The View From 1776
Friday, July 29, 2005
Stem Cell Research: Is Disease-free Perfection at Hand?
News media are reporting that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has wilted under the pressure of public opinion and will now back Federal funding for human embryonic stem cell research.
Brave-New-World liberals are excitedly confident that, with intellectuals regulating society’s morals on an ad hoc, secular basis, and now about to use stem cells to tailor-make human cells, we are on the threshold of a disease-free and perfect new species of super-humanity.
But are we?
Moral and philosophical aspects of stem cell research have been covered extensively in many other places. Let’s nonetheless reprise some aspects of the controversy.
In this review it is important to understand that stem cell research has become for liberals a new religious dogma that is part of the socialist paradigm of the world: one in which intellectuals, uniquely in history, have acquired the knowledge to restructure the political state, human society, and human nature. Moreover that these intellectuals are the first people in history to understand what the true nature of human beings ought to be, that they alone know how to solve the world’s immemorial problems.
First, human embryonic stem cell research approaches very close to the final threshold of claiming divinity for ourselves, of proclaiming not only that there is no God, but that our intellectuals are gods who can create and control life. Metaphorically it is the serpent in the Garden of Eden tempting Eve to eat the apple of the Tree of Knowledge.
Many people of moderate views will say that is ridiculous. All that is in question is a technique to cure now incurable diseases.
In many ways this is to reprise the Victorian era arguments for socialism: it appeared to be simple benevolence aimed at creating a better standard of living for the poor. John Stuart Mill, in “On Liberty” and “Chapters on Socialism,” calmly anticipated the better England that would eventuate under socialism. This seemed quite innocent at the time to the public, here and in Great Britain.
Furthermore, went the argument, shouldn’t we regard socialism as the fulfillment of true Christianity? This, of course, is illogical nonsense. How can socialism, a secular, materialistic, and atheistic religion, even remotely be regarded as true Christianity, no matter what its avowed aims may be?
The dangerous weakness in the Victorian arguments for socialism, as well as present-day arguments for stem cell research, is that matters never stop where decent and well intentioned people intend them to stop.
What none of them anticipated with seemingly benign socialism was the immense, unlimited power that inherently lay in a collectivized political state without the restraints imposed by acknowledging God as our Creator and by adhering to the moral dictates of our Judeo-Christian heritage. Turning from God to the secular and materialistic religion of socialism made Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler inevitable.
We may be lucky with stem cell research. But don’t bet against the possibility that unscrupulous and power-hungry leaders in the future will take over stem cell research in the name of creating a real Master Race. After all, it is power-hungry liberal-socialists who are the most vigorous champions of stem cell research.
The possibility was anticipated in Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel “Brave New World,” a work that depicts the “community of nations” and “international law” so ardently championed by socialist leaders like Senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. Aldous Huxley, by the way, was the grandson of Thomas Huxley, the great champion of Charles Darwin’s evolutionary hypothesis in the middle 1800s.
The Wikipedia gives the following synopsis of “Brave New World”:
“Set in the “year of Our Ford 632” (i.e. the 27th century), the story describes a society whose motto is “Community, Identity, Stability”. Following the devastating Nine Years’ War (said to have begun in the 1940s), the entire planet has been united into the One World State, governed by ten “World Controllers”.
“History is forbidden, and only the World Controllers know how the present society was created and what life was like before it. The new society is built around the principles of Henry Ford, and many aspects of life reflect this. The word lord has been replaced with ford. The assembly line process is present in many aspects of life, and the symbol “T” has replaced the Christian cross, a reflection of the Model T car developed by Henry Ford. His famous phrase “History is bunk” has become the fundamental approach to studying the past - as a result, no-one knows of past societies.
“There are no families, and no-one is born in a natural way. Instead, humans are grown in factories according to industrial quotas. In this society, people are “decanted” into a chemically-enforced and totally conformist caste society. Children are engineered in fertility clinics and artificially gestated. The three lower castes are manufactured in groups of up to 96 clones, and they are chemically stunted and/or deprived of oxygen during their maturation process to control their intelligence level and physical development.”
The Wikipedia notes that Huxley’s novel was written long before the discovery of DNA and the scientific knowledge that could make it possible. In other words, the urge for political power to control and shape human society in accordance with the Furhrer’s vision is inherent in the socialist, collective paradigm. Stem cell research is just one more potential manifestation of the power urge.
Only liberals seem able to ignore that the Soviet Union, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, and Mao’s Red China were equally part of their socialist paradigm. But they are proud to recognize Darwinian evolution and its first cousin, eugenics, along with stem cell research, as part of that socialist paradigm. We are told that only liberal-socialists are intelligent enough to teach in our universities. We are told that only ignorant people question the idea that everything is a product of the rational human mind alone. We are told that opposition to human embryonic stem cell research is a confession of sub-standard mental equipment.
In the liberal world view, if history and the speciated forms of life are no more than mechanical products of the interaction between random forces, then there is no barrier to the socialist political leader’s doing whatever he believes to be necessary to perfect society. What is the liquidation of a few hundred million people when they stand in the way of progress?
Abortion, eugenics, and stem cell research on live human embryos are pretty basic stuff in the liberal paradigm. If women have a right to decide whether to murder their babies, then science has a right to regulate human development and to control populations.
This urge to employ science to manipulate and to control human nature surfaced soon after the publication of Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species.” Darwin’s cousin, Sir Francis Galton, articulated the theory of eugenics, which asserted that political leaders have a right and responsibility to control the breeding of humans, just as farmers controlled the breeding of their animals. There were, said Galton, too many people with undesirable social and intellectual qualities. Failure to sterilize them or otherwise prevent their having children would result in mongrelization of the race. Hitler later referred to eugenics as justification for his Aryan Master Race theories and for the related Holocaust.
We know what happened with the earlier elements of the socialist paradigm in the hands of powerful political leaders. However benign and thoroughly useful its backers claim stem cell research to be, there is ample reason to fear how it might be used in the future, after society has become inured to the practice of taking apart live human embryos to create new life forms in test tubes.
Second, turning from the philosophical aspects, there is a real question whether the benefits of stem cell research, so loudly asserted by liberals as absolutely certain, will ever be realized. In that regard, read the following article posted in the May 25, 2005, edition of TechCentralStation’s website.
Eggs Over Easy? False Dawn for Stem Cell Cures
By Michael Cook
Many people focused on only one word in the banner headlines over news that Korean scientists have successfully cloned 11 embryos and created stem cell lines: cures. Spouses and parents of patients with diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and spinal cord damage must have felt elated that their loved ones will no longer have to suffer.
Scientists felt elated, too. The American co-author of the stunning paper in the journal Science, Gerald Schatten, of the University of Pittsburgh, burbled that “in theory, this work could prove to be more significant than the discovery of vaccine or antibiotic”. Even his scientific rivals stumbled over each other to congratulate the ingenuity, thoroughness and speed at which Woo-Suk Hwang and his team had worked.
The problem is that the sick and the scientists are rejoicing over two different visions of the future. One believes that cloning embryos will soon yield life-saving cures for devastating diseases and injuries. The other knows that this kind of cloning is basically a research tool for the foreseeable future.
In a number of countries, this news is sure to give heart to supporters of therapeutic cloning at a crucial moment. In California, US$3 billion of funding for a new Institute for Regenerative Medicine is being held up by legal, administrative and financial wrangles. But the news from Seoul will confirm Californian scientists that they are on the right track. In Australia, the Federal Government is about to review the possibility of allowing therapeutic cloning. In Germany Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der is expected to announce his support in a speech next month.
So it’s important to get this straight now: cures from so-called therapeutic cloning are probably decades away. If ever.
Let’s put the central issue of whether the clone is a human being to one side. Other practical and ethical issues make the Koreans’ research a non-starter. This is an opinion shared by many scientists, starting with Australia’s Alan Trounson, a world expert on embryonic stem cells who will be reviewing projects submitted to the new California institute. He told the journal Nature Medicine earlier this month that “the so-called therapeutic cloning to my mind is a non-event”. As a way of creating cures, he observed, “it’s just not realistic.” He was supported by an American expert, Jos? Cibelli, of Michigan State University, whose tip is that “I can predict that therapeutic cloning is going to be obsolete.”
What’s the problem?
The first is an economic one: the cost of the cures. The advantage of therapeutic cloning is that it would offer a therapy which is genetically specific to the patient. The disadvantage is that the therapy cannot be used for other patients for that very reason. Unlike conventional drugs, there will be far less scope for economies of scale.
One of the advances made by the Korean team was a ten-fold increase in efficiency. In the experiment which put them on the world map last year, they used 242 human eggs to create a single embryo. By refining their techniques they have now managed to derive cell lines with fewer than 20 human eggs. But it is unlikely that this will put therapeutic cloning remedies on the shelves of every drugstore. Since a woman treated with superovulation drugs yields only about 10 eggs, this means that one or two painful, invasive, and risky IVF cycles will still be needed for her to produce the raw material for a therapy for a single patient. ? Therapeutic cloning is still going to be medicine for millionaires.
The second issue involves clinical ethics. Will it be possible to avoid exploitation of the donors, whether or not they are remunerated? Egg donation is normally safe, but there can be serious complications, including death. It is not a trivial affair.
So the protocols to protect women donors were an important element in Woo-Suk Hwang’s experiment and one to which he gave special attention. The paper published in Science even reproduced the informed consent forms in an effort to convince other scientists that his team’s ethical standards were on a par with those of the United States.
Unfortunately, two American bioethicists who reviewed his work in the same issue of Science gave him a D-minus for ethics. David Magnus and Mildred Cho, of Stanford University, are by no means conservatives. But they slated him for failing to describe adequately the risks to participants and for depicting donors as patients. In fact, in their opinion, a good doctor would advise women against exposing themselves to the risk of egg donation. After scrutinising the experiment and the informed consent forms, they concluded that there was abundant potential for abusive exploitation of “vulnerable patients and their friends and family members”. 
In particular, they highlighted an ethical difficulty which is inherent in the whole therapeutic cloning project at the present time: that the word “therapeutic” is misleading. “It is nearly certain that the clinical benefits of the research are years or maybe decades away,” say Magnus and Cho. “This is a message that desperate families and patients will not want to hear.” 
Moreover, the newspaper hype obscured the fact that Hwang’s ideal donors come from a particularly vulnerable group. He has discovered that the best clones come from freshly harvested eggs from fertile women under 30. When eggs from women in their 30s were used, one stem cell line resulted after 30 tries. Younger women produced a stem cell line after only 13 tries, on average. It’s easy to see what will result if Hwang’s work gets traction: young women selling their eggs to support their children, pay their college tuition or finance overseas holidays.?
There’s a third factor which pushes the use of the embryonic stem cells far into the future—the safety and efficacy of these new products. As leading stem cell scientists in Britain point out in the British Medical Journal this month, “the premature use of cell therapy could put many patients at risk of viral or prion diseases unless systems are in place”. They remind their colleagues of the lessons learned—and perhaps forgotten—from the premature application of gene therapy, the devastation of HIV-infected haemophiliacs, hepatitis C spread through blood transfusions and the mysterious emergence of mad cow disease. “Commercial companies are springing up around the world with all the fervour of a new ‘biological dotcom’ era, but with selective memory loss for the fact that unrealistically high expectations burst that bubble,” they write.
A final problem is the specter of human reproductive cloning—to which nearly all voters are opposed. This taints Hwang’s success, just as it has every advance in cloning embryos.? His paper in Science piously stated that it did not provide “any encouragement for dangerous human reproductive cloning attempts. Cloned animals have adverse pregnancy outcomes, so regardless of cruel hoaxes, scientific evidence should further dispirit reckless notions regarding human reproductive cloning.” 
But this is wishful thinking.
The truth is that Hwang’s work brings the possibility of reproductive cloning just a little bit closer. And the gathering pace of therapeutic cloning is spiriting, not dispiriting, reckless notions of support for human reproductive cloning. Earlier this month Julian Savulescu, an Australian who is professor of practical ethics at Oxford University, and editor of the influential Journal of Medical Ethics, argued that cloning “will represent one of the greatest scientific advances… Cloning is power and opportunity over our destiny. Eventually artificial reproduction will become safer and more efficient than natural reproduction.”  There is no shortage of bioethicists who share his views.
And not only bioethicists. James Watson, one of the discoverers of DNA, told a newspaper only a few days ago that there was nothing inherently wrong with cloning. “I’m in favour of anything that will improve the quality of an individual family’s way of life,” he said.
In fact, stem cell scientists themselves would walk on hot coals before they said the “wrong” word. For instance, the InterAcademy Panel, a global network of national science academies which includes the US National Academy of Sciences and the British Royal Society asserts that reproductive cloning should be banned. But it acknowledges that cloning could become safe some day and that any ban should be “should be reviewed periodically in the light of scientific and social developments”. In other words, “ring us when you’ve got everything ironed out and we’ll make it ethical.”
In short, there’s no need for us to jump on the therapeutic cloning bandwagon after Hwang’s announcement. Apart from the fundamental issue of destroying embryonic human life, there is a raft of other issues which make its success very doubtful. The main thing we have to worry about is resisting the panic of stem cell scientists who have been left in the dust by the Koreans.
 “Korean scientists envisage long journey to cell treatment.” Korea Herald. 21 May 2005. http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/SITE/data/html_dir/2005/05/21/200505210028.asp
 “Scientists seek simple remedies to cloning conundrums”. Nature Medicine. May 2005, 459.
 Gretchen Vogel. “Korean Team Speeds Up Creation Of Cloned Human Stem Cells”. Science. 20 May 2005. (Free registration required.)
 David Magnus and Mildred K. Cho. “Issues in Oocyte Donation for Stem Cell Research”. ScienceExpress. 19 May 2005. Free registration required. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/1114454.pdf
 David Magnus and Mildred K. Cho. “Issues in Oocyte Donation for Stem Cell Research”. ScienceExpress. 19 May 2005. Free registration required. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/1114454.pdf
 Peter Braude, Stephen L. Minger and Ruth M Warwick. “Stem cell therapy: hope or hype?” BMJ, 21 May 2005. http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/330/7501/1159
 Woo-Suk Hwang et al. “Patient-Specific Embryonic Stem Cells Derived from Human SCNT Blastocysts”. ScienceExpress. 19 May 2005. Free registration required. http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/1112286.pdf
 Julian Savulescu. Debate in The Times Higher Educational Supplement. 6 May 2005.
 “Process holds out hope for childless couples.” Guardian (UK), 20 May 2005. http://education.guardian.co.uk/higher/research/story/0,9865,1488424,00.html
 InterAcademy Panel. “Statement On Human Cloning”. 22 September 2003. http://www4.nationalacademies.org/iap/IAPHome.nsf/weblinks/WWWW-5RHG35/$file/Cloning_Stat_EN.pdf?OpenElement
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Muslim Scholars MAY Have Condemned Terrorism
They may simply be copying President Clinton’s dodge that it depends upon what the meaning of is is.
Pajama Hadin reports that US Muslim scholars have publicly condemned terrorism. If true, it’s a step in the right direction. But is it true?
In the fatwa reproduced below is the following sentence:
“In another verse, God explains our duties as human beings when he says: ‘Let there arise from among you a band of people who invite to righteousness, and enjoin good and forbid evil.’ (Qur’an, 3:104)”
Historically, for more than a thousand years, “forbid evil” has meant for Muslims to slaughter and enslave all non-Muslims.
Steve Emerson at The Counterterrorism Blog argues that the Fatwa is Bogus and in fact is “designed merely to deceive the American public into believing that these groups are moderate.”
The key element here is how the Fiqh Council understands the word “terrorism”. You can see an extensive definition written by them at Islam’s Viewpoint on Terrorism.
Leading US Muslim scholars issue fatwa against terrorism
WASHINGTON: The leading US council of Muslim scholars on Thursday issued a fatwa against terrorism, in the latest bid to distance the American Islamic community from extremism following the London attacks.
?All acts of terrorism targeting civilians are haram (forbidden) in Islam,? said the fatwa edict made by the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), a group of scholars which interprets Islamic law. The order was endorsed by most US Muslim groups.
?It is haram for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence,? it said. ?It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.? Their move follows signs of frustrations from US Muslim leaders that repeated condemnations of terrorism in the wake of the London attacks.
The fatwa was issued by the Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) Council of North America, an association of Sunni and Shia Muslim jurists led by Muzammil Siddiqi, who read the text.
Some 130 North American Muslim organizations and leaders have signed and endorsed the fatwa; the only one of its kind in North America.
The Muslim scholars have called for the fatwa to be read during Friday prayers at mosques across the United States.
The Council on American-Islamic relations has launched public service announcements on radio and television saying that Islam forbids terrorism.
The announcements are in English, Arabic and Urdu, and say those who use violence in the name of Islam are betraying their faith.
FIQH COUNCIL OF NORTH AMERICA ISSUES FATWA AGAINST TERRORISM?By Fiqh Council of North America
The Fiqh Council of North America wishes to reaffirm Islam’s absolute condemnation of terrorism and religious extremism.
Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism.
Targeting civilians’ life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram’ or forbidden - and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not ‘martyrs.’
The Qur’an, Islam’s revealed text, states: “Whoever kills a person [unjustly]‘it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Qur’an, 5:32)
Prophet Muhammad said there is no excuse for committing unjust acts: “Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong you will do wrong to them. Instead, accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong (even) if they do evil.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
God mandates moderation in faith and in all aspects of life when He states in the Qur’an: ‘We made you to be a community of the middle way, so that (with the example of your lives) you might bear witness to the truth before all mankind.’ (Qur’an, 2:143)
In another verse, God explains our duties as human beings when he says: ‘Let there arise from among you a band of people who invite to righteousness, and enjoin good and forbid evil.’ (Qur’an, 3:104)
Islam teaches us to act in a caring manner to all of God’s creation. The Prophet Muhammad, who is described in the Qur’an as ‘a mercy to the worlds’ said: ‘All creation is the family of God, and the person most beloved by God (is the one) who is kind and caring toward His family.”
In the light of the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah we clearly and strongly state:
1. All acts of terrorism targeting civilians are haram (forbidden) in Islam.?
2. It is haram for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence.?
3. It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.
We issue this fatwa following the guidance of our scripture, the Qur’an, and the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad ’ peace be upon him. We urge all people to resolve all conflicts in just and peaceful manners.
We pray for the defeat of extremism and terrorism. We pray for the safety and security of our country, the United States, and its people. We pray for the safety and security of all inhabitants of our planet. We pray that interfaith harmony and cooperation prevail both in the United States and all around the globe.
FIQH COUNCIL OF NORTH AMERICA
1. Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi?
2. Dr. Abdul Hakim Jackson?
3. Dr. Ahmad Shleibak?
4. Dr. Akbar Muhammad?
5. Dr. Deina Abdulkadir?
6. Shaikh Hassan Qazwini?
7. Dr. Ihsan Bagby?
8. Dr. Jamal Badawi?
9. Dr. Muhammad Adam Sheikh?
10. Shaikh Muhammad Al-Hanooti?
11. Shaikh Muhammad Nur Abdallah?
12. Dr. Salah Soltan?
13. Dr. Taha Jabir Alalwani?
14. Shaikh Yahya Hindi?
15. Shaikhah Zainab Alwani?
16. Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah?
17. Dr. Mukhtar Maghraoui?
18. Dr. Nazih Hammad
(A resource for other Muslim Voices Against Terrorism)
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Thursday, July 28, 2005
Reprising the Critique of G8 Anti-Poverty Aid
Let’s give full credit to the humanitarian aims of the throngs at rock concerts urging the G8 nations to “end poverty” in Africa. Reality makes all the more cruel the inevitable disappointments.
In a recent posting I wrote:
“Socialists, which includes all of Western Europe and nearly half of the United States, sincerely believe that redistributing private property will magically transform human nature, end poverty, and bring peace, tranquility, and prosperity to Africa.? In the real world this is dangerous and wasteful sentimentality.”
This engendered some angry denunciations of my presumed indifference to the horrible sufferings of Africa’s peoples. In response I wrote:
“I do not blame the deaths in Africa on any ideology, socialism or otherwise.? Nor am I indifferent to the large numbers of deaths occurring daily in Africa.? The inescapable historical fact, however, is that socialist national states, purporting to perfect humanity, end wars, and eliminate poverty, gave us instead increased poverty and the mass murders of tens of millions of innocent people in the 20th century…..
“Finally, what then do I advocate?? Not intervention by national states, and certainly not by the UN, that den of iniquity that gave us the African and Balkan sexual abuses by UN ?peacekeepers? and Kofi Anan?s blood-for-oil scandal in Iraq, the greatest financial crime in world history.? Those wishing to help African peoples should be guided by the medical profession?s guideline: first, do no harm, in this case, by involving national political states in the process.
Rather, let all of us find effective and properly oriented charitable organizations and donate, as individuals, as much as we can afford to help their work in Africa and wherever disasters strike.? Let those able to do so volunteer their time and labor to those organizations….
“Just as Rousseau and his fellow French intellectuals of the Revolution theorized that humanity could be perfected by redistributing property, present day charitable organizations blame human nature upon corporations and the enterprising nature of private individuals.? Their view is that working hard, as an individual, is selfish greed.? This leaves them, perhaps not intentionally, supporting collective effort of the sort extolled by Lenin, Mussolini, and Hitler, under the command of the national political state.”
Hans Labohm’s essay in the TechCentralStation website provides some specifics to support my skepticism about the possibly well-intentioned efforts of socialist nations to improve people’s lives by imposing political and economic structures from on high, out of the ivory tower of intellectual pseudo-sciences.
When Good Aid Goes Bad
By Hans Labohm
Page after page of professional economic journals are filled with mathematical formulas leading the reader from sets of more or less plausible, but entirely arbitrary assumptions to precisely stated but irrelevant conclusions.
—Wassily Leontief (American economist and Nobel laureate)
Fortunately this is not always the case. But it is true that scientific journals spawn en masse articles littered with mathematics, which are intelligible only for a small circle of specialists. At first sight this also seems to apply to a recent World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, “Foreign Aid and Market-Liberalizing Reform”, by Jac Heckelman and Stephen Knack, because it is cluttered with endless strings of correlation coefficients. Yet, from these calculations better insights emerge as how to promote development and growth. It would a pity if the paper went unnoticed by a wider readership.
In it, the authors investigate the link between aid and economic freedom, as measured by something called the Fraser Economic Freedom index. This composite index, designed by the Fraser Institute, closely matches the so-called “Washington Consensus”: a set of market-oriented policy prescriptions often associated with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The freedom index is based on numerous specific policy indicators, which are grouped into several categories and weighted to create an overall index value. The main categories include: size of government; legal structure and security of property rights; access to sound money; exchange with foreigners; and regulation of credit, labor and business.
Heckelman and Knack note that market-oriented economic policies—reflected in limited economic activity by government, protection of private property rights, a sound monetary policy, outward orientation regarding trade and efficient tax and regulatory policies—have been strongly linked to faster rates of economic growth. Foreign aid is often provided in the belief that it encourages liberalizing reforms in these areas. But the outcome of their study does not substantiate that belief.
On the contrary, their results show that, on balance, aid has discouraged policy reform over the 1980-2000 period, as measured by the economic freedom index. Disaggregating by decade, aid’s adverse impact on policy reform is much more pronounced for the 1980s than for the 1990s.
Why is there on balance a negative relationship between aid and policy reform (and also growth)? Because donor aid policies are aimed at different objectives. On the one hand aid allocations may intentionally favor recipients with better (or improving) policies and institutions fostering growth. This is for instance the case with the World Bank’s IDA (International Development Agency) allocations, which potentially create a positive bias in the impact of aid on policy liberalization. On the other hand there are many other cases where donors focus their aid on countries with poor and/or worsening policy environments, either as an inducement to reform, or as a response to humanitarian crises in poor-performing countries.
But even in case donors aim at policy improvement, things can go awry. The policy conditionality that international financial institutions (IFIs) often attach to “structural adjustment” loans is a case in point. Today, many experts believe that conditionality of this type has been ineffective. If countries have to be bribed to reform in the first place, they have every incentive to implement the reforms to the minimum extent necessary to collect funds, and then to reverse the reforms—with the possibility of promising these same reforms again in the future in exchange for additional aid.
One frequently-cited example is Kenya. During a 15-year period its government sold the same agricultural reform to the World Bank four times, each time reversing it after receipt of the aid. Another example concerns 22 loans by the IMF and the World Bank to Pakistan between 1970 and 1997. These were tied to budget deficit reductions, which repeatedly failed to materialize. But if there is serious willingness and determination within recipient countries to change tack and to embark on liberalizing policies, aid can offer a positive contribution, also by bolstering the position of reform advocates in government.
Often, the logic of adjustment lending is that recipient governments can use aid funds to compensate politically powerful groups who would suffer, at least in the short run, from policy and institutional reforms. Aid can in effect purchase their acquiescence to liberalizing reforms, increasing the survival probability of reform-minded governments. However, aid can also help non-reforming governments survive, by reducing the cost of not reforming. By providing an alternative source of revenue, aid can relieve pressure on recipient governments to establish the efficient policies and institutions necessary for attracting private capital.
But aid can also have more pervasive unintended adverse effects on economic policy and public sector management. In this context the authors refer to Milton Friedman, who has argued that because most aid goes to governments, it tends “to strengthen the role of the government sector in general economic activity relative to the private sector”. Aid is commonly used for patronage purposes, by subsidizing employment in the public sector, or in state-operated enterprises, as foreign aid can provide funds for government to undertake investments that would otherwise be made by private investors.
In Tanzania, for example, large and rising aid levels in the 1970s and 1980s helped sustain large government subsidies to state-owned enterprises. As high aid levels increase the rents available to those controlling the government, resources devoted to obtaining political influence increase; thus, as Peter Bauer has noted, “a pervasive consequence of aid has been to promote or exacerbate the politicization of life in aid receiving countries”. In extreme cases, aid may even encourage coup attempts and political instability, by making control of the government and aid receipts a more valuable prize, with adverse effects for the security of property rights.
Heckelman and Knack conclude that although their findings may be welcomed by aid skeptics who believe a world without development aid would experience more “real” reform toward market-oriented policies, there are several important qualifications which suggest a more favorable view of at least some donor programs.
First, their decade analyses indicate that donors’ attempts to influence policy have become more effective (or less counterproductive) over time. Donors now more readily acknowledge the primacy of domestic political economy factors in determining the direction and pace of reform, and recognize that aid is likely to facilitate reform only where a significant commitment exists within the government. Policy advice can even be effective in countries with small aid programs, measured as a share of GNI, because key economic officials in reforming countries often benefited from donor-sponsored overseas training programs which account for only a tiny fraction of aid volumes.
Also, donors’ impact may go beyond country-specific aid and advice. The IFIs and other donors disseminate ideas globally, potentially contributing to the spread of market-oriented reforms through provision of intellectual public goods.
Moreover, donors often have other objectives instead of or in addition to policy reform to stimulate private sector development. Education and health policy, for example, are not reflected in the Fraser index. Other objectives, including humanitarian, gender equity, environmental, and bilateral donors’ foreign policy goals, may also justify aid programs. Donors may view their aid programs as successful on these terms even if they are counterproductive in generating market-friendly policy reforms.
What do we make out all of this? Aid can help to fight poverty, which should be its primary goal. There is now a better understanding than before of which types of aid are conducive to that goal. Aid is of no avail if governments of recipient countries are not committed to good governance and market-friendly policies. All this calls for more selectivity in aid, both as regards aid forms and target countries.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Separation of Church and State Amounts to Elimination of the State
Historically, the two are so closely intertwined in the United States that the political state envisioned in 1776 cannot exist without God’s support and a God-fearing, moral people.
America is ?Grateful to Almighty God?
By Nathan Tabor
Lately I have been doing some research onto the historical roots of American liberty, and what I have found concerning our nation?s Christian history has been particularly enlightening. For example, taking a look at the constitutions of all 50 states, I found that about 40 of them started out with an acknowledgment that the people of those states were ?grateful to Almighty God,? or words to that effect.
What were those folks grateful for in their states? founding documents? Well, most were consciously grateful for the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty that we too often simply take for granted today.
One of the best examples is the state of Pennsylvania, where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were created and signed. The Preamble to the state constitution of Pennsylvania (1776), declares that ?We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance,? thereby established their government.
The language varies slightly from state to state, but the fundamental idea is the same. The people of each state, in setting up their new state governments, acknowledged both their gratitude to God as the source of their liberties, and their dependence upon His future guidance.
From South Carolina during the American Revolution, where in 1778 the people were ?grateful to God for our liberties,? to South Dakota a century later, where in 1889 the people were ?grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties,? the underlying sentiment was the same: an official acknowledgment of the active Providence of God in establishing the government.
The trend continued from beginning to end, so that in 1956, the people of Alaska were still ?grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land.? And as recently as 1959, those in Hawaii were still ?Grateful for Divine Guidance.? The median date that all the states put God into their constitutions was 1861.
What about those other 10 states whose people were not explicitly grateful to God? Did they renounce their Christian roots? Hardly. Take a look at Virginia, where Thomas Jefferson considered the Virginia Declaration of Religious Liberties one of the crowning accomplishments of his life.
The Virginia Bill of Rights (1776) states that ?Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator, can be directed only by Reason ... and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other.? That?s not exactly an enlightened, secular rejection of God and Christianity, now is it?
In 1777, the Preamble to the Georgia Constitution stated: ?We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution.?
In Tennessee, about 20 years later, those hardy pioneer settlers similarly declared ?all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience.?
What about states like New York, California and Massachusetts ? all perceived to be liberal today? What do their constitutions state?
In 1780, the people of Massachusetts set up their government ?acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe ... in the course of His Providence, ? and devoutly imploring His direction.? In 1879 the people of California were ?grateful to Almighty God for our freedom,? just as those in New York had been in 1846.
So from sea to shining sea, the people called God ?Almighty? and ?Supreme Ruler of the Universe,? and declared that their states were established through ?Divine Providence.? They confirm that America and all 50 states were founded on God, the Creator, the Almighty and Supreme Ruler of the universe.
This is precisely why the Supreme Court expressly declared in 1892 that America was indeed a ?Christian nation.? Writing the Court?s opinion in Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, Justice Josiah Brewer cited ?the mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.?
?Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind,? Justice Brewer wrote. ?It is impossible that it should be otherwise; and in this sense and to this extent our civilization and our institutions are emphatically Christian?. This is historically true. From the discovery of this continent to the present hour, there is a single voice making this affirmation.?
Whether or not our contemporary culture has lost sight of these precious truths, Justice Brewer?s words echo down the corridors of time: ?This is historically true.?
These established historical facts can?t be spin-doctored by the Liberal media or refuted by the secular humanist public education system. I?m not talking about an abstract theory or somebody?s opinion. I?m talking about that ?mass of organic utterances that this is a Christian nation.?
Only two choices confront us. Either we must believe, along with the revisionist historians, that the writers of our state constitutions were simply atheists and deists who for inexplicable reasons wrote what they didn?t believe ? or else America truly IS a Christian nation.
Copyright ? 2005 by Nathan Tabor
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Big Brother Is Still Watching
The definition of hate crime is widened by the California Supreme Court. PC thought police can strike anywhere, on any pretext.
In George Orwell’s novel “1984,” the ultimate totalitarian control weapon was Big Brother’s ability to monitor private conversation and to punish unapproved thoughts.
John Stossel’s townhall.com article lays bare the frightening logic of political correctness, which clearly violates the intent of the First Amendment and moves us farther down the slippery slope toward criminalizing any speech that offends liberals (but not, of course, liberals’ speech that offends Christian traditionalists).
So much for compliments
July 27, 2005
Work has always been a good place to find love. It’s where Bogie met Bacall. It’s where I met my wife—she worked for “Good Morning America.” Since we spend so much time at work, we often get to know one another better than we do in settings specially designed to help us find romance.
?But in an effort to prevent discomfort and discrimination, America’s rule makers are piling law upon love-crushing law, striving to sterilize the workplace.
?The latest headline is from California, where this month, the state Supreme Court decided that if you have an affair with your boss, your colleagues can sue.
?The boss in the case, a state prison warden, bent rules and played favorites outrageously to help a junior employee with whom he was having an affair; he had affairs with three different subordinates and once said he “should have chosen” one of the plaintiffs. Should he have been fired? Probably.
?But in letting workers who didn’t have an affair with the warden sue the state, the California Supreme Court held that favoring the person you love can count as sexually harassing everyone else. Sexual harassment law is no longer limited to protecting women from unwanted advances; in California, it now protects women from having their colleagues respond to wanted ones.
?Taking its cue from a statement Clarence Thomas approved when he led the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the court said: “widespread sexual favoritism may create a hostile work environment . . . by sending the demeaning message that managers view female employees as ‘sexual playthings’” or that “‘the way for women to get ahead in the workplace is by engaging in sexual conduct.’”
?I see the logic, but consider where it leads. In sexual harassment law, “messages” are not judged by the intent of the people sending them—they’re judged by how others respond. The offended get to decide which speech is offensive.
?“What is inappropriate really exists only through the eyes of the person experiencing it,” said Olivet Jones, a $2,000-per-day consultant who conducted a workplace seminar on sexual harassment ABC News videotaped.
?I found it frightening. “So the person who hears it gets to determine if it’s offensive?” I asked. “Even if your intention is good?”
?“It doesn’t matter, John. If I shoot you dead,” she asked, “do you care that I didn’t mean to?”
?Shooting equals speaking? There’s a difference between bullets and words.
?“No,” Jones says. “They have the same power.”
?That’s a dangerous concept. In a free society, we are supposed to be able to say whatever (or nearly whatever) we want.
?But since the law says that words can create a harassing “hostile environment,” some employers are so afraid of being sued that they keep their own rules even more restrictive than the law.
?Some forbid dating in the office altogether, a policy that will no doubt become more popular now that the California Supreme Court says it can lead to lawsuits from colleagues who aren’t involved. An overreaction to sexual harassment law? That’s what happens. Given what lawsuits cost, managers must take desperate measures. If workers lose freedom of speech, so what? If they miss out on relationships that could have added joy to their lives, who cares? Better safe than sorry.
?America is supposed to be a land of self-reliant, hardy individualists who cherish their freedom. But sexual harassment law treats women as so weak and vulnerable that not only can they not handle rude and boorish insults, they can’t even handle gallant compliments. At the “harassment seminar,” Jones told us we must make sure we do not engage in even the most basic kinds of friendly, human interaction. “Don’t touch a co-worker on the shoulder. And be careful of compliments!”
? “Are you becoming a bland person?” said Jones? “Yes, you are.”
?Everyone must become bland? I don’t want to! I want to joke and flirt. One seminar participant complained Jones’ rules would make the workplace “cold, unhealthy, less fun.” I agree. Yet by seminar’s end, Jones had convinced most participants that workplace speech should be censored.
?How easily we give up our freedoms.
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Hedonism and Tolerance
Lawrence Auster posts an exchange with a Dutch reader about European contempt for the values that were the foundation of the United States in 1776.
In Hedonism and Tolerance?The Core Of The Modern European Culture, Mr. Auster’s Dutch reader expresses one of THE VIEW FROM 1776’s recurrent themes.
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Liberals May See the Truth, But Refuse to Accept It
Lawrence Auster refuses to let a prominent liberal spokesman walk away from the inescapable implications of his own thought process.
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There Ought To Be A Law?
Liberalism’s preference for liberty as unrestrained hedonism is a down-hill run toward social disorder that paradoxically necessitates far more legal restraints upon personal conduct than the colonists needed to regulate the society that produced the founding principles of the United States.
Socialist novelist Jack London was the co-founder in 1905 of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. His most famous novel, “The Call of the Wild,” was an echo of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Noble savage” theme, in a North American wilderness setting, idealizing the purity of animal instincts outside organized society. In the secular world of Darwinian evolution, humans are animals basically the same as any other beast: they seek to escape restraints and to satisfy instincts for sensual pleasure.
As with most of liberal-socialism, however, this bears no resemblance to reality. What happens instead when the customs, traditions, and moral principles of society are ripped away, as liberal-socialists aim to do in the name of “freedom,” is more accurately described by Thomas Hobbes in his “Leviathan.” In the state of nature, he wrote, life is nasty, brutish, and short.
Such is the nature of the hedonistic variety of “liberty” espoused by liberals under the agenda of sexual promiscuity, abortion, social use of hallucinatory drugs, and in-your-face rudeness to traditionalists who still recognize that God, not man, created the universe. In liberal theory, criminal behavior is not the criminal’s fault, but the fault of the social structure that fails to redistribute property equally, without regard to work or merit.
This illuminates the inescapable contradiction in liberals’ confusion of license with liberty. A moment’s reflection will tell you that, if everyone does anything that he wants to do, without consideration for the interests of others, chaos results. Life becomes unending warfare as each person struggles to protect his family, property and political rights.
This explains why Hobbes then concluded that humanity’s greatest benefactor is the strong ruler who, with sword in hand, forces his subjects to bend to his will. No matter how cruel or arbitrary his rule may be, it is better than lawless rioting and slaughter in the streets.
There is, of course, a clear alternative that worked well for nearly two thousand years: political societies based on religious and moral principles, societies in which both ruler and ruled looked to God for guidance, societies in which the individual was taught that he had a personal moral duty to do unto his neighbors as he wished them to deal with him.
Liberals have junked all that in the name of scientific rationalism, believing that Thomas Hobbes’s iron-fisted ruler can actually perfect society, provided that he is a worshipper at the altar of secular socialism.
The following article, which appeared in the May 22, 2005, edition of the New York Times Magazine, suggests that even liberals, however dimly, perceive the dilemma they have created.
May 22, 2005
There Ought to Be a Law?
By CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL
Nineteen-year-old Kerry McLaughlin has received more than 100 complaints about the loud parties she has held in her apartment near Newcastle, England, over the past 18 months. It has been said that she invites 10-year-olds to get drunk, smashes windows and heaves trash cans at cars. But it was only after she roped a male acquaintance naked to a nearby lamppost and left him there that British tabloids started calling her an ‘‘ASBO queen.’’
ASBO is an acronym for the ‘‘anti-social behavior orders’’ that have been introduced by the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair. He has promised to extend them in the third term he won in elections earlier this month. An ASBO is a kind of esoteric injunction that bans people from highly specific acts that fall just this side of criminality. Kerry McLaughlin’s order, for instance, threatened her with jail if she had more than two guests over after 10 at night.
Civil libertarians warn that there is little restraint on the imposition of ASBO’s, and 97 percent of those requested are approved by court authorities. Some law-and-order politicians want the courts taken out of the equation altogether, so that you can be slapped with an ASBO on a policeman’s say-so. They are proliferating. The Guardian reports that a suicidal young woman who tried to drown herself in the Avon got an ASBO that forbids her from jumping into any rivers. Two teenage gang members have to stay out of certain neighborhoods in Gloucester until they turn 24. A girl suspected of shoplifting has an ASBO that will land her in jail if she wears a hooded sweatshirt to hide her face. Britons have long managed to balance a need for order with a tendency toward eccentricity. With astonishing speed, the state has gone into the business of micromanaging morality.
But there is nothing particularly British about this reassessment. In the United States, and indeed all over the West, citizens are demanding that politicians consider imposing sanctions on behavior that has heretofore been considered annoying but not criminal. Rolled eyes and tut-tutting have proved insufficient to restrain spitters, swearers, talkers-in-class, bad neighbors, slobs, loud-music/players and wearers of skimpy clothing. Increasingly the police are called, and society has not figured out what it expects the cops to do when they get there.
The change reflects, in part, an expanding conception of what constitutes a violation of others’ rights, as smokers, office Romeos and those who do not buckle their kids into car seats have discovered. Also at work is the ‘‘broken windows’’ theory that nasty habits are the seedbed of petty crime and petty crime is the seedbed of mayhem. Yes, efforts in this direction can appear ridiculous, like laws mandating that toy guns have fluourescent orange parts. But they sound less ridiculous when you give them two seconds’ thought. In general, citizens clamor for such measures. Rudy Giuliani’s sandblasting of graffiti and his crackdown on subway turnstile-jumpers were imitated by Nicolas Sarkozy when he was France’s interior minister—a main reason that Sarkozy is now the front-runner for the French presidency in 2007. American laws on smoking, long mocked in nearly all Western countries as an outrageous trespass against individual liberty, are today being taken up even more zealously in Ireland and Italy.
The cost to our liberty for these benefits is high. There is an increasing tendency to ban people from doing precisely the kind of things that people used to do while saying ‘‘It’s a free country.’’ You may not even have to commit the trespass yourself: it has been proposed that dog owners be ASBO-ed for an unruly dog and parents ASBO-ed for the truancy or delinquency of their children. Matters were further complicated last year when activists nearly persuaded the House of Lords to ban parents from ‘‘smacking’’ (spanking) their children. It seemed to bewildered parents that they might be held criminally liable both for disciplining their children and for not disciplining them.
Public willingness to tolerate such inconsistencies suggests that a kind of desperate bargain is being struck. Certainly, most humans would rather live according to customs than by keeping a list of penalties in their pockets. And yet ASBO’s and other such innovations are an acknowledgment that many customs have lost their force. There are few community assumptions that people respect enough to follow. So the law is colonizing much of what used to be handled by families and other informal authorities. Look at dress codes against jeans in American schools or against the veil in French ones. A backbench Labor MP even submitted a Rite of Passage Bill last year that would have required a civic-education-orientated coming-of-age ceremony at 14, which he called ‘‘a nonreligious bar mitzvah for all.’’ These are all attempts to promote sentiments of community when such sentiments do not arise spontaneously.
Citizens support this awkward mix of ‘‘hard’’ law and ‘‘soft’’ community-building not because they are hypocrites but because they are of two minds. They seem to hope that government can give a ‘‘helping hand’’ to natural processes of community formation, and that once people have relearned neighborly habits, the straitjacket of law will fall away and leave us once more in the comfy old cardigan of custom. Until people do that relearning, though, there is a risk that such laws will grow unreasonably broad and unreasonably tough (to the point where you risk jail by lighting a cigarette or jumping in the Avon). Laws, after all, are created and enforced by individuals. And a society made up of individuals who are no longer restrained by families and communities and who have never learned to restrain themselves is unlikely to be any more judicious about administering laws than it is about turning that damn stereo down.
Christopher Caldwell is a contributing writer for the The New York Times Magazine.
Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
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Trench Warfare on the Battlefield of Education
A first-hand account of misfeasance in our Federally-directed public education system. Drug-induced tranquility is rather far removed from education.
Responding to our recent telephone conversation, Pastor Harold Bolinger emailed links to several of his own essays. The following essay is posted on one of his five websites, Liberty News Bureau.
It’s not straining a point to observe that drug treatment in place of teaching real subject matter is just what one would expect from a liberal-socialist education system that has become aggressively secular and materialistic, banishing all aspects of morality and spirituality. See a recent related posting on this website.
Say ?NO? to drugs (but take your Ritalin)
By Pastor Harold W. Bolinger
(Prov. 22:6) ?Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
(Deu. 6:6-7) ?And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sit in thine house, and when thou walk by the way, and when thou lie down, and when thou rise up.
? ???As I have discovered, the education of children is not a “shared responsibility” with the state. They belong to their mother and father, and are only on loan to educators who do a better job at education than we can. Based on history, I think those days are over. ?Based on the teachings of the Bible, I can say that professionals never were better at teaching what God commanded parents to teach their progeny.
? ???I was recently asked to comment on the subject of ethics, specifically the ethics of medical professionals who give so-called ?psychotropic? (mind-altering) medication to children. ?This is, of course, a ?hot button? for many parents, where the school systems are encouraging doctor visits for ?hyper? kids, and ?compulsory? use of Ritalin (methylphendate) and similar chemical compounds as ?treatment.?
? ???I worry about the ethics of anyone in bed with pharmaceutical companies for profit. ?
? ???Frying the brains of children does guarantee the profession (on both sides) future repeat customers. But doctors who deliberately make their patients ill (or more ill, as the case may be) are doing their profession, as well as their clients, a huge disservice. ?They are also exposing themselves to tremendous liability.
? ???Yes, I think many people should lose their licenses for this behavior. ?In addition, they should be made to pay damages to the families who are harmed. ?
? ???The problem is that the psychiatric industry, motivated and empowered by profits already earned, has become a formidable adversary. ?Indeed, the industry has clout in government and law?to the point that both federal and state power structures are today coercing psychiatry and powerful drugs on children and their parents. ?States are pushing model legislation aimed at giving the medical industry carte-blanche power over families.
? ???“Testing” kids without (or even against) parental consent is now the ?buzz? on Capitol Hill. ?Federal funding for this ?health screening? is a mind-twisting ethical concern, and legislation of this nature surely would have made folks like Hitler and Stalin proud. ?
? ???Don’t get me wrong, please. Both secular and religious counselors are needed for children in many cases. ?(More of the later would be the best solution.) Yet drugs of the nature prescribed for most ?behavioral problems? are the cosmic equivalent of hunting rabbits with a shoulder-fire nuclear weapon. Kids need love and discipline, and perhaps a father in the home?not ?chemo for ADHD.?
? ???I come at this problem not only as a pastor, but as a parent of a misdiagnosed son. ?For nearly ?20 years now I have dealt with the education and medical systems in the State of Maryland. ?To say that I am underwhelmed is an understatement. ?I discovered (belatedly) that the original diagnosis of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) was a farce. ?That label was a ?quick fix? for the county school system to obtain federal grant money in the name of my son. ?Getting him ?help? for school was not their motivation. ?Additional revenue for the school board drove both the educational establishment and the physician. ?
? ???Six years later, a second set of Psychiatrists was called in for a second opinion?as medication was being continually changed, and the drugs weren?t doing what they were sold to do. ?After intensive in-patient testing, it was determined that a pair of circumstances, that were known to his pediatrician originally, were the cause of a true disorder in my son. ?After a long (36 hour) labor, my wife at the time was unable to deliver naturally. ?The decision to do a C-Section was made after the Obstetrician discovered an oxygen deprivation (fetal distress) situation developing. ?This, in addition to her being ?given to wine,? caused a combination of fetal alcohol syndrome and fetal distress oxygen deprivation diagnosis to be given by this team.
? ???However, by this time the child had been on mind altering medication for 6 years. ?It was far too late to start over with a program geared toward fine motor skill problems and the other legitimate learning disabilities he evidenced?once the proper evaluation and diagnosis had been made. ?Now there were additional drug-induced problems, layered on top of plausible developmental disabilities. ?Medications were changed, additional academic aids were put into place, but the cognitive skills he once had were all but gone.
? ???As I have discovered, more important than any of the medications is a discipline and support structure for any ?a-typical? child. Rules, and ensuring that any one caring for your child follows the rules to the letter, is the first step. ?Just because most of these children are ?mentally busy? doesn’t mean they are incapable of learning. ?The rules for imparting wisdom must change to match their cognitive skills, however. ?
? ???Some are quicker than ?normal? children. But a child with fine motor skill problems is NOT going to develop in the handwriting area like their peers?no matter how much you drug them to coerce compliance in a modern classroom. ?They must be taught other strategies for communication.
? ???Another parent also wrote to me about a mis-diagnosed child, and I was furious. ?That situation mirrored my own, and when that ?blog? was over, numerous parents had chimed in war stories about threats to put kids in foster care if they refused the drugging, and etc.
? ???The fact is these ADHD diagnosis benefit not only the physicians & drug companies, but also the school systems. As usual, when corruption or conspiracy to commit fraud are involved, follow the money.
? ???It works like this: the more “Title One” handicapped students a school system has, the more federal grant money comes in. So the schools are quick to notice anything unusual and get at least an ADHD label to collect the checks. It matters little if the child even has a real handicap. ?Simply putting them on the medication is adequate ?proof? for the federal grant machinery. ?As I have found out, there is little concern for the validity of the diagnosis, or for providing any extra helps to even truly developmentally disabled children. ?Once the money is in the school system?s checking account, their cares are over. ?
? ???If the child does have a legitimate concern in education, only a parent who fights relentlessly, possibly with the help of high-dollar lawyers, will get the genuine ?special education? services. ?
? ???Teachers are encouraged by management to compel parents in for meetings, leading to trips to the doctors, and in the end more federal funding for the schools. ?Unless the parent is willing to fight every step of the way, the system will have them trapped.
? ???It’s horrid, and I for one would like to see a class-action malpractice suit on behalf of all the mis-labeled kids that are told to “say no to drugs but take your Ritalin.”
? ???This category of drug, which includes Aderall and other brand names, is chemically very close to cocaine. ?Methyphendate and other psychotropics actually cause cognitive dysfunction. Small wonder teachers have problems, with half the kids on a cocaine-like high! ?
? ???Of the most recent dozen school shootings, 7 of the shooters were either on an ?anti-depressant? (Prozac, Selexa, Luvox, Paxil, etc.), a psychotropic (Ritalin, Aderal, etc.), or a combination. ?Several were in withdraw periods from having taken them! ?That fact was reported not long ago by Fox TV news.
? ???These drugs are dangerous business ? especially in the minds of young people who are fraught with hormonal and other normal imbalances caused by their age. ?Side effects of this ?prescription crack? range from sickness, anxiety, amnesia, hallucinations, nightmares, and sadly, even violence and rage. ?Added to it is an industry that is encouraging their use, rather than other more simple options.
? ???Dr. Peter Breggan stated on Fox news that depression is rarely a situation that causes violence. ?Most people who are ?situationally depressed? (which is completely normal) generally just withdraw and reflect on their problem. ??It has only been since the advent of these new SSRI drugs that we have a murderous, sometimes even mass murderous person taking anti-depressant drugs,? says Breggan. ?
? ???Dr. Eric Hollander, of the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, claims that adequate diagnosis, proper treatment, and improper dosages of these drugs are all potentially contributing factors to other problems. ?
? ???People who would otherwise never exhibit sociopathic traits can be come dangerous when put on too strong a dose or on combinations of these chemicals.
? ???Bruce Wiseman, of the Citizen?s Commission on Human Rights, says all these drugs are well documented to have dangerous side effects, including mania, paranoia, psychosis, suicidal tendencies, violence and other episodes. ?With industry sources claiming up to 4% of patients on these medications being likely to experience some maniacal episode, and over 2 million people on them, that indicates up to 80,000 ?time bombs are waiting to explode,? according to Wiseman.
? ???Fox News obtained documents pertaining to Paxil showing that a patient on that medication is 8X more likely than those not on the drug to attempt or to commit suicide.
? ???Dr. Fred Baughman, a neurologist and psychiatric specialist, has charged the industry of deliberately ?creating a disorder? for the purpose of selling drugs. ?He charges that there is zero evidence of any chemical imbalance in the typical ?ADHD? child, and that many of the behaviors are simple, normal, youthful activities that are subjectively grouped to create another tap onto the pharmaceutical well. ?He also charges that doctors knowingly give medications to children who are below the ?recommended age? set by the manufacturer, and that many of these chemicals have never even been FDA approved for use in children. ?His collection of computer-viewable videos on the subject of ADHD is available here: http://www.adhdvideo.org/ ?(A high speed connection is recommended.)
? ???Jay Baadsgaard, the father of a 16 year old who shot up a school several years ago, says the answer is simple (and I am inclined to agree with him). ?He says to stop drugging teenagers for every little pimple and problem they encounter on life?s highway. ?
? ???In America, we have disarmed discipline in the family. ?A combination of single-parent households and laws designed to take away the right of parents (and teachers) to ?use the rod? when necessary, has greatly exasperated the problem. ?21st Century wisdom says to deliver children unto CIBA, Inc., and the rest of the medical-pharmaceutical establishment. ?The vast majority, if not all of these kids, need family structure, rules, and education that matches their cognitive abilities ? not a cocaine substitute. ?
? ????Have a coke and a smile” is not the answer. ?Yet in using this approach, the powers that be are creating several very foreboding monsters. ?These should alarm every Christian in the nation.
? ???At the top of the list, new legislation criminalizes ownership or possession of any firearms by those who are on assorted medications. ?As such, what the liberal left / New World Odor cannot achieve through the front door (eliminating the Second Amendment), they are sneaking in the back way by creating a generation where over 50% of males will be addicted to or verifiable previous users of psychotropic drugs. ?The ?male head of household? is being effectively and medically ?neutered? in his role as family protector. ?Moreover, he is having his brain fried with parental consent (albeit with a bit of arm twisting into compliance through fear of prosecution), and thereby mentally handicapped by a covetous school and medical establishment!
? ???This is a sure-fire way to eventually disarm the population of the United States without risking additional ?licensing? laws for firearms. ?Anyone who has ever been prescribed an ?anti-depressant? or ?psychotropic? will carry with them a label that will prohibit them very fundamental constitutional rights.
? ???Therefore, those that profess Christ with their lips ? yet do not run their families outside the medical-education establishment and according to the biblical admonishment to instruct their children in the ways of God ? will be easy prey for gun grabbers, as this generation moves into the next.
(Prov. 22:15) ?Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.
(Prov. 23:13) ?Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beat him with the rod, he shall not die.
(Prov. 29:15) ?The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.
? ???Also totally forgotten are the many natural ways to reduce the bouncy behavior of youth. ?In the first place, loading a pre-teen on common breakfast cereal in the morning is a recipe for disaster. ?With as much as 40% sugar content in these mass-marketed brands, along with ?red #5” and similar coloring and additives, half the hyperness would go away on its own if alternative foods were provided. ?Caffeinated sodas, coffee, etc. should also be curtailed in children (and adults too, for that matter). ?It?s not only hard on their ability to sit still, but those ?candies? are wrecking havoc on their dental health.
? ???My next child (if I ever have one) will be born at home (no SSN/mark of the beast assigned at birth that way) and home schooled (the board of education can pick on easier prey from now on).
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Monday, July 25, 2005
Paradigms: What Should Students Learn?
Why does it matter what picture students have of the universe and their places in it?
This article is scheduled for publication in the next Republican Voices newsletter.
Students’ standards for the conduct of life and for the government that most effectively supports those standards flow from their paradigm of the world, their world-view.
Religion and morality shape the good person; a good political state makes the good citizen. The fundamental role of education is to teach students to make discriminating choices that will preserve and strengthen religion, morality, and the good political state.
Today’s paradigm, which decapitated civilization and reduced humans to the same level as earthworms, originated in the 18th century’s misnamed Age of Enlightenment and took hold in the United States during the first decades of the 20th century.
Today’s paradigm is based on regulating humans en masse via pleasure and pain. In the paradigm’s collectivized political state, humans are figuratively masses of insects crawling across an electric grid with on-off switches designed by the intellectuals and controlled by the bureaucrats to direct their movements. The electric grid’s on-off switches are millions of regulations administered by thousands of bureaucracies, coupled with welfare-state benefit programs and tax incentives aimed at every segment of society, from the poor to global corporations. Like trained seals in the circus, we learn to sit, slither, and bark in response to prodding and raw-fish handouts. We also learn to spend enormous amounts of time and money discovering ways to game the system, to take advantage of others.
Liberal-socialists get their satisfactions from thinking up new electrical switches to install on the social-control grid.
The moral and spiritual dimensions of religion and philosophy are disparaged as primitive ignorance. It is a Godless, cold, materialistic, meaningless world from which presumably only the collectivized political state, directed by the minds of intellectuals, can rescue us.
In this paradigm, human beings are no different from any other animals. Darwinian evolution teaches that human beings are accidental creatures resulting from the combination of random DNA changes and random environmental changes. There is no immortal human soul. There is no God and no underlying design to the universe. This means that there can be no independent standards of right or wrong. It means that the only good thing is to satisfy your animal cravings, to seek sensual pleasure and avoid pain. It means that the only standard of validity for your actions is whether you get what you want, as the philosophy of pragmatism teaches.
This accounts for the changed definition of political liberty. In 1776, liberty meant restraints upon government’s arbitrary abrogation of private property rights and abridgment of due process under the law. Today liberty means the absence of social restraints upon drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and self-absorbed rudeness. Such conduct theoretically is not the individual’s responsibility; it results from the failure of the political state to provide adequate levels of materialistic gratification via welfare entitlements.
In contrast, from Plato’s time until the era of the French Revolutionary philosophers, it was taken for granted that students, from infancy onward, ideally should be exposed only to good speech, good manners, and high standards of moral conduct. As Aristotle noted, virtue (which in Greek thought was akin to a skill, such as an athlete might acquire) necessitated continual practice of good thoughts and good conduct.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Emile,” his 1762 treatise on education, changed all of that, introducing the paradigm of the “Noble Savage,” the fiction that people uncorrupted by modern society are more truly civilized, more humane than people living in a society that permits private ownership of property. Dispensing with our Judeo-Christian heritage, especially with private property, would enable intellectuals to regulate our conduct sufficiently to create a brave new world.
This radical paradigm has, by design, been the undoing of Western civilization. Everything that we call civilization ? a government of laws, not of arbitrary men; respect for knowledge and support of true science; as well as common courtesy and decency ? originated in classical Greek philosophy, transformed by Judeo-Christian insights about the proper spiritual role for human beings. Rousseau and his fellow atheistic philosophers of the French Revolution repudiated God and elevated the mind of the intellectual to divine status.
In education, Rousseau’s theory was that children know instinctively what they need to learn and will do better left more or less alone to explore the world for themselves, without adult interference. In the United States, John Dewey and other socialist educators in the 20th century carried this belief forward under the guise of progressive education. Dewey preached that teaching specific subject matter, such as mathematics or history, by a combination of reading, memorization, and practice actually harmed young students’ psyches.
He considered it more important that students learn from “experiences” that would accustom them to the communal living that was to become the standard under the presumably inevitably evolving socialistic state. Education shifted from studying the best thought of the Western world to a trade-school model in which students were to be trained for specific jobs to which socialistic planners would assign them in the future. Hence the advent of home economics and shop classes in wood and metal working, auto mechanics, and similar job skills. In more recent years students have been introduced to sexual promiscuity via so-called sex education classes.
Field trips, survey courses, and other experiences were designed to give students “an appreciation of” the amoral, collective, socialistic paradigm of the world. This is the genesis and purpose of multi-cultural education.
Such experiences and appreciations, as we see today, avail little when poorly schooled American students find cutting-edge scientific jobs being outsourced to India, Taiwan, and Japan, where students often must compete for several years just to be accepted into university engineering, science, and mathematics studies. The social-justice paradigm of American liberalism is no match for these disciplined foreign students who know their subject matter in depth.
The ultimate expression of this nonsense came in the student anarchism of the late 1960s and early 1970s, when students rioters took over college administrative offices with sit-ins and destroyed computer centers and student records. Those student activists were emulating Rousseau’s savages, but there was nothing noble about it. Students were merely on a hedonistic binge. It was exciting to participate in riots, and far easier than studying subject matter to pass tests. There was enormous ego satisfaction in media coverage of their bloviation about profound issues of which they knew exactly zero. Put a gun to someone’s head, and he will pay attention to you, even if you are demented.
Following the path blazed by Rousseau into the middle of the briar thicket, students demanded the right to determine the school curriculum themselves, insisting that subject matter be “relevant.” No one bothered to ask why students were in college if they already knew more than their teachers.
No one should wonder that students no longer can tell you where Kansas is, let alone Afghanistan, that they don’t know when the War of Independence was fought, or why.
The disastrous results of American education since the 1960s should suggest to any person of intelligence the necessity to reassess our paradigm of education. That necessarily involves changing our paradigm of the world and of humans’ relationship to the world.
The new paradigm must be really a reversion to the true science and knowledge that prevailed before the French Revolution, in short, the Judeo-Christian tradition that was the foundation of Western civilization.
It must be a paradigm of individual learning, guided by standards of excellence, with real consequences for disruptive students or students who fail to work up to their full capacities. It must be a paradigm of moral rectitude, acquired through study of the best thought of the Western world, from the ancient Jews and Greeks to the mid-18th century.
Instead of the present-day paradigm, in which the structure of the political state is the determinant and source of thought and conduct, students must be required to take personal responsibility for their conduct. They must be taught that there is a God-given design to the universe and that it is their individual responsibilities to learn and to conform to the Will of God through loving kindness and respect for all people. They must understand that joining mass demonstrations, smoking pot, waving placards for TV cameras, and chanting slogans can’t absolve them of personal responsibility to live moral lives and to help their less fortunate brethren. They must again be taught that self-discipline and self-denial are essential to the survival of civilization and to the betterment of life for all peoples.
Each individual must seek guidance from a personal relationship with God. Harmony with the nature of the universe and with its Creator will lead the individual to good standards of conduct, just as a tree grows upward in a beautiful shape, reaching toward Divinely provided energy from the sun.
This requires a return to basics, to a simpler life of reward for hard work and honesty. It requires setting high standards for student performance and demanding that students do their best to meet those standards. It means that each student be responsible for his own success or failure, that rude, disruptive, even criminal, behavior not be excused as the fault of society.
To the liberal-socialist sensualist this sounds like medieval torture. How can anyone be happy except in pursuit of worldly pleasure?
The answer simply is to study the Bible and other classics of Western civilization. As Plato and Aristotle noted, there is a distinction between the fleeting pleasure of material things and true happiness, which is a matter of the soul attuned to virtue.
The Old Testament’s Book of Isaiah, 33:5-6, reads:
“The LORD is exalted; for he dwelleth on high: he hath filled Zion with judgment and righteousness. And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure.”
The Christian New Testament expresses this same idea, among other places, in Matthew 6:19-21.
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
As they say, virtue is its own reward.