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August 21, 2011

Blogging After America - Day Ten
Epilogue - The Hope of Audacity[ArthurK]

Welcome to the Tenth and Last Day of Blogging After America. For those few of you who haven't already made their reservations at the finest Swiss euthanasia clinics, the epilogue lays out a plan of action to prevent the horrible things in the previous chapters from happening. If this works, Steyn's reward is that he will be called an "alarmist" as nothing he predicted in his book came true.

Previously in the series - Day One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." - Woody Allen

I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office. - Milton Friedman


This chapter's theme is Steyn's "Nine D" program to restore America. Let's get into it!


Page 325 - A Jr. High student in Dillon SC wrote a letter to Obama that he quoted in the 2009 state of the union. Among other things, the letter lamented the poor condition of the school - it needed paint. Dillon has 6,000 people. Nobody can paint? There's no hardware store than can donate a few gallons? But they can ask the Feds to do it for them. BTW, in 2010 Congress passed the Food Safety Act which included the regulation of school bake sales. Ask the Feds to do something and they'll want to do (control) everything.

P333 - "Big Govt. makes everything else small and rolling it back will be difficult"

Difficult but not impossible. Here's the 9 Ds.

  • De-Centralize


  • De-Governmentalize


  • De-Regulate


  • De-Monopolize


  • De-Complicate


  • De-Credentialize


  • Dis-Entitle


  • De-Normalize


  • Do

P333-347


De-Centralize


In America power flows from citizen to town to county to state to nation - and less is passed up at each level. That's the theory. "The unceasing centralization of power nullifies the American Revolution."

In 1940 there were 120,000 school boards. Today, 15,000. Centralization takes away local power.

Musings - Technocrats say centralization is more efficient. As a general rule, when you hear an elite talk about efficiency... smack him!

State and local govts. must ignore the Feds and sometimes defy them. (I'm assuming the court system gets a work out in the last case.)

An Example: In 2003 a town in NH had a bridge condemned. The state said we'll replace the bridge and split the cost with you 80/20. They said the new bridge would cost $320k so the town would pay $64k. Town says, "ok". 2009. Bridge isn't built yet. Now state says they can use stimulus money to build bridge. Cost split between Feds/State/Town 60/32/8. The bridge would now cost over $650k (but that cost might increase a lot by the time it was actually built). Town says F U. Hires its own contractor and builds the bridge right away for $30k.

"When something goes wrong a European demands to know what the Govt. is going to do about it. An American does it himself" - Tocqueville. If you can't do it yourself, do it at the lowest level of Govt. possible.

De-Governmentalize

aka privatize. It's hard to close Govt. agencies but easier to sell them off. Bonus! That takes public employee union members off the public payroll.

Musings - Why not sell the weather service? There are lots of private companies that do weather forecasts. Sell off the weather service and if they can't survive - so what? (nothing special about the weather service - that's just the first one that popped into my head. There are 1,000s of other candidates).

De-Regulate

Then - "The Business of America is Business" - Coolidge
Now - The Business of America is Regulation. - The Feds

De-Monopolize

He's referring to Govt. monopolies. Say no to Obamacare! And, I presume, no to student loans (now a govt. monopoly), mortgage rebundling (FNMA and friends). Citizens can spend money for their own benefit better than bureaucrats.

De-Complicate

In Buyer-Seller transactions you learn what costs are normal. A movie ticket is around 5-10 bucks. If the ticket seller asks for $300 you know something is wrong. With a 3rd party (as in govt. run health care) you don't know if a broken leg should cost $200 or $20,000. All you care is if the Govt. will grant you access.

As much as possible daily life should be Buyer-Seller with no 3rd party. Look at computer prices today and in 1980. Imagine if the govt. were a 3rd party in the personal computer area!

De-Credentialize

School reform. Compress time - get rid of the fluff. (Steyn gives examples of wasted time which I'll skip to save time.) A kid should be able to get a basic HS diploma by 14 and an advanced HS diploma by 16. The advanced HS tells employers the new adult is employable. He can read, write, do math, fill out forms. He can handle entry level jobs. College should be for those entering professions like engineers and doctors. Vocational schools can handle other types of training. Note that Steyn left school at 18 to become a DJ.

Dis-Entitle

"Entitlements are the death of responsible government." They mandate spending, they violate a basic democratic principle - that a parliament cannot bind its successors.

De-Normalize

Statists overreach. The climate change gang went too far and are now discredited. (the fight is still going on but they're being pushed back) Starting in 2009 the big spenders went too far. But discrediting climate change and big spenders was a near thing. More people have to push back. The culture, an everyday thing, is more important than political change. Culture drives politics.

Do

Great stuff here but hard to summarize so let's move on to the conclusion!

P346 - The opposite of Big Govt. is NOT Small Govt. It is Big Liberty!*

The more govt. does, the less there is for a citizen to do. Big Govt. leads to small liberty and small men.

*I like to say Limited Govt. but Steyn's phrasing is better as it sounds good in arguments.

P348 - "You can live as free men, but, if you choose not to, your society will die."


"So, if you don't want to die, you need to force the statists either out of office or into dramatic course correction. For a start, if a candidate is not publicly committed to fewer government programs from fewer government agencies enforcing fewer government regulations with fewer government bureaucrats on less lavish taxpayer-funded pay, he's not serious. He's not only killing your grandchildren's and children's future, he's killing yours - and you will live to see it. It will be hard enough to apply pressure on America's bureaucracy-for-life once he's elected, but if he's not prepared to argue for smaller government en route to office he's certainly not going to do so afterwards. This applies to all levels of government: not just federal but state, county, town, and school district. Follow Friedman's rule: make the wrong people do the right thing. Forcing candidates to make no tax pledges has had some success, not least in my own state. Let's try some spending pledges, and regulation pledges."

"This is a battle for the American idea, and it's an epic one, but you can do anything you want to do. So do it."

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