Toward a Conservative Foreign Policy of Non-Interventionism

During the presidency of George W. Bush, those of us who criticized U.S. foreign policy as overly hawkish tended to be considered “liberal,” a tendency neoconservatives had little reason to resist.  I personally found this very frustrating, for reasons that probably mystify some readers.  Does it really matter whether any given position is suitably “conservative”?  It does to a conservative, because conservatives are supposed to obsess about continuity with the past.  Conservatives are, by definition, strongly committed to the proposition that our received political traditions represent centuries of political wisdom which, at least in the ordinary case, should trump all but the most extraordinarily well-founded private judgments.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Case for Fundamental Tax Reform (Reposted)

The following was originally posted on April 15, 2008:

It’s April 15, and like many Americans I just finished spending much too long trying to figure out what I owe in federal and state income taxes. What better day could there be to consider the need for fundamental tax reform? Read the rest of this entry »

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

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SUPER BAAADDDD, by Bill Bonner

I don’t usually do posts that just say, “Hey, read this.”  But hey, read this.  It’s by Bill Bonner, who sells many of his insights but offers the ones below free on his Daily Reckoning site.  Finally, a proposal for helping clear the glut of bad novels.

SUPER BAAADDDD
by Bill Bonner

Bankers are idiots, sometimes Read the rest of this entry »

The best conservatives are liberal, and vice versa

I watched the inaugural address from the crowded and noisy balcony of the canteen at a local ski area.  There was some applause, though less than I expected.  There is, however, probably some sampling bias at work, considering that each and every person in the room could easily have been on the Mall but deliberately chose to ski instead.

I liked the speech very much, partly because its sobriety matched the seriousness of our problems, but perhaps more because of its repeated reliance on the broad sweep of U.S. history.  While some pundits have seemed unable to find any common theme in the speech, Read the rest of this entry »

The Real and the Sacred in Economics

Before Thanksgiving, my friend Tim Peach set forth a heavily ironic statement of what he apparently takes to be the free-market ideology that informs the anti-bailout view.  At first, I hesitated to respond for a variety of reasons, not least my reluctance to admit any resemblance between my own conception of free-market economics and the one Tim attributes to Ayn Rand.  But then Tim called me out by name on the point.  And besides, he is not the first of my Catholic friends to invoke religion in support of pro-bailout, interventionist economics.  These friends have either argued or implied that free-market capitalism is in some way inconsistent with God’s idea of human flourishing.  That is well worth discussing, and Tim’s comment presents a perfect opportunity because of its considerable rhetorical force.  So although I am no expert, I will hazard a conception of economics that I believe acknowledges its limits and distinguishes it from anything that could be considered religious or even moral.

Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t Waste Your Vote! (Third Parties Turn the Tables)

Anyone who has ever considered voting for an independent or minor-party candidate has probably been vigorously admonished by his Republican or Democratic friends not to “waste” his or her vote.  Yesterday, the Libertarian ticket turned the tables by sending out an e-mail arguing, in effect, that a vote for John McCain would be wasteful in precisely the same sense.  The e-mail, which came from Bob Barr’s Campaign Manager Russ Verney (former Campaign Manager for Ross Perot), carried this subject heading:  “McCain is guaranteed to lose . . . so what does that mean for America?”  Here’s the rest of the e-mail: Read the rest of this entry »

House Republicans Drop the Ball

I understand the case for the bailout, I really do.  Tim Peach and Dave Fitzgerald have done a very good job explaining it here, and John Mauldin explains it in much greater detail (and argues that it’s not really a bailout at all because the taxpayers will profit) here.  (Note:  The Mauldin piece is free, but you need to give him an e-mail address before it shows up on your screen.)  Because of all the bad things that would happen to the economy as a whole in the absence of the bailout, it’s no surprise that a deal has been reached.  Apparently there is no official text yet, but the Washington Post has a pretty concise rundown of the major points, and the stories in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal seem to be in accord.  What caught my eye, though, was what the House Republicans managed to get in return for ending their holdout.  Read the rest of this entry »

The Latest from Ron Paul on the Bailout

I received this via e-mail a few minutes ago:

Dear Friends:

The financial meltdown the economists of the Austrian School predicted has arrived.

We are in this crisis because of an excess of artificially created credit at the hands of the Federal Reserve System. The solution being proposed? More artificial credit by the Federal Reserve. No liquidation of bad debt and malinvestment is to be allowed. By doing more of the same, we will only continue and intensify the distortions in our economy – all the capital misallocation, all the malinvestment – and prevent the market’s attempt to re-establish rational pricing of houses and other assets.

Last night the president addressed the nation about the financial crisis. There is no point in going through his remarks line by line, since I’d only be repeating what I’ve been saying over and over – not just for the past several days, but for years and even decades.

Still, at least a few observations are necessary. Read the rest of this entry »

Ron Paul, “The Revolution: A Manifesto”

Last winter, when I donated to Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, I made the mistake of buying a Ron Paul sweatshirt but no Ron Paul T-shirt. I do not remember whether that was simple inadvertence on my part or whether it reflected a conscious prediction that Dr. Paul would likely be irrelevant by the time it was too warm for the sweatshirt. Either way, it was a mistake, because Ron Paul’s role in the presidential election is today very much the same as it was back in January. He is a man who will not be president, but who will not stop asking some of the most important questions about the course our nation is on. It is perhaps no coincidence that he also provides the most philosophically coherent package of answers. Read the rest of this entry »