Ryan and the Janesville Plant: the Fact that Matters

The latest conflagration over the media’s attempt to “fact-check” campaigning politicians centers on comments Paul Ryan made in his speech last night about a shuttered GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin:

President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two.  Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account.  My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year.  It is locked up and empty to this day.  And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.

A number of “fact checkers” cried foul. The left was pleased. The right was not pleased and has been crying foul on the left and the fact checkers. If you’re unfamiliar with the claims and counter-claims, you can Google the controversy if you’d like because I’m not going bother hyperlinking to all the back-and-forth.

I’m not going to bother because lost in all the predictable haggling between the left and the right over veracity of Ryan’s claim is the fact that really matters: Paul Ryan voted for the federal government’s bailout of the auto industry. In fact, he was 1 of only 32 Republicans to do so


The road to tyranny

In his 1956 essay The Road to Totalitarianism, economist Henry Hazlitt points out three tendencies that mark the pathway to tyranny.

  1. The pressure for a constant increase in governmental intervention, in governmental spending, and in governmental power.
  2. Increasing centralization and concentration of power in the hands of the president at the expense of the two coordinate branches of the government.
  3. A tendency toward greater and greater concentration of power in the central government.

We can clearly see all three tendencies at work in the United States.

A simple glimpse at the current budget deficit and the ever increasing intrusiveness of federal agencies into our everyday lives testifies to the first road-post. If perusing your IRS forms doesn’t do the trick, just try to get on an airplane. That  will vividly remind you just how much the feds intervene in our lives

The other two tendencies flow out of the first.