Sunday, March 11, 2018

March, 2018, Part 3, Political Class Insanity: Reducing our Economic and Personal Freedom and Wasting our Time and Tax Dollars

It is the beginning of another month which means it is again time to review the latest political class insanity from Washington and around the world. Political class insanity takes many forms including the wasting of taxpayer wealth, criminal fraud within government programs, inane and stupid political quotes and actions, the inability to create and implement effective and efficient government programs, stupid and ill performing economic policies and strategies, and other forms of insanity that continue to evolve and surprise and shock us.

Let's get started:

1) As Americans, we like to think that we live in a free country. We know that this is usually a false assumption, given how large and intrusive all level of governments have become in this country especially at the Federal level. We have often made the assertion that personal freedom is tightly tied to economic freedom. If we were allowed to keep more and more of our hard earned wealth, we could:

  • Expand our kids’ education options.
  • We could start a business that was more in line with our life’s desires and preferences.
  • We could contribute more to charitable efforts that we have special feelings for.
  • We could spend more money on products and services that satisfy our physical, mental, and emotional needs and wants.
Thus, the more we enjoy economic freedom the more personal freedom will come our way.

Every year the Heritage Foundation does an extensive analysis and develops a single index number that ranks and orders every country according to its economic freedom. Their process combines measurements along numerous dimensions including regulatory burden, taxation levels, property rights, etc.

At one time the United States was ranked as one of the top nations in the world when it came to economic freedom. This was not surprising since living in such a free society and nation helped produce the highest level of wealth for our citizens in the history of the world.

Unfortunately, over time that high ranking has taken a beating as our economic freedom has ebbed which has in turn depressed our personal freedoms:

  • While the U.S. was once one of the freest countries in the world from an economic perspective, it now ranks as only the 18th freest economic country in the latest analysis.
  • Our index has slipped from an index value of about 81 back in 2007-2009 time period, since then, i.e. during the Obama administration, our freedom index as slipped about 7% to 75.7.
  • During that time the world’s total economic freedom index value has risen slightly from 59.5 to 61.1, the opposite trend of what our economic freedom index has been.
  • If the U.S. had just maintained its index level of 81 or so it would be ranked about the 4th or 5th most free country in the world today, a level that would have vastly improved our economic and personal freedom.
  • We are less free from the index’s perspective than two former parts of the Soviet Union, Georgia and Estonia.
  • We are less free from the index’s perspective than two Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Denmark, two countries that we usually associate with socialist countries, i.e. countries with suppressive economies and governments.
In other words, the Washington political class in general and the Obama Presidency specifically have repressed both our economic freedom and personal freedom over the past eight years or so, resulting in lower standards of living and freedom for us all.

2) It is not only the Federal government that does insane things and places restrictions on our freedoms and violates common sense. Often it is more local levels of government and politicians that just do stupid things, wasting our time, freedom, and wealth in the process. Consider some recent examples from Reason magazine:

  • In 2017 in Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, a government probation officer ripped a pair of pants chasing a perp. He asked his department to pay to replace those pants that were damaged while he was performing his government job, a cost to the county of about $60. When the county refused to pony up the $60, he took his case to court where a judge ordered the county to pay the $60 but only after the county government spent and wasted $4,285 of taxpayer wealth fighting the issue.
  • In theory, government is supposed to help its citizens. But apparently that is not the case with government and politicians in the city of Malibu, California. There town officials are pressuring a local United Methodist church to stop its twice weekly free meal program for homeless people since it thinks that such a program will attract more homeless Americans to the city. Guess it is better to let the local homeless go hungry than to alleviate at least some of the despair in their lives.
  • Crime has gotten so bad in some Philadelphia neighborhoods that local store owners have been putting up bullet proof glass between their cashiers and customers to protect their employees from criminal violence. Rather than address the underlying causes of the criminal violence in the city, Councilwoman Cindy Bass is ticked off at the business owners who are just protecting themselves and their employees,claiming that the glass is an insult to the local residents. She is so upset she is sponsoring a law that would prohibit store owners from protecting their assets via bulletproof glass while not addressing the root causes of the bulletproof glass. In her mind it is better to place local residents in danger of violence in their jobs than possibly hurt a local resident’s feelings.
  • We have often written about how badly the Veterans Administration serves veterans. There have been numerous confirmed instances where the long waiting lines and poor medical support of our veterans probably contributed to their early deaths. Well, apparently the VA, according to USA Today, has repeatedly hired healthcare workers who have lost malpractice claims, indicating that possibly many doctors within the VA would not be allowed to practice medicine anywhere else as a result of incompetence but are welcomed at the VA. This practice that not only endangers veterans’ health but is also a violation of existing Federal law.
  • Americans spent a lot of taxpayer money to help Puerto Rico get back on its feet after being devastated by a hurricane. But apparently the local political class and government bureaucracy is so corrupt on the island that armed Federal agents found it necessary to raid a local warehouse. There they found taxpayer funded materials and equipment that was meant to restore power throughout the island but instead was being hoarded by the local Puerto Rico Electric Power authority.
  • Sometimes government gets so big and so incompetent that it cannot get out of its own way. A bicycle owner in Clearwater, Florida was cited and fined for installing an illegal bike rack outside of his bicycle shop. The sad thing is that the very government that cited him for this violation was the actual entity that had installed the bike rack to begin with, the local store owner had nothing to do with it’s installation.
  • Up in Vermont, the Green Mountain Care Board, which I am assuming is some type of government entity, ordered the Copley Hospital’s orthopedic division to stop doing so many surgeries since it does too many operations and generates too much revenue. Apparently there was no issue with the quality of the operations or the necessity of the operations, it is just that some government agency arbitrarily decided that a private business was too successful and in this case, relieving the pain and agony of too many patients, and had to stop the two grievous acts of helping people in need and making money in the process. Horrors.
Restricting our economic freedom and personal freedom, wasting our taxpayer dollars, and doing just stupid stuff to the people it is supposed to serve. Yep, just another day of political class ineptness and shenanigans. More to follow.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at:

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