Articles, Columns, and Blogs Pertaining to Liberty
The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly known as the Jones Act, is impossible to defend with a straight face. The Act requires that all people and goods travelling from one U.S. port to another be carried on U.S. owned, flagged and crewed ships. The rationale usually offered these days in support of the Act is that it protects American jobs, and that our military needs to have a fleet of ships it can borrow in case of some sort of emergency. Neither can be taken seriously.
“Raising the minimum wage to fight income inequality has cropped up on many Democratic candidates’ agendas ahead of the November presidential, congressional and state elections,” Reuters wrote this morning. “But the idea has drawn fierce opposition from conservatives and some business groups, who have said a higher minimum would harm small businesses and strain the budgets of government agencies forced to pay more to workers.”
Yes, this could “harm small businesses.” Businesses like the Marmalade Café which has seven locations. “First, you have to raise prices, otherwise you’ll be out of business,” owner Selwyn Yosslowitz told the Times. So higher prices for diners. That’s “first.” We imagine you can guess what’s “second.” “We will try to re-engineer the labor force,” Yosslowitz said. “Maybe try to reduce the number of bus boys and ask servers to bus tables.” In other words: “Maybe” we’ll fire some folks and the people who keep their jobs will have to be more efficient.
A federal science agency is “seriously” interested in reviewing tens of millions in taxpayer-funded grants awarded to a university professor who wants President Obama to prosecute those who don’t share the administration’s view that mankind is changing the world’s climate. The National Science Foundation’s inspector general appears poised to look into Jagadish Shukla’s management of federal grant money, much of it from the science agency itself.
Conservative efforts to reduce the size of government are handicapped by their love affair with the military-industrial complex. Since the Pentagon’s budget makes up the largest category of “discretionary” spending, it seems logical that a serious balanced budget plan would reduce spending on militarism.
Yet many of the same conservatives who (rightly) criticize the Republicans for refusing to cut spending not only oppose cuts to the Pentagon budget, they actually call for increases in military spending! These conservatives refuse to admit that the trillions spent on “regime change” overseas have not only failed to turn the targeted counties into Jeffersonian republics but have actually empowered groups like ISIS. …
The fundamental flaw in the conservative budgets is philosophical: like much of modern American conservatism, the budget accepts the notion that that the American government is both constitutionally authorized to, and capable of, running the economy, running our lives, and running the world. Hence the “conservative” budgets do little or nothing to scale back the federal role in education, housing, welfare, or commerce. …
If America is going to avoid a major economic crisis, government spending and debt must be reduced. However, budgets that merely tinker around the edges of the welfare-warfare state, or only reduce the rate of spending increases, merely postpone the day of reckoning. Only a budget that brings the troops home, shuts down unconstitutional agencies, ends all corporate welfare, and begins unwinding our welfare and entitlement programs will ensure future generations enjoy liberty, peace, and prosperity.
It was recently revealed through Hillary’s emails that during her first year as Secretary of State she insisted that Laureate Education be included in the guest list for an education policy dinner hosted at the U.S. Department of State.
“It’s a for-profit model that should be represented,” she wrote in the August 2009 email, and as a result, a senior vice president at Laureate was added to the guest list. Several months later, former President Bill Clinton became an honorary chancellor of Laureate International Universities, which turned out to be incredibly lucrative. He was paid a cool $16.5 million between 2010 and 2014 for his role with the for-profit college.
TLC MiniBlog: Bill Clinton was paid an average of $3.3M per year to be ‘honorary chancellor’? As usual, the media is silent rather than asking the questions that cry out to be asked.
Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. The end of history for our students signals the End of History for the West. …
We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders. What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”
Under the guise of compassion and caring, the Left attacks people like Baronelle Stuzman, a helpless grandmother who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding from her flower shop, trying to force her to approve of that which she cannot in good conscience endorse. All the while, it claims it is acting in the best interest of society, acting on behalf of all those poor same-sex couples who can’t get flowers for their ceremonies—except that they can. … Around the country, progressive bullies have attacked Christians for daring to put their faith ahead of the pet causes of those who feign compassion while destroying life-giving liberties. What we are seeing is a scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners approach as the wildfire burns across our land. It is not enough that Christians be quiet. Christians must be silenced and punished. Their faith cannot be respected. Legislation that ensures people are free to live and work according to their faith without fear of being punished by government must be stopped and decried as discrimination. … Crushing legal action and punitive lawsuits are one way the Left punishes those who refuse to recant their faith. Death threats and harassment are other tactics the Left employs to make you care.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch testified Wednesday that the Justice Department has “discussed” taking civil legal action against the fossil fuel industry for “denying” the “threat of carbon emissions” when it comes to climate change.
The Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act made it a federal crime to “…willfully or knowingly” enter a “restricted area’ or “….impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions.”… Ron Paul…opposed this bill on the grounds that outlawing “disruptive” conduct could be used to justify criminalizing political protests. … (the statute) is the reason that protesters have been physically removed from campaign events. The President of Valdosta State University (VSU) admitted that in a letter to the VSU “community” regarding police officers’ forcible removal of protesters from a Donald Trump* rally held on campus…
TLC MiniBlog: The founding fathers understood that democracy, as a form of collectivism, subjugated the rights of individuals to the will of the collective. That’s why they avoided it.
For the most part, the Founders were opposed to democracy. James Madison, for example, wrote “There is no maxim, in my opinion, which is more liable to be misapplied, and which, therefore, more needs elucidation, than the current one, that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.” Thomas Jefferson stated that “a democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” And perhaps my favorite is a quote often attributed to Benjamin Franklin: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”
Some people view government handouts as if they are nothing more than good intentions made manifest. But every government aid intervention shifts the incentives on how millions of people live. Federal student aid drove up college tuition which is helping spawn demands for federally-paid free tuition for all students. Medicaid and Medicare roiled the health care system and sparked perpetual inflation that spurs demands for nationalized health care. ObamaCare is spawning millions of new dependents who will view politicians as saviors in the coming years. …
The welfare state buttresses itself with an array of statistical sleights intended to make citizens appear worse off than they are. USDA conducts an annual “food security” survey whose results are widely reported (including by Obama) as a proxy for the number of hungry Americans. If someone feared running out of food on a single day (but didn’t run out), that is an indicator of being “food insecure” for the entire year. If someone craved organic kale but could only afford conventional kale, that is another “food insecure” indicator. However, families receiving food stamps are over 50 percent more likely to be ”food insecure” than similar low-income households not on food stamps, according to a <em analysis. And “Food insecurity” was far more widespread in 2013 (14.3 percent of all households) than in 2007 (11.1 percent) even though the number of food-stamp recipients rose from 26 million to 47 million in the same period. …
The welfare state buttresses itself with an array of statistical sleights intended to make citizens appear worse off than they are. USDA conducts an annual “food security” survey whose results are widely reported (including by Obama) as a proxy for the number of hungry Americans. If someone feared running out of food on a single day (but didn’t run out), that is an indicator of being “food insecure” for the entire year. If someone craved organic kale but could only afford conventional kale, that is another “food insecure” indicator. However, families receiving food stamps are over 50 percent more likely to be ”food insecure” than similar low-income households not on food stamps, according to a <em analysis. And “Food insecurity” was far more widespread in 2013 (14.3 percent of all households) than in 2007 (11.1 percent) even though the number of food-stamp recipients rose from 26 million to 47 million in the same period. …
Montesquieu warned in 1748: “It is impossible to make great largesses to the people without great extortion: and to compass this, the state must be subverted. The greater the advantages citizens seem to derive from their liberty [of voting], the nearer they approach towards the critical moment of losing it.” Politicians cannot undermine self-reliance without subverting self-government. The ultimate victim of handouts is democracy itself. The more important entitlement reform is to prohibit politicians from buying one person’s vote with another person’s paycheck.
George Orwell said, “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” Gore Vidal elaborated on that insight, saying, “As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate.” And John Milton predicted, “When language in common use in any country becomes irregular and depraved, it is followed by their ruin and degradation.” These observations bear heeding about how sloppy language is corrupting our society.
The American dream is about freedom. The ability to live the way you desire and to be all you can be in society. It is the freedom to build and accumulate and make something of yourself. It is the freedom to go from rags to riches in one generation because of your will and abilities. It is the freedom to own your own property and use it to better your position in society. … For the dream to die freedom must also die. As long as you have the freedom to do your best the dream is always possible. The slow loss of personal freedom over the past century has led to the diminishing of the possible. We no longer see the possibilities because that ability is being taken away from us. Tyranny is the lack of possibilities forced on the population. You can no longer be all you can be because you are constrained by others that want to limit those possibilities.
If you ban cash, you can centrally plan the the entire economy by forcing people to spend. You either spend it, or watch as deeply negative rates eat away at your savings.
Of course policy makers and the influential economists who inform their decisions won’t tell you that. They’ll say it’s all an effort to fight crime. On Monday we get the latest cash ban call, this time from Peter Sands, the former chief executive officer of Standard Chartered who’s now an academic at Harvard Kennedy School. “High denomination banknotes such as the 500-euro ($556) note and the $100 bill should be eliminated to make it harder for criminals, terrorists, tax evaders and corrupt officials to transfer funds,” Bloomberg writes, referencing a new paper by Sands entitled “Making it Harder for the Bad Guys.”
Here’s what Sands has to say about high-denomination bank notes:
“High-value notes are the preferred payment mechanism of those pursuing illicit activities, given the anonymity and lack of transaction record they offer, and the relative ease with which they can be transported and moved. They play little role in the functioning of the legitimate economy, yet a crucial role in the underground economy. The irony is that they are provided to criminals by the state.”
So there you go. The latest in a string of verbal attacks on the only thing that stands between central bankers and hugely negative rates. First it will be 100s that are banned, then 50s, then 20s, and so on until individuals’ economic autonomy is completely stripped away and make no mistake, it has very little to do with fighting “terrorism” and “crime” and quite a bit to do with giving officials the leeway to conduct still more moneatry policy experiments.
After all, the Kurodas and Draghis of the world are very nearly out of options. When everything that can be monetized without completely breaking markets has been monetized, and when rates become negative enough that banks can no longer avoid passing the cost on to depositors, it’s either admit that post-crisis policies have failed, or go digital.
The U.S. has fallen from the 6th freest economy in the world, when President Barack Obama took office, to 11th place in 2016. America’s declining score in the index is closely related to rapidly rising government spending, subsidies, and bailouts.
TLC MiniBlog: Denmark, where citizens are victimized by criminals and the state…
According to the Copenhagen Post, more Danes are traveling to Germany to buy pepper spray than ever before. “Sales have really exploded after the New Year and the attacks in Cologne,” an owner of a weapons store in the border town of Flensborg, said. “In January, we’ve had 50-60 percent more Danish customers than usual.” You’ll recall that pepper spray sales are off the charts in Germany since the attacks in Cologne on New Year’s Eve as are Google searches for the weapon.
But don’t be fooled says Anders Rasmussen, a prevention specialist at the Danish Crime Prevention Council, pepper spray may be used as a defensive weapon in some cases, but if legalized in Denmark, people will “quickly” start a non-lethal arms race with one another. “Pepper sprays give a false sense of safety,” Rasmussen told The Post. “They can also be used as an offensive weapon, which may quickly develop into a sort of armed competition between civilians.” … We wonder if Rasmussen would point to 17-year-old girls’ usage of pepper spray on would-be assailants as an example of how dangerous society can get once you allow “civilians” to carry mace.
The most crucial input for a child’s education cannot be provided by schools, politicians and government. As such, continued calls for more school resources will produce disappointing results as they have in the past. There are certain minimum requirements that must be met for any child to do well in school. Someone must make the youngster do his homework, ensure that he gets eight to nine hours of sleep, feed him breakfast and make sure that he behaves in school and respects the teachers. If these minimum requirements are not met, and by the way they can be met even if a family is poor, all else is for naught.
What the education establishment can do is to prevent youngsters who are alien and hostile to the educational process from making education impossible for those who are equipped to learn. That is accomplished by removing students who pose disciplinary problems, but the Barack Obama administration is even restricting a school’s power to do that. You might ask, “Williams, what are we going to do with those expelled students?” I do not know, but I do know one thing: Black people cannot afford to allow them to sabotage the education chances of everyone else.
The United States has faced a growing fiscal imbalance since the early 1970s, largely as a consequence of continuous growth in mandatory spending. As of 2014, the fiscal imbalance stands at $117.9 trillion, with few signs of future improvement even if GDP growth accelerates or tax revenues increase relative to historic norms. Thus the only viable way to restore fiscal balance is to scale back mandatory spending policies, particularly on large health care programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The United States Supreme Court will not hear the case addressing the Constitution’s Origination Clause and by doing so, they are allowing Obamacare and the violation of the origination clause to stand. SCOTUS is assisting Barack Obama and the Obamacare Senate in subverting the Constitution. “At issue was the Constitution’s Origination Clause, which requires all new taxes to start in the House, the chamber closest to the people. Obamacare is a massive tax bill, but it was launched in the Senate through a procedural ploy,” said Timothy Sandefur, the principal attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation. …
The Senate took an appropriations bill that had nothing to do with Obamacare and rewrote it into a massive healthcare bill. “The Senate’s subversion of the constitutionally mandated rules for tax bills is a danger not just in this case but in future cases as well. By allowing Congress to use procedural tricks to evade the constitutional rules, the court has opened the door to Congress further evading democratic accountability for the laws it passes,” Sandefur said. SCOTUS will not hear the case which called for the Obamacare law to be struck.
“The more highly one rates the power that education can have over men’s minds, the more convinced one should be of the danger of placing this power in the hands of any single authority.” -F.A. Hayek
In order to build a better-educated, freer future for our country, parents must be free to choose the education that’s best for their kids—no matter where they live or how much they earn. Educators must be free to determine their own curricula and methods and free to set their own prices and compensation. Schools must be free to innovate and compete to attract and retain students. And they must be both free to profit from their successes and compelled to suffer losses for their failures, because the profit-and-loss system spurs innovation, efficiency, and the dissemination of best practices. Likewise, educators must be free to compete in the labor market for positions that give them the greatest professional freedom and compensation.
Administrative law has transformed American government and society. Although this mode of power is unrecognized by the Constitution, it has become the government’s primary mode of controlling Americans, and it increasingly imposes profound restrictions on their liberty. It therefore is time to reconsider the lawfulness of administrative law.
People who talk equality and practice elitism, who wrap their own selfishness in the mantle of idealism, and who sacrifice others on the altar to their own vision without a moment’s hesitation are not only still with us but have become the norm on the left.
The Commonwealth Foundation, a state free market think tank, found that less than one percent of educators were teaching at the time when their school district unionized. Once a union is elected, it retains the right to represent workers unless an attempt is made to decertify the unit. More than 99 percent of teachers have inherited their union rather than actively voted for them, according to an analysis of about 430 school districts.
We’re now looking at returning to trillion dollar annual deficits in only six years (2022). … Just the yearly interest payments alone on that incredible and unprecedented level of national debt are projected to nearly quadruple over ten years, from $223 billion to $830 billion. That means in ten years, we’ll be spending more – a lot more – on preventing a default on our debt than on national defense. In fact, servicing our debt will be the third largest item in our budget, exceeded only by Social Security and Medicare.
TLC MiniBlog: Though ultimately repealed, this law remains an example of the arrogance and mindlessness of unconstrained government.
Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday signed a bill making it legal for New Jersey residents to offer snow shoveling services without first registering with their town. Last year, two entrepreneurial teens going door-to-door and offering to shovel snow for a small fee were stopped by local police in Bound Brook. The cops told the two boys, Matt Molinari and Eric Schnepf, they were not allowed to solicit businesses without a permit. In Bound Brook, that license costs $450 and is only good for a period of 180 days.
Charles Lane usefully reveals that what Bernie Sanders calls “the billionaire class” does not exist in any ideologically meaningful sense (“Actually, the ‘billionaire class’ might be more progressive than Sanders says,” Jan. 21). But a deeper criticism of Mr. Sanders’s politics is warranted: he’s shooting at the wrong target.
Mr. Sanders aims his venom at billionaires because he wants to prevent “the use of wealth and power to intervene in the political system for one’s own economic self-interest.” This goal is indeed noble. But it is best achieved, not by attempting to ensure that only the ‘right’ people control state power, but by reducing state power itself. Put differently, the fundamental problem is not in the identity of those who wield power but, rather, in the very existence of power.
To suppose that the vast and awesome state power that Mr. Sanders clamors for will not soon be seized by special-interest groups and demagogues who have no qualms about using such power for their “own economic self-interest” at the expense of the populace at large is a fantasy as dangerous as it is naïve and historically unwarranted.
Jeb Bush released his education plan on January 18th. In it, he tries hard to sound like he cares about and supports local control and parental autonomy. In fact, the document, on pre-K through grade 12 issues, is merely a kinder, gentler form of federal tyranny that continues unconstitutional government involvement in pre-K, high stakes testing, data mining, and K-12 education in general. The plan fails on multiple important fronts…
Though some of these details might be embellished (as there are conflicting accounts on what actually occurred), the experiment did happen. Jones wanted to show his students how quickly individual freedoms can be stripped and willfully suppressed in the name of collective goals. The experiment, to his horror, exceeded his expectations.
There are many grounds on which the U.S. Supreme Court ought to overturn compulsory unionism in the case it heard on January 11. But the First Amendment argument that the teachers involved in the case made — that compulsory union dues violate their free-speech rights — is not the primary one. In fact, framing the argument in this way confirms key founders’ fears that the Bill of Rights would eventually do more harm than good.
When people complain that the United States is “losing to China,” presumably because we have a trade deficit with them, they are falling for the zero-sum fallacy. A trade deficit simply means that we are buying more of their goods and services than they are of ours. This doesn’t mean “they” are winning. First, there’s no “they.” The winners are individual Chinese sellers and the people they employ on one side, and individual US consumers on the other. Portraying trade as a contest between countries is deceptive: trade is always among specific individuals and groups.
Second, both sides are winning. Chinese sellers get US dollars and US consumers get products they like at low prices, which frees up income to buy other goods and services, creating jobs in other sectors of the US economy. Those US dollars, it is worth noting, make their way back to the US as Chinese firms invest in US assets, funding everything from private-sector construction to a small part of our government debt. The dollars we spend on Chinese goods do not just disappear; they come back as investments in US capital goods.
It would be more accurate to see what’s happening here as Chinese sellers arriving at the US border with boatloads of cheap goods for us to buy. Under what logic are we made worse off by the “gift” of lower priced goods?
Crowd psychology is a branch of social psychology relating to behavior, and processes turning individuals into an entity called the crowd. Psychological warfare aiming to destroy the target audience´s morale, value and belief system is also keen on bombarding ´´the mob´´ with eradicative propaganda. Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin were fascinated by mass psychology, and attempted to impose Freudian ´´horde leadership´´. … No matter how preposterous, the idea of ´´herding´´ humans seems irresistible to wannabe ´´shepherds´´ because propaganda feeds their own delusions and offers a mirage of an absolute conformity of the flock. Shaved by taxes, dumbed down and behaviorally programmed into the silence of the sheep, the ´´livestock´´ would applaud the leader even if he opened the barn door for a pack of wolves. Will it ever happen?
TLC MiniBlog: There is no single reason ‘the left’ supports Wall Street. Campaign cash, political pull, political likemindedness or, as the author suggests, covert societal destruction. In the end it makes no difference. Whatever the reason, cronyism is destructive of liberty. As with most everything leftist, all roads lead to tyranny of a constantly rising degree.
If you wanted to devise a strategy to get the population on board your socialist agenda, I can think of no better way than to create a class of very rich people who get their riches off the backs of the people. Create thousands of real-life fat cats whose villainy is infamous. Show the people that this is what it means to be rich: to be on the take. That the rich do not produce, but amass a fortune at the expense of others, at your expense. Put that in the public spotlight.
Once the voters believe this, deep down in their hearts, it’s over. The free market is done. Stick a fork in it. Support for the rights of property or contract will fade away. Then, the path is paved for some kind of socialist takeover and totalitarianism.
The National Institutes of Health is spending more than $400,000 sending text messages to Latino men to encourage them to exercise. … The study will conduct focus groups with Latino men to “identify cultural themes” to use in the text messages. Sixty Mexican-Americans will then be enrolled in the study for six months. The results will be compared with other men who do not receive text messages in their exercise education program. The project has cost taxpayers $406,875 so far.
Consider the justified roasting that Bernie Sanders got on social media for wondering why student loans come with interest rates of 6 or 8 or 10 percent while a mortgage can be taken out for only 3 percent. (The answer, of course, is that a mortgage has collateral in the form of a house, so it is a lower-risk loan to the lender than a student loan, which has no collateral and therefore requires a higher interest rate to cover the higher risk.)
When it comes to economic ignorance, libertarians are quick to repeat Murray Rothbard’s famous observation on the subject: “It is no crime to be ignorant of economics, which is, after all, a specialized discipline and one that most people consider to be a “dismal science.” But it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.”
The California Department of Conservation needs more money to train its regulators. At present they lack certain “field standards of health and safety and regulatory functions.” The regulators need this training “to prevent costly errors, injuries, and the highest cost of all, death.” Yes, without more money, oil and gas regulators could take heavy casualties, just like special forces.
At the State of the Union, the President asked three questions regarding domestic policy (I’ll leave the foreign policy question to others). They were: First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy? Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us – especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change? And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst? These three questions are best answered by three great economists, Joseph Schumpeter, Ronald Coase, and Friedrich Hayek.
Common Core is poised to take our educational system to higher heights. After more than 100 years of Progressive Education and generations of Federal intrusions into local school boards America now successfully spends more per capita on education than any other country. The self-esteem of our students ranks as the highest in the world even as our grades slide. In other words our students are doing poorly, but they think they are doing well.
“The greatest fear of America’s Founding Fathers has been realized: The U.S. Constitution has been unable to thwart the corrosive dynamics of majority-rule democracy, which in turn has mangled the Constitution beyond recognition. The real conclusion of the American Experiment is that democracy ultimately undermines liberty and leads to tyranny and oppression by elected leaders and judges, their cronies and unelected bureaucrats. All of this is done in the name of “the people” and the “general welfare,” of course. But in fact, democracy oppresses the very demos in whose name it operates, benefiting string-pullers within the Establishment and rewarding the political constituencies they manage by paying off special interests with everyone else’s money forcibly extracted through taxation. The Founding Fathers (especially Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Madison, and James Monroe), as well as outside observers of the American Experiment such as Alexis de Tocqueville all feared democracy and dreaded this outcome. But, they let hope and faith in their ingenious constitutional engineering overcome their fear of the democratic state, only to discover they had replaced one tyranny with another.”
We now live in a ubiquitous Orwellian society with all the trappings of Huxley’s A Brave New World. We have become a society of watchers rather than activists who are distracted by even the clumsiest government attempts at sleight-of-hand.
There are too many Americans who are reasonably content with the status quo and too few Americans willing to tolerate the discomfort of a smaller, more manageable government and a way of life that is less convenient, less entertaining, and less comfortable.
It well may be that Huxley was right, and that the final revolution is behind us. Certainly, most Americans seem to have learned to love their prison walls and take comfort in a dictatorship without tears.
Self-interest had been frowned upon for ages as acquisitive, antisocial behavior, but Smith celebrated it as an indispensable spur to economic progress. “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner,” he wrote, “but from their regard to their own interest.” Moreover, he effectively argued that self-interest is an unsurpassed incentive: “The natural effort of every individual to better his own condition … is so powerful, that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations.”
In a free economy, Smith reasoned, no one can put a crown on his head and command that others provide him with goods. To satisfy his own desires, he must produce what others want at a price they can afford. Prices send signals to producers so that they will know what to make more of and what to provide less of. It wasn’t necessary for the king to assign tasks and bestow monopolies to see that things get done. Prices and profit would act as an “invisible hand” with far more efficiency than any monarch or parliament. And competition would see to it that quality is improved and prices are kept low. Austrian economist F.A. Hayek wrote in his book, The Fatal Conceit,
Adam Smith was the first to perceive that we have stumbled upon methods of ordering human economic cooperation that exceed the limits of our knowledge and perception. His “invisible hand” had perhaps better have been described as an invisible or unsurveyable pattern. We are led — for example by the pricing system in market exchange — to do things by circumstances of which we are largely unaware and which produce results that we do not intend. In our economic activities we do not know the needs which we satisfy nor the sources of the things which we get.
The Father of Economics placed much more faith in people and markets than in kings and edicts. With characteristic eloquence, he declared, “In the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might choose to impress upon it.”
A small but growing number of people have advocated a convention of states to propose amendments to the Constitution of the United States. The reaction to the proposal has been hostile, out of all proportion to either the originality or the danger of such a convention. The political left has been especially vehement in its denunciations of what they call “messing with the Constitution. … The irony in all this is that no one has messed with the Constitution more or longer than the political left, over the past hundred years. … It has long been a complaint of the left that the process of amending the Constitution is too hard, so they have depended on federal judges — especially Supreme Court Justices — to amend the Constitution, de facto and piecemeal, in a leftward direction. This judicial amendment process has been going on now for generations. …
The judicial pretense of merely “interpreting” the Constitution is just part of the dishonesty in this process. The underlying claim that it is almost impossible to amend the Constitution was belied during the very years when the Progressive movement was getting underway in the early 20th century. The Constitution was amended four times in eight years! Over the years since it was adopted, the Constitution has been amended more than two dozen times. Why, then, is the proposal to call a convention of states to propose — just propose — amendments to the Constitution considered such a radical and dangerous departure?
Legally, it is no departure at all. The Constitution itself lists a convention of states among the ways that amendments can be officially proposed. It has not yet been done, but these proposals will have to be put to a vote of the states, three-fourths of whom will have to agree before any amendment can become law. Is it better to have the Constitution amended de facto by a 5 to 4 vote of the Supreme Court? By the unilateral actions of a president? By administrative rulings by anonymous bureaucrats in federal agencies, to whom federal judges “defer”? The idea that a convention of states could run amok and rewrite the Constitution overlooks the fact that it would take the votes of two-thirds of the states just to convene a convention, and then three-fourths of the states to actually pass an amendment.
A bill has been filed in the Indiana state House that would end mandatory government licensing of marriages in the state, effectively nullifying in practice both major sides of the contentious national debate over government-sanctioned marriage. … The bill “provides for marriage by marriage contract by any two individuals who are competent to contract in Indiana or otherwise permitted to marry in Indiana.” …
The founding generation never envisioned unelected judges issuing ex cathedra pronouncements regarding the definition of social institutions like marriage, and the Constitution delegates the federal judiciary no authority to meddle in the issue. Marriage is a realm clearly left to the states and the people. … This bill would be a step toward getting the state government out of defining marriage entirely, ending the squabble between factions that seek to harness its power for their own agendas.
Hard as it may be for federal bureaucrats to believe, mothers and fathers tend to really care about the wellbeing of their offspring, and they will take extraordinary measures to do what’s best for them, even while apathetic on other political issues. This is why we have seen the ranks of the homeschooled swell in recent years, with an increasing number of parents opting out of traditional school structures.
TLC MiniBlog: For a discussion concerning whether tyranny in education might give rise to a wider awakening with respect to constitutionalism, see this link.
Equalization of opportunity matters more, and achieves more, than political attacks on those who rise on their own, through work, initiative, and character. These things Jefferson and the Founding Fathers knew, as did Lincoln. Today the Founders would cry out against treating “equality” as a deity to be tended and enlarged by the high priests of government.
Many remain confused about the status of slavery under the original Constitution. Textbooks and history books routinely dismiss the Constitution as racist and pro-slavery. The New York Times, among others, continues to casually (and incorrectly) assert that the Constitution affirmed African-Americans to be worth only three-fifths of a human being. … If we turn to the actual text of the Constitution and the debates that gave rise to it, a different picture emerges. The case for a racist, pro-slavery Constitution collapses under closer scrutiny. …
In no way can the Constitution be said to be pro-slavery. The principles of natural right undergirding it are resolutely anti-slavery. Its language conveys disapproval of slavery. And it contains within it several provisions that could have been and were at times used to prevent the spread of slavery. This may not make it an anti-slavery Constitution. But even before the 13th Amendment, it was a Constitution that, if placed in the right hands, could be made to serve the cause of freedom.
Presidential campaigns inflate expectations that power wielded from government’s pinnacle will invigorate the nation. Thus campaigns demonstrate that creationists threaten the creative ferment that produces social improvement. Not religious creationists… It is secular creationists whose social costs are steep.
“Secular theists” — economist Don Boudreaux’s term — produce governments gripped by the fatal conceit that they are wiser than society’s spontaneous experimental order. Such governments imposed order suffocates improvisation and innovation. Like religious creationists gazing upon biological complexity, secular theists assume that social complexity requires an intentional design imposed from on high by wise designers, a.k.a. them.
Higher education is increasingly a house divided. In the sciences and even the humanities, actual scholars maintain the high standards of their noble calling. But in the humanities, especially, and elsewhere, faux scholars representing specious disciplines exploit academia as a jobs program for otherwise unemployable propagandists hostile to freedom of expression.
Israel’s largest trading partner, the European Union, is about to implement a process of labeling goods produced in both the West Bank and the Golan Heights. … Chinese products made in Tibet, which China obliterated from the map, will not be labeled. Russian products from the newly conquered Crimea will not be labeled. Neither will products from any of a dozen areas in the world that are in territorial dispute. Only products made by Jews. The whole business reeks of anti-Semitism.
“I find the US initiative highly problematic. You can write donations off in your taxes to a large degree in the USA. So the rich make a choice: Would I rather donate or pay taxes? The donors are taking the place of the state. That’s unacceptable.” … This successful entrepreneur (Zuckerberg) would like to use some of his net worth to give to charity. Krämer’s objection — indeed the progressive objection writ large — is that the state ought to be the only charity, a giant, perfect monolith of determining the right and the good, meted out by wise elites. All tax loopholes should be closed such that fewer resources go to the voluntary sector. Leave the entrepreneurs just enough so they don’t stop laying those golden eggs. Then tell them this: To be just, you must channel your goodness into the state apparatus, with its attendant angels (bureaucrats, regulators, and cronies). For it is a moral monopoly.
He told His disciples, for instance, “When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe” (Luke 11:21). Additionally, as he was preparing to selflessly surrender Himself for imminent crucifixion, He likewise encouraged His followers to arm themselves for imminent self-defense, saying, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). Contrary to “progressive” wishful thinking, that sword wasn’t for opening letters. And the modern equivalent of the sword is the gun.
But what, you ask, of the verses that say, “Turn the other cheek” (see Matthew 5:39), “Live by the sword, die by the sword,” (see Matthew 26:51) and “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (see Romans 12:19)? Those who exploit these and other scriptures to suggest that Christ forbade self-defense, up to and including the use of justifiable deadly force, are taking these passages out of context. Christ’s “turn the other cheek” comment referred specifically to forgoing revenge and to being persecuted for His name’s sake by those who hate Christianity. It does not suggest that we parents must passively hand over our children to demonic Islamists so they can rape and behead them in our presence. …
Moreover, Christ’s “Live by the sword, die by the sword” reproach of Peter, when taken in context, clearly refers, explicitly, to instances, or a lifestyle, wherein one affirmatively acts from an offensive rather than a defensive posture. When God says that vengeance is His, he means that we “shall not murder” or otherwise take revenge for some perceived wrong. Vengeance falls within God’s purview alone.
It has long been the case that there are far more regulations than laws. That is troublesome enough. But with tens of thousands of agency proclamations annually, agencies may articulate interpretations and pressure regulated parties to comply without an actual formal regulation or understanding of costs. No one knows how much the regulatory state “weighs,” or even the number of agencies at the center of our bureaucratic “big bang.” But for We, the Regulated, ignorance of the law is no excuse.
The upshot of regulatory dark matter is that, without Congress actually passing a law or an APA-compliant legislative rule or regulation being issued, the federal government increasingly injects itself into our states, our communities, and our personal lives. This report is a preliminary effort at outlining the scope of this phenomenon. It concludes with steps for Congress to address dark matter and to halt the over-delegation of legislative power that has permitted it.
How can we have a healthy, functional representative democracy when our elected representatives in the U.S House and U.S. Senate vote on a bill that is over 1000 pages a few days after it is made public. The House voted on this two days after the conference report was released. The Senate had one week. One week is not long enough or somebody would have called Alexander on his B.S. that this bill allows parents to opt-out and that it would get rid of Common Core. It does neither. As far as “fixing” No Child Left Behind how can one say that with a straight face. It doesn’t even do that.
Here are the Senators who voted no on cloture. Please take time to thank them as they took a stand against ESEA reauthorization. U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Michael Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), James Risch (R-ID), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Richard Shelby (R-AL), and David Vitter (R-LA).
Apparently U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) were too busy running for President to come back to DC to vote.
“Congress needs to understand that when they pass a bill, it gets implemented, and when it gets implemented, people feel it. There will be consequences of this bill throughout the years and they will be held responsible for it. Just like nobody wants their name on No Child Left Behind, no one will want their name on this bill [the Every Student Achieves Act]. The smart politician, the one who actually wants to have a long career, not one that ends in the next year or two, is going to want to recognize that and be smart and vote no.” … The House vote and next week’s Senate vote appear to be a repudiation of the Republican stance to abolish the Department of Education and return power to local districts and parents. The biggest loser in what Congress has done, Tuttle says, are the kids. “Those little kids sitting in schools counting on us, counting on Congress to do what’s right for them. It makes me angry.”
“Astroturf is when political, corporate and other special interests disguise themselves and publish blogs, start Facebook and Twitter accounts, publish ads, letters to the editor, or simply post comments online to try to fool you into thinking an independent or grassroots movement is speaking.” The goal of astroturf is to change your opinion and to make you feel like you are outside the mainstream when you are not. … “Astroturfers,” as she called them, seek to controversialize those who disagree with them. These people go after news organizations that publish articles they don’t like, whistleblowers who tell the truth, representatives who actually ask tough questions and journalists who would seek to report on these things. On many occasions, there is so much disinformation put into the mix by the astroturfers that even the most rational among us will, at times, disregard it all, including the truth.
The Every Student Succeeds Act, the intended successor to the No Child Left Behind Act, is better than the law it would replace. That is what many analysts are saying as they hail the legislation as a good step in the right direction. But let’s be honest: you couldn’t set a bar much lower than NCLB. And there are some potential problems that could make the ESSA just as dangerous as the law it would supplant. … It is in responding to the power grabs of the current administration that the ESSA may fall, in practice, very short of actually eliminating executive – much less federal – control over the public schools.
Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. … The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally. That’s why they nearly all starved.
When people can get the same return with less effort, most people make less effort. Plymouth settlers faked illness rather than working the common property. Some even stole, despite their Puritan convictions. Total production was too meager to support the population, and famine resulted. This went on for two years.
“So as it well appeared that famine must still ensue the next year also, if not some way prevented,” wrote Gov. William Bradford in his diary. The colonists, he said, “began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length after much debate of things, (I) (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. And so assigned to every family a parcel of land.”
In other words, the people of Plymouth moved from socialism to private farming. The results were dramatic.
“This had very good success,” Bradford wrote, “for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many.”
Because of the change, the first Thanksgiving could be held in November 1623.
TLC MiniBlog: While the author’s primary focus is on the politics of the church getting the grant, the bigger point is the EPA’s use of taxed or borrowed dollars to propagandize climate change at the grass roots level. Statists in administrative or elective office are more obvious and unapologetic than ever in using federal money to persuade the populace to liberal causes and perspectives. They employ an insidious tactic by granting funds to local organizations which will presumably be more trusted and will provide a certain amount of cover for the expenditure of federal funds to persuade citizens on political or politicized issues.
The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton, Florida, received an “environmental justice grant” for education and training about sea level rise and climate change, the agency announced Wednesday. … “EPA’s environmental justice grants help communities across the country understand and address exposure to multiple environmental harms and risks at the local level,” said Matthew Tejada, the director of the Office of Environmental Justice. “Addressing the impacts of climate change is a priority for EPA and the projects supported by this year’s grants will help communities prepare for and build resilience to localized climate impacts.”
West Virginia passing right-to-work legislation would be momentous in several ways. The Mountain State would become the 26th right-to-work state in America. For the first time since the National Labor Relations Act passed, a majority of states would protect workers from compulsory union dues. West Virginia also has a long history of pro-union sentiment. But union members themselves oppose compulsory dues. One poll found that 80 percent of union members think that paying union dues should be the workers’ choice. West Virginia voters favor right-to-work by an almost three-to-one margin.
This is why politicians who have embraced right-to-work have thrived. Voters—many of whom are rank-and-file union members—like it. … Opposition to right-to-work comes principally from union executives. They want to continue forcing workers to pay their salaries and support a political lobbying effort that overwhelmingly favors liberal causes that have very little to do with improving the lot of the average union member.
A new rule is proposing that non-profit organizations collect the “tax identification numbers” of all their donors who give over $250. For you and me, that means our Social Security numbers. It’s hard to imagine a more chilling regulation on charitable giving. Would you be willing to enter your Social Security number into an internet donation form, knowing that the government will get to see it? Would you be willing to write that number down and mail it through the U.S. Post Office alongside a check? I wouldn’t. This is part of the IRS’a continued efforts to reduce the reach and effectiveness of non-profit organizations.
Among politicians and their clingers-on, journalists, nothing takes hold like a bad historical analogy. … Pundits are invoking the plight of Jewish refugees fleeing Adolf Hitler’s Germany in an effort to soften American hearts. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote Monday, “This growing cry to turn away people fleeing for their lives brings to mind the SS St. Louis, the ship of Jewish refugees turned away from Florida in 1939,” while his colleague Ishaan Tharoor contended: “Today’s 3-year-old Syrian orphan, it seems, is 1939’s German Jewish child.” Meanwhile, a Daily Kos headline shouts: “Replace ‘Syrian’ with ‘Jewish’ and we’re back to 1939.” This is prima facie nonsense, which should be obvious from the terms being compared: Jews, an ethnic group, with Syrians, a national one. An honest, apples-to-apples comparison would line up German Jews and Syrian Muslims — the relevant ethnic group within the relevant political entity. But do this, and the failure of the analogy becomes clear…
Have we become a country whose leaders are charlatans, and whose people are sheep? Our situation today reminds me of what Winston Churchill said to his bodyguard, after the king appointed Churchill prime minister in the darkest days during World War II: “All I hope is that it is not too late. I am very much afraid it is. We can only do our best.” He had tears in his eyes.
In saying “we need less philosophers and more welders” (he meant “fewer”), Rubio slights the foundational premise of a free society. … Colleges and universities are in turmoil precisely because too many Americans think of them as places for job training instead of for examining the great questions. This change has at once lowered the quality of the curriculum and raised the cost of higher education. Worse, the careerist thinking has helped radical thought thrive on the campuses. The more tradition-minded administrators, and the people footing the bill (the parents), believed they could safely ignore the trendy nonsense being purveyed by a few cranks in the academic world—after all, they weren’t teaching the “important” subjects like business or economics. …
Those who deprecate the liberal arts in favor of the utilitarian view of a college degree place themselves in the same camp as those at Yale, Claremont, and Missouri who demand censorship of ideas and arguments that run counter to their own. Like the ancient Athenians, both the “pragmatists” and the politically correct hysterics would rather kill Socrates than let him talk anymore. To the former, the philosopher is useless; to the latter, the philosopher is evil. Both want the philosopher ejected. … As “respectable and responsible” families elected to have their college-educated children pursue sheepskins with a pathway to jobs, and abandoned the liberal arts as “impractical,” it gave cover to radicals with academic pretensions. Their grievance-mongering having sunk in only too well, the tenured radicals now face student bodies with lists of grievances that include all the usual stuff (eradication of racism, sexism, homophobia) with certain add-ons (college should be provided free of charge in the future, and past student debts should be wiped off the books). …
Worst of all is the damage done to the prospects of self-government. A republic requires more of its educational institutions than producing skilled workers to grow the GDP. It requires responsible human beings and citizens. Such persons are made, not born. Their rights may be inherent, but the skills required to understand, preserve, and defend them are the study and the practice of a lifetime. Welders, no less than philosophy students, need an appreciation and respect for the making of human beings and citizens. And any properly trained student of philosophy will understand and appreciate the contributions of welders (and all the other manual trades) to the engine of democracy. D-Day didn’t happen just because military strategists drew up the plans on paper, after all. It required equipment designed, manufactured, tinkered with, and repaired by a free and innovative people to execute it. But it also took a real sense of justice and injustice that was understood and appreciated by all varieties of our people. And it took men who, understanding that, were willing to die lest they be slaves.
Hillary Clinton’s minimum wage hike could cut nearly 800,000 jobs with people at the bottom end of the pay scale suffering the steepest job losses, according to a study by two leading economists. … Nearly 85 percent of the estimated job losses will come from those earning less than $100,000 each year.
“Presidential primary candidate Hillary Clinton has argued for a minimum wage increase as part of her policy platform to boost the middle class. But this analysis shows that those with household incomes between $35,000 and up to $100,000 would bear a large portion (43%) of the job loss from this higher minimum wage,” the analysis says. The middle class will not be the only earners hurt by this policy. More than 40 percent of the job losses would come at the expense of those earning less than $35,000 per year.
If you believe, as progressives do, that human nature is not fixed, and hence is not a basis for understanding natural rights. And if you believe, as progressives do, that human beings are soft wax who receive their shape from the society that government shapes. And if you believe, as progressives do, that people receive their rights from the shaping government. And if you believe, as progressives do, that people are the sum of the social promptings they experience. Then it will seem sensible for government, including a university’s administration, to guarantee not freedom of speech but freedom from speech. From, that is, speech that might prompt its hearers to develop ideas inimical to progress, and that might violate the universal entitlement to perpetual serenity.
On campuses so saturated with progressivism that they celebrate diversity in everything but thought, every day is a snow day: There are perishable snowflakes everywhere. The institutions have brought this on themselves.
When feelings are given primacy over facts, there’s no way to evaluate the truth, which is necessary for making sound policy. How can one say Donald Trump is wrong that Mexico is “sending” the United States illegal immigrants if the truth doesn’t matter now? And didn’t he “feel” offended when Rich Lowry said Carly Fiorina emasculated him? Why not call for Lowry’s firing or a Federal Communications Commission fine?
When “safe spaces” are places where pushing and verbal abuse take place, when reality is based on the race, gender, or sexuality of a speaker, when words like “rich,” “poor,” “senior,” and “American” are considered “problematic,” reality ceases to exist and words have no meanings.
The biggest problem with PC culture is it destroys the basis for a functioning democracy. (TLC MiniBlog: PC Culture as we’re seeing it manifested, takes advantage of the current ambivalence toward constitutionalism in order to make demands upon society it could not otherwise make. Once the Constitution is removed as an obstacle to such demands and thuggish activity, the only impediment stopping a vocal and aggressive faction from imposing tyranny is the will of the majority. Right now, the will of the majority is weak. Accordingly, PC culture is working to destroy the basis for a functioning democracy, but the fundamental problem is the diminishment of constitutionalism and the rule of law, and the lethargy and/or fear of the majority.)
TLC MiniBlog: The state is incompetent when it attempts, through bureaucracy, to do things outside of its proper function of securing individual rights, providing external and internal security and administer civil and criminal justice. That incompetence always results in waste and fraud which falls to the citizenry. Because the U.S. currently maintains its extravagant spending on the backs of our children and grandchildren, waste and fraud such as that described in this article falls to them.
Social Security Administration officials failed to recognize basic signs of disability fraud, such as huge clusters of people in the same area with the same fake affliction sharing the same lawyer. The result was millions of dollars lost to fraudulent schemes before anyone at the agency took notice, according to an annual report released Thursday by the Social Security Administration’s inspector general.
Officials overpaid Social Security recipients by billions thanks to a series of administrative and reporting errors, the watchdog found. The agency managed to recover $3.4 billion in overpayments, but spent $0.07 chasing every dollar it got back and ended the year with $18.5 billion in uncollected payments. That included $46.8 million that was paid to Social Security recipients who had already died.
TLC MiniBlog: An appropriate subtitle for this article might be ‘How The Partnership Between Cronies And Politicians Cheats Absolutely Everyone For The Benefit Of Cronies And Politicians.’
In a truly capitalistic society, a monopolistic level of control would be impossible without massive amounts of voluntary transactions. Which is what capitalism is… the private ownership of capital and wealth, transacted voluntarily. The problem arrives when government — local and federal — believe they have the right to make certain transactions involuntary. And allow capitalism to benefit some while holding others back. …
Voluntary commerce brings diverse groups together to trade peacefully simply because all parties benefit — often in creative ways. Win-wins all around. Everyone’s happy. Involuntary commerce creates conflict, violence, and even war because some parties do not benefit. Win-lose. Some parties get taken advantage of, often at the barrel of a gun. Nobody’s happy. …
In a capitalist society, you are rewarded for serving your fellow human beings in the way in which they want to be served. As long as it is consensual, it is OK. In a socialist society, on the other hand, you are served in precisely the way the “public” (ahem… government) wants to serve you — and you are served long and you are served hard.
Would blacks have been better off without constitutional ratification and a Union made possible by the three-fifths compromise? In other words, would blacks have been better off with northern states having gone their way and southern states having gone theirs and, as a consequence, no U.S. Constitution and no Union? Abolitionist Frederick Douglass understood the compromise, saying that the three-fifths clause was “a downright disability laid upon the slaveholding states” that deprived them of “two-fifths of their natural basis of representation.”
What can we do to fight back against government? We all understand the problem, but what is the solution? What can we do in the current environment to help build a more sane and libertarian world? And how can we find some measure of freedom in our lives today, to live more freely in our lifetimes?
What happens when those unprepared students matriculate at a college that has already agreed to place them in courses that count towards graduation, without remediation? Exactly what is now happening in Kentucky. Richard Innes of the Bluegrass Institute points to multiple pieces of evidence that the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) has decided to simply abolish remedial courses. Students who formerly would have gone through remediation are now to be thrown into credit-bearing courses.
As CPE president Robert King explained to the Kentucky Board of Education during its October 6 meeting, students who formerly would have gone through remediation are now to be thrown into credit-bearing courses. But since such students obviously won’t be ready for real college work, the courses will be designated “co-requisite”—meaning lagging students will receive extra help of some sort so they can catch up. … These professors pointed out what critics of the Common Core scheme have been warning against for years: “Placing these students into courses for which they have not met prerequisites can only lead to either lower educational standards or increased failure rates.” …
Professors in Kentucky…obviously think the K-12 standards should be written to align to college requirements, not vice versa. Common Core’s promise of “college readiness” means nothing if the definition is set not by colleges themselves but rather by the standards-writers. Now that professors are catching on to the trick, their rebellion could go a long way to undermine the fraudulent foundations of Common Core.
Ponder this: Why are conservatives such as William Bennett, George Will, Bill Kristol, et al so graciously accepted by the prevailing liberal establishment? … It is because today’s conservatives do not challenge the moral premise of statism. Most of today’s conservative leaders are brilliant intellects, but they accept statism’s violation of individual rights and its conveyance of special privileges to a myriad of factions. Thus, they pose no moral threat to liberalism and are not feared by those who are tyrannizing our lives with omnipresent government. Today’s conservatives are merely a different brand of statist, with their ultimate goal the same as the liberal brand – maintenance of an all-pervasive mega-state in Washington.
There is no difference between lemmings that creep and cattle that charge toward the cliff, other than their time of death. And there is no substantive difference between the creeping statism of William Bennett, George Will and Bill Kristol and the charging statism of Robert Reich, Paul Krugman, and Jesse Jackson. …
In the end, there is no hope for freedom if men of the mind are not willing to truly stand for freedom, to make of themselves Gibraltar-like representatives of its attributes no matter what level of rejection, calumny and injustice is heaped upon them. This is the true role of the intellectual in history, his only role – to stand intransigently for truth and its concomitant of freedom, even in face of a vast social herd of academic pedants, poseurs, and media clowns stampeding the other way.
Education standards are for the most part wishful thinking. The assumption that quality standards will lead to higher student achievement is faith, not fact. Tom Loveless, a former Harvard policy professor at the Brookings Institution, says Common Core is “built on a shaky theory” and perceives no correlation between high standards and student achievement. …
Schools today face uncooperative, disruptive thugs and slugs with no interest in learning. They poison classrooms, rendering it impossible for other students to learn. Incompetent, union-protected teachers add to the mess. Gates simply cannot understand a chaotic world where security guards roam school halls and teachers fear to turn their backs to the classroom. In his sunny, value-free, optimism scheme, everyone can connect to each other and learn from each other. All we need is the right machinery. The facts of education and human nature indicate otherwise. Unfortunately, Common Core’s many backers treat resisters with disdain.
Facing skeptics and defections, elected officials and educational leaders insist nonetheless they can bridge the achievement gap and leave no child behind. They intone that Common Core will fix things once and for all and make schools right. The hell of it is, many of them — along with master builder Bill Gates — sincerely believe their new elixirs will this time make magic. Realism and experience are off the table, and federal school control is an impending prospect.
Since…the states are partners with the federal government on “most federal programs,” refusing federal funding and creating an enforcement vacuum is a sure-fire way to bring these EPA programs down. Partnerships don’t work when half the team quits. And in the case of the EPA, it’s the entire enforcement mechanism if Bevin follows through.
Unfortunately, things are about to get a lot tougher for the small brewer, as new regulations under ObamaCare are set to take effect next year. The law requires that chain restaurants provide nutrition information on all the beers they serve, including calorie counts, carbohydrates and sugars. Sounds reasonable, right? Americans are becoming increasingly health conscious and they deserve to know what they are putting in their bodies, don’t they? This is always the logic behind these labeling regulations, but it ignores one very crucial component: the cost.
When you brew a beer, you don’t just know how much sugar, or how many calories are in it. These things require testing, and testing costs money. In fact, it can cost as much as $1,000 to obtain calorie information for one type of beer, no small amount of money for an independent brewer. Bear in mind that many of these companies brew dozens of different varieties of beer, that change on a seasonal basis. Getting each offering tested for nutritional information would be prohibitively expensive for most.
TLC MiniBlog: As I wrote here with respect to a local tax on guns, ‘just as the poll tax was an unconstitutional impediment to the constitutional right to vote, the gun tax is an unconstitutional impediment to the constitutional right to keep and bear arms.”
A new bill would tax gun owners at a rate of $100 per firearm with proceeds going toward anti-violence and mental health programs. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-NY., said the measure would reduce the number of guns in circulation…
Besieged Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán said the ongoing invasion of his country is “driven, on the one hand, by people smugglers, and on the other by those [human rights] activists who support everything that weakens the nation-state.” “This Western mindset and this activist network is perhaps best represented by George Soros.” …
Soros blueprint for the fundamental transformation of Europe, parts of which were previously disclosed, calls for “a European plan [that] must be accompanied by a global response, under the authority of the United Nations and involving its member states.” Such a move “would distribute the burden of the Syrian crisis over a larger number of states, while also establishing global standards for dealing with the problems of forced migration more generally.”
The EU must create a single EU border agency and harmonize the 28 separate asylum systems now in place in its individual member states. “[S]afe channels” must be established to aid migrants in traveling wherever they want to go. “This is very urgent in order to calm the panic.” Whatever operational and financial arrangements come out of this “should be used to establish global standards for the treatment of asylum-seekers and migrants.”
There is a belief among regulators that the best way to teach children is uniformity; cramming them into a featureless, windowless room where they are made to memorize the same facts as every other student in the country, and then testing them over and over again until their eyes bleed. If students fail to perform well in this environment, the reason must be that they are not tested enough, that the tests are not rigorous enough, or that expensive technology, like iPads, might somehow be helpful in a vague sort of way if only we can pay for them.
It’s all nonsense of course. Children are people. They’re individuals, and they learn in different ways. Uniformity doesn’t work, learning must instead be a journey of discovery that allows flexibility for the child to pursue his own interests at his own pace. Until the government accepts this, we can expect more taxpayer dollars fritter fruitlessly away.
In the meantime, since federal money doesn’t do local schools any good anyway, more governors should be willing to cut the strings imposed by the Department of Education, and opt out of failed programs like Common Core. There’s no point in accepting federal aid that doesn’t actually aid anyone.
Congress appears to be stepping up to the plate to kill the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers’ water rule (known as the “waters of the United States” or WOTUS rule) – they just need to bring it home by sending legislation to the president. In doing so, Congress will be protecting Americans from this environmental regulatory overreach that is an attack on property rights and bad for the environment.
A recent, widely publicized incident in which a policeman was called to a school classroom to deal with a disruptive student has provoked all sorts of comments on whether the policeman used “excessive force.” What has received far less attention, though it is a far larger question, with more sweeping implications, is the role of disruptive students in schools. Critics of charter schools have often pointed to those schools’ ability to expel uncooperative and disruptive students, far more readily than regular public schools can, as a reason for some charter schools” far better educational outcomes, as shown on many tests. The message of these critics is that it is “unfair” to compare regular public schools” results with those of charter schools serving the same neighborhoods — and often in the same buildings. This criticism ignores the fact that schools do not exist to provide jobs for teachers or “fairness” to institutions, but to provide education for students. …
It would be wonderful if we could develop ways to educate all students, despite whatever kinds of attitudes and behavior they had. But how many generations of other youngsters are we prepared to sacrifice to this hope that has never yet been fulfilled?
One of the most curious ballot initiatives in the country — a synergy of B-list celebrity and entrepreneurial democracy (how’s that for a euphemism for crony capitalism?) in a culturally conservative state that would hardly be expected to lead the charge for legal pot. And yet it has driven a wedge into the usual pro-marijuana coalition, in part because of language in the measure that would restrict virtually all large-scale marijuana cultivation to 10 designated farms. The owners of those farms? A random bunch, including Lachey, designer Nanette Lepore, NBA legend Oscar Robertson, NFL journeyman Frostee Rucker, a pair of President William Howard Taft’s great-great-grandnephews and twenty-some others — who, not coincidentally, are the same folks bankrolling the campaign, and stand to become very, very wealthy if the measure passes. “They are creating a constitutionally mandated oligopoly,” argues Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. But the initiative’s organizers maintain that the novel arrangement is the only way to fund a successful legalization campaign in a far-from-liberal state.
It is not necessarily intuitive that allowing scarce resources to be owned privately is the solution to this problem. Consequently, socialism appears attractive to many and they turn to having all resources owned collectively for the “common good.” Unfortunately, a society which spurns private property — and hands resources over to government planners instead — often learns the terrible lessons of central planning and the tragedy of the commons (i.e., commonly held resources will be plundered to extinction). If society spurns allowing private ownership of resources, it must find some other means to prevent the tragedy of the commons and to allocate goods. Historically, the means chosen is the use of force and central planning. Throughout history, most of mankind has been divided into a hierarchical system of masters and slaves with some gradations between the two extremes. The masters (pharaohs, emperors, kings, sultans, warlords, etc.) devised complex rules-based systems for resource distribution that were decided by a small number of people and not by markets. And ultimately, these plans depended upon pure terror for enforcement. But this so-called solution to the problem of scarcity — restricting the people’s liberty through the use of force — does not work.
In the wake of the Charleston murders, some people promote the false narrative that it’s white racists who are the interracial murderers. That’s nonsense. FBI crime victimization surveys show that blacks commit 80 percent of all interracial violent crime.
Who is responsible for “a lot of well-meaning, open-minded white people” experiencing a “twinge of fear” at “the sight of a young black man in a hoodie”?
The deal is much worse than just the particular spending increases it contains. Sequestration may have been a blunt instrument but it has been one of the few successful restraints on federal spending in recent years. Without it and the caps in the Budget Control Act, federal spending would have been at least $200 billion higher since 2011. This really would mark the second consecutive budget deal in which Congress agreed to ignore the caps. That’s a pretty clear signal that Congress plans to return to its wide open tax and spend past. So we will spend more on domestic discretionary programs, more on defense, and more on entitlements, while papering over the cost. Happy days all around.
The deal would also raise the debt ceiling by enough to last through March 2017. In fact, the deal doesn’t just raise the debt ceiling, it simply does away with it for a year and a half. Of course, no one really expected Congress not to raise the debt ceiling eventually. But this deal surrenders even token Republican leverage. We’ve been fortunate the last few years. A combination of renewed economic growth and sequestration-driven spending restraint has reduced our budget deficit to just (just!) $435 billion. But this is only a temporary respite. Within just a couple of years, deficits are expected to start growing once more. By 2025 we could again see $1 trillion deficits. Worse, our $18.2 trillion debt is scheduled to rise to $26.9 trillion over the same period. And all of this is before the big cost of entitlements really kicks in. By some measures, our real debt tops $80-90 trillion.
TLC MiniBlog: The time has come for widespread, grassroots consideration of The Compact For America. This group has a streamlined plan for the adoption and ratification of a pre-written balanced budget and spending amendment which can be fully ratified far faster than any other plan due to the ingenious use of a compact among the states. Upon the joinder of the 38th member state, the compact will include the requisite 3/4 of the states needed not only to call a convention, but to ratify the amendment. The convention rules are strictly controlled by the Compact. The exact wording of the amendment is already specified. There would be nothing to do at the convention but adopt the rules and pass the amendment for the consideration of the states. Any actions taken by convention delegates outside of the rules specified by the compact would require the states to recall their delegates. The compact safeguards against the concern of a “run away” convention. Finally, pursuant to the Compact, each state will have already passed legislation ratifying the amendment upon referral from Congress. Accordingly, the states won’t even need to individually ratify the Amendment; they will have already done so pursuant to the initial legislation joining the Compact. The Compact For America is beyond the idea stage. The Compact exists. Four states have already joined.
It has never been clearer that America’s rendezvous with economic Armageddon will not be avoided by our leaders. We desperately need a grass roots effort to save the country from this disaster. The generations who’ve allowed this death spiral to develop owe a moral obligation to the generations which will follow. We must stop it before it destroys the country. Please visit the Compact For America website which can be found here for further information.
The long-term perspective always wins. The left knows this. They act accordingly. Why don’t conservatives?
TLC MiniBlog: I would suggest it is because there are so few true economic conservatives. Many who call themselves conservatives are corporatists and opportunists. Many others are conservative primarily on social issues. To combat the force described in this article requires a long-term perspective which incorporates as one of its primary objectives persuading people to the societal benefits of economic liberty. It doesn’t take all that much education to begin to understand why economic liberty is good for society and why coercion is bad. Not only is that education not happening but worse, forces in favor of coercion are constantly propagandizing their agenda, from all aspects of media to the public schools, to the institutions of higher education. The task is daunting but the task is clear–a critical mass of the populace must be persuaded to liberty.
Capitalism is the social system where all property, including the entire means of production, is privately owned. Private means private. No cronies, no subsidies, no regulations imposed on some and relaxed for others. It’s the system where economy and state are completely separate, precisely as church and state are (or should be) separate. Capitalism is the only social system which can or will uphold individual rights. Individual rights refer to freedom from the initiation of force or fraud. At root, individual rights are a protection of the right to be left alone. Nobody — not a criminal, not the government — may initiate force (or threaten its use) against anyone. Period. All actions should be freely chosen and consensual; a government exists to protect you from anyone who seeks to initiate force or fraud against anyone else. That’s all government may do, and that’s everything. By that definition, what we have today is not capitalism; not even close. What we have today is a hybrid mixture of capitalism and socialism.
Socialism is the system where all property is owned “publicly,” i.e. by the government, and where the means of production are controlled and managed entirely by the government. … If you don’t like capitalism, don’t offer today’s system as proof of its dysfunction. Not only is today’s system a mixture, it’s moving decisively towards socialism.
In 1944, at the height of World War II, Samuel Pettengill and Paul Bartholomew wrote a book titled For Americans Only. In it, they touched on many themes which maintain their relevancy today: the alarming degradation of economic freedom, the over-reaching actions of the federal government, its many unconstitutional programs set up by central planning and the out of control spending. Their conclusion: the states needed to retake their authority from the federal government.
“The foundation of America’s greatness, the Constitution, its guarantees of liberty and its restraints on power, is being undermined,” they write. “This cannot remain the ‘home of the free’ unless it is still the ‘land of the brave.’” Eerily prophetic, the writer’s warnings have been vindicated by our present crisis, but nevertheless offer us renewed hope in curbing the feds.
When much of the Western media choke on identifying the victims of Palestinian violence as Israeli Jews you know there is a serious breach of trust at play that must be addressed. Sadly, these headlines are commonplace as editorial discretion repeatedly tilts a bias that fails to allow the truth and honest reporting to shine through. One of the truths is that there is a deliberate Palestinian policy to incite their followers to attack Israeli Jews and deny them any rights, not to sovereignty, not to heritage in Jerusalem, not even to life.
TLC MiniBlog: It’s unfortunate that the focus of the argument in favor of the bakers is religious liberty. Though religious liberty may well provide the best legal avenue to their potential vindication, more broadly, the promise of America incorporates the notion that one is not required to have a legally protected right implicated in order to refuse to do business with another individual. Liberty contemplates that one may do business, or not do business, with any one, for any reason, or for no reason at all. It should not be generally accepted that the force of law should ever be used to force free individuals to conduct business with each other.
Moral hazard describes the difference between decisions made by those with skin in the game, i.e. those who will absorb the losses from their bets that go south, and those who’ve transferred the risks and losses to others. The too-big-to-fail banks that bought political protection simply shifted the losses to taxpayers. Then the Federal Reserve helpfully paid banks for deposits at the Fed while reducing the amount banks had to pay on depositors’ savings to near-zero, effectively rewarding the banks with free money for ripping off the taxpayers. America’s financialized cartel-state system institutionalizes moral hazard. This is one cause of rising inequality, as the super-wealthy are immunized by their purchase of political influence.
The idea that there is such a thing as “fair” or “excessive” profits misunderstands the function of profit — and loss — in a market economy. To bemoan a capitalist earning high profits is like complaining about a surgeon saving too many lives.
Koch doesn’t lobby the government to support its products, as crony companies such as Solyndra did. Doing so creates what Koch calls “bad profit,” profit that doesn’t really serve customers and that imposes a cost on the taxpayers who are asked to support a losing venture.
It is one of the many signs of the mindlessness of our times that all sorts of people declare that “the rich” are not paying their “fair share” in taxes, without telling us concretely what they mean by either “the rich” or “fair share.” Whether in politics or in the media, words are increasingly used, not to convey facts or even allegations of facts, but simply to arouse emotions. Undefined words are a big handicap in logic, but they are a big plus in politics, where the goal is not clarity but victory — and the votes of gullible people count just as much as the votes of people who have common sense.
It is important to note that the choice between increasing and decreasing economic freedom is a derivative choice. The fundamental choice here is between the opposing moral codes underlying these alternatives, namely: altruism and egoism. One mandates selfless service for “others” or “the community” or “the common good”; the other advocates selfish production for individual success. One calls for coercive redistribution of wealth, the other for voluntary trade. One gives rise to statism, the other to capitalism.
To whatever extent these opposing moral codes are embraced within a given society, whether explicitly or implicitly, that is the extent to which the society will violate or protect individual rights—and that is the extent to which the society will shackle producers or leave them free. The fundamental lesson to be learned from the continuing decline of America’s economic status is not economic but moral. We cannot support the economics of self-interest (capitalism) with the ethics of self-sacrifice (altruism). Freedom depends on egoism.
In 2014, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter signed legislation into law that effectively blocks in practice any new federal gun control measures by prohibiting state enforcement of any future federal act relating to personal firearms, a firearm accessories or ammunition. This law blocks in practice future federal gun control because the federal government lacks the resources to enforce its laws alone. It depends on state assistance, assistance it will no longer get from Idaho.
TLC MiniBlog: Once again, the American Civil Liberties Union takes a position in contrast to its name, fighting against the liberties of individuals to escape the government monopoly that is the public schools system.
“This [program] gives parents the ability to customize their childrens’ education by spending their dollars on a variety of educational goods and services,” states Hildreth. The new law is being challenged by the Nevada branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Educate Nevada Now! (ENN), an education reform campaign funded by The Rogers Foundation. The groups argue that the program violates the separation between church and state because parents could use public money for private religious schools. Hildreth argues that the Nevada program does not unconstitutionally fund religion because it provides a variety of school options that are both religious and non-religious and “relies on the free and independent choice among parents.” The Institute for Justice has successfully defended school choice programs in six states over the last five years.
His crusade to force the government to obey the law earned him three prison sentences, the final one being a fourteen-year sentence that he began serving ten years ago, at the age of 77. That sentence turned into a life sentence, as my father failed to survive until his planned 2017 release date. However in actuality the life sentence amounted to a death sentence. My father died from skin cancer that went undiagnosed and untreated while he was in federal custody. The skin cancer then led to a virulent outbreak of lung cancer that took his life just more than two months after his initial diagnosis. The unnecessarily cruel twist in his final years occurred seven years ago when he reached his 80th birthday. At that point the government moved him from an extremely low security federal prison camp in New York State where he was within easy driving distance from family and friends, to a federal correctional institute, first in Indiana and then in Texas. This was done specially to give him access to better medical care. The trade off was that my father was forced to live isolated from those who loved him. …
We tried to get him out of prison on compassionate release so that he could live out the final months of his life with his family, spending some precious moments with the grandchildren he had barely known. But he did not live long enough for the bureaucratic process to be completed. Two months after the process began, despite the combined help of a sitting Democratic U.S. congresswoman and a Republican U.S. senator, his petition was still sitting on someone’s desk waiting for yet another signature, even though everyone at the prison actually wanted him released. Even as my father lay dying in intensive care, a phone call came in from a lawyer and the Bureau of Prisons in Washington asking the prison medical representatives for more proof of the serious nature of my father’s condition.
As the cancer consumed him his voice changed, and the prison phone system no longer recognized it, so he could not even talk with family members on the phone during his finale month of life. When his condition deteriorated to the point where he needed to be hospitalized, government employees blindly following orders kept him shackled to his bed. This despite the fact that escape was impossible for an 87 year old terminally ill, legally blind patient who could barley breathe, let alone walk.
Whether or not you agree with my father’s views on the Federal Income Tax, or the manner by which it is collected, it’s hard to condone the way he was treated by our government. He held his convictions so sincerely and so passionately that he continued to espouse them until his dying breath. Like William Wallace in the final scene of Braveheart, an oppressive government may have succeeded in killing him, but they did not break his spirit. And that spirit will live on in his books, his videos, and in his children and grandchildren. Hopefully his legacy will one day help restore the lost freedoms he died trying to protect, finally allowing him to rest in peace.
Shiller thinks people are stupid so companies manipulate them, so Bob Shiller and his friends in government should run peoples’ lives. His vehicle here is Irving Fisher’s line that people don’t maximize utility — happiness — rather, in Fisher’s phrasing, “something that could better be described as ‘wantability’ rather than utility, for they are subject to temptation and mistakes.” Shiller is dredging a strawman here; no economist thinks humans are perfect and error-free. What economists do debate is whether people should have overlords. Because the problem here is that somebody must decide whether you buy an iPhone, eat salad or bacon, or drive an SUV or a compact. If individuals don’t get to choose, who does? Alas, we know who: Bob Shiller and his buddies in government. …
Worse, putting overlords in charge brings a dark new problem — overlords want things, too. Maybe they love power, maybe they want to purify the earth and usher in a thousand-year Reich. Or maybe they just accept campaign donations. This means Shiller’s big-brained overlords may not even be trying to estimate what you want. They may not care. Because they want things, too. You might think this problem — in Roman poet Juvenal’s phrase, “who watches the watchers” — would merit some thought after a century of blood and poverty from socialism’s failures. Alas, we’re subjected to a non-stop stream of Nobel laureates oblivious to what Mises’s Human Action told us a generation ago: “Socialism is not an alternative to capitalism; it is an alternative to any system under which men can live as human beings.”
TLC MiniBlog: On every occasion where the government has intervened artificially to affect markets it has introduced distortions which resulted in unintended and severe consequences. Mr. Hughes demonstrates how that cause and effect paradigm has played out in higher education.
The Obama administration is intent on characterizing the violence with a moral equivalence that is anything but moral. Team Obama’s approach to Israel reflects attitudes and assumptions commonly accepted in liberal-left circles. America’s historic support for Israel will be threatened over time if liberal-left narratives continue to take root here. Recent events in the Middle East, which highlight the barbarism and intolerance that pervades the region surrounding Israel, create an opportunity for Israel’s supporters to effectively respond to those narratives…
TLC MiniBlog: Money is a medium of exchange but it is fundamentally a commodity. Humankind developed money to solve the problems associated with barter. Money makes it possible to trade value for value far more precisely than could ever be possible when trading goods and/or services directly. It also constitutes a store of value enabling goods and services to be exchanged for a commodity (money) which will hold the relative value of those goods or services until such time as needed for future exchange. Because money is a commodity, when anything other than market forces artificially affect its value, distortions necessarily ensue. The FED’s dual mandate of maintaining both inflation targets AND full employment induce it to affect money using the legal force of the state in myriad ways, all of which distort the value of money. Because money is not like other commodities insofar as its value directly affects the entire world economy, these distortions run deep and wide, but because they are not immediately obvious, they are largely ignored by the general public.
TLC MiniBlog: To appreciate the concern this piece raises, you must first understand who the authors are. Randi Weingarten is the president of the American Federation of Teachers. Susan Hopgood is president of Education International and the Federal Secretary of the Australian Education Union. Lilly Eskeisen-Garcia is president of the National Education Association. These people are not outliers on the political fringe. They are involved, networked, politically charged globalists working to pull education (and apparently just about everything else) into global centralization under the auspices of the U.N. Finally, I caution against letting the incoherence of this piece lull you into thinking that these ideas can’t gain traction. There’s precious little coherence to any collectivist movement. They are all built on emotion, not reason.
“Think in terms of the whole child, whole school, whole community, whole system. Failure in the past was marked by fragmented, piecemeal strategies and market fundamentalism. The U.N.’s sustainable-development goals are not a shopping list to guide purchases inside a global supermarket limited by an overstretched credit line and a lint-filled purse. Instead, they are an ecosystem in which education, poverty reduction, healthy lives, GDP, and environmental sustainability are linked and embedded in shared national interests. The days of arguing over the costs and benefits of overlapping line items are over. The cost of educating a girl and the cost of women’s health programs are no longer a win-or-lose funding choice in an era of goals that recognize holistic benefits. When well-being (physical, social, emotional), environmental sustainability, and greater equality are elevated, cross-sector collaborations take root, and the search for interactions replaces the race of advocates and their funders to prove the worth of single, sectoral interventions. …
In an era in which global priorities are latticed in a visible way, and governments and private-sector actors are internationally branded for their selfish and often callous activities, NGOs, funders, and advocates will be united in defending and promoting the range of goals in unison. Education is a human right and must be free. This is how we win. It’s no longer enough to support each other’s success in coalitions and collections of shared purpose. The U.N. Sustainable Development Goals will guide our success in the next 15 years, because they are a path for a world in crisis and chaos at a time when millions of eyes are turned to the United Nations and global advocates, hoping to see collective engagement across a very broad front of issues.”
These ideas, and the people who hold them, are not outliers in America. There are millions of rank and file progressives, mostly registered Democrats, who believe exactly as Bernie believes. They may prefer to vote for Hillary Clinton purely as a tactical matter because they are unsure the country is “ready” for full socialism, or because they think Hillary has a better chance of beating the hated Republicans in the general election. But average progressives and Democrats agree with Bernie Sanders across the board, whether they plan to vote for him or not. …
The reason is simple, though we tend to forget it: the twentieth century was a radically progressive century. Income taxes, central banking, social insurance schemes, demand-side Keynesian economics, and Wilsonian internationalism — all radical ideas — have become entrenched articles of faith over the past 100 years. When we talk about politics or economics today, we do so within a thoroughly progressive framework. The entire progressive agenda of the last century, which would have sounded outrageous to the libertarian-tinged ear of the average American in 1900, is now merely the baseline from which all government action originates. That’s why abolitionist libertarians are on the defensive in modern political discourse, while grandiose progressives are on the attack: the default position in American politics is for government to do something. …
So what should libertarians do, in an absurd progressive world obsessed with supposed global warming, inequality, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and privilege, ad nauseam? … Let me suggest we start by freeing ourselves of the burdens of politics. Our battle is for hearts and minds, not votes. While Democrats and Republicans fixate on candidates and their supposed policies, libertarians are free to remain psychologically and emotionally detached from the whole sordid process. And with that detachment comes freedom: the freedom to inspire, educate, and influence other people of good will without the divisive cloud of partisan politics creating suspicion and distrust. Once people know you’re not simply making arguments to support “your guy” — or any guy — they tend to view you more impartially and hence more favorably. A new era of liberty, peace, and prosperity will not be won at the ballot box. It will be won at ground level, individual by individual, as progressive ideas crumble in the face of unsustainable government debts, unsustainable government wars, and unsustainable government entitlements.