Tenure was supposed to create an atmosphere of open debate and inquiry, but instead has created havens for talentless cowards who want to be insulated from life. Rather than fostering a climate of open inquiry, college campuses have become fascist colonies of anti-American hate speech, hypersensitivity, speech codes, banned words and prohibited scientific inquiry.
Even liberals don’t try to defend Churchill on grounds that he is Galileo pursuing an abstract search for the truth. They simply invoke “free speech,” like a deus ex machina to end all discussion. Like the words “diverse” and “tolerance,” “free speech” means nothing but: “Shut up, we win.” It’s free speech (for liberals), diversity (of liberals) and tolerance (toward liberals).
Ironically, it is precisely because Churchill is paid by the taxpayers that “free speech” is implicated at all. The Constitution has nothing to say about the private sector firing employees for their speech. That’s why you don’t see Bill Maher on ABC anymore. Other well-known people who have been punished by their employers for their “free speech” include Al Campanis, Jimmy Breslin, Rush Limbaugh, Jimmy the Greek and Andy Rooney.
I have seen confusion regarding one’s free speech rights regarding one’s employer on more than one occasion on various e-mail lists. In this country, you have the right to political free speech, but this does not necessarily translate to a right to said speech while on your employer’s dime. Your right to said speech also does not translate in to a right in having it heard or accepted by those who disagree.
Whenever a Democrat tells the public what his party “is not” he’s revealing to them what it is. John Kerry fell into this habit often, saying the Democratic Party “was not” weak on national defense which only succeeded in reminding voters of the party’s historic uselessness on security issues.
On Meet the Press last Sunday, Howard Dean returned to this poisoned well, protesting a little too much at what the “party was not.” He said, “We’re not the party of abortion,” and “We’re not the party of gay marriage.” An appropriate response from moderator Tim Russert would have been a loud and sustained chuckle.
You don’t have to be a financial wizard to know that Social Security is a lousy investment. Unlike the money you deposit in a bank or salt away in an IRA, you don’t own the money you pay into Social Security. You have no legal right to get those dollars back, and when you die you can’t pass them on to your heirs. Nor can you use your Social Security account before you retire — you can’t borrow against it and you can’t cash it in. You aren’t allowed to put the money into a balanced portfolio. You can’t even watch as the interest accumulates, since your Social Security nest egg doesn’t earn any interest.
Your nest egg, in fact, doesn’t even exist. Because Social Security is financed on a pay-as-you-go system, the dollars withheld from your paycheck today aren’t being saved in an account with your name. They are immediately paid out to retirees. The benefits you receive when you retire will be funded by the payroll taxes then being collected. But because the ratio of workers paying in to retirees taking out is steadily shrinking — it has plummeted from 16 to 1 in 1940 to 3 to 1 today — Social Security is headed for a crisis.
This of course is the background to President Bush’s campaign to create personal investment accounts, which for the first time would allow workers to own and invest — really own, really invest — part of the Social Security tax taken from their paychecks. With personal accounts many of the features that make Social Security such a crummy deal for today’s workers would be transformed into a package most of them could support. A social-welfare program created in the age of gramophones and the Model A would be updated for a world of iPods and superhighways.
But to many Democrats, such talk is heresy. Letting Americans own some of their Social Security would be too risky, they argue – another way of saying that Americans are too dumb to be entrusted with their own money. Much better to continue entrusting it to Washington, which has managed Social Security so skillfully that workers younger than 50 know they will never get back in benefits what they are paying into the system now. (Perhaps that explains why 58 percent of Americans under 50 support personal accounts, according to a new poll by Zogby International.)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: can we get politicans brave enough to just kill Social Security once and for all? Pick a year, grandfather in everyone born prior to that year, and those born after are on their own for retirement. Year after year, as those in the program die off, the amount required to sustain Social Security will dwindle, and ultimately, two or three generations from now, no longer exist. Why is this such a hard concept to grasp? Forget partial privatization of this government-run Ponzi scheme, just kill it!
Republican control of the White House, both houses of Congress, and state houses gives the GOP its strongest national position since the Eisenhower period of the 1950s. As Democrats ponder their role in opposition, they might consider how their predecessors conducted themselves during that time.
Democratic congressional leaders Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Johnson pursued a strategy in opposition which, down the road, paid long-term dividends for their party. They supported the Eisenhower administration on national security issues during a dangerous time — intervening with the White House when necessary to stop mistakes such as Vice President Richard Nixon’s proposal to use nuclear weapons to bail out French forces at Dienbienphu. They observed the general rule that a president deserved to have the nominees he wanted for key administration and judicial appointments and questioned them only selectively.
Congressional Democrats of that period did, however, use their investigative authority to highlight episodes of public/private corruption. Most importantly, they began preparing the ground for landmark domestic legislation — which ultimately became the Great Society — even though they lacked majorities at the time to pass it. In 1965, after President Johnson’s huge victory over Barry Goldwater, Democrats promptly passed the agenda they had nurtured during the Eisenhower years.
The party’s visible leaders and voices are pursuing an entirely different strategy today. It generally amounts to angry opposition on all issues all the time. President Bush’s Iraq intervention was problematic. But had Mr. Kerry been elected president, he would be following essentially the same path today in Iraq as Bush — that is, to build an elected Iraqi government’s capacity to maintain sufficient security that American forces could leave. Yet most Democrats’ reaction to the first essential step in that strategy, the successful completion of elections, has been to dismiss the elections’ importance, to charge Mr. Bush with “having no exit strategy,” or to demand he set a hard timetable for U.S. troop withdrawal.
For many years Democrats, more than Republicans, pointed to the need to reform Social Security for the long term. Social Security, after all, was a Democratic invention and a cornerstone of the party’s commitment to economic security. Yet, in the face of the Bush reform initiative, many senior Democrats have chosen simply to deny the need for change. That is not a viable policy or political position. Democrats are quite right to challenge the notion of partial privatization of the system. But they have an equal obligation to offer an alternative reform plan, the components of which are self-evident and which would require little public sacrifice. Why not seize the opportunity the Bush initiative presents and move public opinion toward a Democratic alternative on Social Security?
[Emphasis added. This article may required a paid subscription after 2/17/05. –R]
Hispanic-Americans, take note. The party which claims to have your interests at heart, the party which claims to be the tolerant one, the party which claims to be racially-inclusive: only 6 of 42 Democrat Senators voted for the first-ever Hispanic Attorney General of the United States.
But the Republican President who nominated him is a racist.
John Fund, in today’s Political Diary:
Republican members of Congress have a ready response for Democrats crying foul over President Bush’s constant references to Franklin Roosevelt and other icons of liberalism to bolster his call for Social Security reform.
They note that in an address to Congress on January 17, 1935, President Roosevelt foresaw the need to move beyond the pay-as-you-go financing of the current Social Security system. “For perhaps 30 years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions,” the president allowed. But after that, he explained, it would be necessary to move to what he called “voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age.” In other words, his call for the establishment of Social Security directly anticipated today’s reform agenda: “It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans,” FDR explained.
“What Roosevelt was talking about is the need to update Social Security sometime around 1965 with what today we would call personal accounts,” says one top GOP member of the Ways and Means Committee. “By my reckoning we are only about 40 years late in addressing his concerns on how make Social Security solvent.”
Apparently, the Democratic Party is ready to lose the next couple of election rounds as well.
Speaking to a DNC forum in New York over the weekend, Dean indulged once again in some of the undisguised loathing of the GOP that was such a hallmark of Democratic Party activism last year. “I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for,” he told the audience, “but I admire their discipline and their organization.”
I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for. Not “I oppose the Republicans and everything they stand for.” Not “I’m determined to beat the Republicans.” Not “I reject the Republican message.” No — Dean wants it understood that he hates the Republicans and all their works. That is the banner under which he is marching as a candidate to lead his party.
There is a reason Dean didn’t win a single Democratic presidential primary apart from Vermont’s, and it isn’t that he wasn’t incendiary enough. The last thing his party needs now is what Democrats rejected last year: a short-fused ranter who thrills the die-hards, but sends moderates racing for the exit.
“Nothing so strongly impels a man to regard the interest of his constituents, as the certainty of returning to the general mass of the people, from whence he was taken, where he must participate in their burdens.” —George Mason