Monday, June 23, 2008

WE are the Answer

My mother had a run-in with some old friends this morning after Mass. My grade school friend Mason is a Congressional intern this summer; his dad was serving donuts in the hall. Since I will be a Congressional intern as well next month my mom chatted Mr. Mason's dad up about the experience and any pointers that he had. After I got over the initial shock of the alleged $5 per day in subway fares (and the stifly humidity of which Californians have no conception), I was amazed by how much he enjoyed the experience thus far. He has become so inspired that he is intent on attending law school. More lawyers, just what we need right? We have a government full of them and yet it seems that none ever took a law and economics class. They've never heard of Posner or Epstein or Ulen or Coase.

My disbelief in any practicality of the government has only been enhanced in the last few weeks. After spending a week at UC Berkeley learning about the environment
and sustainability I came home to read about my Senators voting to override President Bush's veto of the bloated $289 billion farm bill that will do nothing but promote inefficient use of resources and prolong dependency on the government appartus which reveals itself to be more and more of a ponzy scheme with each new printing of worthless paper bills or borrowing of our currency from East Asian speculators. Thank God my future employer, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA52) voted against overriding the President's reasonable veto. But my joy was quickly suppressed by reading that the House spent this week debating a primate-trafficking ban. Yes, your government spent millions of dollars to make the chimp trade a federal crime. Forget that most states have already outlawed the practice, Washington wants jurisdiction everywhere. And if we don't put up a fight in defense of state's rights we are going to have more and more power concentrated in Washington--power that the Founding Fathers never intended the feds to have.

The beauty of the American system is that states can govern themselves and try different policies and the ones that work will be copied and the ones that don't will be abandoned. It's practically a free market in public policy, leading us to the optimal outcomes. However, the US Congress (and the Presidency and Judiciary) have slowly taken more and more rights from us, by imposing federal law.
It is insane to think that what might be a reasonable law in one state is reasonable for all others. Farm subsidies may be fine in Iowa, but they hurt those of us who aren't in the agricultural states. Abortion on demand may be fine in California, but it isn't in South Dakota. Concealed weapons may be accepted in Wyoming, but won't be in California. Why does Washington have to be so arrogant as to think that it can make rules for us all? Particularly on topics that aren't within it's purview to legislate. Did the politicians never read the Bill of Rights in law school?

Also bothering me lately is the refusal of young adults to vote. The percentage of young people, particularly the under-21 set, who vote has been declining since the right was first granted in the '72 landslide Nixon election. Students say it doesn't matter, and as an amateur economists I understand that aspect, but how can you say the right that millions of men and women have died for doesn't matter or isn't worth it? The same people who claim that it doesn't matter would probably be the first ones complaining about the whole system if there were no voting writes. In fact they are the same ones who moan about injustices but find it too much trouble to read a voter information pamphlet and drive to their local polling place. I completely agree that the choices are usually bad ones, but that is because people like the ones with whom I have talked don't show any interest and don't demand anything more from central committees. If we want change then we must let our voices be heard.

I went to a Ron Paul rally several weeks ago. I'm not a crazy, but I got a signed book and shook his hand and all that jazz. The supporters were rabid, breaking into chants and waving signs and passing out copies of the Constitution. Now I didn't go to the Obama rally in South Bend, but I have watched some of his speeches and this is the difference. The Democratic revival is focused on this man. The liberty revival is focused on ideas. Without Barack Obama these Obamaniacs would have nothing to rally around, they have nothing that they believe in other than "Change" and government that will save us all. The problem with that approach of course, is that it unrealistic and unAmerican. The government isn't our keeper. This is what the supporters of the rEVOLution understand. We on't want to be in a nanny state like England, with its health care that allows people to die because waits are so long. With its camera systems that capture every resident of London 200 times per day. With its doormat status as a place where Muslim communities can force school boards to remove the Holocaust from history curriculums.

I'm not saying that Democrats will leads us to death and destruction, but now that we are 8 years into the new millenium, we should know that more government, no matter how changed it is, is not the answer. We the People are the answer. We the People are the ones who can make the best decisions for ourselves, not some careerist bureaucrat, greasy politician or power-tripping judge in Washington. Mr. McCain should remember that too. This great nation functions just fine without government interference. And if any twenty-something cynic doubts the value of a vote, or a pandering candidate takes our minds for granted I relate the following story:

I was a poll worker several weeks ago in the California open primary. I was told the story of an old lady. Her husband drove her to the polling place, but frail with age she was unable to even get out of the car, making it by on deep gasps from a breathing apparatus. Her husband informed the workers that she was there to vote but was incapable of walking from the car. The poll workers told him that they couldn't allow ballots to leave the designated area. In sullen desperation he explained her situation, not the current incapacity but the life that had brought her to where she was. Born at a time when women couldn't vote, she remembered what struggles the feminists endured to pass the 19th Amendment. She'd seen her country through World War II, doing her part in the war effort to defeat the dark armies of hatred that trod across Europe. She'd seen the intimidating violence that failed to stop the surge of freedom that welled from Martin Luther King's movement. She'd heard Reagan boom those unforgettable words as he stood at Brandenburg and sat in shock with the rest of the world as the Berlin Wall fell two years later. She'd lived through two World Wars and seen millions of people rise from oppression to freedom and democracy, the essential elements of society that have lifted an unprecedented number of people from poverty in the 20th century--a remarkable and utterly unpredictable occurence. Knowing full well that liberty has a price, and that the price deserved respect by exercising the right of representation, she came to vote. Knowing full well that freedom is the greatest purveyor of human success she came to vote--a freedom in itself that was unknown to her own mother and countless others when she was born into this nation. Knowing full well that her health would soon fail her and she would never be able to partake again, she came to vote. And vote she did, when the poll workers brought her ballot to her car. It can't mean nothing. It can't be worhtless. And we can't let the powers that be jade us to the point that we no longer respect and exercise the right. Be free. Be thinkers. Be lovers. Be Americans.


Scott said...

Great testimony. When you say, "I'm not saying that Democrats will leads us to death and destruction..." that is true. However, I would point out that attempting suicide is just as wrong as successful suicide. :)

Anonymous said...

great post brandon!

re: young people voting
I've noticed, at least with this election, the younger part of the population is getting involved, especially with the charisma that Obama projects. At the same time, the older part of the population is a little cynical, believing that there are no good candidates on either side this year. Opening the vote to a larger part of the under-21 set would be interesting. I know kids in high school are smart and everything, but I would question their ability to make a truly educated decision, just because at that age they are still, for the most part, influenced by parents, teachers and friends.