Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fed Up! by Rick Perry

I don't know exactly when the custom of presidential candidates writing books about their lives or political philosophy began, but it seems to have grown rapidly. I decided to pick up Rick Perry's book after watching one of the debates, and I'll try to check out those of the other serious contenders in the primaries before the time to vote comes around. These things at least give you an idea of what the candidates believe in - whether that survives first contact with the politics of Washington have yet to be determined.

On the whole, Perry's political philosophy appears to be orthodox Conservative, with a heavy emphasis on the limited powers of the federal government as defined by the Constitution, and the importance of state's rights as granted in the Tenth Amendment. He quotes Madison from Federalist 45:

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governmentes are numerous and indefinite...The operations of the Federal Governmnet will be most extensive and important  in times of war and danger; those of the state governments, in times of peace and security."

He laments the out of control taxation levied by the federal government:

"This leads me to the great milestone on the road to serfdom: the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment. It gave Congress the authority to levy an income tax on American citizens and absolved the federal government from a previous requirement that any such taxes be returned to the states proportionally to their collection. This was the birth of wealth redistribution in the United States."

I've thought for some time that this is the crux of politically corrupting compromise between the states and Washington. Even when, recently, the governor and representatives of Idaho opposed and lamented the massive government spending in the Stimulus bills, they ended up fighting at the trough over the spoils, in order to make sure that some of the tax moneys collected ended up coming back to the citizens of Idaho, rather than ending up elsewhere. The same temptation exists for the private citizen as well. No matter how much you philosophically oppose the massive expansion of entitlement programs, when the time comes, you are pretty much forced by economics to sign up for Social Security and Medicare, and accept the largess of unemployment "insurance" when you lose your job. If the government offers amnesty for your student loan, or forces the bank to adjust your mortgage, you'd be a fool to refuse, even if you don't agree with the policy. The Feds have got us by the short hairs, folks.

Once the power to tax was firmly established, it rapidly got out of control.

"What was promised to be a tax that would affect only the wealthiest 3 to 5 percent of Americans is now paid by roughly half of the population. And while marginal tax rates ranged from 1 to 7 percent right after the amendment was ratified, today rates range from 10 to 35 percent and have been as high as 70 to 90 percent of income over the years. This is on top of entitlement taxes of more than 12 percent."

He attacks the constitutionality of the Obama Health Care plan from several angles.

Obama's appointment to head Medicare and Medicaid, Donald Berwick, has stated frankly,
"Any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized, and humane must, must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and the less fortunate. Excellent health care is by definition redistributional."
It seems to me that the model of health care that we've had in this country for a while was also redistributional, though it moved dollars from the more healthy, NOT wealthy, of us to the less healthy by standard actuarial methods. Any group of citizens approximately in the same economic boat (employer) could pool their resources through insurance premiums to alleviate risk for all.

Not to mention that insurance's true purpose is to cushion us in the case of catastrophic loss, not to cover every routine doctor visit or elective procedure. Expanding those portions of employees' health care plans over the years is one of the factors that has driven up costs significantly, as well as the administration of unnecessary diagnostic tests just to cover the doctors' and hospitals' rears in the event of medical malpractice suits.

On a totally different topic, that seems almost Kafka-esque, Perrry mentions that "President Obama's Quadrennial Defense Review, the periodic strategic plan for our national defense, devoted a full three pages to climate change, mentioning it more times than China, Russia, North Korea, or Iran." What's wrong with this picture?

Nothing surprising from Perry's book. It was pretty much what I'd expect to see from a professed Conservative governor. Given his coherence and eloquence in the book, however, I've been surprised to see how poorly he has been performing in the debates. If he could focus on conveying the same message to the public, he'd come off far better than he does by engaging in pointless personal attacks, or defending against same.

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