Friday, August 28, 2009

The Dark Side of Ted Kennedy's Legacy

4-Block World.

Nick Gillespie, Reason Magazine -- The legislation for which Ted Kennedy will be remembered is precisely the sort of top-down, centralized legislation that needs to be jettisoned in the 21st century. Kennedy was in fact a man out of time, a bridge back to the past rather than a guide to the future. His mind-set was very much of a piece with a best-and-the-brightest, centralized mentality that has never served America well over the long haul.

Bigger was better, and government at every level but especially at the highest level, had to lead the way. In an increasingly flat, dispersed, networked world in which power, information, knowledge, purchasing power, and more was rapidly decentralizing, Kennedy was all for sitting at the top of a pyramid and directing activity. In this way, he was of his time and place, a post-war America that figured that all the kinks of everyday life had been mastered by a few experts in government, business, and culture. All you needed to do was have the right guys twirling the dials up and down. As thoughtful observers of all political stripes have noted, this sort of thinking was at best delusional, at worst destructive. And it was always massively expensive.

Alan Bock (via Cafe Hayek) -- In the hoopla over the death of Ted Kennedy a good deal of nonsense is being spewed about the nobility of "public service." Ted spent his entire life in public service -- he never had a private-sector job nor did he need one, given the money he inherited. So we are supposed to be grateful that he spent his whole life serving others.

No doubt he saw it that way, but the only way a politician can "serve others" is to take money and other resources from some people to give it to others. Government has no money of its own, only what it can take as plunder from people who create value in the world. When they do so, they may actually be of help to those who are benefited, but the price is reducing the amount of wealth in a society, meaning there is less to go around. That's what "public service" as a politician -- as compared, for example, to a philanthropist, who uses his own money and/or skills and time to benefit others -- amounts to.

Don Boudreaux -- While Kennedy didn’t choose a life of ease, he did something much worse: he chose a life of power. That choice satisfied an appetite that is far grosser, baser, and more anti-social than are any of the more private appetites that many rich people often choose to satisfy. Americans would have been much better off had Ted Kennedy spent his wealth exclusively, say, on the pursuit of sexual experiences and the building of palatial private homes in which to cavort, or to take drugs, or to engage in whatever private dissipations his wealth afforded him.

Instead, Mr. Kennedy spent much of his wealth and time pursuing power over others (and of the garish ‘glory’ that accompanies such power). He did waste his life satisfying unsavory appetites; unfortunately, the appetites he satisfied were satisfied not only at his expense, but at the expense of the rest of us. Mr. Kennedy’s constant feeding of his appetite for power wasted away other people’s prosperity and liberties.

Originally posted at Carpe Diem.

13 Comments:

At 8/28/2009 8:34 AM, Anonymous Dano said...

"The legislation for which Ted Kennedy will be remembered is precisely the sort of top-down, centralized legislation that needs to be jettisoned in the 21st century."

It sure seems to me that this is the type of government that we have been getting for quite some time now from both parties (i.e., more centralized and bigger -- taking the federal budget as a proxy)... so I'm not so sure any of this will be "jettisoned" anytime soon.

 
At 8/28/2009 9:12 AM, Blogger QT said...

Dano,

Have to agree with you that the present administration seems to be continuing on the same path. Introducing card check, taking over all student loans eliminating any private involvement, cutting missile defense, proposing to centralize healthcare with among other measures, a committee to "help" your doctor decide what treatments are best.

One can certainly understand why Senator Kennedy chose to endorse Obama rather than Clinton who represents the centrist side of the party.

 
At 8/28/2009 9:42 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...


The legislation for which Ted Kennedy will be remembered is precisely the sort of top-down, centralized legislation that needs to be jettisoned in the 21st century.

Unfortunately there are less than honest actors that exist in business that can cause more damage. They just use the glacial speed of markets to their advantage.

Exhibit A, H1-b "bodyshop" lobby groups.

 
At 8/28/2009 11:56 AM, Blogger QT said...

Sethstorm,

Aw, the favored hobby horse...H1-B

Does it occur to you to ask why lobbying in the U.S. has reached the proportions that it has? Why do unions, environmental groups, agribusinesses, government organizations like Fred & Fan, as well as large corporations like Exxon spend so much on lobbying?

Isn't it fair to say that big government creates tremendous incentives for interest groups to try to influence the rules and regulations? Isn't this exactly what one would expect that each seeks their own advantage?

The problem with government solutions for all problems is logistical. This approach is simply not economically viable.

Exhibit B. Consider the financial future of the U.S..

Which is the greater threat H1-B visa which represent less than 0.1% of the U.S. workforce or doubling the size of the U.S. debt?

 
At 8/28/2009 3:27 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"Unfortunately there are less than honest actors that exist in business that can cause more damage. They just use the glacial speed of markets to their advantage"...

Glacial speed of markets to their advantage?!?!

Oh dear! Someone is using the market for its intended purpose?!?!

How absolutely dastardly!!!

Well R.I.H. Ted Kennedy

If it was expensive, pandered to parasites, had unintended consequences, and was lied about then Ted Kennedy wins going away...

 
At 8/29/2009 8:40 AM, Anonymous Dano said...

Actually, the best argument for a highly-decentralized, small-as-possible government is precisely because we will always have "less than honest actors" in all walks of life.

 
At 8/29/2009 1:15 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


Actually, the best argument for a highly-decentralized, small-as-possible government is precisely because we will always have "less than honest actors" in all walks of life.

Better to neutralize those less than honest actors in business than to give them any chance.

Doing nothing about them only allows them to thrive.


QT said...

Unfortunately the cry for small government by some Republicans hasn't been what it seems. The just use it to funnel work to anywhere outside the US; preferences are given to more despotic/Communist Party run countries. Further, they do not care about border control as it would offend our neighbors and impact businesses who use illegal immigrant labor.

The only way that that mess can be cleaned up is to suspend the entirety of 20 CFR 655/656. Next would be to remove the ability to use immigration laws/regulations as an anti-American job funnel. Then move on to close the rest of them.

Given that, both are equally threatening.

 
At 8/29/2009 1:58 PM, Blogger 1 said...

"The just use it to funnel work to anywhere outside the US; preferences are given to more despotic/Communist Party run countries"...

Well that most definitely explains in part what happened to GM and Chrysler...

BTW sethstorm did you ever take the time to send both Senators Kennedy and Feinstein a thank you card for the hard work they put in regarding H1-B Visas?

 
At 8/29/2009 4:33 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


BTW sethstorm did you ever take the time to send both Senators Kennedy and Feinstein a thank you card for the hard work they put in regarding H1-B Visas?

No, but you might want to check into Carly Fiorina (of HP infamy) running for Feinstein's spot. She's even worse than Feinstein given that she's the unofficial advocate for every "body shop" firm.

 
At 8/30/2009 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sure seems to me that this is the type of government that we have been getting for quite some time now from both parties (i.e., more centralized and bigger -- taking the federal budget as a proxy)

There's a difference between a federal government providing public goods (like national defense) and private goods (like health care).

The prescription drug benefit for Medicare passed by Bush was, at worst, pandering politics and, at best, a smart alternative to costly surgery. But the cost-saving rationale for the prescription drug benefit was predicated on an existing Medicare system which should not exist to begin with.

There is no clause in Article I, Section 8 which mentions anything about "provide health insurance to the poor and elderly".

When you compare the 5% budget deficit under Reagan to the deficits Obama is running, it makes one nostalgic for the Cold War. Reagan kicked the Soviet Union of the edge and Bush rebuilt a military decimated by Clinton every year he was in office. I think those were worthwhile expenditures and I pay my taxes for that gladly.

 
At 8/30/2009 12:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a thank you card for the hard work they put in regarding H1-B Visas?

I applied repeatedly for several jobs at Google for which I was eminently qualified - overqualified, in fact. I never got an initial interview much less the job.

The scuttlebutt in the Tech community is that firms like Google posted jobs with no intention to hire solely for the purpose of approaching government a year or two later and saying, "See, we advertised for one/two years and couldn't find a qualified American applicant. Can we now hire foreigners?"

 
At 8/30/2009 3:58 AM, Blogger 1 said...

Per his usual style sethstorm is long on wind and short on substance: "No, but you might want to check into Carly Fiorina (of HP infamy) running for Feinstein's spot. She's even worse than Feinstein given that she's the unofficial advocate for every "body shop" firm"...

Yes but Feinstein actually accomplished something, right?

"The scuttlebutt in the Tech community..." is meaningless BUT NOT unimportant...

If Google and similer companies are pulling this alledged nonsense then why would YOU with your alledged skill sets want to work for them?

Did you shop your skill sets around to companies other than Google?

 
At 8/30/2009 11:49 AM, Blogger sethstorm said...


If Google and similer companies are pulling this alledged nonsense then why would YOU with your alledged skill sets want to work for them?

Did you shop your skill sets around to companies other than Google?

The problem is that it is too commonplace to avoid, Google or not.

Anonymous most likely has gone to others, to find the same practice. Google just seemed to be a common practitioner of the "requirements exceed existence of products" game.

 

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