Another Perspective

Another Perspective

Abolish Ex-Im Bank, Don’t Reform It

By 6.12.15

In a recent column on this website, University of Chicago lecturer Frank Schell proposed reforming the Export-Import Bank instead of abolishing it. This piece takes the opposite view. The bank, Ex-Im for short, cannot be effectively reformed for two reasons. First, Congress has no appetite for substantive changes. Second, corruption and favoritism are inevitable consequences of Ex-Im’s very mission. As such, Congress should let the agency’s charter expire.

The Export-Import Bank makes loans and offers loan guarantees to U.S.-based exporters and their foreign customers. The agency requires periodic reauthorization from Congress, or else it will close. The next deadline is on June 30. All Congress needs to do is sit on its hands. Yet, even that seems too much for this timid bunch.

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A Tribute to Quick, Efficient National Elections… Canadian Style

By 6.12.15

It’s June 2015. We are seventeen months away from the 2016 presidential election. Even the presidential primaries are looming way off somewhere on the distant political horizon. 

Nonetheless, we already have 10 declared Republican primary candidates (with Lord knows how many others waiting in the wings… can we really tolerate another Trump bid to hype his “Celebrity Apprentice” gig?).

Adding to the political merriment, we have three declared Democratic candidates ready to challenge Hillary’s arrogant sense of entitlement to be the Dems’ designated standard-bearer. Most political pundits have declared her the prohibitive favorite to be the nominee, but there’s plenty of time for more damaging exposés on the Clinton Foundation, the Benghazi debacle, and more scandalous secret cell phone nonsense that could sink her candidacy.

No matter how you slice it, democracy in this country is slow, cumbersome, and outrageously expensive. Our multi-billion dollar election campaigns drag on endlessly with mind-numbing repetition, silly slogans, and attack ads that insult the intelligence of most of the electorate.

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Hillary’s Plans to Stuff the Ballot Box in 2016

By 6.9.15

(Debra J. Saunders is off. The following column is by Phyllis Schlafly.)

Hillary Clinton has laid out her game plan for winning back the White House for herself and her husband next year. Let’s hope Republicans were paying attention.

She apparently decided it won’t be enough to rely on the 66 million people who voted twice for Barack Obama, many of whom are disillusioned by the failure of “hope and change.” Obama promised an end to wars in the Middle East, a more prosperous economy for the average American and more harmonious race relations, but all three problems have only gotten worse.

Seeing as Clinton won’t have the youthful exuberance that propelled Obama to his unlikely double victory, she plans to build a whole new electorate out of people who didn’t vote for Obama. That was the gist of her speech in Houston last week, which her friends at MSNBC called a “far-reaching vision for expanding access to the ballot box.”

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Two Kinds of Politics

By 6.5.15

If we make a distinction between two kinds of politics, pragmatic and ideological, we may say that American politics has mostly been pragmatic in its 200-plus year history. Whether Americans have been liberal or conservative, they have mostly agreed on fundamental values. They have agreed that wealth, both national and individual, is a good thing; that American power on the world stage is a good thing; that a high degree of personal liberty is a good thing; that democratic elections are good things; that the rule of law is a good thing; and so on. In politics we Americans haven’t fought about these great fundamental issues; instead we’ve fought about the practical questions of how best to achieve these values.

But twice in our history politics has veered away from pragmatic questions to ideological questions. The first time was during the Revolution and the years immediately preceding it. Shall we consider our rights to be British rights or natural rights? Shall we be an independent nation or a section of the British Empire? Shall we be a monarchy or a republic?

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How the Government Can (Almost) Guarantee Immortality

By 6.4.15

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is expected to test its flying saucer on June 4.  The technology is reported to be envisioned for flights to Mars as well as those which are human expeditions.  The implications of space travel are profound: our federal government can potentially make it available to all Americans. By doing so, it would make our society beholden to Washington, perhaps in perpetuity.

The president of the United States can promise so much: universal health care without disruption, revisions to a law without Congressional approval, job recovery for millions of displaced workers, retribution for the greedy one percent, bringing Wall Street to heel, the route of Al-Qaeda, an objective investigation of Benghazi, an Internal Revenue Service dedicated to fair play, a sixty nation coalition to fight ISIS, and a National Security Agency committed to privacy.  Alas, and as Sonny and Cher said, “The beat goes on.”

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Reform Ex-Im Bank, Don’t Abolish It

By 6.3.15

What can you say about a government agency that has allowed itself to be defined by its adversaries as bastion of corporate privilege? That it is a private ATM for the Fortune 500? That it is an institution established by FDR that should be abolished?

The Export-Import Bank of the United States has made itself an easy target for populist, anti-corporate forces. The aftermath of a grim recession adds fuel to the fire. In the absence of broad-based resource allocation and an effective communications strategy, Ex-Im Bank finds itself lacking support in Congress, including some of the GOP.

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Gay-Marriage Conservatives?

By 6.3.15

Speaking on Fox News Channel’s The Five, pundit Greg Gutfeld said that “gay marriage, in my opinion, is a conservative idea.” He noted that the left “generally hates traditions” and is all about “breaking with traditions,” and that gay marriage offers conservatives an opportunity to “embrace a tradition” that strengthens families and communities.

I should acknowledge that Gutfeld spoke without notes, unscripted, live and off-the-cuff. I often talk with inexactness when I’m speaking live. Live speaking is a perfect venue to make mistakes. It’s easier to type your thoughts and have the benefit of reflection, revision, and a word processor.

That said, let’s go with Gutfeld’s words, because they do represent a position held by some conservatives, and especially younger conservatives.

With all respect to Greg Gutfeld, who I usually agree with, gay marriage is absolutely not a conservative idea. Not unless, as liberals do with marriage, one redefines conservatism.

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There Is a Better Way

By 6.1.15

On Thursday, a 31-year-old woman and a young child were shot in Baltimore, making May the bloodiest month in fifteen years. However, the city’s police have responded by arresting fewer people. The number of people booked has plummeted, now that Freddie Gray’s death — and consequent street riots — have created more scrutiny for the police.

Times of crisis can show us the worst side of humanity — and sometimes, the best. While politicians and pseudo-reverends try to stir up more discontent with their speeches, one lesson from Baltimore is worth learning: everyday Americans who practice common sense are the only hope for the city and this nation. We’ve had several examples:

Toya Graham — determined to teach her son the right way to deal with anger — stole the spotlight from rioters when a news camera caught her reprimanding her son for joining his rioting friends:

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The Pixelated Moron-Maker

By 5.29.15

The pope confessed this week to switching off his television for good in 1990. He explained to the Argentine publication La Voz del Pueblo, “It was not for me.”

How does one perform pontifical duties lacking awareness of, let alone expertise in, Homeboys in Outer Space, Cop Rock, Dance Moms, and Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? The pope missed Sinead O’Conner ripping up the picture of a papal predecessor and Justin Timberlake ripping off Janet Jackson’s bra. No Puck, Snookie, Omarosa, or Speidi. Jeff Gillooly, Kato Kaelin, Lorena Bobbitt, and their Argentine equivalents remain forever erased from rather than etched in his memory.

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Pot Possibilities and Problems

By 5.26.15

Often the first thing I’m asked when traveling outside of Colorado is a half-question half-joke about how many people in the state I now call home are stoned. Although I’m pro-legalization, I’ve never touched marijuana and it seems as if I’m not alone: even though the state passed — by a 10-percent margin — a constitutional amendment in 2012 legalizing “recreational” (but still highly regulated) marijuana sale and use, sales tax receipts have underperformed expectations.

I have more context than the average American on this issue: I used to live in Amsterdam. In that wonderful city — where, I repeat, I never touched the stuff — you drink coffee at cafés but at “coffee shops” you ingest marijuana, whether by smoking or eating cookies or brownies or by who knows whatever clever delivery system the 21st century has on offer. What I noticed the few times I was in a coffee shop with friends or even just walking by The Bulldog was that the majority of the patrons were not Dutch.