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Archive for December, 2010

This is a great series of videos.  Peter Robinson usually has a collection of great interviewees and does a great job.  Its worth archiving some of these interviews if you need to educate some of your relatives out of the  darkness of statism/socialism while they are in town for Christmas :).

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The meeting is scheduled for 4pm on January 22nd at the Blount Mansion.  Sorry for the confusion.

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The Bible story of the virgin birth is at the center of much of the holiday cheer at this time of the year. The book of Luke tells us Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus decreed a census should be taken. Mary gave birth after arriving in Bethlehem and placed baby Jesus in a manger because there was “no room for them in the inn.”

Over the centuries, people have come to believe that because Jesus was born in a stable, and not in a hotel room, Mary and Joseph must have been mistreated by a greedy innkeeper. This innkeeper only cared about profits and decided this young couple was not “worth” his best accommodations. This angle on the traditional story is repeated in just about every play, skit, or sermon on the subject.

These stories persist even though the Bible records no complaints at the time and there was apparently no charge for the use of the stable. It may be that the stable was the only place available. Bethlehem, like other small towns, was overflowing with people who were returning to their ancestral homes for the census, which was ordered by the Romans for the purpose of levying a tax.

If there was a problem, it was caused by the unintended consequences of government policy. However, a political spin has been added to the story and it blames capitalism and capitalists for being greedy and uncaring, even evil.

A different narrative could be easily generated. The innkeeper was generous to a fault – a hero even. He was over-booked, but he charitably offered his stable, a building that would not have existed if it weren’t for his foresight and industriousness. And don’t forget, the government officials who ordered the census slept in their own beds with little care for the wellbeing of those who had to travel regardless of their difficult life circumstances.

If you must find “evil” in either one of these narratives, remember that evil is ultimately perpetrated by individuals, not the institutions in which they operate.

And this is why it’s important to favor economic and political systems that limit the use and abuse of power over others. In the story of baby Jesus, a law that requires innkeepers to always have extra rooms, or to take in anyone who asks, would “fix” the problem of the evil innkeeper.

This regulation, which would be enforced by government, would have unintended consequences. Fewer people would become innkeepers because they would need to build larger structures (that could accommodate the crowd during a census). But because censuses are rare, the innkeeper would be forced to charge higher prices to cover costs. This, in turn, would cause many to complain that the innkeeper was greedy.

 This does not mean that free markets are perfect or create utopia, they aren’t and they don’t. But, business can’t force you to buy a service or product. You have a choice – even if it’s not exactly what you want. And good business people try to make you happy in creative and industrious ways.

 Government doesn’t always care. In fact, if you happen to live in North Korea or Cuba, and are not happy about the way things are going, you can’t leave. And just in case you try, armed guards will help you think things through.

This is why the framers of the US Constitution made sure there were “checks and balances” in the system. We’re now seeing that system operate. In reaction to the health care bill passed earlier this year, voters rejected many of the bill’s supporters and boosted the clout of its opponents. And the “new” majority favors lower taxes and less spending. 

For many, this is not like having a savior. But it should give us all reason to hope for a better world in the years ahead.

Brian S. Wesbury – Chief Economist
Robert Stein, CFA – Senior Economist

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The January meeting will be held at the Blount Mansion at 4pm.  We will begin with a tour of the historical site at 4pm and then discuss the reading material Life and Service of William Blount.  We can either order pizza and converse in the conference facility onsite or I can reserve the meeting space at the Downtown Grill and Brewery.  Please let your voice be heard on the INTERACTIVE poll on which venue you would rather have our discussion take place.

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A large portion of last Friday’s discussion, centered on the types of candidates we would like to have in office versus those we currently have, and seemingly on cue, I received Congressman Duncan’s regular newsletter in the mail. 

While Congressman Duncan has been a local face to many of the causes I tend to side with (Pro-Life, low taxes, defense of the 2nd Amendment), I had become increasingly frustrated with the lack of vocal leadership coming from him in DC and his boasting of projects he had procured funding for in his newsletter, just paragraphs away from arguably meaningless statements on fiscal responsibility.  This newsletter was interestingly void of mention of local funds acquired and even mentioned there might have to be cuts in order to tackle the current debt situation.  However, I could not shake the sense that Rep. Duncan had to tweak, even if ever so slightly, the message of his newsletter due to the recent political and economic awakening. 

Do not get me wrong, I am grateful my congressman does not have to tweak his message as much as a Nancy Pelosi would have to overhaul hers to get elected in the 2nd Congressional District, but it reaffirmed my thoughts on the frustrations with career politicians.  I tend to side with the idea of electing foot-stomping legislators who loudly proclaim their own agenda during the campaign and resist changing that agenda and the foot-stomping once elected.  Push your beliefs until the democratic process of a vote forces compromise.  Gridlock…what DC needs more of.  But then again, I have voted for Rep. Duncan in the past, and he continues to put his name out there to lead this district, and last time I checked, no one from the Longwood Institute (the premier institute for defending and education on the responsibilities the inalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness-in Fountain City) has put their name in the ring for anything down to dog-catcher.

For anyone interested, his upcoming constituent listening posts are:

Carter Senior Center 12-20 @9am

Niota Elementary 12-21 @9am

Tellico West Conference Center 12-22 @9am

Daniel Dunn

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Thanks to all those who came last Friday.  As we discussed, the Blount Mansion has been kind enough to offer their facilities (free of charge) as meeting space for January.  The selected reading will be Some Account of the Life and Services of William Blount.  It can be found on Amazon or in PDF format here.  The tentative plan at this point is to meet at the mansion in Downtown Knoxville on either Saturday January 15th or 22nd in time for their final tour at 4pm.  We can then meet in their conference facility to eat and discuss the book or anything else we may deviate to.  Please leave comments to let me know which Saturday might work best or if we need to change to a different day altogether.  Hope all is well and happy reading.

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We will meet next Friday at 7pm to discuss the 1st half of the Road to Disunion which was supplanted by giving thanks last month.  Hope all is well, and please let me know as soon as possible if you can attend in order for refreshments to be adaquately provided.  Have a great week, and happy reading!

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