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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/4948/republicans-target-economic-crimes/

Republicans Target “Economic Crimes”

April 26, 2006 by

As in Soviet times, oil company executives are to be investigated and prosecuted for charging the price the market would bear–so says the GOP. Actually, it is Republican policy itself that is causing oil traders to be nervous and bid up the prices of futures contracts for oil delivery. Moreover, the situation with crude oil explains only part of the current puzzle. FULL ARTICLE

{ 41 comments }

Christopher Meisenzahl April 26, 2006 at 8:12 am

Great article, thanks.

Mike April 26, 2006 at 8:18 am

What about TAX FIXING, TAX COLLUSION, and TAX GOUGING? Why don’t they look into those?
The only difference there is that families don’t have a choice. They must “severely cut back their budgets” so they can pay these compulsory bills.
Maybe we should investigate them and see if they are excessive and being used for dubious purposes.
Where’s the outrage. WHERE’S THE OUTRAGE!!!!

Jeff Fisher April 26, 2006 at 8:50 am

The Republicans are thugs, plain and simple.
They will use force as a means to maintain power regardless of the consequences to liberty and prosperity in the USA.

Roger M April 26, 2006 at 8:56 am

As bad as Republicans are, they’re just responding to the angry phone calls and emails from voters. The problem lies with the American people, not the politians. I live in a state where many people make their living in the oil and gas industry, but I fear for my safety if I defend free markets in conversations about oil and gas prices. The American people are socialists at heart. We have a lot of work to do.

Yancey Ward April 26, 2006 at 9:05 am

I am afraid Roger M is correct. I often debate this topic with my colleagues and friends, and they simply don’t understand why the price of gasoline/oil can’t be set at a arbitrary price that allows a “fair” profit for the sellers/producers. It is like beating your head into a wall.

Dave Weilacher April 26, 2006 at 9:08 am

You could also mention that a windfall profits tax actually takes money away from a large percentage of 401k retirement and pension accounts. These are some of the big investors in oil that the gov wants to war against.

You might also mention that the media hoots, hollers and complains about polution and global warming at the very same time that they demand lower prices at the pump. This makes no kind of sense at all.

Mike April 26, 2006 at 9:11 am

Congress bears the responsibility of informing the people they represent of the facts if the people don’t understand the situation. They are supposed to work in our best interest and if their constituents are making outrageous requests, they should be making every attempt to educate the public. I can say that the only time I hear from my “representatives” is around election time and then that’s only a lot of buttkissing to get votes.

TokyoTom April 26, 2006 at 9:42 am

You left out Katrina and Wilma, which knocked out alot of refining capacity, as additional signinficant factors in the high gas prices.

I doubt we will see any significant action from the Republicans, who are friends of big oil and the campaign contributions they bring. Remember that this is an election year, with Republicans rightfully worried about repercussions from Iraq, Katrina and other messes. They temporarily are taking a page out of the Democrats book.

We are unlikely to see rollbacks in subsidies to big oil. However, we could use a tax on imported fossil fuels, just to balance our the subsidies and “defense” expenditures. This would also help to fill our budget gap and to motivate us to cut back our military adventures.

TokyoTom April 26, 2006 at 9:43 am

You left out Katrina and Wilma, which knocked out alot of refining capacity, as additional signinficant factors in the high gas prices.

I doubt we will see any significant action from the Republicans, who are friends of big oil and the campaign contributions they bring. Remember that this is an election year, with Republicans rightfully worried about repercussions from Iraq, Katrina and other messes. They temporarily are taking a page out of the Democrats book.

We are unlikely to see rollbacks in subsidies to big oil. However, we could use a tax on imported fossil fuels, just to balance our the subsidies and “defense” expenditures. This would also help to fill our budget gap and to motivate us to cut back our military adventures.

George Gaskell April 26, 2006 at 10:15 am

They are supposed to work in our best interest

That’s a lie they tell you, Mike. They represent their own interests, steal from you in ten thousand different ways, and tell you that its all for your own good.

Expecting a politician to behave differently is like expecting gravity to start working in reverse.

happyjuggler0 April 26, 2006 at 11:15 am

Congress bears the responsibility of informing the people they represent of the facts if the people don’t understand the situation. They are supposed to work in our best interest and if their constituents are making outrageous requests, they should be making every attempt to educate the public.

The reason freer countries are more prosperous than less free countries is that people do a better job of acting in their own best interests than government does in trying to act in the people’s best interest.

It is not a question of good intent or bad intent on the part of government, it is a question of freer vs less free.

http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/countries.cfm

The Freedom Index above makes it pretty obvious to anyone who knows which countries are wealthier and which are not that more freedom equals more prosperity.

Also, for a little perspective it is worth noting that the *wealthy* European countries like Germany, France, Italy, Sweden would be, if they were US States, among the poorest 10% states.

Yes the link is Adobe pdf. Sorry, not my fault. :x

http://www.timbro.com/euvsusa/pdf/EU_vs_USA_English.pdf

*Our representitives should be making every attempt to educate the public* about that. However they are as ignorant as the public.

Nick Bradley April 26, 2006 at 11:38 am

Wouldn’t “Politicians Target Economic Crimes” be more accurate. After all, Democrats target more economic crimes than the GOP does. I know it’s written to grab attention, but it’s misleading.

Alan R April 26, 2006 at 12:21 pm

What would a truly free market in oil look like? If the US didn’t forcibly take “our oil” (as Americans have come to see it) from the Middle East and the rest of the world (the main job of the Pentagon since WWII), what would the price of gas be? Isn’t the whole point of President Cheney’s foreign policy to keep the price of gas (and indirectly, food, since American agriculture is totally dependent on petroleum) as low as possible to keep angry citizens off the back of their government? (“Bread and circuses” is the phrase.) Without the American military to keep the Saudi royals in place, Islamists would raise the price (and price oil in Euros to undercut the dollar) and still make a killing regardless of how deep the economic depression in the US. I can’t think of a single player in the “market” for oil that would actually want a “free market” — the current unfree market works too well for too many people.

JD April 26, 2006 at 1:42 pm

And on a lighter note:

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the highway. Nothing is moving. Suddenly an excited man knocks on the window.

The driver rolls down his window and asks, “What’s going on?”

The excited reply: “Terrorists have kidnapped George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton. They are asking for a $10 million ransom. Otherwise they are going to douse them with gasoline and set them on fire. Some of us are going from car to car, asking for help.”

The driver asks, “How much is everyone giving, on average?”

The very pleased reply: “About a gallon”

Paul Marks April 26, 2006 at 2:22 pm

Whilst the voters (or the majority of them) still look to government for the solution to their problems politicians will continue to act like this.

I am prepared to believe that most Republicans do not go into politics with the intention of increasing the size of government(Democrats, of course, do enter politcs with exactly that intention – they are the people who agreed with what their teachers said at school at what their lecturers said at University [no offence to the handful of free market lecturers meant]).

However, to get anywhere in politics one must play ball with statist desires – not just of the “special interests” but of the general population (for those who doubt this see the elections of 1936 and 1964, it would be the same now if anyone openly opposed Welfare Statism). And doing statist things is habit forming – it starts off with “we can not reduce government just now” and ends up with a massive increase in the size of government.

If the majority of the population understood political economy then politicians would act to reduce the size of government (in spite of the power of “special interests”) till then they will not.

“But we can not educate the majority of voters, we can not reach them and…….”, well then Democracy will not work.

A real free market television news and current affairs choice would be a start (the “Free to Choose” series showed there was a market). Even in Britain I remember that back in the 1970′s and early 1980′s Brian Walden (an ex Labour party M.P.) was the main man on a T.V. show called “Weekend World” (on I.T.V.) – this show was not the standard “talking heads” T.V. Politics show (although Walden was a very good interviewer) – it also showed bar charts and pie charts (and so on) to show (for example) that there were no “cuts” in government spending (as most of the media claimed) but, rather, that governement spending was going up and up.

Walden was interested in presenting the truth – and the ratings were very good (it had the best ratings of any politics show on television).

Long before computer graphics the old Weekend World (when it was under Brian Walden) showed that the facts could be presented – and difficult ideas explained.

Sadly Fox is too often just a Republican party fan club to do any much good (although, yes Tony Snow and others are better than the majority of journalists – but that is not saying very much).

There is potential among the population for an alternative to mainstream statism – it is a matter of tapping that potential.

Just as in education: One must first set up undergraduate and postgraduate programs that favour liberty and truth (and not just in Economics) and then one will find that students will opt for institutions that produce these programs.

The work that the Ludwig Von Mises institute has done in higher education (although there is still a vast way to go) shows that Universities are not inevitablly statist.

Eric April 26, 2006 at 7:24 pm

Well, you make a deal with the devil, and you usually lose your soul.

I can’t be sure how the oil industry got so in bed with the government, but they did. And so, while it’s a terrible situation, it’s not surprising. I’ve always believed that the oil companies should pay for their own protection, and not use the armed forces – that would let us gauge the true cost of getting oil from dangerous places by adding in the costs at the supply point. Using the government (esp. the feds) for protection not only is extremely expensive and inefficient, but it’s a subsidy and once you put your hand out to the feds, you’ll probably get it sliced off and then put in jail.

I don’t know whether to be sorry for them or want to scream at them for being so stupid in the first place. Maybe they had no choice.

Tom Schofield April 26, 2006 at 7:57 pm

The thread of the conversation brings to mind a quotation from H.L. Mencken: “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public, nor did anyone ever fail to win public office thereby”. (Perhaps not verbatim, but very close.)

Joe Sixpack and Suzy Soapopera feel entitled to cheap gas and cheap electricity because their elected leaders have told them they are so entitled. Certainly the bent-nose union thugs who control our education system have not provided Joe and Suzy with the means to question the entitlement.

quincunx April 26, 2006 at 8:05 pm

“I can’t be sure how the oil industry got so in bed with the government, but they did.”

Funding environmentalists and generally supportive to the anti-nuclear movement helped.

Getting the gov to ban building new refineries “for our own good” helped nicely.

It’s hard to feel sorry for Big Oil, but that is the kinda thing that happens when you make a deal with the devil. So I totally agree with you.

I just feel bad for the consumer. I used to commute 70 miles a day, now thankfully only 6. I can even bike to work in the summer. It would be nice to remove all the stupid zoning laws that prevent me from living closer to work – and the same thing for everyone else.

Mike D. April 26, 2006 at 11:23 pm

Bill
Thanks for another great article. It is ironic that at the very moment where the Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, are falling over each over to denounce the oil companies for “record profits and price gouging” with absolutely no regard for the truth, that Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling are being accused by a federal prosecutor of committing fraud by “puffing” Enron – (giving a deceptive and over-optimistic assessment of Enron’s financial position.)

You seem to have latched on to two disturbing developments. First an unprecedented level of dishonesty and outright fraudulent statements by congressional members, while at the same time vilifying CEO’s in the public sector for the mere allegation of impropriety. Second, the blatant corruption of the federal justice system by unscrupulous federal prsecutors intent on convicting people either for alleged crimes or derivative crimes if the alleged crimes turn out to be non-crimes – and I thought Credit Derivatives with chains and chains of counterparties were complicated!

Your point about Republicans is well taken. However, I think that the Republican strategy is headed for disaster. The Democratics are brazenly the party of pandering and hypocrisy. By trying to get out in front on the gas price issue the Republicans would do well to heed the old addage “don’t try and be more catholic the Pope!”

One point, which you have made in previous articles, Republican’s have a very poor track record when it comes to protecting constitutional rights. I refer to Michael Milken.

One final point. Should congress pass a windfall profit tax, the money will be coming out of the average Joe’s pension and retirement funds and his insurance premiums, since pension funds, mutual funds and insurance companies own the majority of stock in Exxon-Mobil.

TokyoTom April 26, 2006 at 11:50 pm

Alan, a perceptive post, The big picture is that there has never been a truly free market in oil and other natural resources, since (i) many have been on land “owned” by governments and thus subject to rent seekers (for a price to politicians) and (ii) internationally, the largest deposits have been located in places with weak governments and/or property rights regimes, and thus subject to “homesteading” by large foreign oil companies, supported by home governments as part of a big power game.

That big power game of course still going on in the Middle East and elsewhere. Cheney and Bush like to play this game and to brandish our military power; perhaps they think this will benefit America, but it very clearly benefits the oil firms, construction firms and defense industry, as well as the political elite who are connected to it. These people don’t really care if the rest of the world is in flames – in some ways it actually pays political dividends to have a war.

Keeping gas cheap at the pump is part if the strategy to keep Americans docile; that the world price of oil has doubled since the Iraq invasion, coupled with the effects of Katrina and Wilma is upsetting the political apple cart (while still benefitting the oil firms and the elite who share the spoils).

Another part of the low gas/pro-oil strategy is to deny climate change, since regulating carbon emissions would dampen oil profits and raise gas prices. While these would improve the efficiency of our economy, climate change is simply dismissed as fear-mongering. Of course most of the “war on terror” has also been fear-mongering, also for the benefit of big oil, but no one seems to notice the same pattern as it relates to climate change.

Steve Pilotte April 27, 2006 at 10:08 am

Great article. It’s refreshing to see someone point out the importance of the role commodity traders play in bidding up oil prices when they are “nervous”. The psychological factor seems to play a key role in all of this. As for the political aspect, another H.L. Mencken quote I love is the one about the common people knowing what they want, and that “they deserve to get it good and hard”. We are our own worst enemies.

George Gaskell April 27, 2006 at 12:59 pm

Funding environmentalists and generally supportive to the anti-nuclear movement helped. … Getting the gov to ban building new refineries “for our own good” helped nicely.

True, but you are ignoring the elephant in the living room, so to speak: massive road subsidies, at every level of government. They made America car-dependent.

There was an unintentionally funny ad on TV a few years ago, by Ford Motor Co. It showed the current CEO, a descendent of Henry Ford, talking wistfully about the days when his grandfather (?) was running the company.

There was a line went something like: “They would all have lunch on the lawn together — my grandfather (Ford), Harvey Firestone, and whoever happened to be president at the time.”

That puts it in perspective: Ford and Firestone were the important ones. Presidents come and go, almost like the president was an afterthought. Ford and Firestone were dictating policy.

Of course, like most things that are deeply wrong in America, this particular problem can be traced to Abraham Lincoln. He rammed the “internal improvements” (i.e., road subsidy) agenda into existence, which established not only the road network, but also the precedent of state-capitalism and protectionism that oil and car manufacturers then latched onto and have continued to expand.

BillG (not Gates) April 27, 2006 at 1:16 pm

Alan R and TokyoTom – spot on!

why has no oil company built a new refinery in 30 years?

could it be that they know that we will soon be reaching peak so no reason to build for production that won’t be there?

Ryan Pitylak April 27, 2006 at 1:50 pm

To presume that there will be no production in the coming years is to completely ignore the present evidence about oil production.

Oil is available in large quantities under the sea, which in many places has been too expensive to drill. But, technologies are getting better, and as oil becomes more expensive, these techniques will be utilized.

Until oil is no longer pushed by governments (except Japan, who already is becomming a leader in solar-power), the push for keeping oil production at high levels will continue.

Paul Marks April 27, 2006 at 1:58 pm

We should not copy the left here.

Henry Ford had many faults (for example his support of government road building – and I certainly agree with attacking that Henry Clay Whig, Lincoln, over internal improvements), his antisemitism and his believe in credit money expansion, but he did not dominate the nation.

This was shown in the market – when G.M. got bigger than Ford. And in politics -when F.D.R. and his minions shoved unions (and the rest of it) down Henry Ford’s throat with their regulations.

As for oil.

One thing that George Bush is not guilty of is a war for “cheap oil”.

Not only have his wars made oil more expensive – but he does not even want cheap oil.

When his old speech writer (David Fromm) suggested a cheap oil policy Bush rejected the idea totally.

United States intervention (under Bush or before Bush) is nothing to do with cheap oil – the U.S. would have hardly supported Israel if this was the policy.

U.S. policy would have been about making friends with the Muslims – even if it meant that the Jews had to die.

By the way I am not in favour of the policy of supporting Israel (or any nation). But to say that U.S. intervention in the middle east is about cheap oil is just leftist nonsense.

I wonder how many people voted for Bush in November 2004 because they were sick of hearing stuff like “war for oil”.

President Bush’s Wilsonian “war for democracy” idea may be misguided (I certainly think it is misguided), but he clearly believes in it.

And saying it is all about oil just irritates people who can sense that it is not.

Of course oil is important. And of course there was personal hatred for the government of Iraq (because of the plot to kill the first President Bush amongst other things).

But it is not all (or even mainly) about oil.

George Gaskell April 27, 2006 at 4:30 pm

President Bush’s Wilsonian “war for democracy” idea may be misguided (I certainly think it is misguided), but he clearly believes in it.

But this succinct statement of purpose omits a great deal.

It is not democracy, per se, that Bush is interested in exporting. Nor even freedom. There are plenty of places around the world with far less than Iraq had.

He wants to export the same style of state-capitalism that he is promoting in the US. Protectionism, subsidies, certain kinds of regulations (but not others!). Just like Lincoln.

How does pointing out Ford’s (or Firestone’s or Bush’s) affinity for state-capitalism “copy the left”? I realize that the real problem with the Unholy Alliance between business and government is with the government’s side of the relationship. But state aggression that favors a business is just as objectionable as state aggression that favors the Left’s constituency.

The Left certainly has its own special brand of protectionism and subsidies, of course. The term “free market” is considered a punchline and/or a curse among Leftists. But the Right is just as bad. While there are a few self-described conservatives who are very receptive to the free market, they are largely ignorant of economic history, and tend to believe in many of the same kinds of governmental interferences that Hamilton, Clay and Lincoln introduced.

That is why this fight over gasoline between the Right and the Left is going to be like two wolves fighting over dinner.

M E Hoffer April 27, 2006 at 5:03 pm

This whole Left/Right frame around our thinking abuses us all and has thoroughly impinged our ability to extract ourselves from the continuing regression to Statism. This paradigm, like an old friend who proves false in the end, must, too, be cast aside.
To me, the reality is Simple, has long been Known, and reminders of it were left to us by those who had the minimum courage for it, for future reference; Thusly: There are but two States: Freedom, without It, and Slavery, with It.

That We continue, in our Hubris, to make the mundane, complex, We, in our self-flagellation are guilty of an ill-timed impersonation of Nero.

M E Hoffer April 27, 2006 at 5:24 pm

Mike D.

You are the first that I’ve seen that compares(obliquely) the Gov’t's prosecution of Enron and that of Micheal Milken.

Pull Enron On-Line into view.

Do you think that Enron and MM were taken out due to the seriouly disruptive potential, of their business models, to status quo, of the Corp side, of GovCorp?

Curiously…

Also, if this: “One final point. Should congress pass a windfall profit tax, the money will be coming out of the average Joe’s pension and retirement funds and his insurance premiums, since pension funds, mutual funds and insurance companies own the majority of stock in Exxon-Mobil.”–doesn’t give an accurate insight into how the vast majority is actively complicit in fueling its own demise, I don’t know what will.

Thanks for the points…

quincunx April 27, 2006 at 7:39 pm

“True, but you are ignoring the elephant in the living room, so to speak: massive road subsidies, at every level of government. They made America car-dependent.”

Correct. I was focused only on the supply side at that moment.

Government certainly restricts supply and stimulates demand in almost every industry.

“why has no oil company built a new refinery in 30 years?”

Because prisons are not a friendly place.

“could it be that they know that we will soon be reaching peak so no reason to build for production that won’t be there?”

No. That would be the result of collusion between oil companies – so obviously if there was no legal barrier, someone would have built them, regardless of what the oil companies thought. Also they would have cheated on each other anyway.

TokyoTom April 27, 2006 at 9:22 pm

Mark D says that “The Democratics are brazenly the party of pandering and hypocrisy.” This might have been the case BEFORE Republicans won the Presidency and control over both houses of Congress – where have you been since 2002? Since then, we have seen an outrageous orgy of pork barrel spending for favored rent-seekers (campaign contributors and others in which politicians hold financial interests), wars and foreign policies that benefit favored rent-seekers, tax reductions for the elite, a lockdown of government information, aggressive action against whistleblowers, and radical gerrymandering to lock in electoral advantage.

The Republicans are now much worse than the Democrats ever were, since they are essentially unchecked, and are selling out the nation to the highest bidder for private gain. This is masked by an unending “war on terror” and by divisive social policies that pander to the fears of social conservatives that the moral fabric of American is under attack from gays, evolutionists, Islamofascists and green/red enviros. This fear-pandering and defense spending helps ensure strong support from the military, which reinforces the relative attractiveness of Republicans to most voters. We have an extremely corrupt, cynical and dangerous Administration.

Tom

TokyoTom April 27, 2006 at 9:27 pm

Oops – should be Mike D, not Mark D!

TokyoTom April 27, 2006 at 10:12 pm

Paul, you make a good point about Israel – our policies in the ME have definitely been motivated with protection of Israel in mind. I think in some ways this has been counterproductive, even to Israel’s long-term interests, but that’s a different and complex issue. I also agree that there were personal factors involved as well, but don’t believe they were deciding.

You further state that “to say that U.S. intervention in the middle east is about cheap oil is just leftist nonsense.” Sorry, but I think that (as I keep saying to Reisman) neither the name-calling nor the use of strawmen helps our understanding – it might be satisfying and simpflying, but doesn’t help understanding, per se. No one here said that our policies in the ME are about cheap oil – I made these more nuanced points:

1. “internationally, the largest deposits have been located in places with weak governments and/or property rights regimes, and thus subject to “homesteading” by large foreign oil companies, supported by home governments as part of a big power game.

That big power game of course still going on in the Middle East and elsewhere. Cheney and Bush like to play this game and to brandish our military power; perhaps they think this will benefit America, but it very clearly benefits the oil firms, construction firms and defense industry, as well as the political elite who are connected to it. These people don’t really care if the rest of the world is in flames – in some ways it actually pays political dividends to have a war.”

and

2. “Keeping gas cheap at the pump is part if the strategy to keep Americans docile; that the world price of oil has doubled since the Iraq invasion, coupled with the effects of Katrina and Wilma is upsetting the political apple cart (while still benefitting the oil firms and the elite who share the spoils).”

In other words, there is alot of rent-seeking behavior at work here, combined with convenient smokescreens about wars on terror (now apparently unending), promoting and defending democracy, and vote-buying at home – made even more clear in the latest Republican gas rebate proposal.

There are also serious issue about the struggle with big powers over cheap and vital resources in third countries which has been going on for a long time. In the ME, we were largely concerned about the USSR, but now we worry about both China and Russia.

Our history of expansion of bases in the ME, Balkans and Caucausus was motivated by containing the USSR and securing oil; rent-seeking by defense corporations and use of the military for political gain has kept the machine in motion, so that now foreign policy is largely run through the DOD.

TokyoTom April 27, 2006 at 10:35 pm

Another aspect of this which has gone unmentioned is the federalization of state corporate law through the Sarbanes-Oxley law, which (i) has imposed onerous and expensive burdens on all corporations that publicly issue securities in the US and (ii) rolled out further federal regulation to the accounting industry – ironically after the Supreme Court held that federal prosecutors illegally destroyed Arthur Anderson over wrong-doing by a few who were involved in whitewashing Enron’s books.

This law may be well-motivated, but it is choking off financing and entrepreneurship, and further entrenching corporate statism.

Mike D. April 28, 2006 at 12:06 am

Tom:
“The Democratics are brazenly the party of pandering and hypocrisy.” This might have been the case BEFORE Republicans won the Presidency and control over both houses of Congress – where have you been since 2002?

You are absolutely correct about profligate spending. To compare the Republican controlled congress to prodigal Democrats and drunken sailors
is an insult to prodigal Democrats and drunken sailors.
On hypocrisy, I still think the Democrats have the edge. Nancy Pelosi complaining about high gas prices is like the Menendez brothers complaining that they are orphans.
Trent Lott stepped down after remarks at Strom Thurmond’s birthday party were construed as racist. Senator Robert Bryd, a former kagel of the Ku Klux Klan, used the term white n*ggers. Hilliary Clinton made a racist joke about Mahatma Ghandi and gas stations. They knew that the could get away with these disgustingly offensive remarks.

Also, the Republicans fiscal intemperance has not gone unnoticed by the conservative base – look for a low turnout in November. Although I have always voted for Libertarian candidates on principle, I am tempted to hold my nose and vote for Barbara Lee just to show my displeasure at the execrable job the Republicans have done – I can still vote Libertarian on the ballot initiatives.

TokyoTom April 28, 2006 at 4:52 am

Mike, glad you noticed the Republican spending profligacy. But what about the rest of my comments? I used to vote Republican, but now it is clear to me at least that their hypocrisy outdoes the Dems:

“wars and foreign policies that benefit favored rent-seekers, tax reductions for the elite, a lockdown of government information, aggressive action against whistleblowers, and radical gerrymandering to lock in electoral advantage.

The Republicans are now much worse than the Democrats ever were, since they are essentially unchecked, and are selling out the nation to the highest bidder for private gain. This is masked by an unending “war on terror” and by divisive social policies that pander to the fears of social conservatives that the moral fabric of American is under attack from gays, evolutionists, Islamofascists and green/red enviros. This fear-pandering and defense spending helps ensure strong support from the military, which reinforces the relative attractiveness of Republicans to most voters. We have an extremely corrupt, cynical and dangerous Administration.”

I would agree with those who are saying that Bush is the worst president in history; only the most passionate of partisans can deny the many ways is which Bush, the neocons and the Republican Congress have screwed this country for short-term partisan and private gain. Bush, Cheney and their administration have their hands on the ship of state and have been driving it at full speed onto the rocks and pose a threat to us all.

That’s why droves have been deserting from the right. Recent defectees include Larry Wilkerson, Matthew Continetti, George Will, Andrew Sullivan, Francis Fukuyama, William F. Buckley, Bruce Bartlett, Bob Barr, Brent Scowcroft, Richard Haass and Stephen”>http://www.professorbainbridge.com/2006/04/buckley_on_bush.html”>Stephen Bainbridge.

These defectees join other longtime dissenters from the right, such as Clyde Prestowitz and Paul”>http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts-arch.html”>Paul Craig Roberts.

The judgments of these and other people are what is fuelling calls for impeachment from Carl Bernstein and Harpers“>http://www.harpers.org/TheCaseForImpeachment.html”>Harpers and Elizabeth Holtzman, and has led to resolutions for impeachment from seven towns in Vermont, as well as the introduction of joint resolutions for impeachment in the state legislatures of Illinois, California and Vermont under Section 603 of Thomas Jefferson’s Manual of the Rules of the United States House of Representatives, which “allows federal impeachment proceedings to be initiated by joint resolution of a state legislature.”

None of the other serious Worst President Ever candidates are in the Bush league – the key distinguishing factors are that they were President (i) at times of smaller but growing American power, (ii) when the comparative and absolute size of the federal government was much smaller, and (iii) generally with a power split in Congress. As a result, their incompetence, corruption or partisanship was relatively insignificant, was partially checked and did not have lasting consequences.

Bush, on the other hand is at the helm when (i) the US is the only global superpower but our relative power is at an inflection point (more below), (ii) the absolute and relative size of federal government is huge and growing, and (iii) Republicans control Congress as well. As a result, the level of damage that Bush and the Republicans have been able to do to American interests in five years is at orders of magnitude greater than other bad presidents.

We are the only global superpower (with defense spending as large as the rest of the world combined), but we face strategic challenges from a resurgent China, India, Brazil and others, we are at an era of peak oil with significant energy challenges, the world is globally vulnerable to intractable ethnic/religious tensions that grow with economic disparities and to terrorist acts relating to such tensions, there is rising anti-US populism in Latin America, rising ethnic and religious tensions in the US, and global commons and the environment in the developing world are under pressure from continuing population growth, industrialization and consumer demand.

These problems have all been ignored and exacerbated by an Administration that professes a Maicheaen worldview but acts either for short-term political gain or for long-term purposes that are not discussed publicly. Our allies are dismayed, and our strategic adversaries comforted by our mistakes and our shockingly autocratic and anti-democratic policies. We have seen startling decay in our budget and current account deficits, fuelled by uncontrolled, pork-barrel spending for favored corporate interests and creation of new entitlements designed to get votes. Rather than seriously addressing our long-term economic welfare, this Administration simply prefers to spend our money, give tax breakes to friends and to charge future generations for the difference (our accumulated federal debt is to the tune of $150,000 per person). Gerrymandering rigidifies the Republican grip on power, who continue to divide us domestically and to seek wars abroad for domestic political gain. Income disparities in the US, long the greatest of any developed country, continue to grow.

Mike, sorry, but even with acknowledging the venality and hypocrisy of Democrats, right now I don’t think they hold a candle to the Republicans.

JD May 1, 2006 at 6:52 pm

Well, if we have to put up with price controls
and rebates on oil, I’m going to contact my
congressman tomorrow. The price of gold is going up
too high. I think I should have some help with
purchasing. I believe that this is only fair.

Peter May 1, 2006 at 9:10 pm

None of the other serious Worst President Ever candidates are in the Bush league

600,000 dead and millions crippled on Lincoln’s watch; the entire population enslaved…

Bush is still “bush league” in comparison. (But maybe he’ll yet nuke Iran)

Joshua Katz May 6, 2006 at 8:39 pm

I don’t understand this comment from Peter –

“…the entire population enslaved…”

Does this imply that the entire population is not presently enslaved? What, precisely, are the ways in which Lincoln is worse than Bush? Yes, he drafted. Bush clearly is ready to do it. Yes, he lied about reasons for a war. Bush’s war, it is true, isn’t against Americans, but so what? Is a President a better man because he kills those with funny last names (I include Iraqi soldiers, by the way, just as much as civilians)?

Did Lincoln tap our phones? Did he fight to disarm the public? Did his invasion of American’s personal liberties touch that of Bush? Of course, he had less technology and thus less ability. So what? He would have liked to be as bad as Bush, I’m sure, but Bush has actually done it. Let’s judge them on what they’ve actually ‘accomplished.’

Peter May 6, 2006 at 10:43 pm

I was referring to the saying that “Lincoln didn’t free the slaves, he enslaved the free”

Does this imply that the entire population is not presently enslaved?

No. They’ve been slaves since Lincoln.

Roy W. Wright May 6, 2006 at 11:11 pm

FDR has Bush beat by a long shot for Worst President.

TokyoTom May 8, 2006 at 9:42 pm

Roy, I disagree. FDR may be responsible for getting big government started, but Bush is the one who has certainly most misused the government at the greatest cost to national interests.

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