As the stock market dropped 770-some points today, the blogosphere trembled with rhetoric. Citizens called their elected officials by the droves, and most expressed opposition to a bailout–at least 80% and maybe more, depending on who you ask. In Indiana today I saw the following impromptu demonstration and stopped to see what was going on.
Protestors were holding up signs that said “No bailouts for banks”, “Constitution R.I.P.”, and “Capitalism Works”. Quite a few cars were honking as they passed by. I asked one of the demonstrators about how they came to be out there together. They first met at a political meetup for Ron Paul supporters. The crisis is real, they told me, but it’s not up to the government to rescue someone who makes a bad financial decision, especially if it’s a big company. People shouldn’t borrow money they can’t pay back, they said. People who got mortgages with balloon payments made a mistake. There should be consequences for bad decisions.
Also they said I should look up Davy Crockett and “not yours to give”. The “Davy Crockett” speech, which apparently he never gave, is basically a rehash of the Libertarian position that the government is not authorized by the Constitution to tax. Of course it’s not true. The 16th amendment settled that one, if there ever was any doubt, and the Constitution also says the federal government can provide for the “general welfare”. So those highway appropriations will just keep on coming. And Libertarians don’t really mean all that stuff about taxes anyhow. Libertarians like Ron Paul manage to inserted earmarks into bills they know are going to pass, even if they maintain political “purity” by later voting against those bills.
But taxation isn’t my biggest beef with the Libertarians. It their dogma-based approach to government. Libertarians start with a premise about how the world should be–and based on what?–then work backwards to how the government actions should be in accordance with the premise. I’m a bit more pragmatic. Instead of trying to decide who should be punished in this economic mess, and how many innocent people have to suffer in order to punish the ones who violated a certain political code that no one explained in advance, I prefer to look ahead to what results might be achieved and the steps to make those results happen. As soon as I figure out what that is, be sure that I will post it right here first thing.