Tag: Government Spending

Wait, Who is Bill Weld?

John Keller | United States

William Floyd Weld was born July 31st, 1945 in Smithtown, New York. Growing up, he pursued education fiercely and graduated with a degree in classics from Harvard and a degree in economics from Oxford. Following a full time “career” in education, he turned his attention to the law. His first experience in law was as a consul to the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate. After the committee was dissolved following the impeachment and resignation of Richard Nixon, Bill Weld ran to be the Massachusetts Attorney General in 1978. Although losing, Ronald Reagan saw his talent and made him the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

A Man of Law

During his five years as a federal attorney, he launched an ongoing investigation into public corruption, most notably in the administration of Boston Mayor Kevin White. His investigation lead to the arrest of over 20 public officials, all of which plead guilty or were proven guilty in a court of law. The Boston Globe wrote, “[Weld] has been by far the most visible figure in the prosecution of financial institutions.” In his 111 cases as a federal attorney, he won 109 of them.

Due to the surprising success of Bill Weld, Ronald Reagan saw to it that he was promoted within the Justice Department. Weld became responsible for overseeing all federal prosecutions, including the cases handled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). He served until 1988 when he, as well as Deputy Attorney General Arnold Burns and four aides, resigned in protest of the misconduct of Attorney General Edwin Meese. Following his resignation, he testified to Congress. Shortly following his testimony on the corruption of the Attorney General, Edwin Meese resigned.

A Republican Governor in a Liberal State

After a short hiatus from politics, Bill Weld announced his bid for the governorship of Massachusetts. Massachusetts was an overwhelmingly liberal state, as highlighted in the 1986 gubernatorial election when the Republican candidate received less than 30% of the vote. Bill Weld, however, was not the typical conservative and ran on a platform of social tolerance and fiscal responsibility – winning both the Republican vote and most moderate Democrats. He was able to win the election by a close margin of 3.25% of the vote.

In his first term, Bill Weld went to work trying to lowering taxes and unemployment. He cut taxes 21 times and brought unemployment in Massachusetts from the highest in the 11 most industrial states to the lowest; even balancing the budget. He began battling corruption in the welfare system by a work-for-welfare system – slashing welfare spending.  His reforms and administration was overwhelmingly popular and when re-election time came in 1994, Bill Weld won re-election with 70.85% of the vote; in a state where only 14% of the electorate was part of the Republican Party. Bill Weld kept his reforms going, and seeing that he had served Massachusetts so well he hoped to bring his reforms to the nation and ran for senate in 1996 against incumbent John Kerry (D).

A Libertarian Leader

Bill Weld went on a hiatus from public life and politics following the turn of the century. As the Republican Party began losing its small-government conservative values of the 20th Century, Bill Weld began losing confidence in the Republican Party. After working on the Romney for President campaign in 2012, he left the Grand Old Party (GOP) and became a Libertarian, aligning with his views of small government in the economy, the lives of the people, and in peace, whether domestic or foreign.

In 2016 he sought the Libertarian nomination for Vice President. At the convention, following Gary Johnson’s renomination for president, having formerly run in 2012, Bill Weld was elected to be the Vice Presidential Nominee; receiving the support of 441 of the 872 delegates. He entered the campaign trail alongside Gary Johnson, the former republican governor of New Mexico, who served while Bill Weld was governor of Massachusetts.

“The dragon that I’m jousting against this year is this frozen monopoly of the two parties that have frozen a lot of people’s thinking in place and they think, ‘I have to be a right-winger,’ or, ‘I have to be a left-winger.’ They’re not thinking, ‘What do I think?’” – Bill Weld, on ReasonTV (2016)

It was largely the campaigning of Bill Weld, with his clarity on issues and clean presentation in interviews, in the divisive election of 2016 that led the Libertarian ticket to poll at 12% – almost getting the ticket into the presidential and vice presidential debates. Bill Weld proved to be a warrior of freedom wielding the Javelin of Justice and Shield of Sacrifice, bringing the Libertarian Party to its greatest year ever. The future for Bill Weld is unknown, but it is known that it is bright, for so few gave so much to such a noble cause.

For his dedication to prosperity while governor, his devotion to justice as a U.S. Attorney General, and his dedication to civil liberties while the libertarian vice-presidential nominee, it is clear that Bill Weld defines what a modern day renaissance man is, and is worthy of tribute for his many accomplishments.


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The Hysteria Over the Government Shutdown

By Adam Burdzy | United States

Today, I woke up. I took a shower, cleaned up the house a bit, and went about with my morning. While going through my routine, I was listening to the radio, and it turns out that the government of the United States is in a shutdown.

I wouldn’t have known that such an event was underway unless I was told. In today’s society, media is picking up on this like the little boy who cried wolf. They are making a mountain out of a molehill, calling this an evil act done by President Trump, and using the same names they used when Trump announced that he is running for president back in 2015. We are being told this is affecting us, but does it really?

You shouldn’t cry about the government shutdown. If anything, you should celebrate, maybe open up a bottle of campaign and snuggle up in a Don’t Tread on Me Blanket (only 13 bucks on Amazon) with your favorite Ron Paul book (I recommend The Revolution: A Manifesto). This is every Conservative/Libertarians dream. The government, which is way too big, has reduced itself to what it deems necessary. According to the BBC, about 25% of the US federal government isn’t being funded. Also, nine departments have been affected (Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing, Interior, Justice, Agriculture, Treasury). To add to that, around 800,000 federal workers are now furloughed.

I say, why stop there? Why not make the government even smaller, privatize most of the government departments, and remove those departments that use our taxpayer dollars to fund ridiculous projects, such as the 2010 study (if you can even call it that) performed by the National Endowment of the Humanities which went into serious extensive research to “explore the fascinating, often contradictory origins and influences of popular romance as told in novels, films, comics, advice books, songs, and Internet fan-fiction.” This burning pile of Jefferson’s was called the Popular Romance Project, which studies Romance in culture. How much did this cost the people? Only a mere $194,000.

But the smug congresspeople sitting in Washington look past this and tell you that because of evil Trump, people aren’t working, and aren’t making money. However, if they cared so much about the 800,000 people who are furloughed, shouldn’t they write a bill stating that if a shutdown were to occur, those people would still be given wages to earn a living? Being furloughed is something one must take into consideration when applying for a government job. Point of the story, don’t get a government job. Go work in the private sector.

This government shutdown can be beneficial for small government advocates. It is a great way of exposing those who believe that their entire life revolves around the government. People need to realize that there is so much more than government handouts that play any type of role in a person’s life.


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The Tyranny and Failure of Coercive Paternalism

By John Keller | United States

Coercive Paternalism can be defined as intervention in cases where people’s choices of the means to achieving their ultimate ends are confused. An argument of this nature, notably by Sarah Conly, rests on four main points: (1) Such a view promotes individuals actual goals. (2) Coercive Paternalism is effective. (3) The benefits are worth the cost. (4) Coercive Paternalism is efficient. Coercive Paternalism offers an ambiguous and unclear argument that ignores many of the complexities of the issues.

The Argument For Paternalism

A Coercive Paternalist would make an argument such as this: (1) People want to live long and healthy lives. (2) Eating processed foods and consuming drugs hinders people from living long and healthy lives. (3) Thus, the government must ban certain foods and drugs to promote the goal of the individual. Assuming the premise to be true, a rather noncontroversial claim, logically the next step is to examine the second step of the argument. Does consuming drugs hinder people from wanting to live long and healthy lives?

Examine, for instance, veteran suicide and veterans who deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Marijuana has been instrumental, if not vital, to veterans dealing with the mental complications involved with going into combat. By denying veterans drugs to promote the ‘individuals’ goals, they are actually exacerbating the mental complications of veterans and creating an environment in which veterans are forced to live shorter, mentally unhealthy lives as they tragically fall victim to the grip of suicide. Is this outcome the promotion of ‘long and healthy lives’? No, and thus Coercive Paternalism is unable to provide the needs of individual citizens.

The Failure of Coercive Paternalism

As it is unable to provide the needs of the individual citizens, it can not be effective. Paternalism itself is the idea in which the government must assume a role similar to that of your parent because the individual is inadequate to take of themselves and make good choices. Are any two individuals the same? Are any two children raised the same? Even siblings are often raised differently as a parent learns more, realizes mistakes, and adjust in real time to the needs of their children. The government, however, can not operate in this way on an individual level. Instead, they institute a policy under the basis of ‘one shoe fits all’. A clear example of this is common core education. With more money in the education system, improvement has been rare to come by. RealClear Education reports, “Between 2013 and 2017, only five jurisdictions logged improvements in 4th-grade math and just three in 8th-grade math.” As no two individuals develop the same, no government program can claim to be for the benefit of every citizen.

The theorized benefits of paternalism, that cannot apply to every citizen due to the nature of individuality, are not worth the cost. From 2013-2017, a total of $375,577,635,000 was spent federally, with an additional $840,757,185,970 spent in the same time frame by the states. In 2013, roughly 62,146,000 children went to school. That means that between 2013-2017, a total of $1,216,334,820,000 was spent on 62,146,000 school age children, or roughly $19,572.21 per student. As a result of paternalism, $1.2 trillion was spent to see only eight jurisdictions see an increase in math skills of America’s youth.

With the cost not being worth the near invisible benefits, Coercive Paternalism fails to also be effective. While it is not effective, it also fails to be efficient. Prohibition has historically failed to be efficient. The Eighth Amendment, passed in 1917 and ratified in 1919, was passed to prohibit the sales, transportation, importation, and exportation of “intoxicating liquors”, also known, more commonly, as alcohol. During the Prohibition Era, drinking remained constant. It is very likely that it not only stayed at the pre-prohibition levels but that drinking increased following the prohibition. When the government stopped sanctioning the legality of the alcohol industry and its services, it was forced to go into an underground state, run by speakeasies throughout the nation. The people reverted to the black market to get the products they desired, proving government regulation of the market to be inefficient. Furthermore, the government prohibition on the use of marijuana proved again to be a failure for the U.S government. Historically speaking, prohibition has always been ineffective.

Coercive Paternalism fails to promote the individual’s actual goals, is not effective, and is not worth the cost. The theory of Coercive Paternalism offers a simple answer to the complexities of society that fails to respect an individuals rights, needs, and the pursuit of happiness.


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Government Shutdowns and Debt Ceilings

Craig Axford | Canada

Government shutdowns and flirtations with default by putting off raising the federal debt ceiling have become regular occurrences in Washington, D.C. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised given the number of representatives and senators regularly expressing disdain for the very institution they were elected to run, but still.

Americans like to believe their nation is exceptional, and it is: it’s the only developed nation on the planet that doesn’t guarantee all its citizens healthcare, higher education is more expensive there than just about anywhere else, it has the only government that it’s possible to shut down without having to resort to violence, and it’s the only nation that flirts with suicide by requiring votes on its debt ceiling.

That’s right. No other governments have even one, let alone two, kill switches built into their system. And why would they? What’s the point? Unless the intent is to erode public confidence in government it makes no sense for elected officials to even contemplate closing down popular national parks or giving all the people in charge of enforcing our public health and safety regulations an extended unpaid holiday?

The habit of shutting down the government now and then (as well as the continuing resolutions passed to avoid them) is an unintended bug in the American system rather than a feature of it. So too is the necessity to authorize more borrowing periodically once the national debt has reached a predetermined threshold. Both of these bugs are extremely dangerous but, unfortunately, they are likely to remain unfixed for the foreseeable future.

America’s founding fathers were revolutionaries. As such, they were no fans of the British government, which by the late 18th century was already well established and quite recognizable to any citizen of the 21st century. Though King George III was the titular head of state, like his contemporary successor Queen Elizabeth II, he had very little actual power to match the privileges that came with his hereditary title. Parliament was already very much in charge.

Nothing like what took place in Philadelphia following the American Revolution had ever been seriously considered, let alone attempted, in London. To intentionally sit down and craft rules for a new government quite literally being built from scratch was a radical idea if ever there was one. To call America an experiment is not an exaggeration. As with any experiment, the outcome is unknown until it has come to a close. The American experiment hasn’t ended, but so far it certainly has produced some unanticipated results.

In creating the modern world’s first republic, America’s victorious rebels were faced with the task of establishing rules for a country that no longer had centuries of tradition to fall back on. The norms of the mother country they had just abandoned had evolved over hundreds of years of power struggles between the aristocracy and the crown, with a nascent merchant middle class increasingly making its own demands over the course of the 17th and 18th centuries. The newly independent colonies wanted to distinguish themselves from the nation they had just liberated themselves from, but how?

The US Constitution settled for a president instead of a monarch, while the House of Representatives took the place of the House of Commons and the Senate stood in for the House of Lords. Each elected member of these respective branches is subject to regular fixed terms of office, with the power balanced more or less equally between them rather than resting largely in the representative branch (i.e., parliament) alone. With the exception of the extremely rare and difficult case of impeachment, the US Constitution provides no opportunity to hold any single officeholder accountable for failure during the period between elections, let alone the government as a whole. Federal judges receive lifetime appointments, something else not seen in any other developed representative democracy to this day.

In a parliamentary system, the failure to pass something as routine as an annual budget triggers a crisis. Under the Westminster parliamentary model followed in the UK, Canada and several other members of the Commonwealth, this crisis brings down the government and forces the monarch or her designated representative to dissolve the government and call an election. In unstable periods when minority governments are common, elections tend to be relatively more frequent, while in less turbulent political times a majority government can persist for five years or so before facing a vote.

Likewise, when a parliament authorizes spending beyond the government’s anticipated revenues, it is understood they have necessarily approved an increase in the national debt. Therefore, there is no need to consider raising the debt limit independently. From the perspective of citizens living in parliamentary countries, it makes no sense that the same Congress that approved deficit spending one month can spend time the next flirting with a refusal to allow any borrowing. It’s like having a government that doesn’t know its own mind.

Unfortunately, the kind of crises that bring down governments in parliamentary systems has become commonplace in the United States. Budgets go years without being approved, with Congress lurching from one continuing resolution to the next while various factions hold federal employees and the citizens dependent upon their services hostage until some pet project or favorite policy or another is approved in exchange for keeping things running for a while longer. A Prime Minister Donald Trump would either be facing a vote of the people at this point in the budget process or a leadership challenge by members of his own caucus. One year in office would be unlikely, but four would almost certainly be impossible.

I’ve been living in Canada for the better part of a decade now. On most days I find myself feeling pretty ambivalent about the monarchy if I even think about it at all. That’s not because I can see equal merit in both sides of the argument regarding having someone born into the role of head of state. It’s because I recognize all societies require a sense of continuity and for some countries that can take the shape of a monarchy that has existed in one form or another for centuries. A woman that appears on our money while playing an entirely ceremonial role is harmless, if not for the actual person forced into the job by an accident of birth then at least for the rest of us.

I’m not feeling so ambivalent about having a parliament, however. I have strong opinions about the two Canadian prime ministers I’ve lived under so far. But the extent of my approval or disapproval aside, at least I know that the nearby Pacific Rim National Park will, weather permitting, always be open and that with the exception of national holidays at the local Services Canada office the door will never be locked. Even the UK Brexit debacle hasn’t convinced me parliaments are less effective or ultimately less democratic than the divided governments that have become the norm in the US.

If for some reason, it turns out parliament can’t do its job there will be an election lasting a little over a month while the people try to vote one in with a sufficient mandate to do it. In the meantime, things will go on pretty much as before without any nightly news reports about government employees unable to pay the rent because someone got it into their head they wanted to build a wall. I know it’s incredibly unAmerican to say so, but if you were to put me in a time machine and send me back to 1776, I would tell the founding fathers to get rid of the monarchy if they must, but at least keep the parliament.

Follow Craig on Twitter or read him on Medium.com


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End the Wars: The Only Way to Support the Troops

By TJ Roberts | United States

“Support the Troops”: A Siren Song for Warmongers

“Support the Troops” is a mantra by which the neoconservatives pray to their God, the Military Industrial Complex. As the war machine turns its eye toward Iran (and inevitably Russia), you can already hear the same old nonsense from the propagandists for endless war. According to the propagandists, sending young men and women to be maimed, murdered, and traumatized by people who have never wronged them is supporting the troops. But anyone with any hint of common sense would know that this is the polar opposite of supporting the troops.

The True Nature of War

War is nothing more than legalized mass murder, and sending young people to kill and to be killed is not support. War has cost America almost $6 trillion since 9/11. Selling out the entirety of our future into debt slavery is not supporting the troops. It is enslaving them and their children. War is also traumatizing to the brain. It is believed that up to 20% of all veterans have PTSD in some form. We see this in our daily life. 22 veterans commit suicide every day. Opting to subject young Americans to atrocities that will torment their psyche for the rest of their lives is evil. In no way is this supporting the troops.

The impacts of war go beyond this as well. Nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless or were homeless in their lifetime. This is because the military does not prepare you for the real world. It prepares you to take orders and not think for yourself. The military strips you of your individuality. It makes you a slave of the State, literal property to the United States Federal Government.

Rather than advocating for war, or the death, injury, and destruction of our troops, you should Support the Troops… by bringing them home. 1.3 million American soldiers are deployed around the world. That is 1.3 million people who have left their homes and families because the government deceived them into believing that propping up the American Empire will keep us free and safe. But if the Patriot Act doesn’t give it away, war makes us less safe and less free.

So many American soldiers have died for nothing more than government propaganda. When one takes a closer look at reality, we realize that the government has funneled trillions into legal mass murder. The military is no longer used for defense. It is now used as a means to impose the will of America’s ruling elite upon the rest of the world. For America to be free, this must end. For us to truly honor our soldiers, we must bring them home and stop making more of them. If Americans truly support the troops, they would call for an end to the wars.

No matter how the government frames it, war is nothing more than legalized mass murder. Perhaps this is best expressed by the sentiments of Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton’s second Secretary of State. On May 12, 1996, Albright claimed that the 500,000 children killed by US foreign policy in Iraq were “worth it.” The blood of half a million children is a high price to pay. But what did the people receive for that? Control. The US government is willing to kill millions in the pursuit of power throughout the world. Soldiers are no exception. If you are a soldier, the government sees you as nothing more than cannon fodder. You are more than this, but they don’t care.

The government hypnotizes soldiers by claiming that they will spread democracy around the world. This goal is neither honest nor noble nor possible. To spread mob rule to the rest of the world is to destabilize the world, but that isn’t the true intentions of the neocons in power. It is clear that the true goal is domination. When the US military “liberates” a nation, often sacrificing thousands of soldiers in the meantime, they do not allow self-rule. They implement puppet governments. The US expands its hegemony, dominating the world through the war machine. All dissenters meet their end, and it costs the American people hundreds of billions every year.

It is impossible to support war and not support big government. War amounts to the second largest expenditure of the federal government, with welfare in first place. Since 9/11, the war machine has cost more than $6 trillion to the US taxpayer. There is no opting out of this. Either you pay for the government’s organized mass violence, or they throw you in a cage. For one to have a war system as massive as the United States, the government needs to centralized, massive, and authoritarian. This is not freedom. If soldiers were truly fighting for freedom, they would defend America from its government.

Ultimately, war is the health of the State. Without war, the government would not be able to expand in the way it currently does. Defense would largely be private, and there would be no propagandist inducing fear into the hears of the public. The warfare State devastates the economy through inflation, opening the gates to the welfare state. The warfare state leads to the loss of millions of people throughout the world. In the last century alone, government has killed more than 200 million people in acts of war, democide, or genocide. If we are to truly honor the dedication to freedom that a soldier should hold, we would eliminate that occupation from this world. To honor the soldiers that lost their lives, we must stop creating new soldiers. No more should another person kill or be killed for the will of the government.

If you want to Support the Troops, oppose war, empire, and interventionism in all of its manifestations. This is your duty. If the State still chooses to go to war, it is the duty of any decent human being to encourage the people not to enlist and to resist the war effort in every way possible. And to the neoconservatives that claim this is hatred of the troops, answer this question. Which plan will kill more people: your plan, in which soldiers are sent into a battlefield to kill and be killed; or my plan, where war is a thing of the past and we support the troops by not sending them to die? It’s time. End the wars and bring them home now.


Originally published on freedomandeconomics.org.

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