined in his harsh attack by billionaire real estate mogul and New York Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman. Both lambasted Obama’s trillion-dollar deficit spending program—in the name of economic stimulus to cushion the impact of the 2008 financial meltdown—as fiscally ruinous, potentially turning America into a second-rate power.

“We are, without question, in a period of decline, particularly in the business world,” Zuckerman said. “The real problem we have…are some of the worst economic policies in place today that, in my judgment, go directly against the long-term interests of this country.”

Gee, Mort, I could have told you that two frickin’ years ago. Why did it take you so long to catch on that you were one of the rubes?

And I loved this:

Ferguson warned: “Do you want to be a kind of implicit part of the European Union? I’d advise you against it.”

This was greeted by hearty applause from a crowd that included Barbra Streisand and her husband James Brolin. “Depressing, but fantastic,” Streisand told me afterward, rendering her verdict on the session. “So exciting. Wonderful!”

Brolin’s assessment: “Mind-blowing.”

To be fair, though, I suspect that you could blow Brolin’s mind with a butterfly wing.

This can’t be good for his renomination prospects. The long knives will be out on November 3rd, I suspect.

Thinking Out Of The Box

The toy box:

It is clear…in the course of the two hours I spend with Greene that he has some pretty wacky ideas that, were he to win in November, would put him among the more unpredictable members of the senate. At one point, he lurches off on his big idea for how to create jobs in South Carolina.

“Another thing we can do for jobs is make toys of me, especially for the holidays. Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an army uniform, air force uniform, and me in my suit. They can make toys of me and my vehicle, especially for the holidays and Christmas for the kids. That’s something that would create jobs. So you see I think out of the box like that. It’s not something a typical person would bring up. That’s something that could happen, that makes sense. It’s not a joke.”

No, what’s a joke is the stupidity of Democrat voters. Al Greene is just the gift that keeps on giving. We could see this coming back in Florida 2000.

I’m With Them

Most Americans don’t want to pay higher taxes to bail out public employees and entitlements:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Adults shows that only 19% would be willing to pay higher taxes to avoid layoffs of state employees. Sixty-nine percent (69%) say they would not be willing to pay more in taxes for this reason. Another 11% are undecided.

Adults feel similarly when it comes to funding entitlement programs. Twenty-two percent (22%) would pay higher taxes to prevent cuts in entitlement programs for low-income Americans. Sixty-three percent (63%) say they would not pay more to keep these programs afloat. Another 15% are undecided.

Americans are slightly less opposed to paying higher taxes for education. Thirty-four percent (34%) say they are willing to pay higher taxes to provide funding for public education, but 54% say they are not. Another 12% aren’t sure.

Of course, it’s already too late, since a large part of Porkulus went to exactly this, and at some point, we’ll have to pay for it (not to mention the interest on it). What I find the most interesting about this poll is that (unlike most Rasmussen polls) it’s of adults. I wonder what likely voters think?

This will be a potent campaign issue (among many) against Democrats this fall.

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