Check Your History by B.K. Marcus

In a recent Freeman article, “Check Your Context,” columnist Sarah Skwire brought my attention to a popular meme on the political left, both online and off: “Check your privilege.”

At its gentlest, this is advice to raise our awareness of those aspects of our personal histories that may lead to complacent assumptions about how the world works, assumptions that may limit the scope of our moral imaginations.

When it is less gentle (which is often), it is a dismissal of the opinions of anyone who is insufficiently poor, or, more likely, insufficiently left-wing.

I hadn’t heard “check your privilege” before, but I did grow up surrounded by the assumptions that privilege has to do with money and education (no matter how they are acquired) and is ultimately something to feel guilty about. So I was very happy to see Skwire succeed in making the same points about context that I spent a silly amount of time failing to make to my peers in college:

No one is privileged at all times and in all ways. The teenager who rules the halls of the high school is just a punk kid when she gets pulled over for speeding. And even the most powerful politician, stuck in a dance club, is still just an old guy who can’t dance.

To augment her advice to check the social context in which we perceive a person to be privileged, I would like to make a different point about “privilege” and context—a historical point that has informed how I have heard the word ever since I learned its etymology. The history of the word—and how its connotation has changed—is critical, I think, for libertarians.

My own path out of the default leftism I grew up with was circuitous at best. For me it did not begin with Ayn Rand or Murray Rothbard. Of greater influence was Robert Anton Wilson’s Illuminatus! trilogy.

In a scene in that book we find our anarchist hero Hagbard Celine all dressed up and undercover at a Council on Foreign Relations banquet. The topic of conversation is Mortimer Adler’s claim that “we and the Communists share the same Great Tradition . . . and we must join together against the one force that really does threaten civilization—anarchism!”

Our hero interrupts the ensuing conversation:

“I can put the Great Tradition in one word,” he said calmly. “Privilege.” . . .

“Privilege is defined in most dictionaries as a right or immunity giving special favors or benefits to those who hold it. Another meaning in Webster is ‘not subject to the usual rules or penalties.’ The invaluable thesaurus gives such synonyms as power, authority, birthright, franchise, patent, grant, favor and, I’m sad to say, pretension. Surely, we all know what privilege is in this club, don’t we, gentlemen? Do I have to remind you of the Latin roots, “privi, private, and lege, law, and point out in detail how we have created our Private Law over here, just as the Politburo have created their own private law in their own sphere of influence?”

Obviously the private law of privi-lege isn’t the polycentric legal system advocated by anarcho-capitalists and recently explored by Freeman writer Tom W. Bell (“What Is Polycentric Law?”). Rather, it is, as Etymonline puts it, “‘law applying to one person,’ . . . from privus ‘individual’ (see private [adj.]) + lex (genitive legis) ‘law.'”

In other words, unequal treatment by the State.

True privilege, in this older sense, means membership in the political class, advantages backed by coercive government.

The conflation between wealth in general and State-granted privilege is understandable: For so much of human history, the “upper” class and the political class were one and the same. And whenever the merchant class began to build significant wealth, it either joined the political class by seeking government favor and regulation against competition, or it was crushed by a political class that was jealous of its own privilege—in the original sense.

This pattern continues today, but it is not pervasive. Since the Industrial Revolution, more and more wealth has been created from production and voluntary exchange. The State continues to co-opt capitalists, but the rising general prosperity of the past century or two shows that, in the West at least, more and more wealth is the product of mutually beneficial exchange, not privilege.

Some readers may be rolling their eyes at a history lesson they see as pedantic and irrelevant to modern usage. But, as with the history of the term liberal, no discussion of the word privilege can really be complete without the context of both its origins and its transformation—or its confiscation and obfuscation, which was deliberate at least in the case of “liberalism.”

None of this is to argue with Skwire’s important point about context: Power dynamics aren’t linear, static, or simple, and neither are the individuals we may sometimes seek to dismiss for the power we perceive in them.

But certain classes of power are simpler than others, and more insidious.

The teenager who rules the halls of the high school may or may not have achieved her status through coercion. Either way, her victims do eventually get to opt out of her sphere of influence. The cop who pulls her over for speeding, on the other hand, exerts a privilege that we can’t escape.

The politician may feel powerless on the dance floor, but any social power the other dancers have over him is temporary at best, and does not take the form of direct harm—whereas he can return to work on Monday and initiate legislation against dance clubs. His is an entirely different category of privilege.

Those in the 21st century who are most enamored of the word privilege—and often wield it as a bludgeon—make two mistakes. First, as Skwire shows us, they underestimate the complexity of power dynamics and social context. But they often take it a step further. In the name of reducing their newer, fuzzier kind of social privilege, they often advocate increases in the simple, old-fashioned, government-based variety.

ABOUT B.K. MARCUS

B.K. Marcus is senior editor at Liberty.me and a publishing consultant at InvisibleOrder.com.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

On Vouchers In General and Particularly the 2014 All-voucher Arizona Push

Over the past year, I have received three glossy mailouts telling me that I can “enroll my child in private school for free.” The last one included the message, “Time is running out!” and added, “Is your child stuck in a failing school? Send them to a private school for FREE.”

Nothing is “for free.” Someone must pay.

I live in Louisiana, so this advertisement is tailored to my state:

Thanks to the Louisiana Scholarship Program, students attending a C, D, or F school– or entering Kindergarten– whose family meets income requirements, can get a scholarship to a private school of your choice– for FREE! 

Ahh, but TIME IS RUNNING OUT, my friends!

As an additional lure, I am told that if I visit the Louisiana Scholarship Program website, I can “enter to win a $500 back-to-school shopping spree!”

It sure sounds like someone really wants to make it appear that vouchers (the undressed term for these “scholarships”) are more popular than they really are.

So, who is pushing this effort?

The card includes the following small print:

Paid for by the Alliance for School Choice

It should come as no surprise that Carrie (Walton) Penner sits on the board of the Alliance for School Choice (ASC), a group co-founded by the late John T. Walton.

As in Walmart Waltons.

The irony behind telling Louisiana residents that vouchers can save children from C, D, or F schools is that the Waltons are also huge supporters of charter schools (just look at the donations/ revolving credit they offer to charters based on their 2012 990). In Louisiana, the Waltons funded the OneApp open-application fiasco for the state-run Recovery School District (RSD)– a district of over 80% charter schools– most of which are rated C, D and F, even by the 2013 letter grade inflated manipulation (otherwise, there would not be so many C’s).

So, the Waltons are paying for advertisements to push vouchers that can “save” RSD children from the “failing” schools that the Waltons also push.

It’s just too rich.

ASC wields its influence nationwide, even offering model voucher legislation. (Sure sounds like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC}, doesn’t it?)

For Legislators

The Alliance for School Choice supports several pieces of model legislation. Download these bills to see how school choice can work in your state.

One such “piece” is the Education Savings Account Act:

Education Savings Account Act
This bill creates an education savings account program that allows parents to use the funds that would have been allocated to their child at their resident school district for an education program of the parents’ choosing. Download the Smart Start Scholarship Program (PDF).

The ESA is a sneaky piece of legislation known as a “backdoor voucher”– if a state’s constitution prohibits use of public funds for directly paying for private schools, ESA “backdoors” it by circumventing direct payment of public funding to private schools and instead uses the parent as the middleman.

Such is occurring in Arizona via the “Arizona ALEC,” the Goldwater Institute.  As Arizona reporter David Safir notes,

The Goldwater Institute came up with the idea for ESAs as a second workaround (the first is our tuition tax credit law) to make vouchers legal in a state where the constitution prohibits the use of public money for religious instruction. (Did you know over 70% of Arizona’s private schools are religious?) The term of art for this kind of legislation is “backdoor vouchers.” In 2011, Arizona’s Republican-dominated legislature passed the ESAs into law for a limited number of students. In 2013, more students were added, and if a new bill passes this session, half of Arizona’s school aged children will be eligible for the taxpayer-funded private school vouchers. The conservative’s ultimate goal is vouchers for all.

Of course, ASC is available to promote vouchers in Arizona– with the help of none other than Arizona State Superintendent John Huppenthal:

The Alliance for School Choice, a Washington, D.C., agent of the vast privatization/corporate complex, put together a script for a [February 2014] robocall to go out to Arizona parents whose children qualify for the ESAs. Huppenthal lent his voice to the robocall. Actually, he lent more than his voice. He lent the power and authority of his office to the message, making it sound like an official public service announcement. Huppenthal’s call sent interested parents to a website about ESAs created and funded by — get ready for it — the Goldwater Institute. And so the private-to-public-to-private-to-public-to-private cycle that begins and ends with the Goldwater folks comes full circle. [Emphasis added.]

And The Republic adds,

State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal caught some heat last month for recording a series of robo-calls promoting the ESA program and suggesting parents can use it to send their children to private schools for free.

Huppenthal’s staff worked with school choice lobbyist Sydney Hay to develop the wording for the calls, according to e-mails ProgressNow obtained. Huppenthal went ahead with some wording despite concern from his staff, including over referring families to a Goldwater Institute website for more information.

The calls went out to 48,000 qualifying families, according to the e-mail correspondence.

Pro-privatizing superintendents love vouchers. Louisiana Superintendent John White and his boss, Governor Bobby Jindal, have been pushing them hard in Louisiana– despite a record  of embarrassingly low test-score yield and miserable oversight.

One issue is clear: A goal to fund an “all voucher” system would seriously cripple or kill public education.

In the case of Arizona, where voucher money is debited to parents via voucher bank accounts, there’s the question of the bloated bureaucracy necessary to adequately monitor proper spending of the voucher disbursements.

Whereas Arizona voucher proponents assert that vouchers save money because of a lower voucher disbursement as compared to the cost of having the student attend public schools, not all costs appear to be accounted for– not the least of which is the bureaucracy noted above.

Yet Arizona– already home to a charter school bonanza that nourishes corporate greed– is fast-tracking public school destruction in the form of an expanded voucher program during the 2014 legislative session:

[Arizona’s] Empowerment Scholarship Account program was, at the start of this school year, scheduled to disperse $10.2 million to 761 students. If expanded as proposed, the 3-year-old program could within the next five years apply to more than 28,000 students and strip more than $374 million a year from public and charter schools, based on the current average cost.

The goal is to eventually expand the program to the state’s more than 1 million public and charter schoolchildren. …

The [Arizona] Legislature started the session with six bills proposing to expand ESAs in various ways. Three are still advancing.

House Bill 2150, which passed the House and moves to the Senate, would allow the children of military personnel killed in the line of duty to participate. The bill is scheduled for a public hearing Thursday before the Senate Education Committee.

Senate Bill 1236 and House Bill 2291 are identical bills, which puts them on a fast-track. They each need a committee of the whole and a final vote in their respective chambers and then would be combined and sent directly to Gov. Jan Brewer.

The bills propose to gradually expand who is allowed to participate in the program.

Next school year, the children of police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians could participate, as could siblings of children who already use ESAs.Starting with the 2016-17 school year, children whose family income qualifies them for the federal free or reduced lunch program could participate. Each year after, it raises the qualifying family income by an additional 15 percent until all families qualify.

While the proposed expansion could cost public and charter schools hundreds of millions of dollars each year as parents move children into private schools, it also carries an increased cost to the state due to the funding formula for certain students.

According to legislative staff, expanding the program under HB 2291 or SB 1236 would cost the state an additional $46,100 in fiscal 2016, $3.5 million in fiscal 2017, $7.6 million in fiscal 2018 and $12.5 million in fiscal 2019. [Emphasis added.]

It amazes me how privatizers push for complete privatization– unbridled market force– without conducting any kind of small-scale run-through to see where major problems might arise.

And major problems will arise.

Did we learn nothing from the economic crisis of 2008 regarding the vulnerability of the so-called “free market” to the ever-lurking forces of unbridled greed and high-powered excess?

As to the push for a full-voucher education system in Arizona: What of that disbursement and accountability bureaucracy necessary to adequately handle an all-voucher system? Is there enough money for an all-voucher system– for both vouchers and bureaucracy? Will the Arizona education system bankrupt itself on voucher “choice”? Is it even possible to monitor the quality of education for individual students for such a large-scale voucher program? Who will ensure that students are actually receiving an education? Has no one considered the possibility that some parents might submit beautiful quarterly receipts yet not be educating their children?

And what of the parents who reject vouchers– who actually want a community public school?

Are we to pretend that such individuals do not exist?

Have they no choice?

Consider Milwaukee– a city that has been trying to succeed at vouchers for decades. The Walton-funded University of Arkansas Department of Educational Reform has promoted Milwaukee as evidence of voucher success, but that label only works when viewed through a certain Walton-funded lens.

Milwaukee’s voucher program demonstrates that when offered voucher choice, at least half chose to forego the “scholarship” and leave the voucher school.

Where did they choose to go?

The Milwaukee study in question did not detail exactly where students went once they left the voucher school.

I’m guessing that many returned to their neighborhood public schools.

A neighborhood public school– now there’s a novel idea.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled GNU Free Documentation License.

Against Libertarian Brutalism by Jeffrey A. Tucker

Will libertarianism be brutalist or humanitarian? Everyone needs to decide.

Why should we favor human liberty over a social order ruled by power? In providing the answer, I would suggest that libertarians can generally be divided into two camps: humanitarians and brutalists.

The humanitarians are drawn to reasons such as the following. Liberty allows peaceful human cooperation. It inspires the creative service of others. It keeps violence at bay. It allows for capital formation and prosperity. It protects human rights of all against invasion. It allows human associations of all sorts to flourish on their own terms. It socializes people with rewards toward getting along rather than tearing each other apart, and leads to a world in which people are valued as ends in themselves rather than fodder in the central plan.

We know all of this from history and experience. These are all great reasons to love liberty.

But they are not the only reasons that people support liberty. There is a segment of the population of self-described libertarians—described here as brutalists—who find all the above rather boring, broad, and excessively humanitarian. To them, what’s impressive about liberty is that it allows people to assert their individual preferences, to form homogeneous tribes, to work out their biases in action, to ostracize people based on “politically incorrect” standards, to hate to their heart’s content so long as no violence is used as a means, to shout down people based on their demographics or political opinions, to be openly racist and sexist, to exclude and isolate and be generally malcontented with modernity, and to reject civil standards of values and etiquette in favor of antisocial norms.

These two impulses are radically different. The first values the social peace that emerges from freedom, while the second values the freedom to reject cooperation in favor of gut-level prejudice. The first wants to reduce the role of power and privilege in the world, while the second wants the freedom to assert power and privilege within the strict confines of private property rights and the freedom to disassociate.

To be sure, liberty does allow both the humanitarian and the brutalist perspective, as implausible as that might seem. Liberty is large and expansive and asserts no particular social end as the one and only way. Within the framework of liberty, there is the freedom to love and to hate. At the same time, they constitute very different ways of looking at the world—one liberal in the classical sense and one illiberal in every sense—and it is good to consider that before you, as a libertarian, find yourself allied with people who are missing the main point of the liberal idea.

Humanitarianism we understand. It seeks the well-being of the human person and the flourishing of society in all its complexity. Libertarian humanitarianism sees the best means to achieve this as the self-ordering social system itself, unimpeded by external controls through the violent means of the State. The goal here is essentially benevolent, and the means by which it is achieved put a premium on social peace, free association, mutually beneficial exchange, the organic development of institutions, and the beauty of life itself.

What is brutalism? The term is mostly associated with an architectural style of the 1950s through the 1970s, one that emphasized large concrete structures unrefined by concerns over style and grace. Inelegance is its main thrust and its primary source of pride. Brutalism heralded the lack of pretense and the raw practicality of the building’s use. The building was supposed to be strong not pretty, aggressive not fussy, imposing and not subtle.

Brutalism in architecture was an affectation, one that emerged from a theory robbed of context. It was a style adopted with conscious precision. It believed it was forcing us to look at unadorned realities, an apparatus barren of distractions, in order to make a didactic point. This point was not only aesthetic but also ethical: It rejected beauty on principle. To beautify is to compromise, distract, and ruin the purity of the cause. It follows that brutalism rejected the need for commercial appeal and discarded issues of presentation and marketing; these issues, in the brutalist framework, shield our eyes from the radical core.

Brutalism asserted that a building should be no more and no less than what it is supposed to be in order to fulfill its function. It asserted the right to be ugly, which is precisely why the style was most popular among governments around the world, and why brutalist forms are today seen as eyesores all over the world.

We look back and wonder where these monstrosities came from, and we are amazed to discover that they were born of a theory that rejected beauty, presentation, and adornment as a matter of principle. The architects imagined that they were showing us something we would otherwise be reluctant to face. You can only really appreciate the results of brutalism, however, if you have already bought into the theory and believe in it. Otherwise, absent the extremist and fundamentalist ideology, the building comes across as terrifying and threatening.

By analogy, what is ideological brutalism? It strips down the theory to its rawest and most fundamental parts and pushes the application of those parts to the foreground. It tests the limits of the idea by tossing out the finesse, the refinements, the grace, the decency, the accoutrements. It cares nothing for the larger cause of civility and the beauty of results. It is only interested in the pure functionality of the parts. It dares anyone to question the overall look and feel of the ideological apparatus, and shouts down people who do so as being insufficiently devoted to the core of the theory, which itself is asserted without context or regard for aesthetics.

Not every argument for raw principle and stripped-down analytics is inherently brutalist; the core truth of brutalism is that we need to reduce in order to see the roots, we need sometimes to face difficult truth, and we need to be shocked and sometimes to shock with seemingly implausible or uncomfortable implications of an idea. Brutalism goes much further: the idea that the argument should stop there and go no further, and to elaborate, qualify, adorn, nuance, admit uncertainty, or broaden beyond gritty assertion amounts to a sell out or a corruption of purity. Brutalism is relentless and unabashed in its refusal to get beyond the most primitive postulates.

Brutalism can appear in many ideological guises. Bolshevism and Nazism are both obvious examples: Class and race become the only metric driving politics to the exclusion of every other consideration. In modern democracy, partisan politics tends toward brutalism insofar as it asserts party control as the only relevant concern. Religious fundamentalism is yet another obvious form.

In the libertarian world, however, brutalism is rooted in the pure theory of the rights of individuals to live their values whatever they may be. The core truth is there and indisputable, but the application is made raw to push a point. Thus do the brutalists assert the right to be racist, the right to be a misogynist, the right to hate Jews or foreigners, the right to ignore civil standards of social engagement, the right to be uncivilized, to be rude and crude. It is all permissible and even meritorious because embracing what is awful can constitute a kind of test. After all, what is liberty if not the right to be a boor?

These kinds of arguments make the libertarian humanitarians deeply uncomfortable since they are narrowly true as regards pure theory but miss the bigger point of human liberty, which is not to make the world more divided and miserable but to enable human flourishing in peace and prosperity. Just as we want architecture to please the eye and reflect the drama and elegance of the human ideal, so too a theory of the social order should provide a framework for a life well lived and communities of association that permit its members to flourish.

The brutalists are technically correct that liberty also protects the right to be a complete jerk and the right to hate, but such impulses do not flow from the long history of the liberal idea. As regards race and sex, for example, the liberation of women and minority populations from arbitrary rule has been a great achievement of this tradition. To continue to assert the right to turn back the clock in your private and commercial life gives an impression of the ideology that is uprooted from this history, as if these victories for human dignity have nothing whatever to do with the ideological needs of today.

Brutalism is more than a stripped-down, antimodern, and gutted version of the original libertarianism. It is also a style of argumentation and an approach to rhetorical engagement. As with architecture, it rejects marketing, the commercial ethos, and the idea of “selling” a worldview. Liberty must be accepted or rejected based entirely on its most reduced form. Thus is it quick to pounce, denounce, and declare victory. It detects compromise everywhere. It loves nothing more than to ferret it out. It has no patience for subtlety of exposition much less the nuances of the circumstances of time and place. It sees only raw truth and clings to it as the one and only truth to the exclusion of all other truth.

Brutalism rejects subtlety and finds no exceptions of circumstance to its universal theory. The theory applies regardless of time, place, or culture. There can be no room for modification or even discovery of new information that might change the way the theory is applied. Brutalism is a closed system of thought in which all relevant information is already known, and the manner in which the theory is applied is presumed to be a given part of the theoretical apparatus. Even difficult areas such as family law, criminal restitution, rights in ideas, liability for trespass, and other areas subject to case-by-case juridical tradition become part of an a priori apparatus that admits no exceptions or emendations.

And because brutalism is the outlying impulse in the libertarian world—young people are no longer interested in this whole approach—it behaves the way we’ve come to expect from seriously marginal groups. Asserting the rights and even the merits of racism and hate, it is already excluded from mainstream conversation about public life. The only people who truly listen to brutalist arguments, which are uncompelling by design, are other libertarians. For that reason, brutalism is driven ever more toward extreme factionalism; attacking the humanitarians for attempting to beautify the message becomes a full-time occupation.

In the course of this factionalism, the brutalists of course assert that they are the only true believers in liberty because only they have the stomach and the brass necessary to take libertarian logic to its most extreme end and deal with the results. But it is not bravery or intellectual rigor at work here. Their idea of libertarianism is reductionist, truncated, unthoughtful, uncolored and uncorrected by the unfolding of human experience, and forgets the larger historical and social context in which liberty lives.

So let’s say you have a town that is taken over by a fundamentalist sect that excludes all peoples not of the faith, forces women into burka-like clothing, imposes a theocratic legal code, and ostracizes gays and lesbians. You might say that everyone is there voluntarily, but, even so, there is no liberalism present in this social arrangement at all. The brutalists will be on the front lines to defend such a microtyranny on grounds of decentralization, rights of property, and the right to discriminate and exclude—completely dismissing the larger picture here that, after all, people’s core aspirations to live a full and free life are being denied on a daily basis.

Further, the brutalist believes that he already knows the results of human liberty, and they often conform to the throne-and-altar impulses of times past. After all, in their view, liberty means the unleashing of all the basest impulses of human nature that they believe the modern state has suppressed: the desire to abide in racial and religious homogeneity, the moral permanency of patriarchy, the revulsion against homosexuality, and so on. What most people regard as modernity’s advances against prejudice, the brutalists regard as imposed exceptions from the long history of humanity’s tribalist and religiously based instincts.

Of course the brutalist as I’ve described him is an ideal type, probably not fully personified in any particular thinker. But the brutalist impulse is everywhere in evidence, especially on social media. It is a tendency of thought with predictable positions and biases. It is a main source for racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic strains within the libertarian world—at once denying that this sentence is true while asserting with equal passion the rights of individuals to hold and act on such views. After all, say the brutalists, what is human liberty without the right to behave in ways that put our most precious sensibilities, and even civilization itself, to the test?

It all comes down to the fundamental motivation behind the support of liberty itself. What is its overarching purpose? What is its dominant historical contribution? What is its future? Here the humanitarians are fundamentally at odds with brutalism.

Truly, we should never neglect the core, never shrink from the difficult implications of the pure theory of liberty. At the same time, the story of liberty and its future is not only about the raw assertion of rights but also about grace, aesthetics, beauty, complexity, service to others, community, the gradual emergence of cultural norms, and the spontaneous development of extended orders of commercial and private relationships. Freedom is what gives life to the human imagination and enables the working out of love as it extends from our most benevolent and highest longings.

An ideology robbed of its accoutrements, on the other hand, can become an eyesore, just as with a large concrete monstrosity built decades ago, imposed on an urban landscape, embarrassing to everyone, now only awaiting demolition. Will libertarianism be brutalist or humanitarian? Everyone needs to decide.

20121129_JeffreyTuckeravatar (1)ABOUT JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Jeffrey Tucker is a distinguished fellow at FEE, CEO of the startup Liberty.me, and publisher at Laissez Faire Books. He will be speaking at the FEE summer seminar “Making Innovation Possible: The Role of Economics in Scientific Progress.”

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Obamas Send Wrong Messages

Two weeks ago, President Obama launched an initiative called My Brother’s Keeper.

As a part of this initiative, he signed a presidential memorandum establishing the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, chaired by Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Broderick Johnson. The task force will help determine what public and private efforts are working and how to expand upon them, how the federal government’s own policies and programs can better support these efforts, and how to better involve state and local officials, the private sector, and the philanthropic community in these efforts.

I fail to understand the logic of setting up a yet task force. You would think groups like the NAACP, the National Urban League, the National Council of La Raza would already have “shovel ready” projects that the administration could access immediately.

I can’t help but notice that Dave Steward and Bob Woodson were not invited to participate. Dave Steward, chairman of World Wide Technology in St. Louis, is the largest Black-owned business in the U.S. and has built a $ 6 billion company based on principles that highlight morals and values. He also supports these values and morals with his money in communities throughout the U.S.

Bob Woodson, founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, has a 30-year track record of dealing with troubled youths. He has done a lot of work in the president’s adopted hometown of Chicago.

It is impossible to adequately deal with our youth without incorporating the issue of values and morals. It means telling our kids that there is right and wrong; not saying to them: “Who are we to judge?”

The president said, “…I explained to them (the kids on stage with him) when I was their age, I was a lot like them. I didn’t have a dad in the house. And I was angry about it, even though I didn’t necessarily realize at the time. I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do. I didn’t always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses. Sometimes I sold myself short.”

Was this not the same president that said a week before in the White House that he supported legalizing marijuana? But, then he tells kids, “I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do.” If it was a bad choice and it could cause harm, then why would you want to legalize marijuana? As with the president, I am extremely confused and concerned with Ms. Obama’s fascination with people who promote values that are antithetical to creating a healthy environment for young girls to flourish in. Beyoncé is the personification of this.

Two years ago, Ms. Obama was asked by People magazine who she would choose to be other than herself. She replied with, “Gosh, if I had some gift, I’d be Beyoncé.” She and Beyoncé are purported to be very close personal friends, but is Beyoncé the person you really want your daughter to immolate?

Allow me to share a few lyrics from Beyoncé’s most recent CD, Drunk in Love: “I’ve been drinking; I get filthy when that liquor get into me; I’ve been thinking; Why can’t I keep my fingers off it, baby?”

On her song Bow Down: “I know when you were little girls; You dreamt of being in my world; Don’t forget it; Respect that, Bow down b—-es; Don’t get it twisted this is my sh-t, bow down b—-es.”

There is more. On the song Partition: Oh he so horny, he want to f—k; He bucked all my buttons, he ripped my blouse; He Monica Lewinski all on my gown.”

And the First Lady wants to be like that?

Beyoncé has become the Howard Stern of music – vulgar simply for the sake of shocking the public. Her concerts boarder on pornography Yet, Ms. Obama had no problem taking her two daughters (Malia, 13, and Sasha, 10 at the time) to watch Beyoncé perform two years ago in Atlantic City.

Here is a Twitter exchange between Beyoncé and Michelle Obama before the concert: “Michelle, thank you so much for every single thing that you do for us. I am proud to have my daughter grow up in a world where she has people like you to look up to.” Obama’s response on twitter: “@Beyoncé Thank you for the beautiful letter and for being a role model who kids everywhere can look up to. –mo.

The president and his wife are sending out conflicting messages. Kids need to be told and shown how to behave. You can’t support legalizing marijuana and then tell kids not to use it. You can’t tell little girls to carry yourself like a young lady and then tell them you want to be Beyoncé.

That’s not Drunk in Love. You have to be plain drunk to think that Beyonce should be anybody’s role model.

When will the killing in Florida ever stop?

The title of my column comes from the March 9th front page featured story from the Palm Beach Post concerning the loss of forty children in 2013 who were under the control of the Florida Department of Children & Families. Losing forty innocent children in 2013 is forty lives that could have been saved, especially when you see the negligent ways these innocent children lost their lives while under the state of Florida’s care. My heart goes out to each and every one of them and I pray that the Florida Department of Children & Families does a better job protecting the innocent in 2014.

Now, let’s look at another topic that is near and dear to my heart. One that has been “killing” since January 22nd, 1973. One that has killed over 56 million babies in our country – ABORTION

In Palm Beach County alone 5,808 children were aborted in 2013. In the state of Florida there were 71,503 abortions in 2013. Once again, not to take away from the importance of the “forty” lives that were lost in the same year in Florida through the Department of Children & Families – how can one even begin to compare “forty” deaths to 71,503?

It doesn’t even come close. Just think about that for one minute. Same state, same year. While the article on these “forty” lives was rightfully featured on the front page of the Palm Beach Post – when are we ever going to see that 71,503 figure on any front page in any newspaper in our beloved state let alone the country?

Over 71,000 babies butchered in Florida this past year and not a word is spoken or written about it. How about a daily death count of the “56 million” who have been murdered in America since that now infamous Roe v. Wade decision 41 years ago? Their deaths will probably never see ink wasted to remember them or tell their stories.

danielsacks

Dr. Daniel N. Sacks

Only because we live in a “culture of death” and we have a liberal President in the White House who embraces it, endorses it, promotes it, and funds it. So, it is up to “Pro-Lifers” to go out during these “40 Days for Life” to pray at these abortion clinics and to demonstrate at abortionist’s offices like that of Dr. Daniel N. Sacks of Palm Beach-Wellington Women’s Care.

Who out there is going to join the Pro-Lifers tomorrow or on any of these 40 days? Who out there really even cares? Who out there has just given up and says “there’s nothing I can do to stop abortion?” Who out there claims to be Christian and just turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to these intrinsic evils that attack our beloved communities every single day? Who out there is just going through the motions each and every day and is more worried about whether it is going to rain tomorrow for the Marlins game at Roger Dean or whether they will be able to get to their favorite restaurant this evening in time to catch the “early bird” special”?

With more and more “selfies” taken on an hourly basis in our country – that is what our vain society has come to – SELFIES – as in SELFISHNESS. All about me. I guess that is the “thing to do” today. Take a picture of yourself with your own “self”-phone and send it to everybody you know – and hope it goes viral. Wow! That’s real meaningful. So productive and self righteous. With Facebook, Twitter and all these other annoying ways to entertain ourselves – we have forgotten about others and it’s all about “OURSELVES” – the evil foundation of the “selfie”.

What ever happened to the word “groupie”? That was big in the 60’s & 70’s with all the rock bands. I kinda wish that word would come back. I prefer the term “groupies” over “selfies” any day. But, only if those groupies are doing something constructive and Christian-like – as in praying in groups in front of abortion clinics and demonstrating in groups with our “Pro-Life” signs in front of abortionist’s offices. Put your “self-phone” away – delete all your “selfies”, skip an early bird special this Lent – and HAVE THE COURAGE TO PROTECT THE UNBORN!!

RELATED VIDEOS:

The first half of this is overlaid with good music and the second half is a talk by a scientist who explains that the complexity by which the instructions for human development are coded into our DNA and carried out by the mother are beyond all mathematical and human comprehension.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/FF4uR0MRGxA[/youtube]



This video is not secular but its short, heart-warming, and powerful.  It has an audio track of a young child singing and talking to his/her mother who aborted them letting her know how much they love her and want to be with her while they are safe and being loved in Heaven. THIS IS A VERY TOUCHING VIDEO…

[youtube]http://youtu.be/8GzjO14Yetc[/youtube]

 

This video is from a business called “Baby Center” that has its own website and other related videos as well.  The video is good but short.  They have three more that I am aware of on their YouTube site that cover the remaining weeks of gestation.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/4l9GE_eaMSs[/youtube]

 

RELATED STORIES:

Conn. High School Blocks Pro-Life Student Group From Handing Out Information
Hillary Clinton: Abortion Needed for Equality —and Human Development…

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Miss Monica Elizabeth and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation

Many Democrats wonder what happened to their party since the days of President Grover Cleveland. Cleveland was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs, Free Silver, inflation, imperialism, and subsidies to business, farmers, or veterans. His crusade for political reform and fiscal conservatism made him an icon for American conservatives of the era. Cleveland won praise for his honesty, self-reliance, integrity, and commitment to the principles of classical liberalism. He relentlessly fought political corruption, patronage and bossism. Indeed, as a reformer his prestige was so strong that the like-minded wing of the Republican Party, called “Mugwumps“, joined with him.

Many have written about the growing number of Americans who are dependent on the government for their livelihood.

The growth of government programs since Cleveland including FDR’s “New Deal”, President Johnson’s “Great Society” and President Obama’s Affordable Care Act are in the news of late. The Great Society’s programs expanded under the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Presidents Clinton, G.W. Bush and Obama have added to the size and scope of government.

Perhaps it is appropriate to revisit how government expansion, taken to its ultimate end, impacts an entire society.

Leon_trotsky

Leon Trotsky

In November, 2009  wrote a column titled “The Evil of Leon Trotsky Revisited“. Ilya’s column has relevance today. Here it is for your edification:

Two of Leon Trotsky’s best-known quotes are his statement that “Where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation” (made famous, especially among libertarians, in part because it was quoted by Hayek in The Road to Serfdom), and the very next sentence in the same paragraph: “The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.” My GMU colleague Bryan Caplan helpfully provides the context of these quotes, from Trotsky’s 1936 book, The Revolution Betrayed:

During these years [since Stalin took power in the USSR] hundreds of Oppositionists, both Russian and foreign, have been shot, or have died of hunger strikes, or have resorted to suicide. Within the last twelve years, the authorities have scores of times announced to the world the final rooting out of the opposition. But during the “purgations” in the last month of 1935 and the first half of 1936, hundreds of thousands of members of the [Communist] party were again expelled, among them several tens of thousands of “Trotskyists.” The most active were immediately arrested and thrown into prisons and concentration camps. As to the rest, Stalin, through Pravda, openly advised the local organs not to give them work. In a country where the sole employer is the state, this means death by slow starvation. The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.

Bryan points out that this context doesn’t reflect well on a man who is still admired by many leftists and even a few ex-leftist conservatives:

Worth noticing: While Trotsky meant what libertarians think he meant, the man’s sheer evil still shines through. He doesn’t mind if the socialist state starves human beings. He was delighted to wield this power when ran the Red Army. No, Trotsky is outraged because the Soviet Union is turning its totalitarian might upon fellow Communists. Was there ever a better time to snark that “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword”?

As I explained in this series of posts, Trotsky was a brutal mass murderer who objected to political repression only when it targeted his fellow communists. He also opposed Stalin in part because he thought Stalin wasn’t repressive enough. Any residual admiration for Trotsky is sorely misplaced.

Nonetheless, the translation of The Revolution Betrayed quoted by Bryan seems to be less damning than the wording quoted by Hayek. In Hayek’s version, Trotsky is quoted as writing that “Where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation” (emphasis added). Since Trotsky of course favored an economic system where the state is the sole employer, this version of the quote implies that he also favored the inevitable “slow starvation” of oppositionists. By contrast, the translation linked by Bryan states that “Where the sole employer is the State, this [referring to Stalin’s policy of denying employment to oppositionists] means death by slow starvation.” The translation quoted by Bryan doesn’t seem to say that opposition means death by starvation in any society where the state is the sole employer, but only if that state is governed by Stalin’s policy of denying work to “oppositionists.” And, as we can see later in the same chapter, Trotsky did not propose to abolish the government’s monopoly over employment, but merely to replace the Stalinist “bureaucratic” class with a different set of economic central planners. The latter might potentially have a more liberal policy on employing oppositionists. Which version is correct? The only way to tell is to check the original Russian text of The Revolution Betrayed. If anyone can find it online, please let me know and I would be happy to do the checking myself.

Even the more charitable version of this passage still doesn’t paint Trotsky in a flattering light. After all, as Bryan notes, the only “oppositionists” whose right to dissent Trotsky wanted to protect were communists who disagreed with Stalin’s party line. Towards the end of the same chapter of The Revolution Betrayed, Trotsky calls for “a revival of freedom of Soviet parties, beginning with the party of Bolsheviks.” Non-Soviet (i.e. – non-communist) parties need not apply. He had no objection to the “slow starvation” (or even outright execution) of non-communist oppositionists, including even non-communist socialists. Indeed, when he was still in power, Trotsky often ordered such starvation and execution of political opponents himself.

UPDATE: I have found the Russian text of The Revolution Betrayed online here. In my judgment as a native speaker of the language, the Russian version is closer to the translation cited by Bryan than the one used by Hayek. Here is the original Russian text of the relevant sentence:

В стране, где единственным работодателем является государство, эта мера означает медленную голодную
смерть. Старый принцип: кто не работает, тот не ест, заменен новым: кто не повинуется, тот не ест.

Here’s my own translation:

In a country where the state is the sole employer, this policy [referring to Stalin’s policy] means a slow death by starvation [for oppositionists]. The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.

The key Russian phrase “эта мера” literally means “this measure.”

UPDATE #2: Some commenters on this and previous posts about Trotsky ask whether anyone really admires Trotsky anymore. In reality, quite a few modern leftists still do. Christopher Hitchens (see here and here) is one example. As Clive James points out, Trotsky “lived on for decades as the unassailable hero of aesthetically minded progressives who wished to persuade themselves that there could be a vegetarian version of communism.”

CPAC: Straw Votes and Real Votes

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is over after three days of speakers and seminars. It drew a huge crowd of mostly younger voters, many drawn from the Young Republicans for Freedom who, in 1973, teamed with the American Conservative Union for the first conference. Over the years roughly half of those attending have been of college age.

The crowd this year was so large, estimated to be between 10,000 and 11,000, that no hotel in Washington, D.C. was able host the event. It was held at the National Harbor convention center just outside of the capitol.

What was most impressive was the fact that every major player in the Republican Party and representing a leadership role in conservative affairs, was there.

The winner of its straw vote this year was Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) who won 31%, far ahead of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) at 11%, Dr. Ben Carson at 9% and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who received 8%. Mitt Romney won in 2007, 2008, and 2009. Then Ron Paul won in 2010 and 2011. Romney won again in 2012. Rand won in 2013 and now again this year.

Does the straw vote represent anything significant? I doubt it. The Paul’s, Libertarians, reflect the younger voter’s idealism, but neither represents a presidential prospect. Most likely one of the governors will emerge as the Republican Party nominee to run for President.

The two who have the best shot are Chris Christie and Texas’s Rick Perry. Perry did not do well in the 2012 GOP primaries, but we later learned he had had back surgery and was in a fair degree of pain during the debates.

Christie is already moving passed the “Bridgegate” problem though you wouldn’t know that if you tuned into MSNBC at any hour. They have devoted themselves to making it into a big issue in order to defeat any chance he might have, but have succeeded only in making themselves look more stupid than usual. Christie has lost some of the momentum he had after he won a second term for Governor in a blue State.

Along with Perry, Christie was very well received at the CPAC convention. The fact is that the GOP has a deep bench of governors that include Nikki Haley, Rick Scott, Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal which tells you how well Republicans have done as governors nationwide. There are 29 of them at last count.

Ted Cruz (R-TX) who burst on the national scene with his filibuster about Obamacare is a powerful orator. He has managed to generate opposition from the Republican establishment in D.C., but so has the Tea Party.  We can count on him and others to be heard from in the years ahead.

No doubt the high level of enthusiasm and confidence at the CPAC convention reflects the utter disaster that the Democratic Party inflicted upon itself by passing the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. When you add in the way Obama has looked weak, first with Syria and now with the Russian invasion of the Crimea, Obama is fast losing his once great messianic appeal. His own party is disinclined to give him mindless support these days.

Obama is already being compared with former President Jimmy Carter and history will likely judge him as the worst President this nation has ever had to endure. Few, if any, Democrats running in the forthcoming November midterm elections will even want to be seen on the same platform with him. All he does these days is fund raise, play golf, and take vacations.

So, if the CPAC straw vote provides little indication of who will be the GOP candidate in the 2016 election, the response to both Christie and Perry provides a signal of what direction the party may take. Another good indication will be the way the mainstream media goes after whoever it thinks might be the GOP selection. It is little more than an arm of the Democratic Party.

Much has already been written of the “divisions” within the GOP as a strong conservative debate ensues among the candidates who, in truth, all know that Obamacare will be a deciding factor in the midterms and thereafter. I anticipate a Democratic Party bloodbath and so do they.

Americans want Obamacare repealed and, if the GOP gains control of the Senate and increases its hold on the House this year, you can count on a vote to do that. Obama will veto it but he could be over-ridden. That would be historic.

It is, however, way too soon to be making any predictions. All manner of events could intervene and alter the political scene. For now, though, I am inclined to think that Gov. Perry has a good chance of emerging as the presidential nominee in 2016. It would not surprise me if Hillary Clinton decided she’s too old and too tired to put herself through a long campaign. After all, a virtual unknown named Barack Obama defeated her in 2008 when she did that the last time.

For now, I am greatly encouraged by the turnout at the CPAC convention. The future belongs to the generation that attended. They and their parents, and just about everyone else have been screwed by Obamacare and know it.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: Gage Skidmore.

North Korean Voters Unanimous: We Are The 100%!

In a devastating counter-punch to all deniers and non-believers, North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un has won an unparalleled victory today, being re-elected with 100% votes and 100% turnout, which gives him an undisputed mandate to fundamentally transform his country into an even more democratic people’s republic.

In the United States, the Democratic Party leadership, its party organs, and the Obama-voting precincts all around America are congratulating North Korea today on achieving the same results as they did in 2012 presidential election of Dear Leader with 100% vote and 100% turnout, accompanied by assurances of international solidarity of all voters worldwide.

According to USA Today“Voters in the election have no choice who to vote for – there is only one candidate’s name on the ballot for each district. Instead, they have the choice of voting yes or no, and according to official accounts virtually all choose yes. North Korea also typically puts turnout nationwide at over 99%.”

This finally clarifies what the phrase “We are the 99%” really means. But that was last year. Today, being 99% is no longer an option – we must eliminate the remaining 1% and become the 100% – like in North Korea!

It is mandatory for all comrades to celebrate today’s glorious victory by ordering our commemorative T-shirts and other merchandise, which will empower you to express your solidarity with North Korean voters, as well as your commitment to progress and contempt for deniers.

Click on the images to go to the store!

Kim Jong Un - We Are The 100% shirtKim Jong Un - We Are The 100% Mug

A Libertarian Frank Underwood by Elijah O’Kelly

If you’re involved or even interested in politics and haven’t heard about House of Cards, then it’s likely that neither you nor your friends own a TV, a tablet, or a smart phone.

The series, one of Netflix’s new in-house production, portrays the ruthless, power hungry politician Frank Underwood. In addition to its critical acclaim, it has become a staple in the conversations of political activists everywhere. Watching as a libertarian, his nearly every action is reprehensible. Underwood acts solely to increase his own power, never shying away from doing immoral things, and he consistently pushes legislation that increases the scope of government. He is a libertarian nightmare. And yet we can’t help but be entranced by him.

But what if Frank Underwood was a libertarian? At first thought, the idea is a complete paradox. His blatant acts of aggression and his vision of power as an end rather than a means are contradictory to the underlying principles of libertarianism. Yet if Underwood viewed power as a means to accomplish libertarian policies rather than an end to satisfy personal desires, it wouldn’t be so easy to despise him. A plethora of valid critiques can be launched at him, but it is indisputable that he has a talent for getting things done.

Imagine if instead of education and entitlement reform, Underwood had pulled strings, twisted arms, and manipulated politicians in order to pass something like a repeal of the Federal Reserve Act or a decriminalization of drugs. It might be hard for libertarians to be smug. The bottom line is that Underwood’s talent for increasing his own power could be very effective if modified and applied by a real life counterpart trying to create libertarian change.

A mental exercise like this doesn’t typically mean much in reality, but the truth is that it offers insight into the current direction of the liberty movement. There are two main methodologies that people subscribe to for creating libertarian change. One seeks to rely mainly on educational efforts, sometimes even abstaining from voting or any political activity, to create gradual change towards a freer society. The other emphasizes political activism to sway elections and build alliances with different groups in order to pass libertarian legislation. Both are vital for a movement and some libertarians effectively use a combination of both approaches. But if we picture the effect a libertarian Frank Underwood could have on the direction of the country, the superior approach becomes obvious.

As unfortunate as it is, government bureaucrats and their cronies won’t change their behavior because they get handed copies of Human Action. Politicians won’t begin following the Constitution because they got mailed a pocket-sized version of it. The government will continue to pass legislation violating everything libertarians stand for until someone has enough power to stop it. Gaining and keeping this power may very likely entail manipulative schemes to thwart more statist peers. It may be contrary to what every libertarian, myself included, wishes the situation could be, but a failure to “play the game” means a failure to make change.

Envisioning a figure like a libertarian Frank Underwood makes it clear what the impact of a master politician who pursues libertarian legislation could be. This isn’t to suggest that all libertarians must attempt to emulate Underwood or that those in politics should try to mold themselves into replicas of him. But questions about purity—doctrinal or otherwise—rarely touch on how the sausage gets made. At some point, some libertarians are going to have to get their hands dirty.

There are, of course, limits to this. Underwood the character commits acts of inhumanity that no amount of legislative achievement could justify and that no honest libertarian would participate in. There are also worries about the corruptive nature of power and if a libertarian could actually avoid succumbing to its temptations. After all, how much of one’s soul must be sold off to achieve such heights of power? In a reality that television writers don’t have to face, a libertarian Underwood might be impossible. Yet, for those who dare to fight the beasts in their own lair, taking a cue from Underwood and outfoxing politicians could lead to enormous gains for libertarian causes. And so the question becomes: What ends justify what means? Or, where on the continuum has the libertarian politician gone too far?

The extent to which a libertarian Frank Underwood deserves our support has no simple answer, but it’s a question we have to ask ourselves as we begin to aspire to political offices. In any case, we cannot dispute that a willingness to “play the game” is absolutely vital if the Liberty Movement has any hope of moving out of the Internet’s basement and into the statute books.

ABOUT ELIJAH O’KELLEY

Elijah O’Kelley is currently interning with Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) where he works to spread the ideas of liberty on college campuses.

After CPAC: What conservatives are still missing

One of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s statements at CPAC 2014 has my complete agreement: “you have to convey the message of what you are for, not just what you are against.”

One of the lessons I learned early on in my military career that I have carried since is “anyone can tell what the issue is or state what the problem is, but a leader tells you what the solutions are.”

For conservatives it is time we turn principles into policies – not get all tied up in details that confuse, but focus on simple points that reflect the concerns of the American people.

A great example is the issue of education. Right now the progressive socialists of the Democrat party are lining up on the side of the teachers’ unions. We recently reported on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attack against the Success Academy Charter School in Harlem. Why aren’t we hearing more conservatives talk about school choice, vouchers, charter schools – in other words, better educational opportunities for America’s children, especially minority children?

No conservative should be lining up behind the insidious common core education initiative, basically an expansion of big government into the realm of education, which should be a local issue. Where are the conservative voices talking about a 21st century education policy vision that is consistent with our principles?

How do we present a roadmap that makes education relevant and develops productive members of our society, rather than test-taking drones? How do we examine the means by which we promote critical thinking skills and skill development by educational partnering with the private sector?

When I think of how conservatives can connect across every community and demographic in America on this subject… here is a clear example of policy inclusiveness, not outreach. We just need to take the message out there. I can’t imagine any mother who would reject a plan to better educate her children and prepare them to achieve greatness and success through maximizing their opportunities.

What I saw missing from CPAC was an understanding that Americans hunger for a particular image. Americans thought Obama possessed it — an image of concerned and caring leadership. It is an image that exemplifies the best of America and reflects the triumph of the indomitable American individual spirit.

It does not spring from numbers and detailed calculations. It is conveyed by someone Americans believe they can invite into their homes who cares for them and their future. The image should not be of someone who offers handouts, but if there is no compelling alternative, voters willingly lower their standards and fall for the giver of gifts.

My mom taught me that “self-esteem comes from doing estimable things.” and sitting home in Section 8 housing waiting for a “gubmint” check ain’t promoting self-esteem. Conservatives need someone who honestly relfects what America is and what she can be as we restore this Republic. Someone who can explain in simple terms a vision of growth, opportunity, and prosperity — not shared — but policies and conditions that create the pursuit of happiness — not the false promise of guaranteed happiness.

The other key aspect of leadership, woefully ignored at CPAC, is the importance of the Commander-in-Chief, a warrior-statesman who not only makes sure the American people know he or she cares — but convincingly demonstrates they will be protected.

Such a leader must be strong enough to sit down at a table with autocrats, theocrats, despots, dictators and garner their respect, if not fear. Consider when Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg Gate and told Mr. Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

That simple statement inspired a drive for liberty and freedom behind the wall which eventually resulted in its collapse. Today we are faced with a threat from Vladimir Putin who seeks to rebuild that wall.

America is looking for a leader who won’t call Putin for a 60- or 90-minute dissertation, but places a five-minute call to state the case and the consequences, and then hangs up — because the actions will speak for themselves.

We need leadership that looks square in the eyes of the mad mullahs and ayatollahs and lets them know Islamic totalitarianism and terrorism is a non-starter — and will be crushed. America is looking for a leader who lets the Chinese know our allies in Japan and the Philippines will not see their sovereign territories subsumed by aggressive actions.

We need a leader who tells Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah and Hamas that Israel is our ally and no solutions are viable as long as terrorists abide under their umbrella of protection.

The world knows President Obama is a liar and his progressive socialist agenda is failing. America needs to know what conservatives – constitutionalists — will do to restore the exceptionalism of America, and the dream that says regardless of where you were born or where you come from, your greatness can be achieved here in this place: the land of the free, because we are the home of the brave.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com.

Russia’s aggression prompts other nations to change names

Vladimir Putin’s recent intervention in Ukraine on the pretext of defending the ethnic Russian population has forced other former Soviet republics to look for ingenious ways to protect their own sovereignty from similar moves.

On Monday, the Parliament of Kazakhstan, with a 25% ethnic Russian population and a 4,660 mile-long border shared with Russia, voted to rename the country ‘New Illinois,’ hoping to attract more American support for their territorial integrity. Kazakhstan’s President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, is expected to sign the emergency bill into law by Wednesday, setting in motion a complex process for the Central Asian nation of almost 18 million people.

Kazakstan name changeA spokesman for the government in the capital city of Astana said that ‘New Illinois’ was chosen because US President Barack Obama was a state and then US Senator for the state of Illinois, and such a name change was more likely to get his attention and engender a strong enough reaction to the threat of foreign invasion.

“We noticed a hesitancy on the part of President Obama to act when Russia moved on Ukraine,” said Prime Minister Serik Akhmetov. “And we asked ourselves, what if Obama’s reluctance was due to the fact that ‘Ukraine’ sounded too foreign to the president who is almost exclusively interested in American domestic policy? So we thought we might get more interest from him if we had a familiar sounding American name. This was the easiest way.”

Fearing that the name change alone may not be enough, the Kazakh parliament has begun debate on a second bill to rename the Kazakh ethnicity to ‘African Americans,’ within the hope that Americans will be more sympathetic to their plight if they are identified with a more familiar ethnic minority.

“We are confident President Obama will not tolerate the oppression of any African Americans, even those in Central Asia,” said Akhmetov. “And with any luck we may even get some foreign – or in this case, domestic, aid.”

Even though the process of replacing all the country’s signs, currency, postage, and identification cards is likely to be difficult and expensive, other former Soviet republics, which emerged from the collapse of the old Soviet Union in 1991, are considering similar moves.

Kazakstan name changeToday, the parliament of Latvia is debating a bill to rename their small Baltic nation of two million inhabitants to ‘East Chicago,’ as concern increases that Russian president Vladimir Putin may invade them to “protect” the half a million ethnic Russians who had settled there in the Soviet era.

Meanwhile, Lithuania has staked out the name ‘New Hawaii’ and Estonia is expected to take the name ‘New Delaware’ after the home state of US Vice President Joe Biden.

The future states of East Chicago, New Hawaii, and New Delaware are also considering changing their ethnic identities to ‘African Americans,’ although some local political leaders have proposed a change to ‘Mexican-Americans,’ which they believe may also help them gain support among moderate Republicans in the US.

A Word of Encouragement Can Go A Long Way by Lawrence W. Reed

The Empire State as a whole (with wide swaths outside the Big Apple being notable exceptions) is a bastion of big, activist and ambitious government. The state is ranked dead last among the 50 for economic freedom as measured by the Mercatus Center. New York City is now run by a mayor who thinks that competition and choice between government schools is a bad thing, so he’s declaring war on the city’s better-performing charter schools. No question about it, New York needs a lot of work.

New York is a tough nut to crack, but some really good nutcrackers are hard at work there. And they have FEE connections too!

In mid-February at the request of Professor Clair Smith, I delivered two lectures on the campus of St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. Clair secured his B.A. in Economics at Grove City College in Pennsylvania (as did I). He later earned his Ph.D. in Economics, as well as a Master’s and a juris doctor degree, from George Mason University in Virginia. Prior to his move to Rochester, he taught at Pennsylvania State University and Bowling Green State University. As an undergraduate student, Clair attended his first FEE seminar in 1997 and was inspired to accept a summer internship with us shortly thereafter. Now at St. John Fisher, he is inspiring young minds with his own lectures on liberty and free markets and through lectures from a stream of visitors he brings to campus.

“I think I always had an intuitive appreciation for markets,” says Clair, “but the powerful speakers at the FEE seminars provided a systematic way of thinking about the market process. They offered forceful examples of the maladies that can result from misguided efforts to ‘fix’ market outcomes.”

We encouraged Clair at an early, formative moment in his life and it’s now paying handsome dividends.

A few days after Rochester, I spoke in Albany to more than 150 students at the New York State convention of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL). They all knew what a challenge New York is but that didn’t dampen their enthusiasm for taking it on. No matter whom I talked to at the convention that day, the attitude I witnessed was the same: “We’re not giving up, not by a long shot. In the battle for liberty, we’ve just begun to fight!” Those bright, articulate young people went back to their campuses around the state armed with material from FEE and with a passion to change the world—and that includes New York. I expect to find more of the same excitement when I speak at the Texas State Convention of YAL in April.

Of course, there are numberless good people and organizations all over New York just like Clair Smith and Young Americans for Liberty. Someday, New York will turn the corner. Minds will change and policy with it. The state will move in the only direction it possibly can—up the scale of economic freedom from its current rank in the cellar. When that happens, it will be because of the contributions of all who worked for the right ideas in a tough place.

At FEE, we specialize in encouragement. When our speakers visit schools and campuses, they do more than just impart wisdom and pass out literature. We cheer, hearten and embolden all friends of liberty. We let them know we support them and want to help them succeed. We praise them for their dedication. We assure them they are not alone and in return, we’re encouraged too! Not a day goes by that we’re not engaged—in multiple ways and places—in the simple but profoundly important act of encouragement.

How can anyone not like such job as this!

Thanks for all that you do for liberty and for FEE.

Sincerely,

Lawrence W. Reed
President, FEE

Third World Objectivism: A Young Indian Reflects on the Meaning of Rand on the anniversary of her death by Shanu Athiparambath

Ayn Rand died on this day [March 6th], 32 years ago. Today, young Indians are snapping up her books at a surprising rate.

It’s an apparent contradiction. Howard Roark, The Fountainhead’s main character, is a man with strong principles. But he’s also arrogant. Here in India, humility is considered the fundamental moral virtue. He might have been put away for a very long time had he lived here. In any event, he could not have reached many people through rational arguments, due to what Rand described as “the mystic muck of India.”

But, for many young Indian men and women, Howard Roark epitomizes individualism and strength of character. And much to the chagrin of their boyfriends, many women want their men to be more like Howard Roark. A college mate once told me, “Women do not know that it is not possible for a man to be Howard Roark. He can only pretend to be Howard Roark. Hell, he can’t even pretend to be Howard Roark.”

It’s strange. For nearly four decades after Indian independence, every aspect of the Indian economy was “planned” and “regulated” by the socialistic state. The economy has liberalized somewhat in the past two decades, but still remains one of the most controlled in the world.

Virtually every literate Indian has heard of Karl Marx. And so, the typical Indian’s beliefs are much closer to that of Karl Marx’s.

Outside the market niche she has found, Ayn Rand is virtually unheard of. But that appears to be changing. Ayn Rand outsells Karl Marx sixteenfold in India today, which suggests rapid growth. This is in all likelihood an underestimation: I first noticed her works in a rickety street stall in a small town. The copies were pirated.

No one seems to know why Ayn Rand is becoming so popular in India. India has a huge population, but even today, English-language fiction is read by a minority elite. It is true that Ayn Rand wrote popular fiction. Karl Marx’s prose is dense. But that still does not explain why Rand outsells even many well-known Indian writers and best-selling western writers in Indian markets. Even in the United States, where various strands of thought have found their own niche, Rand’s views are considered way outside the mainstream. It is a minor miracle that she could build a whole movement in a western capitalistic democracy. But why is she becoming increasingly popular in societies that bear no resemblance whatsoever to whatever ideal society she had in her mind?

I can only hypothesize. But part of the reason must be that the intelligent young men and women in traditional, conservative societies know that the dystopian world her fiction depicts is not too unlike the world in which they live. Indians have experienced the extremities of government tyranny firsthand. Libertarians often cite the government as the source of evil, but not all evils flow from the State to the masses. The inept, corrupt governments of the third world can be a reflection of the popular soul. In India, at least, the State can institutionalize the little people’s vices.

In The Fountainhead, Peter Keating’s mother dictates his life with the sweetest of smiles on her face, “Petey, I never think anything. It’s up to you. It’s always been up to you.” The villain in The Fountainhead is Ellsworth Toohey, a manipulative intellectual, and not a government bureaucrat or a politician. One character says Gail Wynand represents everything that’s wrong with the world, but Wynand is a newspaper publisher. People subscribed to The New York Banner because they preferred vulgarity over truth and beauty, and not because the politicians or bureaucrats forced them to.

Ayn Rand was one of those writers who saw politics for what it is—inside and out, macro to micro, down to the level of the individual.

It is probably futile to curse mediocrity, but in the third world, ineptitude and politicking reach epic proportions—and is present in nearly every aspect of our lives. As in Ayn Rand’s fiction, this is not always official, congressional politics. It is true that many rebellious Indian teens find Ayn Rand’s individualistic worldview appealing. But, I believe they also feel that the world around them reminds them of the poolroom that Gail Wynand once worked in. That is, the young men and women in India see nothing but dishonesty and corruption around them.

Even in the best hospitals in the largest Indian cities, the doctors diagnose patients without really speaking to them. When you lie on a hospital bed, you know you have written a blank check to doctors who have life-and-death power over you. On November 9, 1965, the lights of the New York City and the entire eastern seaboard went out, an admirer wrote to Ayn Rand, “There is a John Galt.” But in India today, even in the largest cities, the lights can go out at any moment.

So, appearances aside, it is hardly surprising then that Ayn Rand appeals to young men and women in collectivist societies. She told them the truth about the world in which they live.

ABOUT SHANU ATHIPARAMBATH

Shanu Athiparambath is a writer and editor living in New Delhi.

Putin’s Folly

Photos of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, often show him shirtless, riding a horse, shooting, catching large fish, and close to wild animals. It is the kind of public relations intended to emphasize his manliness and strength.

Putin has made it clear over the years that he wants to restore the size and influence of the former Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, in part from the four decades of isolation of the Cold War and in part because Communism doesn’t work no matter how large or small a nation may be.

Just ask the Venezuelans who want to overthrow their government or the Ukrainians who forced out their president, Viktor Yanukovych, after he tried to thwart a greater engagement with the European Union.

Putting Russian troops into the Republic of Crimea while claiming that they are there to protect the human rights of Ukrainians in the eastern sector will prove to be a major blunder. Call it Putin’s folly.

History is often shaped by the errors made by various leaders. The former head of the Soviet Union’s NKVD is long accustomed to using coercion and Communism depends on it to maintain its power. The move into Ukraine reflects the preference to threaten this and other former satellite nations, but we are now in different times. Putin is about to learn that.

President Obama’s lack of a coherent foreign policy and his desire to have better relations with Russia has been widely criticized, but so far as the Ukraine is concerned, he has acted wisely.

At an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Monday, the U.S. ambassador, Samantha Power, spelled out Putin’s errors of judgment for everyone to hear, accusing Russia of an act of aggression.

“Russia has every right to wish events had turned out differently,” she said of the events in Ukraine, but “It doesn’t have the right to express that using military force.” President Obama backed that up, warning of potential diplomatic and economic “isolation.”

In blunt terms, Powers said “So many of the assertions made this afternoon by the Russian Federation are without basis in reality.”

Powers enumerated the events, noting that Russian military forces had taken over Ukrainian border posts, taken over the ferry terminal in Kerch, and that its ships were moving in and around Sevastapol. In addition, Russia was blocking telephone services in some areas. “It is a fact that Russia has surrounded or taken over practically all Ukrainian military facilities in Crimea” in addition to having had its jets enter Ukrainian airspace.”

Powers, speaking for the U.S., said that “There is a way out. And that is through direct and immediate dialogue by Russia with the government of Ukraine, the immediate pull-back of Russia’s military forces, the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and the urgent deployment of observers and human rights monitors, not through more threats and more distortions.”

Putin’s show of strength will backfire because neither the U.S., nor the European Union, or any other nation wants to see a revived Soviet Union in the form of an over-aggressive Russian Federation.

President Obama announced an aid package to bolster the Ukrainian government, including $1 billion in loan guarantees to offset any loss of energy subsidies from Russia. The U.S. is also planning to provide technical support for Ukraine’s financial institutions, training for election observers and assistance in anti-corruption efforts. One of the reasons Ukrainians drove out Yanukovych was the corruption he represented and his preference for Russian influence in the Ukraine.

Coming off the global attention generated by the Winter Olympics, Putin may have calculated that he had to back Yanukovych and, after he fled Kiev and the Ukraine, concluded that only a show of military power would restore respect for the Russian Federation. He was wrong. Nations get respect for not invading their neighbors and for participating in the global economy.

In many ways, in today’s world there are options to pressure Russia with regard to its need to sell its natural gas and oil assets, and conduct trade with other nations. Putin has underestimated these options.

At some point he will withdraw his military—whose uniforms do not show any identification of origin—and will declare that Russia will respect the outcome of the Ukrainian elections in May. He has no choice. The Cold War is over, but it never really ended as far as Putin is concerned.

While President Obama has received a torrent of criticism for his foreign affairs policies, much of it well earned, his restraint is the best way to address the Russian invasion and the U.S.  mobilization of resistance to it is the wisest course of action.

Nobody wants World War III and that includes Vladimir Putin.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

The Age of the American Withdrawal from Europe

There has been much speculation over recent years about what ‘American withdrawal’ from the world would mean.  From North Africa to the Far East there have been warning signs.  But perhaps only now is it becoming clear what a withdrawal of US power in the world will really result in.  And how unsurprising it is that this would be noticed in Europe first.

Because in the last couple of days, as the US has begun to send extra aircraft in to NATO allied states to reassure them of continued American help, the question of US withdrawal from Europe is once again in people’s sight.

In March last year the last US tanks left Europe.  In the period since the start of Obama’s Presidency 10,000 personnel, comprising two entire tank divisions, came out of Europe.  This year was the first for 69 years in which there were no American tanks in Europe.

‘Good’ say some of those who are opposed to the projection of American power in the world.  But there are consequences to such actions and a hubris that comes with believing a protector is an enemy or confusing a force of liberation with one of domination.  Yet Europe’s reaction to American troops had always been mixed.  And now that that force has been scaled down significantly we are being reminded that there are few actions that do not have a reaction.

Vladimir Putin did not violate Ukrainian sovereignty because of the removal of American tanks but he did do so because he could – rightly – foresee few if any challengers to his ambition.  Perhaps there will remain no challenge to it.  But if there is to be a challenge, indeed if there is to be any restraint on Putin’s ambition the only country able to issue such restraint would be the US.

We have heard many watchwords over the Obama Presidency.  We have had the ‘reset’ with Russia.  And of course we have had the ‘pivot’ to Asia.  All noble policies, no doubt, but also policies which have been revealed to be misguided even where well meant.  A pivot to Eastern Europe is what is now needed.  And if anybody there is left wondering what the effects would be of greater American presence, they should be persuaded to think again first of what wholesale US withdrawal from their corner of the world would most likely precipitate.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command from Grafenwoehr, Germany. his file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Use of this image done not in any way infer endorsement of this column.