The Real Cost of Healthcare: Questions Not Asked or Answered

A quick review of current literature on healthcare costs and healthcare cost containment is not a very productive use of one’s time.  Within minutes of beginning a review of the published literature, the researcher quickly finds himself so deep into the weeds that it is impossible to make any sense of what is being conveyed.

Throughout the entire public debate over the efficacy of Obamacare, no one seemed to be asking the pertinent questions.  No one has asked, why is healthcare so expensive, and who gets all that money?

I can recall once reading a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a Southeast Asian family who arrived in Philadelphia with their infant daughters… Siamese twins joined at the abdomen. Upon examination by a team of surgeons and pediatricians, doctors concluded that it would be possible to surgically separate the twins and that, after a period of recovery, the two little girls could expect to live happy and productive lives.

But then one of the reporters asked the operative question.  The Asian family had no healthcare insurance and very little money, so the question arose, how much would the estimated eleven-hour procedure cost?  The hospital spokesman responded, quite matter-of-factly, saying, “About a million dollars.”

No one batted an eye; no one questioned the estimate and no one asked for a cost breakdown.  Yet, it is necessary to ask, who gets all that money?  How many physicians would participate in the separation procedure?  How many nurses?  What would be the cost of disposable medical equipment?  What would be the cost of post-operative care?  A million dollars is a hell of a lot of money for an eleven-hour surgical procedure and a month or so of post-operative pediatric care.

If we assume five attending physicians… two surgeons, an anesthetist, an obstetrician, and a pediatrician… at $1,000 each per hour for eleven hours, the cost for physician’s services would come to $55,000.  If we assume five operating room and neo-natal nurses at $100 per hour for eleven hours, the cost of nursing care would come to $5,500.  If we assume a cost of $1,000 per hour for the use of the operating theater, the cost of surgical facilities would come to $11,000.  And if we assume a cost of $5,000 for drugs, medicines, and miscellaneous medical equipment, the direct costs accumulated on the day of the separation procedure would come to $76,500.

Then, if we assume a post-operative stay of 30 days for the twins, at $400 each, per day, for a bassinette in neo-natal recovery, that cost would come to $24,000.  And if we assume a cost of $1,000 per day to have surgeons look in on their patients, $500 per day for nursing care, and $500 per day for miscellaneous medicines, food, and diapers, the total cost of post-operative care would come to $84,000.  That would bring the total cost of the separation procedure and the post-op care to $160,500.

All of these estimated costs and daily and hourly rates are admittedly inflated.  So if the hospital prepares an invoice for $1,000,000, who gets the other $839,500?

No one in Congress, the White House, or in the mainstream media is asking the operative question that needs to be addressed.  No one is asking why healthcare is so expensive.  No one is asking, who gets all that money?

A part of the answer to that question was suggested by a recent caller to the Rush Limbaugh radio show.  The caller was a bookkeeper in the finance department of a major hospital; her husband was an orthopedic surgeon who practiced at the same hospital.  The woman explained that each time an orthopedic surgeon performed a hip-joint or knee-joint replacement, he/she was paid a flat rate of $1,250 for their time and talent.  However, when the manufacturer billed the hospital $8,000 for a prosthetic hip joint, the hospital routinely billed the patient, or the patient’s insurance company, $32,000… a 300% markup for the hardware.

Over the past three or four years, a close friend and neighbor has survived a serious bout with cancer.  And although I am unaware of the total cost of his cancer treatments by local physicians and cancer specialists at the M.D. Anderson Clinic in Houston, I am aware that the bill for his bone marrow transplant procedure came to approximately $1.2 million.

Again, how many physicians and nurses actually saw him?  How many hours did they spend treating him?  What was the actual cost of a few hours of operating room usage?  How was that $1.2 million split up between a few doctors, a few nurses, a few lab technicians, and the clinic itself?   Who got all that money?

In recent weeks, Dr. Tom Coburn has announced that he will retire from the U.S. Senate with two years remaining on his current term.  Dr. Coburn is one of the two or three finest members of the U.S. Senate and his departure will be a great loss to Oklahomans and to the country.  Unfortunately, Dr. Coburn suffers from cancer and is undergoing treatment at M.D. Anderson in Houston.  What caught my attention was a recent statement by Dr. Coburn, saying that each time he has a consultation at M.D. Anderson, he is billed for $32,000.

Again, how many physicians and nurses actually see him on each visit?  How many hours do they spend treating him or evaluating his condition?  What is the actual cost of the tests he undergoes?  How is that $32,000 split up between a few doctors, a few nurses, a few lab technicians, and the clinic itself for just a few hours of their time?   If the same team of doctors, nurses, and technicians see even as few as eight patients a day, the total income generated would come to $256,000.  Who gets all that money?

Those who work in the healthcare industry… in hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices… always have a ready answer.  They claim that it is the cost of high-tech equipment and facilities that runs up the cost of healthcare.  Baloney!  There are few hospitals or clinics in the country that cannot obtain the most expensive items of diagnostic equipment, such as MRI machines, through local philanthropy.

And those large portraits of distinguished-looking men and women hanging on the walls of hospitals and surgical wings?  Those are not oil portraits of the hospital’s “Employee of the Month.”  No, those are the portraits of the men and women who have shared their wealth by donating millions of dollars to build a wing onto the local hospital and whose names are enshrined in concrete and marble over the front door.

What is needed is a complete understanding by all concerned… especially those of us who pay the bills… of how a single dollar bill makes its way through the healthcare system and how it is divvied up at the end of the day.  To do so, it would be necessary to conduct a complete micro-economic study of a select number of major medical facilities, identifying over a specified period of time the source of every dollar that comes in the front door, and the recipient of every dollar that goes out the back door.

In other words, in any overhaul of our healthcare system, our first order of business should be to figure out exactly who is bilking the system… who is getting rich, and who is being bankrupted in the process.  Compared to the actual direct cost of healthcare, the price that consumers are asked to pay is far out of balance… perhaps by a factor of as much as four or five.  So who gets all that money?

Early in his first term, Barack Obama promised that he and congressional Democrats would reshape the American healthcare system.  They promised to insure 40 million uninsured, to substantially reduce the cost of healthcare for everyone, to save the average family as much as $2,400 a year in out-of-pocket healthcare costs, to increase the quality of healthcare for all Americans, and to do it all without increasing the number of doctors, nurses, and hospitals.

No one with an I.Q. larger than their hat size would believe they could do what they promised.  But enough low-information Kool-Ade drinkers fell for Obama’s false promise and they elected him.  Now they have to live with what he, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have produced.  When the small company and large company extensions granted by Obama expire sometime in 2016, or before, everyone will be able to see the disaster that Obamacare is.

It is likely that, beginning in 2015, a Republican-controlled House and Senate will be left with the task of cleaning up Obama’s mess.  And when they do we can only hope that they will be wise enough to begin by asking the question, who gets all the money that pours into the healthcare system?  Until we confront that question, real healthcare reform will be nothing more than an impossible dream.

Downsizing Australia’s Government and Repealing Green Laws

Try to imagine a commission of the U.S. government recommending that it get rid of the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, countless agencies, and, for good measure, restructure Medicare so it doesn’t go broke. There are few Americans who will argue that our federal government isn’t big enough and many who trace our present problems to Big Government.

That is why what has been occurring in Australia caught my attention because its voters rid themselves of a political party that imposed both a carbon tax and renewable energy tax on them. The purpose of the latter was to fund the building of wind turbines and solar farms to provide electricity.

Taxing carbon emissions—greenhouse gases—said to be heating the Earth has happily died in the U.S. Senate, but in Australia the taxes were a major reason that the Liberal Party (which is actually politically conservative despite its name) took power after a former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, pushed it and the renewable energy tax through its parliament.

Gillard became the first woman PM after she challenged then PM Kevin Rudd to lead the Labor Party (which is politically liberal.) Like John Kerry, Gillard was against the taxes before she was for them. How liberal is Rudd? In February he was named a senior fellow of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Like Obama, Rudd came out in favor of same-sex marriage when he was the PM.

Bjorn Lomborg, writing in The Australian in late April, noted that both of the taxes “have contributed to household electricity costs rising 110 percent in the past five years, hitting the poor the hardest.” I repeat—110 percent!

It didn’t take Australians long to discover what a disaster taxing carbon emissions was and how useless renewable energy is. In both cases the taxes were based on the notion that “fossil fuels”, coal, oil and natural gas, are a threat to the environment. Despite an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the Earth has been cooling for the last seventeen years. Mother Nature always has the last word.

As of this writing, the repeal of the two Green laws is in the Parliament’s Senate after having won assent in the lower House. A September 2013 election provided enough new Senate lawmakers  to ensure the repeal.

The Commonwealth of Australia is the sixth largest nation by total area. It was claimed by Great Britain in 1770 and New South Wales was used as a penal colony initially. As the general population grew and the continent was explored, five more self-governing crown colonies were established. On January 1, 1901, the six colonies and several territories federated to form the Commonwealth. The population is approximately 23 million is highly urbanized and lives primarily in the eastern states.

Australia is the world’s 12th largest economy making it one of the wealthiest in the world, but the environmentally-inspired taxes had a deleterious impact on its economy, particularly the mining of coal and iron. As noted, the cost of electricity skyrocketed.

The present Prime Minister is Anthony John “Tony” Abbott. He has held the office since 2013 and has been the leader of the Liberal Party since 2009. A Member of Parliament, he was first elected in 1994 as the representative of Warringah. He made a lot of news when he protested a proposed Emissions Trade Scheme and forced a leadership ballot that defeated it, becoming in the process the Liberal Party leader and leader of the opposition to Rudd and Gillard’s Labor Party.

As reported in the April 30 edition of the Sydney Morning Herald, Abbott’s Commission of Audit “has recommended massive cuts to the size of government, with whole agencies to be abolished, privatized, or devolved to the states, in what would be the biggest reworking of the federation ever undertaken.”

The Commission, the Herald reported, has 86 recommendations, among which are “calls for the axing of multiple agencies and the surrender of huge swathes of responsibility back to the states in education, health, and other services.”

The Australian reported that Joseph Benedict “Joe” Hockey, Australia’s Treasurer as part of the Abbott government, said that the proposed budget would axe “the vast number of (environmental) agencies that are involved in doing the same thing.” Hockey is no fan of wind power, saying “If I can be a little indulgent, I drive to Canberra to go to parliament and I must say I find those wind turbines around Lake George to be utterly offensive. I think they are a blight on the landscape.” That kind of candid talk, if he was an American politician, would be considered astonishing.

The best “transformation” America could undergo is not President Obama’s version, but a return to the limits set forth in the U.S. Constitution, a document that reflected the Founder’s distinct distrust of a large central government and its allocation of civic responsibilities to the individual states to the greatest degree possible, and to “the people.”

Australia is way ahead of the U.S. in that regard, learning from the errors of environment laws and the expansion of its government into areas of health and education. We would do well to follow its example.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Florida: Statement on Passage of Inspectors General Reform

Inspectors general reform (HB 1385) passed the Florida Senate by a vote of 37-1 on May 1st. The House approved the measure 114-0 on April 23rd. The bill now goes to Governor Rick Scott.

“Inspectors general are the public’s watchdogs within state government and this bill gives them more independence to conduct investigations,” said Dan Krassner, executive director of the nonpartisan research institute and government watchdog group Integrity Florida.

“We commend Senator Jack Latvala and Representative Dan Raulerson for their reform efforts (HB 1385) to increase oversight of state operations and accountability for the public’s money.

Presently, state agency heads are able to appoint and remove their own inspectors general, which creates built-in conflicts of interest. This bill calls for inspectors general to instead report directly to the governor’s chief inspector general. The reporting change should allow our internal government watchdogs to do their job without fear of retribution from leaders of the agencies they investigate.

Agency heads and their deputies should not be able to prevent an inspector general from conducting an audit or investigation. Floridians are counting on our internal watchdogs to root out fraud, waste and abuse within state government.

The chief inspector general would make the appointment and removal (only for cause) decisions for the agency inspectors general.”

ABOUT INTEGRITY FLORIDA

Integrity Florida is a nonpartisan research institute and government watchdog whose mission is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption.  More information at www.integrityflorida.org.

Proud Little Englander: Words from Victorian England continue to haunt advocates of freedom and peace by B.K. Marcus

A battle of words from Victorian England continues to haunt advocates of freedom and peace in the 21st century.

British Sky Broadcasting’s An Idiot Abroad is the latest attempt by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, the creators of the BBC’s The Office, to find humor in humiliating and ridiculing their friend Karl Pilkington—this time by sending him around the world to “experience” other cultures.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/fLYsKe2o0g0[/youtube]

Merchant explains: “He is a typical Little Englander and he doesn’t like going out of his comfort zone.”

In the context, it’s clear what he means, but I had never heard the term Little Englander used that way. The word comes down to us from the history of classical liberalism, where the British hawks called the anti-interventionist opponents of the British Empire “Little Englanders” to distinguish them from the true patriots of Great Britain.

The 20th-century equivalent smear, used both in the United Kingdom and the United States, is “isolationist”—implying that the opponents of an expansive interventionist foreign policy are trying to shut out the rest of the world, bury our heads in the sand, and attempt to wish away the impositions of an ever more global culture. By implication, it is the interventionists who are cosmopolitan and internationalist.

Merchant’s use of the Little Englander epithet is a tiny, throwaway line, not at all the emphasis of the show—although it does get repeated in every episode of the first season, since it’s part of the opening.

So why should we care? Isn’t this just another example of how language changes over time with shifts in political and historical context?

Not quite. A quick Internet search suggests that while both meanings are current, the primary definition is still anti-imperialist, followed by the “colloquial” usage that means xenophobic.

Two recent examples of the term’s use in British magazines illustrate this semantic divergence.

The Economist

In “Great Britain or Little England?” The Economist magazine frets that “Britain is on the way to becoming more solvent but also more insular,” opining that “the trick for Britain in the future will be to combine a smaller, more efficient state with a more open attitude to the rest of the world.”

Apparently, a “more open attitude” would take the form not of voluntary exchange between free individuals across international borders, but rather of precisely the sort of governmental intervention that classical liberals disparaged as “foreign entanglement.”

One irony is that The Economist is itself a descendent of the original Little Englanders. The magazine traces its lineage back to the Anti–Corn Law League, the early free-trade manifestation of the Manchester School.

The classical-liberal Manchester School is remembered most for its opposition to protectionism, which was rightly perceived in the 19th century as a way to tax the poor to benefit the landed aristocracy. The Economist has not remained a liberal publication in this historically libertarian sense, but it has generally honored its free-trade roots. Has it lost track of the other side of the Manchester coin—opposition to war, imperialism, and foreign entanglements?

Spiked

In contrast to The Economist‘s conflation of anti-interventionism and xenophobia, Spiked magazine ran a piece last fall by Patrick West called “A ‘Little Englander’ and proud.”

Unlike Merchant or The Economist, our Spiked author does address the history: “The term ‘Little Englander’ was coined in the late-nineteenth century, an imperialist slur directed at members of the Liberal Party who were opposed to the Second Boer War (1899–1902).”

And the article’s subtitle highlights the irony of the a historical colloquialism: “Ignore the jibes of the pro-intervention crew: it’s the Little Englanders and ‘isolationists’ who are the true internationalists.”

What Was Lost?

So what are we to make of this irony, these opposed connotations of nationalist bigotry on the one hand and peaceful internationalism on the other, wrapped up in a single term?

For one thing, the contrast is no accident—no more than it is an accident that the term liberal can mean left- or right-wing, pro- or anti-market, an advocate of hard capitalism or soft socialism, depending on the context and the speaker.

At the time of the Manchester School, when the slur Little Englander was being coined, the term liberalunambiguously meant a reformer who wanted to dismantle the conservative status quo. Liberals were unequivocally in favor of individual freedom, open borders, free trade, and international capitalism in its anti-Mercantilist and anti-Marxist sense. They opposed big government, high taxes, tariffs, political privileges, and all but the most limited and purely defensive war.

It was this final value—a principled preference for peace over war—that led the interventionists to coin the term Little Englander. Liberalism, as a term and as an ideology, was too popular for the conservatives and socialists to attack it directly. Socialists therefore connived to appropriate the term through redefinition. Conservatives, in contrast, attacked the liberals’ patriotism with the dichotomy of Great Britain and Little England.

There is a division within libertarianism over the question of vocabulary and the importance of semantic positioning. While some debate the definition of, for example, capitalism or patriotism, others argue that it is folly to get stuck in struggles over terminology. Explain what you mean, the latter contend, and don’t worry over the words.

I understand why the semantic quibbling can seem both endless and pointless, but the lesson I take from the linguistic history of our movement, broadly defined, is that the words do matter. The slurs work, and their effects can still be felt over a century later, when the specific debates have long been forgotten.

So what was lost in the imperialists’ semantic victory with the term Little Englander? Why should we care if an entertainer uses it to signal his friend’s parochialism? What does it mean for the future of freedom when we have reached the point where even The Economist, without any apparent irony, uses a term of derision that was originally aimed at its founders—and uses it in keeping with the worldview of the political interventionists the magazine was founded to oppose?

What was lost was the connection in the public mind between the philosophy of freedom and a policy of peace. To be pro-capitalism and anti-poverty strikes our contemporaries as perverse. A philosophy that is pro-market and anti-war creates cognitive dissonance in today’s mainstream, and yet these values were assumed to go together at the height of our movement’s popularity and effectiveness. In letting our opponents, both on the left and the right, redefine the terms of the debate, we have allowed ourselves to descend to the position where we constantly have to explain what we don’t mean.

This is not to say that we should let ourselves be derailed by terminological disputes. But neither should we let go of our history—or the language of that history.

The principled advocates of liberty can even reclaim, I hope, some of the terms used against us—anarchismcapitalismisolationism, among others. That these terms can cause misunderstanding is not sufficient reason to abandon them. Everything about our philosophy can cause misunderstanding among the uninitiated.

I look forward to the day when we can join Spiked in proclaiming ourselves proud Little Englanders (whether we have any personal connection to England or not) and be understood to stand for cosmopolitan open-mindedness, individual liberty, and a policy of peace.

ABOUT B.K. MARCUS

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

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

Florida’s In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens Violates Federal Law

While I am a strong believer in states rights under the 10th Amendment, I also believe that states should follow existing federal laws. Following and enforcing immigration laws, for example, has been the rallying cry for Republicans and some Democrats. If Florida is harmed by  an immigration law then Governor Scott should work with the state congressional delegation to alter or abolish the law. The Florida legislature should not pass and Governor Scott sign a law that violates federal immigration law.

Case in point is the Florida legislature passing HB 851 giving illegal aliens in-state college tuition. This effort has been fully embraced by Governor Rick Scott, former Governors Jeb Bush and Bob Martinez  in the name of “lowering the cost of tuition for all Florida students.” The problem is HB 851 violates federal immigration law and requires Florida to provide the same in-state college tuition rate to all citizens of the United States.

According to  Hans A. von Spakovsky and Charles D. Stimson giving in-state college tuition to illegal aliens violates federal law. The following is the full text of their November 2011 column titled “Providing In-State Tuition for Illegal Aliens: A Violation of Federal Law“:

Federal law prohibits state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State”—unless the same in-state rates are offered to all citizens of the United States. Today, 12 states are circumventing this federal law, and the legal arguments offered to justify such actions are untenable, no matter what other policy arguments are offered in their defense. Because at least one federal court of appeals has held that there is no private right of action under the specific statute in question—§ 1623 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996—the U.S. Department of Justice must enforce this statutory provision against states that have violated federal law. Yet even as it sues states like Arizona and Alabama for trying to assist the enforcement of federal immigration law, the U.S. government refuses to sue states that are incontrovertibly and brazenly violating an unambiguous federal immigration law. Such inaction is unacceptable: The President and the Attorney General have an obligation to enforce every provision of the United State’s comprehensive federal immigration regulations—including the federal law prohibiting state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State.”

In 1996, Congress passed—and President Bill Clinton signed into law—the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).[i] Section 1623 of this federal statute prohibits state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State” unless the same in-state rates are offered to all citizens of the United States.[ii] Today, 12 states[iii] allow individuals who are in the United States illegally to pay the same in-state tuition rates as legal residents of the states[iv]—without providing the same rates to others. By circumventing the requirements of § 1623 these states are violating federal law, and the legal arguments offered to justify such actions are untenable, no matter what other policy arguments are offered in their defense.

A Nation of Laws, Not of Men

The United States is a country of immigrants—men and women who sought opportunity and freedom in an exceptional new land. Americans take pride in their heritage and this country’s generous policies regarding legal immigration. Yet, as citizens of a sovereign nation, Americans retain the right to decide who can and cannot enter this country—and what terms immigrants and visitors must accept as a condition of residing in the United States. As mandated by the U.S. Constitution, Congress sets America’s immigration policy. State officials have considerable influence in Congress over the crafting of immigration laws, and they may take steps to help enforce federal law.[v] However, state officials cannot act contrary to a congressional statute.

America is a “nation of laws, not of men,” and thus her citizens must abide by the rule of law. But even if the operation of the rule of law was not imbedded in the U.S. Constitution and legal system, every generation of Americans should re-affirm its virtue and security. These concepts, ancient as they are, and quaint as they may sound to some, provide the bedrock principles of this nation’s constitutional republic. To abandon them in individual cases—where, for example, it seems opportunistic or personally appealing—is to render them unavailable in the preservation of all other rights.

The Constitution, the States, and Immigration

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 of the United States Constitution provides that Congress has the power to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” Over the decades, Congress has done just that, imposing a variety of conditions on those who wish to immigrate (e.g., such individuals must do so openly and in accordance with established legal process) and on those who might be visiting (e.g., such individuals must not overstay their authorized visit).

Unambiguous federal law regarding who may receive the benefit of in-state college tuition is part of these conditions. Specifically, § 1623 of IIRIRA provides that

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizens or national is such a resident.[vi]

Thus, it is obvious that Congress meant to prohibit state colleges and universities from offering in-state tuition to illegal aliens unless the state institutions also offer in-state tuition to all students, regardless of whether they live in the state or in another state. Congress may have assumed that state colleges and universities would not be able to “afford” offering in-state rates to everyone because these schools rely on the higher tuition from out-of-state students to help subsidize public colleges, and thus they would not offer in-state rates to illegal aliens.[vii] But the law itself provides a choice and only requires states to treat out-of-state citizens and illegal aliens equally.

IIRIRA, once signed into law by President Clinton, should have settled this issue. But some states have continued to offer lower tuition to illegal aliens without offering the same to all students—a direct violation of federal law. Specifically, 12 states have circumvented the express language and clear intent of the statute by erecting proxy legal justifications for offering in-state tuition to illegal aliens. These states have asserted these legal arguments in courts and forced others to waste time and resources in litigation to try to enforce federal law. Such state policies not only violate federal law; they also:

  • Encourage illegal immigration;
  • Are fundamentally unfair to students from out-of-state who are U.S. citizens; and
  • Force taxpayers to subsidize the education of illegal aliens.

Beyond these immediate concerns, there is another, larger issue at stake: the federal government’s preeminent power to regulate immigration. The Supreme Court has held that the “[p]ower to regulate immigration is unquestionably exclusively a federal power.”[viii] However, not every state action “which in any way deals with aliens is a regulation of immigration and thus per se pre-empted by this constitutional power, whether latent or exercised.”[ix] In order for a state statute affecting immigrants (legal or illegal) to be valid, it cannot be expressly preempted by federal immigration law and must “not otherwise conflict with federal law.”[x]

State laws that provide in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens are both expressly preempted by, and in conflict with, § 1623—unless the state also provides in-state tuition rates to all other American students regardless of their state of residence. However, none of the states that provide in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens have changed their state laws to provide such tuition rates to out-of-state students who are U.S. citizens.

Circumventing Federal Law 101

To avoid IIRIRA’s mandate that in-state tuition be determined “on the basis of residence within a State,” some state lawmakers have created alternative criteria through which students might qualify for in-state tuition. Such alternative criteria are intended to act as a substitute for actual residence, which, in turn, creates the patina of compliance with the federal statute: Since residence is not at issue, there is, so these states argue, no conflict between federal and state law. In reality, however, the states are targeting illegal aliens for in-state tuition.

Maryland’s Senate Bill 167, which was signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley (D), is a typical example of such chicanery. This bill exempts individuals, including “undocumented immigrants,” from paying out-of-state tuition if the person attended a secondary school in the state for at least three years, graduated or received a GED in the state, proves that he or his parents have filed Maryland income tax returns annually for the three years the student attended school in Maryland, and states that they will file an application to become a permanent resident.[xi]

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler provided a dubious legal opinion regarding Senate Bill 167 to Gov. O’Malley on May 9, 2011. Gansler concluded that federal law (in particular, 8 U.S.C. § 1623(a)) does not preempt Senate Bill 167. The opinion suggests that Senate Bill 167 is not subject to the preemptive effect of § 1623(a) because the former “looks to factors such as time of attendance in Maryland schools and graduation from Maryland schools to define an exemption from nonresident tuition” [xii] and not residence. There are at least two problems with that legal analysis.

First, federal law permits a state to grant in-state college tuition to an illegal alien only if the state affords the same benefit to non-Maryland residents. The purpose of that law is to allow a state to treat illegal aliens like nonresidents for college tuition purposes: If the state does not charge more to the latter than to in-state students, then it may charge the same amount to illegal aliens (who, in an abstract sense, are akin to non-Marylanders). But Maryland’s law does not use that formula; Gansler claims that the bill does not require “residence” in Maryland to attend college and receive in-state tuition since it looks to “time of attendance” in Maryland high schools.

However, the regulations of the Maryland Board of Education authorize local schools to require “proof of the residency of the child” for admission into public schools for kindergarten through high school.[xiii] In fact, the Web site for the Prince George’s County Public Schools says that “proof of residence shall be a prerequisite of admission to the public schools” and parents and guardians who are registering their children for school the first time must file an “Affidavit of Disclosure as required by law, verifying their legal residence in Maryland.”[xiv] Montgomery County also tells parents enrolling their children for the first time that “all students…must provide verification of age, identity, residency, and immunizations.”[xv]As the state’s attorney general, Gansler has constructive knowledge of this residency requirement. The fact that he ignores it throws into question the premise on which his entire legal opinion rests.

No one who lives in, and went to high school in, for example, Wyoming, could satisfy the eligibility requirements of Senate Bill 167; the new law does not apply to non-Marylanders. As such, because the Maryland bill does not put non-Maryland residents on a par with Marylanders, the bill cannot give illegal aliens a break on state tuition.

Second, Gansler’s letter states that “the entire purpose of the bill is to design a law that will enable the State to continue to provide services to young undocumented aliens.”[xvi] The purpose of the bill, therefore, is to achieve the result that Congress outlawed in 8 U.S.C. § 1623(a)—granting in-state college tuition to illegal aliens without also granting that benefit to non-Maryland residents.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down state legislation enacted to evade federal statutory or constitutional requirements. Indeed, the Court has rejected such legislation even when state lawmakers do not reference a suspect or disfavored classification:

The states have no power, by taxation or otherwise, to retard, impede, burden, or in any manner control, the operations of the constitutional laws enacted by Congress to carry into execution the powers vested in the general government.[xvii]

For example, in 2000, the Court struck down a Hawaiian statute that limited voting in certain elections to individual descendants of those who lived in Hawaii prior to 1778.[xviii] The statute’s eligibility requirements made no mention of race but were an obvious pretext for Polynesian heritage.

These state statutes that are intended to provide in-state tuition to illegal aliens are similar pretextual attempts to evade the federal immigration statute.

The Martinez Legal Fig Leaf

The few federal cases on this issue filed by citizen university students and their parents against such state laws have not reached the substantive merits of the preemption issue because the courts have held that individuals do not have standing to sue under this statutory federal provision.

For example, in Day v Bond, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit brought by nonresident citizen university students and their parents against the state of Kansas. Section 1623 does not create a private right of action and the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring an equal protection claim.[xix] The court held that the injuries claimed by the plaintiffs failed to satisfy “the requisite standing criteria.” These injuries included:

  1. The denial of equal treatment caused by the Kansas law that made it impossible for nonresident U.S. citizens to obtain the same in-state benefits;
  2. The increased tuition faced by the plaintiffs since the burden of subsidizing illegal alien beneficiaries is passed along to other students through tuition hikes;
  3. The harm that results from competition for scarce tuition resources; and
  4. The extra tuition paid by nonresident plaintiffs during the academic year over the in-state tuition paid by nonresident illegal aliens, as a consequence of the discriminatory law.

On the other hand, illegal aliens who have sued states for denying admission to post-secondary institutions as a violation of their constitutional rights have had their lawsuits thrown out on the merits. InEqual Access Education v. Merten,[xx] a Virginia federal district court held that, although illegal aliens had standing to bring suit, Virginia was under no obligation to allow illegal aliens to attend Virginia colleges and universities. Virginia’s law was not preempted by federal law and did not violate due process: “It defies logic to conclude that…Congress left states powerless to deny admission to illegal aliens.”[xxi] The court concluded that the “persuasive inference to draw from § 1623 is that public post-secondary institutions need not admit illegal aliens at all, but if they do, these aliens cannot receive in-state tuition unless out-of-state United States citizens receive this benefit.”[xxii]

As the National Conference of State Legislatures notes in a report on in-state tuition for illegal aliens, in order to try and “maneuver around the [§ 1623] requirements, the eleven states that have enacted laws granting in-state tuition rates to undocumented students have tried to word the legislation so that it is contingent on high school attendance and graduation, and not based on residency within the state.”[xxiii]But Texas bases its definition of residency for college admission on an individual (or his parent) establishing domicile in Texas not later than one year before the academic term in which the student is enrolled in college or graduating from a Texas high school who “maintained a residence” continuously for three years before graduation.[xxiv] Similarly, California bases residency on high school attendance in California for three or more years and graduation from a California high school.[xxv]

The California Supreme Court bought into this legally questionable argument in Martinez v. Regents of the University of California.[xxvi] The court recognized that the question of federal preemption of California’s residency law depended on whether the three-year high school attendance requirement is an “exemption based on residence within California.” However, the court held that the requirement that a student attend a California high school for three years and graduate was not a residency requirement. It overturned the California Court of Appeals, which had come to the legally straightforward conclusion that the California law was intended to benefit illegal aliens living in the state and the “wording of the California statute…creates a de facto residence requirement.”[xxvii] The court of appeals did not consider it relevant that the eligibility criteria did not correlate 100 percent with residency.

The California Supreme Court made the illogical claim that because § 1623 is not an “absolute ban” on illegal aliens receiving such tuition benefits, that section of federal law is not in accord with the expressed intention of Congress in its immigration legislation to “remove the incentive for illegal immigration provided by the availability of public benefits.”[xxviii] The court also ignored the fact that the state had adopted the law specifically to benefit illegal aliens living in California and that the overwhelming majority of those who qualified for the benefit were only illegal aliens.

While this legally erroneous decision may be the law in California (at least for the time being), it is not the law anywhere else in the country. Although the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition of certiorari filed by the plaintiffs, it is black letter law that such a denial has no precedential effect whatsoever;[xxix]this issue has not yet been decided on the merits by any federal court.

And yet, offending states continue to ignore the clear language provided by a federal court in the Mertendecision, and instead rely on the preferred outcome found in a state supreme court ruling—a shortsighted and legally specious approach to governing.

Unwise Public Policy

Giving illegal aliens a financial break at state colleges and universities is not only illegal; it is also immensely unpopular with American taxpayers. An August 2011 Rasmussen poll found that 81 percent of voters oppose providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens. Seventy-two (72) percent of voters believe parents should be required to prove their legal residency when registering their children for public school.[xxx]

These results, however, should hardly come as a surprise: In 2005, it was estimated that the cost to taxpayers of providing in-state tuition in California was between $222.6 million and $289.3 million, while the cost to Texas taxpayers was between $80.2 million and $104.4 million.[xxxi]

Granting financial preference to illegal aliens also discriminates against otherwise qualified citizen students from outside the state. Furthermore, states that offer in-state tuition to illegal aliens act as a magnet for more illegal aliens to come to the state. Arguments to the contrary are unpersuasive, and not supported by the facts.

An Obligation to Enforce Federal Law

States that offer in-state tuition for illegal aliens are in violation of federal law. In doing so, these states are also acting against the will of the American people.

The applicable statute and the case law are clear: If there is no private right of action under § 1623, the U.S. Department of Justice must enforce this statutory provision against states that have violated federal law. Yet even as it sues states like Arizona and Alabama for trying to assist the enforcement of federal immigration law, the U.S. government refuses to sue states that are incontrovertibly and brazenly violating an unambiguous federal immigration law.

The President and the Attorney General have an obligation to enforce the provisions of the United States’ comprehensive federal immigration regulations—including the federal law prohibiting state colleges and universities from providing in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens “on the basis of residence within the State.”

ABOUT HANS A VON SPAKOVSKY AND CHARLES D. STIMSON

Hans A. von Spakovsky and Charles D. Stimson are both Senior Legal Fellows in the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation;  von Spakovsky served as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Justice Department (2002–2005) and Stimson was a federal prosecutor and later Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (2006–2007).

Florida Legislature Passes Two Landmark Bills: Textbooks and American Laws for American Courts

Senator Hays

Florida Senator Alan Hays.

After four years of trying in the face of misinformed opposition, an amended version of American Law for American Courts (ALAC) SB 386 passed the Florida Legislature this week.  The Senate sponsor of SB 386, Senator Alan Hays, Republican of Umatilla, said on Monday, April 28th when the Senate voted to pass the measure by 24 Republicans to 14 Democrats:

I am delighted that my colleagues in the Florida Senate passed SB 386 – The Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases -this morning.

It is my fervent desire to make sure everyone in a Florida courtroom is  protected from the imposition of any foreign law that may diminish the rights of that person which are afforded by our US and Florida Constitutions.  This bill codifies case law to offer those protections and is a welcome addition to the statutes of our state.

I sincerely appreciate the efforts of many others who assisted in the passage of this landmark legislation.

Fl. Rep. Mike Hill

Florida Rep. Mike Hill

House Rep. Mike Hill, Republican from Pensacola, a member of the Subcommittee on Civil Justice, following   House approval on April 30th of HB 903 by 78 Republicans to 40 Democrats, said:

I am honored to join my colleagues and vote ‘yes’ on the bill that passed the Florida House today codifying that American law only will be used in Florida courts.  It is our duty to do so as I took an oath to protect the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Florida.

The Amended version of SB 386 was adopted to overwhelm five Amendments put up by opposition minority Democrats prior to the floor debate that began last Friday, April 25th.The compromise reached was to take up an Amendment formerly offered and waived by Republican Senator David Simmons of Altamonte Springs in previous House and Senate Committee hearings. The Simmons Amendment would codify Florida case law. However, it would assist in addressing Sharia compliant parental abduction in violation of Florida, US and international law.Given Florida legislative procedures, the House passed the Senate version.Now the measure awaits enactment into law upon review by Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Rabbi Jonathan H. Hausman small

Rabbi Jonathan Hausman

Rabbi Jonathan Hausman and I were in the Florida House Public Gallery on Tuesday, April 29th witnessing the floor debate with questions from opposition Democrats to House bill sponsor Rep. Neil Combee.   Misinformed, they persisted in asking why the measure was necessary and alleged conflicts over recognition of Israeli rabbinic divorce decrees and business contracts.Rep. Combee cited both lower court and appellate level cases in which foreign law had been recognized that did not comply with the comity principles under Florida practice as justification for passing the measure.

The alleged problems cited by Democrat members of the Florida House; i.e., non-recognition of Israeli family court decisions had been investigated and found misleading. That effort was based on published research by Professor Daphna Hackner, a Tel Aviv University Family law expert and arguments presented in a video and letter to Florida legislators by Rabbi Hausman, a member of two state bars and expert in both Jewish Halacha and Islamic Sharia.

Prior to the Senate and House deliberations on SB 386/HB 903 we suggested to the bill sponsors that the Amended version be reviewed by Stephen M. Gelé, Esq. of the New Orleans law firm of Smith Fawer LLC.  Today, despite his being on vacation, Gelé sent his assessment on the legislation that we received via Christopher Holton of ACT!  Gelé said:

The Florida Legislature recently passed SB 386, a bill that will help protect Floridians from foreign law that is inconsistent with American values, such as Islamic Sharia law.  When hopefully signed into law by Governor Scott, the bill will: help protect Florida parents who face loss of their children to a foreign custody judgment; help protect spouses who face unfair foreign judgments of divorce, spousal support, or marital property distributions; help protect parents and spouses from marital contracts (including Islamic marital contracts often named mahrs) that would force decisions regarding child custody, spousal support and marital property distributions to be decided in foreign courts or under foreign law in American courts; and, help protect parents and spouses from having disputes regarding child custody, spousal support and marital property distributions from being dismissed by Florida courts in favor being decided in  foreign courts.

Although American and Florida courts have held in the past that foreign law should not be applied when the foreign law offends public policy, this concept has not previously been strengthened by statute. Further, under current Florida child custody statutes a judge can refuse to enforce a foreign custody judgment only “if the child custody law of a foreign country violates fundamental principles of human rights.”  Unfortunately, statements by the U.S. State Department suggest that “fundamental principles of human rights” should be interpreted more narrowly than most Americans would interpret the phrase.  However, SB 386 allows a Florida judge to refuse to enforce a foreign custody judgment under the much broader standard of whether the judgment offends the public policy of Florida.

Therefore, the most important effect of the change in the law would be to protect parents from losing their children to foreign custody decrees, which has happened before.

Margaret McLain

Prof. Margaret McLain

Gele’s comments are reflective of a new theme adopted based on the recommendation by Kansas House Speaker Pro TemporeRep. Peg Mast. Mast successfully secured bi-partisan support for passage of ALAC in the 2012 session in Topeka. She suggested emphasizing protection of “fundamental Constitutional rights” for Florida women and children. That meant putting a human face to the theme of the foreign law war on women and children. This was reflected in New English Review  interviews with two women.

One interview was with retired Arkansas State University Professor Margaret McClain. She spoke in Tallahassee on March 13, 2014 to a group of citizen lobbyists about the abduction and removal of her five  year old daughter Heidi to Saudi Arabia by her Saudi ex-husband in violation of state, federal and international law, but condoned under Sharia

Yasmeen A_ Davis  NER interview 3-17-14

Yasmeen A. Davis

Then there was the interview with Floridian Yasmeen A. Davis who told about her abduction by her Saudi father at age 11 and her treatment under Sharia in his home in Saudi Arabia until rescued by her family at age 13.  Now 28 she still suffers PTSD from the episode.

One of the premiere groups in providing ground forces to obtain commitments for the legislation is the Christian Family Coalition (CFC) of Florida led by its highly effective executive director, Anthony Verdugo. CFC has more than 5,000 members and supporters working with over 1,000 Churches in the state. CFC demonstrated its prowess by supporting social issue legislation that passed the Florida legislature and a bi-partisan Support for Israel resolution in 2012.  CFC made the legislation a priority for passage in 2014 and held several training sessions with members to equip them with FAQs documents and arguments as to why the bills should be passed countering the misinformation of opponents.  On March 13, 2014  following talks by both Senator Hays and Professor McClain at the CFC’s Annual Leadership Prayer Breakfast in Tallahassee, 75 citizen-lobbyists fanned out buttonholing Senators and Representatives presenting the rationale behind  the CFC legislative priorities.  By the afternoon of March 13th, these CFC citizen lobbyists had successfully obtained 39 commitments in support of bills and other CFC legislative priorities.

Fl Rep Matt Gaetz

Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz

Without the dogged determination of the legislation’s sponsors like Sen. Hays and Rep. Combee with the support of advocates in the House Reps. Mike Hill, Larry Metz and Matt Gaetz, what occurred this week might not have happened.

That was abetted by a new and important theme, protecting the Constitutional rights of women and children.  This was assisted by able ground forces from the CFC and other concerned citizen activists securing legislator commitments.

But that is not all that occurred in Tallahassee this week.

Earlier this month, Sen. Hays had also deftly maneuvered a companion measure directed at text book review, SB 864, passed the Senate with a thin vote tally of 21 Republicans  to 19 Democrat. The measure would reverse State Department of Education control over selection of textbooks returning that role to Florida’s 67 school districts, requiring open public hearing on texts used in courses.  SB 864 was largely prompted by a different issue; objections of parental groups in several Florida counties about the treatment of Islam and Muslim culture in world history textbooks that are on the Florida State Department of Education list of approved texts.

Today, the House passed the amended SB864/HB 921 by a resounding bi-partisan 117 yeas with 2 not voting.

Fl Rep_ Larry Metz

Florida Rep. Larry Metz

Like the experience with SB 386, SB 864/HB 921: “on K to 12 instruction materials”, was amended following a conference with both Senate and House sponsors and consultation with the Governor’s office.  While it may require clarification that standards of fact-based accurate depictions in world history texts should be adhered to, the legislation does create a process giving parents relief who object at the school district  level  to specific instructional material triggering  a public hearing.  The legislation  also adds requirements that instructional materials “accurately portray the religious and physical diversity of our society”. Further, it makes the school district boards responsible for the content of all instructional materials used in the classroom.  One important requirement is that the amended legislation would add a new topic in the curriculum specified in 1003.42, F.S. –“the events surrounding the terrorist attacks occurring on 9/11/01 and the impacts of those events on the nation”.

Those of us who have been involved with the support of both measures consider them landmarks for possible consideration in other US states.  This might not satisfy all of the concerns in certain quarters; however, they reflect two well turned precepts.  Voltaire wrote: “a wise Italian says that the best is the enemy of the good”.   German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck said:  “politics is the art of the possible”.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Local communities face onslaught from self-anointed planners by Bonner Cohen, Ph.D.

A growing number of initiatives by elitist organizations, working hand-in-glove with local kindred spirits, is transforming once-self-governing communities into instruments of environmental political correctness.

Cloaked in the mantle of providing for “sustainable” or “livable” communities, these programs include such fashionable ideas as “open space,” “heritage areas,” “view sheds,” ”smart growth,” “clean energy,” and “combatting climate change,” – just to name a few.

What was once largely the domain of far-away UN conferences and obscure academic journals has now made its way to Main Street. Planning commissions, which have spread like wildfire over the past couple of decades and whose members are unelected, produce an endless array of schemes designed to micro-manage every aspect of commercial, residential, and recreational life. No town, no matter how small, is safe from the meddling of planners in and outside of government.

The Shadow of Agenda 21

The proliferation of efforts by green elites to mold communities in their own image is a consequence of the rise of the environmental movement – both in the U.S. and throughout the world. Those efforts received a substantial boost with the adoption of something called Agenda 21 at the conclusion of the June 3-14, 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment & Development in Rio de Janeiro. Agenda 21 is described by UNbuildingthe UN Division on Sustainable Development as “a comprehensive plan of development to be taken globally, nationally, and locally by organizations of the United Nations Systems, Governments and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts (sic) on the environment.”

A 300-page document divided into 40 chapters, Agenda 21 has many goals, including changing consumption patterns, conserving biological diversity, protecting fragile environments and the atmosphere, and achieving more sustainable settlements. Agenda 21 provides a blueprint for the kinds of structural changes the proponents of sustainable development (a term left purposely vague) want to see take place.

Merely setting goals, however, was not enough; the task of implementing Agenda 21 fell to another UN body, the International Council on Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). Founded in 1990, ICLEI is an association of local and regional governments as well as nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) – all sharing a commitment to sustainable development. ICLEI’s membership currently numbers over 1200 cities, towns, counties, and NGOs in 84 countries. In the United States, 528 cities belong to ICLEI, including New York, Los Angeles, Dubuque, Iowa, and Arlington, Texas.

ICLEI’s U.S. website, www.icleyus.org, informs its visitors that $618 million in funding for grants and technical assistance is available for state, local, and tribal governments. The largess comes courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency and the departments of Energy, Interior, and Transportation and is be used for climate and energy initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Lest they have any doubts about the organization’s commitment to combatting climate change, visitors also can read about ICLEI’s new emissions-management software.

Another organization spreading the gospel of sustainable development is the appropriately named American Planning Association (APA). Founded in 1978, APA provided a ready-made vehicle for taking the goals of Agenda 21 to the local level. A forum for the exchange of views and proposals among urban and regional planners of every description, APA has state chapters throughout the country. In addition to its well-attended conferences, APA uses its website, www.planning.org, to get the message out. Its website, for example, touts the virtues of solar power and bike-sharing as ways communities can reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions.

When such “lofty” goals are adopted by local governments, they have real-world consequences for those on the receiving end of the elitists’ grand vision. Open space in a case in point. Thomas Sewell, senior fellow with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, notes that open space comes at an enormous cost to perspective homeowners and those seeking affordable apartments to rent. “What that lovely phrase means is that there are vast amounts of empty land where the law forbids anybody from building anything,” he says. “Anybody who has taken Economics 101 knows that preventing the supply from rising to meet demand means that prices are going to rise,” he explains. “Housing is no exception.” (Washington Times, April 23, 2014)

The “Plantocracy”

Indeed, all across the country, the lives of ordinary citizens are under siege by the grandiose schemes of what we will call the “plantocracy.” Consider:

  • In Ohio, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) teamed up with the Montgomery County Commission, the Washington Township Board, and an assortment of NGO “stakeholders” to have a bike path added to a road-widening project. The bike path comes within seven feet of the front door of a local resident’s 164-year-old farm house. In July 2013, bulldozers flattened hedges and trees in front of the historic farm house to make way for the bike path. The owner of the property protested vehemently, but to no avail. An official with the MVRPC justified the bike path and the destruction to private property it wrought by saying, “Doing so reduces the amount of carbon and harmful emissions into the atmosphere so that our air is cleaner.” (Range, Winter 2013-14)
  • In Washington, a bill, HB 2386, introduced in the legislature would create the State Maritime Heritage Area that would include “all federal, state, local, and tribal lands that allow public access and are partly located within one-quarter mile land inward of the saltwater shoreline (of the Pacific Ocean)…” Language in the bill assures the public that nothing in the legislation “creates any regulatory jurisdiction or grants any regulatory authority to any government or other entity” or “abridges the rights of any owner of public or private property within the designated area,” or “established any legal rights or obligations, including in regards to any environmental or administrative review process involving land use.” Opponents of the legislation ask why, if the designation is so benign, does Maryland have a 19-member Maryland Heritage Authority and a 10-member board appointed by the governor to oversee the state’s heritage areas. The question is a reflection of the well-founded mistrust of such schemes on the part of ordinary citizens.
  • In Isle of Wight County, Virginia, local officials are trying to prohibit a farmer from allowing a disable friend from staying overnight on his property in an RV. County officials claim that the use of the RV constitutes an unauthorized “campground” in violation of local zoning ordinances. “Cases such as this one are becoming increasingly common across the country as overzealous government officials routinely enforce laws that undermine the very property rights that are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution,” says John Whitehead, president of the Charlottesville, Va.-based Rutherford Institute.

Defenders of Agenda 21 and ICLEI are quick to point out that they have no regulatory authority and cannot enforce any of their recommendations. That’s true. But once the genie is out of the bottle and finds its way into the rules, regulations, ordinances, “green” building codes, and land-use restrictions of local governments, what comes out does have the force of law behind it. The plantocracy, with all the interlocking relationships it has with well-funded and well-connected interests, is a beast that is roaming the countryside searching for its next prey.
Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

About the Author: Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT.

Michelle Malkin Rips Into Jeb Bush And “Fed-Ed” Common Core Standards

Conservative blogger, FOX News contributor, and my fellow “brownie” amiga,  Michelle Malkin was recently in Florida doing what she does best, railing against progressives and squishy establishment Republicans.

Malkin was the keynote speaker at the 2014 Hernando County Lincoln Day dinner this past weekend, and did not pull punches with her disgust with the likes of former Common Core pied piper, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and others who support the “Fed-Ed” education standards.

Common Core is a huge issue for Malkin, and has reached a fever pitch in Florida. State Representative Debbie Mayfield has recently introduced legislation keep Common Core out of the state’s school system.

Republican congressional candidate, Jorge Bonilla, who is challenging Democrat Alan Grayson, has recently called for a full defunding of Common Core, was also in attendance.

Even Senator Marco Rubio has put himself at odds with Jeb Bush by openly expressing his opposition to government-run socialized education.

Watch this video clip of Malkin’s rip on Bush and Common Core.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/L7_pbHGhtXo[/youtube]

 

RELATED STORY: AP: Common Core a Defining Issue for GOP 2016 Hopefuls

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The Shark Tank. 

Florida: Minimum-mandatory gun sentences need revamping

Minimum-mandatory sentencing sounds like a good idea, because it keeps judges from imposing lighter, or no sentences upon dangerous criminals. But while legislators hold judges feet to the fire with broad-brush mandatory sentencing laws, many decent, non-dangerous people are being victimized with excessive penalties that they don’t deserve.

I would call upon the governor and the state representatives of Florida to reconsider these draconian mandates that strip judges of all discretion from considering extenuating circumstances in each and every case. We’ve gone too far in punishing people with minimum sentences just because they happened to be in possession of a firearm at the time of the alleged “crime.” I cite two particular Florida cases which serve as examples of overly “harsh” penalties imposed upon decent people whose back were to the walls in moments of domestic in-tranquility.

Our justice system has lost its sense of justice and humanity. Decent people who are no threat to society languish in prison for decades based on sentencing technicalities that strip judges from using judicial discretion. Meanwhile, dangerous criminals still roam the streets while honest and productive citizens languish in jail cells, leaving kids stripped of fathers and mothers.

Example One: Marissa Alexander, 31, Jacksonville. In 2012, this mother of a three small kids, holding a master’s degree and working at a job, was sentenced to 20 years in state prison. Her crime: Firing a gun toward a wall as a warning shot during a domestic fight with her estranged husband, who was under a restraining order.

Charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, prosecutors offered a plea deal for reduced charges, but she declined, feeling she was guilty of no crime. The jury found her guilty, compelling the judge to sentence her to 20 years, based on laws that give judges no discretion.

Said Circuit Judge Donald Jacobsen: “If it weren’t for the minimum mandatory aspect of this, I would use my discretion and impose some separated sentence, considering the circumstances of this event.”

The insanity of such cruel and harsh punishment is incomprehensible. Even if she showed poor judgment, there was no justifiable reason to incarcerate a productive, law-abiding human being for 7,300 days. The state not only punished Alexander, but three kids will grow up without a mother.

Example Two: Orville Wollard, 53, Davenport. This family man, gainfully employed, had been coping with a problem whereby his live-at-home daughter was often abused by her violence-prone boyfriend.

On May 14, 2008, Wollard was called at work by his wife, advising of a volatile situation at the house. He later saw that his daughter had a black eye. Having had arm surgery, Wollard was no match for the young man in a physical altercation. The boyfriend was ordered out of the house but refused.

The fighting escalated until Wollard retrieved his legally owned firearm. After the angry boy punched a hole in the wall, he confronted the older man. Wollard fired a shot into the wall. The boyfriend left. No one was hurt. Weeks later, the boyfriend called police and filed a report.

Wollard was prosecuted and convicted of the same crime as Alexander. As in that case, and because he was in possession of a firearm at the time of a felony, the judge was duty bound under minimum mandatory laws to sentence this good and decent man to 20 years in prison, wrecking his life and the life of his family.

At the sentencing, Wollard spoke to the court: “This person assaults my daughter, he threatens me, I protect myself. No one is injured, and I am going to prison. I would expect this from the Soviet Union not the United States.”

The state Clemency Board and/or Florida governor have the power to grant pardons and/or clemency when miscarriages of justice are wrongfully imposed against citizens. Alexander and Wollard certainly qualify for consideration.

Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture by Troy Camplin

Literary Theory: An Anthology (ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan) is one of the foremost anthologies of literary theory. Among its sections is one titled “Political Criticism: From Marxism to Cultural Materialism.” With the exception of Hegel, all the authors are Marxists. This is the entirety of economic analysis in literature: Marxism. At least, it was.

Now there is Literature and the Economics of Liberty: Spontaneous Order in Culture, which introduces Austrian economics to literary criticism. This anthology’s stated purpose—to “explore the possibility that forms of economic thinking sympathetic to capitalism may be able to illuminate our understanding of literature in new ways”—is not entirely without precedent, but Cantor and Cox’s book is distinct in its focus on one tradition of economic thought: Austrian economics.

In a pursuit as individualistic as writing, it may seem surprising that this is the first attempt to apply Austrian economics, with its methodological individualism, to literary production, while such anti-individualistic worldviews as Marxism have dominated. But if we understand that socialism is a top-down approach to economic organization, perhaps this is not so surprising. Authors engage in top-down organization whenever they write—so the application of this process to social processes seems, to many of them, logical. Even many experts in sociology or economics do not make the proper distinctions between top-down organizations and bottom-up orders, so why expect writers to do so?

The anthology authors’ use of methodological individualism does not mean they view the artist as an isolated genius. Their approach rather places writers in their historical-cultural contexts. Writers are influenced by the world they live in. There is feedback, which informs the writer and influences future works. The Austrian approach to economics views the individual as a social being, and so too the artist. It emphasizes the subjectivity of value, which Cantor observes should make it more attractive than the objective theory of Marxism, since literature is particularly focused on subjective experiences. Spontaneous-order theory helps us develop a better idea of how literary artists create works of art. From it we can develop a sociology of artistic production superior to what is possible through Marxist-informed theories.

Cantor devotes his introductory essay to “showing how . . . Hayek’s idea of spontaneous order can help to resolve one of the central dilemmas of literary theory, the conflict between the New Criticism and Deconstruction.” According to Cantor, New Criticism, one of the earliest literary theories developed in the twentieth century, argues that everything the author puts in his work is intentional and that the finished work is therefore “perfect.” In opposition to New Criticism, Cantor tells us, Deconstruction insists on the incoherence of literature and points out where authors have failed, left gaps, and conformed to their culture in various ways. That idea led to the corollary of the “death of the author,” that there was no such thing as an author who created exactly what he intended. With spontaneous-order theory, we can reject the idea of the author as being in perfect control of his work while also rejecting the death of the author and the lack of authorial intention to coordinate a large organization to achieve the goals he has set for it, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing.

While this book brings to light the way literature is produced by viewing literary production as a spontaneous order, it also provides a different approach to understanding the ways economics and economies are portrayed in literature. It investigates the economic views of authors such as Shelley, Wells, and Dickens. Marxist approaches have emphasized how authors have criticized the market economy; celebrations of it are ignored. In one chapter Cantor analyzes Percy Bysshe Shelley’s essay A Philosophical View of Reform, in which he discusses the problems with national debt—which Cantor uses to support the argument that Shelley was, contrary to previous literary scholarship, not a socialist.

In Cantor’s chapter on Thomas Mann’s short story “Disorder and Early Sorrow,” he discusses the problems of Weimar German hyperinflation and how it resulted in a degradation of all values. The Austrian understanding of the effects of monetary policy and the emphasis on subjective-value theory allow us to better understand this story.

Classical liberalism is not just a belief in a certain kind of political economy; it has implications for all of society, including culture, literature, and the fine arts. Literary analysis has been dominated by leftist scholars, but this insightful book gives libertarian scholars, particularly those influenced by Austrian economics, a foot in the door.

ABOUT TROY CAMPLIN

Troy Camplin is an independent scholar and the author of Diaphysics.

EDITORS NOTE: The features photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Seven Marijuana Myths Debunked

The legalization of marijuana is spreading across the nation. The effort to legalize the general use of marijuana begins with ballot initiatives to legalize medical marijuana. Florida is set to have such an initiative on the ballot in November 2014. It is important for voters to understand the truth and myths about the use of marijuana. Therefore this column by Kevin A. Sabet the author ofReefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuanaand the Director of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)is provided for edification on the issue.

The following is Sabet’s analysis of marijuana myths originally published on The Foundry.

Don’t believe the hype: marijuana legalization poses too many risks to public health and public safety. Based on almost two decades of research, community-based work, and policy practice across three presidential administrations, my new book “Reefer Sanity” discusses some widely held myths about marijuana:

Myth No. 1: “Marijuana is harmless and non-addictive”

No, marijuana is not as dangerous as cocaine or heroin, but calling it harmless or non-addictive denies very clear science embraced by every major medical association that has studied the issue. Scientists now know that the average strength of today’s marijuana is some 5–6 times what it was in the 1960s and 1970s, and some strains are upwards of 1020 times stronger than in the past—especially if one extracts THC through a butane process. This increased potency has translated to more than 400,000 emergency room visits every year due to things like acute psychotic episodes and panic attacks.

Mental health researchers are also noting the significant marijuana connection with schizophrenia, and educators are seeing how persistent marijuana use can blunt academic motivation and significantly reduce IQ by up to eight points, according to a very large recent study in New Zealand. Add to these side-effects new research now finding that even casual marijuana use can result in observable differences in brain structure, specifically parts of the brain that regulate emotional processing, motivation and reward. Indeed, marijuana use hurts our ability to learn and compete in a competitive global workplace.

Additionally, marijuana users pose dangers on the road, despite popular myth. According to the British Medical Journal, marijuana intoxication doubles your risk of a car crash.

Myth No. 2: “Smoked or eaten marijuana is medicine.”

Just like we don’t smoke opium or inject heroin to get the benefits of morphine, we do not have to smoke marijuana to receive its medical effects. Currently, there is a pill based on marijuana’s active ingredient available at pharmacies, and almost two-dozen countries have approved a new mouth spray based on a marijuana extract. The spray, Sativex, does not get you high, and contains ingredients rarely found in street-grade marijuana. It is likely to be available in the U.S. soon, and today patients can enroll in clinical trials. While the marijuana plant has known medical value, that does not mean smoked or ingested whole marijuana is medicine. This position is in line with the American Medical Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Glaucoma Foundation, National MS Society, and American Cancer Society.

Myth No. 3: “Countless people are behind bars simply for smoking marijuana.”

I wholeheartedly support reducing America’s incarceration rate. But legalizing marijuana will not make a significant dent in our imprisonment rates. That is because less than 0.3 percent of all state prison inmates are there for smoking marijuana. Moreover, most people arrested for marijuana use are cited with a ticket—very few serve time behind bars unless it is in the context of a probation or parole violation.

Myth No. 4: “The legality of alcohol and tobacco strengthen the case for legal marijuana.”

“Marijuana is safer than alcohol, so marijuana should be treated like alcohol” is a catchy, often-used mantra in the legalization debate. But this assumes that our alcohol policy is something worth modeling. In fact, because they are used at such high rate due to their wide availability, our two legal intoxicants cause more harm, are the cause of more arrests, and kill more people than all illegal drugs combined. Why add a third drug to our list of legal killers?

Moreover, marijuana legalization will usher in America’s new version of “Big Tobacco.”

Myth No. 5: “Legal marijuana will solve the government’s budgetary problems.”

Unfortunately, we can’t expect  societal financial gain from marijuana legalization. For every $1 in revenue the U.S. receives in alcohol and tobacco taxes, we spend more than $10 in social costs. Additionally, two major business lobbies—Big Tobacco and the Liquor Lobby—have emerged to keep taxes on these drugs low and promote use. The last thing we need is the “Marlboroization of Marijuana,” but that is exactly what we would get in this country with legalization.

Myth No. 6:  “Portugal and Holland provide successful models of legalization.”

Contrary to media reports, Portugal and Holland have not legalized drugs. In Portugal, someone caught with a small amount of drugs is sent to a three-person panel and given treatment, a fine, or a warning and release. The result of this policy is less clear. Treatment services were ramped up at the same time the new policy was implemented, and a decade later there are more young people using marijuana, but fewer people dying of opiate and cocaine overdoses. In the Netherlands, officials seem to be scaling back their marijuana non-enforcement policy (lived out in “coffee shops” across that country) after witnessing higher rates of marijuana use and treatment admissions there. The government now only allows residents to use coffee shops. What all of this tells us about how legalization would play out in the U.S. is another point entirely and even less clear.

Myth No. 7: “Prevention, intervention, and treatment are doomed to fail—So why try?”

Less than 8 percent of Americans smoke marijuana versus 52 percent who drink and 27 percent of people that smoke tobacco cigarettes. Coupled with its legal status, efforts to reduce demand for marijuana can work. Communities that implement local strategies implemented by area-wide coalitions of parents, schools, faith communities, businesses, and, yes, law enforcement, can significantly reduce marijuana use. Brief interventions and treatment for marijuana addiction (which affects about 1 in 6 kids who start using, according to the National Institutes of Health) can also work.

And one myth not found in the book: “Colorado and Washington are examples to follow.”

Experience from Colorado’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana is not promising. Since January, THC-positive test results in the workplace have risen, two recent deaths in Denver have been linked to recreational marijuana use, and the number of parents calling the poison control hotline because their kids consumed marijuana products has significantly risen. Additionally, tax revenues fall short of original projections and the black market for marijuana continues to thrive in Colorado. Though Washington State has not yet implemented its marijuana laws, the percentage of cases involving THC-positive drivers has significantly risen.

Marijuana policy is not straightforward. Any public policy has costs and benefits. It is true that a policy of saddling users with criminal records and imprisonment does not serve the nation’s best interests. But neither does legalization, which would create the 21st century version of Big Tobacco and reduce our ability to compete and learn. There is a better way to address the marijuana question—one that emphasizes brief interventions, prevention, and treatment, and would prove a far less costly alternative to either the status quo or legalization. That is the path America should be pursuing—call it “Reefer Sanity.”

RELATED STORIES:

It’s Legal to Sell Pot in Colorado, But Not If You’re in 4th Grade – ABC News
Marijuana may cause heart problems in young adults – Yahoo News UK
Study: Marijuana Use May Increase Risk of Nicotine Addiction | The Weekly Standard
Marijuana Edibles: You May Not Be Getting What You Think – CBS Denver
Students Find Way To Secretly Smoke Marijuana In Class – CBS Denver
Pocket hookahs proliferate with young marijuana users, sources say – The Denver Post
LA Times – Pot candy ‘geared toward children’ seized at San Clemente checkpoint
Marijuana may cause heart problems in young adults – Yahoo News UK

Florida Senate votes 24 to 14 to approve American Laws for American Courts legislation

The Florida Senate has approved American Laws for American Courts legislation which would prohibit Sharia and other foreign laws.  The full senate voted voted 24 to 14 in favor of SB 386 titled Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases at the third reading during the Monday, April 28, 2014 session.

Joseph Abruzzo No Democrat
Thad Altman Yes Republican
Aaron Bean  Yes Republican 
Lizbeth Benacquisto  Yes Republican 
Rob Bradley  Yes Republican 
Jeff Brandes  Yes Republican 
Oscar , II Braynon  No Democrat 
Dwight Bullard  No Democrat 
Jeff Clemens  No Democrat 
Charles S. Dean Sr. Yes Republican 
Nancy C. Detert  Yes Republican 
Miguel Diaz de la Portilla  Yes Republican 
Greg Evers  Yes Republican 
Anitere Flores  Yes Republican 
Don Gaetz  Yes Republican 
Bill Galvano  Yes Republican 
Rene Garcia  Yes Republican 
Andy Gardiner  Yes Republican 
Audrey Gibson  No Democrat 
Denise Grimsley  Yes Republican 
Alan Hays  Yes Republican 
Dorothy L. Hukill  Yes Republican 
Arthenia L. Joyner  No Democrat 
Jack Latvala Republican
Tom Lee  Yes Republican 
John Legg  Yes Republican 
Gwen Margolis  No Democrat 
Bill Montford  No Democrat 
Joe Negron Republican
Garrett Richter  Yes Republican 
Jeremy Ring  No Democrat 
Maria Lorts Sachs  No Democrat 
David Simmons Yes Republican
Wilton Simpson Yes Republican
Christopher L. Smith No Democrat
Eleanor Sobel No Democrat
>Darren Soto No Democrat
Kelli Stargel Yes Republican
Geraldine F. Thompson No Democrat
John Thrasher Yes Republican

 

The official Florida Senate vote history for SB 386 is posted here.  

This legislation, commonly known as “American Laws for American Courts”, would prohibit Florida courts from considering certain provisions of foreign laws, including Islamic Sharia law, if such provisions are inconsistent with the Florida and United States of America Constitutions.

If Florida courts accept provisions of Islamic Sharia law or other foreign laws or legal codes which are inconsistent with American laws it will undermine public policies enacted by our representative form of government and change our value system.

Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases:

Defines “foreign law, legal code, or system”; specifies public policy on application of foreign law, legal code, or system in proceedings relating to dissolution of marriage, support, time-sharing, UCCJEA, & UIFSA; provides that certain decisions rendered under such laws, codes, or systems are void; provides that certain contracts & contract provisions are void; provides for construction of waiver by natural person of person’s fundamental liberties, rights, & privileges guaranteed by state or federal constitutions; provides that claims of forum non conveniens or related claims must be denied; provides that act doesn’t require or authorize court to adjudicate, or prohibit any religious organization from adjudicating, ecclesiastical matters in violation of specified constitutional provisions or to conflict with any federal treaty or other international agreement to which U.S. is party to specified extent.  Full text of SB 386.

A vote by the full Florida House of Representatives on HB 903 Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases is pending.

Florida Senate Allows Law Licenses for Illegal Aliens

Floridians for Immigration Enforcement in an email states, “If College Tuition Subsidy for Illegal Aliens (SB 1400) were not bad enough, the Florida Senate in under 24 hours passed an amendment to allow law licenses for illegal aliens. The bill now goes to the House for a vote. The session ends Friday, May 2nd, 2014.”

On April 24th the Florida Senate took a bill that had nothing to do with state bar admission and amended it on the floor of the Senate to make illegal aliens eligible to practice law in Florida.

“Proponents of illegal aliens practicing law in Florida amended the bill, House Bill (“H.B.”) 755, on the Senate floor to avoid scrutiny or critiques of the legislation. The bill passed the Senate on Friday without any opportunity for public debate or participation. H.B. 755, which passed the House of Representatives March 23 by a vote of 117-0 as a family law bill, will now return to the House for consideration of the Senate amendment,” reports Dale L. Wilcox, State & Local Director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

Florida citizens did not have any opportunity to voice their concerns, call their representatives, or testify for or against the bill.

FAIR points out:

  • Illegal Aliens, by Definition, Do Not Uphold Our Laws. Admission to the Florida bar involves taking an oath to uphold the law and the Constitution-an oath that illegal aliens cannot, in good faith, take because they reside in the United States continuously in violation of federal law.
  • Illegal aliens do not only have past violations of the law to address on their bar applications, but current violations of the law as well. An illegal alien bar applicant is very different from an applicant who committed a prior bad act and subsequently rehabilitated or demonstrated law-abiding behavior after the misconduct.
  • H.B. 755 Conflicts with the Rationale Behind the Good Character Requirement for Bar Admission. Public interest requires that the public be secure in its expectation that those who are admitted to the bar are worthy of the trust and confidence clients must place in their lawyers. Bar admission and Florida’s ethical rules were adopted to protect the public and promote respect and confidence in the legal profession. However, no member of the public cannot reasonably expect his lawyer to obey the law if immigration laws are considered fair game for breaking.
  • The Indefinite Nature of An Illegal Alien’s Presence in the Country Fundamentally Impairs His Ability to Responsibility Represent Clients.Because illegal aliens have no legal right to remain in the United States, the representation of a client could be suddenly cut short by an order of removal. A lawyer who is removed from the country will not have enough time to act with reasonable diligence and promptness to resolve ongoing client matters and may not be able to give his clients adequate notice to terminate the representation.
  • Illegal Aliens Are Not “Otherwise Law-Abiding.” Even the average illegal alien, who some claim is “otherwise law-abiding” despite violating our duly established immigration law, violates numerous laws, including, but not limited to, laws prohibiting identity theft, forgery, and driving without a license or insurance, often creating real victims.

Wilcox notes, “Florida should demand that its lawyers be honest and law-abiding. Illegal aliens are neither.”

H.B. 755 was amended at the last minute to include the provision making illegal aliens eligible to practice law in Florida. As a result, the issue was never considered in any committee and never provided a public hearing.

Concerned citizens may call or email their Florida Representative and voice their opinion on H.B. 755.

Why the United States should adopt Mexico’s Immigration Laws

Members of Congress are harming our society by overwhelming us with legal and illegal aliens. Perhaps they should consider adopting Mexico’s immigration laws? Since the majority here are Mexicans they should understand and appreciate being judged under Mexican rules.

Mexico welcomes only foreigners who will be useful to Mexican society:

Foreigners are admitted into Mexico “according to their possibilities of contributing to national progress.”

Immigration officials must “ensure” that “immigrants will be useful elements for the country and that they have the necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents.

Foreigners may be barred from the country if their presence upsets “the equilibrium of the national demographics,” when foreigners are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” when they do not behave like good citizens in their own country, when they have broken Mexican laws, and when “they are not found to be physically or mentally healthy.”

The Secretary of Governance may “suspend or prohibit the admission of foreigners when he determines it to be in the national interest.”

Mexican authorities must keep track of every single person in the country:

  1. Federal, local and municipal police must cooperate with federal immigration authorities upon request to assist in the arrests of illegal immigrants.
  2. A National Population Registry keeps track of “every single individual who comprises the population of the country,” and verifies each individual’s identity.
  3. A national Catalog of Foreigners tracks foreign tourists and immigrants and assigns each individual with a unique tracking number.
  4. Foreigners with fake papers, or who enter the country under false pretenses, may be Imprisoned. Foreigners with fake immigration papers may be fined or imprisoned.
  5. Foreigners who sign government documents “with a signature that is false or different is subject to fine and imprisonment.
  6. Foreigners who fail to obey the rules will be fined, deported, and/or imprisoned as Felons. Foreigners who fail to obey a deportation order are to be punished.
  7. Foreigners who are deported from Mexico and attempt to re-enter the country without authorization can be imprisoned for up to 10 years.
  8. Foreigners who violate the terms of their visa may be sentenced to up to six years in prison . Foreigners who misrepresent the terms of their visa while in Mexico — such as working with out a permit — can also be imprisoned.

Under Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony. The General Law on Population States…”A penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of three hundred to five thousand pesos will be imposed on the foreigner who enters the country illegally.”

Foreigners with legal immigration problems may be deported from Mexico instead of being imprisoned. Foreigners who have contempt against national sovereignty or security” will be deported.

Mexicans who help illegal aliens enter the country are themselves considered criminals .Under the law, A Mexican who marries a foreigner with the sole objective of helping the foreigner live in the country is subject to up to five years in prison.

Beyond Nationalism and Territorialism (1851) by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Editor’s Note: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, considered the father of anarchism, might also fairly be considered a founder of the libertarian left. Readers of this publication will find much to disagree with in Proudhon’s work, especially when it comes to his famous line: “Property is theft.”

The institution of private property, far from being a source of subjugation, has undoubtedly been a liberating force for humanity. Indeed, that private property is a precondition of trade also makes it a source of global prosperity. On the whole, private property is indispensable.

But, dear reader, what if we were to read Proudhon’s short piece not with his anti-propertarian lens, but with our own understanding of private property as a force for decentralization and growth? How then might we interpret this work?

By applying the economic way of thinking, we might come to agree with Proudhon that an economic revolution is possible, perhaps even inevitable. Indeed, Proudon seems to forecast globalization. But will globalizationaccelerated by more cosmopolitan relationships onlinestart to erase national boundaries? We’ll have to wait and see. But Proudon’s thesis is provocative, even if it’s over 160 years old.

Nationality, aroused by the state, opposes an invincible resistance to economic unity: this explains why monarchy was never able to become universal. Universal monarchy is, in politics, what squaring the circle or perpetual motion are in mathematics, a contradiction. A nation can put up with a government as long as its economic forces are unorganized, and as long as the government is its own, the nationalism of the power causing an illusion as to the validity of the principle; the government maintains itself through an interminable succession of monarchies, aristocracies and democracies. But if the power is external, the nation feels it as an insult: revolt is in every heart, it cannot last.

What no monarchy, not even that of the Roman emperors has been able to accomplish; what Christianity, that epitome of the ancient faiths has been unable to produce, the universal Republic, the economic Revolution will accomplish, cannot fail to accomplish.

It is indeed with political economy as with other sciences: it is inevitably the same throughout the world: it does not depend upon the fancies of men or nations; it yields to the caprice of none. There is not a Russian, English, Austrian, Tartar, or Hindu political economy, any more than there is a Hungarian, German or American physics or geometry. Truth alone is equal everywhere: science is the unity of mankind.

If then science, and no longer religion or authority, is taken in every land as the rule of society, the sovereign arbiter of interests, government being void, all the legislation of the universe will be in harmony. There will no longer be nationality, no longer fatherland, in the political sense of the words: they will mean only places of birth. Man, of whatever race or colour he may be, is an inhabitant of the universe; citizenship is everywhere an acquired right. As in a limited territory the municipality represents the Republic, and wields the authority, each nation in the globe represents humanity, and acts for it within the boundaries assigned by Nature. Harmony reigns, without diplomacy and without council, among the nations: nothing henceforward can disturb it.

What purpose could there be for entering into diplomatic relations among nations who had adopted the revolutionary programme?

No more governments,

No more conquests,

No more custom houses,

No more international police,

No more commercial privileges,

No more colonial exclusions

No more control of one people by another, one state by another

No more strategic lines,

No more fortresses.

Russia wants to establish herself at Constantinople, as she is established at Warsaw: that is to say, she wants to include the Bosporus and the Caucasus in her sphere. In the first place, the Revolution will not permit it; and to make sure, it will begin by revolutionising Poland, Turkey, and all it can of Russian provinces, until it reaches St. Petersburg. That done, what becomes of the Russian relations at Constantinople and Warsaw? They will be the same as at Berlin and Paris, relations of free and equal exchange. What becomes of Russia itself? It becomes an agglomeration of free and independent nationalities, united only by identity of language, resemblance of occupations, and territorial setting. Under such conditions conquest is meaningless. If Constantinople belonged to Russia, once Russia was revolutionized Constantinople would belong to it neither more nor less than if it had never lost its sovereignty. The Eastern question from the North ceases to exist.

England wants to hold Egypt as she holds Malta, Corfu, Gibraltar, etc. The same answer from the Revolution. It notifies England to refrain from any attempt upon Egypt, to place a limit upon her encroachment and monopoly, and to make sure, it invites her to evacuate the islands and fortresses whence she threatens the liberty of nations and of the seas. It would be truly a strange misconception of the nature and scope of the Revolution to imagine that it would leave Australia and India as the exclusive property of England, as well as bastions with which she hems in the commerce of the continent. The mere presence of the English in Jersey and Guernsey is an insult to France; as their exploitation of Ireland and Portugal is an insult to Europe; as their possession of India and their commerce with China is an outrage upon humanity. Albion, like the rest of the world, must be revolutionized. If necessary to force her, there are people here who would not find it so hard a task. The Revolution completed in London, British privilege extirpated, burnt, thrown to the winds, what would the possession of Egypt mean to England? No more than that of Algiers is to us. All the world could enter, depart, trade at will, arrange for the working of the agricultural, mineral, and industrial resources, the advantages would be the same for all nations. The local power would extend only to the cost of its politics, which the colonists and natives would defray.

There are still among us chauvinists who maintain absolutely that France must recapture her natural frontiers. They ask too much or too little. France is everywhere that her language is spoken, her revolution followed, her manners, her arts, her literature adopted, as well as her measures and her money. Counting thus, almost the whole of Belgium, and the cantons of Neuchâtel, Vaud, Geneva, Savoy, and a part of Piedmont belong to her; but she must lose Alsace, perhaps even a part of Provence, Gascony and Britanny whose inhabitants do not speak French, and some of them have always been of the kings’ and priests’ party against the revolution. But of what are these repetitions? It was the mania for annexation which, under the Convention and the Directory, aroused the distrust of other nations against the Republic, and which, giving us a taste for Bonaparte, brought us to our finish at Waterloo. Revolutionize, I tell you. Your frontiers will always be long enough and French enough if they are revolutionary.

Will Germany be an Empire, a unitary Republic, or a Confederation? This famous problem of Germanic unity which made so much noise some years ago, has no meaning in the face of the Revolution; which proves indeed that there has never been a Revolution. What are the states, in Germany as elsewhere? Tyrannies of different degrees of importance, based on the invariable pretexts, first, of protecting the nobility and upper classes against the lower classes; second, of maintaining the independence of local sovereignty. Against these states the German democracy has always been powerless, and why? Because it moved in the sphere of political rights. Organize the economic forces of Germany, and immediately political circles, electorates, principalities, kingdoms, empires, all are effaces, even the Tariff League: German unity springs out of the abolition of its states. What the ancient Germany needs is not a confederation but a liquidation.

Understand once for all: the most characteristic, the most decisive result of the Revolution is, after having organized labour and property, to do away with political centralization, in a word with the state, and as a consequence to put an end to diplomatic relations among nations, as soon as they subscribe to the revolutionary compact. Any return to the traditions of politics, any anxiety as to the balance of power in Europe, is based on the pretext of nationality and of the independence of states, any proposition to form alliances, to recognize sovereignties, to restore provinces, to change frontiers, would betray, in the organs of the movement, the most complete failure to understand the needs of the age, scorn of social reform, and a predilection for counter-revolution.

The kings may sharpen their swords for their last campaign. The Revolution in the nineteenth century has for its supreme task not so much the overthrow of their dynasties, as the destruction of the last root of their institution. Born as they are to war, educated to war, supported by war, domestic and foreign, of what use can they be in a society of labour and peace? Henceforth there can be no more purpose in war than in refusal to disarm. Universal brotherhood being established upon a sure foundation, there is nothing for the representatives of despotism to do but to take their leave. How is it that they do not see that this always increasing difficulty of existence, which they have experienced since Waterloo, arises, not as they have been made to think, from the Jacobin ideas, which since the fall of Napoleon have again begun to beset the middle classes, but from a subterranean working which has gone on throughout Europe, unknown to statesmen, and which, while developing beyond measure the latent forces of civilization, has made the organization of those forces a social necessity, an inevitable need of revolution?

As for those who, after the departure of kings, still dream of consulates, of presidencies, of dictatorships, of marshalships, of admiralties, and of ambassadorships, they also will do well to retire. The Revolution, having no need for their services, can dispense with their talents. The people no longer want this coin of monarchy: they understand that, whatever phraseology is used, feudal system, governmental system, military system, parliamentary system, system of police, laws and tribunals, and system of exploitation, corruption, lying and poverty, all are synonymous. Finally they know that in doing away with rent and interest, the last remnants of the old slavery, the Revolution, at one blow, does away with the sword of the executioner, the blade of justice, the club of the policeman, the gauge of the custom officer, the erasing knife of the bureaucrat, all those insignia of government which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel.

ABOUT PIERRE-JOSEPH PROUDHON