The View From 1776
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Federal Budgets: The Starting Point
Budgets were not originally open-ended wish-lists. The New Deal changed that, inflation commenced, and deficits have become the norm.
Historically, the study of economics grew out of budgeting for the political state and necessarily reflected the prevailing political and philosophical views. Federal budgeting today is still blighted by the welfare-state philosophy of the New Deal. This means that avoiding inflation and budget deficits, over the long term, is impossible.
When economics developed as a separate intellectual discipline in the 18th century, it was then called ‘political economy,’ a term that better depicts the function of doctrine than our present-day term ‘economics.’ Political economy, in conjunction with government budgeting, was the study of the most productive and beneficial ways to allocate economic resources that are limited in the short run, as well as how to set tax policies and government regulation most effectively to encourage increased production of economic resources.
Today in the United States budgeting starts, not with allocating known revenues, but preparing special-interest wish-lists, many of which conflict with each other, then fighting over whether to raise taxes or borrow to fund these wish-lists.
As John F. Cogan notes in The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, “The congressional budget process itself has contributed mightily to persistent budget deficits. The most important feature of the current budget process is its decentralized nature. At no point in the process does anyone decide on the total amount the federal government will spend. Instead, responsibility for individual legislative bills that determine the total amount of spending is divided up among fifteen separate committees in the Senate and seventeen committees in the House of Representatives…. This decentralization of spending authority creates powerful incentives for deficit financing.”
The result is what French socialists discovered early in the 19th century: intellectual planners can’t control the process, because the voters are impelled, not by their needs, but by their limitless desires for more. This is known as butchering the hog and dispensing the pork, a process not designed to promote either the health of the economy, or the general welfare.
The Federal budgeting process was not always so. Mr. Cogan observes that Federal budget deficits were non-existent or inconsequential from 1799 until 1885, while the budgeting process was centered in a single committee is each house of Congress. During the Progressive era, from 1886 until 1921, budget deficits were the norm under decentralization among different Congressional committees. Under conservative Republican administrations, from 1922 until the impact of the Depression in 1931, the budgeting process was again centralized, and the Federal government spent less than its revenues, producing an explosion of business growth.
Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal poisoned the process and we have never recovered from the debilitating effects. FDR raised income tax rates from the 20 percent range to more than 80 percent, strangled business with a host of new regulatory agencies, created welfare-state income-redistribution programs, and reverted to decentralized budgeting.
After virtual price stability throughout the nation’s history, apart from wartimes, the erosion of steady, unrelenting inflation commenced in 1932. Keynesian economics, still the guide book for liberals, decreed that unemployment could be prevented only by Federal deficit spending. The only concern was finding new devices to augment deficit spending.
Private business was believed to be incapable of returning to its activity level of 1929, so the Feds would have to take over the role of employing people and funding new technology. Hence the burgeoning numbers of Federal agencies.
Deficit spending and inflation slackened when Presidents Kennedy and Reagan cut taxes, and when President Clinton was compelled by newly-elected Republican Congressional majorities to do the same. President Clinton’s short-lived budget surplus was a mirage produced by the temporary confluence of the dot.com business bubble and one-time, huge reductions in military spending (which encouraged Al Queda’s 9/11 attack).
As a formal discipline, political economy took flight in the 18th century in France and England. For the United States, Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” was, until the Progressive era, the guiding doctrine. Smith famously declared that the true wealth of a nation is, not its fixed resources such as land and gold (as in the case of Spain’s New World conquests), but the freedom and ingenuity of its citizens.
Whence came the concept of laissez-faire, the idea that reducing government regulation and tariffs to the minimum and otherwise encouraging manufacturing and trade would cause citizens to produce far more useful goods and services than could any government ministries prescribing who should do what and how much should be charged.
This spotlights the unbridgeable chasm between economic understandings of the founders and those of present-day liberal-progressives, among whom are to be found a great many nominal Republicans.
The founders understood that people pioneer in the wilderness, start up new businesses, discover new technologies, and thereby raise the standard of living for everyone, because of their expectations. Today people invest in the stocks of companies based on their expectations about future prospects.
In contrast, liberal-progressives implicitly view the economy as a static fund of wealth. Their function is to divide that fund equally, without regard to merit, in accordance with socialistic concepts of social justice. As they do not subscribe to the concept of expectations as a driving force in economic affairs, liberal-progressives discount the demonstrated validity of President John F. Kennedy’s “rising tide that lifts all boats” as the justification for his huge tax cuts in the 1960s. They have denigrated President Kennedy’s insight as ‘trickle-down economics.’
It is this mindset that drives today’s Federal budget process and accounts for the endless harping by Congressional Democrats on ‘tax cuts for the rich.’ They remain fixated on the fact that the poor are not as wealthy as the top tier of the economy, because socialism preaches that the only meaningful freedom is the materialistic standard of equal access for everyone to any of society’s goods and services that he wants. Liberalism’s liberty is not a matter of the spirit, but of the dinner plate.
No thought is given to the effect of destroying incentives to risk-taking innovation by mandating that everyone must have as nearly equal income as possible. At the outset of the Clinton administration, the President’s economic advisors, urged on by Al Gore, pushed for creating in the United States what was then called Japan, Inc. ? the tightly regulated and integrated complex of huge Japanese manufacturing, trading, and banking enterprises under the tutelage of government ministries.
President Clinton’s advisors alleged that too many foreign companies were acquiring control of American companies and vital resources, that corporations were looking at short-term measures to increase the next quarter’s earning per share, without regard to the long run. We hear echoes of this today in the hullabaloo over the take over of management of some of our seaports by the Dubai Ports World organization.
The liberal-progressive prescription was to impose tighter controls on private businesses, to establish a national council to determine what were to be the important technologies in the future, and to allocate Federal funds to their research and development. Fortunately for our well-being, the vision was postponed when, sadly, Japan slid into an economic slump from which it is only now emerging.
The collectivist vision didn’t die, unfortunately, as evidenced by Al Gore and company’s strident advocacy of the Kyoto Protocols, designed to reduce our level of economic activity and bring us down to ‘social-justice’ equality with third-world economies.
The lesson to be drawn from this debilitating tinkering by liberal-progressives is that, unless we return to centralized budgeting and start with a fixed ceiling for total Federal spending, inflation will accelerate, the dollar will tank, exponential growth of Social Security and Medicare entitlements will bankrupt us, and Al Queda madrassas will be teaching Arabic to your grandchildren while they memorize the Koran.
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Alain has a question for advocates of abortion “rights.”
Read his article here.
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Another Swing-and-a-Miss by the Blind Side
Froma Harrop is a liberal editorial writer for the Providence Journal and a syndicated columnist. The opening paragraph of her February 22, 2006, column is another example of liberals’ compulsion to stretch the truth beyond recognition.
In a column titled “Global warming—A way out of the CO2 debacle” Froma Harrop wrote:
“WE ALL KNOW what must be done to save our planet from global warming: Stop loading the atmosphere with greenhouse gases. If we do nothing, entire ecosystems will collapse. The ice sheets will melt, and much of our coastline will disappear under the waves.”
“We all know” calls to mind the insularity of liberal certitude reportedly expressed by a New York Times columnist after the election of Ronald Reagan to the Presidency. She is supposed to have said, “How could he have won the election? Nobody I know voted for him.”
Die-hard liberals, for whom environmentalism is a neo-pagan form of worship, a modern-day version of Comte’s Religion of Humanity, won’t bat any eye at these blatant falsehoods. But why should Ms. Harrop follow the route of mendacity, when she could as easily have made her point without it?
The reason presumably is that the scientism of liberal-progressives, what passes in the mainstream liberal media for science, is really the religious dictates of atheistic materialism. Any facts that run counter to liberal-progressive orthodoxy are ignored or dismissed as red-neck heresies.
It is essential to liberalism and progressivism that intellectuals be able, not only to control human society and restructure human nature via government regulation, but that they also be able to usurp God’s role in determining global climatic conditions.
Ms. Harrop is hardly alone in ‘simplifying’ the truth. She is just following the lead of practitioners of liberal scientism, as Patrick J. Michaels observed in an American Spectator article published 2/21/2006: “In 1989, at the same time [NASA’s Jim] Hansen was “emphasizing extreme scenarios,” Dr. Stephen Schneider, now at Stanford University, opined in Discover magazine that “we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” “
Let’s look specifically at the three hypotheses stated as fact by Ms. Harrop.
First, “we all know"is simply incorrect.
Hans H.J. Labohm noted in a TechCentralStation article published April 14, 2005:
“Tens of thousands of bona fide qualified scientists have expressed their reservations as regards the man-made global warming hypothesis (see: http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p428.htm). But it could perhaps be argued that most of them were not meteorologists and/or climatologists. What about this latter category? At a recent climate change seminar, organised by the (classical liberal) Friedrich Naumann Foundation, together with the Society for the Freedom of Science, in Gummersbach (near Bonn), Prof. Dennis Brays presented the results of a survey among some 500 German and European climate researchers. They showed that the much-repeated claim of a ‘scientific consensus’ on anthropogenic global warming is not correct. According to the results, some 25% of European climate researchers who took part in the survey still doubt whether most of the moderate warming during the last 150 years can be attributed to human activities and CO2 emissions.”
Second, “If we do nothing, entire ecosystems will collapse.”
Ms. Harrop’s statement of conjecture-as-fact may prove in time to be correct, but there is no way to know with certainty today what future conditions will be. There are just too many variables, among them the fact that higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2 will stimulate growth of trees that absorb increasing amounts of CO2.
As with all other aspects of the global-warming hypothesis, there is considerable disagreement among climatologists and scientist in related disciplines. Richard W. Rahn, in an article published August 21, 2005, in the Washington Times, wrote:
“There is almost no agreement about the rate of this warming. There is also considerable disagreement about how much of the warming is man-made—by increasing CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels—and dispute about how much of the additional CO2 will be absorbed by faster vegetation growth and the ocean. (It seems almost every month a new report contradicts some of the previous studies about the above questions—which is not unexpected, given our rudimentary understanding of climatic forces.)
“The big question, at least for me as an economist, is whether moderate global warming will be good or bad for mankind. Most evidence strongly suggests modest global warming will be beneficial—more rainfall, longer growing seasons, less disease and longer lifespans, easier travel, more outdoor sports, etc. (The last warmer Earth period, roughly 900-1300 AD, is widely acknowledged on balance as highly beneficial to mankind).”
Third, “The ice sheets will melt, and much of our coastline will disappear under the waves,” is quite an exaggeration.
Global-warming theorists claim to have detected an acceleration of the coastal glacier calving and ice-melt rate in Greenland, based on computer models using fragmentary data from satellite radar observations. They project that the sea levels will rise at an annual rate of 0.0225 inches (0.57 mm) per year. At that rate, it would require 534 years for the sea level to rise one foot. Even New Orleans might survive that.
Those Greenland computer-model data are questionable, by the way, because actual measurements on the ground show that ice and snow are accumulating in the interior of Greenland at almost 10 times the projected rate of glacier calving and coastal ice melt.
Former Secretary of Energy James Schlesinger summarized the reality of the global-warming hypothesis in an August 8, 2005, Wall Street Journal article:
“Over the ages, climate has varied. Generally speaking, the Northern Hemisphere has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 17th century. Most of the global warming observed in the 20th century occurred between 1900 and 1940, when the release of greenhouse gasses was far less than later in the century. Between 1940 and 1975, temperatures fell—and scientists feared a lengthy period of global cooling. The reported rise in temperatures in recent decades has come rather suddenly—probably too suddenly given the relatively slow rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
“We must always bear in mind that the earth’s atmosphere remains a highly complex thermodynamic machine. Given its complexities, we need to be modest in asserting what we know. Knowledge is more than speculation.
“.......Second, science is not a matter of consensus, as the histories of Galileo, Copernicus, Pasteur, Einstein and others will attest. Science depends not on speculation but on conclusions verified through experiment. Verification is more than computer simulations—whose conclusions mirror the assumptions built in the model. Irrespective of the repeated assertions regarding a “scientific consensus,” there is neither a consensus nor is consensus science.”
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Monday, February 27, 2006
Moscow Show Trials on the Charles
Most people are aware, if not in specificity, that Harvard president Larry Summers has been forced to resign. This local contretemps is of national importance. Railroading president Summers proves that, confronted with the truth openly addressed, liberals can defend themselves only with KGB tactics. It reminds us again that all sides of issues must be presented to students.
When a college or university faculty can force a leader out of office, solely because he questions their dogma, the prospects for education are dimmed. The remedy is, not to scourge the liberals, but to give students full access to the opposing Judeo-Christian knowledge upon which Western civilization was based before the advent of socialist collectivism.
Columnist Ben Shapiro, himself a Harvard Law student, sums the Harvard case in a recent column, which recaps the events leading to the Harvard faculty coup.
“.....Summers faced the uniform wrath of the arts and sciences professors. Those professors were lobbying for the Harvard Corporation to fire Summers. And despite the fact that three out of four Harvard students supported Summers, despite the fact that deans at every graduate school supported him, despite the fact that Summers has restored Harvard’s image as a moderate left, not radical left, institution, this is the end for El Presidente.
“All of which goes to show that for Harvard professors, the university doesn’t matter. The students don’t matter. All that matters is that professors be allowed to pick up their fat paychecks, sit in their tenure-sized offices, spout what they want to spout and buy off students with easy A’s. With Summers’ resignation, Harvard’s faculty adds yet another black spot to their increasingly egregious resume.”
Let it be acknowledged that the shoe was on the other foot in the 1920s and 30s, when college administrations dominated by conservatives forced liberals out of their faculties. Columbia University president Nicholas Murray Butler was as high-handed as any liberal in ousting Professor Charles A. Beard, who published an often-since-discredited book alleging that the Constitution was no more than a conspiracy of wealthy property owners to defraud “the people.” It was in that connection that president Butler, asked if he had read Beard’s last book, is supposed to have said, “I hope so.”
As I have written many times, a Judeo-Christian society is implicitly individualistic in the sense that every citizen must shoulder personal responsibility for his own conduct and that, in doing so, he must seek to acquire moral virtue. In the Western tradition, embracing both the Jewish worship of Almighty God and the Greek philosophical understanding that happiness is, not sensual pleasure, but virtuous conduct, as well as in their synthesis in Christianity, Truth is the goal.
This is in contrast to the liberal conception that individuals are merely Social-Security-number components of social and economic classes and that the object of worship, the source of all good, is the collectivized national state. Individualism in that context is selfish greed, to be muzzled by state regulations and quashed by redistributive taxes.
Truth is not, as liberals opine, merely whatever opinions find public favor at any moment. God-given Truth is fixed and eternal, in the same way that human nature has been unchanged from prehistoric times into the present day.
What is debatable and should be open to candid discussion at the college level is how virtue is to be applied in specific cases. Morality does not evolve, as John Dewey and other socialists taught. Application of Eternal Truth to new circumstances needs continuing and full debate, not dictation of PC dogma.
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View From the Blind Side
Blind men groping an elephant from different sides, trying to decide what it resembles, have fragmentary impressions. Liberals groping today’s events from the left side are either blind, or willfully deceitful, because they present one-sided and misleading interpretations.
We may take as authentic liberalism the views expressed by Harold Meyerson, who is editor-at-large of The American Prospect, a very liberal magazine, one of whose founders is Robert Reich, President Clinton’s Labor Secretary. In an article written for the February 22, 2006, issue of The Washington Post and also published in The American Prospect, his critique of the competitive free market reminds us of how different liberal assumptions are from those of the people who fought in 1776 and wrote the Constitution in 1787.
Mr. Meyerson’s opening line is either a deliberate lie or an expression of ignorance. He writes, “We’re selling our harbors to an Arab government.”
It is by now general knowledge that nobody is selling any ports to anyone. All that is involved is prospectively transferring management of East Coast ports and the Port of New Orleans from one foreign company to another. These ports already are managed by a foreign company, Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. The proposal is simply to approve acquisition of P & O by the state-owned Dubai Ports World organization.
Mr. Meyerson continues: “Welcome to American capitalism in the age of globalization. Here the market rules. National security and freedom of speech are all well and good, but they are distinctly secondary concerns when they bump up against our highest national purpose, which is maximizing shareholder value.”
This is merely putting a new dress on the perennial liberal thesis that wars are caused by greedy capitalists using the workers’ blood for profit. In the Iraq invasion, Halliburton was the bloody shirt to wave. Now, somehow, permitting one foreign company to buy another’s assets (management contracts in this case) is an example of American capitalistic greed at the expense of national security.
Mr. Meyerson concludes, “.......Indeed, at the heart of the Bush administration’s theory of democratic transformation, we find two non sequiturs: that integration into the global marketplace leads to democratic pluralism, and that elections lead to democratic pluralism.”
First, it is doubtful that any official in the Bush administration ever used the term ‘democratic pluralism,’ a symbolism coming out of the New Deal era and much employed by left-wingers in the 1950s and 60s.
‘Democratic pluralism’ in the liberal sense means moral relativism, the idea that there is no need for core values in the United States, that no objections may be raised to preaching divergent doctrines such as the atheistic materialism of socialism. Paradoxically, ‘democratic pluralism’ has metamorphasized into the ACLU’s relentless campaign to suppress all expressions of Judeo-Christian morality in public life and in our schools.
Understanding Mr. Meyerson’s opinions requires scanning the transition from the liberalism of 1776 to the liberalism of the 20th century.
Liberalism for our founding generation meant political liberty, freedom from arbitrary exercise of power by the sovereign government, particularly confiscation of private property via unconstitutional taxes or by seizure without due process of law and reasonable compensation. The Bill of Rights is a catalog of individuals’ rights against the government and against the democratic majority, Tocqueville’s tyranny of the masses.
20th century liberalism stands this on its head. A quotation from William A. Donohue’s “The Politics of the American Civil Liberties Union” illustrates the point.
Mr. Donohue writes, “[John] Dewey contended that “the ends which liberalism has always professed can be attained only as control of the means of the production and distribution is taken out of the hands of individuals who exercise powers created socially for narrow individual interests.” Social control of the economy was what Dewey advocated. As Edmund Wilson once noted, social control was a code word for socialism that liberals used in the thirties: “We have always talked about the desirability of a planned society ? the phrase ‘social control’ has been our blessed Mesopotamian word. But if this means anything, does it not mean socialism? And should we not do well to make this perfectly plain?”....Dewey pleaded we must realize that unrestricted individualism [i.e., free-market capitalism] is destructive of freedom.”
John Dewey, of course, was the foremost liberal philosopher of the early 20th century, and Edmund Wilson was considered the era’s major literary critic.
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Friday, February 24, 2006
Instead of more mush from wimpy Peanut Carter, another left-wing icon offers a solid proposal to chew on.
After a nauseating diet of ‘sensitivity’ from Senators Kerry and Kennedy, sprinkled with Peanut Carter’s encomiums for every left-wing terrorist from Castro and Hugo Chavez to Yasser Arafat and Hamas, Harvard Law School’s Alan Dershowitz advances a constructive proposal for new jurisprudence underlying our foreign policy. In the past a radical leftist, Professor Dershowitz appears to be edging away from Utopia and toward the clear-eyed understanding of human nature that informed the writers of our Constitution.
Carnegie-Mellon professor Tom Emerson alerted me to Tony Blankley’s editorial piece on soon-to-be-published “Preemption, A Knife That Cuts Both Ways” by Alan Dershowitz. Mr. Blankley writes:
“The premise of his book is that in this age of terror, there is a potential need for such devices as profiling, preventive detention, anticipatory mass inoculation, prior restraint of dangerous speech, targeted extrajudicial executions of terrorists and preemptive military action, including full-scale preventive war.
In [Dershowitz’s] own words, from his introduction: “The shift from responding to past events to preventing future harms is part of one of the most significant but unnoticed trends in the world today. It challenges our traditional reliance on a model of human behavior that presupposes a rational person capable of being deterred by the threat of punishment. The classic theory of deterrence postulates a calculating evildoer who can evaluate the cost-benefits of proposed actions and will act ? and forbear from acting ? on the basis of these calculations. It also presupposes society’s ability (and willingness) to withstand the blows we seek to deter and to use the visible punishment of those blows as threats capable of deterring future harms. These assumptions are now being widely questioned as the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of suicide terrorists becomes more realistic and as our ability to deter such harms by classic rational cost-benefit threats and promises becomes less realistic.”
Mr. Blankley continues: “To see the difference between traditional Anglo-American criminal jurisprudence and his proposed jurisprudence of prevention, he raises the great maxim of criminal law: better that 10 guilty go free, than one innocent be wrongly convicted. That principle led our law to require proof beyond a reasonable doubt before conviction in criminal trials. Most of us agree with that standard.
“But then Mr. Dershowitz updates the maxim thusly: “Is it better for ten possibly preventable terrorist attacks to occur than for one possibly innocent suspect to be preventively detained?” I would hunch that most people would not be willing to accept ten September 11 attacks (30,000 dead) in order to protect one innocent suspect from being locked up and questioned for a while.”
As I interpret Mr. Blankley, Professor Dershowitsz’s conclusion is that, because this new imperative of preemption and its related devices conflict with our traditional views about the Bill of Rights and moral conduct, we must develop new procedures of judicial due process that both permit preemptive action and preserve individual rights. We must get beyond the knee-jerk reactions of the ACLU that are aimed, not at preserving the rights of individuals against majority greed, but at promoting hedonistic license in the interests of liberal socialism. We must put aside jockeying for political advantage and focus on national survival.
Reality must be confronted before the next 9/11 and before Iran has nuclear weapons. That requires extensive and detailed debate in Congress and in the media that will give the public more than sound bites, slogans, and mud-slinging personal attacks against public officials and nominees.
People must come to understand that there is no way to survive by ignoring the threat of Islam’s savagery; they must understand that no amount of reason or materialistic foreign aid will deter people whose religion orders them to kill, pillage, and enslave all non-Muslims, people whose religion glorifies suicidal killing of defenseless women and children. Americans must face the inescapable reality that, if jihadists are not killed preemptively, they will kill us. There is no middle ground. Months of UN resolutions and weapons inspections merely grant more time for jihadists to prepare another 9/11.
Rather than looking to foreign countries’ laws to apply the maxims of socialistic class collectivism, as some Federal judges have advocated, we must develop our own, realistic ways to do what must be done to survive, yet protect the rights of individuals.
The key, I believe, lies in understanding the most fundamental purpose of government, and the purpose for which men enter political societies. As John Locke stated it in 1689 and Samuel Adams and others restated it in 1776, the essential purpose of government is to protect the private property rights of individuals from arbitrary confiscation by the sovereign state. Individuals who can control their own property can thereby control the purse-strings of government and ultimately resist any tyranny.
To that end, we must reverse the New Deal jurisprudence that subjugated Fifth Amendment rights to those of the First Amendment. We must again see, as the founders did, that political liberty cannot survive where the masses can take from the few, merely to satisfy envy and greed.
This high-wire act requires balancing, on the one hand, tax cuts to protect people’s property from the depredations of welfare-state entitlements and, on the other hand, the military costs of defending ourselves, with inflation waiting in the wings to devour us as it did under the Johnson and Nixon administrations.
If Republicans and Democrats foolishly ignore the real dangers already confronting us and continue to conceive the purpose of government to be the pork-barrel welfare-state, there is no hope for survival against Islamic jihad over the coming century of conflict.
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Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Morality is not Ideology
Marxists and other liberals place religious or ethical dictates about the sanctity of life under the negative category of ‘ideologies.’ They believe that there is no reality beyond the material conditions of society controlled by the regulations of the political state.
Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro contends that religion and morality are “an ideological agenda that undermines science and the public health.”
The quotation appears in a February 22, 2006, article in the Hartford Courant and my local newspaper, The Stamford Advocate, headlined “Advocates, Officials Want `Morning-After Pill’ Widely Available.”
The lead paragraphs tell us, “The culture war over emergency contraceptives has heated up on several fronts in recent weeks, with battles fought in pharmacies, state legislatures, political campaigns and Congress.
“On Tuesday, advocates for sexual assault victims called on Connecticut lawmakers to require that all Connecticut hospitals - including the state’s four Roman Catholic hospitals - provide emergency contraception to rape victims.”
Further along in the article we are informed, “In Washington, meanwhile, lawmakers such as Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, have urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to adopt recommendations made by its own advisory committee more than two years ago and make Plan B available without a prescription.
“Democrats say the FDA bowed to pressure from conservative groups in delaying approval of over-the-counter emergency contraceptives.
“There is no reasonable medical evidence to support the FDA’s delay, only an ideological agenda that undermines science and the public health,” DeLauro said Tuesday. “The FDA must not allow ideology to supersede public health.”
DeLauro is saying that belief in the primacy of human life undermines science and the public health. How does this square with the Hippocratic Oath, the classical version of which contains the following paragraph?
“I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.”
Moreover, the Wikipedia describes the Hippocratic Oath as, “...an oath traditionally taken by physicians, in which certain ethical guidelines are laid out.” In other words, ethics lie at the heart of the practice of medicine. because sick people are in varying degrees at the mercy of the physician.
Additional light on this aspect is found in Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland’s “Maimonides,” a biographical and doctrinal interpretation of the life and teachings of the Jewish world’s most towering figure of the Middle Ages. People know of Maimonides as an authoritative interpreter of the the Talmud and other Jewish scriptures. Less well known is that he was also a justly famous medical doctor.
Dr. Nuland is a clinical professor of surgery at Yale University Medical School, where he also teaches bioethics and medical history. He writes that, in the “Ethics of the Fathers” sections of his “Commentary on the Mishnah,” Maimonides articulates a theme that appeared repeatedly in his writings:
“..[the purpose of wealth] should be to expend it for noble purposes, and to employ it for the maintenance of the body and the preservation of life, so that its owner may obtain a knowledge of God, in so far as that is vouchsafed unto man. From this point of view, the study of medicine has a very great influence on the acquisition of the virtues and of the knowledge of God, as well as on the attainment of true spiritual happiness. Therefore, its study and acquisition are pre-eminently important religious activities.”
Congresswoman DeLauro’s diametrically opposed use of the term ideology to dismiss the ethical side of medicine, one may conjecture, derives from its usage by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to represent metaphysical, or spiritual, concepts as fictional ignorance, in contrast to the materialistic forces of the atheistic world of socialism.
DeLauro is an apostate Roman Catholic who, after graduating from Marymount College, migrated to the London School of Economics and Columbia University, both major institutions for the advancement of socialism and other doctrines arising from atheistic materialism. Subsequently she became executive director of EMILY’s List, an organization open only to women who are members of the Democratic Party or the Australian Labor Party and who are advocates for abortion.
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Monday, February 20, 2006
Liberalism and the Harvard Business School
Paradoxically, the B School was born out of the ferment of Progressivism, as today’s liberalism was called at the beginning of the 20th century.
(This piece is written for the forthcoming newsletter of the Republican Voices website.)
To the extent that most people bother to think about it, the Harvard Business School is identified with conservatism and Big Business. Its origin, however, was in a rather different social and political milieu.
The B School (officially The Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration) was a product of the forces of Progressivism that roiled the political and educational worlds from the 1880s until after World War I.
Teddy Roosevelt, a Harvard graduate, was President of the United States from 1901 until 1908, the year the B School was founded. Teddy embodied the Progressive faith that a strong executive could simply overpower Congress and state legislatures to lead the nation toward the scientific, medical, and academic preeminence of Bismarck’s German Empire.
Major educational changes were impelled by the utopian, Progressive vision that human minds controlling the institutions of government and education could perfect humanity, eliminate wars, and bring harmony and material well-being to the world. Socialist John Dewey began teaching at Columbia University in 1904, as Columbia Teachers College became the country’s leading institution for training young socialist educators.
Harvard, under the leadership of President Charles William Eliot from 1869 to 1909, was in the forefront of the movement for Progressivism in education. And the B School was one of his final projects, opening its doors in 1908.
As the B School’s 50th anniversary yearbook of 1958 records, “Archibald Cary Coolidge and Abbott Lawrence Lowell, both members of the committee [appointed by President Eliot to study the concept], recognized the increasing need for executives who could, through balanced thinking raise the standards of business enterprise. They felt that the growing complexity of business and the trend toward larger business units made it difficult for an apprentice to learn the whole process or to see clearly the relationship of his work to the other functions of a business enterprise.”
This sounds unexceptionably commonsensical. It was, however, a reflection of the social-engineering and bureaucratic impulses of Progressivism and European socialism.
Walter Lippmann graduated from Harvard the year after the B School opened. At Harvard he had been president of the student socialist club. He expressed the prevailing ethos in his 1913 “A Preface to Politics,” writing:
“....The power that workingmen generate when they unite ? the demands they will make and the tactics they will pursue ? how they are educating themselves and the nation ? these are genuine issues which bear upon the future. So with the politics of business men. Whether financiers are to be sullen and stupid like Archbold, defiant like Morgan, or well-intentioned like Perkins is a question that enters deeply into the industrial issues. The whole business problem takes on a new complexion if the representatives of capital are to be men with the temper of Louis Brandeis [who favored public ownership of business] or William C. Redfield. For when business careers are made professional, new motives enter into the situation; it will make a world of difference if the leadership of industry is in the hands of men interested in production as a creative art instead of brute exploitation. The economic conflicts are at once raised to a plane of research, experiment and honest deliberation….. The subtle fact, ? the change of business motives, the demonstration that industry can be conducted as medicine is, ? may civilize the whole class conflict.”
In genteel fashion, Lippmann was reciting the credo of Henri de Saint-Simon’s socialism, which captured the allegiance of France’s young civil engineers in the 1820s ? the faith that entrepreneurial effort and business management are, not dynamic processes, but static design processes, like a bridge or a road, that can be planned and controlled by social-engineers. When business management is integrated into political-state-planning, according to theory, business will be rationalized and harmonized with the needs of society. Socially-undesirable products will be eliminated, production efficiency maximized, and more than enough will be produced to enable every person access to all of society’s goods and services he needs, regardless of his ability to pay.
Why, then, didn’t the Harvard Business School become just another inculcator of socialist doctrine, as did so many other graduate schools in the major universities?
The answer was the case method and Socratic instruction. Unlike law schools, which train future activist judges to abstract legal principles from philosophical doctrine, the business world has very few fixed principles beyond the do-or-die necessity to generate sufficient cash flow to cover expenditures.
Beginning in 1919, after the First World War, B School instruction centered on discussion of actual business cases. Those cases (in 1956-58, and probably still) simply describe a business situation, with no explanations. The student must first decide what the problem, if any, is; then decide upon an approach to deal with the situation; finally, relate his ideas to the real world in which he will have to confront business competitors and personal rivals within his own company.
Discussions in class rooms are heated, among students who seldom agree completely with each other. Rather than imparting a philosophical view to the students, the professor usually confines himself to asking penetrating and embarrassing questions after students have aired their views.
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William Jennings Bryan: Radical Reformer
Despite his influential role in national politics between 1896 and and 1915, Bryan is known (if at all) to the present generation only as an ignorant buffoon who was ridiculed for his belief in literal interpretation of the Bible by ACLU attorney Clarence Darrow in the 1925 Scopes Money Trial.
A recent Wall Street Journal review of “A Godly Hero,” by Michael Kazin, the latest biography of Bryan, puts a broader and more accurate frame around his career. As reviewer James Grant writes,“Bryan—he of the Scopes trial and the Cross of Gold speech; orator, journalist, evangelist and perennial Democratic presidential hopeful—tirelessly worked to take from the rich to give to the poor. Or, rather, to take from the other rich. If you were wondering whom to thank for the federal income tax, you may begin by thanking Bryan. His voice was the wind in the sails of what became the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.
“His latest biographer, Michael Kazin, professor of history at Georgetown University, does thank Bryan: “In his advocacy of a stronger, more interventionist state, Bryan calmed his party’s ancestral dread of federal power. Every Democratic president from Woodrow Wilson to Lyndon Johnson would reap the rewards of his apostasy.”
Paradoxically, Bryan has been indelibly painted in the public mind as an enemy of liberal-socialism whose ignorant faith in the Bible’s truth was a conclusive validation of teaching atheistic Darwinian evolution in our public schools.
William Jennings Bryan?s celebrated ?Cross of Gold? speech in the 1896 Presidential campaign was the Populist Party’s rallying cry in the midst of a serious economic recession. Bryan lost the election to Republican William McKinley, who did the opposite of what the Populists demanded, strengthening the gold standard and raising tariffs. Prosperity returned almost immediately, leaving a moribund Populist party that never again was a factor in national politics.
Their place was assumed by the Progressives, who formed separate political parties in 1912 and 1924. Progressives were the first organized political movement in this country to identify themselves with the emphasis of socialism on scientific management of society, what Franklin Roosevelt two decades later was to introduce as State-Planning. Progressives metamorphasized into today?s socialist liberals, more or less officially in 1924, when they united with the Socialist party to support the Presidential candidacy of Robert M. La Follette.
While the Progressives were heavily represented in Midwestern farm states like Minnesota and Wisconsin, they were equally the party of the academic community and big-city intellectuals. American Progressives before World War I had come to believe that America?s future lay in socialism and rejection of religious and moral ?ignorance.?
This background explains why today’s liberals, fearing the negative political connotations of the “L” word, have reverted to calling themselves Progressives.
Progressives? infatuation was characterized by a blind, unquestioning faith in ?scientific? management and social engineering. The individual citizen, they thought, was incapable of directing his own affairs, either to his own good, or to the well-being of the National State. Hence the thesis of Herbert Croly in “The Promise of American Life” (1909) and Walter Lippmann in his “A Preface to Politics” (1914) that America?s competitive position in the world required putting affairs of state into the hands of trained managers and scientists, under a strong leader. Lippmann, then fresh out of Harvard, where he had been president of the student socialist organization, joined with Croly in 1914 to found “The New Republic,” which became the flagship periodical of liberal socialism in the United States.
They were anxious to have an activist President, of the sort envisioned by Bryan and the Populists a generation earlier, who could overpower the traditionalist mind-set of Congress and the Federal judiciary of that era. Herbert Croly proclaimed that the nation was mired in mediocrity by its devotion to Jeffersonian individuality. A vigorous leader was needed to break through the social and constitutional barriers that separated us from scientifically-managed greatness. Political power, Croly insisted, must be taken from the states and collectivized at the national level. Moreover, the constitutional powers of Congress must be tightly constrained and subsumed by the powerful personality needed for the presidency. The United States required Nietzsche?s iron-willed Super Man.
For intellectuals before the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Germany was the model to emulate. In the 1860s, Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor, had single-handedly, by sheer personal brilliance and diplomatic dexterity, pulled together the divergent German principalities of the old Holy Roman Empire to form the new German Empire under the Prussian Kaiser. By the 1870s, Germany had the world?s most admired universities, the most advanced chemistry and physics, as well as the leading medical system. In 1881, Bismarck had established the world?s first national welfare system, created, as he said, to make the German people more dependent upon the National State and therefore more easily herded like cattle.
Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal ideas about the need for a collectivized political state came directly from Fascist Italy and from the Soviet Union, but the path to public acceptance of socialistic state-planning had been prepared by William Jennings Bryan and Germany’s Otto von Bismarck.
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Blood For Oil?
We may have little choice.
The following article from Alain’s Newsletter puts my earlier messages into a broader context.
In Iraq: What Are We Fighting For? I argued that, “We are really fighting to defend political liberty in the Western world, by politically stabilizing the Middle East through anti-terrorist governments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
?Liberals are ignorant of, or choose to ignore, the reality of international power relations.? People like Senators Kennedy and Kerry are chattering instead about the ?failure of democracy? in Iraq that has left us in a ?quagmire.?
If their PR campaign can make ?failure of democracy? the standard for public opinion purposes, the outcry for bringing troops back and abandoning Iraq to the terrorists will, sooner or later, become irresistible.? Al Queda knows that, if the liberals win the PR war, it has only to wait in order to regain control of all of the oil in the Middle East - first Iraq, then adjoining Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.? Iran, also a big oil producer, has already made clear that its historical rivalry with the Sunni Muslim world will not stand in the way of a common desire to destroy Israel and the United States.?
In More on “Blood for Oil,” I wrote, “Opposition to the war in Iraq under the banner of ?No Blood for Oil? boils down to two basic arguments:?
(1) We should not fight a war to enrich big corporations, an argument that presumes no purpose in protecting oil sources other than undeserved profit for the capitalist elite.
(2) And protecting the environment is more important than access to oil supplies; we shouldn?t be using all that oil in the first place.? For this argument, liberals deem it sufficient to say that The Rich are driving too many SUVs and that we should switch to alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power to ?protect the planet.? If that prevents our satellite networks and military forces from functioning, then well and good.
Alain reminds us that the potential energy stranglehold of enemies of the United States can be applied from plenty of locations in addition to the Middle East, in which Iraq is the geographical oil-source pivot.
$20, $30 A GALLON FOR GASOLINE?
By Alain ?Alain’s Newsletter
Oh, believe me, this could happen overnight in the very near future.
Right now, over 50% of all crude oil purchased by the Untied States is bought from countries who literally would like to see the US blown off the globe.
Let’s run down a little list, and you form your own conclusions.
One out of every two barrels of oil imported to the United States come from the following list of nations:
Islamist controlled country. Openly Hostile to the United states. Islamic leaders recently issued Fatwa saying it is ok to use nuclear weapons against its enemies.
Pretty much an Islamist controlled country. Currently we are at war in Iraq. Islam controls large portion of the country, and soon through elections will control all. Islamic leader just rejected the proposed constitution due to lack of Islamic law.
Islamist controlled country.
Islamic controlled country. Indirectly behind the war on terror with the United States, known to fund Islamic terror organizations that attack western nations. Homeland of Bin Laden and the majority of the men who flew planes into the towers.
Openly and extremely hostile towards the United States. President recent called for America?s overthrow, and recently pledged to raise an army of 1,000,000 soldiers to fight America.
Islamist controlled country
Islamist controlled country. Openly hostile towards America. Islamic militants recently stormed the US embassy. So hostile towards the west, that during tsunami relief, they delayed food and supply shipments to the needy people until they could change the labeling the packages, which originally said they were from the USA.
Islamist controlled country. Long history of out right hatred for the US and active history of terror attacks.
United Arab Emirates
Islamist controlled country. This is the money front man for the world Islamic front. They just bought the companies that control six US ports. Lobbying strongly in favor of Hamas currently.
Islamist controlled country. Long time partner with Libya and many terror organizations. Openly hostile towards the USA.
Islamist controlled country. Extremely hostile towards the USA. Currently threatening to use rockets to attack oil tankers heading for the USA. Islamic Militants have just taken US hostages.
Ok, so that is where we are buying half of our oil. These countries all have one other thing in common, other than out right hatred of the United states, they are part of a cartel called OPEC. So, as one unit they could easily turn off the oil to the USA overnight.
People in the US need to come to the understanding that America currently is not at war with a single country, political borders do not really apply in this new global age. We are at war with Islam. Islam controls the oil that runs our oil addicted country and economy.
What would happen if they turned off the oil?
Overnight gasoline prices would skyrocket, supplies would disappear in a couple weeks.
After several weeks of the increased oil and gasoline prices the stock market would most likely have a crash to make the great depression look like fun times.
Gasoline is needed to move products around our country. Prices on everything from tomatoes to toothpicks would go up in price by factors of ten.
People would be losing their jobs right and left. You live in the suburbs? Have to commute to your job? Imagine going to work with Gas costing $20 a gallon? People would save money by NOT going to work.
Companies would be closing right and left. They could not afford to buy materials, they could not afford to ship product. They could not afford to pay employees.
In one fell swoop, Islam could crush the American economy and force us to our knees.
You really think they would never do this? Think about it. These are the people who have no qualms about sending children with explosives strapped to their chests out to blow themselves up to kill a few “non-muslim” civilians.
These are the people who are burning buildings, burning churches, storming sovereign countries embassies, killing people right and left in an ongoing firestorm of hate spanning multiple weeks over a few cartoons that depicted Islam as a violent entity.
Think about it.
You should also think about what this organization called OPEC, which sets the prices so to speak on oil for the world, is doing with all this incredible profit is has been making off the United States. $3 to produce a barrel of oil, $70 for an American to buy it. That is a lot of money going to arm the enemies of America. This is how the president of Venezuela is paying to build up a 1,000,000 man army to battle with the United States.
Our addiction to oil is not only Islam’s greatest weapon against us, it is the very means of Islam gaining the strength to grow and attack us so indiscriminately.