Saturday, February 28, 2009

Benjamin Franklin on Government Spending

It would be a hard government that should tax its people one-tenth part of their income.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thomas Jefferson on Government Spending

We are endeavoring . . . to reduce the government to the practice of a rigorous economy, to avoid burdening the people and arming the magistrate with a patronage of money, which might be used to corrupt and undermine the principles of government.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

7+ Trillion and Counting

Let's see. A little over a week ago President Barack Obama signed into law a spending bill whose true cost, according to the Congressional Budget Office, will be about $3 1/4 trillion.

Today Obama announced plans to spend another $3 9/10 trillion. Make that $4 trillion.

So far, this year's budget deficit will be $1 3/4 trillion, or more than 12% of the entire U.S. economy.

The last time the U.S. had a deficit this huge was 1945, the year in which World War II ended. Experts believe the deficit will remain above $1 trillion a year for at least a decade.

The president noted:
We will each and every one of us have to compromise on certain things we care about, but which we simply cannot afford right now.
Hey wow!

Obama admits that not everyone is going to get everything for free (just yet).

I guess that's progress.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Thanks for the Encouragement!

I was thrilled to discover that William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection suggested to his readers that they check out this blog. Indeed, several people did so and were kind enough to lend me their support, which I very much appreciate.

I sent a tentative missive out into the unknown and found out that I am hardly as alone as I suspected.

What a difference a day makes!

For my part, I plan on recording, as accurately as I can, the state of my little corner of the world, and the questions my experiences lead me to ask. And I'll be following with interest the observations and thoughts of those who have befriended me here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


A kind of hush seems to have fallen over Progressiveland.

A month ago, a year ago, or six years ago--whatever the political topic of the day and wherever I went in the liberal community where I live--I encountered animated exchanges of remarkably similar opinions. Almost everyone seemed to agree on political matters--no questions asked. Clearly, all these similar opinions were being fed by the same set of fashionable liberal sources.

In the last three weeks, however, as Americans observed President Obama's wild ride into the presidency, the liberal ruckus has quieted, at least in my neck of the woods. Groupthink seems to be in hiding. Wander wherever you choose in my neighborhood, you will not hear that progressives are about to save the world, the environment, or even the prisoners of Guantánamo Bay.

What is behind this sudden silence? Some quiet embarrassment, I think, a growing suspicion of having been taken to the cleaners. A slow coming to terms with what it might cost to hold true to one's professed ideals while gale-force winds rip away one's financial security and shred one's cherished plans. A face looking back from the mirror. These are not moments much enlightened by fashion.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

Abraham Lincoln famously pointed out that "to sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards out of men."

It is up to Americans to keep a good grasp on our liberties, the more so when these are being challenged. It is my hope that articulating my political concerns in this blog will help me organize my thoughts so that I will become a more agile communicator of my beliefs through the medium of speech.

These pages should help me catch the flaws in my reasoning and thus hone my ability to express myself both in writing and in speech, thus, hopefully, preserving my integrity as an American against the sin of cowardly silence.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Note from Underground

Not long ago a friend of some years confided to me, for the first time, that his political views are conservative. This was a sign of trust, and also an indication that he had found me out--my views are conservative too. "I don't tell people around here that I'm a conservative," he offered. "I don't want to lose friends. I like people with all kinds of beliefs, but in this town, if you tell someone that you're a conservative, they think you have fangs."

My reaction to my friend's reluctance to reveal his political compass was surprise. Not only is he a friendly and outgoing family man--hardly the kind of person that others might suspect of malevolence--but he also is a person who seems to exude self-confidence.

Nevertheless, there it was: we had this experience in common: no matter how decent we are as people, and despite our efforts to register our individual effects on the world in the positive column (under the heading, "Kind and Helpful"), the very mention of the word conservative in connection with our names is enough to cause many people to drop us from their social circles, often after castigating us for what they believe is our eagerness to have innocent children slaughtered with military weapons. For these people, the word conservative apparently is synonymous with supporter of murder and other crimes, even though my dictionary defines conservative as "holding to traditional attitudes and values."

My friend did not relate to me any of the specific incidents that motivated him to keep his political inclinations private. Our conversation touched only lightly on our similar decisions to choose the company of other people over social isolation. But I know that I have been chastised a number of times because I didn't dance to the popular tune blasting from the passing political bandwagon. Once, when I refused the invitation of members of my exercise group to join them for a bus ride to an anti-Iraq war political rally in Washington, DC, "because," as I weakly explained, "I am a conservative," several members of the group never spoke another word to me, and one asked me openly why I was in favor of killing children. This was not following a political discussion, understand. I had merely identified myself as a conservative.

Times being what they are, I am casting this small loaf upon the waters of the Internet, in the certain knowledge that there are many other conservatives like myself with few kindred spirits at hand with whom to have what Ben Franklin's sister Jenny referred to as "suitable conversation." Perhaps we can recognize each other as friends.