Thursday, January 31, 2013

“Corporate Raiders” Help the Economy

Last year we had no shortage of nonsensical attacks on "corporate raiders", due to Mitt Romney’s background working in Bain Capital. He “broke up” some companies, “heartlessly” caused many workers to lose their jobs, only cared about profits, etc.

Democrats and some Republicans who made these sorts of attacks were simply exposing their economic ignorance. It’s no surprise Ron Paul was pretty much the only major candidate that didn't attack Romney on these grounds.

So how can breaking up a company and firing workers help the economy? Economist Bob Murphy explains that and more in an article titled “What the Stock Market Is and Does”. Below I quote the portion on corporate raiders:

Consider the alleged worst-case scenario of a speculator using borrowed money to buy a controlling share of a corporation, laying off all the workers, and selling off its assets to the highest bidders.

To see why this might be socially useful, we need to realize what type of corporation is vulnerable to the raider: one that has a lower purchase price (stock price times number of shares) than the price of its individual assets minus its liabilities.

In other words, the corporate raider profits by breaking up a company only if he can move its assets — factories, inventory, tools, and so forth — into the possession of other firms, where they will be more productive.

The boundaries of each firm are not arbitrary; there are economic reasons that Google owns a huge capacity of computing power, whereas Bayer has facilities suitable for drug research. In extreme cases, when an industry rapidly changes or management is particularly inept, the proper course is for the firm itself to be dissolved, taking its resources out of a relatively inefficient organization and putting them in different lines where they will be more useful.

Although this process is particularly painful for the workers involved, in a free society, layoffs are the only way to signal when labor is being used in a very unproductive enterprise.

Of course, any issues there were with Romney’s cronyism with the government are a separate matter, and one on which the Democrats don’t have room to speak anyway. The fact remains that the work Romney did, including when his company laid off workers and sold assets, was socially useful. The whiners about profits and lost jobs did not bother to learn the economics about what they are complaining. Ironically, they were the ones who harm society, while “corporate raiders” helped.

Jack Hunter, Propagandist for Rand Paul

In a recent piece Jack Hunter tries to defend his support for Rand Paul, and is happy to call himself a “propagandist” for Rand Paul. It’s fine to be a propagandist, everyone is for their own cause. However, his defenses of Rand Paul don’t repel the more serious criticisms of Senator Paul’s choices in the past few years.

"Ask the average grassroots conservative what they think of Ron Paul and you typically get a mixed reaction. Ask them what they think of Rand Paul and you find much more enthusiasm. The philosophy hasn’t substantively changed. The methods and style most certainly have."

The problem with this argument is stuff like Rand’s vote for the NDAA in 2012. It’s one thing to play along with the party and endorse the horrific nominee, it’s one thing to make arguments against federal disaster relief based on budget issues only (while ignoring more important arguments), it’s one thing to say an attack on Israel is an attack on the US (and then claim/clarify it’s just in a nuclear war scenario), but to start voting for extremely bad legislation is crossing the line. That’s no longer style/rhetorical difference. It’s aiding the ideological enemy.

"For every questionable action—support for Mitt Romney, comments about the US’s relationship with Israel, (was trying to think of more here for good measure, but these seem to be the primary two)—these things do not diminish the overall record of the most libertarian Senator since the Founding era."

Indeed, he easily became the most libertarian Senator, but since the bar was so low in the Senate to begin with, that’s not the impressive feat it sounds like. Rand Paul had the opportunity, being Ron Paul’s son and all, to be so much more. Politics is a lagging indicator, but Rand actually knows more about liberty than most politicians, so he could have stepped ahead of the curve and led like his father.

"I have not always agreed with Ron and Rand Paul. When I didn’t, I’ve said nothing. Silence.


Bad votes or comments should not go uncriticized."

Which is it, should bad votes and comments be criticized, or will you remain silent? Probably the latter, since Hunter likely wants to stay on Rand’s good side. Maybe he is hoping to land a job in a Rand Paul Administration.

The increasing questioning of Rand Paul’s methods is not going away, Mr. Hunter. You’re taking a huge risk, hoping another politician’s trip down the slippery slope of compromise to grab the ring of power defies history and actually works this time.

There is no shortcut to liberty.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Problem with Austerity

Should supporters of liberty favor Austerity? What is Austerity? Wikipedia says:
In economics, austerity refers to a policy of deficit-cutting by lowering spending via a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided... and are sometimes coupled with increases in taxes to demonstrate long-term fiscal solvency to creditors.
In other words, austerity is a policy of spending cuts and tax increases, which results in cutting government deficits/debts. Clearly, the tax raising half is not something libertarians support. Because good and bad are paired together in this word, I don't consider myself a supporter of "austerity", and neither should you.

Here are Robert Wenzel's comments on this subject:
From my perspective, an austerian is someone who wants to insure that sovereign debt is paid off by seeing to it that taxes are raised near the breaking point and that "social services" are cut. This is what is going on in eurozone countries, such as, Greece and Spain.

NYT reports on the Greek austerity steps taken in November 2012:
The measures — including sharp cuts to pensions, salaries and social services, as well as tax increases and increases in the retirement age to 67 from 65.
In July 2012, ABC News reported on austerity measures in Spain:
 Spain announced a 65 billion euro ($79.85 billion) austerity package that includes tax hikes and spending cuts on Wednesday...
Now, I am all for cutting government spending and the shrinking of government, but I am not in favor of increasing taxes---especially given the money goes into the Greek treasury to be then be immediately paid out to banksters in the form of payments on Greek debt. Thus, I would never call myself an austerian. In my view, governments that have over-spent should declare bankruptcy, which would result in the pain being placed on those who propped up the government by buying government debt---as opposed to the people of a country, who had little to do with these crony deals.
There you have it. Libertarians oppose austerity. Now we can move on to the real issue cutting government spending. This happens to solve the serious debt crisis we face, too. 

Contra Krugman et. al., Peter Schiff Does NOT Predict Hyperinflation

Paul Krugman and others repeatedly and dishonestly say Peter Schiff predicts hyperinflation. In reality he says the path we are on will eventually result in hyperinflation, but he expects cooler heads will prevail before high inflation turns into hyperinflation. In other words, he doesn't expect hyperinflation.

Asked if there will be hyperinflation in a recent interview, Peter responded:
I hope not. I don't think we'll have Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation because I think cooler heads will prevail before it gets that bad. Maybe before it gets that bad we'll discover the error of our ways and take the very painful steps necessary to prevent hyperinflation. But it's still certainly a scenario that is not impossible or even improbable. If we continue to do what we're doing it's inevitable. The question is will we continue on this path or will we reluctantly ultimately change directions. But I know that the longer we wait to do that, the more painful it's going to be and maybe the less likely it will be.
As someone who has closely followed Schiff’s commentary for years, I know this is what he has been saying all along. Krugman does too; he is not really an ignoramus, just clever, dishonest, and wrong.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Is Rand Paul Also Plagued with Libido Dominandi?

Whoa, what's libido dominandi, you say? It's a Latin phrase meaning "The will to power; the desire to dominate; the lust for government."

This disease plagues practically every politician, bureaucrat, and wanna-be politicians and bureaucrats. It's very dangerous given the fact that central planning always reduces prosperity and is immoral.

Ron Paul stood out as unique among politicians as he seemed to not only lack libido dominandi, but seemed to have the opposite. He was distrustful, reluctant, and resistant to dominate over others through government. This is one of the reasons he was such an effective libertarian, earning the trust of the most hardcore libertarians on earth.

That's why I would have been genuinely excited for Ron Paul to hold whatever office he ran for. He had a track record that would allow us to trust him with powers we ultimately don't want anyone to have.

Unfortunately, his son Rand is showing strong signs of libido dominandi. I especially began to notice this after he became a Senator. He talked about running for President if his father didn't just barley after being sworn in. Looking back on that weak field, he could have been successful, but I digress.

A stronger example is Rand's latest actions. There was his headline grabbing comments "I would have relieved you" to Hillary Clinton ("A preview of 2016?"), and even more notable his comments during this interview:
Interviewer: "...if you become President Paul..."
Rand Paul: "I like the ring of that" (smiles)
Rand is dropping quite a few hints that he is very interested in the Presidency, and they don't get any clearer than this. Compare it to Ron Paul, who was always very reluctant to run in the first place, both times. During the heat of the last race, in December 2011, he honestly admitted he didn't see himself in the White House. ABC reported:

An amazing admission tonight from Ron Paul.
In an exclusive interview, I asked him: “When you lay your head on your pillow at night, do you see yourself in the Oval Office?”
“Not really,” he said.
He went on to say that he’s not blind to the odds, but they are “not as slim as they were 25 years ago.”
Hard to imagine any other candidate saying that.

Indeed. That question was another way of saying "do you suffer from libido dominandi?" Sadly, Rand Paul is turning out to be quite the opposite. He will now go out of his way to indicate he does dream of being  President.

That's a bad sign. It's not bad per se to desire oneself to be President instead of some standard Republican or Democrat. If one uses the office to advance the cause of liberty and roll back statism, I applaud them. But we all know how rare that is. Couple this with the many indications that Rand Paul is moving towards a more mainstream Republican stance, and it's a reason for major concern that Rand isn't just different in his style and strategy.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

This is Real Journalism

Real journalism addresses all topics, and does not avoid subjects that make the state uncomfortable. It's a shame that Ben Swann is one of the few actively and effectively doing this. That's why he has picked up the following he has, and he deserves much more.

Here's a recent video, where Obama's call for any action that saves one child's life is juxtaposed with the fact that Obama's drone strikes are causing the deaths of many more children.

And here he helps us make sense of that Feinstein-Lee amendment to the NDAA from about a month ago. Recall that Rand Paul called this a victory and proceeded to vote for the NDAA himself. This is a major sellout by Rand, especially given the fact that the amendment didn't address the major problems of the old NDAA.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Breaking Down Obama's Inaugural Address

Oh, it was inauguration day? Yawn. Just another party statists throw for statism. Glad to have missed it.

The disgusting speech of Obama yesterday was a work of masterful propaganda for collectivism and central planning, though. Robert Wenzel reviews it in this must-read post here.

40 Years of Abortion

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Since that time, tens of millions of unborn children have been “legally” killed. This is a great travesty. Notice how the unborn have been dehumanized. This has always been the case throughout history to justify brutal treatment of whole classes of people. We look back with horror at this, yet, it is still in our midst.

How can I, an advocate of liberty, demand abortion be outlawed? Shouldn't I defend the right of women to do what they want with their own bodies? Abortion is, as I see it, murder. Libertarians never call for the freedom to do anything; we always place a condition on it: that the rights of others be not violated. Abortion violates the child’s right to life.

Most people agree parents don’t have a right to kill their young child, whether they be in the third trimester or already born. But some people draw the line at some point during the pregnancy. This is a completely arbitrary standard. The only non-arbitrary standard is conception.

That we have gone forty years with abortion on demand calls for real soul searching by the pro-life movement. Why haven’t we been successful? I would suggest, for one thing, our strategy is wrong. Under the Constitution, this is not a national issue. Ron Paul took the correct position during his campaign. He would get the federal government out of the abortion issue. That would free up many states to hopefully do the right thing and outlaw abortion.

It would be better to save lives in some states, instead of abortion continuing in all states while we wait many years hoping the SCOTUS will force everyone to change. Unfortunately, the best we can expect is a gradual change, because too many people don’t properly value human life and their minds must be changed. As with slavery, a “thirteenth” amendment outlawing abortion could be considered down the road when enough support was there, should that be necessary.

Republicans held complete control of the federal government during certain periods of the past forty years. It is to their eternal shame that they failed to make any serious efforts to curb abortion. Pro-lifers need to ask themselves some hard questions about their reflexive support for the GOP, given that forty years later we haven't gotten anywhere.

Let’s hope we don’t have to mark many more of these horrific anniversaries.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Online Gaming as a Laboratory for Politics and Economics

I just finished listening to the January 15th episode of the Peter Schiff Show. He was talking about the game Minecraft and its different modes, and suggested there should be a socialist and capitalist mode. This actually sounds like a great idea. Online gaming could have great potential in partial experimentation with different political philosophies.

I imagine the game should have several worlds to choose from, with each attempting to represent a relatively simple economy based on different rules. One world could be called “socialism”, another “democracy”, another “democratic republic”, and another “capitalism”, etc. In other words, the extremes of pure socialism and pure free markets along with some other major systems that falls between those ranges.

Players could get employment or run their own businesses, receive paychecks, purchase things, pay taxes, follow regulations, run for political office and be elected by their fellow players, etc. as would happen in the real world the game seeks to represent. Some or all of the actors in the game could be real people.

The possibilities are limitless. If the game was, professionally designed, made interesting for players of all ages, accessible from many platforms, and marketed correctly, I think it could be an effective experiment with many thousands of voluntary, dedicated players.

Obviously this sort of project would require quite a few resources to get off the ground. Probably, the game would need to be made available for free to attract the most players possible. I’m not sure who would take up this idea and fund it, but it’s interesting to think about.

In a fair battle between capitalism, socialism, and other systems that fall in between, I don’t think it would take long for players to overwhelmingly pick capitalism. And perhaps that choice would have helpful implications for us in the real world.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

If Republicans Want To Cut Spending, The Debt Ceiling is Another Opportunity

Republicans have many chances to make good on their general promises to cut government spending and deficits. The coming debt ceiling vote is yet another opportunity.

Republicans are in the Driver’s Seat

By refusing to raise the debt ceiling, Republicans limit the federal government to spending only the money it gets from taxes. This is effectively identical to a balanced budget amendment that Republicans frequently praise as necessary.

Republicans could also agree to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for substantial spending cuts. This would be a step between the status quo and a balanced budget amendment.

The point is, because they control the House of Representatives, Republicans have complete control of the outcome of this debate. Democrats cannot do anything unless they try to get away with some weird, risky gimmicks to avoid the debt ceiling, like minting a $1 trillion platinum coin. They have expressed little interest in this so far. Obama insists there is no plan B, it is up to Congress.

Where Will Republicans Drive Us?

We’ve been down this road many times before. Republicans always go ahead and raise the debt ceiling. They just like to put on a little show to make voters think they are trying to be responsible (So do Democrats, by the way, including Obama, Biden, and Reid).

A few Republicans are genuinely interested in cutting spending and some go all the way and would refuse to vote for any debt ceiling increase no matter what. But the vast majority will support increasing the debt ceiling, because they don’t actually oppose all the government spending and debt, despite their campaign rhetoric. Republican voters, take a moment and let that sink in.

Republicans may manage to insert token spending cuts. But they will be meaningless, as they were last time Republicans voted for such a deal. Remember the “fiscal cliff”? Just a few weeks ago those cuts were about to happen. The 2013 budget was going to fall from the previous year’s $3,563 billion to $3,554 billion, a whole quarter of a percent.

But even these minuscule cuts never happened. Republicans voted to push them off for another two months.

What Should Republicans Do?

Someone once said, “Gradualism in theory is perpetuity in practice”. This applies perfectly to Republicans. Their gradualism gets them nowhere regarding spending cuts and cutting the debt (unfortunately, that’s exactly what many Republicans actually want).

Republicans should not raise the debt ceiling. Instead, they should immediately work with Democrats and the White House to figure out how to live within their current means, which is well over $2 trillion annually- the size of the entire budget just eight years ago.

While it’s not a lot of time to work out such a long overdue deal, there is no justification for raising the debt ceiling even a penny. If they need to buy extra time they can sell federal assets.

Why not raise the debt ceiling? Because raising it means more government spending and more government interventions. In other words, more waste and more violations of our natural rights. Additionally, the government has accumulated unsustainable debt levels that can never be repaid in full. When interest rates rise again, which almost certainly will happen this decade, the federal budget will be overwhelmed by interest payments very quickly. For all these reasons, it’s completely irresponsible for Republicans and Democrats to raise the debt ceiling.

Monday, January 14, 2013

White House Responds to Secession Petitions

From the beginning I had mixed feelings on the secession petitions that followed Obama's reelection. On the one hand, they are an insult to our sovereignty; there's no need to ask. Did Thomas Jefferson beg George III for permission? Of course not. Additionally, the petitions appeared to be a mere outlet of frustration over the election rather than a serious desire to secede.

On the other hand, though, resurrecting this forbidden topic is a good thing, as it provides important educational opportunities. I was particularly looking forward to the White House's reaction, even though it was going to be entirely predictable and wrong. Let's examine their main arguments:
[A]s we value a healthy debate, we don't let that debate tear us apart.
Actually, it depends on the debate. Sometimes that is not necessary, other times it is. A husband and wife shouldn't let themselves be torn apart by some petty argument. But we can all agree there are times where divorce is appropriate. Same with secession.
Our founding fathers established the Constitution of the United States "in order to form a more perfect union" through the hard and frustrating but necessary work of self-government. They enshrined in that document the right to change our national government through the power of the ballot -- a right that generations of Americans have fought to secure for all. But they did not provide a right to walk away from it.
Here we have the White House getting one of the most basic aspects of the Constitution backwards. In reality, the federal government is the one whose powers are limited to what is expressly granted, while the people and their states retain all other powers. So, the absence of a provision to "walk away" is no argument against secession.
"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite."
~James Madison, The Federalist No. 45
Beyond this, there is yet another layer of defense for the right of secession. If you're going to accept the legitimacy of the Declaration of Independence, then it doesn't matter what the Constitution says in the first place.

Back to the White House response:
As President Abraham Lincoln explained in his first inaugural address in 1861, "in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual."
Lincoln made this up. He is wrong. The Constitution doesn't even claim to be perpetual. Perpetual, in 18th-century diplomatic language meant “lacking a built-in sunset provision”, not "lasting forever", as historian Tom Woods noted recently.

And if it did, so what? That doesn't mean such a claim is legitimate, that some people of one generation can forever bind future generations to a "social contract". I thought "progressives" believed in change, anyway. The "Union" should not be some object of religious veneration, it should be a means to an end rather than an end in of itself.
In the years that followed, more than 600,000 Americans died in a long and bloody civil war that vindicated the principle that the Constitution establishes a permanent union between the States. 
Translation: Might makes right.
And shortly after the Civil War ended, the Supreme Court confirmed that "[t]he Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union composed of indestructible States."
So, the federal government says, "You're stuck with me". Well, duh, what institution is not going to rule in it's own favor?

The remainder of the White House response is just some mumbo-jumbo praising democracy.


As expected, arguments against the right of secession crumble easily: they are always weak, false, or barbaric (e.g. the "might makes right" argument, a.k.a. "the Civil War settled it"). It doesn't matter if one thinks secession is prudent in one case or another. It is merely the right of secession that is being discussed here, and rejected by the Obama administration.

The right of secession is easy to defend. Simply point to the Declaration of Independence and your opponent will not be able to come up with a coherent rebuttal. Because there is none. That's why, with these ideas finally getting un-buried again, we should eventually see a collapse in the anti-secession mentality that has prevailed for 150 years. And that's good news for our liberty.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The CPI is Government Inflation Propaganda

Peter Schiff compares the CPI with reality. It's in the government's interest to under report inflation, so no surprise that's exactly what happens.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Fiscal Cliff Deal Was Another Anti-Liberty Deal

All the hoopla and confusion known as the “fiscal cliff” and the so called deal that averted was the latest battle the cause of liberty lost. Bob Murphy summarizes the math in a recent article for the Institute for Energy Research.

What Was the Fiscal Cliff?

Taxes were going to soar by $478 billion but spending would remain nearly unchanged, falling by just $9 billion. Compare these to the 2012 federal budget of $3,563 billion and tax receipts of $2,435 billion.

Despite the wild imbalance between spending cuts and tax increases, both were treated as equally draconian. In Washington’s eyes, cutting spending by a quarter of a percent is terrifying, even though they typically will increase spending by many times that amount every year.

For those who want liberty and prosperity, this is completely backwards. Increasing taxes is increasing waste, while reducing government spending is cutting waste.

A Deal for Us or Them?

Now taxes will go up $198 billion and spending will increase by $41 billion. And the deficit will still be $971 billion.

This is what Democrats call a “balanced” deal. I guess this does look balanced when you start with such an imbalanced perspective. As far as Republicans, they once again proved their worthlessness, as Murphy writes on his blog:

[T]hink back, everybody, to when those fiscally conservative Republicans OH SO RELUCTANTLY gave in on the debt ceiling hike, back in 2011. Remember all that drama, everyone? When the credit rating got reduced? Here’s Boehner back then:

“An increase in the debt limit without major spending cuts will hurt our economy and destroy jobs,” Boehner said in a statement. “A credible agreement means the spending cuts must exceed the debt-limit increase.”

As I pointed out at the time, the Republicans clamoring for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget, etc. are just putting on a show. All they had to do was not raise the debt ceiling and we would have automatically had a balanced budget requirement.

Instead, they went along with raising the ceiling, but put in place a committee–why, a super committee–to give all sorts of expert recommendations, and if those wily Democrats didn’t listen, why, there would be massive, draconian, across-the-board spending cuts…

…which they just avoided, by simply voting not to implement them. (And remember, the cuts would have meant a $9 billion reduction in federal spending in 2013.)

Yet I expect the Tea Party to keep voting Republican, and keep being ineffective towards their alleged goals of shrinking government.

David Henderson points out, however, that the deal prevented some tax issues from getting even worse. While I appreciate this reminder, it’s quite a leap for him to conclude the anti-tax side won. Remember, taxes went up. The other side just didn't win everything they wanted.

A number of special interest groups got special tax breaks, too. The tax code is now more complex, and the rates went up. Just the opposite of the “lower rates for less loopholes” talk we heard early on.

So, in short, this was a deal for them, the government and some special interests; but for us, we were screwed again. And we would have been screwed either way, because that’s what statism is all about.

It would be very difficult to have any optimism at all if it were not for the Ron Paul movement. Even so, there is no reason for optimism in the short run. We need to double down and invest all the more in education of ourselves and others so that we someday have the numbers to put a stop to the insanity that no one else is stopping. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

“National Jewish Democratic Council” Attacks Their Own Credibility with Outrageous Comments on Rand Paul

Okay, to be honest I don’t recall hearing much if anything about this organization before now. But their reaction to Senator Rand Paul’s appointment to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is too outrageous to ignore. It’s laughable and does nothing but destroy their credibility.

Here are their claims:

Senator Rand Paul’s membership in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should be raising red flags and provoking severe concern across the pro-Israel community. The decision by Republican Senate leaders to give a bigger microphone and a prominent platform to someone who has repeatedly called for an end to U.S. aid to Israel and used his leadership PAC to push an anti-foreign aid agenda is simply outrageous. As we’ve said for months, Senator Paul and his father’s acolytes are becoming legitimate forces in today’s Republican Party—and pro-Israel Republicans have repeatedly and epically failed to address this growing issue within the GOP ranks. Now this failure has very real consequences. The overwhelmingly pro-Israel American public deserves much better than a radical ideologue on the Senate’s primary diplomatic committee who has demonstrated a singular obsession with slashing aid to the Jewish state. (Emphasis mine)

Hysterical. Hyperbolic. Outrageous. The underlined portion is just a complete lie. We, and Rand Paul in this case, have called for an end to all foreign aid, because it’s unaffordable, unconstitutional, immoral, and ridiculous. No one, to my knowledge, especially Rand Paul, has singled out Israel for cuts. To the contrary, Rand recently said "I wouldn't start with Israel". So, reality is the opposite of what the NJDC fanatics claim.

As far as Rand being a radical ideologue, he is becoming quite the moderate compared to his father, which is unfortunate (more on that in the future.) And who says NJDC isn't the radical one? I say they are. Extremism is in the eye of the beholder. Throwing that accusation around is meaningless, but an effective distraction.

Israel can and should continue to receive aid from Americans. It just shouldn't come from the government, period. The vast “pro-Israel community” as NJDC calls it really has nothing to fear, because nobody is going to stop them from helping Israel with their own money. The problem with these people, like most everyone else, is that they want to reach into other people’s pockets and steal money for their cause. When we object to this, they dishonestly attack us for opposing their ends when we only oppose their means.

This all is just a dent in their credibility, if they had any to begin with.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Movie 2016: Whitewashing Big Government for Republicans

I was recently able to watch a free copy of Dinesh D’Souza’s movie 2016:Obama’s America. I heard plenty about it since it was released but made no plans to see it, because it appeared to be just the latest in a long line of neoconservative crusades.

A detailed review by Gary North, a principled proponent of liberty and sound economics, confirmed my suspicions. Now that I’ve watched the film, I can verify Mr. North is exactly right; the movie is a whitewash of the Bush presidency and the whole federal government. 2016 is, says North,

“…dead wrong. That is because it misses the fundamental political fact of the last dozen years: the Obama Administration is the operational successor of the Bush Administration. In Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Guantanamo, on Wall Street, Barack Obama is George W. Bush in blackface. Obama is the star of a twenty-first century minstrel show.

This fact has been deliberately ignored for almost four years by both the neoconservative Right and the grin-and-bear-it Left. Neither side will admit what I regard as the fundamental fact of this documentary. It is a long whitewash of the policies of George W. Bush.”

I would add, Bush was the operational successor of Clinton, Clinton of Bush Sr., and on and on. All modern Presidents have supported the federal government serving the role it does today: including everything from micromanaging the economy to operating a military that is expensive as the rest of the world’s combined.

Obama is no radical deviation from the status quo; he perpetuates it. 2016 would have you think Obama is some unique threat to America. This may stir up the voters for a party that has little to credibly offer as an alternative to the Democrat agenda of “big government”, but it's not productive for the cause of liberty.

Unfortunately there are more problems with this film. It addresses the debt, but only part of it. Worse, it ignores the fact that Congress, and not the executive, has sole Constitutional authority over the federal budget. The President cannot do anything on this subject without Congress, yet the film omits this fact and pursues Obama alone. Ditto for the Federal Reserve; it is also ignored even though its manipulation of the money supply creates the booms and busts. When talking responsibility for the bad economy, the Fed and Congress should be in the foreground, and the President in the background.

On foreign policy, Obama’s problem, apparently, is that he doesn’t intervene enough. Back to North’s review:

The documentary is a neoconservative propaganda film. It strongly favors the United States as the policeman of the world. It criticizes Obama for supposedly pulling out of this role. On what basis? The closing of American military bases and spying bases, now numbering closed to a thousand? No. The reduction of the Pentagon's budget? No evidence yet, but the promise that he will, just you wait. Then what? Because he has not gone to war in Iran and Syria.

I am a card-carrying member in good standing of the Old Right (pre-1940), meaning the non-interventionist American political tradition. I see no reason to get upset with the fact that Obama has not yet invaded Iran.

Repeatedly, D'Souza blames Obama for not stopping the nuclear weapons program that he says Iran is involved in. The problem is, as far as anyone has proven, Iran is not involved in developing a nuclear weapon. Given all of the talk about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction back in early 2003, before the U.S. invaded, I think it is reasonable that somebody who promotes military intervention against Iran by the United States should prove that Iran does have a nuclear weapons program. It may, but what can we do about it? Are we ready to bomb, bomb Iran, the way John McCain sang back in 2007?

2016 spends much time trying to make sense out of Obama’s ideology and his influences. This is a legitimate subject but also a relatively unimportant one, as James Antle explains well:

“Is there anything less interesting than the theorizing about why Obama governs as he does? Obama is a liberal, and a fairly banal one at that … Yet there remains a cottage industry of explanations for why a liberal president has compiled a record of generally liberal policy positions, something akin to a discovery process as to why a quarterback is so taken with throwing touchdown passes.”

Instead of explaining how the anti-liberty agenda of Obama and his Washington D.C. cohorts is wrong and destructive, movies like this deflect attention from the real problem, the system and the bad ideas that support it. It’s not surprising that politicians resort to this so often, there is not much else they can criticize without it coming right back at them. It's not a problem to take a look at Obama or any politician, to be clear, it's how it's done.

What’s good about 2016? Sadly not much, beyond the production quality, though I think the film was too long. At times I was getting bored. The real problem with this movie is the message. As Gary North sums up in his review:

[O]n the issues that really matter, it is either wrong-headed or silent. On foreign policy, it is a defense of the neoconservatives' version of Middle Eastern foreign policy. He devotes a lot of time interviewing Daniel Pipes. Pipes is a major proponent of the neoconservatives' interventionist Middle Eastern policy. On the real federal deficit -- unfunded liabilities -- it is silent. On the on-budget deficit, it ignores Bush and Congress. The deficit is a bipartisan disaster. To suggest otherwise is not just misleading, it is deceptive. It raises hope where there is none. "If only we will not re-elect Obama!" On the deficits -- on-budget and off-budget -- it makes not a whit of difference. There will be a Great Default.

He fails to pursue the obvious -- the influence [of] Jeremiah Wright -- while he promotes his own peculiar thesis of Obama as an anti-colonialist son of his absent father. I kept thinking, "Anti-colonialist? If only it were true. If only his foreign policy were not an extension of Bush's."

I recommend North’s entire review be read. It’s time for conservatives to stop supporting flawed efforts like this film. If your goal is liberty, you are up against the system, against bad ideas, not any particular individual. Unfortunately, 2016 perpetuates its own bad ideas while painting Obama as THE root of our problems, rather than the whole system. This effectively whitewashes and protects the big government agenda, in a manner intended to attract an audience of republicans, conservatives, and tea party types. Sadly, it works.