Friday, June 22, 2012

A Wolfram in ALEC Sheep's Clothing

Yesterday I wrote that people should have to put their right wing credentials up front and in your face when publishing anything and today I have to state that again. (Oh, by the way - I am a  liberal - so far left - that centrists are Republicans to me.)

An op-ed in the Michigan View yesterday, tried to compare the ripping away women's reproductive rights ‘vagina incident” in the Michigan house with the Roger Clemmons issue – kinda a stretch.  A desperate attempt just to get an article published,  in my opinion – but at the end of the op-ed I found this paragraph.

How are these two events related? one might ask. The answer might come from reading 19th century political economist Fredric Bastiat's classic work, The Law. Bastiat discusses what will happen once governments begin to engage in what he calls "legalized plunder." By this he means when a government steps outside of its purpose - which is the collective organization of our natural right to self-defense - and instead takes from one person and gives to another.

Interesting use of Frédéric Bastiat’s work and very nonchalantly put in there – seemingly, of importance - but most readers wouldn’t know how – just makes the writer sound important and oo-la-la credible..

Comparing the Michigan House “vagina monologues”, Roger Clemmons” to “legalized plunder” – is a major stretch. Using Bastiat in the same paragraph is a MAJOR stretch.
Taking away women’s rights in Michigan and 
someone allegedly lying to Congress 
“ legalized plunder”?
I am one of those silly, sappy people who would like to see women’s reproductive rights preserved and I would prefer that people DO NOT lie to Congress.

But the reader may be swayed by what the author wrote -  as they don’t know who Bastiat is.  I am not going to go into his work in detail any more than to say that his classic work "The Law" was (I think) maybe 60 pages long – and he was one of the most anti-government economist that I have read - and Bastiat is a “free-market” economist. 

See where this is leading?????

To help you out with how Bastiat thought:
A little snip from a webpage that really loves Bastiat - really best thing ever type of love-
Like others, Bastiat recognized the greatest single threat to liberty is government. Notice the clarity he employs to help us identify and understand evil government acts such as legalized plunder. Bastiat says, “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” With such an accurate description of legalized plunder, we cannot deny the conclusion that most government activities, including ours, are legalized plunder, or for the sake of modernity, legalized theft.

Take from the polluter and save the environment
Take from the drug companies whose drugs kill and main and give to the injured parties
Take from the public - rich and poor -  to fund public schools
Take from the public - rich and poor -  to protect the public
Take from the public - rich and poor -  to fund public libraries
Take from the public - rich and poor -  to fund public roads

Take from the rich and give to the poor – or anyone else - for any reason
Government - "legalized plunder"

Bastiat hated that kind of thinking - even back in the dark ages.
The "wealthy" should keep what they have.  
Why do I say that? Because when he wrote his stuff - the wealthy were the only ones that had anything - everyone else were serfs and slaves. A time when the wealthy did literally take everything from the poor  - money, life, liberty - and Bastiat wanted to keep it that way.

Legalized plunder - what a crock - what an impassioned play on words.
And the Republicans love him - for writing that - two hundred years ago.

Now with  the Republicans controlling damn near everything 
– it is always give to the rich and take from the poor – always.
Now that - is truly - “legalized plunder”

I’m drifting from my main purpose…
Anyway more from the Michigan View:

These events are symptomatic of a government much larger and more intrusive than a free society would warrant. Rather than going to a performance of "The Vagina Monologues" we should focus on limiting our governments to the protection of life, liberty, and property - and acting as a free and responsible people.

“Limiting our governments”
Free market philosophy
See where this is leading?

About the Author:  Gary Wolfram
Fortunately for me – a research friend of mine brought Wolfram to my attention and here’s some things that you should know the next time you see his articles or statements in the Michigan press or elsewhere:

Basic Stuff:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gary Wolfram is William E. Simon Professor in Economics and Public Policy at Hillsdale College[1] and President of Hillsdale Policy Group, a consulting firm specializing in taxation and policy analysis.

More Interesting Stuff:
You can tell school is out - two op eds in two days for this guy.

Detroit Free Press Overlooks Guest Writer's Ties To Right-Wing Activists
June 19, 2012 4:43 pm ET by Brian Powell
In a June 19 Detroit Free Press opinion piece, guest writer Gary Wolfram advocated for the privatization of Michigan's prison system. The Free Press editors provided a rather innocuous description of Wolfram's credentials: "Gary Wolfram is the William Simon Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Hillsdale College." An honest description of Wolfram, however, would also note that he is an adjunct scholar at the right-wing Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the "largest conservative state-level policy think-tank in the nation." While the Free Press has in the past identified Mackinac connections to their contributors, Wolfram's affiliation appears to have been overlooked.

Accurately describing Wolfram's credentials is vital to a reader's ability to judge whether Wolfram's opinions are academically objective and trustworthy or tainted by an agenda and background that should temper expectations of accuracy. Here, the latter is certainly the case -- the Mackinac Center has been described as "tied at the hip with the Republican Party establishment," and its donors include the hyper-conservative Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. Mackinac was integral to Michigan's controversial Public Act 4, which "lets the governor name appointees to take over financially troubled cities." (In fact, the Republican governor appointed a former Mackinac scholar to one of these "emergency manager" positions in Pontiac, MI.)

Even more interesting stuff:
In addition if you check out another webpage you will find that this:
2007 - Present Board of Advisors, American Legislative Exchange Council Tax and Fiscal Policy

Even more interesting stuff:
 In addition you have this from ALEC’s Rich State Poor States Report
Wolfram also is quoted by ALEC (without reference to his position with them) in support of Rich States Poor States:
 “Rich States, Poor States is a key document for anyone dealing in public policy debates.  The articles go to the heart of state issues and provide valuable advice to legislators, staff, and citizens.  The data are extremely useful for both guidance and empirical evidence supporting the case for a market-based free society.  Don’t leave the office without it.”
- Gary Wolfram, William Simon Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Hillsdale College and former Deputy State Treasurer State of Michigan
Funny how he doesn’t mention he is on the “Board of Advisors, American Legislative Exchange Council Tax and Fiscal Policy”. Makes it look like an outside objective opinion – when in fact it is more ALEC misleading propaganda.

Even more interesting stuff:
And you have this from the 2005 Annual Cato report:
As college students across the country paid their tuition bills in January, Hillsdale College professor Gary Wolfram published “Making College More Expensive: The Unintended Consequences of Federal Tuition Aid,” a study examining how federal tuition assistance raises the cost of college tuition by increasing demand, putting higher education further out of reach for the poorest students it was intended to help.

Oh, my……………………………. Reread that - did ya get the jist?
Even more interesting stuff:
And I particularly like this paragraph from a Wolfram piece of free-market propaganda he wrote in reference to OWS:
Market capitalism is the key to the wealth of the masses. As Ludwig von Mises wrote in his 1920 book,  Socialism, only market capitalism can make the poor wealthy. Nobel  Laureate Friedrich Hayek in his famous 1945 paper, The Use of Knowledge in  Society, showed that only the price system in capitalism can create the  spontaneous order that ensures that goods will be allocated in a way that ensures  consumers determine the use of resources. The Occupy Wall Street  movement would make best use of its time and energy in protesting the encroachment of  the centrally planned state that led to the disaster of the Soviet  Union, fascist Germany, and dictatorial North Korea.
Hayek – the Charles Koch economist extraordinaire
Mises and Hayek and Freidman – if you do a web search and just tack on Koch or Weyrich – you will get lots of hits to waste your day.

Even more interesting stuff:
Mr. Wolfram was one of 43 economists – of the 150 that John Boehner constantly touts agree with his policies – who in 2003 signed the letter to GW stating that the Bush tax cuts "fiscally responsible”.

So this guy:
Gary Wolfram is William E. Simon Professor in Economics and Public Policy at Hillsdale College[1] and President of Hillsdale Policy Group, a consulting firm specializing in taxation and policy analysis.
Is much much more than that.

He is Koch, he is Mackinac, he is Cato, he is ALEC.
And nobody would know from the articles they published in the Michigan View.

Now to close:
All things are subject to interpretation whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.
Friedrich Nietzsche

I would have preferred when Wolfram reference “legalized plunder” he would have also used this quote:
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it" - Frédéric Bastiat’.

Which in my interpretation is:
The standard operating procedure for:
  The Kochs
  The American Legislative Exchange Council
  The Republican Party

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