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Beware of Politicians who Covet Your Stuff!

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Image from Facebook.

On Facebook there is a meme (right) based upon what President Donald J. Trump said at his “Choose Greatness” 2019 State of the Union. President Trump said:

America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free and we will stay free. 

Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country. 

Coveting

When I saw this meme I posted this:

Exodus 20:2-17 NKJV – “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

A Facebook friend Randy Rioux asked, “What is that for?”

I responded to Randy with, “Communism and Socialism is based upon the core belief of coveting other peoples things. It is a violation of the Tenth Commandment. At some point Communists and Socialists run out of other peoples things.” Randy replied, “Thanks for clarifying.” I believe Randy got it.

Merriam Webster defines coveting as, “to desire (what belongs to another) inordinately or culpably.”

Synonyms for covet include: ache (for)cravedesideratedesiredie (for)hanker (for or after)hunger (for)itch (for)jones (for) [slang], long (for)lust (for or after)pant (after)pine (for)repine (for)salivate (for)sigh (for)thirst (for)wantwish (for)yearn (for)yen (for).

The Individual vs. The Collective

Ayn Rand’s 1946 monograph “Textbook of Americanism” explains in the simplest terms possible what made America unique and great.

Rand opens with an explanation of two starkly contrasting ideas.

What Is the Basic Issue in the World Today?

The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism. Individualism holds that man has inalienable rights which cannot be taken away from him by any other man, nor by any number, group or collective of other men. Therefore, each man exists by his own right and for his own sake, not for the sake of the group.

Collectivism holds that man has no rights; that his work, his body and his personality belong to the group; that the group can do with him as it pleases, in any manner it pleases, for the sake of whatever it decides to be its own welfare. Therefore, each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group.

These two principles are the roots of two opposite social systems. The basic issue of the world today is between these two systems.

President Trump clearly threw the gauntlet down against the “collective” when he said, “America was founded on liberty and independence, and not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free and we will stay free.” 

2020 Presidential Primary

This is what every America should be alert for as we enter the 2020 Presidential primaries. There will be dozens of debates as both political parties field candidates at the national, state and local levels.

The defining issue in 2020 will be coveting.

Coveting takes on many forms. Here are some core coveting issues to watch out for:

  1. Coveting other peoples freedom of speech. There are those politicians who hunger for the power to limit free speech. Many social media giants have become gate keepers and salivate over denying some freedom of expression.
  2. Coveting other peoples ability to defend themselves. This ongoing battle will heat up as politicians use tragedies to yearn for the day that all Americans are disarmed and unable to defend themselves from thieves, criminals and the government.
  3. Coveting other peoples religious beliefs. Some politicians will use hatred of Jews to promote their political agenda.
  4. Coveting other peoples wealth. Taxes is the tool of politicians at every level to take what is not theirs and redistribute it as they wish.
  5. Coveting other peoples individualism. The great battle since the beginning of mankind is the struggle between the individual and the collective (government).
  6. Coveting other peoples children. This is perhaps the most dangerous form of coveting. This form of coveting takes on many forms: the brainwashing of children to turn on their parents, the sexual assaults on children to feed a craving (pedophilia and pederasty) and the using of children for personal gain (human trafficking and prostitution).
  7. Coveting another persons life. The law recently passed in New York and the law proposed in Virginia are the definition of infanticide.

All of these forms of coveting, and many more, will be on full display during the 2020 Presidential primaries.

Coveting leads to worshiping false images (the earth), disrespecting your parents, adultery, stealing, lying (bearing false witness) and even murder.

Watch for them. Beware of them. Vote to end coveting.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Pixabay.

Civil War: America’s Enemies Hiding in Plain Sight

Russian born American writer and novelist Ayn Rand wrote, “The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. They come to be accepted by degrees, by dint of constant pressure on one side and constant retreat on the other – until one day when they are suddenly declared to be the country’s official ideology.”

Janie Johnson posted the above photo of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protestors on her Twitter page. Janie wrote, “On [the] bottom of the signs is the inscription: revcom.us. To see who printed them, go to: .”

The organization that printed these BLM posters is the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA (RCP-USA). The stated strategic approach of the RCP-USA is to:

“Fight the Power, and Transform the People, for Revolution…to take up a revolutionary viewpoint and revolutionary values and morals as they join with others to resist this system’s crimes and build up the basis for the ultimate all-out revolutionary struggle to sweep this system away and bring in a whole new way of organizing society, a whole new way of being…to become emancipators of humanity.” [Emphasis RCP-USA]

The RCP-USA signs brought to mind several banners carried by BLM protestors in Ferguson, Missouri.

FergusonPalestine

Robert Spencer in his November 2014 column Islamic supremacist groups connect their jihad to Ferguson riots wrote:

In the photo above (thanks to Kay), Leftist demonstrators relate the strife in Ferguson to the “Palestinian” jihad. And Pamela Geller has a great deal of information on how Islamic jihadists and supremacists, including the Hamas-linked terror organization CAIR, have tried to co-opt the Ferguson riots as part of their own jihad. Most noteworthy is the active presence in Ferguson of “Palestinian” jihad activist Bassem Masri.

The connection between Ferguson and “Palestine” (and the global jihad in general) is clear: both the Islamic supremacists and the Ferguson rioters think that the American system is corrupt and must be brought down.

isis banner ferguson

Islamic State banner carried by Black Lives Matter protestors in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo: CNN

In a November 2014 column Ferguson: The beginning of an American Intifada I wrote:

This spiral of death and destruction scenario is used across the globe to incite riots, mayhem and violence. It is used to recruit those with real or perceived grievances against those in authority. It is being used by the Islamic State to recruit in Ferguson, Missouri.

Ferguson is the beginning of the American intifada in the black community. This same strategy is being used by terrorist organizations like HAMAS, Hezbollah, Boko Haram and al Qaeda. Grab the headlines and make your point via political violence. The problem is the narrative is routinely false, even based upon lies, but by the time the facts are presented it is too late. The damage has already been done.

Lessons learned from Ferguson:

  1. Appeasement of the protesters leads to more violence.
  2. Coalitions of outside organizations including radical homosexual, Muslim and minority groups makes for a deadly mix.
  3. The targets are the law and law enforcement. The demand is for two legal systems, one for minorities and one for whites.
  4. The creation of no-go zones where police and firefighters cannot or will not go due to the threat of violence.
  5. The manipulation of the media in the name of “equality” and “social justice” to create a scenario where a radical agenda may be furthered that denies both.
  6. The use of violence even when blacks, like President Obama, call upon their fellow blacks to be non-violent.
  7. The creation of a atmosphere where law enforcement officers will hesitate to enforce the law or ignore the law in order not to become a target.
  8. Lawlessness with an anarchist’s political objective – to destroy the status quo.

A race war is upon America because some minorities want it more than they want to be Americans.

I fear that these groups will once again come together in Cleveland to disrupt the Republican National Convention and Donald Trump’s nomination. This Red/Green/Rainbow alliance has already showed itself at Trump rallies. The Red/Green/Rainbow alliance is emboldened and becoming more violent.

These protestors want to bring a civil war to America in order to fundamentally transform the country. 

America is a land of laws and requires order. Protest if one wishes but to become violent demands police action and people, organizations and institutions to be held accountable.

We shall see what happens in Cleveland. Stay tuned.

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Progressivism’s Dark Side by George J. Marlin

George J. Marlin writes about the shadows that envelope Progressivism: a legacy of elitist eugenics and racism.

In early March, I had the privilege of attending the oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole at the U.S. Supreme Court. It was both an extraordinary and eerie experience.

The eight justices questioned Texas Solicitor General Scott Keller and pro-abortion advocate Stephanie Toti about a 2013 Texas law – passed in response to the gruesome Gosnell revelations and trial in Philadelphia – which requires abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals within a thirty mile radius of the place at which the abortion is being performed.

I was seated in one of the seven guest rows, where most attendees were pro-abortion. To my left: Planned Parenthood C.E.O. Cecile Richards. Fives minutes before the justices took their seats, President Obama’s top aide, Valerie Jarrett, came in and sat down in front of me.

President Woodrow Wilson

The issue before the Court was whether the Texas law imposes “undue burden” on women seeking abortions. The progressive justices’ cross-examinations were very clinical. In fact, I have never heard the word “abortion” used so often in such a detached manner.

For instance, when Solicitor General Keller pointed out that the law would save the lives of victims of botched abortions, Justice Stephen Breyer dismissed the argument as immaterial because there were only 200 such instances out of Texas’ 70,000 abortions per year.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor snapped at Keller, asking sarcastically, “The slightest benefit is enough to burden the lives of a million women. That’s your point?” In other words, all lives don’t matter.

By the end of this morbid session, I thought I was in a eugenics court. Then it dawned on me, I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the modern Progressive movement has been dominated by a self-anointed elite, like several of the justices, who had contempt for the common people. In the early 20th century, they even promoted social and economic policies driven by anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic impulses.

Click here to read the rest of Mr. Marlin’s column . . .

Socialism Is Harder than You Think by Scott Sumner

Suppose you wanted to switch to socialism — what would be the ideal place to do so? You’d want a country with extremely high quality civil servants.

That would be France.

You’d want a country where socialism is not a dirty word, and capitalism is.

That would be France.

You’d want a country with the Socialist party in power, a party that was committed to enact the ideas of Thomas Piketty.

That would be France.

So how did things work out in France, when they tried to adopt a Bernie Sanders/Thomas Piketty approach to taxes?

IN THE eyes of many foreigners, two numbers encapsulate French economic policy over the past decade or so: 75 and 35. The first refers to the top income-tax rate of 75%, promised by François Hollande to seduce the left when he was the Socialist presidential candidate in 2012. The second is the 35-hour maximum working week, devised by a Socialist government in 2000 and later retained by the centre-right.

Each has been a totem of French social preferences. Yet, to the consternation of some of his voters, Mr Hollande applied the 75% tax rate for only two years, and then binned it. Now he has drawn up plans that could, in effect, demolish the 35-hour week, too.

Mr Hollande’s government is reviewing a draft labour law that would remove a series of constraints French firms face, both when trying to adapt working time to shifting business cycles and when deciding whether to hire staff. In particular, it devolves to firms the right to negotiate longer hours and overtime rates with their own trade unions, rather than having to follow rules dictated by national industry-wide deals.

The 35-hour cap would remain in force, but it would become more of a trigger for overtime pay than a rigid constraint on hours worked. These could reach 46 hours a week, for a maximum of 16 weeks. Firms would also have greater freedom to shorten working hours and reduce pay, which can currently be done only in times of “serious economic difficulty”. Emmanuel Macron, the economy minister, has called such measures the “de facto” end of the 35-hour week.

At the same time, the law would lower existing high barriers to laying off workers. These discourage firms from creating permanent jobs, and leave huge numbers of “outsiders”, particularly young people, temping.

For one thing, it would cap awards for unfair dismissal, which are made by labour tribunals. Laid-off French workers bring such cases frequently; they can take years and cost anything from €2,500 to €310,000 ($2,700 to $337,000) by one estimate.

Unfortunately, while France is moving away from these polices, the US is like to move some distance in their direction. Of course there are differences. Our minimum wage is still lower than in France, and our top income tax rate is closer to 50% in states like California and New York. But all the momentum is with the socialists, who are especially numerous among the younger voters.

Socialist ideas are superficially appealing. Paul Krugman (who favors very high income tax rates on the rich) often says that reality has a liberal bias. Actually, reality has a neoliberal bias, and if you don’t take incentive effects into account, you may end up disappointed.

Back in the US, Sander’s single payer approach also has problems:

A costing of Mr Sanders’s plans by Kenneth Thorpe of Emory University, using more conservative assumptions, found that the plan was underfunded by nearly $1.1 trillion (or 6% of GDP) per year. If Mr Thorpe is right, higher taxes will be required to make the sums add up. In 2014 Mr Sanders’ own state, Vermont, abandoned a plan for a single-payer system on the basis that the required tax rises would be too great.

Vermont is one of the most liberal states in the union. Now think about the fact that they gave up on the idea, despite it having been previously approved and signed into law. Then think about the concept of rolling out a multi-trillion dollar plan at the federal level, soon after the only experiment at the state level failed to get off the ground.

Is that evidence-based liberalism, or wishful thinking?

This post first appeared at Econlog.

Scott SumnerScott Sumner

Scott B. Sumner is the director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center and a professor at Bentley University. He blogs at the Money Illusion and Econlog.

Why the Holocaust Should Matter to You by Jeffrey Tucker

People tour the nation’s capital to be delighted by symbols of America’s greatness and history. They seek out monuments and museums that pay tribute to the nation state and its works. They want to think about the epic struggles of the past, and how mighty leaders confronted and vanquished enemies at home and abroad.

But what if there was a monument that took a different tack? Instead of celebrating power, it counseled against its abuses. Instead of celebrating the state and its works, it showed how these can become ruses to deceive and destroy. Instead of celebrating nationalist songs, symbols, and stories, it warned that these can be used as tools of division and oppression.

What if this museum was dedicated to memorializing one of history’s most ghastly experiments in imperial conquest, demographic expulsion, and eventual extermination, to help us understand it and never repeat it?

Such a museum does exist. It is the US Holocaust Museum. It is the Beltway’s most libertarian institution, a living rebuke to the worship of power as an end in itself.

I lived in Washington, DC, when the Holocaust Museum was being built, and I vaguely recall when it opened. I never went, though I had the opportunity; I remember having a feeling of dread about the prospect of visiting it. Many people must feel the same way. Surely we already know that mass murder by the state is evil and wrong. Do we really need to visit a museum on such a ghastly subject?

The answer is yes. This institution is a mighty tribute to human rights and human dignity. It provides an intellectual experience more moving and profound than any I can recall having. It takes politics and ideas out of the realm of theory and firmly plants them in real life, in our own history. It shows the consequences of bad ideas in the hands of evil men, and invites you to experience the step-by-step descent into hell in chronological stages.

The transformation the visitor feels is intellectual but also even physical: as you approach the halfway point you notice an increase in your heart rate and even a pit in your stomach.

Misconceptions

Let’s dispel a few myths that people who haven’t visited might have about the place.

  • The museum is not maudlin or manipulative. The narrative it takes you through is fact-based, focused on documentation (film and images), with a text that provides a careful chronology. One might even say it is a bit too dry, too merely factual. But the drama emerges from the contrast between the events and the calm narration.
  • It is not solely focused on the Jewish victims; indeed, all victims of the National Socialism are discussed, such as the Catholics in Poland. But the history of Jewish persecution is also given great depth and perspective. It is mind boggling to consider how a regime that used antisemitism to manipulate the public and gain power ended up dominating most of Europe and conducting an extermination campaign designed to wipe out an entire people.
  • The theme of the museum is not that the Holocaust was an inexplicable curse that mysteriously descended on one people at one time; rather the museum attempts to articulate and explain the actual reasons — the motives and ideology — behind the events, beginning with bad ideas that were only later realized in action when conditions made them possible.
  • The narrative does not attempt to convince the visitor that the Holocaust was plotted from the beginning of Nazi rule; in fact, you discover a very different story. The visitor sees how bad ideas (demographic central planning; scapegoating of minorities; the demonization of others) festered, leading to ever worsening results: boycotts of Jewish-owned business, racial pogroms, legal restrictions on property and religion, internments, ghettoization, concentration camps, killings, and finally a carefully constructed and industrialized machinery of mass death.
  • The museum does not isolate Germans as solely or uniformly guilty. Tribute is given to the German people, dissenters, and others who also fell victim to Hitler’s regime. As for moral culpability, it unequivocally belongs to the Nazis and their compliant supporters in Germany and throughout Europe. But the free world also bears responsibility for shutting its borders to refugees, trapping Jews in a prison state and, eventually, execution chamber.
  • The presentation is not rooted in sadness and despair; indeed, the museum tells of heroic efforts to save people from disaster and the resilience of the Jewish people in the face of annihilation. Even the existence of the museum is a tribute to hope because it conveys the conviction that we can learn from history and act in a way that never repeats this terrible past.

The Deeper Roots of the Holocaust

For the last six months, I’ve been steeped in studying and writing about the American experience with eugenics, the “policy science” of creating a master race. The more I’ve read, the more alarmed I’ve become that it was ever a thing, but it was all the rage in the Progressive Era. Eugenics was not a fringe movement; it was at the core of ruling-class politics, education, and culture. It was responsible for many of the early experiments in labor regulation. It was the driving force behind marriage licenses, minimum wages, restrictions on opportunities for women, and immigration quotas and controls.

The more I’ve looked into the subject, the more I’m convinced that it is not possible fully to understand the birth of the 20th century Leviathan without an awareness of eugenics. Eugenics was the original sin of the modern state that knows no limits to its power.

Once a regime decides that it must control human reproduction — to mold the population according to a central plan and divide human beings into those fit to thrive and those deserving extinction — you have the beginning of the end of freedom and civilization. The prophets of eugenics loathed the Jews, but also any peoples that they deemed dangerous to those they considered worthy of propagation. And the means they chose to realize their plans was top-down force.

So far in my reading on the subject, I’ve studied the origin of eugenics until the late 1920s, mostly in the US and the UK. And so, touring the Holocaust Museum was a revelation. It finally dawned on me: what happened in Germany was the extension and intensification of the same core ideas that were preached in the classrooms at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton decades earlier.

Eugenics didn’t go away. It just took on a more violent and vicious form in different political hands. Without meaningful checks on state power, people with eugenic ambitions can find themselves lording over a terror state. It was never realized in the United States, but it happened elsewhere. The stuffy academic conferences of the 1910s, the mutton-chopped faces of the respected professorial class, mutated in one generation to become the camps and commandants of the Nazi killing machine. The distance between eugenics and genocide, from Boston to Buchenwald, is not so great.

There are moments in the tour when this connection is made explicit, as when it is explained how, prior to the Nazis, the United States had set the record for forced sterilizations; how Hitler cited the US case for state planning of human reproduction; how the Nazis were obsessed with racial classification and used American texts on genetics and race as a starting point.

And think of this: when Progressive Era elites began to speak this way, to segment the population according to quality, and to urge policies to prevent “mongrelization,” there was no “slippery slope” to which opponents could point. This whole approach to managing the social order was unprecedented, and so a historical trajectory was pure conjecture. They could not say “Remember! Remember where this leads!”

Now we have exactly that history, and a moral obligation to point to it and learn from it.

What Can We Learn?

My primary takeaway from knitting this history together and observing its horrifying outcome is this: that any ideology, movement, or demagogue that dismisses universal human rights, that disparages the dignity of any person based on group characteristics, that attempts to segment the population into the fit and unfit, or in any way seeks to use the power of the state to put down some in order to uplift others, is courting outcomes that are dangerous to the whole of humanity. It might not happen immediately, but, over time, such rhetoric can lay the foundations for the machinery of death.

And there is also another, perhaps more important lesson: bad ideas have a social and political momentum all their own, regardless of anyone’s initial intentions. If you are not aware of that, you can be led down, step by step, to a very earthly hell.

At the same time, the reverse is also true: good ideas have a momentum that can lead to the flourishing of peace, prosperity, and universal human dignity. It is up to all of us. We must choose wisely, and never forget.

Jeffrey A. TuckerJeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE and CLO of the startup Liberty.me. Author of five books, and many thousands of articles, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook. Email.

Trump the ‘Unifier’, Trump the Individualist, Trump the Republican

Super Tuesday voters gave Donald Trump clear wins in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Virginia and Vermont. Senator Ted Cruz won in his home state of Texas and the neighboring state of Oklahoma. Senator Marco Rubio won in Minnesota.

trump supporters youngTrump made a short statement at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida following the super Tuesday primary results:

I will say this, we have expanded the Republican party. When you look at what’s happened in South Carolina and you see the kind of numbers that we got in terms of extra people coming in. They came from the Democratic party… and they were never going to switch and they all switched. They were Independents. We’ve expanded the party. Look at the number of votes we had in that area as an example. Four years ago they had 390,000 or so votes. We doubled it. We’re almost 800,000. The Democrats went down.

There’s much less enthusiasm for the Democrats. I’m a unifier. I know people will find this hard to believe. Once we get this finished, I’m going to go after one person on the assumption she is allowed to run. I don’t know if she will be allowed to run. I don’t think Marco will be able to beat her. I think Ted will have a very hard time… I just tell you this, we are going to be a much finer party, a much — we’re going to be a unified party. We are going to be a much bigger you can see that happening. We’re going to be a much bigger party. our party is expanding.

All you have to do is take a look at the primary states where I’ve won. Much larger number. I think we’ll be more inclusive and more unified. I think we’ll be a much bigger party. I think we’re going to win in November.

It is clear that Donald Trump has energized the electorate, driving voters to the polls to support the Republican party in record numbers.

Ayn Rand wrote a short nineteen page paper asking: What is the basic issue facing the world today? Rand, in her paper makes the case that, “The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism.” Rand defines these two principles as follows:

  • Individualism – Each man exists by his own right and for his own sake, not for the sake of the group.
  • Collectivism – Each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group.

It is becoming clearer that on November 8th the battle will be between a Collectivist (either Hillary Clinton or Senator Bernie Sanders) and an Individualist, Donald J. Trump.

French historian Alexis de Tocqueville  (1805-1859)  wrote, “The American Republic will endure, until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money.”

Let the people chose which path they will follow. Will they follow those who “bribe the people with their own money” or those who remain dedicated to preserving the Republic? That is the basic issue facing America today.

gop delegate count

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The Trump Insurgency

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Bernie’s Bolsheviks vs. Donald’s Trumpites

Bolshevik: Russian for “One of the Majority.” There appear to be two movements in the 2016 presidential primary race. One is led by Bernie Sanders and his Bolsheviks. The other is lead by Donald Trump and those who “Want to Make America Great, Again”, known at Trumpites. One movement promotes collectivism, the other individualism. Ayn Rand defines the principles underlying these movements as follows:

  • Individualism – Each man exists by his own right and for his own sake, not for the sake of the group.
  • Collectivism – Each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group (i.e. One of the Majority).

Question: Which movement will win on November 8th, 2016?

Chris Stirewalt from Fox News reports:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign network is riot with talk about socialism, seeping in under the door or perhaps in the fluoridated water. You never know where the “conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids” will turn up.

Among those warning of socialist creep is prominent Clinton booster, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who got double coupons for warning of a threat to the very heartland of the nation. “Here in the heartland, we like our politicians in the mainstream, and he is not — he’s a socialist,” Nixon told the NYT.

The sinister socialist to whom Nixon is referring is 74-year-old Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has been in Congress since 1991 and for all of his adamancy about being an independent and a, yes, socialist has almost always been a perfectly pliant supporter of the Democratic party. Read more.

Megan Kelly Tweeted: A stunning new poll out of  with the below graphic:

poll out of New Hampshire

I recently wrote a column titled “The Trump Insurgency.” In that column I noted:

The definition of an insurgency is a “rebellion against an existing government by a group not recognized as a belligerent.”

Is it Trump who created an insurgency or is Trump following the lead of a growing insurgency that was already taking place? I have written that Trump leads his followers by following their lead. The movement began during the Presidency of Bill Clinton and continues today. It is a struggle between the individualist and the collectivist.

The choice for America is between a collectivist form of government or one that returns power to the people.

In a column titled “Government Caused the ‘Great Stagnation‘” Peter J. Boettke, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at George Mason University, discusses how government has outgrown America’s ability to pay for it. Boettke writes, “Government is too big, too bloated. Washington faces a spending problem, not a revenue problem. But too many within the economy depend on the government transfers to live and to work. Yet the economy is not growing at a rate that can afford the illusion. Where are we to go from here?”

Boettke labels totalitarian government as “Stupidity.” Boettke notes that, “[W]e fought off (in the West, at least) totalitarian government (Stupidity).”

However, that has changed. Today stupidity reigns supreme with more and more citizens receiving government subsidies and largess.

If either Hillary or Sanders wins the Democratic Party nomination for president, we could see the party at the last minute recruit Uncle Joe Biden to run.

This would be a last ditch effort to end the stupidity, or maybe not?

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of Senator Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is courtesy of AP/Jacquelyn Martin/Seth Wenig/Photo montage by Salon.

The Trump Insurgency

trump at rally with supportersIf you Google the words “Trump” and “insurgency” you will get over 650,000 links to articles and commentary. I recently said to a friend that Donald Trump has gone from being a candidate for the Republican Party nomination for President to the leader of a movement.

Can this movement now be called an insurgency?

The definition of an insurgency is a “rebellion against an existing government by a group not recognized as a belligerent.”

Is it Trump who created an insurgency or is Trump following the lead of a growing insurgency that was already taking place? I have written that Trump leads his followers by following their lead. The movement began during the Presidency of Bill Clinton and continues today. It is a struggle between the individualist and the collectivist.

Ayn Rand wrote a short nineteen page paper asking: What is the basic issue facing the world today? Rand, in her paper makes the case that, “The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism.” Rand defines these two principles as follows:

  • Individualism – Each man exists by his own right and for his own sake, not for the sake of the group.
  • Collectivism – Each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group.

trump supporters young

Trump supporters. Photo: Facebook.

Donald Trump has tapped into the “Individualism Movement.” Trump’s life is the embodiment of the individualist. Trump has been rich, then poor and then rich again. He has done this not with government handouts, but rather despite the government.

Members of the Individualism Movement go by many names: Silent Majority, TEA Party Patriots, Constitutionalists, Blue Dog Democrats, Anti-Establishment Republicans and the working class. They embody the insurgency.

Joseph P. William in his U.S. News & World Report column “New Insurgents, Old Problems“, wrote:

[Ronald Reagan in] His famous televised 1964 “A Time for Choosing” speech for GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater, tapped into deep-seated anxiety about communism and runaway government spending. Decades before the Reagan Revolution, The Gipper laid out a then-radical vision for vastly smaller government, shaking up the party’s blue-blood ruling class and setting his course toward political immortality.

[ … ]

“We’ve certainly seen this before,” says Norm Ornstein, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute think tank and a veteran political scholar. In uncertain economic times, he says, “we get populism.” In Sanders’ case, that means disdain for bankers and Wall Street; the brand Trump’s selling sweeps in nativism, trade protectionism and mistrust of the GOP establishment.

Is Trump the new populist or the old individualist?

Here are just some of the reasons Trump’s campaign is different than any other of the candidates, Democrat or Republican, running for President:

  1. Not a career politician.
  2. Not politically correct.
  3. Isn’t influenced by money or big donors.
  4. When he sees something he says something.
  5. Turns his negatives into positives.
  6. Attacks against him consistently backfire.
  7. Fearless and is therefore feared.
  8. Has broad appeal due to his forthright comments.

Each of these are indicators of individualism on steroids.

Donald Trump is saying what people have wanted to say but have been afraid to do so. When Trump speaks he is not speaking to the media or the elite, he is speaking to John and Jane six-pack. He is speaking to each an every American.

Trump has shown that there is nothing to fear but fear itself. He is the new Individualist and the people love him for it.

It truly is a time for choosing.

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“We All Declare for Liberty, But We Do Not All Mean the Same Thing” by Eugene Volokh

A comment on my freedom and hypocrisy post reminded me of one of my favorite quotes, from Abraham Lincoln, in his Address at a Sanitary Fair, Baltimore, Apr. 18, 1864:

The world has never had a good definition of liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in need of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.

With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men’s labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name — liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names — liberty and tyranny.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat, for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one. Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails today among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing to love liberty. Hence we behold the processes by which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke of bondage, hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruction of all liberty.

I’ve long found this to be a thought-provoking piece, and a useful reminder that “liberty” in the abstract is not self-defining. Most rhetoric that simply refers to “liberty” — whether in the context of slavery, where Lincoln said this, or abortion rights, or national sovereignty, and so on — rests on the assertion about the proper definition of people’s or institutions’ rights; and it’s that definition that should often be at the heart of the debate.

Of course, this analysis doesn’t itself tell us what the proper result is in any debate (such as the debate about abortion). But it should remind us that many questions can’t be resolved by just talking about “liberty” in the abstract, or “not imposing one’s beliefs on others” in the abstract.

If liberty means freedom to do things that don’t violate the rights of others, the important questions are (1) what constitutes those “rights,” (2) what counts as violation, and (3) in some contexts (e.g., abortion, animal rights, slavery), who counts as “others.”

This post first appeared at the Volokh Conspiracy.

Eugene VolokhEugene Volokh

Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.

The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America

CatholicGraphs_gendividePope Francis is coming to America this week and will be addressing the U.S. Congress at the invitation of Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner. Pope Francis starts his visit to America on Tuesday, September 22nd and plans to stop in Washington, D.C., New York City and Philadelphia.

Indications are that Pope Francis will be talking about several issues including climate change and the refugee crisis in the Middle East. But there is one topic Pope Francis may not be talking about – spiritual matters important to American Catholics.

Perhaps Pope Francis should be using this opportunity to address how to stop the decline and fall of the Catholic Church in America?

In his seminal five volume work History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire published in 1782, Edward Gibbon, Esq. wrote:

After a diligent inquiry, I can discern four principal causes of the ruin of Rome, which continued to operate in a period of more than a thousand years. I. The injuries of time and nature. II. The hostile attacks of the Barbarians and Christians. III. The use and abuse of the materials. And, IV. The domestic quarrels of the Romans.

The Roman Empire has gone with the wind. Will the Catholic Church in America suffer the same fate?

Let us look at each of these four principal causes of the ruin of Rome and compare them to the Vatican and American Catholics.

I. The art of man is able to construct monuments far more permanent than the narrow span of his own existence; yet these monuments, like himself, are perishable and frail; and in the boundless annals of time, his life and his labors must equally be measured as a fleeting moment.

The Catholic Church is witnessing a reduction of its monuments in the United States.

According to the non-profit Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, in 1990 there were 19,620 parishes in the U.S. In 2014 there were 17,483 parishes or a loss of nearly 11%. As parishes closed so did other Catholic monuments: churches, schools and hospitals.  In 1965 there were 10,667 Catholic Elementary Schools, in 2014 that number was 5,368 (a 50% loss of Catholic Elementary Schools). Catholic Secondary Secondary Schools went from a high of 1,986 in 1970 to 1,200 in 2014 (a 40% loss). Even Catholic Colleges and Universities declined from 305 in 1965 to 225 in 2014 (a 26% loss).

Time and nature has taken its toll on Catholic Churches in the U.S. As the Catholic population ages, parishes close. CARA notes, “As the largest religion in the U.S., Catholicism has the largest number of former members (some later return as reverts). Catholicism has a higher retention rate than most other religions in the U.S. (including all Protestant denominations).

It is the institutions that must survive to carry on the word of the Gospel. As the institutions decline so does the Catholic Church in America.

II. The hostile attacks of the Barbarians and Christians.

Today the hostile attacks are coming from the “new Barbarians”: Collectivists, Marxists, the Communist Party USA, atheists, the pro-choice movement, the feminist movement, homosexuals and government.  Today it is the followers of Mohammed who are attacking the people of the Cross globally and in America.

There is a coalition within America that is anti-Catholic, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic. Their tactics and strategy are to diminish the role of religion by removing God from the public square. As that has happened in America we now have Collectivists, atheists, abortionists, homosexuals (some of whom are practicing witchcraft) and the U.S. government taking positions and implementing policies which are anti-Catholic, anti-Christian and anti-Semitic.

As Sandy Ikeda in his article “Progressivism Is Illiberal” writes, “Progressivism [Collectivists] today goes beyond the liberal position that, for example, same-sex marriage should have the same legal status as heterosexual marriage, to the belief that the state should threaten physical violence against anyone who refuses to associate or do business with same-sex couples.”

In the Middle East Catholic Churches are being burned to the ground, Christians slaughtered, Christian children sold into sex slavery and Christians crucified as was done in ancient Rome.

The attacks against Catholicism are real and palpable. Daily news reports tell us that a unholy war is being conducted against the Catholic church.

III. The use and abuse of the materials.

Materialism is the God of many in America. The quest for power and riches outweigh the need for God and redemption. Collectivists demand submission to the state as does Islam, which literally translated means “to submit.” Government becomes God and by doing so restricts what the individual can and cannot do.

As Ayn Rand wrote, “The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism.” In a short 19 page paper Rand wrote:

“A great many people today hold the childish notion that society can do anything it pleases; that principles are unnecessary, rights are only an illusion and expediency is the practical guide to action.

It is true that society can abandon moral principles and turn itself into a herd running amuck to destruction. Just as it is true that a man can cut his own throat any time he chooses. But a man cannot do this if he wishes to survive. And society cannot abandon moral principles if it expects to exist.”

In America corn is used to produce Ethanol, a gasoline additive. Over 50% of the corn produced in America goes toward the production of Ethanol. According to the World Food Programme, “Some 795 million people (1 in 9) in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life.”

Using food for fuel is immoral.

The use and abuse of materials and the people is the greatest threat to Catholics and the Church. For whenever the individual is diminished so to is the role of the Catholic Church. Jesus was an individualist who fought government. Many question why won’t the Catholic Church follow in Jesus’ footsteps and fight against government and defend individual rights including religious liberty.

IV. The domestic quarrels of the Romans.

The United States was founded on Judeo/Christian beliefs and values. Today the various Christian denominations are quarreling amongst themselves about social and political issues. This quarreling is occurring while all Christian and Jewish organizations are under attack from the new barbarians and the followers of Mohammed (see item II above).

CatholicGraphs_decline

Perhaps it is time for pastors, priests and rabbis to unite in one cause – to preserve their belief in God and the Judeo/Christian way of life.

The American way of life has led to great happiness and prosperity both in the homeland and throughout the Western world. A way of life that insures life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as guaranteed by United States Constitution. A way of life that celebrates life over death. A way of life that insures salvation and the return of the Kingdom of God to this earth.

There are lessons to be learned, for if we forget the history of the decline and fall of Rome, we are doomed to repeat it.

Perhaps Pope Francis would better serve the Church if he addressed Catholic persecution by the new barbarians and Muslims in America?

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Liberalism Created the WDBJ Killer

Barack Obama won’t be saying, “If I had a psycho son, he’d look like Vester Lee.” But he might as well. Because Vester Lee Flanagan II, the bigoted maniac who murdered the WDBJ reporter and cameraman Wednesday on live TV, was a philosophical offspring of the Left.

It’s well known now that Flanagan was a professional victim, nurturing grudges against all and sundry based on his “status” as a homosexual black man. He had an axe to grind with white women because they supposedly made racial statements to him, and against black men because they supposedly directed anti-homosexual remarks his way. And it didn’t seem as if he liked anyone very much.

Of course, most of the bigotry he perceived from others was in his head, a function of his own prejudice, inculcated via decades of liberal indoctrination. When you dislike others, you view them through tinted lenses and ascribe negative motivations to everything they do. Where a fair-minded individual might interpret a comment as innocuous, simply a misunderstanding or an example of the issuer merely having a bad day, you see malice. “Of course it was racial! That’s the way white people are.” And, “That had to be ‘homophobic’ in this society, which macro and microaggresses against everything that I am!” (of course, certain things are supposed to be stigmatized). These notions, again, were put in Flanagan’s mixed-up head by liberals and liberals alone. They disgorge hateful, pure and utter nonsense such as microaggression theory, “white privilege,” critical-race theory and 1000 other things designed to divide with lies. It is evil.

Flanagan had described himself as “human powder keg,” but what was he so angry about? He lived in the most prosperous nation in the most prosperous time in man’s history; he could walk into any supermarket and avail himself of thousands of delicious foods from the world over at reasonable prices, a luxury that would have made the jaws of people existing in former ages drop. He was living, as we all do, in Shangri-la. But his attitude was hardly inexplicable.

To paraphrase G.K. Chesterton, “Goods look a lot better when they come wrapped as gifts.” Everything is a gift, but the Left teaches just the opposite: to have a sense of entitlement, to believe you’re owed, to ever and always view our very large glass as half empty. Some have asked, quite naively, how it is that despite Flanagan’s pathetic performance as a reporter, he was hired by more than one media outlet and given chance after chance to right the ship. Well, golly gee, Cletus, it’s a mystery.

Flanagan was clearly an affirmative-action hire, enjoying the daily-double victim status of being black and homosexual. And that was part of the problem: too much was given to him on a silver platter — because of liberalism.

There have been many articles in recent years about how college graduates today enter the workforce with unrealistic expectations about their economic self-worth and starting salary. We hear about how so many of them can’t tolerate criticism and rejection; act as if their own feelings are inordinately important and should command respect; and how they lack a sense of propriety, a grasp of their place in a workplace’s hierarchy. As a consequence, they may barge into an office to vent their feelings, even if it’s neither the time nor the place.

This is all the result of liberal parenting, of the psychobabble disgorged by the likes of Dr. Benjamin Spock. It’s no wonder many young people today have little sense of just hierarchies — their permissive liberal parents didn’t establish a just hierarchy in the home. Instead, they acted as if their family was a dysfunctional democracy and junior a special-interest group that political correctness dictated must be coddled and catered to. Junior seldom heard the word “No!” uttered in exclamatory fashion; junior seldom had to delay gratification; junior got participation trophies just for showing up. He was treated as a little prince around whom the world revolved. He was marinated in “self-esteem” pap in schools, telling him how great and special he was. The result? Junior and many of his peers (not that he imagined he had any peers) grew up to be narcissists.

As for Flanagan, it has been reported that his refrigerator was covered with pictures of himself. We know what this means. A mother may display numerous pictures of her children because she loves her children. And a man would display numerous pictures of himself because…?

It all reminds me of the Satan character’s line in the film The Devil’s Advocate: “Vanity is my favorite sin.” “Pride” is probably even more accurate. But it all gets at the matter’s heart. We don’t need some hard and fast psychological diagnosis here. Whether Flanagan was most correctly characterized as a “narcissist” or just a self-centered, entitled jerk, the bottom line is that his state was attributable to a philosophical disease, a disordered way of thinking that masquerades under an ideological banner:

Liberalism.

Of course, liberals will blame guns. This is partially because, unlike with Dylann Roof, they can’t blame Confederate flags or 19th-century statues. But it’s also because they’re incapable of putting the blame where it really belongs: the man in the mirror.

Guns don’t kill people. Liberalism does.

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EDITORS NOTE: You mAY contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

Oh What Times We Live In

Throughout the annals of history, these are most certainly times that not only try men’s souls but are also rendering everything that is good to the back of the bus.  It is bad enough that people do wrong.  Human beings have been committing evil deeds ever since Eve was duped by Satan and then convinced Adam (who knew better) to partake in an activity they should not have.  Thus the ongoing war between good and evil was on and the rest is history.

When Arab Islamic Muslims first enslaved Africans hundreds of years before the first European explorers began to purchase African slaves from the Muslims, there was an equal and opposite effort that eventually arose.  The brutality of slavery was eventually seen by millions of British and United States citizens as an evil that had to be extinguished.

When the church and the king of England both became obsessed with power over the people, some British subjects said enough is enough and sought to find land where they could worship the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob in peace and tranquility.  Out of their disdain for the ongoing abuses in the land of the Union Jack was born the Christian based belief in Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

There are many including yours truly, who believes that the United States was meant to be the supreme opposite of what has been an ongoing system of survival of the fittest enduring the brutal boot heel of tyrannical governments.  America once stood out, because she was refreshingly different. Her numerous foundational documents ranging from The Articles of Confederation to the Bill of rights paved an inspired path toward greatness.  That path benefited both individuals who sought to engage in the bountiful opportunities availing themselves and the government that built into it’s foundational doctrines the recognition of the God given unalienable rights that come from him.

In more recent times, the late great President Ronald Reagan represented a stunning and invigorating contrast to the malaise of his inept predecessor, President Jimmy Carter.  Reagan refused to appease our republic’s adversaries.  He also fought to roll back the economy stifling regulations that had beaten our economy into submission.

As “We the People” prepare to choose the next leader of the free world, let us take into consideration the importance of picking someone who represents being different.  In other words,  America can no longer thrive as a great nation with leadership that is hell bent on dragging her down a path that not only inhibits economic prosperity, but also places her in mortal danger.  Let us not forget there are many who would like nothing more than to rid the world of the one nation that has been an impediment to global despots who believe that forcing people to live as they say to exist or suffer the consequences.

Millions of Christians, black Africans and many others have been murdered by Muslim groups like the Islamic Stat for the sport of it, primarily because of the accommodating (or worse) approach of the current United States administration.  One of the things that New Zealand author and orator Trevor Loudon has been doing for quite some time is crisscrossing the United States for a number of years reminding Americans of our nations place of greatness and how much the world (including his nation) of New Zealand depends on this beacon of light republic.  We are at an absolute crossroads.  The time has arrived for us to return America to our God ordained position of greatness and beacon of hope to the world.  Or we can slink away into oblivion on our nation’s current slide toward second tier status, leaving the world including our allies to try and do their best to overcome challenges posed by dedicated Muslims and traditional tyrannical enemies like China and Russia.   While these are certainly the times that try men’s souls that is no reason why we as Americans have to give in or give up, because of the horrific challenges.  I challenge everyone who cares about America to join in the fight for the future generations of this republic.  If we don’t act now, it will soon be too late.  Do you want to have to tell your children and grandchildren that our nation ended up on the ash heap of history because you didn’t want to make waves or stand for the proven principles that made our nation the envy of the world?

Yes these are trying times, but with God’s leadership and help they can become the best of times.  Dear reader, either you shall choose life or we shall choose death.  America’s future is in the balance.

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The Man Who Sowed the Seeds of Puerto Rico’s Collapse by Lawrence W. Reed

Is there anything more tragically monotonous than a failing welfare state? From ancient Rome to modern Greece, the story is one of the most repetitive in history. It goes like this:

People increasingly decide they’d rather vote for a living than work for one. An academic and intellectual class, dependent on subsidies and anxious to command the economy, advises the people that this is a really good thing. Politicians cater to them with high-sounding rhetoric (“We’ll take care of you”) and low-balling promises (“We can afford it. It won’t cost much. We’ll just take it from the rich”).

Responsibility, self-reliance, and enterprise give way to an entitlement mentality. Power concentrates and corruption ensues. Taxes and debt rise. The government debases the money. Crisis leads to more government, which leads to more crisis. What was always bankrupt morally finally goes bankrupt economically. Goodbye economy, liberty, and often even civilization itself. The barbarians take over. What else is new?

Now it’s Puerto Rico’s turn.

The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a US territory in the northeastern Caribbean. Its governor, Alejandro García Padilla, startled the world back in June when he announced that the island cannot pay back its $72 billion public debt.

“The debt is not payable,” García Padilla said. “There is no other option. I would love to have an easier option. This is not politics; this is math.”

He called the situation a “death spiral.” Suddenly, millions of Americans were learning what a basket case the Puerto Rican economy has become. It is indeed a crisis but one that was, to an embarrassing extent, made right here in America.

It was foisted on Puerto Ricans by one lousy New Dealer in particular. His name was Rexford Guy Tugwell.

More on the egghead Tugwell in a moment, but let me bring everybody up to date on just how bad things are down there. Be sure to read to the end because there’s a silver lining in this very dark cloud.

Puerto Rico has been in a funk for a good while. Its stubbornly high, double-digit unemployment rate is more than twice that of the United States. In fact, it hasn’t been below 9.7 percent in 40 years.

The island’s debt is higher on a per capita basis than that of any US state and four times that of Detroit, which went bankrupt two years ago. Businesses are collapsing. People are fleeing (200,000 have left since 2005). Almost half of the island’s 3.7 million residents earn incomes under the US federal poverty line. Nearly 40 percent of all households get food stamps. Until recently, the retirement age for government school teachers was as low as 47, prompting underfunded pension fund crisis so endemic to welfare states. (The retirement age has lately been raised to at least 55 for current teachers, and 62 for new teachers.)

As Tyler Durden explains at ZeroHedge.com, policies imposed from Washington must shoulder a big part of the blame for this mess: the wizards on the Potomac encouraged debt and deficit spending, priced hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans out of entry-level jobs with a punishing minimum wage, taxed and regulated commerce and investment to a crawl, and showered the island with debilitating welfare. The place would be a showcase of government-induced prosperity except for one sticking point: government.

All of this has been decades in the making, which brings me to the character named Tugwell. I’ve long had a distaste for this pompous meddler. The more I learn about his role as Puerto Rico’s appointed governor (1941–1946), the more I’m ashamed that a US president was dumb enough to put him in charge of anything.

I first heard of Tugwell as an undergraduate economics major at Grove City College in the early 1970s. Fascinated by what my econ prof, Dr. Hans Sennholz, had said in class about America’s 22nd and 24th president, Grover Cleveland, I checked out a biography of him. It carried the imaginative title, GroverCleveland, and included a revealing subtitle, A Biography of the President Whose Uncompromising Honesty and Integrity Failed America in a Time of Crisis.

The author was Rexford Guy Tugwell, widely regarded as the most influential ideologue of economic planning during Roosevelt’s New Deal. The Cleveland terms were largely wasted opportunities, according to Tugwell, because Cleveland would not turn the economy into his personal plaything. If only he had trashed his honesty and integrity, Cleveland could have been the scientist and the rest of us the lab rats.

Tugwell was the Jonathan Gruber of his day. (Recall the smug academic who admitted that deception was employed to fool stupid Americans into supporting Obamacare.) He went straight from academia as a student (the Wharton School at U-Penn, then Columbia) to academia as a professor (University of Washington, American University in Paris, and Columbia University). His intellectual mentors were socialists like Upton Sinclair and Edward Bellamy. Woodrow Wilson’s wartime administration gave him his first real glimpse of the glorious fun of central planning, and he loved it even when it flopped.

In 1932, President-elect Franklin Roosevelt invited Professor Tugwell to join the first White House “brain trust.” These were the whiz kids — the social scientists and experimenters of the administration. Blessed with power and attention, they were ready to “transform” America and “plan” our way out of the Great Depression.

H.L. Mencken was less charitable in his description. He called them “an astonishing rabble of impudent nobodies,” “a gang of half-educated pedagogues, starry-eyed uplifters and other such sorry wizards.” Along with FDR, they “planned” the Depression into the longest slump in American history.

Tugwell loved to set up and run what came to be known as “boondoggles.” He was an architect of the Agricultural Adjustment Act and later director of its Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), which taxed agricultural processors and used the revenue to destroy crops and cattle to raise prices. It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and ridiculously destructive by clear thinkers.

From its inception in 1935, he directed the Resettlement Administration (RA), which relocated the rural unemployed to new, planned communities in suburbs. Urban authority Jane Jacobs, in her classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, showed that his program simply displaced people and ruined neighborhoods. The RA was also thrown out as unconstitutional. True to the statist stereotype, Tugwell learned nothing from either experience. “Planning” was his religion and he was going to be its high priest, come hell or high water.

In 1936, Tugwell left Washington and two years later showed up as the first director of the New York City Planning Commission. He tried retroactively to enforce nonconforming land uses with almost no legal or public support. He proved too much an ideologue even for the polarizing Robert Moses, who killed Tugwell’s 50-year, pie-in-the-sky master plan for public housing.

Now let’s get back to Puerto Rico.

By 1941, Rexford Guy Tugwell had behind him a 20-year career of pontificating for big government and managing expensive government flops. Somehow that gave Franklin Roosevelt the idea of naming him governor of Puerto Rico. What Tugwell did for the mainland, he could now do for an island. Maybe this central planning stuff works better if you work small, right?

Nope.

So for five years, Professor Tugwell became Governor Tugwell. One of the first things he did was to create, with the legislature’s approval, the Puerto Rico Planning, Urbanization, and Zoning Board in 1942. If only he had done what John Copperthwaite did later in Hong Kong or what Ludwig Erhard did in postwar Germany or what inspired free marketers have done in freeing their cities, Puerto Rico might today be a beacon of liberty and prosperity. But Tugwell wanted to plan, plan, plan.

Pedro Serra is president of a new organization in Puerto Rico, the Alliance for the Protection of Liberties. He is a businessman from San Juan whose interest in free-market economics led him to work with the 2012 Ron Paul campaign. Looking back on the Tugwell period, he observes,

When President Roosevelt appointed Rexford G. Tugwell governor of Puerto Rico, it was in keeping with the same economic attitude that characterized the New Deal — that the government can solve an economy’s woes. Our government has since taken as an axiom that economic stagnation results from too little government, not too much. If this were the case, then today’s Puerto Rico should be paradise on earth. Instead our economy is depressed, our people jobless, and our government bankrupt.

Climate would seem to have blessed Puerto Rico for agricultural pursuits. Tugwell’s infinite wisdom suggested it should opt for industry instead, so he directed public policy against farming and toward manufacturing. He lobbied for all the aid and welfare from the mainland he could get. He set the tone for decades of a top-down welfare state. Joe Milligan, a colleague of Serra’s, is originally from Rochester, Michigan, and now brings his passion for free markets to San Juan, Puerto Rico, as the director of development for the Alliance for the Protection of Liberties. Here is how Milligan sums it up:

Governor Tugwell’s legacy is alive and apparent on the island. His tenure in office was characterized by central planning, government growth, and expansion of the welfare state. He stamped out the thriving sugar cane and coffee industries in favor of manufacturing. The result is that now we have neither. Today in Puerto Rico our government is the island’s largest employer and half of all residents require government financial assistance to subsist. In this sense Governor Tugwell truly left his mark.

Indeed, for many years after Governor Tugwell left Puerto Rico for academia back in the United States (where failure is celebrated as long as you worship the state and have good intentions), other New Dealers sojourned to the island to offer more of the same.

One of them was Hugh Barton, who had directed the US State Department’s Office of Strategic Services until he was fired for his knowledge of the communist affiliations of some of his top staff. Barton set up shop with the Puerto Rico Planning Board and the Office of Economic Research. If you had a college degree and a penchant for planning the economy of other people, you could get a government job in Puerto Rico in the 1950s and ’60s. Except for a brief retrenchment under one-term Governor Luis Fortuño, Puerto Rico has been run for decades as Tugwell first envisioned it, exacerbated by Washington’s poor policies to boot.

As I promised early in this article, there’s some good news in this bleak course of events. Puerto Rico now has a nascent libertarian movement and an organization devoted to spreading ideas of liberty as an antidote to the Tugwell legacy — the Alianza para la Protección de Libertades (Alliance for the Protection of Liberties) that Pedro Serra and Joe Milligan have launched.

The Alliance seeks to improve the lives of Puerto Ricans by building a new consensus around this proposition: a free society — not a centrally planned, politicized one — is a more prosperous and tolerant society. It works to build public support for smaller government and advise policy makers in choosing the proven path toward prosperity. The Alliance’s programs include developing a college campus lecture circuit, starting a YouTube channel specific to Puerto Rico’s issues, and disseminating compelling literature to legislators.

Never let a crisis go to waste, as the saying goes. Puerto Rico represents a unique opportunity to undo a painful, statist history. I hope readers will want to help.

To support the efforts of the Alliance, email Pedro Serra, the director, at pedro@protecciondelibertades.org.

“The curious task of economics,” Austrian economist F.A. Hayek taught us, “is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

Rexford Guy Tugwell never understood that. With the help of the Alliance for the Protection of Liberties, Puerto Ricans may yet embrace Hayek’s wisdom and thereby shake the curse of Tugwell.


Lawrence W. Reed

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s.

Politics Worsens Racial Divides — Markets Can Mend Them by Jeffrey A. Tucker

Do you know what inspired the great Frederick Douglass finally to escape from slavery? He was working for a man in Baltimore, Maryland, and getting paid at the end of the day. He took his earnings to his master, who then decided how much Douglass could keep. This struck him as inherently unjust, a wicked symbol of servitude.

He fled to freedom because he wanted to realize and retain his full value in the marketplace. Effectively, he cut out the middle man, the coercive hand that presumed to control his life and property. It was then that he truly began to live a full life.

So it has been since slavery finally was finally abolished in the United States. Markets and commercial culture have been the respite from servitude, the enabler of social peace, the means by which justice is realized, and a source of empowerment for all peoples. Markets turn tension to harmony, injustice to personal fulfillment.

But when government intervenes, much like the role of Douglass’s master, it creates conflict, unfairness, and harms people’s capacity to work toward a more peaceful and prosperous world.

This is the message I gain from a poll released last week. It reveals that both blacks and whites think race relations are generally bad, and by wide margins. In general, two-thirds of survey respondents say that people are not getting along and that tension is high.

The striking fact: This is the reverse of what people believed in the days after the election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president.

American civic culture has always treated the presidency as some kind of mystical pinnacle, a beautiful bellwether of where we are as a people and where we are headed as a country. The idea is that we all look to the great man to set the tone and shape the character of us as a people.

Surely, then, because most everyone but a few trolls wants peace, understanding, and cooperation between blacks and whites, the best path forward is to elect a person of color. Surely that will fix something. Right?

Of course it did not. It’s one thing to observe little improvement in these poll numbers but it is quite something else to see them flip to reveal more despair than ever.

During Mr. Obama’s 2008 campaign, nearly 60 percent of blacks said race relations were generally bad, but that number was cut in half shortly after he won. It has now soared to 68 percent, the highest level of discontent among African Americans during the Obama years and close to the numbers recorded in the aftermath of the massive riots that followed the 1992 acquittal of Los Angeles police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.

The presumption that a black presidency would repair the US race problem trivializes the on-the-ground reality. It presumes that people will respond to symbolism, to identity, to the perception of a new form of power-sharing in society, regardless of reality. Something similar is emerging in the case ofHillary Clinton: her womanness will surely bring new forms of gender justice and therefore harmony between the sexes. Based on the experience with Obama, we can look forward to a similar shot of optimism followed by a dramatic reversal of fortunes.

But let’s dig just a bit deeper into the polls, because it reveals something interesting. Though the news was buried in the story, the polls show a huge chasm between people’s macro and micro perceptions. It turns out that when people are asked about their own communities, which is to say their own lives, the picture is much brighter. Fully 77% said that race relations are good at this level — a number that has not changed in 20 years.

In other words, in terms of people’s experiences in daily life, we find evidence that both blacks and whites get along pretty well. And what does this mean? How do the races typically encounter each other in their own lives? Mostly it is through commercial settings. Shopping, trading, working, and engaging in all the normal activities of life, people find common interests despite their differences. Or it takes place in our social lives: at our houses of worship, the community pool, the neighborhood barbecue. On this very human level, it would appear that matters are better.

So in what respect do people perceive problems? It is when they reflect on the larger picture, which usually involves perceptions of politics and official institutions. Here is where differences manifest themselves. And in this respect, what has changed so dramatically over the past six years to signal new levels of racial tension? It is in the new every day: It is the treatment of blacks by civic institutions, meaning cops and criminal justice in particular. Here lies a major source of the problem.

You can see this in the data too. Here are the charts on how police treat people by race.

These are wide disparities. Among whites, 82% feel safe concerning the police, but only 58% of blacks say the same. Only 5% of whites believe that they have been singled out by police because of their race. Among blacks, 41% believe that — which is quite high (though not as high as I might have expected).

The polls are surely affected by the daily barrage of YouTube videos coming out that show horrendous treatment of black people by police. For white Americans, this has been a remarkable parade of injustice, causing a serious consciousness-raising on the part of every white person I know. Everyone has noticed has much more militarized policing has become over the last couple decades, but the problem is felt particularly intensely by blacks, who are disproportionately harmed by harassment and abuse.

My friend T.K. Coleman, who is black, posted a note a few days ago about his own experience. He and his wife were detained, handcuffed, and questioned for absolutely no reason. His account is harrowing.

He concludes:

There’s this naive idea floating around that people should never be afraid of cops as long as they’re innocent and compliant. For a lot of people in this country, that’s simply not true. …

But if we want to have intelligent discussions about authority in this country, we have to stop using a logic that tells us that people in authority always have a fair reason for doing what they do. We do a lot of talking about what people can do to avoid being abused by cops.

We don’t talk as much as we should about the abuse that happens to people who follow all those instructions. If we can’t question authority, we are doomed.

What we can tease out of these polls is the single most striking fact about human relationships. When they are politicized, and when we rely on government to rule our associations with others, the result is less harmony and more tension and injustice. But when we let go and let voluntary human associations take over, letting people trade and keep property and make decisions for themselves and cooperate as equals, we see progress toward what most everyone wants: peace, harmony, and mutually beneficial engagement.

The implications of this realization are epic. For hundreds of years, governments at all levels have been interfering in race relations, favoring or disfavoring one group or another, sometimes in petty ways and other times in egregious ways. In taking this path, governments have done no one any favors. And today, government remains the single biggest obstacle towards a more harmonious social life of inclusion and free association.

In these last days of his presidency, Obama has finally turned his attention to the problem of criminal justice and the horrible problem of prisons. Finally! I have no reason to doubt his sincerity, even if it turns out to be too little and too late. To the extent he manages to reform the system, removing the boot from the neck just a bit, he will have made his greatest contribution toward racial reconciliation.

In the long run, no one benefits from top-down control. If we are to forge good lives and good communities for ourselves, it is going to be by deferring to the emergent processes of social and economic engagement, one person at a time. Government divides people; markets bring us together.

Frederick Douglass made a courageous decision to seek his own freedom as a path to realizing his highest value in this world. He did this by saying no to the master who presumed to rule his life and property. So must we all.


Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World. Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook.

Why Is Economics “the Dismal Science”? The Reason May Surprise You! by David R. Henderson

In an otherwise excellent post responding to Noah Smith about economic growth, my Hoover colleague and friend John Cochrane makes a mistake in the history of economic thought.

John writes:

They do not call us the “dismal science” because we think the current world is close to the best of all possible ones, and all there is to do is haggle over technical amendments to rule 134.532 subparagraph a and hope to squeeze out 0.001% more growth.

Usually, the role of economists is to see the great possibilities that every day experience does not reveal. (“Dismal” only refers to the fact that good economics respects budget constraints.)

Actually, that’s not what dismal refers to. David M. Levy and Sandra J. Peart write:

Everyone knows that economics is the dismal science. And almost everyone knows that it was given this description by Thomas Carlyle, who was inspired to coin the phrase by T. R. Malthus’s gloomy prediction that population would always grow faster than food, dooming mankind to unending poverty and hardship.

While this story is well-known, it is also wrong, so wrong that it is hard to imagine a story that is farther from the truth. At the most trivial level, Carlyle’s target was not Malthus, but economists such as John Stuart Mill, who argued that it was institutions, not race, that explained why some nations were rich and others poor.

Carlyle attacked Mill, not for supporting Malthus’s predictions about the dire consequences of population growth, but for supporting the emancipation of slaves. It was this fact–that economics assumed that people were basically all the same, and thus all entitled to liberty–that led Carlyle to label economics “the dismal science.”

They go on to write:

Carlyle disagreed with the conclusion that slavery was wrong because he disagreed with the assumption that under the skin, people are all the same. He argued that blacks were subhumans (“two-legged cattle”), who needed the tutelage of whites wielding the “beneficent whip” if they were to contribute to the good of society.

In a speech at Susquehanna University earlier this year, I quoted this and pointed out that it was the classical economists, John Stuart Mill, et al, who believed that black lives matter.

This post first appeared at Econlog, the blog of the Library of Economics and Liberty. © Liberty Fund, Inc., reprinted with permission.


David Henderson

David Henderson is a research fellow with the Hoover Institution and an economics professor at the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He is editor of The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics (Liberty Fund) and blogs at econlib.org.