In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom…
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Image of the Day: More Economic Freedom = Higher Standard of Living

In last week's Liberty Update, we highlighted the Heritage Foundation's 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, which shows that Joe Biden has dragged the U.S. down to 22nd, our lowest rank ever (we placed 4th in the first Index in 1995, and climbed back up from 18th to 12th under President Trump).  As we noted, among the Index's invaluable metrics is how it demonstrates the objective correlation between more economic freedom and higher citizen standards of living, which this graphic illustrates:


May 19, 2022 • 12:53 PM

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Barack Obama, Presidential Kamikaze Print
By Troy Senik
Thursday, June 05 2014
The fact that Obama is now pushing these same measures through the undemocratic mechanisms of the regulatory state shows a cavalier disregard for public opinion and a latent instinct for authoritarianism.

I have to admit, I’ve always had a hard time with arguments that President Obama is intentionally trying to undermine the standing of the United States of America. It’s a testament to how spectacularly he’s failing the country, however, that I now have to take them seriously, even if they still reside on the outer fringes of plausibility.

My assumption since the beginning of the Obama Administration has been that the president has been possessed not of malevolence but of a flawed, unquestioned ideology. Though we’ve had liberal presidents in the past, we’ve never had one quite so saturated in postmodernist left-wing ideology.

Bill Clinton may have had progressive sympathies, but he was a political survivor first and foremost. When the country swung toward conservatives in 1994, he jumped in front of the parade.

Even the hapless Jimmy Carter wasn’t totally without redeeming features. It was Carter, after all, who took early steps towards deregulating segments of the economy and who appointed Paul Volcker — who would go on to wring inflation out of the economy — as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. But Obama? He’s a true believer, the most thoroughgoing progressive ideologue to inhabit the White House since Woodrow Wilson.

It’s been my working assumption that most of the president’s decisions have been born out of a faith too pure to countenance disruption from the real world.

Thus he thought a bout of Keynesian stimulus really could improve the economy because he believes prosperity can be achieved if government throws the right switches.

Thus he thought ObamaCare really could work because markets can be rationalized when the state directs them.

Thus he thought that rapprochement with America’s adversaries could actually be realized through accommodation, because international conflicts stem from misunderstanding and a lack of sufficient forbearance.

All naïve views, to be sure, but callow innocence is a far lesser sin than outright hostility toward the nation he governs.

The first point at which I started to really question the president’s motives was during the endless rewriting of ObamaCare, when the Administration unilaterally altered or delayed key provisions of the law with nary a thought to legal justification.

The issue wasn’t so much the adjustments themselves; even if they were politically motivated, they at least demonstrated some conversance with reality. No, the troubling fact was how many of the fixes were being pushed off to a time when Obama would no longer be in office.

The tacit admission was remarkable. The president didn’t care if the system — supposedly the centerpiece of his Administration — worked; he just didn’t want to shoulder responsibility for its mistakes. The great virtue of presidential term limits is supposed to be that a second term frees up the chief executive to do what’s politically unpopular if he feels it’s right for the country. And yet Obama went in precisely the opposite direction.

I have similar doubts about the new regulations on carbon emissions announced by the EPA earlier this week. First, there’s the substantive problem. Not only is this program massively expensive (the U.S. Chamber of Commerce pegged it as having a price tag of over $50 billion per year), it’s also entirely worthless.

Even if you accept Obama’s concern about global warming, any reductions in carbon emissions from this program will be more than offset by the growing use of conventional fuels around the world. How can any president justify placing such a massive burden on the economy with foreknowledge that it will serve no useful purpose?

Second, there’s the political problem. Obama already tried to get this plan through Congress in 2010, when his cap and trade bill died in the Senate. Virtually any past president would have recognized that such dogged opposition required reconciliation. You simply don’t occasion a revolution as dramatic as placing a cost on items that were previously free (carbon emissions) without first forging some measure of social consensus. The fact that Obama is now pushing these same measures through the undemocratic mechanisms of the regulatory state shows a cavalier disregard for public opinion and a latent instinct for authoritarianism.

No single episode may be quite as jaw-dropping, however, as the arrangement through which the president recently brought home Army Sgt. Bowe Berghdal, who spent the last five years as a captive of the Taliban. Obama apparently either didn’t believe that the public would find out that Berghdahl was a likely deserter or simply didn’t care.

It would have been one thing to secure his release under normal circumstances. Bergdahl didn’t deserve to rot away in Pakistan after all (though, if the allegations against him prove true, he does deserve to be held accountable for his desertion). What was astonishing, however, was that Obama gave up five Guantanamo Bay detainees to the Taliban in exchange for Bergdahl’s return.

The upshot: we violated the tenet of not negotiating with terrorists — and did so for a deal in which we exchanged five jihadists for one deserter. It’s a bad sign when we make precisely the same diplomatic moves that our adversaries would design for us were they given the opportunity.

I’m still unconvinced that Obama is intentionally setting out to harm the country. What I’m increasingly persuaded of, however, is that he holds many of America’s traditions, institutions and mores in contempt and feels no compunction about acting — unilaterally, if necessary — to undermine them. There’s a distinction there — but I’m not sure that there’s much of a difference.

Quiz Question   
How many days does it take the average U.S. household to consume as much electrical power as one single bitcoin transaction?
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Notable Quote   
"We all know what happens when a tree falls in an empty forest. What happens when a democracy emerges unscathed from a purported vile racist threat to its very existence?Pretty much the same thing, it turns out.The surge in the early vote in Georgia shows that all the smears about the state's new voting law, repeated by everyone from the president of the United States on down, were complete nonsense…[more]
—Rich Lowry, Editor-in-Chief of National Review
— Rich Lowry, Editor-in-Chief of National Review
Liberty Poll   

Should any U.S. government agency have a function called the "Disinformation Governance Board" (See Homeland Security, Department of)?