Similarly, there is a nonpartisan consensus that the proper response to an economic downturn should be the Keynesian prescription of more government spending, more deficits, more debt. The Bush administration ran up deficits and added well over $4 trillion to the national debt. When Obama came into office, the national debt was at around $10 trillion, and running upwards of $1 trillion in deficits every year, he managed to increase that to over $16 trillion in less than four years. When libertarian presidential candidate Ron Paul, running as a Republican, proposed a plan to cut $1 trillion from the budget in his first year, Romney showed his true Keynesian colors by responding that doing so would throw the economy into a depression, the underlying assumption being that government bureaucrats know better than the American people how best to spend the American people’s money, know better than the market how to direct scarce resources to the most productive ends in order to create economic growth.
Romney has also adopted what some are calling “militarized Keynesianism”, arguing that if the U.S. cuts military spending, it will result in a loss of jobs in the military/security complex. Neither party has proposed any serious cuts in military spending, which is likewise projected to increase over the next decade. Despite lots of talk about spending “cuts”, there are none, only reductions from baseline spending increases over the next decade, and neither party is even remotely serious about eliminating the deficit and tackling the debt. The budget plan of Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, doesn’t project balancing the budget until sometime after 2040, and only then based on rosy and delusional assumptions about economic recovery that isn’t going to happen, because the bond bubble will inevitably burst, and when that happens, it will make the 2008 financial crisis look like a walk in the park.
Ah, but what about entitlement programs and health care? Isn’t there real, meaningful difference between the candidates in this area? Don’t Democrats want to take care of poor people while Republicans want to eliminate welfare and entitlement programs? Those on the “left” seem to think so. The actual facts don’t support this paradigm, however. The legislation that created Medicare Part D, for example, was signed into law by Bush. During their debate, Romney criticized “Obamacare” because it will reduce Medicare spending. Think about that. And Obama himself pointed out that his position on Social Security was not much different from Romney’s.
And returning again to the debt, the figure of $16 trillion does not include the unfunded liabilities of Medicare and Social Security. Including these liabilities brings the debt to over $100 trillion. While Republicans and Democrats bicker on the details of these programs, the truth is that they are bankrupting the country, and neither party is willing to face up to that reality or deal with it seriously. So much for their supposedly “meaningful” differences.
Then there is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. “Obamacare”), which many on the “left” support because they believe it will, as the name implies, do something to make health care more affordable, especially for the underprivileged. They believe this simply as a matter of faith. But this is false. The ACA in fact does nothing to reduce health care costs and, apart from the name, doesn’t pretend to. Rather, it seeks to try to manage costs by shifting the burden from one group of people to another, such as to health care providers (such as via the aforementioned reductions in Medicare spending, which will likely lead to fewer doctors accepting Medicare patients), and in ways that will likely only exacerbate the underlying problems. With the artificial increase in demand that will result, while the supply of doctors remains the same, the predictable result will be that it pushes costs even higher, either in terms of money or time spent in the waiting room, or both.
On its face, costs are so high in the first place because government has done its best to eliminate a free market for health care, such that prices for health care services don’t even exist and the market incentive to provide the best possible care at the lowest cost is eliminated and replaced with countless perverse incentives, so the idea that even more government interference and attempts to centrally manage a complex system is the solution easily falls within Einstein’s definition of insanity.
Apart from just being bad law, the Act’s individual mandate is also patently unconstitutional. The Constitution nowhere enumerates to government the authority to lay a direct unapportioned tax on individuals for nonconsumption. In fact, it expressly forbids the laying of such a tax. The usurpation of this authoritarian power, which the American people meekly accept and even joyfully embrace in the naïve belief that government will use it only for good, is a dangerous precedent. The potential for abuse is limited only by the imaginations of corporate lobbyists and corrupt politicians who now claim for themselves the power to be able to force Americans to participate in the market by purchasing some good or service against their will or to pay a penalty tax for their refusal to do so.
The reasons why bureaucrats decided it was “necessary” to include the mandate to purchase health insurance is instructive. One of the centerpieces of the ACA is its reform that would force insurance companies to accept people even with preexisting conditions. One of the reasons people are unable to get insurance is because they are ensured through an employer, but then they lose or change their job, and when that happens, under the current system, they typically lose their insurance as well. And if, in the meantime, they have developed some health condition requiring costly care, they are unable now to get on a new policy. Instead of making reforms to allow people to have more control over their own insurance and how their own money is spent, such that they might obtain a portable policy, the bureaucrats decided to just force insurers to accept people with preexisting conditions, which defeats the whole purpose of insurance. (If that isn’t plainly obvious enough, imagine if the government, in the name of helping poor homeowners, passed a law forcing fire insurance companies to insure people after their house has burned down.)
There are two predictable immediate consequences: one, insurers will have to increase premiums to cover the additional costs that would be incurred; and, two, people would have an incentive to not buy insurance unless and until they get sick. Thus a bill that ostensibly set out to make insurance more affordable and to have more people be insured included reform that would produce the exact opposite results. But instead of recognizing that this was just bad policy and scrapping it, they came up with another “solution” to solve the very problem that they, with their own bureaucratic bungling, created in the first place: the individual mandate, among the practical effects of which include forcing young people who have lower incomes to subsidize the costs of care for older people with higher incomes and forcing healthy people who eat right and exercise to subsidize the costs of unhealthy people whose lifestyle choices result in their higher health care expenses.
Returning to the alleged “meaningful” differences between Obama and Romney, those on the “left” seem to forget that Massachusetts’ “Romneycare” was the model for “Obamacare” (and Romney supporters seem only too happy to do the same). The only difference between Obama and Romney on the matter of the unconstitutional mandate is that Romney thinks that state governments should have such a dangerous authoritarian power, while Obama thinks this power belongs properly in the hands of the federal government, as well.
This is illustrative of the nature of the kind of “choice” people have this election. Sure, there are differences, but the basic underlying premise of both candidates’ positions are exactly the same. Sure, one can find areas where they disagree, but only within a framework wherein the disagreements lie within a limited range of acceptable dissent and debate that doesn’t risk upsetting the existing status quo. Thus, while Romney disagreed with Obama on bailing out the auto industry, there is no difference between them on the basic principle of using taxpayers’ money to bail out troubled corporations, as illustrated in the fact that Romney, like Obama, supported bailing out the banks. On matters of foreign policy, as already noted, the only difference, if there is any, is that Romney would escalate the policies of Bush/Obama even further (which Obama is likely to continue doing in a second term, anyway, just as he has escalated Bush’s policies during the first). Like Obama, Romney also said he would have voted for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) under which the government has claimed for itself the power to lock away American citizens in indefinite military detention (R.I.P. habeas corpus). In a speech outlining his positions on foreign policy, Romney asked “how the threats we face have grown so much worse” before proceeding at length to explain how he would continue to do more of the same that resulted in the situation becoming “so much worse” under Bush and Obama, promising to continue or escalate all of the U.S.’s existing policies right across the board. Et cetera…
Such is the nature of the “choice” Americans are faced with this coming election.
The logic behind the “lesser of evils” argument can be effectively boiled down to: “Most everyone else is going to vote for one of the two pro-establishment candidates, so therefore you should do so, too!” Or, to put it another way: “Most everyone else is going to employ a failed strategy that can only prevent real change by perpetuating the existing establishment order, so if you don’t do the same, you will be wasting your vote!” This thinking is beyond merely irrational; it is insane. If most everyone else was going to either jump off the bridge or lie down on the railroad tracks, would you decide that you should do so, too? If most everyone else in the group was going to commit mass suicide by drinking the Kool-Aid, would you decide that therefore you must do it, too? If you were on the playground and a bunch of your friends started talking about how they were either going to beat up the new kid or call him names, would you vote to go make fun of him on order to stop him from getting beat up, or would you dare to speak up and object to both suggestions? If you were chosen to participate in an experiment in which the scientists told you that if you didn’t push a button to apply an electric shock to a subject strapped into a chair, someone else in another room would apply an even more powerful shock, would you push the button in order to “help” the subject to be spared the even worse consequence of the guy in the other room pushing his?
By this logic, if Americans were given a choice between voting for Hitler running as a Republican, Stalin running as a Democrat, and Jesus running as a third-party candidate, they would vote for Stalin to keep Hitler from gaining power rather than wasting their vote on someone who is “unelectable” by virtue of not belonging to one of the two establishment parties.
Of course, the only reason it is true that “most everyone else” will vote for one of the two pro-establishment candidates in the first place is because they all cling to this same flawed thinking, too. It would be like observing that most other people weren’t recycling and concluding that therefore it wouldn’t make a difference for you to do it, when the whole reason nobody else was doing it was because they were all thinking the exact same way you were, and if everyone just stopped thinking that way, everyone would recycle. It is a self-fulfilling argument, because acting according to the conclusion of this logic is the very thing that makes its premise true.
How many people actually would have preferred Ron Paul as the Republican nominee but didn’t vote for him in the primaries simply because they considered him “unelectable”? How many people would prefer one of the third-party candidates, such as Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, but will still choose to vote for one of the two establishment guys anyways because they think that’s what everyone else is going to do, and they don’t want to “waste” their vote?
Voting isn’t a horse race. It’s not about picking a winner. Chances are, if everyone just stopped thinking, “I really like this alternative candidate, but I won’t vote for him because he’s ‘unelectable’,” and instead just voted their conscience, then he wouldn’t be unelectable, the establishment order could no longer be sustained, and the door would be opened to the possibility that the country might see real, meaningful, significant change.
There has to be people who are willing to go against the herd mentality, to reject groupthink, to dare to be different, to have the audacity to set aside insanity and adopt reason. And then more people will follow the path of sanity and moral conscience. And then more, until finally a tipping point is reached and change is ushered in. What is needed is a revolution. Not a violent revolt, and not even peaceful protests, but a revolution in thought. What is needed is a paradigm shift. The tipping point will not likely be reached this election. But if more people wake up this time around and either vote for an alternative candidate or simply choose not to participate in the whole charade at all so as not to recognize its legitimacy, then that will constitute progress.
Whatever you do this election, do not vote to perpetuate the establishment order. Do not vote to maintain the status quo. Do not vote for more illegal wars, more violence and murder of innocent civilians, more violations of international law, more trampling of the Constitution, more loss of your Liberty. Do not vote for the nation to continue down the path of self-destruction and economic ruin. Do not vote to legitimize the corruption, lawlessness, and immorality of the government. Do not vote to approve of a government committing crimes in your name, to have blood on your hands. Whatever you do, do not join in the mass insanity. Whatever you do, do not waste your vote. Do not vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.