The Truth About Liberalism

Ludwig von Mises, Founder of the "Austrian School" of Economics, and Proponent of Free-Market Capitalism

Ludwig von Mises, Founder of the “Austrian School” of Economics, and Proponent of Free-Market Capitalism

What is liberalism?  What is a liberal education?  Why do college students receive degrees in something called “liberal arts”?  Has liberalism always been what it is today?  These are fascinating questions.

Many people fail to understand that what is now referred to as “liberalism” was once known more by the terms “statism” and “socialism.”  The original version of liberalism–which is often known as classic liberalism–is now found among those who prefer smaller government and free markets.  As the power of monarchies in old Europe came crashing down with the Enlightenment and the dawn of modernity, the “liberals” back then were those who argued that government is valid only when it receives the approval of the people.  Those classic liberals understood that if economic freedom was granted to everyone, wealth could be pursued by all and would no longer be the prerogative of a few powerful lords and ladies.

We Americans are inheritors of this vision.  It came from the great thinkers of Europe and is enshrined in the founding documents of our nation.  “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are specifically mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.  There we are told that the power of government is derived from “the consent of the governed.”  If government no longer assists us in securing these aims, “it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.”  Note that there is no mention in the Declaration that government should make us happy or give us the things that secure our happiness.  That is up to us.

Liberalism as originally defined was freedom from many evil things:  the powerful grip of royalty, excessive taxation, limits on legitimate business, forced enlistment in the army or navy, and from the destitution caused when economic power is held only by a privileged few.  Those early liberals were apostles of freedom.

The right of kings and princes to rule was a divine right, one granted by Almighty God–or so the people were told.  Who told them that?  The princes and kings, of course.

The first people who engaged in the free exchange of goods or services put a kink in the armor of the powerful.  All it took was for one person to trade something to someone else, not because they were told to do so, and not because a feudal prince demanded it.  They did it because it was of economic benefit to themselves and their loved ones.

With that first exchange the notion of economic liberty was born.  The Genie of Power and Control was out of the bottle.  Kings, princes, and sometimes even popes have been trying to put that genie back ever since.  You see, it’s not just the genie that has a name.  The bottle also has a name.  It’s called Government.

The freedom of making one’s own economic choices has proved its power to make the lives of everyone better.  With its arrival a new light burst upon the affairs of humanity.  As economist Ludwig von Mises wrote in his book Liberalism, “a magnificent economic development took place.  The release of man’s productive powers multiplied the means of subsistence many times over.”  The ideas of classic, original liberalism dropped the infant mortality rate, increased health, and destroyed “the barriers that in earlier ages had separated the lords and serfs.”

But woe to the growing middle class!  When there is creation of genuine wealth, the tax collector is never far behind.  Princes may be rare today or may supposedly be curtailed by constitutions, but we humans lose our abilities to reason when it comes to the hard work and wealth of others.  Under the guise of guaranteeing equality, the monarch has returned to America but with a new name:  the federal government.

Government feeds upon the anxiety and greed of the people who would rather know immediate gratification than long-term security.  As Mises tells us, the light of a free economy emancipated humanity from a society where power was in the hands of “the special interests of certain classes.” In response, what did powerful government do?  It involved itself in those formerly free transactions and once again granted power to its chosen classes of special interest.

This was done, of course, under the guise of securing equality.  What was really guaranteed was not equality but statism, powerful centralized government that increasingly meddled in the affairs of citizens at all levels.  Then, insult was added to injury:  powerful statists and their socialist supporters hijacked the name “liberal.”  Twisting the facts, statists repainted the world to convince the greedy that the free exchange of goods and services was the cause of all the world’s misery and poverty.  The truth was just the opposite.  Those who tried to point this out were labelled as “dangerous” and “radical.”

These days, it would appear that Ludwig von Mises was right:  “nothing is left of liberalism but the name.”  Today’s liberals–who have stolen the name “liberal” from those who value freedom–spend their time condemning the advocates of free markets.  Capitalism, they claim, promotes “only the special interests of certain classes.”  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Only government has the necessary power to guarantee the success or destruction of any class of people.

America has come full circle.  Is it an economic monarchy that we want?  Call them presidents, senators, congressmen, or bureaucrats–if they wield excessive power they might as well be princes or kings.

Imagine an economic and social system where powerful people constantly tell you what to do, and how to do it.  Imagine that these powerful people live extraordinary lives of privilege.  Imagine that they have armed men and women to enforce their will.  No matter how often they tell you that their actions are “for the common good,” it still sounds like monarchy to me.

Do you duty as a free citizen tomorrow.  Revolt.  Do it peacefully, but revolt.  Remind the political elites that you are not a serf.  We don’t have princes in America.  We don’t have kings.  And we don’t want them.

Mises was inspired by the legendary character Faust, taking for himself the immortal words with which I leave you.  I beg you to remember them tomorrow as you vote:  “No man deserves his freedom or his life who does not daily win them anew.”

Quotations from Ludwig von Mises are drawn from the introductory chapter of the 2012 reprint of his 1962 edition of Liberalism (Important Books imprint, first paperback edition).  The text is also found online, compliments of the Ludwig von Mises Institute at Auburn University.  To access the online version, click HERE.  


Three Big-Name Endorsements for Obama; One for Romney

As we get closer to the presidential election in three days, it’s clear that Barack Obama has secured the endorsement of several big-name supporters on the international stage.  These are heavy hitters; voters should take their recommendations seriously.  They and their families influence millions of people and their endorsements tell us something about their expectations for Mr. Obama’s second term.

In September Obama received the glowing support of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.  Well, I think he’s the Russian president.  He has been playing a game of musical chairs between the presidency and the office of prime minister.  A former member of the KGB (Soviet secret police), Putin continues to exercise his Soviet-style leadership over the Russian people.  He insists that the re-election of President Obama would be best for relations between his country and ours.  One can easily imagine why.  Back in March, Obama told Dmitri Medvedev (Putin’s state puppet) that he would have “more flexibility” dealing with the Russians after his November election.  Whatever it is that he’s planning to give the Putin, one can only imagine that it will be wildly unpopular with American voters.  Otherwise, why hide it until after the election?

From the south, Obama has received the lively praises of socialist dictator and president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.  “If I were American, I’d vote for Obama,” he happily clucked in an interview on Televen, a Venezuelan television corporation.  Once a brave critique of Chavez, Televen has finally succumbed to dictatorial pressure.  It now boasts a “neutral” status when it comes to issues of Venezuelan politics.  Many Venezuelans, whose freedom is threatened by such a decision, have accused the corporation of giving in to the dictator’s threats.  Better to have a job and all your fingers, I suppose.  When the dictator calls, give him all the air time he wants.  Even more interesting, when endorsing Obama, Chavez told his audience that if Obama were Venezuelan “he’d vote for me.”  I find that easy to believe.

The third endorsement comes from a powerful Caribbean family.  During the summer Mariela Castro visited the United States.  She is the daughter of Raul Castro, the dictator of Cuba who took the reigns from his brother Fidel when the latter began to have health problems a few years ago.  “I believe Obama needs another opportunity,” she said, “to move forward with his projects and his ideas.”  Our government granted Ms. Castro a visa and allowed her the privilege of traveling and speaking freely.  She enjoyed the blessings of liberty while she was here, despite the fact that her father’s government has held an American contractor now for nearly three years.  According to his wife, Alan Gross has lost over a hundred pounds, is in poor health, and has a skin growth that needs proper medical attention.  He may be dying, but at least he has free healthcare in Cuba.

And what about Mr. Romney?  He has received the glowing endorsement of Lech Walesa, the Solidarity leader of Poland who led his country from Communism to freedom and who served as that nation’s first freely-elected president beginning in 1990.  Walesa understands that if the United States gives up its position of international leadership there are others who are willing to fill the vacuum.  In a meeting with Romney he told the candidate to “be successful!”  He promised that Poland and other nations would help the US “to restore its leadership position.”  Lech Walesa has dealt with men like Putin, Chavez, and the Castros of Cuba.  He knows that their smiles and hearty handshakes hide a dangerous agenda.

So, America, what will it be?  Which endorsement impresses you most?  Among these big names, which of them represents the world you wish to leave to your children?

The Spanish people have a wise saying:  Dime quienes son tus amigos y te dire’ quien eres.  In other words, “tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.”

Could anything be more true?

The Liberty Professor Predicts 321 Electoral Votes (or More) for Romney

When it comes to liberty, nothing is more important or more sacred than the secret ballot.  People will say all sorts of things for public consumption, but when they cast their votes they can usually be trusted to do what they think is best–whether or not they are fully informed.

Next Tuesday the voters of the United States will elect to the presidency the Republican candidate Mitt RomneyI predicted it back in February.  In September I repeated that prediction but added that his win would bring between 310-320 electoral votes.

Now I’m prepared to be much more specific.

My prediction for Romney’s victory gives him no less than 321 electoral votes to Obama’s 217.  Not only will it be a sizeable victory in the electoral college, it will include at least 52% of the popular vote. To win the election, 270 electoral votes are necessary.

Obama is losing ground quickly, even among many of the groups that firmly supported him in 2008.  Independent voters and women are turning to Romney and voter turnout among some of Obama’s traditional constituencies will probably be down.  Many who voted enthusiastically back in 2008  for a candidate they didn’t know now find themselves disillusioned.  Those who knew the real Obama in 2008 have had our fears confirmed.  Most Americans have paid dearly for his four-year vacation in the White House.  A growing list of newspapers that endorsed Obama in 2008 have chosen Romney for 2012.

Republicans were demoralized in 2008.  They are energized now beyond belief.  GOP turnout will reach record numbers, as will turnout among Romney independents.  In the privacy of the voting booth many a presumed Obama supporter will cast a vote for Romney.

In the so-called battleground states (unless fair elections are thwarted by voter fraud) I predict some exciting surprises:  Nevada, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Wisconsin will be victories for Romney.  Less surprising, at least to my mind, will be his victories in Florida, Virginia, Iowa, and North Carolina.  Even the independent-minded folks of New Hampshire will probably go for Romney.  Michigan is now in play.  I still have it painted blue for Obama, but it could go red for Romney.

This is my baseline position.  The final results could be even stronger for Romney.  In the 1980 presidential election in which Jimmy Carter sought a second term, the media predicted an easy win for Carter.  The final electoral count was only 49 for Carter, with 489 going to Ronald Reagan.

If you’d like to study the Liberty Professor’s electoral map, click HERE.

We’ll return to my predictions on the day after the election.  I promise to give myself a grade based on the actual results.

In the meantime, Romney voters must not be complacent.  If the Romney victory isn’t clear and decisive, increased opportunities for vote fraud will emerge.  In January, with a new president in the White House, constitutionalists can press their insistence on more federal faithfulness to the vision of smaller government demanded by the Constitution.

Constitutionalists should remember these days and savor them.  Millions of Romney supporters are counting on his efforts to roll back the power and expense of the federal government.  If he disappoints us, he can count us out for 2016.

“Angry Right-Wing Protesters Attack Nuns!”

When it comes to politics, it’s all about the show.  Truth be damned.  What matters is how many people can be manipulated by misconstrual of the facts.

If you believe the pro-Democrat organizations like Faith America and Democracy in Action, “angry right-wing protesters” are staging nasty “attacks” against innocent Catholic nuns who are traveling the country with a message of equality and concern for the poor.  And of course, we all know how much right wingers hate the poor.  Shame on them for preventing the precious sisters from spreading their message of love.

On October 15th, the “Nuns on the Bus” rolled in to Marietta, Ohio to criticize the budget plans of Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan.  The leader of this protest tour is Sr. Simone Campbell, a sweet-looking lady that you just want to hug.  In fact, though the good sister and I differ greatly in our politics, I’d be happy to hug her.  And I’d be happy to stand up to any tasteless thugs who threaten her–if they exist.

According to Faith America and Democracy in Action (who suspiciously have the exact same webpage on their websites in support of the sisters), the angry right-wing extremists in Marietta are not only getting out of hand, they are being organized by a Catholic priest!  If you are so inclined you can even sign a petition to have the priest censured by his bishop.  The webpage boldly proclaims that we must “STOP THE ATTACKS ON THE NUNS ON THE BUS.”

There’s only one problem.  When you view video of the “angry” attackers, they don’t exist.  Clear HERE to see them quietly praying and holding their signs of protest.  They seem to be praying the Catholic prayer known as the Hail Mary, and some are chanting Ave Maria.  They certainly don’t look like “angry protesters” to me.

What about the nuns?  Did those mean-spirited protesters shout them down or block their access to the microphone, or did they shove them off the sidewalk?  No, not at all.  Click HERE to see a video of one of the sisters calmly speaking her message.  No one is shouting her down.  No one is attacking her or threatening her.  In fact, those “angry” right-wing people are acting quite respectfully.  Perhaps the kids at “Occupy Wall Street” should have taken a field trip to Ohio to learn how to hold a peaceful protest.  These “right wingers” could give them an excellent example to live by.

A few days after the event The Marietta Times ran an editorial proclaiming that it is “wrong to make the nuns’ visit political.”

Friends, I can’t make this stuff up.  A group of well-intentioned nuns is traveling around Ohio criticizing a GOP vice-presidential nominee and his budget proposal and we’re actually supposed to believe that it was the Republicans who made this a political issue?

The nuns have a right to their opinion, as misguided as I believe it to be.  Those who oppose them also have a right to their opinion.  Both sides have a right to speak their opinions in public.  Let’s not demean the process of public debate by labelling peaceful opposition as “angry attacks.”  Let’s also not suppose that morality and righteousness belong only to one political party.

Silly Citizen, The Rules are Different for Democrats!

I remember distinctly the first time after Barack Obama’s election that someone called me a racist.  It was on Facebook.  I posted a comment about the fact that we had a man in the White House who possesses the most concentrated power on the globe, yet we know nearly nothing about him.

Barack Obama, to use a Switzerism, is the “packaged president.” 

He’s not the first elected official to have elements of his past sealed away from prying eyes, but he’s so good at it that I hear Notre Dame might rescind his honorary doctorate to give him a real PhD in “Presidential Packology.” 

For Obama (and many other politicians), the object of a political campaign is to get the most votes no matter what else happens.  One would think that the object of a campaign would be to introduce the real candidate to the people so those people can make a straightforward, informed choice.  Nope.  That’s just not how it works.

Did you or your friend happen to vote for Obama?  Which one?  You see, for every Obama voter there was a different Obama.  He was swept into office because each of his supporters cast a vote for the mystical, cosmic Obama who reigned in their hearts.  He was, to each of them, whatever they wanted him to be.  And he and his campaign carefully orchestrated the effort by preaching “hope and change,” and by chanting endlessly, “yes we can!”

Hmm.  What hopes was he referring to?  What change was he offering?  “Yes we can,” the crowds cried in awe.  Yes, we can what?

Obama is about to lose the White House.  If Dinesh D’Souza’s research is correct, Barack Obama came into office in order to give America its comeuppance.  He has had great success in doing so, at least in my humble estimation.  But now he will receive his own comeuppance–if we can keep the voter fraud committed by his minions to a minimum.  I suspect the average American would be shocked by the amount of election fraud perpetrated by the Democrat party in the 2008 election if it were known.  The tales told by former Obama supporters are astounding.  Here’s one recent example that came to light:  the son of Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA) recently resigned from his position as field director of his father’s re-election campaign after a video came to light in which he encourages and offers helpful advice to those seeking to commit election fraud.

In a strange twist, supporters of the Packaged President are now howling with laughter at Donald Trump.  Admittedly, Trump is unpredictable, eccentric, and egotistical.  Earlier this week he offered $5 Million to anyone who can secure copies of Obama’s college transcripts and his passport

Is Trump an odd duck?  You bet.  He’s unusual to the extreme.  But if we put aside his quirky personality and self-promotion for a moment, we might realize that he’s not asking for anything bizarre.  If the so-called “birthers” are nuts, take away their thunder and show us your passport, Mr. President.  If you’re as brilliant as the “mainstream” press says you are, then show us your transcripts.  Remove your grades if you wish, but show us your college records if you have nothing to hide.

An old proverb says that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”  When Mitt Romney refused to release as many years of tax returns as the Obama campaign suggested, Democrats unleashed a string of accusations, rumors, suggestions–even that Romney may have broken federal law.  It was all done with no evidence whatsoever.  Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) even made false accusations against Romney on the floor of the Senate.  There was a time when such pettiness was below the conduct of a sitting US senator.  Like kids watching clowns at the circus, the “mainstream” press was mesmerized by it.

With such support, I doubt Obama will release his transcripts or his passport.  But all the while the press will hound Trump, attempting to paint the entire Republican party with the idiosyncratic tendencies of the Don himself.

Should Romney give us years and years of tax returns?  “Yes,” they shout!  “It’s unreasonable not to do so unless he has something to hide.”  Should Obama show us his college transcripts?  “No,” they yell, “don’t be silly.  Obama has nothing to hide.”  Our suspicions, they say, are petty and racist.

Nonetheless, even with the press serving as campaign advisors and special agents for the Obama message, he’s losing ground rapidly. 

Obama’s only hope for success at this point is either through lies or fraud.  He’s not beyond either.  But don’t expect objectivity or equal treatment from most of the press.  As we southerners like to say with a grin, “It ain’t gonna happen.”

Why Mitt Romney’s Mormonism Would Be a Blessing to America

A great deal has been made over the fact that Mitt Romney is Mormon, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (often referred to as just “Latter-Day Saints” or “LDS”).  In many cases the commentary has been negative and even inaccurate.  Interest in LDS faith seems to be growing, as evidenced by my visit to Barnes and Noble yesterday.  The number of books available there on Mormonism has increased dramatically in the last few weeks.

I, of course, am not a member of the LDS faith.  I’m a Roman Catholic.  I’ve had Mormon friends and I’ve studied the doctrines of their faith for some time now.  I’m thoroughly convinced that a president who is LDS and who lives by his church’s doctrines will be a very good thing for the United States of America.  If you understand what mainstream Mormonism teaches, you’ll understand why I hold such a conviction.

Before we go much further, let’s dispose of false idea that Mormonism is a cult.  I see no evidence of that.  Contrary to common misconception, having unusual beliefs doesn’t make a religious community a cult.  Genuine cults are communities where leaders have an excessive and often unhealthy control over their members.  Examples include the Branch Davidians (led by David Koresh) and Heaven’s Gate (led by Marshall Applewhite); members of both groups were led to their deaths by their leaders.

I would not classify the Latter-Day Saints of today as members of a cult, though it may be correct that the original Mormon community under Joseph Smith did shows signs of cult-like adherence.  In addition, please note that I’m talking about the largest group of Latter-Day Saints of which Romney is a member (with its headquarters in Salt Lake City).  I’m not referring to the smaller breakaway groups, some of which may still practice polygamy.  To reiterate, cults are marked more by the control exercised by their charismatic leaders than by unusual doctrines.  It is not uncommon in the study of religious history to encounter communities that began as cults but later became mainstream.

For those who argue that Mormon beliefs are not mainstream, I can’t deny that there is a certain accuracy there.  Mormon doctrines and theology, while retaining the terminology of more traditional Christianity, diverges wildly in how it uses that terminology.  Doctrines such as salvation and the fatherhood of God are understood differently by LDS adherents.  Mormons believe that we humans existed spiritually prior to coming to earth and that highest salvation consists of reaching the status of divine beings.  As earthly children grow to become like their parents, so Mormons believe that their ultimate goal is to grow into the status of the Heavenly Parents from which they received their original creation.

There are those who enjoy poking fun at the Mormon tradition of wearing religious underwear (called “garments”) connected to their first visit to an LDS temple.  Is such a practice drastically different from the Catholic tradition of wearing a scapular underneath our shirts?  Is it very distant from the idea often seen on TV that an evangelist can pray over a small cloth and mail it to someone who has needs that might be answered by prayer?  All religious people use outward signs as symbols of faith.  Recognizing this, it seems fruitless to laugh at each other with the vain idea that our own symbols make sense while the symbols of others are silly.

For sure, Mormon doctrines are very different (heterodox) from the beliefs of wider Christianity.  Nonetheless, Mormons should be considered Christians. They believe that their ultimate fulfillment as future heavenly parents themselves is made possible by the redemption of Jesus Christ.  This particular version of salvation may not sit comfortably with most Christians, but it still qualifies as a theological understanding of the significance of the life and work of Christ as our Savior.  Mormons explain the divergence by insisting that theirs is the true church of Jesus Christ, re-established in these “latter times” because genuine Christian doctrine had been lost, or at least corrupted through history.

Now let’s get to the core of my argument.  Why do I believe Mitt Romney’s Mormonism will bless America?  Well, that part is easy.

Joseph Smith, LDS prophet and founder, was a simple lad from Vermont.  He was born in 1817 and lived much of his early life in the state of New York.  He seems to have been imaginative and of a certain religious bent, though not beyond taking advantage of the gullibility of others to avoid hard work.  Whatever you may think of him, we can’t deny that he was a man of his times, a citizen of a new nation dreaming of unlimited expansion and wealth to the west.  It grew to be understood by most Americans that the young nation’s control of the entire continent, from Atlantic to Pacific, was it’s “manifest destiny.”

This national optimism was infectious.  It found a welcome home in the doctrines of the Latter-Day Saints.  To put it in my own words, Mormonism is the religion of American exceptionalism.  The evidence for this position lies at the heart of all Mormon theology; it’s demonstrated clearly in the Book of Mormon (which Mormons believe to carry the same revelatory weight as the Bible).

For Mormons, many of the early inhabitants of North America were the lost tribes of Israel–members of God’s own chosen people.  The fact that no scientific evidence exists for this position doesn’t change their belief.  In addition, they believe that Christ himself visited these people and preached to them.  Going back even further, Mormons believe that America is so important to the plans of God that the Garden of Eden itself was located here.  And it is here, in what is now the United States of America, that God will establish a divine kingdom on earth at the end of time (the New City of Zion or Heavenly Jerusalem).  We don’t have to fear that Mormons themselves will try to found this kingdom.  In their early days they did try it, and failed.  This failure led them to reformulate their understanding and to leave the kingdom to God’s doing.

Because of their unusual beliefs (along with the personality quirks of Joseph Smith–especially regarding plural marriage), early Mormons suffered tremendously for their faith.  As far as I am aware, they are the only religious group in US history to be identified by a government officer for extermination (the so-called Missouri Executive Order No. 44, issued by Governor Lilburn Boggs in 1838).  Early Mormons perpetrated their share of suffering on others, but for the most part they were on the receiving end of persecution.  Personal responsibility and hard work came to be synonymous with Mormonism.  It is the foundation of the LDS ethos to this day.  (Such commitment to hard work is a bit ironic, given Joseph Smith’s penchant for avoiding it!)

While there are exceptions to every rule, Mormon Americans are generous and kind people who cherish their country and who believe it–and the liberties it recognizes–to be an important part of God’s plan for the world.  One of the reasons that Mormons are so strict about alcohol and caffeine consumption is because of their belief in restoration.  All that was wrong with the world before Joseph Smith’s “revelations” can be corrected through the restored church founded by him.  Theologically speaking, America appears to me to be part of how they understand that divine restoration.

I’m not a Mormon, but I don’t fear having a God-loving Mormon in the White House–even if his understanding of God is different than my own.  Given what I know about “Latter-Day Saints,” I’m looking forward to it.

Two Reasons to Vote for Barack Obama

Someone recently accused me of having a hidden agenda.  Nope.  You’ve got me confused with someone else.  I’m an extrovert.  I have to say what I really think or I’ll explode.  That’s the predominant reason I started this blog.  The other reason was that if I ever decided to run for public office, my agenda would be out there for everyone to see and understand.  Disagree with me if you wish, but at least give me credit for being honest.  I’d rather die in obscurity than as someone who has no integrity.

My agenda and my values are on the table for all to see.  I’m a constitutional conservative.  When it comes to government, what I want to conserve is not any particular political party.  What I want to conserve–what I want to be faithful to–is the Constitution.  Not only that:  I want to interpret that Constitution as our Founders did.  In other words, I understand its purpose to be to limit the power of the federal government in order to guarantee the liberties of we the people.

Ours is not a nation-state.  It is a nation of states.  And this idea is not out of date.  It’s more important than ever.  The presidency of Barack Obama proves it.

I say all of this as a preamble to the rest of this post.  Now that the final presidential debate is done, I’m trying to understand exactly why someone would vote for another term for Mr. Obama.  I can only think of two reasons, but of course, I’m not objective.  I see and understand all politicians not as they present themselves, but as they compare to what I understand to be the vision of the Constitution.  I’m not afraid to be critical of any of them, no matter what their party.

As I search my poor brain I have to confess that I can find only two reasons why someone would vote for Obama.  Others that have crossed my mind seem either to be hyperbolic or related to these two.

If you’re an Obama supporter, I heartily welcome your criticism and your comments.  Please feel free to offer them by replying to this blog post (below).  Perhaps I’m blind.  Maybe I’m too limited in my understanding.  I may never agree with you, but I will at least try to consider your criticism.  And let me be clear, please:  it is my assumption, unless I have evidence to the contrary, that all of my debate partners are sincere.  I don’t know how anyone can approach political dialogue unless we grant such an assumption.

If you’re voting for Barack Obama, I assume you believe him to be the best candidate.  It also seems to me that you must agree with one or both of the following positions.

1.  Perhaps you are voting for Obama because you believe that the United States is more of a problem for the world than a solution.  Note the way I have phrased that.  No country is perfect.  Every patriot should be a critical patriot.  In other words, we simply must be honest enough to search out and to identify the mistakes our country has made in the arenas of politics, military, and society.  There are things about the US that I find objectionable, and my issues run the gamut.  The question at hand, however, is whether we have brought more to the world that is positive than negative.  I believe we have.  From our Constitution, to our pluralistic religious society that respects people of all faiths and none, to the fact that Europe might not be free today if not for our efforts–I believe that, in spite of our moral failings, we have done more for the world that is good than bad.

If you disagree, then perhaps you are happy that Mr. Obama has dropped us down a rung or two with regard to our defense and our international standing.  Perhaps you want to be more like Europe.  If so, I remind you that Europe has had more money to spend on socialist-type programs because we’ve had them underneath our nuclear umbrella.  As Mr. Obama scales back that umbrella of protection, Europe will either be more vulnerable or they’ll be forced to spend more on defense.  Even worse, more nations in Europe may feel the necessity of obtaining nuclear warheads.  Object if you wish, but  you should at least realize that there are consequences to the fact that America is taking a back seat or playing “second fiddle” on the world stage.  There are others who are happy to assume the position we seem to be vacating.

2.  Or, if international issues aren’t your interest, perhaps you’ll vote for Mr. Obama because you believe that the way to make our nation stronger and more fair is to take money from some for the purpose of giving it to others.  I’m not talking about reasonable federal taxation.  I’m talking about the forced redistribution of wealth.  Remember Joe “the plumber” and his encounter with candidate Obama in 2008?  Obama said that when we spread the wealth around “it’s good for everybody.”

Redistribution of wealth is a good thing–but not the way government does it.  The really important question is how wealth is distributed.  I strongly opposed the practice of politicians picking and choosing the distribution of wealth.  It should be distributed through the free exercise of economic liberty.  In other words, by the free market in which you and I get to decide how it’s distributed, or spent.

Joe the plumber wanted to buy a company that made just over $250,000 per year.  Sounds like alot, huh?  What you need to understand is that the dollar amount mentioned by Joe was the company’s income, not his profit.  What do you think would happen to most (or all) of that money?  It would not go to Joe.  It would go to his employees, his suppliers, his insurer, and multiple other providers and services he desperately needs in order to make his company viable.

Let’s imagine that, to bring in an income of $250,000 a year ($20,833) a month, Joe needs five plumbers on his staff (a typical small company).  Let’s also imagine that he wants really good plumbers because he hopes to build a company that is solid and made for the long haul.  He hires the best workers because he doesn’t want people to be disappointed in his employees and the work they perform.  He pays them $20 an hour.  In a forty-hour week that’s $800 per week, per employee.  So his salary costs are now $4,000 per week–$280,000 per year.  Plus, if he wants to take good care of his employees and to give them reasonable health insurance, his costs are even higher.  Let’s say he finds a bargain and pools his employees into an insurance fund for just $400 a month each (a remarkable bargain if he can actually find it).  With five employees, now he will spend another $24,000 a year.

As a business owner myself, I can tell you that the proposed numbers above are very reasonable (in fact, they are probably low–but that will help me make my argument even better).  If Joe bought a business that takes in $250,000 a year and has only five employees besides himself, and if he wants to pay them reasonably and give them reasonable benefits, look at the facts:  the company will spend more on salary and benefits than it takes in.  The math I’ve proposed, which is reasonable, gives Joe a salary and benefit cost of $304,000.  That means he’s losing $54,000 a year before he even starts … and before he pays himself any salary at all.  He would do this in the hope of building something that would give him an income later, and for the long term.  He would be taking a tremendous risk.  He’d be building a business.  He would be helping not only himself, but others as well.

See my point?  We can argue all sorts of numbers, but if businesses don’t find it possible to succeed, why bother?  Every dollar that government takes from someone else costs something beyond the actual dollar amount in question.  It’s nuts to imagine that the only way to assist the poor is by taking from Joe and his employees in order to give to someone else. 

So, if you’re voting for Barack Obama, which of these reasons is most attractive?  Which inspires you?  Are there others?  I’m all ears, as they say.

For the sake of argument I’ll recap here a few of the reasons I’ve been hearing that just don’t seem to make much sense to me.  When I say “they don’t make sense,” it’s not because they are bad aspirations.  It’s because Barack Obama has had four years to show us what drives him and his agenda, and the reasons below aren’t being addressed in a way that should cause voter confidence.

1.  Some say they are going to vote for Obama because he’s helping Americans of African descent.  I suppose if this is your reason for voting Democrat, you might have a point if by “helping” you mean giving African Americans a sense of pride because the president shares their ethnic heritage.  If you mean economic help, then you need to vote for Mitt Romney.  At least he has a record of creating jobs as an experienced businessman.  As for Obama’s employment record for blacks in America, unemployment is over 14%.  Clearly, Obama’s policies aren’t creating jobs for the black community.  You can chant the silly mantra that the fault lies with the previous administration, but four years is enough time to begin to make a difference.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to unemployment for African Americans, at least not yet.  Changes in policy can make a difference under a new administration that wants to inspire growth rather than tax it at a higher rate.

2.  Perhaps you plan to vote for Obama because of his stance toward immigration and the way he seems to support the Latino community in America.  Think again.  Obama has put the breaks on sending some people back to Mexico who are here illegally, but he hasn’t done anything of substance to advance the nation toward responsible, comprehensive immigration reform.  All he has done is to enact a few executive orders to win Latino votes.  If you or a loved one has been affected by such an order, you may wish to reward Obama with your vote.  But don’t accuse Americans of being anti-immigrant.  We’re not.  We are a nation of immigrants … but we’re also a nation of laws.  We will support generous immigration levels, but we want immigration programs to be operated fairly and within the bounds of the law.

Obama has reached out to the Mexican government, so perhaps you’re impressed by that.  But he has been duped by Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president who came to the US to lecture us about our immigration policy.  Our policy is more humane than his own.  Fixing the immigration problem on our southern border will require putting pressure on the corrupt Mexican government for reform.  Rather than doing that, the inempt Obama allowed Calderon to put America’s problems in the spotlight rather than the problem of extreme Mexican corruption.  Our immigration problem on the southern border starts in Mexico.  That’s also where the cure will start if any of our politicians get serious about it.

In terms of Hispanic support of Obama, the real concern should be about how many Mexicans have been murdered by drug lords armed by the failed Obama Justice Department policy known as “Fast and Furious.”  Thousands of weapons were unloaded on the unsuspecting people of Mexico at the expense of the US taxpayer.  If I were of Hispanic or Latino heritage, I’d be among those who are angry as heck.   I certainly would not give my vote to a president whose justice officials have used innocent Mexicans as political pawns to advance an ideology.

And as far as unemployment is concerned, among Latinos living in the US, the unemployment rate is still over 10%.  There’s another proof that the Obama administration isn’t doing much to help that segment of our population.

3.  Lots of folks say that they want to support Obama because he’s helping the poor.  I’m not sure how, other than the increase in government handouts.  There is a place for safety nets in our society, but Obama isn’t solving the problem that’s sapping our economic strength.  His policies are making the middle class poor and sending the poor into destitutionAs I pointed out in a post last week, grocery costs are rapidly increasing.  Simple things like coffee, peanut butter, and potatoes are rising quicker than the average inflation rate.  It is becoming more and more difficult to feed our familes, and for now there is no end in sight.  The government is creating more money–meaning that the money in circulation is worth less.  The laws of economics will force the value of the dollars in circulation to go down even further.  In our society that means the poor are going to be hurt even worse by the long-term effects of Obama’s policies.  Even Romney will find it hard to turn this trend around, but for heaven’s sake, why support a president who has demonstrated that handouts are the only way he knows to help the poor?

Obama knows how to “feed a person for a day,” but he has no clue how to “feed a person for a lifetime.”  As his bureaucrats increase the temporary government help to record numbers of Americans, our debt is rising too quickly to be counted easily.  The debt clock isn’t just ticking.  It’s spinning.  As government aid is increased and abused through fraud we can ignore the debt, but it won’t ignore us for much longer.  At some point our debt will be so high that our credit rating will be dropped again.  US credit is now three notches below the high rating it once held (it was downgraded again by a major credit agency last month).  You didn’t hear much about it in the pro-Obama press, did you?

Just like a person’s credit card that reaches its limit, the world will eventually refuse our dollars because they are going to be worthless.  At that point the poor will be hit harder than anyone else.  The potential for disaster is alarming.  To understand this you only have to look at the elderly eating from garbage cans in the hard-hit, debt-ridden nations of the European Union.  Do we really think that it can’t happen here?

In terms of true improvement to their lives, Obama has done nothing for those who are poor except to increase the depth of their poverty and to make it harder for the economy to lift the poor out of misery.  Granted, he has met some of their immediate needs, but he has done nothing to establish a long-term solution.  In fact, for the long haul, he and the Democrats in Congress have so damaged our economy that recovery may take a decade.

4.  Some people say they’ll vote for Obama because the Democrats truly care for the middle class.  He speaks a good game, but the same factors putting the poor into absolute destitution are chipping away at middle-class economic stability.  There is no economic recovery because the Obama regime is pro-tax, not pro-recovery.  Business owners don’t trust that the government has their backs.  They trust only that any corporation or business owner might be next for criticism and increased taxation.  Investment seldom occurs in an environment of uncertainty.  Obama and his minions have done nothing to sponsor an attitude of trust among the businesses that make our economy hum. 

I can go on all day, especially in light of the false manner in which Obama presented himself last night.  I’m no longer angry … instead, I find myself laughing outloud at the television when Obama begins his laundry list of ways he has strengthened America and its international image.  But mine is nervous laughter.  There is nothing funny about what’s happening to our country.

Vote for Obama if you want America weaker, less influential, and supposedly “put in her place.”  Vote for Obama if you think America’s immigration policies are better than those of Mexico.  Return him to the Oval Office if you believe we can spend on the government credit card without disastrous consequences.

For many, Obama is their man because “he’ll make sure I get mine.”  When it comes to the very real possibility of economic collapse in the US, there is no “mine” and there is no “yours.”  There is only ours and we don’t have forever to begin making the necessary corrections to save what belongs to us all.