How Harry Reid Is Abusing His Power

Hans von Spakovsky in his column “How Harry Reid Is Trying to End Debate in the Senate” writes, “The latest salvo in the Senate’s procedural war was fired yesterday when Senator Chuck Grassley (R—Iowa) introduced a resolution to limit abuse of the cloture rule—a practice frequently employed by Sen. Harry Reid (D–Nev.). Grassley was joined by at least 25 other GOP senators in sponsoring the “Stop Cloture Abuse Resolution.”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/Zcaa5tCrimI[/youtube]

 

Most Americans have a limited understanding about the use of cloture in the Senate. Indeed, any familiarity with cloture comes from the claim that Republicans have been filibustering the president’s nominees. Taking advantage of this misconception, Reid recently barreled through a change in the cloture rule. As a result of Reid’s gambit, ending debate and a filibuster on executive branch nominees now only requires 51 votes; previously, 60 votes were needed.

In the past, cloture motions were usually filed only after a nomination or a bill had been debated on the floor of the Senate and members wanted to end the debate. Sen. Reid, however, has been filing cloture motions on bills and nominations the moment the Senate takes them up—before a single word has been spoken or any amendments have been proposed or discussed.

In other words, Reid has been filing cloture motions to prevent debate, not end it. The majority leader’s actions constitute both an abuse of the long tradition of extended debate in the Senate, and a warped attempt to mislead the public. Reid has made many speeches, both on the floor of the Senate, and outside its chambers, complaining about Republican obstructionism and bemoaning the large number of cloture motions he has been “forced” to file to supposedly end Republican filibusters.

Read more.

Obama Golfs while Americans Job-Seek

A close relative of mine has been spending months job-seeking and the news from the White House in the first week of March was that the President was playing golf in Key Largo while Joe Biden was in the Virgin Islands soaking up the sun. It’s not that they don’t deserve some down time, but down time for the unemployed is full time. The U.S. has 866,000 fewer people employed today than when the recession began in the wake of the 2008 recession.

Since Obama became President in 2009, there has been a 3.5 million increase in jobs, but 12 million new working age people. This is supposed to be a “recovery” according to the White House but the job numbers are not keeping pace with the job-seekers.

It’s not widely reported, but the labor force participation rate of 63% remains stuck at or near its lowest point since the late 1970s. There are two million fewer Americans in the labor force today than a year ago. The number of long-term unemployed, six months or more, rose by 203,000.

While Obama keeps bloviating about income inequality, too many Americans have no income at all.

At the same time, thanks to Obama, the U.S. debt, according to the U.S. Treasury’s Bureau of Public Debt, has increased $6.666 trillion since he took office on January 20, 2009. As of January 31, 2014, the total debt stood at $17,293,019,654,983.61. While he has been President, the U.S. has accumulated as much new debt as it did in the first 227 years.

This is a President who has been pushing to raise the minimum wage, but according to the Congressional Budget Office, raising it to $10.10 an hour would cost the U.S. economy a half-million new jobs by 2016.

In an article by Michael D. Tanner that was published by the New York Post in August of last year, he noted that “The federal government funds 126 separate programs targeted towards low-income people, 72 of which provide either cash or in-kind benefits to individuals.” In addition, state and local governments have welfare programs as well. Who funds these programs? Those with jobs. Welfare benefits are not taxed.

“There is no evidence that people on welfare are lazy,” wrote Tanner. “Indeed, surveys of them consistently show their desire for a job. But they are not stupid. If you pay them more not to work than they can earn by working, many choose not to work.”

Former Presidents have encountered recessions when they entered office and those such as Kennedy and Reagan put an end to them. When taxes are lowered it puts more money into the economy and that stimulates it. There is no such talk from Obama and, indeed, his 2014 budget adds billions more that he wants to add to government revenue and spending.

A March 10th Rasmussen survey found that the President’s proposed new $3.9 trillion federal budget that includes $55 billion in new spending for fiscal 2015, is regarded by one-out-of-two voters (50%) who think the Obama administration has already raised spending too much.

Spending is controlled by the House of Representatives, but legislation to address the present economy has been consistently blocked in the Democrat controlled Senate. It’s the same one that enacted the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, which is playing havoc with the nation’s health system and impacting its economy by forcing businesses to either cut the number of people employed or reducing full-time workers to part-time status.

Other actions of the Obama administration are contributing to the unemployment roles as its “war on coal” has shut down more than 150 coal-fired plants that generate electricity and its loans to “green” industries have cost billions as many have declared bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of State, John Kerry, is telling everyone that “climate change” is the greatest threat to the planet and urging U.S. ambassadors to make it a priority. At the same time, the Environmental Protection Agency is engaged in an orgy of regulation based on zero proof that carbon dioxide warms the Earth.

Obama and his administration is so detached from reality that it is afflicting millions of Americans who want to work while at the same time its policies are reducing the number of new jobs being created.

If this is a deliberate policy—as I believe it is—the only conclusion is that the President is intentionally inflicting a huge debt and impediments to our economy that are reducing the greatest nation on Earth to a third nation status. He opposed the view of American exceptionalism and is doing everything he can to kill it.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Wealth Inequality: Predictably Irrational by Max Borders

Note: A new video on income inequality has gone viral. In this video, the authors want us to believe that wealth inequality is far away from our national “ideal” distribution.

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

 

The following is my response to the video and the study on which it was based:

Everyone knows the social sciences are fuzzy. Economists, political scientists, and anthropologists bring their moralistic baggage into the ivory tower as soon as they decide what to study and what not to. Social science is value-laden. But there is baggage and then there is a naked agenda. In the first case you might be a victim of selection bias or other unconscious human processes that cause you to misinterpret your data. In the latter case you simply start with a political agenda along with its (often dubious) premises, and go from there.

Michael I. Norton of Harvard and Dan Ariely of Duke fall into the latter category. In a 2010 study, Norton and Ariely appear to be engaging in a kind of democracy-by-proxy. They claim that Americans really want more “wealth redistribution,” and they have the evidence to prove it.

Here’s their own description of the findings from a Los Angeles Times piece, “Spreading the Wealth.”

We recently asked a representative sample of more than 5,000 Americans (young and old, men and women, rich and poor, liberal and conservative) to answer two questions. They first were asked to estimate the current level of wealth inequality in the United States, and then they were asked about what they saw as an ideal level of wealth inequality.

In our survey, Americans drastically underestimated the current gap between the very rich and the poor. The typical respondent believed that the top 20% of Americans owned 60% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% owned 10%. They knew, in other words, that wealth in the United States was not distributed equally, but were unaware of just how unequal that distribution was.

When we asked respondents to tell us what their ideal distribution of wealth was, things got even more interesting: Americans wanted the top 20% to own just over 30% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% to own about 25%. They still wanted the rich to be richer than the poor, but they wanted the disparity to be much less extreme.

What should we conclude from this? Norton and Ariely did succeed in proving that Americans don’t know who has how much money.

Strangely, Norton and Ariely proceed to ask the same Americans who are ignorant about the current wealth distribution what their “ideal” distribution is. Those surveyed then dreamed up what they thought would be a good breakdown, even though no such ideal exists in that great Tablet in the Sky. From all of this surveying, they conclude something that cannot readily be concluded:

[O]ur results suggest that policies that increase inequality—those that favor the wealthy, say, or that place a greater burden on the poor—are unlikely to reflect the desires of Americans from across the political and economic spectrum. Rather, they seem to favor policies that involve taking from the rich and giving to the poor. [Emphasis added.]

Notice “suggest” and “seem.”

You see, Norton and Ariely can’t claim those surveyed favor coercive redistribution. They merely infer it—and in curious fashion. Absent any context, the most ardent libertarian surveyed might wish that poor people had more resources and yet not support forced redistribution. I know I do. But even if they learned most people favor redistribution at some point, we cannot conclude such desires justify forced redistribution, much less prove that redistribution is a good thing.

And this is where Norton and Ariely’s malpractice really begins.

Academic socialists with bees in their bonnets are eager to point out which quintile has what at every turn, as if concern for the poor somehow automatically translates into worries about the assets of the rich. One reason they do this is they believe laypeople are ignorant: If they were enlightened, they would change their minds and want to alter the distribution.

Somehow, though, this self-same group of distribution-ignorant Americans—when polled about a complete abstraction like the distribution of assets over quintiles—suddenly becomes endowed with a magical insight. Again, Norton and Ariely want us to think this special insight provides justification for redistributionist policies. But why should we think that Americans factually ignorant in one area would have some sort of mystical authority on the timeless and intractable questions of justice?

In other words, Norton and Ariely conclude that asking Joe Sixpack, Jill Accountant, and Barb Waitress their thoughts about an abstraction like national income quintiles limns some great truth about right, wrong, and the good. Even the venerable soft egalitarian John Rawls would likely have bristled at this, for it is an intrusion into a discipline (philosophy) that demands more than what amounts to the naturalistic fallacy dressed up in finery of Gallup and Zogby.

I wonder: Did any of their respondents have the option of saying, “I don’t think there is such an ideal distribution”? To me the whole exercise is as meaningful as asking people what should be the ideal distribution of vehicle types. Suppose for simplicity there are five categories of vehicle: cars, pickups, buses, local trucks, and transfer trucks. Someone with no concept of the function of each vehicle might say each category should have 20 percent of all vehicles—i.e., 20 percent are cars, 20 percent are trucks, 20 percent are buses, and so on. But once we start to think about what each vehicle does, we might conclude that it makes sense for there to be a different, rather unequal, distribution. Similarly, the distribution of assets in quartiles just doesn’t tell us anything substantive about the function of wealth (e.g., opportunities, quality of life, upward mobility, or what is likely to make any given person better off). The “ideal distribution” is meaningless because it is completely divorced from much more important questions about the way wealth works, which may have much more to do with human well-being than some distribution at some slice in time.

Now, speaking of Rawls, Norton and Ariely actually start their paper by claiming their study is Rawlsian: “We take a different approach to determining the ‘ideal’ level of wealth inequality: Following the philosopher John Rawls (1971), we ask Americans to construct distributions of wealth they deem just (”Building a Better America—One Wealth Quintile at a Time,” Perspectives on Psychological Science 6, no. 9 (2011), doi: 10.1177/1745691610393524).” People may have good reasons to disagree with the late Rawls, but his theory is elegant and sophisticated. Norton and Ariely have no business hitching their wagon to Rawls’s A Theory of Justice.

Rawls’s theory was a product of a philosophical reasoning. His theory requires people to think about what sort of society they would want to be born into if they didn’t know what their own circumstances would be. Rawls thought people would want a high degree of political freedom, but also security; they would want the least well off to be cared for lest they themselves be born as the least well off. Most importantly, perhaps, Rawls’s theory—right or wrong—was a product of philosophical deliberation, not about opinion polls in which people simply come up with a distribution and have academics point to the results as Utopian. So when it comes to Rawls’s work, one can only conclude that Norton and Ariely are shrouded in a veil of ignorance.

Norton and Ariely also never consider the possibility that some of their respondents might want to see a different wealth distribution carried out through means other than forced redistribution by the state. For example, might we rid government of all the favor-seeking schemes that protect the assets of banking CEOs and agribusiness moguls and shift costs onto the poor and middle class? If people had greater information about the circumstances of time and place—like the effect of taking X dollars from businessman B means B can afford to hire fewer people—would they think differently about matters? Ask people for idealized abstractions and you’ll get idealized abstractions. After all, aren’t people “predictably irrational”?

Maslow’s Covered

In his own critique of Norton and Ariely, George Mason University economist Don Boudreaux reminds us that money ain’t everything:

That Americans “drastically” underestimate the wealth of “the very rich” compared to the wealth of “the poor” reveals that the difference in the number of dollars owned by “the very rich” compared to the number of dollars owned by “the poor” translates into a much smaller—that is, far more equal—difference in living standards. In other words, differences in monetary wealth are not the same as differences in living standards.

Indeed, maybe the reason Americans misjudge the actual wealth distribution is that most consider themselves wealthy in Boudreaux’s more subjective sense—at least when it comes to the things that matter. (Bill Gates might be able to fly in a private jet, but we can both fly. He might be able to afford $10,000-per-plate caviar, but we can both eat well.) Standard of living is different in important ways from the measure of assets distributed over a population.

As far as “the gap” is concerned, one of the major themes of this book is: If your goal is to alleviate poverty or perhaps to raise the baseline for what constitutes a minimum level of income that would allow most everyone to escape distress, that’s something reasonable people can talk about.

But that is not the same thing as worrying about what assets the wealthy control.

Suppose you asked the same Americans in the Norton-Ariely study, “If you could guarantee that every poor person in America had their basic needs met, would you agree to abandon your ‘ideal’ wealth distribution?” Their answers might surprise you. That’s because many people conflate the distribution of wealth and concern for the poor. Indeed, we don’t find any upper limit on income anywhere in Rawls, either. Rawls’s only criterion was that the least advantaged benefit from inequality. If you’ve ever been to North Korea or Cuba, it’s pretty obvious that they do.

Max Borders

Max Borders

ABOUT MAX BORDERS

Max Borders is the editor of The Freeman and director of content for FEE. He is also cofounder of the event experience Voice & Exit and author of Superwealth: Why we should stop worrying about the gap between rich and poor.

New Study: President Obama a “member of the Flat Earth Society” on Climate Change

Who are the real deniers of global climate change? A new report sheds light on the science and facts about global climate change. After reading the report I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that it is President Obama and his administration who truly are members of the “Flat Earth Society.”

The March 10, 2014 Edition (1-2014) of the Global Climate Status Report (GCSR) is now available and is a must read. Go to Space and Science Research Corporation (SSRC) website to obtain a copy. In this the fifth edition, the US government climate policy is discussed in detail. John Casey in the forward to the GCSR states:

This edition of the GCSR comes at a unique time in view of yet another record setting cold winter in the Northern Hemisphere and additional confirmation from measured climate parameters of the ongoing transition from the past naturally caused globally warm period to the new cold climate epoch.

Regardless of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we continue to see US governmental policy based on the now thoroughly discredited greenhouse gas theory and the insignificant role mankind’s industrial CO2 plays in the atmosphere. In what can only be classified as a nationwide fit of cognitive dissonance, many of our leaders, including the President and Secretary of State and members of the media have resorted to reinforcing the now disproved myth of man made global warming with outlandish claims and outright lies about the state of the Earth’s climate and where it is going. In an obvious, well known move to discredit those who rely on facts not the politics of climate change, these same leaders have taken to personal attacks and name calling like labeling those who reject the PC version of climate science as “members of the Flat Earth Society,” and “deniers,” attempting to classify these climate truth seekers like those who dispute the reality of the Holocaust.

Casey notes, “This GCSR research summary of potentially historic impact is included. This research, includes fellow researchers, Dr. Dong Choi, Dr. Fumio Tsunoda, and Dr. Leo Maslov. This summary outlines the existence of remarkably strong links between solar activity and earthquakes which are further tied to the coming cold climate epoch. A final paper will be posted at the SSRC website at a later date.”

This GCSR reviews each of the twenty four climate parameters monitored at the SSRC to determine global climate status. These climate indicators are then used to create a long range climate prediction through the 2040’s. The GCSR is the only authoritative, quarterly, non-governmental global climate report published in the United States. Using solar activity forcing models for climate prediction, the SSRC has amassed one of the best records for climate prediction accuracy in the United States.

If you wish to know what is really happening with the climate and not the politically correct version, please go to the SSRC website and download a copy of the Global Climate Status Report.

RELATED COLUMN: Alex Sink Rides Global Warming Alarmism to Surprise Congressional Defeat in FL-13

RELATED VIDEO: Barack Obama’s Weekly Address – “Confronting the Growing Threat of Climate Change” from June 29, 2013.

ABOUT THE EDITORS OF THE GCSR:

Editor of GCSR – Mr. John L. Casey, SSRC Founder and President. Mr. Casey is a former White House space program advisor, NASA Headquarters consultant, who served as an engineer on the space shuttle program with a major aerospace contractor. While doing climate research in early 2007, he independently discovered cycles of the Sun that drive climate change. He then became the first climate researcher to notify the White House, Congress and the mainstream media of the onset of the next climate change to a long cold era caused by a “solar hibernation.” Mr. Casey has since been conducting a nationwide campaign to inform the American people and its leaders of the need to prepare for this next climate era. He is one of America’s most successful climate prediction experts and is the author of the internationally acclaimed climate science book, “Cold Sun.” See at www.coldsun.net. In 2012, at the request of leading seismologists from around the world, he took on the added role of Chairman/CEO of the International Earthquake and Volcano Prediction Center (IEVPC). See at www.ievpc.org. In March 2013, he was named “America’s best climate prediction expert” by Watchdogwire.com.

Co-Editor – Dr. Ole Humlum, Supporting Researcher to the SSRC. He is also a Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Oslo in Norway. A practicing glaciologist and geomorphologist, he is an expert in glacial and climate behavior for northern Europe, and the seas and oceans of the northeast Atlantic Ocean. He has spent many years in the field study of the glacial history of Greenland, Iceland, Faroe Islands, Denmark, the island of Svalbard and of Norway/Sweden. He is the founder of the widely respected global climate web site Climate4you.com.

The Space and Science Research Corporation, (SSRC), headquartered in Orlando, Florida conducts important research into the causes and effects of climate change, based on the Sun being the primary driver of climate change. The SSRC is the leading climate research organization in the US advocating national and global preparedness for the coming cold climate era. The SSRC is a small, privately funded, climate research organization relying on the advice of many climate experts and its staff of Supporting Researchers for their contributed research, analysis, and peer review of SSRC products. The SSRC has one of the most successful climate prediction track records in the US for any climate research organization. See more about the SSRC at www.spaceandscience.net.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image taken on December 18th, 2009 is of President Barack Obama briefing European leaders, including British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and Danish Prime Minister Lars L. Rasmussen, following a multilateral meeting at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. In the background, behind French and US presidents, Frenchs ministers, Jean-Louis Borloo and Chantal Jouanno.

Senators4Sale: Cheap, Very Cheap

The US Senate used to pride itself as “…the world’s greatest deliberative body.” Those days are gone. The US Senate is now controlled by a Senator from Nevada named Harry Reid, who puts on an allnight talkathon for money. Reid recently attacked millions of Americans, deprived of health care plans they had been assured of keeping (PERIOD!), as liars. Now Reid has turned the Senate floor over to a majority of its Democrats for an overnight exercise in global warming fantasy, March 10-11.

Let’s be clear. This was not a debate on the Nation’s business. These Senate Democrats can’t be bothered to fulfill their Constitutional duty of passing a budget. The Senate hasn’t passed a budget for several years, and there will be none this year. There is no legislation planned to address climate change, though several senators insisted it is the most important issue facing the country.

This was not a reasoned debate by informed advocates of differing opinions on a matter of national importance. In a Gallup poll released 11 March, global warming or climate change ranked 14th of 15 issues considered. Small wonder, after the Winter of 2013-2014, which will undoubtedly make Florida one the most desirable states in the Union. Although we are the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, we are 60% below normal reserve levels [Fox News, Cavuto]. We may start next Winter behind the power curve.

This was not a debate on legislation to address a national problem of extreme weather, caused by “climate change”. 2013 was an all-time record low for tornadoes. There were two Atlantic hurricanes in 2013, neither of which threatened landfall. Tropical storms are at record lows around the world (according to Professor Ryan Maue of Florida State.) We are at a record number of years between landfall of major hurricanes (cat 3-4-5). Wildfires and drought were at a very low level.

The IPCC issued a report in 2012 on extreme weather, denying any link between these phenomena and climate change. But Senate Majority Leader Reid says:

“Every day that goes by, every week that goes, every month that goes by, every year that goes by … there’s more evidence of the dangers of climate change,”

Reid said Tuesday afternoon, in response to a question from the Weekly Standard, “The more climate changes, the more extreme the weather gets, and we’ve seen that in spades.”

Why is the US Senate conducting an overnight talkathon on a non-problem, when Democrats control the agenda? Answer: money for Democrat senators who cursed the American people with ObamaCare. They need campaign money offered by a climate change fanatic named Tom Steyer. The hedge fund billionaire has promised $100 million in campaign funding for any Democrat who opposes the Keystone XL pipeline. Even Dana Milbank, a liberal commentator of the Washington Post, is disgusted.

204px-Bill_Nelson,_official_NASA_photo

“Look back at the planet from the window of a spacecraft.”—Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)

Does Florida have an entry in the Senators4Sale? Yes indeed, the last Senator to speak was Bill Nelson:

The senators saved the best for last. Florida has the most to lose, the fastest, of all the United States. Bill Nelson showed a map with a frightening area of the Atlantic and Gulf coastlines in red, submerged.

Nelson spoke of seeing the silt-laden river mouths of Madagascar and a storm in the Indian Ocean from 203 miles up. He presented shocking predictions with reason and calm, though he freaked out his audience. Nelson said 28 million people could be underwater by the end of the century. Recreation, baseball spring training, and the sunsets seen from the country’s southernmost eastern beach would be things of the past, pauperizing a $67 billion tourism industry. Miami, currently linking up with the Netherlands for technical help.

Senator Nelson, a Mission Specialist in 1986, serves on the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. One would think he’s well-informed on science and the most controversial topic in science today, climate change. One would expect that he knows sea level is rising at a rate of eight inches per century, as it has for the last 80 centuries. Instead he predicts 28 million Floridians to be underwater by 2100. Nelson is almost as big a liar as Harry Reid, a high bar.

Ironically, just last week, a group of retired NASA scientists and engineers called “The Right Climate Stuff” put out their independent report on the “threat” of climate change. These are the men who put Neil Armstrong on the moon, and Bill Nelson into space.

So, what did they say? “The planet is not in danger of catastrophic man made global warming. Even if we burn all the world’s recoverable fossil fuels it will still only result in a temperature rise of less than 1.2 per cent.”

And why did they say it? “It’s an embarrassment to those of us who put NASA’s name on the map to have people like James Hansen Bill Nelson popping off about global warming,” says the project’s leader Hal Doiron [text edit by RCS].

Bill Nelson is not just a disgrace to the Senate – like thirty of his fellow Senators – he’s a disgrace to the science that made him “the right stuff.”

RELATED COLUMN: Alex Sink Rides Global Warming Alarmism to Surprise Congressional Defeat in FL-13

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.

Gay lobby pushing Radical Anti-bullying law in Massachusetts

Homosexual lobby pushing radical changes to Mass. school “anti-bullying” laws — to silence opposing opinions, force diversity training, and more.

Passed House, now in Senate. This must be stopped!
To the rest of the country: This could be coming to you.

The homosexual lobby is now putting a full-court press on the Massachusetts Legislature to pass H3909 which would change the state’s school “anti-bullying” law — to completely silence any negative discussion of those behaviors and threaten schools and administrators that do not comply. 

They have made this a top priority. On Feb. 24, it quietly passed the House by a large margin (145-4!). It is now in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, and could go to the full Senate any day.

The front page of the hardcore Boston homosexual newspaper Bay Windows brags that they’re getting closer to passing the bill.

Part of a larger agenda

For years MassResistance has been exposing how the homosexual movement is using legitimate school bullying concerns across the country to hijack anti-bullying legislation and push laws that force their agenda on children and all school employees. This is just the latest on the homosexual movement’s obsession with the nation’s public schools.

What this bill would do

Their stated goal is to use the anti-bullying laws to “change the overall climate and culture” in the every school in the state by “addressing bigotry and discrimination.” In other words, the goal is not to reduce bullying per se, but topunish opinions by students and staff that are critical of homosexual or transgender behaviors, or of their movement.

The major features of H3909 are:

(1) It would require the so-called “enumerated categories” of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to be written into the current anti-bullying law. This would allow all the sections of the law to focus on those behaviors, rather than just the general population of students.

(2) It would include special yearly diversity training (labeled “professional development”) for all school employees, as well as similar sessions for students, based on the “enumerated categories.” National homosexual groups such as PFLAG have already indicated they are ready to provide this training to schools!

(3) It would require the use of “school climate surveys” in every school. These are invariably created by national homosexual groups and are notoriously unscientific. But by “proving” there is a dangerous climate for “gays” in schools, the activists demand more “gay” programs (and funding) from state lawmakers.

(4) It would impose a very heavy requirement of record-keeping and reporting requirements of every “bullying” incident, real or suspected, for every school. Every school employee would be responsible for reporting this information. Since this is extremely subjective, and there are penalties for not reporting a possible incident, it would easily be used by activists to increase funding for agenda-driven programs.

The requirements of this bill also include any private schools and religious schools that accept “special needs” children through an agreement with the state.

Interesting reaction in Boston Herald

After the House passed H3909 the liberal Boston media generally portrayed it as a positive next step, without exploring what it actually does. But the Boston Heraldeditors actually read the bill and saw how ridiculous it was — even though they had gone along with the original bill. On March 3 they published this surprisingly strong editorial against it.

Boston Herald editorial,March 3, 2014.

That editorial attracted this revealing Letter to the Editor, published on March 5, from the homosexual group MassEquality and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL has alienated a lot of the Jewish community by their shameful promotion of the homosexual agenda, and worked closely with the homosexual groups pushing the original law.

Note that the last line in the letter summarizes their true goal with this legislation:“The proposed updates will help schools to change the overall climate and culture by addressing bigotry and discrimination” (.e., punishing contrary opinions voiced in schools on homosexuality).

Letter to the Editor from MassEquality and ADL, March 5, 2014

History of the law

In 2005 and 2007 there were several unsuccessful attempts by radical groups to pass politically motivated anti-bullying laws in the Legislature. Each timeMassResistance exposed their agendas and was able to stop the bills in committee.

Then in 2009, the Massachusetts homosexual lobby was determined not to be stopped. They teamed up with several radical state and national homosexual groups (and the ADL) and used the tragic suicides of two students in Massachusetts as the basis to introduce the most radical anti-bullying bill ever attempted.

They employed a massive well-financed, and sophisticated media campaign to arouse the public on this issue and the desperate need for legislation. It was very effective. Over several months they placed barrage of articles and feature stories of bullying incidents in newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines, that often dripped with emotion.

MassResistance fought back

However, MassResistance fought hard to get the truth out. We were a major presence at the bill’s public hearing in November 2009 confronting the waves of activists and “experts” they brought in. And we warned the legislature that the bulk of the bill was taken from the websites of national homosexual advocacy organizations.

After the hearing, MassResistance continued to lead lobbying efforts in the State House. These efforts ultimately helped stop some of the most outrageous aspects of the bill. (In fact, the homosexual lobby acknowledged that they were “advised by key legislative leaders that the time wasn’t quite right” to include “enumerated categories” and other radical features in the law.)

Passed unanimously in 2010

But the climate of hysteria generated by the PR campaign could not be derailed, and in May 2010, after some changes and compromises, the final bill passed unanimously in both houses.

Here is basically what it does. Even though the homosexual lobby didn’t get everything they wanted, the (pro-gay) chairman of the Education Committee still (rightly) called it “the strongest anti-bullying legislation in the country.”

“Special Commission on Bullying Prevention”

In return for the homosexual lobby’s concessions in the 2010 law, the politicians included a section that created a temporary 7-member “Special Commission on Bullying Prevention” headed by the Attorney General. This committee was to hold meetings across the state and “investigate” to see if any “updates” were needed to the anti-bullying law, and report back to the Legislature by June 30, 2011.

The “special commission” was a sham. Their public meetings were little more than a front to give the homosexual groups a forum to “officially” come up with their desired changes. Nevertheless, MassResistance submitted written testimony at a February, 2011 meeting so that we would be on the record describing whatshould be done.

Gay lobby comes back again for what they really wanted

Within days of the passage of the 2010 law, the homosexual lobby announced that they’d be back again for what they really wanted: enumerated categories and the ability to use the law to directly force their agenda on students and faculty.
At the beginning of the 2011-2012 session they filed a bill with their updates, but MassResistance and others fought hard and it died in committee.

This session, however, they’ve made it a top priority. In January, 2013, they filed bill H454, which later temporarily became H3721, and is now H3909 They’ve framed this as the “official” recommendation of the Attorney General’s “Special Commission on Bullying Prevention.”

Text of the current anti-bullying law, with the changes that H3909 would make to it.

Full-court press at May 30, 2013 public hearing for new bill

On May 30, 2013, the Joint Education Committee held a public hearing for the new bill. Many of the same radical special interests flooded the hearing as in 2009 to get the original bill passed, with nearly identical emotional horror stories of bullying incidents that were happening to helpless children.

On May 30, 2013 the homosexual lobby filled the hearing room with their supporters and testifiers. MassResistance was there to represent the pro-family position.

It was an eerie feeling. The Massachusetts anti-bully law — “the strongest anti-bullying bill in the country” — had been in effect in every school for over three years. But it was as if it had never been passed at all. The legislators were told over and over again about terrible bullying going on across the state. And the “only” thing that would stop all this would to pass their new bill!

Leaders of the major homosexual groups in the state were there to testify.
[MassResistance photos]

Panel – from left to right: 

Deputy director ofMassEquality, the state’s major homosexual lobbying group.

President of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) radical national group that targets children in schools.

Attorney at GLAD (Gay and Lesbians Advocates and Defenders) homosexual legal group.

 

Arline Isaacson, co-chair ofMassachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. She is the major lobbyist for the homosexual movement in Massachusetts.

Executive Director of the (state-funded) Massachusetts Commission for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth.

Past president of PFLAG ( at left).

At right is mother of a “9-year-old transgender son” (i.e., a girl) who said the child gets “constant taunts and comments” at school — thus the need for the “enumerated category” of “gender identity.”

 

And of course, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who chaired the “Special Commission on Bullying Prevention” came to testify that the Legislature must adopt this new bill.

The committee was told over and over again how “enumerated categories” and the accompanying data collection is “very critical.” The “climate” of schools in the state towards homosexual and transgender behavior must be changed, they said. Even conversation that is “unkind” regarding homosexuality cannot be allowed!

The president of PFLAG described how they are ready to come in and conduct the mandated “training” sessions to students and faculty. “The current law does not go far enough” she told the committee, because teachers still do not properly address a boy wearing a dress as “she.”

The attorney from GLAD said that this bill will “take our bullying law and really make it work.” Specific enumeration and the gathering of statistics will greatly facilitate this, she said. GLAD representatives will be able to come in and “educate students about their rights.” And pro-homosexual teachers need the stronger law to effectively  “stand up” in ways they can’t now. It’s “inconceivable and inexcusable” that the law doesn’t have these things, she added.

MassResistance testifies

Then Brian Camenker of MassResistance testified, and basically threw cold water on things.

Camenker also brought up the fact that the same weekend the 2010 bill passed, the Boston Globe published an article quoting behavioral scientists that these types of programs haven’t worked anywhere. That’s because they’re concocted by political activists to push a social agenda. And in this case, the 2010 bill passed without any amendments, by both houses unanimously with no substantial debate,during that period of media-induced anti-bullying hysteria.

WATCH VIDEO: Brian Camenker of MassResistance testifies against H3939 at public hearing.

Terrible vote as House passes H3909. As noted above, H3909, as horrible a bill as it is, sailed through the House on Feb. 24 by the lopsided margin of 145-4 (See the roll call vote HERE).  In other words, just about all of the Republicans voted for this monstrosity. Only Reps. Jim Lyons, Marc Lombardo, Keiko Orrall, and David Vieira had the sense enough to think for themselves and do the right thing. This ought to wake us all up.

The media PR campaign continues . . .

The media PR campaign has started to come back — to arouse the public with emotional bulling stories and claim that “new legislation is needed.”  Here’s just one recent example.

Left-wing Boston Heraldcolumnist Jessica Heslam can always be counted on to carry water for their latest causes. This was from Feb. 27.

Good people everywhere must take action NOW!

The message that the legislature needs to hear:

The proponents of Bill H3909 are using the argument that the current anti-bullying law “isn’t working” and that it desperately needs to be “improved” by adding these new requirements and mandates.

If the current law is not working, then the public deserves to know exactly why. But to our knowledge, there have not been any actual studies of that.

And if changes need to be made, why aren’t actual behavioral scientists involved, instead of the same special-interest political groups that gave us the current law? These changes will only add more unfunded and unworkable burdens onto the public schools without any credible evidence that they will improve the bullying situation in any way.

Finally, it’s very disturbing that these changes are being predominately pushed by homosexual activist groups. This is clearly an attempt by the homosexual movement to hijack the anti-bullying law for its own narrow political ends. They do not appear to be the least bit interested in the general welfare of bullied children. It’s not worth risking the well-being of vulnerable children over this ill-gotten experiment.

This terrible bill must be completely rejected.

Right now the bill is in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. But any day now it could be sent to the Senate floor, where the danger of passing is greater! It needs to be “killed” in committee right now, before that happens.  

So you MUST contact these legislators IMMEDIATELY.

Senate Ways and Means Committee
Massachusetts State House, Room 212
Boston, MA 02133

Chairman:
Stephen Brewer (D-Barre)
617-722-1540
Stephen.Brewer@masenate.gov

Vice-Chairman:
Jennifer Flanagan (D-Leominster)
617-722-1230
Jennifer.Flanagan@masenate.gov

Asst Vice-Chairman
Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett)
617-722-1650
Sal.DiDomenico@masenate.gov

Contact the other committee members (14) here:
https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Senate/S30

Please feel free to contact MassResistance if you can volunteer more time to this, or if you need more information.

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.

Rentrak and i360 Partner to Provide Insights for Republican and Conservative Organizations

PORTLAND, Ore., March 11, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Rentrak (NASDAQ: RENT), the leader in precisely measuring movies and TV everywhere, today announced a partnership with i360, the leading data and technology resource for the pro-free-market political and advocacy community, to provide insights into political audiences by integrating 18 segments of actual voter data with Rentrak’s local television viewing ratings.

Rentrak’s integration of i360’s custom political segments will provide insight into which programs, genres, stations and dayparts deliver higher densities of the voter segments they seek to influence.

“By incorporating individual level data on who voters are and the issues that move them with Rentrak’s television viewing information, we are able to take broadcast and cable television targeting to a new level,” said Michael Palmer, president of i360. “This powerful combination is a straightforward way for free-market candidates and causes to make smarter, more accurate TV buying decisions in 2014 and beyond.”

“The integration of our local ratings with i360’s political segments will give clients a distinct advantage in planning campaign strategies,” said Chris Wilson, president of national television at Rentrak. “We are proud to continue serve the political platform and provide the tools needed to build more effective campaigns.”

Rentrak’s television ratings service is the only fully-integrated system of detailed satellite, telco and cable TV viewing information from more than 25 million TVs nationwide including granular information for TV stations in all 210 local markets.

About Rentrak

Rentrak (NASDAQ: RENT) is the entertainment and marketing industries’ premier provider of worldwide consumer viewership information, precisely measuring actual viewing behavior of movies and TV everywhere. Using our proprietary intelligence and technology, combined with advanced demographics, only Rentrak is the census currency for VOD and movies. Rentrak provides the stable and robust audience measurement services that movie, television and advertising professionals across the globe have come to rely on to better deliver their business goals and more precisely target advertising across numerous platforms including box office, multiscreen television and home video. For more information on Rentrak, please visit www.rentrak.com.

WARNING: Food Fetish on Campus

Colleges and universities are embracing “food studies” primarily as another way of pushing leftist beliefs.

In the Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne describes one of the characters at the Custom House who is well suited to government work. He is the Inspector, an epicurean so devoid of imagination, feeling, and soul that he is likened to “the beasts of the field.” His mental capacities are limited to the ability to “recollect the good dinners which it had made no small portion of the happiness of his life to eat.”

I was reminded of that passage as I learned about the latest “studies” endeavor being cooked up on American college campuses: “food studies.”

These days, even in their required classes, students are not likely to get exposure to philosophical concepts like Epicureanism, or to classical authors such as Hawthorne. They’re more apt to take courses that focus on food itself, that tell them essentially, “You are what you eat.”  Food, in other words, carries moral meanings. What you eat and how you eat define you as a moral person, with the new standards of morality aligning with the other lessons of the contemporary campus on race, class, sustainability, animal rights, and gender.

The latest additions have little to do with legitimate intellectual endeavors like agriculture or nutrition science. Instead, food becomes another lens through which to examine oppression, sustainability, and multiculturalism.

A surprising number of universities have gone in this direction. The New School has an undergraduate program in food studies, while several offer master’s level programs: Chatham UniversityNew York UniversityBoston University (a graduate certificate); and New Mexico State University (a graduate-level minor). The Graduate Center of the City University of New York offers an interdisciplinary concentration, and Indiana University even a Ph.D. concentration in Anthropology of Food.

Anthropology is one source of this focus on food, and a legitimate one.  At Emory University the Anthropology Department supervises graduates from the School of Public Health and the Department of Nutrition, and offers a specialization in “Food, Nutrition, and Anthropology.”

At Spelman College, anthropology professor Daryl White has taught a course called “Food and Culture” for twenty years.  It’s particularly popular among International Studies students, says White, because “Food is the universal solvent. You can talk about it when you can’t talk about anything else.”

Undoubtedly, food plays a role in cross-cultural communication. But the sociologist authors of Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape (the textbook White uses in his current course) present food as significant in a way that goes well beyond cross-cultural communication, as indicated bysuch chapters as “Eating Authentically” and “The Culinary Other.” They state that “foodies” can appreciate the “peasant cook,” the street vendor, and the master chef. Food studies have become part of the agenda of social justice and multiculturalism, which have come to infiltrate much of the humanities.

Food studies concerns do go beyond food, Professor White acknowledged in an interview in an Atlanta alternative weekly newspaper that ranged into the areas of Southern culture, racism, and Paula Deen. The study of popular culture figures and racism, of course, have long been edging out the traditional subjects on our campuses.

Food studies will now become a minor at Spelman.  It’s an effort White has been spearheading with Kimberley Jackson, who teaches a course on food chemistry, an elective that can fulfill a science requirement for the non-science major.

The effort for a food studies minor began with nine faculty members applying for and receiving a Mellon grant, White told me. After expected approval at the April curriculum committee meeting, courses should be available in the fall semester in several departments, including economics. A biologist and Chinese language expert will jointly offer a course that explores the development of Chinese cuisine, and the role of lactose intolerance. In the English department a course will investigate food imagery in Toni Morrison’s novels.

You can find the mania over food studies in many states, including North Carolina. At UNC-Chapel Hill, students in the Department of Geography can take “Critical Food Studies,” and others can develop interdisciplinary programs that incorporate courses such as “Food in American Culture” provided through the department of American Studies.

Food studies is also a focus of graduate research in Chapel Hill’s English and Comparative Literature Department. Rachel Norman describes her dissertation on Arab-American literature as “focusing on representations of language and food as practices of oral identity.”  Inger S.B. Brodey, associate professor, lists as among the courses she teaches Asian Food Rituals, cross-listed with Asian Studies.  And Jessica Martel’s dissertation is on “Modernist Form and Imperial Food Politics, 1890-1922.”

Food studies has made its way even down to freshman composition.  Apparently responding to market demand, the textbook publisher Bedford is offering Food Matters with a sample syllabus and recommended “resources” for an entire semester devoted to food studies.  Among the resources are the “documentaries” Forks Over Knives (which advocates a low-fat whole-food, plant-based diet) and Super Size Me (about the evils of the fast food industry), and the books, Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser, Barbara Kingsolver’s memoir of her year eating locally, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, and the 1971 bestseller about the environmental impact of meat production, Diet for a Small Planet.

Perhaps for the freshman who did not realize he was signing up for a “food studies” composition class, the model syllabus begins by asking, “Do you eat breakfast?  Is it from a box, your garden, or the university cafeteria?” with more questions until: “Have you ever thought about where your food comes from?” Disarming the critic who might think these critiques are “overblown,” Holly Bauer, the author, who teaches English at UC San Diego, tells the student that the issue is “contested terrain” to explore and write about.

There is not much “contesting” among the essays in the book, however.  All seem to harp on  political themes relating to food: “Doberge Cake after Katrina,” by Amy Cyrex Sins, and “Equality for Animals,” by Peter Singer, Princeton bioethics professor. Bedford also includes an excerpt from Michelle Obama’s book, American Grown: The Story of One White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Pyramid and Food Plate Nutrition Guidelines.

The prompts for essays convey the idea that eating is fraught with ideological choices. Prompt #1 asks, “What is food?  What is the purpose of food?  What determines what we eat?”  Prompt #2 asks, “What does it mean to eat ethically?” and #3 asks, “What is the future of food?” as it notes the contributors’ concerns with climate change, global hunger, and labor injustice.

Thus, rather than reading examples of exemplary prose and being asked to write about important issues, students are fed a steady stream of polemics and are given loaded topic questions.

To put the primary focus on food, rather than ideas and writing, is to act in the manner of Hawthorne’s Inspector, I think.  A similar mistake in emphasis is evidenced in “Immanuel Kant, Cuisine, Fine Art,”  a paper to be presented at an upcoming conference by Texas Tech University history student David C. Simpson, who describes himself as “. . . researching my Master’s Thesis on the history of cuisine as fine art.”  Shouldn’t the primary focus be on Kant?

To be sure, many of the papers at the Food Studies Association conference in Prato, Italy, where Simpson will present, deal with important topics like food chemistry and health, and perhaps political systems (“Mafia and Italian Food Supply Chain”). Another upcoming conference, that of  the Association for the Study of Food and Society, also offers papers on scientific concerns, alongside such things as “Gender, Race, and Ethnicity” and “Art, Media, and Literary Analyses.”

And, finally, the Food Studies Caucus of the American Studies Association will hold several panels at itsmeeting, mostly on political topics, like “Food, Debt, and the Anti-Capitalist Imagination” and “How the Other Half Eats: Race and Food Reform from the Slaughterhouse to the White House.”

“Food studies” has become an academic growth area, adding to the deterioration of the humanities, and to the advancement of leftist ideologies. No doubt our universities will be producing many more “scholars” investigating all aspects of food: food and race, food and capitalism, food and gender, etc.  But we will have fewer graduates familiar with literary and philosophical masterpieces.  Fewer will be able to produce good writing—or real food.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Liz West from Boxborough, MA of a food basket. The photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. The use of this image does not in any way that suggests that Liz West endorses the author or your use of the work in this column.

FL District 13: Jolly wins, Sink sinks, now what?

There was a special election for the Congressional District 13 seat in Florida. District 13 encompases Pinellas County. David Jolly defeated Democrat challenger Alex Sink, a former state Chief Financial Officer, by 3,500 votes or a 1.87 percent margin – 48.43 percent to 46.56 percent, according to the unofficial results from the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections. Libertarian candidate Lucas Overby won 4.83 percent of the votes. Democrats hold a 1.0 percent edge in voter registration in District 13.

After every special election there is speculation about the implications for the next general election. Here are some interesting, and perhaps useful, quotes sent to me from Floridians, politicians and political prognosticators about the Republican win.

Reuters, “You can see the handprints of the national parties all over the race,” said Susan MacManus, a longtime political analyst and professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “It almost seems as if the 2012 presidential race never ended, and just the faces and the district changed.”

Peter Rice, Sarasota, FL. “It was assumed that Democrat Alex Sink would win this election, for she won this district in her 2010 run for FL governor (she lost by a very tiny bit).  Previously she was the Democrat elected chief financial officer of Florida.  She was a banker.  Her late husband (Bill McBride) was the Democrat candidate for governor in 2002, but lost closely to Jeb Bush.  Also, Sink being a female would have benefited from the majority of voters in Florida (and I assume FL-13) being females, many of whom vote for the female candidate by perhaps 5%.  This election is an ill sign for Obama et al. on 4 November 2014, the general election.  The voters of FL-13 sent a message to our Dear Leader, a message of NO.”

Washington Times, “Before the votes were tallied, Ana Navarro, a Republican Party strategist from Florida, warned against putting too much stock in the results. “The national implications of the results of this race in Florida have grown out of proportion,” Ms. Navarro said. “The spending by both parties turned into a game of chicken, and next thing they knew, they had spent over $10 million on a seat that has to go up for election again in eight months. “Yes, the national narrative on Obamacare and other policy issues matter,” she said. “And yes, the national spending has played a big role. But the old adage remains true: All politics is local. A lot is decided by the quality of the candidates and the campaigns they run. I think it will tell you more about that than anything else.”

The Examiner, “After Tuesday’s special election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, DNC boss Debbie Wasserman Schultz spun the Republican win in true Orwellian fashion by claiming the GOP ‘underperformed’.”

The only November 2014 statewide race in Florida is for Governor. I agree with Ms. Navarro that all politics is local, the quality of the candidate and how they run their campaign are key factors. Governor Rick Scott is running on his record of job creation and an improved economy. Scott, like Jolly, has taken strong stands against Obama and his policies that hurt all Floridians.

I believe the District 13 race will have more of an impact on the race for the Governor’s mansion.

Sink’s loss does not bode well for Democrat candidate Charlie Crist, who, unlike Sink, fully embraces Obamacare as it is written. The Tampa Bay law firm Morgan & Morgan supported Sink and they also support Crist who is a partner in the firm. One issue not dealt with in District 13 was the medical marijuana ballot initiative. Democrats hope voters will turn out to vote on legalizing medical marijuana, an initiative funded by Morgan & Morgan. There are other statewide issues that will take center stage including: Common Core, property insurance and severe defense cuts. All these work against Democrats as they are Obama initiatives.

So, now what? Stay tuned, it will be a rough ride to Tuesday, November 4th in Florida.

RELATED COLUMNS:

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.”

IRS currently employing convicted associate of jihad terrorist

This is insane, but it is also completely consistent with the way that the Obama Administration has operated from the beginning. It purged counter-terror trainers who spoke honestly about jihad terror (including me) from counter-terror training programs, while turning a blind eye to the unsavory connections of people like Mohammed Elibiary and Arif Alikhan.

“(EXCLUSIVE) IRS Currently Employing Convicted Terrorist Associate,” by Patrick Poole for PJ Media, March 6 (thanks to Jerk Chicken):

While IRS officials were targeting Tea Party groups for special scrutiny of their 501(c)3 tax exempt applications, the IRS also hired a policeman who had been prosecuted by the Justice Department — and convicted in federal court — of using his access to the FBI’s NCIC system to tip off a terror suspectabout the bureau’s surveillance. The leak wrecked a major terror investigation.

He is still at the IRS.

Weiss Russell (he has changed his name from “Weiss Rasool,” the name under which he was convicted), is currently employed as a financial management analyst in the IRS Deputy Chief Financial Officer’s Office.

In 2008, Russell/Rasool was prosecuted for his role in tipping off Abdullah Alnoshan, a close associate of al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and a friend of Russell’s from their mosque. According to the Justice Department’s Statement of Facts filed at the time of Russell’s indictment, Alnoshan provided license plate numbers to Russell for cars he believed were conducting surveillance on him. Russell then checked those plate numbers in the FBI’s NCIC database, which came back to a leasing company which federal prosecutors claimed would have tipped off Russell to the bureau’s surveillance.

He left a phone message for Alnoshan that the FBI intercepted.

Prosecutors also claimed that on more than a dozen instances, Russell checked his name, the names of relatives, and other friends to see if they were listed on the Violent Crime and Terrorist Offender File on NCIC without an authorized reason for doing so.

According to the Washington Post, Russell’s tip-off to Alnoshan actively obstructed their investigation:

The target was arrested in November 2005, then convicted and deported, according to court filings in Rasool’s case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanine Linehan said that the target and his family were already dressed and destroying evidence at 6 a.m. when agents arrived to make the arrest, indicating that they had been tipped off.

Alnoshan was deported to Saudi Arabia in December 2005. Russell was indicted in January 2008, and pleaded guilty in April 2008.

While prosecutors had requested jail time for Russell after he failed a polygraph just a week before sentencing, the judge sentenced him to two years of probation. He continued on the Fairfax County police force while an internal affairs investigation was conducted. Reportedly, he was eventually given the choice to resign or be fired. He resigned in August 2008.

Chris Farrell, director of investigations at Judicial Watch, told PJ Media:

Somebody like Russell who betrayed his oath as a police officer and was convicted in court essentially for aiding and abetting the subject of an open terror investigation has absolutely no business with any position of trust and responsibility with the government.

If as reported he holds a top financial analyst position within the IRS, it’s not just a disgrace to a discredited agency but an insult to the American public. Russell has already betrayed his country and shown that he can do enormous damage and abuse his authority and powers, which he is now free to do within the IRS….

Read it all.