The World According to Nick
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009
More on Farm Subsidies

I've blogged on this topic before with various articles and videos.  Here is another with some similar information, but also some new stuff.  I can't stress enough how important it is to get rid of farm subsidies.  Not only is it a waste of tax dollars, but it encourages farming of products that are not in demand which is costing consumers billions of dollars, and it is literally killing people in poorer countries.  All of this, simply to line the pockets of corporate farm giants, and not making our food supply any more secure.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Across the Board Term Limits

Now that President Obama has been sworn in, the custom of attempting to repeal the 22nd Amendment has begun.  Pretty much every time a new president is sworn in, someone from his part attempts to repeal it.  It was done for Bush, and is now being done for Obama.  It won't go anywhere... it never does... and that's a good thing.  In fact, all elected government offices should have term limits... not just the President.  This is actually a hard idea for a Libertarian like me to propose.  After all, is one of the basic rights of any citizen the right to vote for whom they choose, no matter how often they've been in government?

The first realization is that it's not actually a limit on the people if we limit terms.  It is a limit on the government.  Generally speaking, we have no problem (or shouldn't) limiting the scope and power of the government.  The government has no rights to claim.  It only has restrictions on actions it can perform.  Too often however, we think of "the government" as some sort of entity... an abstraction... buildings and offices.  In reality, the government is the people who are elected to office.  So once you become elected, you are the government.  So term limits aren't a restriction on your ability to vote for who you want... they are a restriction on government agents to rule indefinitely.

But isn't an election sufficient protection against indefinite, and more importantly, improper government?  In theory, yes.  But then, as Yogi Berra said, "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.  In practice, there is."  The problem with the theory, is that those in government hold the vast majority of the cards necessary to make a good decision about governance.

Incumbents are actually paid to campaign for office, and have gifted themselves with generous amounts of time off in order to do so, along with franking privileges.  Challengers for office must leave their jobs in order to run for office effectively.  Just this along leaves an uneven playing field for anyone who wishes to seek office.

But more than that, because the people in power are the ones who write the rules for life, they can actually control a great deal of information regarding how government functions, produce propaganda, and even bribe the voters.  All these things obscure whether current elected officials are doing a good job, and therefore make it harder for voters to make an informed choice.  In other words, they can lie, cheat, steal... and we often times can't even know about it. After all, the press can only do so much, and now the press is actually being bailed out be government in some parts of the country, creating a huge conflict of interest.  Even worse, with the right propaganda, we can be made to believe that the actions of our elected officials are actually good for us.

And to be honest, I'm not sure I understand why so many people have a problem with this idea.  Yes, its quite possible that some generally good elected officials will be removed from office.  But in a country of 300 million people, do we really think that there are only 536 people qualified to run the federal government (Congressmen, plus Senators, plus the President)?  Surely in a country as diverse as ours, there are plenty of qualified individuals who could serve in government for a limited time?  The pool can't be as small as it has turned out to be without term limits.

Imagine the money we'd save as well!  With Congressmen and Senators unable to spend a lifetime in government, we could do away with pension benefits.  Why we give them pensions in the first place is a mystery to me.  They ought to be able to set aside some of their pay in a retirement account like anyone else, and then go back to their regular job after their time in government is over.

Our founding fathers fought a war in order to escape the tyranny of a ruling class.  It seems both ironic, and tragic, that we'd honor their sacrifice by electing one.

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