Will the Elections Make Any Difference?

Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.
storms over Congress & Supreme Court

“Politics is the art of doing something you can do nothing about.”

— Mark Skousen

“We are protected by the jury box, the ballot box and the cartridge box.”

— Senator Steve Symms

Funny how politics works. The Republicans were in charge of all three branches of government in 2000, and what did we get? Temporary tax cuts, Sarbanes-Oxley, a Middle East war and the Patriot Act, the unfunded Prescription Drug Act, growing deficits and a devastating financial crisis. The Democrats gradually took over and in 2008 effectively gained control of all three branches of government. What did we get? ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank, tax increases and more deficit spending.

Now that the Republicans have taken over Capitol Hill, can they make any difference? Gridlock is expected for the next two years as President Obama threatens to veto both tax cuts and attempts to repeal any aspect of ObamaCare or Dodd-Frank (his two signature pieces of legislation). The best chance for “real change” might be to elect a Republican president in two years.

It certainly is easy to become cynical about politics.

Most of my libertarian friends (with the exception of Wayne Allyn Root and Ron Paul) are skeptical about the power of the vote to make positive changes in the law, whether it be by cutting taxes and government spending, deregulation or adopting sound money (the gold standard).

Most libertarians have become political nihilists. Doug Casey and the late Jack Pugsley refused to vote in elections and tried to talk Harry Browne out of running for president on the Libertarian Party ticket. In 2010, P.J. O’Rourke wrote a book on the subject, “Don’t Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards.”

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Gordon Tullock, the public-choice economist at George Mason University who died yesterday at the age of 92, was famous for refusing to vote because, he theorized, no individual vote is likely to determine the outcome of any election (the 2000 Presidential Election may be the one exception). I asked him once to speak at FreedomFest on another one of his notorious beliefs, that jury trials were bad and should be replaced by judges. He decided at the last minute on a less controversial subject.

I wonder what he would think of the famous line of Senator Steve Symms, who said, “We are protected by the jury box, the ballot box and the cartridge box.” If we had Tullock’s way, I suspect we would be engaged in another Civil War.

I agree that politics is often a depressing business; you seldom achieve anything unless you are a powerful leader, such as a president, governor or Senate majority leader. But I am a firm believer in democracy and the right to vote; it encourages our leaders, both locally and nationally, to educate the public.

Voting may well “encourage the bastards” at times. But then again, it’s a powerful peaceful tool to “throw the rascals out,” and I’d rather spend time at the ballot box than resort to a violent overthrow of the government in a revolution.

I believe voting should be secret and voluntary. The fact that there is a low turnout is a sign that things are going pretty well. When voter turnout is large and historic, it means the current administration is going down the wrong road.

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The good news is that gridlock is positive for the stock market.

You Blew It! The UN Predicts (Again) the Sky Is Falling

“Without immediate action, flood, food shortages and mass extinctions are likely.” — New York Times on the UN Report on Global Warming

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the group that won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore in 2007, has just issued another Apocalyptic warning.

According to the 175-page report of this UN alarmist group, industrial capitalism is “extremely likely to have been the dominant cause of the observed global warming since the mid-20th century.”

They demand that fossil-fuel burning be reduced to 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide. Failure to reduce greenhouse emissions will result in food shortages, refugee crises, the flooding of major cities and entire island nations, as well as mass extinction of plants and animals.

Yet, as the Heartland Institute has pointed out, the earth has not seen any global warming in the past 18 years (see chart below).


Is this much ado about nothing?

Only time will tell, but I suspect that Al Gore and the UN will never issue a mea culpa because there’s always going to be “climate change” and natural disasters. Or if disaster is somehow averted, they will claim it’s because governments took action to reduce greenhouse emissions.

“It’s ironic the IPCC releases its final draft of the global warming Assessment Report 5 on Nov. 2 when an arctic blast hits the Eastern United States with freezing temperatures in Georgia and record snowfall in the North. The report increases its dire predictions in spite of no global warming the past 18 years during a period of highest atmospheric carbon dioxide increases in millennia. A panic must possess those involved in preparing the reports, worried they may lose their tax-payer funded jobs with generous travel benefits.

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“Data is readily available on the Internet for a century or more on events prophesized to be disasters — such as sea level rise, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, flooding, wildfires, reduced snowfall, etc. The data show the same changes took place in times prior to 1950 when carbon dioxide changes were negligible, as happened after 1950 when carbon dioxide increases took place. Some data show decreased numbers and severity of events, such as hurricanes the past three decades.”

James H. Rust, Professor of nuclear engineering (Ret.), Georgia Tech University

In case you missed it, I encourage you to read my e-letter column from last week about former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan’s startling admission to me. I also invite you to comment in the space provided below.

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Dr. Mark Skousen

Named one of the "Top 20 Living Economists," Dr. Skousen is a professional economist, investment expert, university professor, and author of more than 25 books.

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