<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Death by a Thousand Cuts:
Spending cuts do not lead to a smaller government.

By Robert Wolf

When, oh when, will Americans catch on to the deception practiced upon us, largely by Republicans, that spending cuts are reducing the size of the Federal government?

Cuts in spending accomplish no such thing. They slow the growth of government debt, and even that by no appreciable amount, but not the growth of government. Not a single government program will have less money this year, next year or any year--each and every year they get more.

In perpetuity it seems, Republicans are allowed the fiction that they are doing us a favor by trimming budgets and the Democrats afforded the propaganda advantage that programs are being slashed. The truth is, the Democrats dream up the give aways and the Republicans figure out how to fund them. As long as citizens buy into the illusion that cuts are the road to smaller government, government already bloated beyond belief, will continue to grow.

Forgetting for awhile why we have a government that believes it needs to mettle in every aspect of our lives, the frightening fact is that once a government program gets on the books, it is there forever. The sentimental nannies, mostly Democrats, who wax hysterical over not spending enough on this or that program are simply performing for their constituents; making the political points that will get them reelected. They know full well anycuts in growth will be restored a year or two later.

Legislators threaten, thunder, and shed crocodile tears that this or that give away is under-funded, knowing that congressional authorization is what really matters, and historical budgets take care of the rest. Programs that have driven homemakers into the work force and will have our children working in the coming years have been on the books for decades, yet there is always an apparent need for more. Anyone who has watched the mad pitchman Mathew Lesko sell his books knows that virtually every Washington give away has clones in multiple agencies.

So, why does the deception succeed? It succeeds because most Americans are of a Libertarian bent, and really do want smaller government. What is surprising is that they continue to think that Republicans are delivering on that promise. As long as Americans cling to the two party system and dismiss Libertarians as potheads, the federal government will continue to grow.

The obvious in your face solution is to cut programs and agencies. One way of beginning the process might be to give the hydra a single neck, i.e., unify the handouts restricting them to a single program in a single agency; and then sunset whatever Congress does, so that programs and regulations will be revisited in a time certain, perhaps when cooler heads prevail.



Friday, October 24, 2003

A To-Do List

By Robert Wolf

There is much consternation to the effect that politics has become a full body contact sport. Many are dismayed because all that is important is winning. Pubs and Dems will say anything and do anything to win, but the end of world is not at hand, not if we are up to the challenge.

Libertarians think Republicans are Clinton Lite. Conservatives are depressed because congressional spending continues unabated. Conservatives and Libertarians are, both, ready ‘to give up the ghost’, ‘shed that mortal coil’ and ‘head for the hills’, perhaps for good reason; watching the evolution of the new Medicare entitlement alone is frightening. Those who remember Medicare 1 was projected to cost 9 billion dollars by 1990, yet ended up costing 7 times as much, see little hope for small government.

Of course, Progressives are pleased as Punch. They believe Health care is a right; a right conferred by whom or at whose expense is a question never raised or answered. Progressives, if pressed, would answer at the government’s expense, but as the government has no money that begs the question.

But, railing at fate alone only leads to frustration and defeat. It is like trying to fix a leak by bailing water. Instead of light-headedness in the face of the dizzying array of government or vituperation, let’s re-double our efforts to attack the root causes of the problem.

What are the roots of the problem? The income tax, paper money and ‘far fetched’ interpretations of the Interstate Commerce Clause, Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution.

In 1913, with malice of forethought, Congress created the Income Tax and the Federal Reserve, ostensibly to tame the business cycle of boom and bust, but with the full realization that it would increase by infinity their ability to tax, or less charitably, buy votes.

Taxes have never been popular in America. The first federal income tax was imposed during the Civil War. It proved so unpopular, however, that it was soon repealed. Congress tried it again in the 1890s, but the Supreme Court came to our rescue, declaring it unconstitutional in 1895. Referring to the explicit prohibition against direct taxation in Article I, the court argued that “an income tax would excessively enhance federal power in relation to state power”. Precognition?

Ever the patriots, Congress would not take no for an answer. They nullified the ruling by an overwhelming majority and proposed a 16th Amendment. Three-fourths of the state legislatures, inspired by Theodore Roosevelt and flushed with the thought of empire, ratified the villainous deed.

Then, in the same prolific year, Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act giving the government the right to print paper money unbacked by gold. Later in the 1930s when FDR realized there wasn’t enough gold in Ft. Knox to finance his grand vision of a New Deal the final barrier was removed. Worthless money became a fait d’accompli (at least officially) in the repeal of the Gold Standard in the 30s.

Abusive interpretations of the Interstate Commerce clause began almost before the ink was dry on the Constitution. Most statesmen recognized a need for uniform interstate commerce between the various States. Under the Articles of Confederation, some states had treated others as foreign countries, levying all manner of discriminatory taxes, licensing provisions, port regulations, and the like.

James Madison argued: "We are now obliged to defend against those lawless attempts from the interfering regulations of different States, with little success...New York levies money from New Jersey by her imposts. In New Jersey, instead of cooperating with New York, the Legislature favors violations on her regulations."

To prevent trade wars among the states, the Constitution gives Congress the power "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes." The word "regulate", at the time, meant to make regular or uniform. The clear intent was to give Congress the power to prevent discriminatory trade practices among the states. Jefferson remarked: "The power given to Congress by the Constitution does not extend to the internal regulation of the commerce of a State (that is to say, of the commerce between citizen and citizen) which remain exclusively with its own legislature, but to its external commerce only; that is to say, its commerce with another State, or with foreign nations, or with the Indian tribes." (Opinion on Bank, 1791

Controversy, even in Colonial times, makes it clear that Politicians have always been scoundrels looking for loopholes in the Constitutional safeguards against the growth of federal power. They happily ignored the ample warnings by the Founders.

Jefferson cautioned that, "Whenever the words of a law will bear two meanings, one of which will give effect to the law, and the other will defeat it, the former must be supposed to have been intended by the Legislature, because they could not intend that meaning, which would defeat their intention, in passing that law; and in a statute, as in a will, the intention of the party is to be sought after." (Thomas Jefferson to Albert Gallatin, 1808)

He felt that, "When an instrument admits two constructions, the one safe, the other dangerous, the one precise, the other indefinite, I prefer that which is safe and precise. I had rather ask an enlargement of power from the nation, where it is found necessary, than to assume it by a construction which would make our powers boundless." (Thomas Jefferson to Wilson Nicholas, 1803), but Congress was not dissuaded. The Supreme Court tried to stem the tide by holding legislation to the limits defined by the enumerated powers. But, pressure from Congress and Presidents gradually overcame the resistance of the courts.

Congress hit the jackpot with the commerce clause. The floodgates opened in 1889 when the Supreme Court ruled that the commerce clause was a positive grant of power to regulate the economy. "The reasons which may have caused the framers of the Constitution to repose the power to regulate commerce in Congress do not...affect or limit the extent of the power itself," they arbitrarily reasoned; and once the intent of the framers of the law was ignored, any interpretation became possible.

From 1889 to 1941, the Court maintained some restraint on Congress, allowing them to only regulate activities that directly involved interstate commerce. The laws they upheld still did not conform to the enumerated powers, but the justices were diligent in looking for some real connection with interstate commerce. In 1941, when our ‘beloved’ FDR threatened to stack the court with Justices who would see things his way, the Court capitulated.

The precedent involved a farmer named Filburn who was fined by the federal government for growing 461 bushels of wheat in violation of FDR’s Agriculture Adjustment Act which allowed him only 222. Even though Filburn used the surplus for feed on his own farm and for his family, the Court ruled that he affected interstate commerce and came under Congress’ regulatory jurisdiction.

With the capitulation of the courts, government control over the economy and other aspects of American life have grown like a ‘Topsy’. The Justice Department actually cited the Commerce clause in its arguments before the courts in defense of the Patriot Act. Clearly, there is no connection between the Patriot Act and commerce, but precedents set by the FBI during the 40s, which have resisted challenge, make Ashcroft’s tactics possible.

At the start of the Depression, Government consumed 3 percent of the economy’s output; it now consumes about 25 percent, which will swiftly rise to 40 percent after passage of the new Medicare bill. The genie of big government was released from the bottle after 150 years and the stopper has not been seen in 60 years.

There is no way to throw a switch and take American back to the 19th Century short of a new American Revolution, and that will not occur. If there were a lever to pull, I would be the first to throw it. Instead of fussing about everything under the sun, let’s narrow the focus. The mess was over a 100 years in the making and won’t be solved overnight. We should not lose hope because devolution will not be immediate.

Clearly, a frontal assault on the 16th Amendment can not succeed. The issue does not inspire public support. It frightens too many who realize that the move would end social programs, including Social Security and Medicare. They are not wise or informed enough to realize they would be better off without these programs. For example, how they would handle Grandma and Grandpa becoming part of family again? There is little confidence that private or religious philanthropical institutions would fill the void.

But the general public would support a national sales tax or a flat tax, and so could Libertarians and Conservatives, as long as the IRS is eliminated. (Nothing can remain to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes.) A sales tax with an income tax or a flat tax with IRS provisos would be the worse of both possible worlds. Libertarians would need to support the intermediary step and not allow the good to be sacrificed to perfection. Conservatives and Republicans would need to insist that Bush accomplish this in his second term or refuse to vote for him in ’84.

Once a sales or flat tax is in place and government no longer ‘clouded the minds of men, Americans would see how much the government spends. With transparency in place, we can begin the process of cutting taxes and swapping federal for local control.

With a more rational tax, we could tackle reverting to the Gold standard. Undoing this evil will require effort and coordination with foreign governments. But foreign nations willingly followed us into this cul de sac in the 20th Century, so they should be willing to follow us out in the 21st.

Court challenges limiting the interpretation of the Commerce Clause couldn’t be more timely with the battle against the Patriot Act.

We should do these three things and stop obsessing over the rest. With these battles won, the rest will take care of itself. For extra credit, make a contribution to reforming politics by organizing for the repeal of the 17th Amendment. Success is highly possible because liberals are not organized against it, and many may even join us.

Here in a nutshell are a few active steps we could take as citizens to start rolling the government back. Working to achieve these goals would take our minds from all the doom and gloom we see on the web pages.

The Age of Opinion

By Robert Wolf

Garbage in Garbage out, a concept well understood by computer geeks, is the perfect metaphor for what has happened to education in the United States. Just as democracy, a generic substitution for the more specific, republic, is the word of the day in politics, so egalitarianism or multi-culturalism is the by-word in American Education.

Egalité is not a synonym for democracy, as those with a vested interest in promoting the concept would have you believe. The standard dictionary definition of egalitarianism is affirming, promoting, or characterized by belief in equal political, economic, social, and civil rights for all people. The definition of Democracy is a government by the people, either directly or through representation by elected officials; the principle of social equality and respect for the individual within a community. Notice the striking difference. The phrase economic rights in the definition for egalitarianism and the exclusion of the word individual, or to put it plainly egalitarianism is a synonym for socialism.

Socialism did not begin with Marx; it was the seed sown by Rousseau that resulted in the Reign of Terror. It is equality gone amok, mob rule, multi-culturalism, and the primary reason why the American Revolution succeeded and the French Revolution did not.

The task facing today’s student is to be non-judgmental not only in the area of personal relations, but in metaphysics as well. Umberto Eco calls it syncretism, "’the combination of different forms of belief or practice;’ such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth . . . there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.” This accounts for today’s nihilist, anarchistic philosophers who spin great clumps of contradictory information into a lithified whole, and for the convoluted conspiracy theories concocted by an inference from here and a half truth from there.

Just as reverence for multi-culturalism has removed all judgement from the human affairs arena, so too, has its intellectual evil twin, which I will call multi-conceptism removed judgement from the realm of ideas. Young minds are taught that firmly held convictions and clear visions of the truth are worthless hallucinations of the mind; that truth and fact are judgmental; it is more important to understand process than to produce a correct answer; and no particular idea is more noteworthy than any other. Education in an egalitarian mode has produced an age of opinion, where few Americans are deterred from their beliefs by attention to fact or detail.

Our public schools and universities, bathed as they are in ‘old world’ swill, teach American children that there are no absolutes, that facts don’t manner and that everything is just a matter of opinion. They are told they may pick and choose the ideas that create their personal philosophy like items from a Chinese menu, one from column A, 2 from column B or vice versa. College students, by virtue of age and experience, have some defense against this onslaught, children, for the same reasons, are powerless.

One or more generations of Americans has already been educated by teachers inspired by this charming ‘old world’ drivel; but when any and every idea has equal value and all opinions are equal, perhaps it doesn’t matter what is taught or who teaches it. Eco tells students that simultaneously held contradictions are liberating. Jacques Derrida assures them, “that [a] text is incoherent because its own key terms can be understood only in relation to their suppressed opposites.” In other words what an author says is not what is meant, but rather its opposite. It is a comic book ‘Bizzaro’ world where one has to say the opposite to be understood correctly. The same educators are also quick to remind us that the ‘civilized’ nations, meaning European, have National health care, but fail to mention they also have double digit unemployment. Insurance is not free.

Parents tell their children to listen to the teacher not realizing that these ‘mentors’ are teaching their children that existence is arbitrary, that judgements are bad, that the universe is hostile and that life should be tribal.

In the spirit of multi-culturalism, many have been convinced that everyone has a right to an opinion, and that every opinion is just as informed as any other. Witness ‘man on the street’ interviews or the call in segments on C-Span. Opinions are accepted from anyone and everyone and all are treated with equal respect. It is not a criticism of C-span to mention this, I believe they are doing us a favor by rubbing our noses in it.

Erudition is measured by trivia contests and multiple choice. Wisdom is defined by how many subjects one can offer an opinion upon. "I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth, " says Umberto Eco. He delivers the coup de grace with “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity.”

As a result, generations of the aimless young feel nothing but hopelessness. Some drop out, eking out a life on the streets, others become trolls in a relative’s basement. For others it’s greed; knowing that money can hire servants to handle the dreary details of existence and free up the time for the slow suicide of drugs, sex, and rock and roll.

Americans cling to inaccurate information on a wide range of subjects. The Flat Earth Society actually believes that the Earth is flat. It is not a joke. The Earth, they tell us, is shaped in the form of a pentagon, and thus has five corners. They warn us of the danger of falling off the edge. Beneath the Earth, or hanging off the edges, is a land populated by either green-skinned women or Nazis. The Springfield Effect is the phenomenon by which every place named Springfield is hard-linked in hyperspace to every other place of this name. In other words, there is only one Springfield, but it is "linked" to various locations around (oops) in the world. Idaho, North Dakota, and Australia do not exist. More American’s believe in UFOs than believe they will ever see Social Security. The moon landing was faked. Secret societies control the destiny of the world. Republicans are for smaller government. Democrats are for the underdog. Libertarians are aging potheads. The list is endless. Einstein once remarked, "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

You might ask how outrageous ideas could have so many adherents? It starts with a devalued school system. Qualifications are sacrificed to the perquisites of seniority. Those who have virtually no training in the subject matter, teach today’s public school curricula. Union rules dictate who teaches what, with the most senior teachers deciding which classes they will teach. The biggest single complaint is that there are too many students per class. Instead of qualified teachers we have teacher qualifications. It’s a good thing the answers are in the back of the book.

Private schools, which are substantially outperforming the public schools in every conceivable way, find no need for teacher certification. It is not news that the greatest minds that exist now or have ever existed, the greatest scientists, mathematicians, poets, writers, artists, and inventors the world has ever known would not be allowed to teach in a public school.

Web pages offering materials to assist teachers boast of “attention-grabbing solutions to stop or manage youth violence, school failure, truancy, dropping out, family problems, poor motivation, Asperger’s behaviors, apathy, bad attitudes, attachment disorder, ADHD, depression, withdrawal, peer conflict, classroom misbehavior, dropping out, independent living, anger control problems, delinquency, severe emotional problems, independent living, and even "girl's problems" like teen pregnancy. It's billed as information that no contemporary youth professional can safely be without.” When do they get the time to teach?

Notice that teachers are now called youth professionals. When I attended public school before decades of Leftist experimentation, we had a school board, a principal and assistant principal and teachers, not youth professionals. The greatest behavioral difficulties were unruly demonstrations when a teacher left the classroom or the heinous crime of chewing gum. Now teachers must be social scientists, who are nimble enough to dodge bullets and teach at the same time.

School sponsored sports don’t keep score lest someone should feel bad; we experiment with pass/fail, so that students doing “A” work can not be distinguished from those getting “Ds”; the ‘whole word’ system for teaching reading gave us an entire generation that is functionally illiterate, and some great minds even suggested we teach Ebonics. We are told that Life is a journey and the destination unimportant. While this might in some sense be true (it’s certainly catchy) it could also be the reason we have become lost. We have been ‘improving’ public education for 40 years, and though the “innovations” fostered over those years have been adopted as historical and accepted as indispensable, we consistently fail to achieve the goal of educating children.

In the “thrilling days of yesteryear” when “father knew best” things were quite different. There were none of the parasites that have attached themselves to school budgets whining about being underpaid. Teachers were responsible for teaching; Principals supervised without guidance from on high; and the job got done with nary a thought to blaming parents when students didn’t learn. A few kids dropped out who were not of an intellectual bent or who hated the idea of sitting behind a desk all day, but neither they nor their parents blamed others or worried about self esteem. Instead, the dropouts took useful, honorable positions in factories, supermarkets or auto shops because that was what they preferred in the first place. There was no liberal guilt about a system that failed them or weeping and wailing that the world may have been deprived of a great scientist or mathematician (as if today’s system could produce one). We were grateful for a competent mechanic.

A house that in 1960 cost $30,000 now costs $200,000. What was a high school diploma in 1948, is today’s Baccalaureate. From the 60s through much of the 80s, a BA was sufficient education for most tasks, now employers look for candidates with a Master’s. The Ph.D. has also been affected. Students are now engaged in postdoctoral work. As standards continue to slip more and more degrees will be required to compensate for what is not being taught on the level below. We will soon need a new degree, perhaps we could call it the Phdd or DD for Doctor of Doctoring.

Mark Twain once wisely remarked: "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." If we had any sense we’d go back to the one room schoolhouse.


IN DEFENSE OF DRESDEN
By Robert Wolf


The decision by the RAF to carpet bomb during WWII, in order that the enemy be demoralized and to foreshorten the war, was a reasonable and condonable. This does not extend to the bombing of the city of Dresden in 1945, which was simply an act of sadism.

Not only did it not achieve the aforementioned objective of demoralizing the enemy (impossible in a population long since demoralized) it resulted in the deaths of thousands of Eastern European refugees fleeing the war and the destruction of one of Europe’s most beautiful cities and the trove of historical art and treasure it contained.

Although, the decision to use these bombs early in the war and for the specific action against Dresden came from the very top, they were based in great measure on recommendations by the Chief, or Head of RAF Bomber Command during WWII, Arthur Harris. His biography is not unimportant to this discussion.

He was the son of a civil servant. In his autobiography "Bomber Command" (1947), Harris tells us the following: "After thirty years experience of working under the dead hand of the Civil Service, I am persuaded that the progressive multiplication of government regulations and controls, operated by civil servants who themselves are multiplying fast, is leading the country to catastrophe, complete, and perhaps irreparable. " He goes on to envy the Americans, who in his mind get what they need or want without delay or difficulty. He further writes, “In my mind there is no doubt whatsoever that the main reason for the speed and efficiency with which the Americans get things done in war is simply because America has no civil service that can interfere. In the American fighting services they ask for the money they want as a lump sum, or for the aircraft they want as a round number, and once they get either of these they can do what they please with them, equipping or modifying their aircraft according to their own ideas.” (ibidem)

If not full blown paranoia, this is at least delusional. The US certainly contented with a military bureaucracy. Many commentators of the US side cite anecdotes replete with horror stories of delay and obfuscation on the American side, often peppered with off color acronyms such as SNAFU.

Harris was at best an autocrat, certainly not a diplomat. He clearly preferred getting his way to developing the leadership qualities required for persuasion. When he was seventeen he moved to Rhodesia where he worked variously as a gold miner, a livery man and a laborer in the tobacco fields. When the World War I broke out he joined the 1st Rhodesia Regiment and fought in the campaign the succeeded in stripping South West Africa from the Germans. He returned to England in 1915 and joined the British Airforce (Royal Flying Corps). In 1919 Harris was a squadron leader in the newly created (RAF).

Over the next few years he served in India, Iraq and Iran, before serving on the staff overseeing the entire Middle East from 1930-32. During this period the RAF used terror bombing, including gas attacks and delayed action bombs, on the Iraqi tribes rebelling against British rule (italics mine). Harris believed that "the only thing the Arab understands is the heavy hand." He was fond of his "heavy hand" and put it to better use against Germany during World War II. By the time the war began, Harris had reached the rank of Air Vice-Marshal, and in then in 1942, replaced J. E. Baldwin as Head of the Command.

Under his leadership of the RAF his "heavy hand" was perfected. He fought all attempts to be dissuaded from carpet bombing in favor of precision bombing. Harris argued that the main objectives of night-time blanket bombing of urban areas was to undermine the morale of the civilian population and attacks were launched on Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne and other German cities between 1940-43, and Dresden in 1945 (emphasis mine). According to the Oxford Companion to WWII, “when they (Britain) reverted to the Combined Chiefs in September, it was decided to concentrate them (the bombings) on precision targets, especially oil plants. However, Harris disagreed with this approach, preferring to pursue the area bombing of German cities. It was a wrangle which remained unresolved. Attacks on German cities continued, including Dresden, though precision raids did take precedence over them when operational conditions allowed. Only the cessation of hostilities avoided the dismissal of Harris. . .”

“Despite a sustained effort, which cost Bomber Command heavy casualties, little was accomplished by the offensive. Reports from Germany, including those of neutral observers, cast doubt on RAF damage claims, and the British Air Staff's own investigation, the Butt Report, demonstrated that just one aircraft in five got within five miles of its target. Over the Ruhr only one in ten dropped bombs "within the 7, square miles surrounding the target." (ibidem)

The tremendous loses suffered in these night time raids, coupled with a suspicion that something other than military necessity might lay behind Harris’ intransigence, provoked the US to negotiate an agreement (The Eaker agreement of 1943) which established that the Brits would carpet bomb at night and the US would perform more precise targeting by day.

On the 13th February 1945, 773 British planes bombed Dresden at night. During the next two days during daylight hours the USAAF sent over 527 heavy bombers to follow up the attack. With the degree of precision possible in this era, they struck specific military targets, and unlike the British effort, actually contributed to the war.

Harris in his memoirs described it thus: "An attack on the night of February 13th-14th by just over 800 (sic) aircraft, bombing in two sections in order to get the night fighters dispersed and grounded before the second attack, was almost as overwhelming in its effect as the Battle of Hamburg, though the area of devastation -1600 acres - was considerably less; there was, it appears, a fire-typhoon, and the effect on German morale, not only in Dresden but in far distant parts of the country, was extremely serious. The Americans carried out two light attacks in daylight on the next two days." Notice how his effort produced an "extremely serious" effect on German morale, which the Americans carried out two "light" attacks. An honest account, you decide?

Dresden was nearly totally destroyed, as a result of the fire bombings. Afterwards, it was impossible to count the number of victims. Research suggests that 135,000 were killed but some German sources have argued that it was over 250,000. Whatever the figure, it was larger than the 51,509 British civilians killed by the Germans during the London air raids or the 70,000 instant deaths at Hiroshima after the first atomic bomb. The entire carpet bombing campaign killed an estimated 600,000 civilians and destroyed or seriously damaged some six million homes during the course of the war. Highly dangerous to friend and foe alike, the British Bomber Command lost over 57,000 men.

Churchill mused that the bombing of "communication centres in eastern Germany might aid the Soviet advance on Berlin", and, "cause confusion in the evacuation from the east" and "hamper the movements of troops from the west". By "evacuation from the east", he was not talking about retreating troops. He was referring to civilian refugees of various nationalities fleeing the advancing Russians. The refugees did not contribute to the German war effort, if anything they were a drain on it, but were considered targets simply because attacking them might create enough chaos to prevent German reinforcements from reaching the Eastern Front--a lot of speculation.

It is significant that only a few weeks after the raid on Dresden, on 28 March 1945, Churchill tried to dissociate himself from the destruction. He issued a memorandum denouncing the bombing of cities as "mere acts of terror and wanton destruction".

Notice he makes no distinction between cities bombed early in the war, and Dresden which was attacked in 1945. He doesn’t understand the distinction and simply dismisses the entire action, never comprehending that one was justified and the other not.

The war was over and hypocrisy had reached new heights. The British lion was ready to lie down with the lamb. He was ready to cloak himself in the Christian ethic and proclaim, in hindsight, that turning the other cheek would have been the higher moral duty, clearly a case of situational ethics. The Prime Minister who had actively supported the bombing campaign all along fatuously remarks, "It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land," (italics mine); his true feelings.

Arthur Harris became a marshal of the RAF in 1946 and soon afterwards retired from active duty. He published his war memoirs, Bomber Command, in 1947. In it he explains why he ordered the bombing of Dresden in February, 1945, "I know that the destruction of so large and splendid a city at this late stage of the war was considered unnecessary even by a good many people who admit that our earlier attacks were as fully justified as any other operation of war. Here I will only say that the attack on Dresden was at the time considered a military necessity by much more important people than myself, and that if their judgment was right the same arguments must apply . . . " (Italics mine)

If Harris was innocent, so was Adolph Eichmann. They used the same defense.

Tolerance: The Enlightenment Vs Multi-Culturalism.

By Robert Wolf

Tolerance, as exemplified by the Enlightenment ‘philosophes’, incorporated the belief that each individual should be free to pursue his own interests. In the words of Locke, “The commonwealth seems to me to be a society of men constituted only for the procuring, preserving, and advancing their own civil interests. Civil interests I call life, liberty, health, and indolency of body (recreation); and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture, and the like.1 Unlike Hobbes’ Leviathan’, Locke regards this contract as revocable, a government that depends upon the consent of the governed which may be withdrawn at any time. When the society interferes with the property interests of the citizens, those citizens are bound to protect themselves by withdrawing their consent to be governed.2 This provided a post facto defense of the Glorious Revolution in England and was a significant element in justifying later revolts in America and France.

If the Enlightenment could be summed up briefly it embodied the philosophy of John Locke, the belief in progress through reason. Liberty was the major preoccupation and religion, because of the intolerance of the various sects especially when teamed with government, as chief obstacle to its attainment. Assisting Locke in the dissemination of these ideas on the continent were Montesquieu and Voltaire.

Voltaire was legendary throughout France for his sharp epigrams and his quick wit. His intelligence, humor and style made him one of France's greatest writers and philosophers, and he used that popularity to attack the intolerance and superstition of the Christian churches and preached a message of freedom and liberty for all men. Lord Macauley opined that "of all the intellectual weapons that have ever been wielded by man, the most terrible was the mockery of Voltaire. Bigots and tyrants who had never been moved by the wailings and cursings of millions, turned pale at his name."

The great men of the Enlightenment and our founders were Deists, not Christians, and wrote tirelessly about intolerance. They believed in a God of Nature who was not a Christian. For them Christianity with its virgin birth and miracles was pure superstition. Their interest in the New Testament was confined to Jesus’ admonition to love God and each other; the ravings of Paul held no appeal.

Atheists like to claim Voltaire as their own, but he denies them in everything he writes. The often quoted, "If God did not exist, he would have to be invented", from his “Epistle to the Author of ‘The Three Impostors’�, is incomplete. The line that follows reads, “but all nature cries out to us that he does exist.�

In the words of Locke, “Nobody is born a member of any church; otherwise the religion of parents would descend unto children by the same right of inheritance as their temporal estates, and everyone would hold his faith by the same tenure he does his lands, than which nothing can be imagined more absurd.� �The toleration of those that differ from others in matters of religion is so agreeable to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the genuine reason of mankind, that it seems monstrous for men to be so blind as not to perceive the necessity and advantage of it in so clear a light.� “It is not the diversity of opinions (which cannot be avoided), but the refusal of toleration to those that are of different opinions that has produced all the bustles and wars that have been in the Christian world upon account of religion.�

“If a Roman Catholic believe that to be really the body of Christ which another man calls bread, he does no injury thereby to his neighbour. If a Jew does not believe the New Testament to be the Word of God, he does not thereby alter anything in men's civil rights . . . If a heathen doubt of both Testaments, he is not therefore to be punished as a pernicious citizen. The power of the magistrate and the estates of the people may be equally secure whether any man believe these things or no. “

“A Turk is not, nor can be, either heretic or schismatic to a Christian; and if any man fall off from the Christian faith to Mahometism, he does not thereby become a heretic or schismatic, but an apostate and an infidel.� “ …for I do not think there is any man arrived to that degree of madness as that he dare give out his consequences and interpretations of Scripture as divine inspirations and compare the articles of faith that he has framed according to his own fancy with the authority of Scripture. I cannot but wonder at the extravagant arrogance of those men who think that they themselves can explain things necessary to salvation more clearly than the Holy Ghost, the eternal and infinite wisdom of God.� (Locke)

“Do I propose, then that every citizen shall be free to follow his own reason, and believe whatever his enlightened or deluded reason shall dictate to him�, Voltaire asks? “Certainly, provided he does not disturb the public order…If you insist that it is a crime not to believe in the dominant religion, you condemn the first Christians, your forefathers, and you justify those whom you reproach with persecuting them… for a government to have the right to punish the errors of men it is necessary that their errors would take the form of crime. They do not take the form of crime unless they disturb society. They disturb society when they engender fanaticism. Hence men must avoid fanaticism in order to deserve toleration.�

“But of all … superstitions, is not the most dangerous that of hating your neighbor for his opinions? And is it not evident that it would be much more reasonable to worship the Holy Navel, the Holy Foreskin, or the milk or the robe of the Virgin Mary, than to detest and persecute your brother?� and “It seems to me that I would at least astonish the proud, dogmatic Islam imam or Buddhist priest, if I spoke to them as follows: . . . Listen to me, because God of all these worlds has enlightened me: there are nine hundred million little ants like us on the earth, but my ant-hole is the only one dear to God; all the others are cast off by Him for eternity; mine alone will be happy, and all the others will be eternally damned."

Inspired by the English Voltaire published the Lettres Philosophiques in 1734 a book praising English customs and institutions. "If one religion only were allowed in England, the government would very possibly become arbitrary; if there were but two, the people would cut one another's throats; but as there is such a multitude, they all live happy and in peace."

Voltaire like Locke spent a lifetime arguing for tolerance. For both tolerance meant man’s freedom to pursue his own interests unimpeded. Both believed that the greatest abuses against mankind occurred when religion was abetted by the power of the State. They argued for separation of Church and State and against the superstitions of Christianity. “Superstition is to religion what astrology is to astronomy: the foolish daughter of a very wise mother. These two daughters, superstition and astrology, have subjugated the world for a long time.� (Treatise on Toleration)

In the words of Locke, “It is not the diversity of opinions (which cannot be avoided), but the refusal of toleration to those that are of different opinions (which might have been granted), that has produced all the bustles and wars that have been in the Christian world upon account of religion . . . Nay, if we may openly speak the truth, and as becomes one man to another, neither Pagan nor Mahometan, nor Jew, ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion. . .�

The Enlighten view was summed up by Voltaire with “…for a government to have the right to punish the errors of men it is necessary that their errors would take the form of crime�; and by Locke with “It is not the diversity of opinions (which cannot be avoided), but the refusal of toleration to those that are of different opinions…�

Tolerance in today’s society is quite different. The Enlightenment view of free men pursuing their own rational agenda is assailed as cold and uninviting. Instead of allowing others to go their own way, we must embrace them. Toleration is redefined with the pejorative implication of ignoring or putting up with an unpleasant situation e.g., we tolerate noise. The toleration endorsed in culture today is of the PC variety where judgements are anathema. To be tolerant today, we must accept, value and embrace diversity and actively endorsing every opinion or cultural notion conjured up by every collective.

The roots of this tyranny of the mob lies in the philosophers that followed Locke and Voltaire. The Enlightenment as a movement did not last long, not even 100 years. It was quickly succeeded by philosophers such as Rousseau, Hume, and Kant who argued that nothing could be known for certain and that individual rights should be sacrificed to the greater good of the whole, in a word egalitarianism. This tradition brought us the Reign of Terror and the Romantic age where reason was replaced by feelings.3

That tradition has continued. Reason is currently assailed by Eco and Derrida. Although the debate between Enlightenment ideas and the ideas of the Romantics continues, Eco may have delivered the coup de grace with “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity.�

The task facing today’s student, and society in general, is to be non-judgmental not only in the area of personal relations, but in metaphysics as well. Umberto Eco calls it syncretism, "’the combination of different forms of belief or practice;’ such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same primeval truth . . . there can be no advancement of learning. Truth already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its obscure message.� This accounts for today’s nihilist, anarchistic philosophers who spin great globs of contradictory information into a lithified whole, and for the convoluted conspiracy theories concocted by an inference from here and a half truth from there.

Just as reverence for multi-culturalism has removed all judgement from human affairs, so too, has its intellectual evil twin, which I will call multi-conceptism removed judgement from the realm of ideas. Our young are taught that firmly held convictions and clear visions of the truth are worthless hallucinations of the mind and that truth and fact are judgmental. It is more important to understand process than to produce a correct answer and no particular idea is more noteworthy than any other.

Public schools and universities, awash in this ‘old world’ swill, teach us that there are no absolutes, that facts don’t manner and that everything is just a matter of opinion. We are told we may pick and choose the ideas that create our personal philosophy like items from a Chinese menu, one from column A, 2 from column B or vice versa. College students, by virtue of age and experience, have some defense against this onslaught, children, for the same reasons, are powerless.

Eco tells us that simultaneously held contradictions are liberating. Jacques Derrida assures us, “that [a] text is incoherent because its own key terms can be understood only in relation to their suppressed opposites.� In other words what an author says is not what is meant, but rather its opposite. It is a comic book ‘Bizzaro’ world where one has to say the opposite to be understood correctly. One or more generations of Americans has already been educated by teachers inspired by this charming ‘old world’ drivel; but when any and every idea has equal value and all opinions are equal, perhaps it doesn’t matter what is taught or who teaches it.

In the spirit of multi-culturalism, many have been convinced that everyone has a right to an opinion, and that every opinion is just as informed as any other. Witness ‘man on the street’ interviews or the call in segments on C-Span. Opinions are accepted from anyone and everyone and all are treated with equal respect. It is not a criticism of C-span to mention this, I believe they are doing us a favor by rubbing our noses in it.

Trivia contests and multiple choice now measure erudition. Wisdom is defined by how many subjects one can offer an opinion upon. "I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth, " says Umberto Eco.

As a result, generations of the aimless young feel nothing but hopelessness. Some drop out eking out a life on the streets, while others become trolls in a relative’s basement. For others the answer is in greed or affluence, using money to hire servants as a shield against the dreary details of existence in order to free up the time for the slow suicide of drugs, sex, and rock and roll.

The same educators, who brought us the French Derrida and Italian Eco, are also quick to remind us that the ‘civilized’ nations, meaning European, have National health care, but fail to mention they also have double digit unemployment. Insurance is not free.

So many Americans cling to inaccurate information on a wide range of subjects. The Flat Earth Society actually believes that the Earth is flat. It is not a joke. The Earth, they tell us, is shaped in the form of a pentagon, and thus has five corners. They warn us of the danger of falling off the edge. Beneath the Earth, or hanging off the edges, is a land populated by either green-skinned women or Nazis. The Springfield Effect is the phenomenon by which every place named Springfield is hard-linked in hyperspace to every other place of this name. In other words, there is only one Springfield, but it is "linked" to various locations around (oops, sorry) in the world. Idaho, North Dakota, and Australia do not exist. More American’s believe in UFOs than believe they will ever see Social Security. The moon landing was faked. Secret societies control the destiny of the world. Republicans are for smaller government. Democrats are for the underdog. Libertarians are aging potheads. The list is endless. Einstein once remarked, "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

Green party peace activists renounce our right of self defense, ignoring the wise council of John Locke who noted, “ Whosoever uses force without right, as every one does in society, who does it without law, puts himself into a state of war with those against whom he so uses it; and in that state all former ties are cancelled, all other rights cease, and every one has a right to defend himself, and to resist the aggressor.� 4 “Self-defense is a part of the law of nature; nor can it be denied the community, even against the king himself: but to revenge themselves upon him, must by no means be allowed them; it being not agreeable to that law.�5

This course will end in disaster. Exchanging the noble concepts and values of our Founders for the tyranny of the mob while relinquishing the right of self-defense is a road to disaster.

We are told that Life is a journey and the destination unimportant. While this might in some sense be true (it’s certainly catchy) but it could also be the reason we got lost. If the present trend continues the American experiment, severely crippled after a little over 200 years, will be cease to exist at all.

1-Letter of Tolerance
2-“…whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence. Whensoever therefore the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society; and either by ambition, fear, folly or corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people; by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people, who. have a right to resume their original liberty, and, by the establishment of a new legislative, (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own safety and security, which is the end for which they are in society.� Second Treatise Concerning Civil Government.
3-Hume ended Deism in England by challenging the notion that reason could defend even the simplest fundamentals of Religious faith. Hume’s Dialogs concerning natural Religion reads in part, “What peculiar privilege has this little agitation of the brain called thought, that we must make it the model of the whole universe? As for design “ the adaptation of organs to purposes may have resulted not from divine guidance but from ‘nature’s slow and bungling experiments through thousands of years�. His Enquiry concerning the Human Understanding in 1748, which undermined all science, metaphysics, and theology through questioning the objectivity of cause, inspired Kant. Hume’s Criticisms of the Argument from Design is included in Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason 1781, who calls the arguments unanswerable.

In France, Rousseau’s Social Contract notes that since perfect freedom is the natural condition of human beings, it is the existence government that requires explanation. Only the family is truly a natural association. Military conquest and slavery can’t establish a genuine right for one person to rule another. So, Rousseau concluded, society must evolve from a social contract in which individual citizens voluntarily participate. Each citizen chooses to trade the natural liberty of independent life for the civil liberty secured by the state, allowing social rights to outweigh individual rights. According to Rousseau, this surrender of each to the good of the whole must take place in a way that also secures the unity of all in a desire for what will most benefit the whole. So thoroughly must each individual surrender to the whole as to acknowledge that “ By entering into the original agreement, I have sworn to seek only the welfare of the community, no matter what the consequences may be for me.� The general will is the inalienable responsibility of the government expressed through legislation. Ayn Rand would call this self-immolation.

Rousseau supposed that open inquiry and debate produce a consensus about what was truly in the best interest of the community as a whole; and that is called the general will. Positions of leadership that require skill should be decided by election, while those that demand only good sense should be chosen by lot. Since the legitimacy of the social contract depends upon the unanimous consent of all the governed, the will is fully expressed only in an assembly of the entire population. Major issues should be decided by a major portion of the population, (Notice how we move from all, to a major portion.) but simple matters (in whose opinion?) requiring quick action may be determined by a simple majority of the legislature. In a final reminder of the nature of the general will, Rousseau noted that it is distinct from the social customs that may be endorsed or expressed as public opinion. These are not determinations of what is best for all, but merely codifications of the conventional mores of the people, and should occupy a correspondingly lesser status. Even when incorporated into the civil religion, with an appeal to the full force of divine as well as human approval, he insisted social customs are merely that.

The appropriate form of government for any state, according to Rousseau, depends upon the character of its people and even its physical climate, (a silly idea he borrowed from Montesquieu (which was thoroughly ridiculed by Voltaire) and success is measured by whether or not it thrives. Abuses of power can threaten the life of the state and the social contract will then be broken. (Described in Du contrat social (On the Social Contract) (1762)
4-Second Treatise Concerning Civil Government, Sect. 232.
5-Ibidum Sect. 233



Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Shared Sacrifice and other Savage Notions

By Robert Wolf

Ruy Teixeira, a rising star at the Democrat Century Foundation, made me laugh recently when he recommended venerating the ‘virtue’ of “shared sacrifice” as the best way for democrats to capture the Presidency in 2004. Go Dems!

Two pictures immediately formed in my mind; the first of two DNC High Priests raising obsidian knifes above a trussed-up and terrified taxpayer. The second of two panhandlers with napkins tucked at the neck painstakingly dissecting and dining upon a single pea.

This class of fatuous chatter originates from the Progressive Wing of the party; the wing that “dare not speak it’s name”, because Progressive, for those few who have not figured it out, is a euphemism for Socialist. When Progressives talk about resources they are not referring to oil, coal or timber, they are referencing the hard-earned wealth accumulated by others and the others themselves.

They want fairness, whatever that is, and to divide the fruits of our collective labors equally between the ambitious and the indolent, until indolence triumphs and ambition disappears. That’s when the shared misery, er I mean sacrifice, kicks in; when we are forced to share increasingly poorer harvests until there is nothing left to eat but the seeds.

No longer cultivating the scrufty look of the 60s and 70s, now Progressives work hard to appear intellectual and ever so civilized. Like proper British Fabians sipping their tea, they chortle, “Nothing to fear from us, we’re for the poor and the down trodden--the little guy”. In Great Britain, the Fabians accomplished truly miraculous things. They taxed the landed gentry into poverty, ultimately adding them (and the upkeep on their estates) to the welfare rolls, lost the ‘Empire’ and pretty much bankrupted the country by the 1960s. Hip hip hurrah and harrumph.

You might be surprised to know that Collectivists have a long and distinguished lineage stretching back through history to ancient times. A contented populace on the dole is as old as Rome itself, and was then labeled ‘bread and circuses’ by some mean spirited Libertarian no doubt.

Modern Socialism owes the roots of its movement to Rousseau and the French Revolution. Who could forget Dickens' immortal Madame Lafarge at the foot of the guillotine--knit one, purl one and slice. You remember. It was the revolution that brought us that one hit wonder ‘Robespierre and the Reign of Terror’. Their performance prompted William Wordsworth, probably a mean spirited Objectivist, to write:

"...and never heads enough..."
Domestic carnage, now filled the whole year
With feast-days, old men from the chimney-nook,
The maiden from the busom of her love,
The mother from the cradle of her babe,
The warrior from the field - all perished, all -
Friends, enemies, of all parties, ages, ranks,
Head after head, and never heads enough
For those that bade them fall.

When pressed about his tactics, Robespierre is quoted as saying, "The government of liberty is the despotism of liberty against tyranny . . . Terror is naught but prompt, severe, inflexible justice; it is therefore an emanation of virtue; it is less a particular principle than a consequence of the general principle of democracy applied to the most pressing needs of the fatherland." (Italics mine) That he died on that same guillotine, his jaw hanging off from a self-inflicted gunshot wound the night before, might be the elusive proof of God.

Collectivists always blame their failures on a lack of dedication to the cause. “Just a few more sacrifices is all we needed. If just a few more people had been willing to die, but they lost their heads,” they cry, at each failed attempt. (They cry a lot and fail a lot, and now oxymoronic Libertarian Socialists blame the failure of socialism on big government.) Since 1793, France has had no less than 11 constitutions while the United States still uses its first.

In the twentieth century we can point to the Bolsheviks and Nazis as equally lovely examples of their work. As purveyors of ‘equitable’ redistribution, the commies had it together. This was the real McCoy of ‘shared sacrifice’, industrial strength Socialists, Leftists in a Drum!

During WWII, Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler, another fine socialist, and he actually expected it to be honored—talk about gullible. Germany, reduced to distributing its last packet of Polish seeds to the ‘poor’, had to grab someone one else’s stuff. Why? --because the indolent produce none of their own. So off to Russia they went to cannibalize the Soviet population.

What could Stalin do? Burn the crops, of course? He really put one over on the Germans; a few hundred million Russians had to starve to death for the joke to work, but hey it’s a big country, lots of serfs. Although he would never admit it, the joke wasn’t even original. Peter the Great pulled the same stunt on the Swedes 200 years before him, to the equal demise, ah dismay of the serfs. And how did the National Socialists in Germany fare? To make a long story short, let’s just say the trains ran on time--for a while.

Why shouldn’t the Democrats, I mean the Progressives, try it all again? Hey, they might succeed. Miracles can happen. Throw another capitalist on the barby!




Friday, October 17, 2003

When Brave New Worlds Collide: Book Review When Corporations Rule the World.
By Robert Wolf

Progressives, Greens and other socialists may quarrel amongst themselves from time to time, but they are united in their reverence for a book by David Korten entitled, “When Corporations Rule the World”. A revised edition has recently reached the shelves.

This book must be on Stan Lee’s nightstand. Its title is reminiscent of a science fiction novel; an unholy cross between “When Worlds Collide” and “Brave New World”. It depicts Libertarians and other free market advocates as quislings or ‘useful idiots’ in a capitalistic conspiracy to rule the world. It portrays them as zombies under the spell of evil capitalists. “Market liberals give corporate libertarianism its cast of moral legitimacy”, says Korten.

We can agree that Market Liberals have no interest in morality or philosophy. Market Liberals, as Korten says, are oligarchs concerned with protecting the rights of the rich, not with defending Capitalism. They ride the coat tails of the laissez-faire movement knowing that the ignorance that defines Capitalism as ‘manufacturing’ or ‘commerce’ affords them undeserved virtue; and they seek freedom from responsibility for the social and environmental consequences of their actions by extolling the virtues of trade and commerce at all costs.

The book reports the obvious when it warns that Market Liberals seek to establish an immoral, untouchable and unaccountable ‘Oligarchy of the Rich’ and should be burned as witches. He is only vaguely aware that Market Liberals advocate a return to the Trusts of the privileged industrialists that were created by the government in the 19th century. He senses this is bad, but has no clue as to why. But even in ignorance, he does us a service and we can agree that these elites should be boiled in oil.

The book should stop there, but it doesn’t. Korten perseveres by dumping Capitalists and Libertarians into the same cauldron; claiming that Market Liberals, the bastard children of government and business, are sired by Capitalism and defended by Libertarians. Korten’s subsequent arguments fail because of this inability to distinguish between Capitalism and the rationalizations of so called ‘Market Liberals’.

“When Corporations Rule the World” uses Capitalist, Market Liberal and Libertarian interchangeably perpetrating a false analogy. (In any analogy, if two items (concepts, events, etc) are shown to be similar. Then it is argued that, if one has a certain quality, the other(s) possess that quality as well.) His fans seem oblivious to this deception.

Capitalism is the only system yet devised where wealth is not acquired by looting, but by production; and not by force, but by trade. It is the only system that stands for man’s unquestionable right to the ideas his mind produces, and to the fruits derived from those ideas and from his labor. Commerce is only a manifestation of Capitalism. Without protection for the rights of the individual, you can have manufacturing and commerce, but not Capitalism. Capitalism is not mercantilism.

According to Korten, Capitalists believe “People are by nature motivated primarily by greed”, not achievement. “A number of valid ideas and insights have become twisted into an extremist ideology that raises the baser aspects of human nature to a self-justifying ideal.”

His solution? “We can rightfully look to the market as a democratic arbiter of rights and preferences only to the extent that money and property are equitably distributed.” There you have it, the same tired socialist argument: one man succeeds only at the detriment of another. Who defines equity and who does the distributing? Don’t expect an answer. Korten is a latter day George Eliot longing for the noble savage and the pastoral countryside of pre-industrial Europe, with a comic book understanding of evil scientists and greedy industrialists.

The classic definition of Greed is someone preoccupied with the accumulation of material possessions, primarily money or wealth. Today’s dictionary defines greed as: An excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves. In Korten’s world, who gets to decide what is more than one needs or deserves?

In answer, the author has conjured up a utopian, anarchistic world of sheep with no shepherds; a communal, egalitarian existence with no one in charge and everyone sharing in whatever manages to get produced. He is the key player in the Fellowship of Intentional Communities and Yes Magazine dedicated to promoting the ideas of Eastern and Middle Eastern mystics such as Joanna Macy, Jamal Rahman, and Michael Nagler.

Their literature tells us that, “Communities make a wide variety of choices regarding standard of living--some embrace voluntary simplicity, while others emphasize full access to the products and services of today's society.” The assumption is made that once Capitalists are turned into mulch these products and services will still exist.

“Communities tend to make careful choices about the accumulation and use of resources, deciding what best fits with their core values. Regardless of the choices made, nearly all communities take advantage of sharing and the opportunities of common ownership to allow individuals access to facilities and equipment they don't need to own privately (for example power tools, washing machines, pickup trucks, and in some cases, even swimming pools).” A fact lost on these anti-capitalists is that all of the things they ‘don’t need to own privately’ could not be created without the industrial system they decry. If they truly get their wish they will be living in caves or mud huts, not sharing pick-up trucks and swimming pools.

It gets better. “Evidence is mounting that to make our societies sustainable we will have to restructure our systems of production and consumption to largely eliminate: Dependence on personal automobiles; long distance movement of goods and people; the use of chemicals in agriculture; and the generation of garbage that we cannot immediately recycle. . .Who wants to give over their living spaces to automobiles, take long business trips, eat contaminated foods, or live in a garbage dump?”

Is there a stronger word than hyperbole? Aside from the business trips, do you know anyone faced with these choices? The truth is finally told, when we hear “We can rightfully look to the market as a democratic arbiter of rights and preferences only to the extent that money and property are equitably distributed.” Korten is no lover of liberty what he is proposing is egalitarian and socialist.

The concept of ‘Group’ rights is ridiculous, unless you believe that rights derive from numbers rather than people. Such a theory would conclude that a mob of 251 individuals had more rights than a group of 250. The group with the largest membership would then be in charge of everyone else unless or until a larger group formed.

Groups do not have rights. One can not collect the rights of others. Only individuals have rights, which can not be delegated. One can delegate a vote, but not a right. When rights are a function of group affiliation rather than of personhood, only those with status, celebrity or membership in the mob will have rights. Further, there is no such thing as a right to education, a right to a living wage, or a right to decent housing, only the right to the unfettered means to provide them for yourself. A man is only entitled to that which he produces for himself by his labor or his mind; anything else is theft.

Capitalism is a moral and ethical philosophy of free markets and free trade founded upon a reverence for private property rights from which all other rights derive. If one has no right to his income or even a part of his income, he is a slave or a sharecropper without the right to personal property.

To imagine such rights exist, would require imagining the slaves to provide them. Man’s life and his happiness belong to him. If he chooses to share what is his that is his right, but no one has an automatic claim. One is not required to share with those who won’t work or create, nor is it a virtue unless you consider plantations, a society of charitable slaves providing for needy masters, a virtue.

Unwed mothers crank out whelps by the dozens; we applaud their courage and issue a check. The indolent lay claim to psychological disability, we feel their pain and issue a check. The richest class of Americans per capita, the elderly, want us to cover their prescriptions. We no longer contest the blackmail; we simply quarrel over the size of the check.

These demands have been made before. They are what history has termed the ‘Tyranny of the Mob’, a worldview that had its greatest adherents during the Reign of Terror, in Communist Russia, and National Socialist Germany. Benjamin Franklin, who campaigned for an American Republic, dismissed collectivism succinctly with, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!” Unless books like this are challenged, there is no hope for the America our Founders envisioned.

Unable to accept the verdict of history that has assigned socialism to the ash heap, we now hear that Nazi Germany, Communist Russia and Red China were not failures of socialism but of big government; thus the oxymoronic appellation Libertarian-Socialist. Ironically, these are the same voices that are running for public office while bemoaning the fact that big government is not doing enough for the people. Korten and his friends are also quick to remind us that the ‘civilized’ nations, meaning European, have National health care, but fail to mention they also have double digit unemployment. Insurance is not free.

Unfortunately, those who might expose these deceptions are few and far between. In the battle for liberty the weapons are ideas, and Libertarians barely contribute to the din of the battle. They are too busy fighting among themselves over issues akin to transubstantiation, or with the anarchists. Start by asking why anarchists are naming themselves Libertarian, not Democrat, Progressive, Conservative or Republican. The answer might be that they know their real enemy.

Today’s philosophers who should be defending individual rights are hooked on the irrational swill from the ‘Old World’ or mired in political correctness where one man’s idea is no worse than anyone else’s. Some support redistribution schemes in which a bag of gold, claimed by all and deserved by none, is passed from hand to hand like a ball in some sporting event. Still others spend time on their knees beseeching their deity to deliver them, when it is probably true that God helps those who help themselves.

Umberto Eco tells us that simultaneously held contradictions are liberating. Jacques Derrida assures us, “that [a] text is incoherent because its own key terms can be understood only in relation to their suppressed opposites.” In other words what an author says is not what is meant, but rather its opposite. It is a ‘Bizzaro’ world where one has to say the opposite to be understood correctly.

"I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth, " says Umberto Eco. He delivers the coup de grace with “The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is seen as the beginning of modern depravity.”

The multi-culturalists, whose status is determined by the collective to which they are accidentally born, silence those who would dissent. The rest are suffocating in a cesspool of situational ethics, where no action is intrinsically right or wrong; or they have been stealthily buried in rejection slips by publishers with no ethics at all. This why books like “When Corporations Rule the World” are not only published, but are wildly popular.

It is a must read.

[b]RELIGIOUS DISPLAYS ARE PROTECTED BY THE CONSTITUTION: [/b]Religious Intolerance and the ACLU


By Robert Wolf

Amendment I of the Constitution of the US reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” and continues with “or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This is the so-called Establishment clause we hear so much about.

The phrase separation of Church and State we hear so often comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson 15 years later in which he remarks, “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State.1

In the 1st part it is clear that there can never be a state religion in America. It is equally clear, in the second part, that the founders did not intend a hostility toward religion.

Friedrich Nietzsche argued that because "God is dead," man should live by “appropriation, injury, overpowering of what is alien and weaker; suppression, hardness . . . exploitation.” This idea became the foundation of German fascism. When we consider the inhumanity of the anti-religious Hitler, Stalin, and Maoist regimes, how can we say that religion has a monopoly on atrocity?

It is not true that all atheists behave immorally, or that all theists behave morally; but on balance, religion's positive contributions to society far outweigh the negative, as long as religion is not combined with the coercive power of government.

The contribution of religion to law, ethics, and social stability cannot be ignored. Aside from providing an ethical and moral framework, religion tends to inculcate in its adherents the conviction that we are ultimately accountable for our actions. Religion, divorced from superstition and the power of the State, contributes to a strong family unit; it fosters an economic safety net by encouraging charity, and provides a source of strength for those recovering from addictions to alcohol, drugs, gambling, and other social diseases.

Our republic and the constitution were born in and of the Enlightenment; the Founders inspired by the ideas of John Locke. If the Enlightenment can be summed up briefly it embodied the belief in progress through reason. Liberty was its major preoccupation and religious intolerance the chief obstacle to its attainment.

In the words of Locke, “It is not the diversity of opinions (which cannot be avoided), but the refusal of toleration to those that are of different opinions that has produced all the bustles and wars that have been in the Christian world upon account of religion . . . neither Pagan nor Mahometan, nor Jew, ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the commonwealth because of his religion . . . .If a Roman Catholic believe that to be really the body of Christ which another man calls bread, he does no injury thereby to his neighbour. . . If a Jew does not believe the New Testament to be the Word of God, he does not thereby alter anything in men's civil rights . . . If a heathen doubt of both Testaments, he is not therefore to be punished as a pernicious citizen. The power of the magistrate and the estates of the people may be equally secure whether any man believe these things or no.”

The great men of the Enlightenment were not atheists; they were Deists. For example Voltaire's often quoted lines from “Epistle to the Author of ‘The Three Impostors’” "If God did not exist, he would have to be invented." is incomplete. The line that follows reads, “but all nature cries out to us that he does exist.” Deists argued that religions were bad only to the extent they promoted superstition and when combined with the force and fury of the State.

The founders of the nation knew that banishing religion from the public square would not result in a vacuum but in the monopoly of irreligion, or in the modern vernacular Secular Humanism.

Lately, the courts have tended to interpret the Establishment Clause as
meaning that the state should be neutral on the question of whether God
exists. Justice Hugo Black wrote that the government may not 'pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another.'

Why is it held by the ACLU and others that it is less oppressive for a religious person to see God stripped from official expression than for an atheist to bear the mention of the word? At the heart of this argument is the notion that disbelief is the default nature of man. But, this is an extremely tenuous position when you consider the history of civilization, religion is found everywhere.

It is often argued that because Christianity is the predominant religion in America, if a more liberal interpretation of the establishment clause were permitted official expressions of Christianity would outnumber those of other religions and would constitute a de facto discrimination. In other words, the current interpretation of the Establishment Clause provides relief from discrimination. This is an argument ad absurdum. Discrimination is not eliminated by discriminating against all, even if one is fond of tautologies.

Since ideas have consequences and manifest themselves in reality, such half-baked notions of what is fair provoke incidents like the following. According to the Muslim American Society, a Muslim student in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was publicly reprimanded by her community college instructor for beginning her class presentation with the words, 'In the name of Allah.' and he threatened to prevent her from giving future presentations if she repeated the phrase.

In 1990, the US Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, ruled that the Philadelphia public school system was correct in firing a Muslim teacher because she wore a hijab, a headscarf worn by women as part of Islam's emphasis on modesty. Incredibly, the court was upholding an archaic Pennsylvania law requiring the termination of instructors who wear religious garb. The law was originally enacted in 1895 to prevent Catholic nuns from teaching in public schools, and has also been invoked to force Jewish teachers to remove their yarmulkes.

This is the result of ‘government discrimination against all’ in an area where the constitution more wisely advises neither/nor.

Government accommodation in a majority Christian nation might indeed result in discrimination of religious minorities. But if displays of religion were tolerated, those minorities would at least then have the legal standing on which to argue for their right to free religious expression.

The Rotunda of the US Capitol is an impressive room comprised of 8.9 million pounds of masonry-covered cast iron. Upon its ornate walls are murals that include Pilgrims praying, the baptism of Pocahontas, De Soto planting a cross on the banks of the Mississippi, and, at the very top, the apotheosis of George Washington. Does the Rotunda establish a religion? If so, which one?

A carving of Moses holding the Ten Commandments adorns the frieze on a wall of the courtroom at the Supreme Court. Both former and current justices have noted on more than one occasion, the carving "signals respect not for great proselytizers but for great lawgivers." Do they establish a religion?

The ACLU and others need to realize what most Americans already know, that there is a clear distinction between acknowledging religion and establishing religion. Acknowledging or even accommodating religion is not the same thing as establishing one.

Aside from the many displays of religion themes in public buildings in our nation’s capitol, Congress, from its inception authorized (and still funds) chaplains for the legislature and sessions in both the Congress and the Supreme Court begin with prayer. The Oaths of Office for the President and for legislators bear the imprint of 1st Amendment thinking as well. An office holder is given the choice to swear or affirm, not forbidden to swear.

Does banishing God from the light of day, hiding his furtive mention behind closed doors, fit the requirement of the Constitution? I would argue the opposite. That the act of concealment “prohibits the free exercise” of religion.

As the United States Supreme Court once stated, "this is a religious nation." The Court has discussed the historical role of religion in our society and concluded that "[t]here is an unbroken history of official acknowledgment by all three branches of government of the role of religion in American life from at least 1789." Lynch v. Donnelly, 465 U.S. 668, 674 (1984).

-1-Thomas Jefferson, letter to Danbury Baptist Association, CT., Jan. 1, 1802

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?