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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

If the poor…because they are more in number, divide among themselves the property of the rich–is not this unjust?  …[I]f this is not extreme injustice, what is?  …[I]s it not evident, if this goes on, that they will ruin the state?”  —Aristotle, The Politics, III.10

courtesy, wikipedia.org

courtesy, wikipedia.org

One of the reasons I admire President Washington is his acute understanding of the power of precedents.  From the mundane (e.g. what should we call the president?) to the important (e.g. how many terms should a president serve?), Washington understood that any action taken by the national government had the potential to set a precedent that might not soon be overturned.  Too bad our current leaders lack Washington’s prescience.

After allowing AIG to honor its contractual obligation to provide $165 million dollars in bonuses to executives as part of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” the U.S. House of Representatives voted 328 – 93 to impose a special 90 percent tax on those who received these bonuses and fail to return the money to the federal government before the end of the tax year. My new congressman was leading the charge to reclaim this money. In a press release issued shortly after the vote, Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) stated in part: “…I am proud that we turned justified outrage into real results quickly.” (Rep. Perriello, himself, cosponsored a similar bill that would have taxed these bonuses at a rate of 100 percent.) While I disagree with any company in financial straits issuing bonuses, I also have a problem with the U.S. Congress targeting a special, retroactive tax at specific individuals. Today we might cheer this tax because it reclaims our tax dollars, however, today’s action is tomorrow’s precedent. What’s to stop the federal government from seizing 90 percent of some other group’s income in the future if they feel that it, too, is more than an individual deserves? There is a better way to reclaim the money, as Mitt Romney and Larry Kudlow illustrate, that would not set potentially dangerous precedents for the future.

When legislators, like Rep. Perriello, stoke public anger toward a specific group of people, the results can get out of hand quickly—as we are seeing now. Innocent people are getting caught in the crosshairs because some politicians are more interested in playing politics to cover their past mistakes* than they are in making just, responsible policies.

*After Rep. Perriello voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he defended his vote by saying “…Congress acted quickly, transparently, and responsibly to get something done for American families.” Perhaps Rep. Perriello should have read the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act before voting for it; if he had, maybe he would have discovered the AIG bonuses.

UPDATE: Apparently, it doesn’t take long to establish a precedent.  

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For what is your life?  It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”  –James 1.14

After a week-long break from school (which was dominated by my master’s thesis) and a few days to unpack and get settled in again, I haven’t had time for blogging.  To my regular readers, I apologize for my absence, but it was a much-needed break.  This sabbatical from “Much Abides” has also given me time to reassess the priorities in my life.

Over my vacation, I attended a unit committee meeting of the Republican Party of Bedford.    During the “new business,” one of our former chairmen rose to announce the passing of another former chairman.  This individual dedicated her life to promoting the party, yet only a handful of people in the meeting even remembered her.  It reminded me of the brevity and, as Solomon wrote, the vanity of life.  History is full of stories of people who did important things, but today we only remember a handful of them.  We remember that Julius Caesar conquered Gaul and Britannia, but who were his lieutenants?  We’re often convinced that the issues with which we concern ourselves are of utmost importance, when, honestly one millennium hence, who will even remember them?  We are on earth for such a short time and all of our labors pass away with time.

This realization almost made me abandon my interest in politics; what’s the point of dedicating your life to something if all of your efforts will be forgotten mere decades later?  Then I remembered a column by George Will in which he stated that perhaps the best we can expect of our leaders is not to remake the world, but “…to muddle through without breaking too much crockery.”  Our leaders need all the help they can in ensuring that they do just that.  Our world still exists today because billions of ordinary people got up every morning and performed their jobs–whether governing, farming, selling or fighting (i.e. the miracle of the ordinary)–helping civilization continue.  By performing our prescribed role in life, we are helping to leave an immortal legacy: the continued existence of life on this earth.

Now, it’s back to work…we have a world to save.

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Et Tu?

It’s on.  Via Jim Geraghty at The Campaign Spot at National Review, the prestigious publication, The Economist–which, incidentally, endorsed President Obama during the campaign–calls the president’s new omnibus budget both \”wishful\” and \”dangerous.\” What’s next, Chris Matthews criticising Obamacare?

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Dr. Sanjay Gupta is no longer under consideration for U.S. surgeon general.  I wonder if he has paid all of his taxes?

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Yahoo News is reporting that a plurality of Americans want President Obama to delay his costly plans to reform health care, at least until the economy rebounds.  Considering the staggering price tag (on top of the stimulus package, the fiscal year 2010 budget, TARP II  and the spectre of “Stimulus II,” two wars and an every-mounting national debt), I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had about as much change as we can afford–for a few decades, at least.  It’s unfortunate that so many Americans are uninsured right now and they should not be ignored until the economy rebounds.  Now would be a great time for the president to consider some market-based options.  It would ease–or ameliorate–the problem, it would be considerably less-controversial and it might even negate the need for the president’s statist machinations.

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Come now, and let us reason together….”  –Isaiah 1:18

I actually stole that line from my governor, Tim Kaine, but it definitely applies to this piece by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) in today’s Wall Street Journal.  President Obama continuously misinforms the American people that there are only two alternatives when it comes to fixing our recessionary economy: his way or catastrophe.  Rep. Ryan makes a great case that there is a third-way.

P.S.  Just in case you’re interested, the well-respected political observer Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia says that if Rep. Ryan decides to challenge Sen. Russ Feingold in 2010, he could make it a contest.  I’ll believe it when I see it, but Wisconsin has been tantalizingly close for Republicans in recent years.  Maybe 2010 will be our year.

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Courtesy, wikipedia.org

Courtesy, wikipedia.org

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) voted with the Democrats to pass President Obama’s massive economic stimulus bill last month, much to the chagrin of movement conservatives.  Since that vote, his poll number\’s are atrocious.  The scuttlebutt from the Keystone State today is that Sen. Specter’s 2004 primary challenger, Pat Toomey–an entrepreneur, former congressman and current president of the Club for Growth–who was considering a run for the governorship in 2010 is now considering challenging Sen. Specter in the Republican primary.

Personally, I’m not sure how I feel about this development.  The GOP has serious issues with moderate voters and voting out one of the party’s most prominent moderate voices doesn’t help to repair this rift with the political center.  However, Sen. Specter’s filibuster-breaking vote for the stimulus bill was so destructive to Republican unity on the issue that I’m uncertain if his continued presence in the Senate’s Republican caucus is beneficial to the party and its agenda.

On a more pragmatic note, considering the leftward trend of Pennsylvania over at least the past ten years (Gore, Rendell, Casey, Obama, etc.), would Candidate Toomey be able to hold the seat for the GOP?  Stay tuned.

Update: Via our new friend Chris at “Grassroots PA,” here’s Pat Toomey’s statement on his possible candidacy.

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