Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Whoever Wins, Must We Lose?

That title paraphrases tagline of the film Alien v Preditor. ...I've been busy at work and consequentially have neglected this blog in the last few months. However, I think it would be down right negligent to not announce a candidate endorsement for the Presidential Election. I have been back and forth about who I will vote for, and have only made what I believe to be my final decision within the last week...

I consider myself a classic liberal. I’m not an anarchist, but from where we stand now, I basically favor expanding liberty in all directions. Practically, the top things I would be looking for in the next American President would be: Promote free trade, open borders, globalization, international cooperation, and liberalization of labor markets. I would like more transparency in Congress, especially in the corrupt earmark process. I would like the United States government to move towards private accounts for Social Security (which have been a success pretty much everywhere they are tried) and towards a more liberal Healthcare system where the tax-code advantage for employer provided care in broken. Furthermore, I want the President to stand up for the poor and disadvantaged people in the world, be they in Georgia, the Middle-East or Africa.

Those are my issues, and on all of them I think one would have to say that John McCain has the better more liberal position. Nonetheless, I am not sure about my vote. Of course, McCain has run basically a disgraceful campaign, and Barack Obama has run a slightly less so one. This is not such a big deal to me, because I don’t look for wisdom or even intelligent debate from politicians, nor can it reasonably be expected with the incentives that they face (This is a shame, but limiting the franchise to those of a certain IQ who can pass a basic Civics and current events test is quite problematic as well).

The reason I’m not certain about voting for John McCain is the shear amateurness of his campaign. The fact that Obama has run such a more effective campaign makes me think he is a more capable governor (and hopefully not just at extracting resources to hand to his cronies). His Harvard/Chicago background leads me to view Barack Obama as a first class intellect. I do not get this impression from McCain, Biden …or Palin. I’m not so much worried about experience, because both Presidential candidates are knowledgeable about the world, and will have aids with all the minute details. I’m more interested in the intelligence and thought process of the candidate. In this, I think Barack Obama is the most impressive candidate I have ever seen. Also, it must be said that Barack Obama's race and unique background says something positive about America. It says that the United States is a country where your background does not prevent you from succeeding, and I expect will give us more credibility in the international human rights scene.

My concern about electing Barack Obama is the amount of damage the Democratic Party will be able to do to the American economy with the Presidency and large majorities in both chambers. Many Congressional Democrats, who get the political benefits of handing our benefits to their cronies (Dodd and Frank) and apparently see no consequences from the political failure of their policies, have some pretty radical and destructive views on reshaping the U.S. economy, Wall street, and Healthcare. Barack Obama has shown no interest in standing up to radicals and demagogues on this own side even when they’re obviously quite wrong – Reverend Wright being the most extreme example. Should we expect him to start once in his first executive position? Maybe. Also, Obama has espoused some rather backwards views on union organizing and trade, and has often blamed American’s problems on the outside world (or rather the “CEOs who get taxbreaks to outsource jobs”). I think most of Obama’s intellectual supports assume this is just the noise of the campaign and will have no effect on his governing. Even if he recognizes the danger of implementing the rhetoric, will he still beholden to the reactionary elements he has stirred up? We will likely see. (For now, see Greg’ Mankiw’s citing of How Obama is viewed from India).

At least domestically, a McCain presidency will likely be gridlock. No much will get done, but maybe we’ll have some drawn-out fights over appointments. McCain is competent on foreign policy, and certainly not as extreme as Obama has tried to paint him in the debates. The only obvious worry, in my opinion, is that he could possibly have health problems. Unlikely, but possible. McCain is the safe status-quo pick, although not as much so as he was a few months ago.

My first choice would be for a Barack Obama presidency, a Republican Congress, and gridlock. But seeing as I must aim for the best of all possible, not all conceivable worlds, I will say that John McCain is probably the better pick. There’s a lot of uncertainty and quite a bit to like and dislike about both candidates. But, I endorse McCain. So, you can blame me when you wake up Wednesday morning in the dawn of the McCain era.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Who's at fault for Fannie & Freddie?

Too simple, but largely true.