"I happen to believe in the people and believe that the people are supposed to be dominant in our society. That they, not government, are to have control of their own affairs to the greatest extent possible with an orderly society." - Ronald Reagan

Big business, big government.

Posted: July 6th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: General | No Comments »

The Republicans are often branded the party of big business.  As the narrative goes free markets allow business to run roughshod over the interests of individuals.  Even if one accepts that maxim – and I don’t – it ignores the reality that big government often favours big business even more effectively than a free market.

Consider, for example, the Yahoo! data center coming to Lockport, which is being heralded as a potential “re-boot” of the jobs market in the region.  To be sure, a high profile internet company could potentially attract both jobs and talented applicants to the region.  The cost of attracting them?  A complete sales tax abatement, no property taxes for ten years and reduced taxes for the next ten, and a sweetheart deal from the power authority projected to save in excess of a hundred million in the next fifteen years.

Every tax is an opportunity for favouritism.  Ever regulation a barrier to entry.  Large businesses know this and often use it to their advantage.  Is it more likely Philip Morris supported the recent tobacco out of concern for consumers, or because the advertising restrictions favour the incumbent market leader (i.e. themselves)?  Is it more likely Walmart is backing an employer mandate out of concern for their employees, or because they expect economy of scale is in their advantage?

Even when passed with the best of intentions, legislation passed in haste can have unintended and often disastrous consequences that disparately favour entrenched or dominant companies.  The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Safety Act is a prime example.  Sparked by the import of lead tainted goods by major toy makers like Hasbro and Fisher-Price, the brunt of the impact has been felt by small businesses and independent sellers that now find it difficult or impossible to continue selling products that were safe all along.

This isn’t to say Republicans are blameless in this regard; quite to the contrary.  Politicians as a class are prone to seek aggrandizement, even in acts ostensibly done to the benefit of their constituents.  Making deals with powerful entities comes naturally.  Expanding government makes that easier.

Looking for purpose.

Posted: June 27th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: General | 1 Comment »

Now that I’m here, the question becomes why I’m here.  Writing is inherently presumptuous; doing so in an already crowded field doubly so.  With a wealth of informed and intelligable political commentary available perhaps my only likely audience is among those that know me.  Perhaps that should be discouraging, but it’s not.

In the wake of the election there was a barrage of commentary on the state of the party and the direction necessary to lead it “out of the wilderness”.  Most of it was tiresome, projections of ambition rather than any serious rumination, but it wasn’t all chaff.  I disagree with Karl Rove on a great number of things, but he does have atypically astute political instincts, and on this matter I think he offered sound suggestions.

That said, the one thing that stood out was his assertion that “our party’s face is our congressional leadership”.  This may be true for political junkies, but how many people would recognize even their own representatives?  Most people ignore congress unless there’s a juicy scandal going on.

When it comes down to it, there is no consistent face to the party.  Some see Rush Limbaugh.  Some can’t shake the image of George Bush or Dick Cheney.  Those living under a Republican governor might treat them as standard bearer.  Each individual regards us through the lens of their personal experience, their priorities, and their preconceptions.

Far too often I bear witness to unfair and sometimes bizarre stereotypes about Republicans and, more broadly, conservatives.  Perhaps by providing a counterpoint I can inspire some to rethink their assumptions and reshape the countenance of the party in their mind.

Joining the ranks.

Posted: June 26th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: General | 1 Comment »

Earlier this week I officially registered myself as a Republican.  This is perhaps unsurprising to those that know me, but it has taken me a long time to willingly accept that designation; for years I’ve been “center right” or “conservative” but never a Republican.

My timing perhaps leaves something to be desired.  I join a party out of power and in disarray, having suffered routs in the past two election cycles and almost certain to suffer additional losses next year.  I join at a time when long standing members are defecting and disassociating from the party in record numbers.  And that’s not even touching on the recent scandals.

On the other hand, what better time to influence the character of a party than at it’s nadir, when existing trends and strategies have been discredited?  I hold no illusion that I will have any discerable effect myself, but hold hope that enough will rally to the idea that while government can sometimes be a good servant, it is always a poor master.