Monday, April 24, 2006

Governement Of Wishful Thinking

I am very depressing about the state of political affair in our country. Then I realize the true nature of the problem. Every Presidential candidate in the past thought of their contemporary administration as incompetent. They believed that the sad state of the government was precisely because of the administration was incompency, corrupted, and malicious. They believe that they can do better than their predessessor. So the challengers thought of grandios plans and then marketed them to the public, promise to perform miracle. The plans are beautiful and they are sincerely believe in the feasibility of their plan.
But then the challenger was elected and attempted to implement their plans - and they found out that they performed no better than their predessesor - sometime even worse. Things always seem to be harder in reality than in paper. The more spectacular the plans, the more spectacular they fail. Pretty soon the new administration was in the same problem the previous administration was in - the same incompency, the same corruption. And the more they tried to dig themselves out of the hole, the deeper they sank.
And the cycle repeated itself administration after administration.
Our government will not improve until the voters realize that the problems is not this President or that President, this administration or that administration. The problem is the structural limitation of government. All candidates started out well intented. But the micromanagement of the lives of hundred of millions of people is impossible, futile, and harmful. I believe that our government has reach it maximum limit of its efficiency and effectiveness. Despite all the current problems with corruption, mismanagement, and incompency, our government is still one of the most efficient and effective compare to many governments I have came across. To think that one can make it more efficient or effective is wishful thinking. If anything, one can only make it less effective and less efficient, which is essentially the story of the last five years, the story of the Bush adminstration.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

National Absurdity Day

Yesterday was the last day to file your tax, better known as "National Absurdity Day." I prepared my own tax return. Do not feel bad because you did not prepare your own tax but instead paid someone else to do it. Do not doubt your own intelligence. I was able to do so because I was a tax preparer many moons and sun cycles ago. I did it part time and it was a very profitable part time job. But I could not help to think that it was absurd that people had to pay me so that they can pay their own government. I guess that is why I stopped doing it.
Our tax system is so bizzare that the tax payers cannot report their income to the government - and on top of the already heavy tax burden, have to pay someone else to do so. My friends, you are not less intelligent because you could not fine your own tax. Many of my clients were successful doctors and brilliant engineers. The idiots are the people who wrote the tax code. To quote my drill sergeant in Basic Training, the Internal Revenue Code, "was written by four monkeys on a crack pipe."
First of all, it does not even conform to our own accounting standard, better know as the General Accepted Accounting Principle (GAAP). Many of the codes are contradictory to GAAP. Companies have to keep two set of books, one conforms to GAAP, the other conforms to the tax code. Secondly, it follows no set of principle - no overall concept. Everything within it is completely arbitrary. One must follows one cross-reference which leads to another cross-reference and then to another, and so on so forth like an infinite labyrinth of mind game. This is the tax code of the most advanced nation on earth.
The Code (according to our own government) has 16,845 pages. Other than being grammartically corrected - it makes little sense. Even tax preparers know only the most common parts of the codes. And some people, who call themselves "progressives," (what's a misnomer!) thinks that the flat tax idea is fringe crazy concept.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Wall Is Too Expensive

There is an argument that building a wall or fence along the US-Mexican border would be too costly. Let examine the cost. In fact, let look at the most extensive and extravagant barrier - the Israel security fence. Israel is building a security fence along the West Bank, a 540 miles long fence. According to Relief Web:
The wall, which is estimated to cost Israel $1.5 million U.S. per mile to construct... In some places the wall is a 25-foot-high concrete barrier and in other places a series of razor-wire fences with electronic sensors.
According to Wikipedia, the US-Mexican border is 2,067 miles. Multiply that by $1.5 million we arrive at $3,100,500,000. Our Federal Budget is $2.119 trillion. The Bridges To Nowhere alone costs us $453 million. According to Porkbusters there are $23,345,344,262 in porks identified in fiscal year 2006.
Decide for yourself if building the wall would be too expensive.

Carnival Of The Clueless No. 39

It is a day late but the "Carnival Of The Clueless" is up at Right Wing Nut House.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Liberty as Utility

John Stuart Mill is an important thinker of classical liberalism and libertarianism. His book “On Liberty” is important cannon on liberty. But Mill is known most for his contribution on utilitarianism. In a way, liberalism and utilitarianism is interrelated – one must think of liberty in the context of utility. To think outside of this context lead to convoluted reasoning that in the end detrimental to the cause of freedom.

Lysander Spooner is an early contributor to the libertarianism movement in the US. I found his essay 1875 “Vices Are Not Crimes: A Vindication Of Moral Liberty” most refreshing. His clarity of thought and power of reasoning can be seen in the following paragraph from the aforementioned essay (I also recommend readers to read the whole essay, it is excellent):
It will do for a pope or a king - who claims to have received direct authority from Heaven, to rule over his fellowmen - to claim the right, as the vice regent of God, to punish men for their vices; but it is a sheer and utter absurdity for any government, claiming to derive its power wholly from the grant of the governed, to claim any such power; because everybody knows that the governed never would grant it. For them to grant it would be an absurdity, because it would be granting away their own right to seek their own happiness; since to grant away their right to judge of what will be for their happiness, is to grant away all their right to pursue their own happiness.
Yet Lysander Spooner is also famous for his opposition to the US Civil War. What made the situation absurd is that Spooner was the strongest advocate of abolition – and abhorred slavery. Spooner wrote “The Unconstitutionality of Slavery” which is considered the best legal argument against slavery. Yet he could not bring himself to support a war that would end slavery and set million of people free. Due to the absolute argument against all form of coercion – to include coercion that end coercion.

Slavery is coercion, hence is wrong. But a war to end slavery is also coercion, hence is also wrong. This thinking creates a problem in practical policy. It is in fact absurd, leaving no solution to any problem concerning liberty. Short of convincing slave owners to voluntarily free their slaves, there is nothing one can do about slavery. In fact, the line of thinking would be an end to all liberty as we know it. Without enforcement to ensure that liberty is protected, liberty itself is an empty meaningless concept – discussed in philosophy class without ever realizing it.

The problem with Lysander Spooner is the same problem that faces the Libertarian Party. Their concept of liberty is missing the concept of utilitarianism. It leads to bizarre political position – such as opposition to all wars – even the one that result in the spread of individual liberty. This is why John Stuart Mill advocacy of utilitarianism should not be seen as a separate and distinct from his advocacy of liberty – but rather an integral part of liberty. Liberty should be real and tangible. Something a person can feel, taste, and enjoy in his personal life. Therefore, Liberty is best understood as “the maximum amount of Liberty for the maximum number of people.”