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Monday, March 29, 2010

Twenty Illustrious Men

Then we saw the Scholars who sat around a long table; they were as shapeless clouds huddled at the rise of a great sky. There were the men whose famous names we knew, and others from distant lands whose names we had not heard. We saw a great painting on the wall over their heads, of the twenty illustrious men who had invented the candle.

Ayn Rand, from Anthem
In her dystopian novella, Anthem, Ayn Rand demonstrated her keen understanding of the relationship between technological progress and political freedom by setting a future collectivist society, not in an advanced mechanized utopia, but in a devolving, primitive slave pen. Rand would later prove in great detail that the pre-condition to man's happiness and prosperity is the freedom to think, produce, and trade. A society in which the state stifles the individual mind, erecting legal barriers to production, trade, and profit, is a society doomed to suffer the misery of privation and technological stagnation.

Keep this in mind while you read the following from the New York Times:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced a “major policy revision” that aims to give bicycling and walking the same policy and economic consideration as driving.

“Today I want to announce a sea change,” he wrote on his blog last week. “This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of nonmotorized.”

The new policy, which was introduced a few days after Mr. LaHood gave a well-received speech from atop a table at the National Bike Summit, is said to reflect the Transportation Department’s support for the development of fully integrated transportation networks
Like the "World Council of Scholars" in Anthem and central planners everywhere, Mr. Lahood seeks to impose his arbitrary vision, informed by the pseudo-scientific religion of environmentalism, onto the marketplace for transportation. Fortunately, the plan is encountering some resistance:

“Treating bicycles and other nonmotorized transportation as equal to motorized transportation would cause an economic catastrophe,” warned Carter Wood, a senior adviser at the National Association of Manufacturers. “If put it into effect, the policy would more than undermine any effort the Obama Administration has made toward jobs. You can’t have jobs without the efficient movement of freight.”
This is what it has come to - we need lobbyists to remind these people that we can not move freight efficiently on bicycles! But when has economic logic or the well being of human beings ever affected the plans of this regime?

In a recent post, It's Official - America Now Enforces Capital Controls, Tyler Durden analyzes another capital destroying provision in a recent bill, which enforces a 30% withholding tax on capital flows to foreign accounts:

It couldn't have happened to a nicer country. On March 18, with very little pomp and circumstance, president Obama passed the most recent stimulus act, the $17.5 billion Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (H.R. 2487), brilliantly goalseeked by the administration's millionaire cronies to abbreviate as HIRE. As it was merely the latest in an endless stream of acts destined to expand the government payroll to infinity, nobody cared about it, or actually read it. Because if anyone had read it, the act would have been known as the Capital Controls Act...
Bill Frezza eloquently writes in, The Dawn of a New Age In the United States:

Based on a common set of financial principles and an unshakable faith in the wisdom of government the productive power of the young, the healthy, the successful, and generations yet unborn are now fully lashed to the yoke of redistribution. The poor, the old, the infirm, the government employee, the union worker, the dropout, and the slothful have cause to rejoice as their party has delivered the goods.

Or so they think. Let's take a quick look at the numbers.

Frezza throws the sobering light of reality onto this madness:
According to the most recent Social Security and Medicare trustees report, the unfunded liabilities of these New Deal and Great Society programs exceed $100 trillion dollars. Add the unfunded Medicaid mandates imposed on the states along with the pension liabilities of millions of federal, state, and local government employees and the total becomes almost impossible to comprehend.

Try this on for size. If you confiscated the entire Gross Domestic Product of the US for ten years you couldn't cover all these liabilities.
Maybe, given ten years, the World Council of Scholars can tell us how to confiscate more than the GDP...

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