Saturday, July 25, 2009

Answers From Littmann and Hagerstrom to Questions From July 16 Center Right Panel

Economist David Littmann, one of the four panelists at the Center Right Meeting July 16, provided written answers to the 25 of the 26 questions submitted. (The 26th question was addressed specifically to one of the other panelists.) Scott Hagerstrom, State Director of AFP-Michigan has also submitted answers. You can read Messrs. Littmann's and Hagerstrom's excellent responses below:

Center Right Questions from July 16 Panel:

    1. 22 of the 23 state house districts in Wayne County are held by Dems. What can I do in Wayne County (as a candidate of otherwise to effect change in the county?)

    DL: Ask the public & the media if they believe the Democrat monopoly on power has enriched or empowered anyone but themselves or their select, favored constituents. It’s time for competitive ideas & a new, responsible way of behaving as a trustee of the people.

    SH: Many politicians love their job, so whether they are Republican or Democrat, your opinion counts – Issues like taxes are hot button issues whether Republican or Democrat - Ask hard questions of candidates, vote in every election, write letters to the editor, get involved at the local level, get involved with a local group like the Wayne County Taxpayers Association, sign up for the Michigan Tax Alert at, stay informed on the issues.

    2. Economics has been called the “gloomy” science. Have Americans lost confidence in gloom?

    DL: Economics is only “gloomy” if one doesn’t really understand the laws of economics or remains ignorant of the enriching & choice-expanding powers of the competitive marketplace.

    SH: I can’t speak for all Americans.I saw a lot of disappointment and apathy after the November election. However, the politicians in charge in Washington overstepped their bounds beginning with the stimulus legislation and that ignited a fire under the grassroots. The healthcare bill has only furthered that sentiment. I believe that we have to message on how these policies will affect people’s jobs, paychecks and families budgets to win these battles. I am not sure Americans were ever interested in the intricacies of the science of economics. As a matter of freedom and liberty, and as we look at history and other countries that implement central control, those economies eventually fail. They cannot keep up with the dynamics of a fluid economy. Only a free people with a free market system can turn on a dime to adjust to economic changes and societal demands.

    3. How does campaigning against national healthcare win in 2010 for Republicans?

    DL: We must tell the constructive, optimistic story about our healthcare system & the dynamic technology & financially responsible reforms that encourage better patient communication & control over his/her own care, without taking choice or financial control away from others or discouraging science, innovation, and first rate care from existing professionals. Also, we must explain how bureaucrats keep destroying the system, from the post-office, Amtrak, Veterans and Indian health care to immense systems like Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid…….$60 billion annual Medicare fraud already admitted….how much more are we never told? Is this what we want as “change?” Must begin the push back of Democrats and media by demanding that if their proposed system is so great, then why not start it on all federal employees, including themselves!!

    SH: We are campaigning against nationalized or socialized medicine that will be controlled by a Washington D.C. bureaucrat. If you think it is bad now wait till a bureaucrat in a cubicle hundreds of miles away is making health care decisions for you and your family. The winning argument on healthcare is to preserve consumer choice, and break down barriers to competition. Also, we must keep in place systems that reward innovation and creativity. Those are the drivers of improvements in the quality of care delivered. On Sept. 16th at Oakland University, Americans For Prosperity-MI, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the Heartland Institute will be holding a three hour forum on healthcare and solutions that do not involve increasing government control and oversight.

    4. Is Obama-care the one irreversible part of the Obama Liberal agenda that cannot be reversed?

    DL: In the short-term (5-20 years), yes; people will demand something for nothing at this time (especially if the cost is borne by the so-called “rich” or by yet to be born generations & workers). The failure in the long-term is guaranteed, as the boat tips.

    SH: Anything that is passed and signed into law is difficult to undo. To do so would require a U.S. House and Senate that would vote to repeal the law and then a President willing to sign that repeal into law. I would say that the most damaging aspect is the obscene borrowing that is going on because that debt will have to be paid back someday and the interest payments will crush future generations. As Ronald Reagan used to say – Government programs are the closest thing to eternal life you will ever find on this earth.

    5. Do you feel the GOP must extend its professed commitment to the principle of limited government to all aspects of public policy? That is, must not the party embrace decriminalization of drugs, the end of foreign interventions, the end of coercively funded public education, and the domestic surveillance state?

    DL: Yes. A return to Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution would oblige the Fed Gov’t to focus public and press on their responsibilities, not just their rights and would focus the three branches of fed. gov’t on the duties to protect lives and property. It would also focus on the need to prosecute (publicly) the tax felons such as Geithner, Rangel, Dodd,

    SH: As a non-partisan organization dedicated to free markets and economic liberty I can only say that I believe that any party that wants to be a majority party should embrace those economic principles that lead to prosperity for our nation. After 20 years of work in this arena, mostly as a policy advisor, I firmly believe that free markets and economic liberty are the only way to achieve prosperity for all Americans. I would recommend studying the Chicago School of Economics and Austrian Economics.

    6. I heard 74% of population does not want government health care. Why, then is gov’t bent on giving people what they do not want?

    DL: Follow the money to see where their campaign reelection funds emanate. Also, at the core of the problem lies the fundamental disintegration of the American family and overwhelmingly Marxist press corps.

    SH: Overtime politicians become arrogant and the government becomes the center of their world. They need to justify their jobs and salary. They need to attempt to deliver services so they can get great photo ops for the next campaign. Just remember before they can give something to anyone they must first take from someone else. They have taxed us, indebted our great-grandchildren and beyond (to China and others), and have run the Treasury printing presses non-stop (inflation will come back to bite us).

    7. Can state officials put pressure on national leaders to not pass legislation that devastates Michigan?

    DL: They could, but they won’t. Why not? Because their entire agenda is to help create greater dependency on government (and less self-reliance or individual initiative). They crave consolidation of political power for the ages.

    SH: They can but through public statements and resolutions; however, this has minimal effect. The best way to put pressure on officials is to call, write and e-mail them in mass numbers. That is why AFP has worked to increase membership. There is power in numbers. Someone has to speak for the taxpayer and be able to offer a differing opinion than those given by high priced lobbyists (you are paying many of their salaries). AFP has over 700,000 members nationwide and 34,000 on our e-mail list in Michigan.

    8.What is your view on establishing New World Currency that would replace the American dollar?

    DL: Like everything else, excellence is abetted via competition. Currencies are no different. If our policies were aimed at creating a more competitive business environment, our growth, prosperity, and currency would be second to none in strength.

    9. We all know the media helped elect Obama as they led the uninformed voters by their collective noses. The Republican “elite” armed with the facts should point out their leftist bent on talk shows and intimidate them, but they do not. Why?

    DL: Largely because they have no backbone or philosophical anchor. Most lack integrity (every day Mark Twain’s comment becomes more relevant and prescient: today’s politicians are truly ‘America’s only native criminal class’). Not all, but most.

    SH: This has been a complaint of Republican leadership for many years. I don’t know why. However, since they may not be willing to take on the big government liberals then groups like AFP and other are.

    11. Everyone says we will have huge inflation in the coming years. If so, what is a good plan for investment of cash and other assets?

    DL: First, keep working (or earning current income!). With stocks, invest in general SPDRs (S&P-driven mutuals), along with stocks based in real resources needed for basic life and barter: agriculture, mining, power, forests.. Have supplies of emergency things that won’t be readily available or may be interrupted for who knows how long, including food, water, generator, medicine, backup communication devices, batteries, etc.

    12. What is the best method of getting our elected “leaders” to listen to our concerns?

    DL: Three suggestions: Threaten them with organizations aimed at voting against them in next campaign; reveal to them, friends, and the press, their corruption or sources of special interest favoritism at the expense of the rest of the constituency; shout out the contradictions between their advocacy and actions (like sending their own kids to private schools when they themselves put caps and restrictions on the expansion of private and charter schools for us, etc). Same with health care, pensions, pay raises, regulations, etc.

    SH: This has been a complaint of Republican leadership for many years. I don’t know why. However, since they may not be willing to take on the big government liberals then groups like AFP and other are.

    13. How does one reconcile free-market principles with a government-imposed ban on voluntary exclusive contracts between business and a labor organization?

    DL: By not bailing out failure and subsidizing crime or granting special favors to criminals; demand symmetrical incarceration and restitution for violation of acts against private property and lives. Make it a rule of law, not of man. Privately made, legal (non coerced) contracts should be enforced ubiquitously, irrespective of the individual, firm, or other incorporated entity.

    14. We are being crushed under debt. I am worried that we are being readied for an Islamic takeover. Your thoughts?

    DL: You are correct in your apprehension….not just for us but for coming generations. Our focus must quickly return to rolling back non-defense federal spending.

    SH: I hope not. We need to work now and always to preserve our freedoms and our way of life. Money is power and the more tax money the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington D.C. are given the more power they will have over our everyday lives.

    15. Why do we use the word Democratic when we should use the term Democrat?

    DL: Only idiots say “Democratic” (instead of democrat, as an adjective). Glad to hear you know this! Most people are ignorant of their language, as well as their gov’t. They are indeed lemmings.

    SH: Democrat is a party and Democratic is describing a type of government . . .

    16. Should we develop a Center-Right speaker’s bureau?

    DL: Yes. We need to grow and activate our side’s organizations.

    SH: That is an excellent idea. AFP-MI would like to assist with that effort. Are there any volunteers that would like to assist with that project? We could house the list on our site and we would be glad to work with other small government organizations in Michigan to share the list and make that happen.

    17. Why don’t we audit the Federal Reserve?

    DL: We need to abolish the Fed. The Fed Reserve has inflicted on this country the worst economic Depression and contributed to the worst peacetime inflation in our national existence. The finest thing we can do is replace the corrupt and ignorant Fed Res with what worked magnificently for 75 years with no bank failure…..the 19th Century Scottish Free Banking System of Clearing Houses. The Bank of England forced them to disband.

    SH: Great idea! I believe that Congressman Ron Paul has a bill in Congress that would do just that. It is up to the committee chair and leadership in Congress to take that bill up.

    18. It has been demonstrated that when conservatives stand tall, articulate their principles and refuse to back down. The response from many parts of our society is applause. Why are so many elected officials and candidates reluctant to stand tall? Why the wavering toward moderation?

    DL: Follow the money. See where the candidates get their funding and what compromises on principle they thereby accept. Lack of integrity, myopia, and “me-ism.” Many politicians are frankly sicko…..seeking eternal love, attention, security, and media adulation at the expense of everyone else, with no thought to the next generation.

    SH: Good question. Most politicians are not necessarily leaders. Politicians believe they are trying to reflect public sentiment because they want to keep their jobs. Many in the political arena call those that stand by their principles ideologues. Compromise certainly a reality in politics. As small government, economic liberty minded individuals we are just trying to move in the right direction. Sometimes that means stopping bad stuff, other times it means making major changes and then other times it is making small gains.

    19. Are the children in Michigan’s government schools doomed to learn Keynesian economics for another generation or will they be given the chance to learn other economic systems (i.e. Austrian economics)?

    DL: They should be handed an easy, short, conceptually logical economics text, like Economics In One Step , by Henry Hazlitt. Actually, when teaching Keynes, the students are not learning the full Keynesian economics….they get only the Socialist-Marxian spin of the NEA/MEA. Just before his death, Keynes admitted that his regime was popular with politicians and was not suited to normal growth economics (a special case, and not really a “general” theory)! He also warned of the inflation calamity and how it worked!

    20. I e-mail and call Sens. Stabenow and Levin, and Rep. Peters 2-3 times a week on various issues. How do I know that they read or listen to me? (Or how do I make them listen)?

    DL: Keep at it and sign others onto it. Join us and/with others for protests, media contacts, and protest rallies and tea parties.

    SH: You don’t and there is no way to know. You can’t make anyone listen. Your vote is your primary tool to make these politicians listen. You can also send letters to the editor and organize locally.

    21. Most of Michigan’s budget shortfall could be closed if pensions were taxable. Why do I never read anything about changing this structural deficit? My letters to my reps and governor fall on deaf ears.

    DL: My pension is sure taxable! By the way, I believe the answer is not to be distracted by the tax, deficit, or debt questions, but to strike at the root: GOVT SPENDING. Any tax system works as long as the government spending does not exceed the growth in the private sector of the economy -- not just for a single year, but (during peacetime) forever!! And, during war or natural disasters, it means cutting all non-defense spending to the bone and beyond! Let’s stop being distracted from the key concern, GOVT SPENDING.

    SH: Government provided pensions are not taxable per the interpretation of a Michigan Supreme Court ruling. There are plenty of reforms and proposed budget cuts that would allow the budget to balanced and to create a surplus so that Michigan could cut taxes to make for a climate where businesses could thrive and increased employment.

    22. What is the most effective way to reach legislators?

    DL: Threaten recalls for criminal/wasteful spending; it is inter-generational theft that will impoverish us & our progeny, making the state & the nation militarily insecure. They are “feathering their own nests” at the expense of current and prospective generations of beleaguered taxpayers in Michigan’s private sector. Withhold funds.

    SH: Phone calls, letters or e-mails are effective. Try to personalize your correspondence with legislators. Also call their office and make an appointment to meet with them in the district or in Lansing. Politicians call us at home and knock on our doors without an invitation during the campaign. We should return the favor. Just remember to be respectful.

    23. Obama enlisted the youth to follow him. Why and how did the GOP lose that following? What is being done to change that?

    DL: The best counter to what’s happened is to show the youth (media, etc) the blatant contradictions between what Obama says & what he’s done or is doing. Equally urgent is our need to let the media know that it only takes one good, competent, honest investigative journalist to show these inherent contradictions in order to display the fact that the self-anointed emperor “has no clothes.” Once you make a laughing stock of a person (especially a politician), his career is over or in great jeopardy.

    SH: I believe that there is an appearance that the Republican Party wants to tell people how to live their lives. Whoever is to be the party that wins votes and obtains a mandate to govern must stand for freedom and liberty. They must also offer a vision and plan for the future.

    24. Why don’t we re-brand our party as “constitutional conservatives”?

    DL: Maybe the Constitutional Party. We need to align our party platform with individual responsibility & coherent families, focused on limited govt spending, regulation, and intrusion into the private sector & our private lives & fortunes. We must become the anti-pecksniff party!

    SH: Interesting question - AFP is non-partisan. That is an internal question for those that are members of the Republican Party to discuss.

    25. Large cities that all have “machines” have very crooked voting results; the Dems always win. What can be done about this?

    DL: We must be active in auditing the vote: via poll-watchers/challengers, etc. & call for courts to exact maximum penalties on fraud & perpetrators complicit in fraud.

    SH: In Michigan it is up to the Secretary of State to oversee elections. Any complaints of irregularities should be put through her office. In addition the U.S. Justice Department can investigate wrongdoing in the election process.

    26. Why don’t Republicans defend their beliefs strongly and tell it like it is about their opponents? Republicans need to counter the negative untruths. They don’t – why not?

    DL: You are so right! I believe in the default explanation: They, themselves, do not believe in the platform. They are often out for themselves and for short-term gains and financial benefits from holding the office or position….as a step for next job. Again, follow the money. That becomes the most effective threat system against such people.

    SH: Another good question. I don’t know what politicians are thinking when they are on the air or before they go on that stops them from defending their beliefs or properly counter negative untruths.

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