Don Davis

A Few Quick Words About Small Government

Filed By Don Davis | May 22, 2010 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: election 2010, Kentucky, Liberterianism, Limited Government, politics, Rand Paul, Tea Party

We don't have a lot of time for a big discussion today, but I wanted to take a second and talk about basic federal government economics as they apply to Rand Paul.

It is his stated vision to reduce the size of government... and it is an undeniable reality that the vast majority of the federal budget is focused on only a few areas of spending.

Today, we'll quickly run through that economic reality, and we'll challenge Dr. Paul to tell us where he stands.

So it's about as basic as this: the four biggest items in the budget are Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, the Department of Defense budget, and interest on the federal debt.

Those four items are 80% of the total 2011 budget.

What does that mean?

That means you can get rid of every other thing that government does — no more people overseeing oil drilling, no food inspections, or border security, no FBI or ATF or DEA or CIA, or OSHA or MSHA, no National Guard or air traffic control or Coast Guard or NASA... no Department of Agriculture or food stamps, either — you can get rid of all of it, and government will still be 80% of what it is today.

And that means that the only way you can really make the federal government smaller is to cut one or more of those four core activities that government is performing.

So which one will it be, Dr. Paul?

Are you against Medicare and Medicaid? Should it be ended today?

What about Social Security? Are you ready to tell Kentucky voters that Social Security should end, today?

Are you ready to tell Kentucky voters that you do not believe that the US should be the world leader in military technologies?

Do you think China should be the preeminent military power?

Let's get these questions in front of Dr. Paul, and even as he tries to dodge questions about the right of Woolworth's to keep its lunch counter white, let's make him face these questions as well, which are neither abstract nor obscure.

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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | May 22, 2010 12:02 PM

OK, firstly I do not get the connection between a "whites only" lunch counter and Rand Paul and I think it is cheap to inject it into what should be a thought provoking piece. You were making it for4 me until then by the way.

The first place I would look for in cuts are the military and the far flung footprint of our perceived "imperialism" in many quarters. Let us manufacture and trade. Were we Germany today, the #2 exporter in the world, all of these questions would be irrelevant.

It is still about following the dollars...

so here's how those two are connected: on several occasions, including in a 2002 letter to the editor of the bowling green daily news, and just a couple of nights ago on "the rachel maddow show", paul stated that he believes government agencies should be barred from practicing racial discrimination...but he does not believe government can compel private property owners to operate in a non-discriminatory manner.

it is this questioning as to whether title II of the 1964 civil rights act is constitutional that has him in so much trouble today...and in fact, it was these very questions that were the "intellectual undepinning" of the opposition to the 1964 civil rights act (and one of the reason for barry goldwater's 1964 presidential candidacy), which is why this comparison is particularly apt.

First the Constitution: Words by James Madison Co- author of the federalist papers,considered by some the father of the Constitution, and the Fourth President of the United States:"Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government." This should set the ground rules nicely as it establishes the basis for our country and freedoms. Second I'll tackle the military by the Constitution we are supposed to not have a standing army for more than two years in peacetime and certainly we are to never allow for continous war.That is one of the main reasons for the right to bear arms.James Madison again:"I believe there are more instances of the
abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." A for warning "If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." George Washington:Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty(That's Republic as in Constitutional Republic "Not A Democracy".)George Washington on firearms: Firearms are second only to the constitution in importance ; they are the people’s, liberty’s teeth.Another warning by George Washington:Guard against the imposters of pretended patriotism.
Thomas Jefferson;Every citizen should be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks
and the Romans, and must be part of every free state.( A good case for repeal of don't ask don't tell as both the Greeks and Romans had gays in their militarys.)Benjamin Franklin: Even peace may
be purchased at too high a price.Samuel Adams:The Liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil
constitution, are worth defending against all hazards: and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.John Jay a co writer of the federalist papers: "No power on earth has a right to take our property from us without our consent." and "Those who own a country ought to govern it." Alexander Hamilton another federalist paper co-author :It’s not tyranny we desire, it’s a just, limited, Federal government.Now I would take it that you've never owned a business. I have and let me tell no one has the right to tell a business owner who they must serve.That said let me explain something no business owner will refuse to serve a good paying customer.But not all people are good paying customers or good people.As a business owner you must determine which customers will pay good and be reasonable in their demands.Other customers can make unreasonable demands and be a poor payer.The only reason color comes into play in this is if it's a bad paying colored customer.By your standards I wouldn't be allowed to refuse them service simply because their colored I see that as flawed logic.In my way of thinking once I accept you as a customer you are always right regardless of color but until I accept you as a customer I am always right.

so let's start with the question of compulsory military service.

the argument for is powerful and well-known, and you've touched on it fairly well here.

the counterargument comes from the military itself:

since the all-volunteer army has been put in place, the us is a far more professional military than it has ever been.

the military operates in an environment far more complex than it ever has in the past (think "netwok-centric warfafe"), and the military has in the past indicated that it would prefer a corps of professional troops over a mixed group of unhappy draftees and professionals.

as for the constitutional issue you raise:

article 1, section 8 of the us constitution does not limit the standing army to two years in a time of peace.

what it does say is that you cannot appropriate money for the army for longer than two years at a time. (oddly enough, no such restriction exists for the navy.)

here is the controlling language:

"The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces..."

and that brings us to the issue of discrimination.

so the first question we have to address is, again, constitutional: are you correct when you say that " one has the right to tell a business owner who they must serve"?

with all are absolutely wrong.

title II of the 1964 civil rights act mandates that non-discrimination be practiced in places that are open to the public...which is virtually any business in america.

is that constitutional?


the question was brought to the supreme court in 1964 (heart of atlanta motel v united states, and the court found that neither a fifth amendment challenge, a commerce clause challenge, nor a thirteenth amendment challenge could be upheld.

in other words, in a situation where the rights of every citizen to be treated equally conflicts with the operator of a public accomodation's right to discriminate...the business owner loses.

but let's move on.

as it happens, i am exquisitly familiar with business ownership...and while you and i might see the logic in trying to reach every customer out there, regardless of race...well, let's just say that our line of thinking does not seem logical to everyone.

for example, southern restaurants and other business regularly excluded blacks (and not just blacks, either: check out the vintage "no spanish or mexicans sign here) right through the 1960s, until they were forced to stop.

need a good example?

meet lester maddox. in 1947 he opened atlanta's pickrick restaurant, and he bacame famous for this photo of he and his son chasing a black customer from the restaurant with a gun and a pickaxe handle.

when desegregation finally came to the pickrick...he closed the place rather than admit black customers.

just last summer, a philadelphia-area swim club was accused of banning a black group, based on race, which has led to the involvement of the us department of justice, who now seek redress for the alleged violation.

desegregation isn't just exclusion, either.

for example, the colored waiting room could make a comeback, if paul's view of title II were to become the law.

so there you go: there are arguments for and against compulsory miltary service, and they're both pretty good.

there is no doubt that armies can endure past two years.

racism did, and does, exist, as recently as last year, apparently, and we assume that's because not everyone has the same business sense we do.

you can in fact be told to serve customers that you might wish you could bar, based on race, or ethnicity, or gender...and we hope, soon, based on gender orientation or sexual preference...but the statute law, upheld by the supreme court nearly 50 years ago, says you can't.

that last paragraph is a bit confusing due to the lack of one word at the end.

here's how it should have read:

you can in fact be told to serve customers that you might wish you could bar, based on race, or ethnicity, or gender...and we hope, soon, based on gender orientation or sexual preference...but the statute law, upheld by the supreme court nearly 50 years ago, says you can't discriminate.

You are right that their have been many cases of blatant discrimation but that still doesn't justify removing the right of a business owner to remove an unruly or non paying customer regardless of race,sexual preference, or gender id.Not everyone in one of these groups are a saint or deserve service.The courts have also backed this up.Thank god for video camera's and witnesses.As for the military I am a regular Army and National Guard Vet.You mentioned that the military prefers an all volunteer Army because it gets a more proffessional soldier.They've lowered the standard and they prefer not to enlist openly lgbt individuals would you support that because the military says so?

the question of whether a business owner can refuse to serve a single individual for reasons that are particular to that single person is not the same question paul is addressing, and not the problem targeted by title II of the civil rights act of 1964.

what paul is saying is that business owners are permitted to discriminate against entire classes of persons based on reasons that the courts and statute law have said they cannot; that is because, in the supreme court's view, the rights of the class of discriminated persons to equal treatment and society's larger interest in equal treatment for all are superior to the rights of business owners to discriminate.

the question of discrimination in the military is different in that the military can assert that "good order and discipline" would be damaged if, for example, black or lbgt persons are allowed to serve in the force in a non-discriminatory manner.

the commander-in-chief is allowed wide latitude, of course, in making that call--except that congress has legislated on the lbgt issue, so they also have to act to remove that restriction.

truman acted to racially intgrate the military, and generals did object at the time, using the same "good order and discipline" arguments, which no longer seem to make sense.

as far as compulsory service versus a volunteer army, however, the "good order and discipline" argument actually has a foundation in fact; if we look to the disciplinary situation among the troops in vietnam compared to today's deployed troops, the difference is vast, and that is why i'm saying that your position that compulsory service is a good thing has powerful arguments to support it...but at the same time, the counterargument, that actual, recent experience tends to bolster the argument for an all-volunteer army, is also a powerful one.

I agree that entire classes of people shouldn't be denied service.I guess the best way to get at what I'm saying is called the race card.If you have a bad customer and they play the card I think that creates an unfair burden of proof for the business owner.Legal fees lost production etc and the cost to the person that plays the card is to little.Many if not all courts require that the losing party pay all legal fee's incured but try getting the money or recovering from the bad publicity.The 1964 civil rights act fails to address this and I think that is what Rand Paul was getting at more so than outright racism.

just to help you understand exactly what he was getting at, here's the quote from the letter he sent to the bowling green daily news:

"...A free society will abide unofficial, private discrimination – even when that means allowing hate-filled groups to exclude people based on the color of their skin..."

it doesn't seem to me that he talking about an individual customer who is playing some "race card".

instead, it sounds to me like he is addressing the idea that, in a free society, a community could choose to racially segregate, and that he sees this as a protected constitutional right.

I think we could stand to spend substantially less on the military without being invaded by China.

And, amym, when you respond to "Businesses shouldn't be allowed to refuse service to Black people because of their race" with "Rowdy, non-paying, and rude customers should be thrown out," at least we have an idea of where you're coming from.

you won't be seeing cuts in the defense department budget anytime soon...which is actually a good thing.

here's what i mean: the frequency and length of deployments military personnel are facing today are breaking the back of the force.

the troops' suicide rate is way up, divorces are up...long story short, we're working the troops we have too hard, so reducing the number of troops today would be a bad idea, at least until we rotate out of iraq and are drawing down in afghanistan.

payroll is 60% of that budget, and if we aren't cutting back on troops, which, today, we can't, that limits any possible budget cutting.

to complicate the problem, we have to replace the military's "rolling stock", virtually all of which is just plain worn out from 7 years of deployment...and that usually means replacing equipment with more expensive equipment.

for example, many gas engine humvees are going to be replaced with either "serial hybrid" vehicles (the military is going green big-time; they see it as self-defense against an "oil boycott") or mrap vehicles, which are more resistant to the ied devices that have accounted for more than half the casualties over there.

look for at least 4-5 more years of the current budget levels before we can really start to consider how much cutting we can do over at the pentagon, i'm afraid.