Which Strategy Really Ended the Great Depression? by Burton Folsom

“World War II got us out of the Great Depression.” Many people said that during the war, and some still do today. The quality of American life, however, was precarious during the war. Food was rationed, luxuries removed, taxes high, and work dangerous. A recovery that does not make—as Robert Higgs points out in Depression, War, and Cold War.

Franklin Roosevelt recognized that the war only provided a short-term fix for the economy—and a very costly one at that. What would happen after the war—when 12 million troops came home and the strong demand for guns, bullets, tanks, and ships ceased?

Roosevelt envisioned a New Deal revival. He had created the National Resources Planning Board (NRPB) in 1939 and urged it during the war to plan for peacetime. The NRPB leaders believed that government planning was necessary to promote economic development. They consciously (and sometimes unconsciously) followed ideas popularized in 1936 by John Maynard Keynes in his bestselling book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.

Capitalism was inherently unstable, Keynes argued, and would rarely provide full employment. Therefore government intervention was needed, especially in recessions, to spend massive amounts of money on public works, which would create new jobs, expand demand, and rebuild consumer confidence. Yes, government would need to run large deficits, but economic stability was society’s reward. If government planners could manage aggregate demand through public works, the boom-bust business cycle could be flattened and economic development could be managed in the national interest. No more Great Depressions. Man could indeed be master of his economic future.

Before and during the war Keynes’s ideas swept through the United States and first transformed the universities, then the political culture of the day. With statistics in hand and a near reverence for government, the Keynesians were the new generation of planners. They wanted to remake society. Not entrepreneurs, but economists were needed to gather data, plan government programs, and regulate economic development. Paul Samuelson, for example, a 21-year-old economics student, was cautious at first, but then euphoric after Keynes’s book was published. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven,” Samuelson wrote. Other economists soon accepted Keynes, and by the 1940s his ideas dominated the economics profession. In 1948, Samuelson would defend Keynes by writing the best-selling economics textbook of all time.

Planning for Peace

Those on the NRPB were among the excited disciples of Keynes and economic planning. The war itself seemed to be evidence that government jobs had pulled the U.S. economy out of the Depression. Now the economists and planners needed to take the nation’s helm to plan for peace.

According to Charles Merriam, vice president of the NRPB, “[I]t should be the declared policy of the United States government, supplementing the work of private agencies as a final guarantor if all else failed, to underwrite full employment for employables. . . .” That idea launched what Merriam and the NRPB dubbed “A New Bill of Rights.” FDR would call it his Economic Bill of Rights. Included was a right to a job “with fair pay and working conditions,” “equal access to education for all, equal access to health and nutrition for all, and wholesome housing conditions for all.”

New Bill of Rights

FDR viewed this Economic Bill of Rights as his tool for guaranteeing employment for veterans (and others) after World War II. But it was more than a mere jobs ploy; it had the potential to transform American society. The first Bill of Rights, which became part of the Constitution, emphasized free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion and assembly. They were freedoms from government interference. The right to speak freely imposes no obligation on anyone else to provide the means of communication. Moreover, others can listen or leave as they see fit.

But a right to a job, a house, or medical care imposes an obligation on others to pay for those things. The NRPB implied that the taxpayers as a group had a duty to provide the revenue to pay for the medical care, the houses, the education, and the jobs that millions of Americans would be demanding if the new bill of rights became law. In practical terms this meant that, say, a polio victim’s right to a wheelchair properly diminished all taxpayers’ rights to keep the income they had earned. In other words, the rights announced in the Economic Bill of Rights contradicted the property rights promised to Americans in their Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution.

FDR promoted his Economic Bill of Rights in his State of the Union message in 1944, but he died before the war ended. Shortly before his death, Senator James Murray (D-Mont.) introduced a full-employment bill into the Senate for discussion. The bill committed the government in a general way to provide jobs if unemployment became too high. Many leading Democrats and economists supported Murray’s bill. “In this session of Congress,” The New Republic reported, “one of the first bills to be introduced will no doubt be the full employment bill of 1945, designed to carry out item number one in the Economic Bill of Rights.” The Nation joined The New Republic in endorsing the full-employment bill. “Mr. Roosevelt’s program,” it concluded, “is squarely based on the best economic authority available. It is entirely consistent with the economic doctrines of the distinguished British economist Lord Keynes.”

On September 6, 1945, President Harry Truman gave a major speech in which he supported the Economic Bill of Rights, especially a full-employment bill. Most congressmen, however, rejected both. Rep. Harold Knutson (R-Minn.) said, “Nobody knows what the President’s full employment bill will cost American taxpayers, but the aggregate will be enormous.”

Instead, Knutson and many other congressmen favored cutting tax rates and slashing the size of government as the best measure to restore economic growth. Senator Albert Hawkes (R-N.J.) even argued that “the repeal of the excess-profits tax, in my opinion, may raise more revenue for the United States than would be raised if it were retained.” Hawkes proved to be prophetic. After vigorous debate Congress scrapped the Economic Bill of Rights and cut tax rates instead. American business then expanded, revenues to the Treasury increased to balance the federal budget, and unemployment was only 3.9 percent in 1946 and 1947. The Great Depression was over.

20121124_Folsom20121ABOUT BURTON FOLSOM

Burton Folsom, Jr. is a professor of history at Hillsdale College and author (with his wife, Anita) of FDR Goes to War.

10 Things You Need to Know About Boehner Suing Obama by Elizabeth Slattery

Last week, the House of Representatives voted to authorize Speaker John Boehner to file a lawsuit challenging President Obama’s failure to fully implement Obamacare. Specifically, the lawsuit will challenge the administration’s delay of the employer mandate—requiring many employers to provide health insurance or pay a fine—that was supposed to go into effect Jan. 1. It’s clear President Obama repeatedly has abused executive power to circumvent Congress and essentially rewrite the law, but this lawsuit still raises a host of questions.

Q: Can you sue the president?

Yes. Presidents enjoy immunity from lawsuits for civil damages resulting from their official acts, but they are not immune from all lawsuits. For example, the Supreme Court allowed Paula Jones’ suit for sexual harassment against President Clinton to proceed while he was in office. Further, members of Congress have filed dozens of lawsuits against presidents over the years. Most have been unsuccessful, usually because members fail to allege a sufficient injury. Since Boehner’s lawsuit will deal with implementing Obamacare, the suit likely will be brought against Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell and other executive branch officials charged with carrying out the law. It’s possible Obama won’t actually be named in the lawsuit.

Q: Who will represent the House in court?

The House’s Office of General Counsel routinely represents the House in legal disputes, such as suits to enforce congressional subpoenas or the Speech and Debate Clause. In the past, the House also has hired outside counsel, such as when the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Committee hired former Solicitor General Paul Clement to handle the Defense of Marriage Act litigation.

Q: How will this lawsuit be funded?

As with past lawsuits, the House will appropriate funds to pay for the litigation. The Committee on House Administration will make public quarterly statements in the Congressional Record detailing expenses.

Q: Does the Senate have a role?

The Senate probably is not required to join in the lawsuit. Under the Supreme Court’s precedents, members of Congress have standing to assert personal injuries or direct and concrete institutional injuries. In Coleman v. Miller (1939), the Supreme Court found a group of state senators demonstrated a sufficient institutional injury even though the suit was brought by 26 members of one chamber.

Q: Why would the House sue when it has other remedies?

Boehner has determined filing a lawsuit will be the most effective way to rein in the executive branch. Other remedies do exist—mainly appropriations and impeachment—but they require the Senate’s involvement. The House could try to leverage appropriations to encourage the president to faithfully execute the law, but as Boehner has pointed out, the Democratic Senate could refuse to pass such an appropriations bill. Similarly, impeachment requires conviction by two-thirds of the Senate. Although Boehner’s lawsuit may face obstacles, it would not require Senate concurrence.

Q: What happens if Obama loses?

Courts routinely enforce statutory mandates, such as the express deadlines in Obamacare that the executive branch has “relaxed.” Concerns the president would ignore the courts likely are unfounded. Even though Obama has complained about his losses, “There is no case in which he completely refused to follow a Supreme Court ruling he lost,” said Todd Gaziano,executive director of the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Washington, D.C., center.

Q: What happens if Boehner loses?

Before a court considers the merits of Boehner’s lawsuit, it first must decide whether the House has standing to bring this suit. If a court determines Boehner failed to establish Article III standing (a constitutional requirement for all lawsuits), it would result in dismissal of the case, but it would not mean the court agrees the president acted properly. If the suit is dismissed, it’s possible a private party may file suit, although the lack of private parties is one reason Boehner says his lawsuit is necessary. After members of Congress failed in their challenge to the Line Item Veto Act in Raines v. Byrd in 1997, the Supreme Court struck down the law when the City of New York and a group of private parties challenged it the next year.

Q: Didn’t Bush issue more executive orders than Obama?

Yes, but that is irrelevant to Boehner’s lawsuit. Executive orders are directives issued by the president to run the various parts of the executive branch—ranging from George Washington’s proclamation calling on the militia to put down the Whiskey Rebellion to Harry Truman’s order desegregating the armed forces. Most executive orders throughout our nation’s history are perfectly appropriate and non-controversial. Boehner’s lawsuit does not address Obama’s use of executive orders per se. Instead, the suit will challenge his failure to faithfully execute the law. The American Presidency Project, which has cataloged every executive order, says Bush issued 291 executive orders, Obama has issued 183 to date, and Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the most with more than 3,500.

Q: Will this open the floodgates for Congress and the Executive Branch to turn to the courts to resolve their disputes?

No. There have been plenty of lawsuits brought by members of Congress against presidents and other executive branch officials in the past. The Supreme Court has been pretty clear that courts should not entertain “sore loser” suits where members of Congress sue over a vote they lost. This suit will not change the judiciary’s reluctance to get involved in political disputes between the other branches of government.

Q: Now that the House has authorized the suit, what happens next?

The Wall Street Journal reports the House “isn’t expected to bring the suit for at least another month.” The House Office of General Counsel and any outside lawyers that will be involved in the case likely are deciding which court would be most advantageous and drafting the complaint which will lay out specific allegations as well as the relief the House will seek in its lawsuit.

Peter Bigelow contributed to preparing this Q&A.

ABOUT ELIZABETH SLATTERY

Portrait of Elizabeth Slattery

Elizabeth Slattery @EHSlattery

Elizabeth Slattery writes about the rule of law, the proper role of the courts, civil rights and equal protection, and the scope of constitutional provisions such as the Commerce Clause and the Recess Appointments Clause as a legal fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read her research.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio gives defining pro-family, pro-straight and pro-American speech

Florida Senator Marco Rubio has taken on social issues in a major speech given at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Senator Rubio is taking the high ground on issues that are important to the majority of Americans.

In “Strong Values for a Strong America” Rubio states, “A strong America is not possible without strong Americans – a people formed by the values necessary for success, the values of education and hard work, strong marriages and empowered parents. These are values that made us the greatest nation ever, and these are the values that will lead us to a future even better than our past.”

Rubio notes, “No one is born with the values crucial to the success sequence. They have to be taught to us and they have to be reinforced. Strong families are the primary and most effective teachers of these values. As the social philosopher Michael Novak once said, the family is the original and best department of health, education and welfare. It is crucial in developing the character of the young. And those efforts can be reinforced in our schools, religious institutions, civic groups and our society.”

Rubio comes out strong as the pro-family, pro-straight and pro-American candidate for President in 2016. Immediately after his speech Rubio was attacked for the following statement:

Now, I know that given the current cultural debates in our country, many expect that a speech on values would necessarily touch upon issues like same sex marriage and abortion. These are important issues and they relate to deeply held beliefs and deeply divisive ideas.

We should acknowledge that our history is marred by discrimination against gays and lesbians. There was once a time when the federal government not only banned the hiring of gay employees, it required private contractors to identify and fire them. Some laws prohibited gays from being served in bars and restaurants. And many cities carried out law enforcement efforts targeting gay Americans.

Fortunately, we have come a long way since then. But many committed gay and lesbian couples feel humiliated by the law’s failure to recognize their relationship as a marriage. And supporters of same sex marriage argue that laws banning same sex marriage are discrimination.

I respect their arguments. And I would concede that they pose a legitimate question for lawmakers and for society.

But there is another side of debate. Thousands of years of human history have shown that the ideal setting for children to grow up is with a mother and a father committed to one another, living together, and sharing the responsibility of raising their children. And since traditional marriage has such an extraordinary record of success at raising children into strong and successful adults, states in our country have long elevated this institution and set it apart in our laws.

That is the definition of marriage that I personally support – not because I seek to discriminate against people who love someone of the same sex, but because I believe that the union of one man and one woman is a special relationship that has proven to be of great benefit to our society, our nation and our people, and therefore deserves to be elevated in our laws.

Watch the YouTube video of Rubio’s speech:

Read the full text of Rubio’s speech here.

In Florida 1 million Christians either did not register or did not vote in the 2010 general election. Obama won Florida by less than 80,000 votes. Perhaps Rubio is on to something?

When tolerance becomes a one-way street it leads to at best religious intolerance and at its worst social suicide. Rubio has taken the moral high ground.

RELATED ARTICLE: ‘Straight White Guy’ Festival Outrages Same-Sex Marriage Supporters

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of  M.Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO.

AGENDA: Grinding America Down

All American citizens who hold their FREEDOM dear, and support family values should watch the below listed video entitled “AGENDA: Grinding America Down.”   We’ve received thousands of E-mails each week for 5 years; “AGENDA: Grinding America Down” is one of the most significant presentations we’ve viewed over these past 5 years.

Before you watch “AGENDA: Grinding America Down”, please watch this 19 second video:

The video is about the values you want to ensure your children & your extended family members benefit from, it supports the different religious faiths that provide the foundation upon which human values are based, it’s about supporting the members of the US Armed Forces—many of whom gave their last full measure of devotion in order to defend the Republic—it is mainly about the FREEDOMS accorded to all American citizens in the US Constitution by the Founding Fathers.

AGENDA: Grinding America Down

Using Obama’s own words, when he said that he fully intends to “fundamentally transform” our 238 year old Republic; we now have witnessed his true goal to create a Socialist State by any means necessary.  By repealing President Clinton’s requirement that welfare recipients must work for financial aid from the government, over the past 6 years, Obama has managed to enroll a record number of Americans and illegal immigrants in government welfare program with 40 million on food stamps, and millions of new recipients on the disability rolls.

Obama has been framing traditional US work ethics as the foolish belief that President Ronald Reagan once supported, with President Reagan’s thesis that anyone can lift themselves up by their bootstraps being the promise that always has been America and the success that comes about from hard work.  In order to “fundamentally transform America”,  Obama in his speeches and his bloated bureaucracy has been working to replace President Reagan’s well held belief  in American’s work ethic, that contributed to the most successful economy in the history of mankind with something that has never worked in any country in history.  Obama wants to replace American work ethic with the Marxist principal that government must distribute the wealth created by hard working Americans to those who have little interest in working.  Obama wants to more heavily tax the top 10% of successful American earners who already pay 68% of all the taxes in the nation each year (the bottom 50% of earners in America pay 3% of all the taxes).

Obama’s unrelenting attack on the Second Amendment and the right of American citizen’s to bear arms, and the protections accorded all American citizens by provisions of  the Second Amendment that is under relentless assault by the Obama administration.  Obama’s use of the IRS to suppress the rights of conservative Americans who were trying to exercise their right to participate in a national presidential elections should have a special Prosecutor assigned, but Holder refuses to appoint one.   Obama is also using Holder’s Justice Department to prevent states from issuing voter IDs to endure American citizens only vote once, in the last presidential election 7 million voters voted in two states; voter fraud was not controlled; the fear of rampant voter fraud looms large in the November election.

AGENDA Grinding America Down graph

For a larger view click on the chart

The Obama administration will eventually meet with serious and widespread “unorganized” opposition from American citizens because of his violation of Federal Laws, Immigration Laws, and provisions of the US Constitution.   The  Obama administration has been preparing for possible citizen’s unrest, by creating heavily arming federal police force swat teams in the Capital Police Force, Park Police, DHS, the Wildlife Service, the Marshal Service, in the IRS, the Postal Police, the Department of Defense Police, the Federal Protective Service, the Secret Service, and Obama ‘s National Police Force authorized & funded by the Obamacare Law, while providing DHS with armored vehicles, and purchasing excessive amounts of ammunition (more than the US Army and the US Marine Corps uses each year in training their personnel).

The most important Congressional election in 238 years will be held in about 3 months, we encourage you to support the endorsed Combat Veterans For Congress listed in the attachment.  They have the courage to stand up to bureaucratic excesses, will work to rein in the out of control spending by irresponsible members of Congress & the Obama administration, and will protect and defend the US Constitution.

Root Cause of the “Income Equality” Crisis — The Federal Reserve’s Monetary Policy

The latest political slogan is “income equality.” Various news outlets report that the rich are getting richer and poor getting poorer. Various politicians cry out for more government intervention, more government programs and expanded government funding to address this national crisis. Cries are heard daily from politicians to raise the minimum wage.

But who is really behind this growing income inequality crisis? According to one monetary policy expert it is the U.S. Federal Reserve.

James Rickards in his book “The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System” explains how this has happened in America and will happen again. Rickards writes, “Critics from Richard Cantillon in the early eighteenth century to V.I. Lenin and John Maynard Keynes in the twentieth have been unanimous in their view that inflation is the stealth destroyer of savings, capital, and economic growth.”

Rickards warns, “Inflation often begins imperceptibly and gains a foothold before it is recognized. This lag in comprehension, important to central banks, is called money illusion, a phrase that refers to a perception that real wealth is being created, so that Keynesian ‘animal spirits’ are aroused. Only later is it discovered that bankers and astute investors captured the wealth, and everyday citizens are left with devalued savings, pensions and life insurance.” [Emphasis mine]

Rickards finds that the 1960s and 1970s are “a good case study in money illusion.” “Two lessons from the 1960s and 1970s are highly pertinent today. The first is that inflation can gain substantial momentum before the general public notices it… Second, once inflation perceptions shift, they are extremely difficult to reset,” states Rickards.

Is the Federal Reserve contributing to a money illusion?

According to Rickards, “[S]ince 2008 the Federal Reserve has printed over $3 trillion of new money, but without stoking much inflation in the United States. Still, the Fed has set an inflation target of at least 2.5 percent, possibly higher, and will not relent in printing money until that target is achieved. The Fed sees inflation as a way to dilute the real value of U.S. debt and avoid the specter of deflation. There in lies a major risk.” [Emphasis mine]

Rickards notes history tells is, “[A] feedback loop will emerge in which higher inflation leads to higher inflation expectations, to even higher inflation, and so on. The Fed will not be able to arrest this feedback loop because its dynamic is a function not of monetary policy but of human behavior.”

Rickards predicts:

  1. Skyrocketing gold prices and a crashing dollar;
  2. Russian, China and the International Monetary Fund will stand ready with gold and SDRs, not dollars, to provide a new reserve asset; and
  3. When the dollar next falls from the high wire, there will be no safety net.

Richards in his book notes, “The coming collapse of the dollar and the international monetary system is entirely foreseeable… The international monetary system has collapsed three times in the past century – in 1914, 1939 and 1971. Each collapse was followed by a tumultuous period.”

Santelli-Rick-rant-chart-July-2014-300x157Rick Santelli explains what he believes is happening in the U.S. today. Brian Maloney from MediaEqualizer.com writes: “So what exactly are his [Santelli’s] points? It’s actually simple.” (see chart right):

  1. By keeping interest rates artificially low, the Janet Yellen led Federal Reserve has encouraged reckless government borrowing and spending while crushing savers, especially America’s retirees.
  2. The Fed has focused all its efforts on making the rich even richer through Quantitative Easing while working people suffer and are ignored by Washington’s elite.

Who wins and who loses when there is another financial crisis like the DOT.com bust in 2000 and the housing crisis of 2008? The winners are the bankers and savey investors (the 1%) and their political allies. The losers left holding the bag are citizens living on Main Street U.S.A.

RELATED ARTICLES: 

Billionaire Warns: Yellen Collapse ‘Will Be Unlike Any Other’
Bubble Paranoia Setting In as S&P 500 Surge Stirs Angst – Bloomberg
Bank for International Settlements fears fresh Lehman crisis from worldwide debt surge – Telegraph
Deficit To Soon Skyrocket To Historic World War II Heights
OECD Fears Middle Class Civil Unrest Is Coming | Zero Hedge

Larry Grathwohl: Remembering an American Hero a Year Later

Larry Grathwohl was one of a disappearing breed, from the working class, an American patriot, who had a clear moral vision. He fought communists in the jungles of Vietnam and then in their clandestine cells here in America. He was a gentleman, respectful of women, a loving father and grandfather.

year after his untimely death, I still feel his absence. I hear his corny jokes. When I hear a funny phrase, I can hear him repeating it obsessively. In May 2013, he and Tina Trent and I were speaking to tea party groups in Florida about the republication of Larry’s book about infiltrating the Weather Underground, Bringing Down America. Larry’s sense of humor helped bring lightness to our grim and ugly subject, Bill Ayers and the group he cofounded, Weatherman, which became the Weather Underground.

After a summer break, we were to resume our tour. Then we got the devastating news that Larry had been found dead in his apartment on July 18, 2013.

I had met Larry at one of Cliff Kincaid’s conferences several years ago. Cliff is a fearless advocate for the forgotten victims of communist terrorist groups like the Weatherman. I was discussing my report about how Bill Ayers, terrorist-turned-education-professor, indoctrinated students toward his Marxist revolutionary plan. Larry talked about his experiences as an infiltrator, about Weather Underground’s murderous plans and actions. One of these actions—the bombing of a Detroit police station–he sabotaged.

Larry described such tasks and those he faced while serving in Vietnam matter-of-factly, never with bravado. He used the survival strategies he had learned in Vietnam and applied them to the very dangerous work of living in the cells of these revolutionaries.

During breaks between tea party events last year, Larry was reading Cathy Wilkerson’s “Flying Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as a Weatherman.” Every few pages he’d have to stop because of his astonishment at her lack of remorse. We would compare her account with Bill Ayers’s versions. After serving time in prison, Wilkerson, like most of the other terrorists, went into teaching.

In recalling his days with the Weathermen, Larry repeatedly wondered aloud how such a group of privileged and college-educated young adults could casually discuss their plans for putting Americans into reeducation camps after the Revolution—and eliminate those who refused to be reeducated. Larry recounted Ayers’s lack of concern after Larry had warned him about the number of innocent people who would be killed if Ayers’s bomb intended for a Detroit police station went off. Ayers and these same academics now talk about “white privilege.” But these sons and daughters of real privilege cared not a whit about the victims, black and white, of their bombs, whether those in a Detroit restaurant or the black and white policemen and guards murdered in the 1981 Brinks Armored Car robbery.

Not even a full year after Larry’s death, the blowhard, Bill Ayers, was the celebrity/revolutionary-academic guest on Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show. I was sickened by hearing her call him “Professor” and hearing him glibly lie about his past in his put-on soft voice. At an earlier time in America, Bill Ayers’s nonsensical and polemical “scholarship” would have gotten him a firm “no thank you” by a university hiring committee. Instead, he quickly became “Distinguished Professor of Education” at the University of Illinois at Chicago. At another time, his preening and obfuscating would have gotten him hard-hitting questions from the press. Now he is given celebrity status on the only “conservative” cable news program.

Ayers’s “pal” Barack Obama is in the White House and “bringing down America”–not with actual bombs but with a radical transformation: nationalizing healthcare and education, undermining the military and police, using agencies like the IRS to persecute law-abiding citizens, increasing dependence on government programs, flooding the borders with third-world future voters, and choking the middle class.

Be prepared for pardons for the few remaining terrorists in prison, including David Gilbert, serving a 75-year sentence for three counts of felony murder in the Brinks case.

Larry is no longer around to rebut Ayers’s lies. Ayers lied about Larry on Fox News, without a challenge from Megyn Kelly. Larry’s book and testimony are there to read.

Fox could not invite Larry onto the program. But he has many friends and colleagues who knew him and loved him and know the real story. We are celebrating the life of Larry Grathwohl, true American hero, at the website for his book and story.

The event is being coordinated by Larry’s daughter, Lindsay, and Tina Trent, publisher.

They write, “We are asking that bloggers, radio folks, podcasters, and others in the media use July 18th to tell the truth about violent leftist radicals like Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.” They invite everyone to participate. Contact them at bringingdownamerica@gmail.com.

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

Florida is a Top Ten State for Central American Illegal Settlement (infographic)

Nicole Rusenko, a senior designer at The Heritage Foundation, and Kelsey Harris, the visual editor at The Daily Signal, created an infographic that tells the immigration story. Note on the infographic that Florida is one of the top states for Central American illegals to migrate. There has been a 234% increase in illegals from Guatemala, Salvador and Honduras.

central american immigration infographic

For a larger printable version click on the image.

Walter Williams speaks at the Foundation for Economic Education

Prof. Williams delivered the following to an audience in Irvington, New York, on June 28, 2014. Williams’ lecture is one in a series designed to share ideas, honor FEE’s rich tradition, and say goodbye to the Irvington property.

Let us begin with a discussion of a working definition of markets. Markets are simply millions upon millions, and internationally billions upon billions, of individual decision-makers, engaged in the pursuit of what they determine to be their best interests. We say that the market is free if it is characterized by peaceable, voluntary exchange, private property rights, rule of law, and limited government intervention and control. While some people denounce free markets as immoral, the reality is exactly the opposite. Free markets are more moral than any other system of resource allocation. Let’s talk about the moral superiority of free markets.

Suppose you hire me to mow your lawn and afterwards you pay me $30. The money you pay me might be thought of as a certificate of performance—proof that I served you. With these certificates of performance (money) in hand, I go to my grocer and demand 3 pounds of steak and a six-pack of beer that my fellow man produced. In effect, the grocer says, “Williams, you’re asking that your fellow man, as ranchers and brewers, serve you. What did you do in turn to serve your fellow man?” I say, “I mowed my fellow man’s lawn.” The grocer says, “Prove it!” That’s when I hand over my certificates of performance—the $30.

A system that requires that I serve my fellow man in order to have a claim on what he produces is far more moral than government resource allocation. The government can, in effect say, justifying it with one reason or another, “Williams, you don’t have to serve your fellow man in order to have a claim on what he produces. Through the tax code, we’ll take what he produces and give it to you.” Of course, if I were to privately take what my fellow man produced, we’d call it theft. The only difference is when the government does it, that theft is legal but nonetheless theft—which is defined as taking of one person’s rightful property to give to another.

The essence of free markets is good-good exchanges, or what I like to think of as seduction. Exchanges of this sort are featured by the proposition: “I’ll do something good for you if you do something good for me.” Game theorists recognize this as a positive-sum game—a transaction where both parties, in their own estimation, are better off as a result. When I go to my grocer and offer him the following proposition: If you do something good for me—give me that gallon of milk—I’ll do something good for you—give you three dollars. As a result, I am better off because I valued the milk more than I valued the three dollars and he is better off because he valued the three dollars more than he valued the gallon of milk.

Of course there’s another type of exchange not typically, voluntarily entered into, namely good-bad exchanges, or what we might call rape. An example of that kind of exchange would be where I approached my grocer with a pistol, telling him that if he didn’t do something good for me (give me that gallon of milk) I’d do something bad to him: blow his brains out. Clearly, I would be better off, but he would be worse off. Game theorists call that a zero-sum game. That’s the case where in order for one person to be better off, of necessity the other must be worse off. Zero-sum games are transactions mostly initiated by thieves and governments, both are involved in what is euphemistically called income redistribution. The only difference is one does it under the color of the law and the other doesn’t.

The wonders of greed

What human motivation is responsible for getting the most wonderful things done? I would say greed. When I use the term greed, I do not mean cheating, stealing, fraud, and other acts of dishonesty, I mean people seeking to get the most for themselves. Unfortunately, many people are naive enough to believe that it compassion, concern, and “feeling another’s pain” are the superior human motivations. As such we fall easy prey to charlatans, quacks, and hustlers.

Since it’s not considered polite, and surely not politically correct to come out and actually say that greed gets wonderful things done, let me go through a few of the millions of examples of the wonders of greed. It’s a wonderful thing that most of us own cars. Is there anyone who believes that the reason we have cars is because Detroit assembly line workers care about us? It’s also wonderful that Texas cattle ranchers make the sacrifices of time and effort caring for steer so that New Yorkers can have beef on their supermarket shelves. It is also wonderful that Idaho potato growers arise early to do back-breaking work in the hot sun to ensure that New Yorkers also have potatoes on their supermarket shelves. Again, is there anyone who believes that ranchers and potato growers, who make these sacrifices, do so because they care about New Yorkers? They might hate New Yorkers. New Yorkers have beef and potatoes because Texas cattle ranchers and Idaho potato growers care about themselves and they want more for themselves. How much steak and potatoes would New Yorkers have if it all depended on human love and kindness? I would feel sorry for New Yorkers. Reasoning this way bothers some people because they are more concerned with the motives behind a set of actions rather than the results.

This is what Adam Smith, the father of economics, meant in The Wealth of Nations when he said, “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interests.” In other words, the public good is promoted best by people pursuing their own private interests.

Parity of the market

There is another feature of the free market that often goes unappreciated. That is a sort of parity of the marketplace. The market is an extreme form of democracy: one man, one vote. While the rich have many more dollars than I have, my one dollar is just as valuable as a rich man’s one dollar.  One might assert that common people do not have access to Rolls Royces and yachts. You would be wrong. Microsoft’s Bill Gates is super-rich and can afford to ride in a Rolls Royce and go yachting; but so can the common man—just not for as long. He can rent a Rolls or a yacht for a day, half-day or an hour. This is something often forgotten: People can bid on quantity as well as price.

The fruits of the free market are the best thing that ever happened to the common man. The rich have always had access to entertainment, often in the comfort of their palaces and mansions. The rich have never had to experience the drudgery of having to beat out carpets, iron their clothing or slave over a hot stove all day in order to have a decent dinner. They could afford to hire people. Mass production and marketing have made radios and televisions, vacuum cleaners, wash-and-wear clothing and microwave ovens available and well within the means of the common man; thus sparing him of the boredom and drudgery of the past. Today, the common man has the power to enjoy much (and more) of what only the rich could afford yesteryear.

What about those who became wealthy producing these comforts available to the common man? Henry Ford benefitted immensely from mass producing automobiles but the benefits received by the common man, from being able to buy a car, dwarfs anything Ford received. Individuals who founded companies that produced penicillin, polio, and typhoid vaccines may have become very wealthy—but again, it was the common man who was the major beneficiary. In more recent times, computers and software products have benefitted our health, safety, and quality of life in ways that dwarf whatever wealth received by their creators.

Capitalism is relatively new in human history. Prior to the rise of capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. Capitalism made it possible to become wealthy by serving one’s fellow man. Capitalists seek to discover what people want and then produce and market it as efficiently as possible. Here’s a question that we should ponder in light of anti-market demagoguery: Are people who by their actions created unprecedented convenience, longer life expectancy, and made more fun available for the ordinary person—and became wealthy in the process—deserving of all the scorn and ridicule heaped upon them by intellectuals and politicians? Are the wealthy really obliged to “give something back?” After all, for example, what more do the wealthy discoverers and producers of, say, life-saving antibiotics owe us? They’ve already saved lives and made us healthier.

Despite the miracles of capitalism, it doesn’t do well in popularity polls. One of the reasons is that capitalism is always evaluated against the nonexistent, unrealizable utopias of socialism or communism. Any earthly system, when compared to a Utopia, will pale in comparison. But for the ordinary person, capitalism, with all of its warts, is superior to any system yet devised to deal with our everyday needs and desires.

Rights versus wishes

Often people speak of rights to housing, medical care, food, and other goods and services deemed necessary for the sustenance of life. That vision leads to gross violations of most standards of morality. In standard usage of the term, a right, sometimes called negative rights, is something that exists simultaneously among people. A right confers no obligation on another. For example, the right to free speech is something we all possess simultaneously. My right to free speech imposes no obligation upon another except that of non-interference. Similarly, I have a right to travel freely. That right imposes no obligation upon another except that of non-interference.

Contrast those rights to the supposed right to medical care or decent housing whether one can afford them or not. Through government actions, those supposed rights do impose obligations upon others. Government has no resources of its very own. The money coming from federal, state and local governments to pay for those “rights” does not come from politicians reaching into their own pockets. Moreover, there is no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy who provides the money. The recognition that government has no resources of it very own forces one to recognize that the only way government can give one person a dollar is to first take it from someone else. A government-granted right to medical care, housing or anything else imposes an obligation on another, namely one American have less of something else—diminished rights to his earnings. That is, if one person has a right to something he did not earn, it requires another to not have a right to something he did earn. Let’s apply this bogus concept of rights—some might call it positive rights—to free speech and the right to travel freely. In that case, my free speech rights would require others to supply me with an auditorium, microphone and audience. My right to travel would require that others provide me with airplane tickets and hotel accommodations. Most Americans, I would imagine, would tell me, “Williams, yes you have rights to free speech and travel rights, but I’m not obligated to pay for them!”

As human beings we all have certain unalienable rights, as so eloquently stated in our Declaration of Independence. Of the rights we possess, we have a right to delegate to government. For example, we all have a right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate it to government. In other words, we can say to government, “We have the right to defend ourselves but for a more orderly society, we delegate to you the authority to defend us.” By contrast, I do not possess the right to take the property of one person to give to another. Since I do not possess such a right, I cannot delegate it to government. If you’re a Christian or simply a moral human being, you should be against these so-called rights. After all, when God gave Moses the Eighth Commandment—”Thou shalt not steal”—I’m sure that he didn’t mean thou shalt not steal unless there was a majority vote in Congress. Moreover, I’m sure that if you were to have a heart-to-heart talk with God and ask him, “God, is it okay to be a recipient of stolen property?” I’m guessing He would say that being a recipient of stolen property is a sin as well. I strongly believe in helping our fellow man in need. Doing so by reaching into one’s own pockets to help him is praiseworthy and laudable. Reaching into someone else’s pockets to do so is despicable and worthy of condemnation.

The common good

If the common good or social justice has any operational meaning at all, it means that there is a system of governance where the purpose of laws is to prevent one person from violating another person’s right to acquire, keep and dispose of property in any manner so long as he does not violate another’s similarly held rights. In other words, laws should be written to prevent force and fraud. Laws that force one person to serve the purposes of another are immoral.

Today, our government has become increasingly destructive of the ends it was created to serve. Americans have become increasingly hostile and alien to the liberties envisioned by the Framers. We have disregarded the inscription that graces the wall at the U.S. Department of Justice warning, “Where the law ends tyranny begins.” Benjamin Franklin said, “A frequent reference to the fundamental principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty, and keep a free government.” That’s the job that the Foundation for Economic Education has done so well over the decades.

There Used to be Bipartisan Support for Religious Freedom. What Happened?

Kelsey Harris the visual editor at The Daily Signal and digital media associate at The Heritage Foundation created the below infographic on religious freedom. I found it meaningful and informative on the push back by Democrats against businesses like Hobby Lobby and the SCOTUS.

140709_1993religfreedom_final-01

For a larger view click on the image.

How School Board member Shirley Brown sold out Sarasota County public school students for $3.5 million

Shirley Brown WEB

Shirley Brown, Democrat Candidate for Sarasota County School Board, District 4.

Shirley Brown is the Democrat candidate for the Sarasota County School Board in District 4. A campaign fund raising letter states, “Shirley Brown is Proudly Leading our A-Rated School District into 21st Century Excellence!” The letter tout’s Browns “Sound Fiscal Management”, “Educational Excellence” and “Legislative Leadership.”

But are these statements true?

Under Brown’s “legislative leadership” the Sarasota County School District applied for a U.S. Department of Education Race To The Top grant. The District’s application #0059 for RTTT grant tells an interesting story. The U.S. Department of Education review of the RTTT grant application under “Articulating a comprehensive and coherent [education] reform vision” states:

This application lacks a comprehensive and coherent reform vision.

(a) No clear understanding of what this [RTTT] program entails – there was a lack of details around the four core educational assurances. They were listed and spoken about with definitions of what is benig [sic] talked about but no plan to implement. CCSS were mentioned and implemented per state requirement but no vision of how to proceed forward.

(b) No clear evidence of deepending [sic] student learning and increasing equity

(c) Lack of details concerning specific classroom experiences that students will experience or can be identified.

The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) reviewer concludes, “The applicants [Sarasota County School Board] vision does not include a high quality plan and is not likely to result in improved student learning.” Read the full U.S. DOE review here.

After the failed U.S. DOE application, the District submitted an application to the Florida Department of Education to receive funding to implement RTTT. Florida received $700 million in RTTT money in 2009. In this case the District received $3.5 million to be used over a four year period. On January 5, 2010 Brown, and the School Board, accepted the funding and agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the FLDOE. This MOU is a prime example of Brown’s “fiscal, legislative and educational excellence leadership.”

But what strings come attached to the federal RTTT funding according to the MOU?

According to the Memorandum of Understanding between the School Board (Local Education Agency – LEA) and the FLDOE, “In order to participate, the LEA must agree to implement all applicable portions of the State Plan…”

What does the State Plan require?

The MOU states, “[The School Board] Is familiar with the State’s Race to the Top grant application and is supportive of the goals and plans for implementation and is committed to working on all applicable portions of the State Plan… [The Board] Will propose a comprehensive, interconnected plan that will drive continuous improvement of students, teachers, and principals based upon specific goals and benchmarks.” These goals and benchmarks are being developed by the state, outside corporations and non-profit entities.

This addresses Brown’s “educational leadership.” The key element of the State Reform Plan is:

Through Race to the Top, the Department is poised to weave a common core of rigorous standards and assessments into a pioneering data system that will serve as a foundation to attract, retain, and support top notch teachers and school leaders who will, in turn, improve student achievement in our schools.

When Brown signed on to taking this federal RTTT grant, she gave up her ability to “educationally lead students into the 21st century” and impact “educational excellence.” But Brown knows that as she voted for the MOU. Brown committed all the public school students be put into the Federal Common Core State Standards box of one size fits all.

Paul DiPerna from the Friedman Foundation writes, “When it comes to developing and implementing academic standards, Americans believe teachers and school district officials should take the lead.” The Friedman Foundation’s “Schooling in America Survey” found “respondents suggest it may be preferable for parents to play a larger role in development rather than implementation. Government officials at the state and federal levels should take a backseat in both.”

What did Brown get out of this in exchange for the loss of local educational control, corporate data mining of Sarasota County students, more teaching to the Common Core test standards, and an expanded teacher evaluation system tied to standardized tests? Why $3.5 million.

Is Shirley Brown “Leading our A-Rated School District into 21st Century Excellence?” Is this the kind of “leader” Sarasota County wants on the School Board? We shall see on Tuesday, August 26th.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Fewer B’s and more C’s for Sarasota schools
Florida: Sarasota County School Board Candidate calls those who question Common Core “conspiracy theorists”
States Push Back Against Common Core in Their Schools
Dr. Duke Pesta on the Shocking K-12 Common Core Sexual Education Standards

Progressives: “I Prefer Security to Freedom” by Leonard E. Read

Many people wander unwittingly into socialism, gulled by assumptions they have not tested. One popular but misleading assumption is that security and freedom are mutually exclusive alternatives—that to choose one is to forego the other.

In the United States during the past century, more people achieved greater material security than their ancestors had ever known in any previous society. Large numbers of people in this country accumulated a comfortable nest egg, so that “come hell or high water”—depressions, old age, sickness, or whatever—they could rely on the saved fruits of their own labor (and/or that of family members, friends, or parishioners) to carry them through any storm or temporary setback. By reason of unprecedented freedom of choice, unparalleled opportunities, provident living, and the right to the fruits of their own labor—private property—they were able to meet the many exigencies that arise in the course of a lifetime.

We think of these enviable, personal achievements as security. But this type of security is not an alternative to freedom; rather, it is an outgrowth of freedom. This traditional security stems from freedom as the oak from an acorn. It is not a case of either/or; one without the other is impossible. Freedom sets the stage for all the security available in this uncertain world.

Security in its traditional sense, however, is not what the progressives are talking about when they ask, “Wouldn’t you rather have security than freedom?” They have in mind what Maxwell Anderson called “the guaranteed life,” or the arrangement described by Karl Marx, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Under this dispensation, the political apparatus, having nothing at its disposal except the police force, uses this force to take the property of the more well-to-do in order to dispense the loot among the less well-to-do. In theory, at least, that’s all there is to it—a leveling procedure!

Admittedly, this procedure appears to attract millions of our fellow citizens. It relieves them, they assume, of the necessity of looking after themselves; Uncle Sam is standing by with bags of forcibly collected largess.

To the unwary, this looks like a choice between security and freedom. But, in fact, it is the choice between the self-responsibility of a free man or the slave-like security of a ward of the government. Thus, if a person were to say, “I prefer being a ward of the government to exercising the personal practice of freedom,” he would at least be stating the alternatives in correct terms.

One need not be a profound sociologist to realize that the ward-of-the-government type of “security” does preclude freedom for all three parties involved. Those from whom their property is taken obviously are denied the freedom to use what they’ve earned from their labor. Secondly, people to whom the property is given—who get something for nothing—are forfeiting the most important reason for living: the freedom to be responsible for oneself. The third party in this setup—the authoritarian who does the taking and the giving—also loses his freedom.

Nor need one be a skilled economist to understand how the guaranteed life leads to general insecurity. Whenever government assumes responsibility for the security, welfare, and prosperity of citizens, the costs of government rise beyond the point where it is politically expedient to cover them by direct tax levies. At this point—usually 20–25 percent of the people’s earned income—the government resorts to deficit financing and inflation. Inflation—increasing the volume of the money supply to cover deficits—means a dilution of the money’s purchasing power. Unless arrested by a change in thinking and in policy, this process leads to all “guarantees” becoming worthless, and a general insecurity follows.

The true and realistic alternatives are insecurity or security. Insecurity must follow the transfer of responsibility from self to others, particularly when transferred to arbitrary and capricious government. Genuine security is a matter of self-responsibility, based on the right to the fruits of one’s own labor and the freedom to trade.

Leonard E. Read

Founder and President
Foundation for Economic Education, 1946–1983

Summary

  • True security is an outgrowth of freedom, not an alternative to it.
  • Being dependent, instead of being independent, is a move away from true security.
  • Read’s observation more than half a century ago that increasing reliance on a welfare state for security would produce financial problems seems positively prescient today. Consider our $17.5 trillion national debt as evidence.
  • The real choice is not between freedom and security but between security and insecurity.
  • For further information, see these articles:

“Victims of Social Leveling” by Leonard E. Read: http://www.fee.org/files/docLib/SocialLeveling.pdf

“Big Government—Big Risk” by David R. Henderson: http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/big-government-big-risk

“Freedom vs. Security: The False Alternative” by Noah Stahl: http://theundercurrent.org/freedom-versus-security-the-false-alternative/

“Liberty or Security?” by Bas Van Der Vossen:http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2013/06/liberty-or-security/

ABOUT LEONARD E. READ

Leonard E. Read (1898-1983) was the founder of FEE, and the author of 29 works, including the classic parable “I, Pencil.”

ABOUT THE CLICHES OF PROGRESSIVISM

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The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) is proud to partner with Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to produce “Clichés of Progressivism,” a series of insightful commentaries covering topics of free enterprise, income inequality, and limited government.

Our society is inundated with half-truths and misconceptions about the economy in general and free enterprise in particular. The “Clichés of Progressivism” series is meant to equip students with the arguments necessary to inform debate and correct the record where bias and errors abound.

The antecedents to this collection are two classic FEE publications that YAF helped distribute in the past: Clichés of Politics, published in 1994, and the more influential Clichés of Socialism, which made its first appearance in 1962. Indeed, this new collection will contain a number of essays from those two earlier works, updated for the present day where necessary. Other entries first appeared in some version in FEE’s journal, The Freeman. Still others are brand new, never having appeared in print anywhere. They will be published weekly on the websites of both YAF and FEE: www.yaf.org and www.FEE.org until the series runs its course. A book will then be released in 2015 featuring the best of the essays, and will be widely distributed in schools and on college campuses.

See the index of the published chapters here.

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

What Has Happened to Protests in America?

Photo: Murrietta, CA protest against dumping of illegal aliens by feds.

The U.S. began with protests that evolved into a full scale rebellion we call the Revolution. Throughout our history, there have been many protests and those against slavery evolved into the Civil War. War—whether for or against it—has been a prime generator of protests.

On the evenings of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday Megyn Kelly of Fox News interviewed Bill Ayers, the leader of the Weather Underground, a group he cofounded in 1969 as a self-described communist revolutionary group. These days he calls himself “a Communist with a small ‘c’”

During the early 1970s the group engaged in bombings to protest the war in Vietnam. During the interview, Ayers insisted that he and others only bombed property and did not kill anyone, although at one point a group he described as breakaway was planning to kill officers, their wives and girlfriends attending a dance at a military base, but instead they were killed when their bombs went off in a New York townhouse. Neither Ayers nor his wife, Bernadine Dohrn ever served time for their bombings. Both entered academia. Ayers taught at the University of Illinois for many years.

obama-nation-free-readAs Jerome R. Corsi reported in his 2008 book, “The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality”, he noted that when Alice Palmer, an Illinois state senator decided to run for Congress, “she went out of her way to name Obama as her handpicked successor.” Palmer was a dedicated Communist and admirer of the then-Soviet Union. In 1995, “To get Obama’s state senate race off to a good start, Palmer arranged a function for a few influential liberals in the district, at the Hyde Park home of Weather Underground activists, Ayers and Dohrn.”

Corsi wrote, “Palmer would never have introduced Obama to the Hyde Park political community at the Ayers-Dohrn home unless she saw an affinity between Ayers and Dohrn’s radical leftist history, her own history of far-leftists politics, and the politics of Barack Obama.” Ayers and Obama would serve together on the board of the Woods Fund for three years, beginning in 1999, the year Obama joined it.

Megyn Kelly did not explore the Obama-Ayers relationship. When he campaigned in 2008, it was brushed off as their just being “neighbors” in Hyde Park and it was pointed out that Obama was about eight years old when Ayers was bombing in the name of his leftist revolution. Between then and when he met Ayers in 1995 Obama had grown up in a family of far-leftists and had been mentored in Hawaii by Frank Marshall Davis, a card-carrying member of the Communist Party USA.

It did not surprise me to hear Bill Ayers say on Wednesday evening that he was not proud to be an American and did not consider it an exceptional nation. In both cases, he was reflecting the result of a recent Pew Research poll that indicated that self-described liberals expressed these views.

I recall the bombings of the 1970s. There were lots of them, along with massive marches in Washington, D.C. to protest the Vietnam War. I recall the Civil Rights movement that used marches and other non-violent means to achieve their goals. Earlier the suffrage movement and secured the vote for women.

DC Tea PartyIt strikes me that the present generation of both young and older Americans seem to be devoid of much, if any, rebellion against an intrusive government, except for expressions of it on their blogs and in their tweets. We surely do not need bombings, but only the protest against Obamacare in 2009 managed to evoke a significant turnout in Washington. D.C. Since its passage it has proven to be a nightmare for everyone.

Much has changed from the era of the 1970s and the resistance to the war in Vietnam. The wars that followed 9/11, first in Afghanistan and later in Iraq, did not evoke much protest. Initially they were popular. The first Iraq conflict, 1990-91, drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and was so swift and successful that the troops were welcomed home with parades. The 2003 invasion, however, devolved into a sense of weariness as 4,500 casualties and over a trillion dollars seemed to achieve nothing
substantive.

What was different? In the 1960s the leftist teachers unions had begun to exercise increasing control over the curriculums being taught. By 1979, Jimmy Carter signed off on a Department of Education that began operations in 1980. Earlier, conscription for military service was replaced by an all-volunteer military in the 1970s. Those of us that served prior to that understand the value of the draft and the service it required because it forged a bond between a man and his nation. These days, of course, it is a very different military with females, as well as openly gay members.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the economy was robust. The generations being born and coming of age received a relatively poor, but thoroughly liberal education regarding U.S. history and civics. On graduation they could focus on jobs, family, and “the good life.” There was little to protest and even less initiative to do so. Even Bush 43’s Iraq war generated little by way of an organized protest.

The 2008 financial crisis left no room for protest in the lives of Americans because the economy left millions unemployed and/or dependent on a government welfare program. It was a perfect time for Obama to suddenly emerge as a candidate for President. He had a celebrity’s personality and he was black, affording generations of liberals the opportunity to fulfill the promise of equality that had begun in the 1960s. He promised “hope and change.” He delivered years in which one scandal after another occurred.

Still, so many Americans devoted so little time to news of the Obama administration and received such a biased version of it from the mainstream media that they reelected him in 2012. That is indifference to the welfare of the nation. That is an apathetic approach to national politics. That is the failure to distinguish between character and celebrity.

It is a very different America today and one which is sharply divided between liberals and conservatives. It is an America being led by a President who has tossed aside the Constitution and announced his intention to govern with “a pen and a phone.” Such an intention would have been greeted with a huge outcry of rage in the past.

The one issue that is evoking protests these days is illegal immigration and the protest in Murrieta, California that turned away buses filled with illegal aliens may lead to larger and more numerous protests to end this practice and reform immigration starting with more and higher walls on the southern border.

Today protest, except for signing a petition or participating on an Internet chatroom, is all that too many of today’s Americans can manage to perform. We don’t want to see a return to the bombings of the Ayers’ era and we may not fill the streets, but it would be nice if more serious-minded Americans would show up to vote in the November midterm elections.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

RELATED ARTICLE: ICE can no longer call illegal immigrant children ‘aliens’ 

A Heartbreaking Unspoken Consequence of Obama

Decades of socialist/progressive indoctrination in our schools, media and culture, plus six years of Obama, has yielded a devastating unspoken consequence. It is the loss of who we use to be as Americans.

In his 1961 Inaugural Address, President John F. Kennedy said, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Democrats have perverted Kennedy’s inspiring challenge. Their dispiriting goal is to have as many Americans as possible controlled by and dependent on government, even for life itself, which is at the root of Obamacare.

I mourn the loss of the independent self-reliant mindset which made our parents great; and the pride and dignity it generated within them. Welfare (government assistance) was a last resort and for the truly needy.

Today, far too many Americans see no shame in living on government assistance or scamming the system. The Left’s campaign led by the Obama Administration to instill an entitlement mindset in many has proven successful. The Administration even campaigned targeting minorities, discouraging their instinct to be self-reliant. Even worse, the Administration portrays getting on welfare as the honorable thing to do. Dear Lord, what kind of nation are we becoming?

An unprecedented 47 million Americans are on food stamps which is riddled with fraud. The Obama Administration has added over 10,000 new oppressive job-killing regulations. Consequently, 90 million are unemployed and on unemployment which is also riddled with fraud. Here’s another first for America, over 11 million are receiving disability benefits; riddled with fraud. Clearly, many believe working is for suckers when the government is handing out freebies.

In his War on Achievers, Obama used his bully pulpit to deflate business owners by saying, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” Obama and his operatives use compassionate sounding terms such as “social justice” and “income inequality” to justify the government confiscating the earnings of achievers and redistributing it to non-achievers to win their votes. Despicable.

My heart aches for my America when character, excellence and hard work were rewarded, celebrated and respected.

At 9 or 10 years old, I worked part-time for my neighbor Mr Buddy Roy. I pulled the copper out of old motors for him to sell. I still remember the pride I felt making my own money.

In the early 1950s, blacks were allowed to take the entrance test for the Baltimore City Fire Dept. My dad applied and mom helped. My parents sought opportunity not handouts. Talk about a strong black woman, though compassionate and loving, mom could be a tough no nonsense person.

I remember my parents sitting at the kitchen table, a glass turned upside down between them with mom tapping on the glass with a spoon. She was simulating the different bell sounds which alerted the firefighters to various situations. She would yell at my dad, “No, that’s wrong, stupid! Listen and get it right!” Thanks to my drill sergeant mom, dad was among a hand full of blacks who became Baltimore City’s first black firefighters.

Being a pioneer is never easy. Dad endured humiliating work conditions and blatant racism. Still, dad relished the opportunity. Thanks to his Christian faith, dad won admiration and respect by fighting racism and hate with excellence. He won “Firefighter of the Year” two times.

That mindset of putting ones best foot forward and striving for loftier standards is what I fear we are rapidly losing as Americans. Apparently, character is no longer expected in our leaders. President Obama is caught repeatedly lying to the American people and the response is ho-hum, let’s move on.

The trend is to celebrate deadbeats, entitlement junkies, haters of achievers and assorted low life. For example. The Democrats and mainstream media loved the Occupy Wall Street mobs. People were assaulted and even raped at their angry mob gatherings. Severely infected with an entitlement mindset, Occupiers dumped feces in a public building demanding the government redistribute wealth to them.

Meanwhile, the Left continues their shameful relentless demonizing and slandering the Tea Party with unfounded allegations of racism. The Obama Administration has plotted to criminalize free speech (the Tea Party). Folks, we are talking decent hard-working Americans who are simply pushing back against Obama’s shock and awe assault on our freedoms, liberty and culture.

Tax cheat Democrat Rep. Charlie Rangel compared the Tea Party to Hamas terrorists. Either Mr Rangel is a loudmouth clueless idiot or a despicable evil human being. Leftists like Rangel who throw unfounded irresponsible “hate” grenades at millions of Americans should be called on it. Inciting racial division is extremely serious.

Amidst the unbelievably long list of scandals, crimes and misdemeanors of the Obama regime, the damage that this evil man and his minions have done to the internal make-up of many Americans is extremely disturbing and heartbreaking.

Please view me performing my song, “We Are Americans” which I wrote to remind us of who we use to be and I believe a majority still are as Americans. I have faith that the liberal’s, socialist’s and progressive’s toxic disease of entitlement thinking has not reached critical mass.

My fellow Americans, we are exceptional, a chosen people. We are Americans!

James Madison: The Indispensable Founder

“I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents. … If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one. …

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. … The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general.

Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government. … There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

– James Madison

When people are asked to name the Founding Fathers of the nation, they usually reel off Washington, Adams, and Jefferson, the first, second and third Presidents in addition to their earlier role in guiding the Revolution to success.

Occasionally, someone who, like myself, loves history will add Madison, the fourth President, but Lynne Cheney’s new biography of Madison rightly identifies him as the man most responsible “for creating the United States of America in the form we know it today.” It was Madison who guided the process by which the Founders arrived at the Constitution, contributing the fundamental principles it incorporated and writing the Bill of Rights, amendments that ensured its ratification by the original states.

Cover - James MadisonCheney’s biography, “James Madison: A Life Considered” ($36.00, Viking) benefits not only from her scholarship, but from her facility with the written word, making it a continual pleasure to read for a book of 563 pages, including its notes, bibliography, and index. If you were to set aside the summer to read just one book, this would be the one I would recommend.

If Cheney’s name rings a bell, it is because she is the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, but she is also a Ph.D. who has been studying Madison since 1987 when she was a member of the Commission on the Bicentennial of the Constitution. These days she is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

The Cheney’s reside in Wilson, Wyoming. She is making the rounds of radio and television shows to promote her book and, most notably, interviewers tend to ignore her book in order to pry an opinion out of her about current events and politics. One gets the feeling that most did not read her book.

Those short in stature and, compared to the other Founders, quite young, all who came to know him swiftly developed a profound respect for his intellect and his knowledge of how governments were structured with some succeeding while others failed. When Madison spoke, they listened. There were in those days “factions” (which today we call political parties) that opposed his and the other Founder’s views.

“Jefferson,” wrote Cheney, “would later say that it was a wonder that Madison accomplished so much as he had, given that he faced ‘the endless quibbles, chicaneries, perversions, vexations, and delays of lawyers and demi-lawyers’” and Madison himself was often struck “by the way that ‘important bills prepared at leisure by skillful hands’ were treated to ‘crudeness and tedious discussion’, and he had seen legislative tricks of the most blatant sort.” So the politics of Madison’s time was not unlike much of today’s.

After the Constitution was written to replace the failed Articles of Confederation it needed to be vigorously defended. America benefited greatly from the fact that its population was highly literate and it was the Federalist papers, a series of essays mostly written by Madison was the way its principles and protections were explained to the public. Chaney notes that the Federalist essay that would eventually become most famous was the first one Madison wrote.

“In Federalist 10, published November 22,1787, he set forth the failures of ‘our governments’ (rather than ‘our states’ where, after all, the Constitution would be ratified), noting the instability and injustices that had caused good citizens across the country to increasingly distrust those governments and feel ‘alarm for private rights.’”

These alarms are reflected in our times by concerns that the President is bypassing Congress to govern by executive orders, is failing to enforce laws with which he disagrees, and that we have a Department of Justice and an IRS that cannot be trusted to apply laws fairly, acting against groups and individuals with whom they disagree such as the Tea Party movement and other conservative organizations. A rogue agency such as the Environmental Protection Agency is so out of control that Congress must at some point exert powerful restraints on it.

What is remarkable about Madison’s time was the fact that he, Jefferson is lifelong friend, and Adams, all lived long lives unlike the bulk of the population. Madison would devote his life to the creation of our extraordinary government and, throughout the early presidencies including his own, to ensuring the existence of the new nation, challenged as it was by Great Britain, first during the Revolution and then in the War of 1812.

On his last day as President, Madison vetoed an improvements bill, “arguing as he had since the days of The Federalist that the general government did not have general powers. It had specified powers, and recognizing its limits was essential to ‘the permanent success of the Constitution.’”

Chaney wrote that Madison understood that “if the limits the Constitution imposed on government were unrecognized, ‘the parchment had better be thrown into the fire at once.”, but Madison was all about protecting the Constitution and the new nation. For that he is owed the gratitude of all the generations that have followed him.

It is now our responsibility to protect it because freedom and liberty always have domestic and foreign enemies

© Alan Caruba, 2014

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Why is the U.S. Government in the Mortgage Loan Business?

It is often truly astonishing to me the harm done by the way the federal government was expanded well beyond its constitutional limits during the 1930’s New Deal era. One dramatic example is the government’s role in the housing mortgage loan marketplace.

I recently read a commentary by Steve Stanck, a research fellow at The Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, whose title was “Don’t Replace Fannie and Freddie; End Them.” He began by pointing out that “For every 100 mortgages being sold in the United States these days, at least 94% of them have government backing.”

Fannie is shorthand for the Federal National Mortgage Association and Freddie is short for the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation. Both are referred to as “government sponsored enterprises” and Stanck points out that “The housing market was nearly ruined several years ago, and the government’s involvement is a big reason” because, before the 2008 financial crisis, both “were bundling mortgages into mortgage-backed securities and selling them to investors”, primarily banks.

ForeclosureStill largely unknown to the public, the financial crisis was triggered on September 15, 2008 when the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous draw-down of money market accounts in the U.S. amounting to $550 billion dollars in the matter of an hour or two. This was revealed in a 2008 congressional closed door session and later reported by Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania. Had the Federal Reserve not closed down the accounts by 2 PM that day, the entire economy would have collapsed, followed by the world economy a day later.

To this day, the identity of those who initiated the withdrawal has not been revealed, but the banks that were heavily invested in Fannie and Freddie’s bundled mortgage-backed securities were most at risk. Those securities were regarded as a safe investment precisely because both are, as noted, “government-sponsored enterprises”, implying that they were backed by the government—taxpayers.

When the housing bubble burst in 2008, the federal government put Fannie and Freddie into conservator ship “and handed them $188 billion to stay afloat. The actions of both entities had artificially lowered mortgage interest rates in order to increase home buying and required lenders—banks—to loan money to riskier borrowers.

As Brian M. Carney noted in a July 26, 2010 Wall Street Journal editorial opinion, “The official version of the housing boom and bust, and subsequent panic and recession, tells us that greedy bankers took unacceptable risks, assumed too much leverage, made irresponsible loans, and left the government to clean up the mess. The causes of the crisis, in this version, include banker bonuses, deregulation ideology and predatory lending. Most of this is nonsense.”

Carney noted that “There’s simply no room in this story for two giant government-sponsored enterprises that distorted the housing and credit markets…” Those would be Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Stanck notes that there is a bill in Congress to “wind down Fannie and Freddie. This is good. But they want to replace those organizations with private mortgage bond issuers who would each have government guarantees back by a new entity called the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation. This is bad.”

It is bad for the same reason that Fannie and Freddie are bad. The government needs to get out of the mortgage loan business. The bill barely squeaked through the Senate Banking Committee on May 15 with minimal support.

The new entity that the bill would create would charge fees to the private mortgage bond issuers—“fees that would be based on how many people in ‘underserved’ demographic groups receive mortgages” leading to “more of the subprime lending that played such a big role in the most recent housing mortgage collapse.” It is nothing more than Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac with a new name.

Stanck sensibly says “Let borrowers and lenders strike their own deals without government meddling. In that way, mortgage interest rates would better reflect true risk, there’d be almost no way for legislators to inject corruption and cronyism into the system, and taxpayers would not be at risk of shelling out more hundreds of billions of dollars.”

You may read or hear that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are returning to solvency, able to turn a profit in the first quarter of 2014 and this is true. Those profits are going straight into the U.S. Treasury to resolve their debt incurred when they were bailed out. When they pay it back, they should, as Stanck says, be ended, not replaced.

So long as they exist, another housing boom and bust, and another financial collapse will repeat what occurred in 2008.

© Alan Caruba, 2014