The View From 1776
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Democrats Consider the Fascist Option
Democrats, committed to the theory that only the political state can improve people’s lives, explore ways to deliver on campaign promises.
David Wessel writes in the November 30 edition of the Wall Street journal (here, if you’re an online subscriber):
In campaign rhetoric, Democrats raised expectations they would do more than Republicans to boost wages and living standards of ordinary Americans…...Now Democrats have to deliver, or at least look like they’re trying.
......Democrats, [Gene Sperling, a Democratic cabinet-secretary-in-waiting] says, must figure out what government can do to encourage business to create more middle-class jobs in the U.S.
......[Robert Reich, the former Clinton labor secretary], recites a familiar list: trade policy, industrial policy—government attempts to influence the flow of capital toward promising industries and companies—antitrust, publicly financed research and development, and stronger trade unions.
The sorts of policies advocated by Mr. Reich are what led us to economic and social disaster in the 1930s and again in the 1960s and 70s. Those policies are also essential elements in the economic doctrine of Mussolini’s and Hitler’s Fascism.
In both Italian Fascism and German National Socialism, the political state had the last word in establishing wages, hours, production volumes, and sale prices of goods. Unlike Soviet Communism, Fascism left property ownership in its original hands, recognizing that regulatory control was sufficient to carry out political and economic policies. Labor unions remained in existence and were strengthened vis a vis industrialists, and farmers were assured higher prices.
In common with the left-wing liberals of the Democratic Party, Fascists believed that private individuals and private business counted for little, if anything, in the creation of jobs and the necessary production of society’s goods and services. People’s lives and livelihoods were viewed as the creation of the political state, which therefore had the last word in regulating human activity.
President Franklin Roosevelt, in his first inaugural address of March 4, 1933, put it this way:
Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily, this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind?s goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence??Our greatest primary task is to put people to work?It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of war??Hand in hand with this, we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population in our industrial centers and, by engaging on a national scale in the redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the land for those best fitted for the land.?It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definite public character?if we are to go forward we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of the common discipline, because, without such discipline, no progress is made?We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good.?With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people, dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.?
We already know from Democrats’ campaign rhetoric that, for starters, they intend to fix wages and to jack up income tax rates.
Why Democrats repeatedly come back to this Fascist program is one of politics’ great puzzlements. It failed miserably, first under Franklin Roosevelt, then under Lyndon Johnson.
Under Roosevelt, from 1933 until our entry into World War II in 1941, unemployment never averaged less than triple the level prevailing today. Economic activity remained stagnant for eight dreary years. Not until the 1950s did the stock market, the best single index of economic activity, regain its 1929 level.
Businessmen in the 1930s were frightened by Roosevelt’s continual attacks on them as “economic royalists” and his tripling income tax rates into the 70+ percent range. Federal planners never stopped tinkering with new plans, bureaus, taxes, and regulations, which made increased production and new hiring by private business a chancy undertaking. The National Recovery Administration (NRA) implemented an almost exact copy of Mussolini’s Fascist State Corporatism, with industry councils of producers and labor unions directed by Federal regulators. Wages, prices, and production quotas were to be controlled by NRA administrators. Farm production was nationalized, with prices fixed by Federal regulators and farmers told what and how much they could raise.
Repetition of the Roosevelt’s Fascist policies under the Great Society of the 1960s and 70s produced the second greatest economic and social disaster in our history. We no longer had the NRA State Corporatism, but the numbers of Federal regulations climbed into the millions, while spreading to cover an ever-widening array of activity, all under an exploding list of new Federal agencies. Fascist-socialistic income redistribution reached unprecedented heights with the Great Society’s vast array of welfare hand-out entitlements and with the replacement of equal opportunity under the law by affirmative action.
Inflation soared into the 20 percent range, causing families to lose more than half the purchasing power of their life savings. Unemployment became a major problem, and manufacturing companies shut down across the industrial Midwest, turning it into the Rust Bowl. Men began “moonlighting” (holding two and three jobs) and the rate of women’s participation in the full-time workforce roughly doubled, both just to make enough money to pay the rent and buy groceries.
Over the coming months, remember that when San Francisco and Harlem socialists lay out their aims, no matter what they promise, they are once again planning to push us off the economic cliff, further into Fascist State Corporatism.
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Columnist Thomas Sowell spotlights the yawning gulf between liberal deeds and liberal pretensions of moral superiority.
Everett Sherrett emailed an article by Thomas Sowell titled Who Really Cares? The entire piece can be accessed at the Jewish World Review website.
Professor Sowell writes, in part:
One of the most pervasive political visions of our time is the vision of liberals as compassionate and conservatives as less caring. It is liberals who advocate “forgiveness” of loans to Third World countries, a “living wage” for the poor and a “safety net” for all.
?But these are all government policies ? not individual acts of compassion ? and the actual empirical consequences of such policies are of remarkably little interest to those who advocate them.
.......People who identify themselves as conservatives donate money to charity more often than people who identify themselves as liberals. They donate more money and a higher percentage of their incomes.
?It is not that conservatives have more money. Liberal families average 6 percent higher incomes than conservative families.
?You may recall a flap during the 2000 election campaign when the fact came out that Al Gore donated a smaller percentage of his income to charity than the national average. That was perfectly consistent with his liberalism.
?So is the fact that most of the states that voted for John Kerry during the 2004 election donated a lower percentage of their incomes to charity than the states that voted for George W. Bush.
..... Conservatives not only donate more money to charity than liberals do, conservatives volunteer more time as well. More conservatives than liberals also donate blood.
.... Those on the left proclaimed their moral superiority in the 18th century and they continue to proclaim it in the 21st century. What is remarkable is how long it took for anyone to put that belief to the test ? and how completely it failed that test.
?The two visions are different in another way. The vision of the left exalts the young especially as idealists while the more conservative vision warns against the narrowness and shallowness of the inexperienced. This study found young liberals to make the least charitable contributions of all, whether in money, time or blood. Idealism in words is not idealism in deeds.
The point about the young is especially troubling. We are seeing the bitter fruit of nearly a century of teaching by our colleges and universities, which were increasingly undermined, and now dominated, by atheistic, socialistic teaching staffs.
The Old Testament records what happens when people turn away from God.
Without God’s help, perhaps through a new Great Religious Awakening, our nation is doomed to being overrun by callow, ignorant, anti-American college graduates who care only about personal debauchery, who believe that fighting for our national survival is a crime against humanity.
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For a foretaste of what happens when a nation is riven by deep cultural divisions, look northward to Canada. Their split between French Quebec and the rest of Canada is an analog of our struggle for the soul of the United States against the liberal jihadists.
One of my favorites, John Lawrence’s Conservative Joe website, reports the latest in decades-long maneuvering by French Canadians to subvert the Canadian nation and align themselves with their Continental French, socialist forebears.
See the November 24 posting titled Duceppe Gets Sideswiped.
Canada, like the United States, tends, albeit more strongly, toward liberal-socialism, with conservative governments in power only episodically. In the United States we suffer from the continual assaults by liberal-socialist-progressives against the Judeo-Christian moral foundations of our nation. In Canada the Gallic eastern province of Quebec wages continual cultural war against everything English, from language to spiritual religion.
Thus are civil wars born.
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Monday, November 27, 2006
Compromise vs Moral Relativism
Between the Constitution as written and the liberal paradigm, no compromise is possible. Every concession to liberal policies entails sacrificing individual political liberty.
When people share common principles, compromise is possible. But when the founding principles of society, expressed in the Constitution, are attacked by liberal moral relativists bent upon destroying those principles, acceding to their demands is, not compromise, but surrender.
For that reason, demands by liberal media and by voters that Congress compromise and “get something done” are really demands that we continue slowly to dismantle the Constitution. The analogy is to heat yourself in the winter by tearing your house down, piece by piece, to burn in the fireplace.
The Constitution created a government of limited power for a religious and moral people. Political power was to be curbed by citizens’ God-given, inalienable, natural-law individual rights to life, liberty, and private property. As the English Glorious Revolution of 1689 established, when a ruler arbitrarily contravenes those rights, he has broken the social compact and thereby forfeited his right to rule.
The paradigm of American liberal-progressive-socialists, in diametric contrast, is an authoritarian government that has both the right and the duty to determine how people should live their lives and even what thoughts are to be permitted expression in education and public forums. In the government envisioned by liberals, the “public good,” as defined by liberals, always trumps individual rights.
In this liberal paradigm, political-state planners are the source of economic and social well-being. The welfare state is thought to be essential, because private individuals and private businesses are, according to liberal theory, incapable of doing the job.
Liberals are atheists or agnostics (or people who, in ignorance, believe themselves to be Christians) who believe that Judeo-Christian religious beliefs should be eliminated from government and education. Many liberals insist that the First Amendment’s ban on establishing an official religion means that the United States should be free from spiritual religion altogether. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., our first socialist Supreme Court member, wrote that morality should play no role in the law. This, despite Tocqueville’s observation in 1832 that Christianity was the most influential single factor in America’s uniquely successful republican democracy.
At the same time that individual political liberties are steadily curtailed, liberalism advocates no-holds-barred personal hedonism. Liberals want an amoral society that accepts, even welcomes, foul language, flouting social custom, abortion, sexual promiscuity, same-sex marriage, and an endless list of things designed to corrode and erode the social compact upon which the Constitution was based. Imposing hedonism, usually by judicial fiat, is a curtailment of individual political liberty.
Compromise with liberals thus necessitates accepting moral relativism, the idea that there are no timeless, religious or philosophical principles of morality flowing from the relationship between humans and God, the Creator of the universe. One might as well say the 2 + 2 = 4 applies as a principle only when that answer serves the interests of the observer.
Historically, political societies that abandoned their early core beliefs and pursued the course of moral relativism thereafter fell victim to outside aggressors or slowly declined in economic well-being. Not content with that inevitability, liberals want to accelerate the process by subordinating the Constitution to so-called international law and a world government under the UN.
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Saturday, November 25, 2006
Truth vs Moral Relativism
The liberal media denounce Pope Benedict’s adherence to Biblical and historical truth as rigidity. They want pragmatism and flexibility, which amounts to moral relativism.
Pope Benedict and Christianity stand accused of “divisiveness.”
Liberals, along with Muslims, denounced the Pope last September when he spoke at the University of Regensburg. The New York Times demanded an apology for his lack of sensitivity.
What exactly had he done?
As reported in a VOA News article by Sabina Castelfranco, Pope Benedict XVI?spoke of Islam and violence. At a morning mass, he rejected the use of God’s name to justify hatred and fanaticism.
In a theological address to academics at Regensburg University, the pope spoke of the relationship between faith and reason and Islam’s holy war, Jihad. Historically, he said, spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable and therefore, ungodly.
This so distressed Muslims that they were driven to murder Catholic nuns and priests and to destroy Christian churches to prove that Islam is not a religion of violence.
Now, with the Pope’s forthcoming journey to Turkey for discussions with Islamic mullahs, the media have another opportunity to chastise Christians. The Wall Street Journal, in its edition of November 25, 2006, spotlights the Pope’s forthrightness in a front-page, feature article by Gabriel Kahn and Stacy Meichtry.
The Journal article’s headline is A Tumultuous World Tests a Rigid Pope: Inside the Vatican, Benedict’s intellect and style intimidate. How will they play outside the Church? Confronting Muslim anger. If you are an online Journal subscriber, read the article here.
The reporters observe disapprovingly, Nineteen months after being selected pope, Benedict is transforming the Vatican with a different style and a different stance. Beneath his blunt words and rigid style lies a profound divergence from John Paul’s buoyant optimism. Pope Benedict believes that the Roman Catholic Church must stand apart from the world of today rather than embrace it.
..... For Benedict, the modern age is defined by growing secularism in the West and the rise of religious fanaticism most everywhere else. In order to fulfill its mission, he believes, the Church needs to shun both forces. Benedict is “pessimistic about the compatibility of the Church and the modern world,” says Mr. Spaemann.
.... Benedict’s emphasis on tradition risks alienating a broad cross-section of Catholics who argue the Church needs to become more accessible to maintain its increasingly diverse flock.
Many people mistakenly assume that, because the Journal’s editorial staff is conservative, the Journal’s news staff are similarly aligned. This front page article is a good example, both of the Journal’s liberal slant on news coverage, and of present-day moral relativism in action.
Implicit in the article is the viewpoint that there is no such thing as truth, no such thing as right or wrong. The writers have absorbed the relativistic view inculcated in today’s colleges and universities that flexibility and pragmatism, other names for moral relativism, ought to be the sole criteria for belief and action. Adherence to the truth is characterized as impractical rigidity.
Flexibility and pragmatism were the watchwords of John Dewey, the 20th century’s most influential liberal-socialist-progressive. The doctrine of Pragmatism which he popularized was that Darwin’s evolutionary hypothesis had proved everything to be continually changing and evolving. Thus there can be no such thing as permanent moral truth from God, rooted in human nature, because there is no such thing as fixed human nature. Pragmatism, instead, teaches that there are only actions that get you what you want, or fail to do so, in changing circumstances; the end justifies the means.
In the vein of Dewey’s philosophical pragmatism, the Journal reporters simply assume that the goal of Christian churches ought to be maximizing their membership by reaching a doctrinal compromise that would alienate the fewest people. It seems not to have occurred to them that a Christian church has no purpose other than preaching the New Testament Gospel as written. Without that, there is no Christian church.
Flexibility and pragmatism are the hallmarks of a society that no longer believes in itself, because it has lost touch with the traditions that brought the society into being and enabled it to survive against outside aggressors. They are the hallmarks of societies in political decline.
Flexibility and pragmatism, as Professor James Q. Wilson wrote in astonishment, led his students to reject the judgment that Hitler’s National Socialism and his Holocaust were evil, because those students had been taught that right and wrong are unscientific value judgments.
If Pope Benedict’s allegiance to Biblical Truth alienates a broad cross-section of the Church’s diverse flock, the logical conclusion is both that the alienated portion of the flock is not truly Christian, and that some Catholic priests have drifted into heretical doctrine and taught falsehood to their parishioners. Unfortunately, the same is true of the Protestant denominations, as well.
Compromises on Jesus’s teachings, Sunday morning entertainment, and feel-good messages are not Christianity. Preaching the Bible’s truth is the only way to bring individuals into a fruitful relationship with God and the only way to maintain the integrity of Christianity.
To do otherwise would be the equivalent of instructing Marine Corps volunteers in boot camp that Semper Fidelis is the motto of the Corps, but it isn’t necessary always to be faithful to your buddies in combat and to fight for each other if you have a different opinion or just don’t feel comfortable with the history and traditions of the Corps.
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Friday, November 24, 2006
McCain Pain [Revised]
McCain Pain, posted November 14, 2006, was revised by the writer, November 24, 2006. She writes “I have made three slight, but important, changes that further explain how he is outside the mainstream conservative Republican?arena in his home state.”
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Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Democrats, the Fed, and Milton Friedman
Liberal Democrats are economic ignoramuses and they hope that the voters are too.
Neither the Democratic Party left wing, nor the Fed has learned the fundamental truth documented by the late Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz in A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960.
Mr. Friedman, who died November 16, 2006, effectively eviscerated Keynesian economics, which was the academic foundation of New Deal socialistic statism and remained the economic orthodoxy of the Democratic Party after World War II.
One of Professor Friedman’s messages is that, when the government attempts to regulate the economy it almost always does more harm than good. Another is that the economy will grow faster and more steadily when the Fed acts to keep the money supply in a stable relationship to GDP. This promotes price stability, i.e., the absence of inflation.
The real economy grows and more jobs are created, not as a consequence of management by government planners, but because private businesses make long-term investments to produce more goods and services. As we saw in the 1930s Depression, businesses don’t make long-term investments when taxes are being raised, inflation is rampant, and they are continually harassed by harmful rounds of government regulations.
Nonetheless, within the last few days the press has been full of reports that the liberal-progressive-socialists in the Democratic Party intend to impose a new, state-planning straitjacket for the economy to narrow the gap between top and bottom income groups.
To do as they propose, Democrats must be willfully ignorant of the economic surges from tax cuts by presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and George W. Bush. They must also deny the disintegration of the economy and of American society produced by President Lyndon Johnson’ Great Society, the most extreme degree of socialistic planning yet imposed upon us.
The announced aims of liberal Democratic committee chairmen amounts to grave-digging to exhume the old Keyesian hypothesis that private business can never raise production enough to create full employment at acceptable wages, that only government welfare-state spending can do that.
English economist John Maynard Keynes and his Harvard economics department acolyte Alvin Hansen were primary sources of these now discredited socialistic policies that exacerbated an ordinary recession into eight years of the Great Depression under President Franklin Roosevelt, a period when, at its lowest, unemployment never averaged less than three times today’s level under President George W. Bush.
Twenty years later, confident that they finally had deciphered the gnostic content of history, Keynesian liberal economists declared that the new era of permanent prosperity was at hand. Within months their hubris, and the economy, collapsed. We were mired deeply in the worst economic conditions since the Depression: the stagflation of the 1970s, with its large-scale unemployment, bankrupt manufacturing businesses in what became the Midwestern “rust bowl,” and the worst inflation in our history. Men were forced to “moonlight” with two or three jobs and mothers were forced into the full-time workforce, just to pay the rent and grocery bills.
Never forget that our two worst economic and social periods ? the Depression and the 1970s stagflation ? were caused by liberals’ social engineering.
Following the Friedman prescription, President Reagan after 1980 revitalized our moribund economy by trying to get government off people’s backs. He cut taxes, curbed unions’ self-centered power to paralyze industrial production, reduced regulation, and took the political heat to stop inflation.
President Reagan stood behind the Fed’s new Chairman Paul Volcker, who understood Professor Friedman’s demonstration that inflation is no more than too much money chasing too few goods and services, that the way to curb inflation is to control the money supply.
In a PBS interview in more recent years, Mr. Volcker described it this way:
Well, the Federal Reserve had been attempting to deal with the inflation for some time, but I think in the 1970s, in past hindsight, anyway, [it] got behind the curve. It’s always hard to raise interest rates.
By the time I became chairman and there was more of a feeling of urgency, there was a willingness to accept more forceful measures to try to deal with the inflation. And we adopted an approach of doing it perhaps more directly, by saying, “We’ll take the emphasis off of interest rates and put the emphasis on the growth in the money supply, which is at the root cause of inflation” - too much money chasing too few goods ?- “so we’ll attack the too-much-money part of the equation and we will stop the money supply from increasing as rapidly as it was.”
And that led to a squeeze on the money markets and a squeeze on interest rates, and interest rates went up a lot. But we didn’t do it by saying, “We think the appropriate level of interest rates is X.” We said, “We think the appropriate level of the money supply or the appropriate rate of the money supply is X, and we’ll take whatever consequences that means for the interest rate because that will enable us to get inflation under control, and at that point interest rates will come down,” which, of course, eventually is what happened.
Since then the Fed has reverted to the old, completely discredited Keynesian belief that government planners can fine-tune the economy in order to attain full employment, price stability, steady GDP growth, all while expanding the money supply essentially without limit to finance ever-growing welfare-state expenditures and Congress’s massive pork-barreling.
The Fed officially acknowledges that it has abandoned Chairman Volcker’s policy of controlling the money supply in order to reduce and to forestall inflation. A 1997 policy memorandum titled Understanding Open Market Operations, published by the New York Federal Reserve Bank, states the following:
As the nation?s central bank, the Federal Reserve System is responsible for formulating and implementing monetary policy. The formulation of monetary policy involves developing a plan aimed at pursuing the goals of stable prices, full employment and, more generally, a stable financial environment for the economy. In implementing that plan, the Federal Reserve uses the tools of monetary policy to induce changes in interest rates, and the amount of money and credit in the economy. Through these financial variables, monetary policy actions influence, albeit with considerable time lags, the levels of spending, output, employment and prices.
The formulation of monetary policy has undergone significant shifts over the years. In the early 1980s, for example, the Federal Reserve placed special emphasis on objectives for the monetary aggregates as policy guides for indicating the state of the economy and for stabilizing the price level. Since that time, however, ongoing and far-reaching changes in the financial system have reduced the usefulness of the monetary aggregates as policy guides. As a consequence, monetary policy plans must be based on a much broader array of indicators.
Translation: instead of focusing on maintaining sound money by controlling the money supply, the Fed’s liberal-economics brain-trusters can’t resist presuming to control the entire economy.
This, at the same time that Democrats aim to re-impose Keynesian socialism via raising taxes, fixing wages, and grossing up welfare spending by nationalizing health care under socialized medicine.
Look for inflation to surge while business tanks.
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Monday, November 20, 2006
Thanksgiving: Who Made Us?
The modern, self-made man looks into the mirror and sees his god: himself. Our forebears were considerably wiser.
In our present-day secular world, students are taught in public schools that whether we live well or ill is dependent upon the intellectual planners of the political state. Government is thought to be the creator of jobs and necessarily the provider of all our basic needs.
Until the 20th century, in the United States only a handful of Ivy League professors believed such nonsense.
For thousands of years before the 20th century, human society in the Western world steadily became more humane, and living standards improved, entirely under the impetus of the Judeo-Christian Biblical traditions expressed in Christianity. The impulse toward humaneness comes from individuals acknowledging God’s will. It came from the slowly advancing recognition that even the ruler is subject to the higher law of God-given morality.
Such progress has been reversed since the emergence of socialism out of the havoc of the French Revolution in 1789. The intellectual progenitors of today’s liberal-socialist-progressives proclaimed that God was dead and announced that unaided human Reason was the new god. Since then technology has made great leaps, but no prior age ever witnessed the 20th century’s slaughter of tens of millions of citizens by their own rulers in the name of an abstraction called “humanity.”
No prior age ever witnessed the phenomenon of the 1930s, when American intellectuals applauded the Soviet Union’s liquidation of more than fifteen million Russian citizens, with the “compassionate” judgment that “making an omelette necessitates breaking a few eggs,” that human progress requires unspeakable brutality.
Jeff Lukens reminds us what Thanksgiving is really all about.
By Jeff Lukens
Thanksgiving is a chance to gather with loved ones and share in a time-honored American tradition. For some, it is an excuse to stuff themselves with turkey and football. For others, it is a special time of “giving thanks” for blessings in their lives.
One may ask, “thanks to whom?” Well, thanks to God, of course. Never before has the question been difficult to answer. Perhaps we should consider that America’s blessings of prosperity, freedom, justice, peace and opportunity. They are gifts from a mighty and gracious God. These days, however, the preeminence of God may look more like a matter of opinion.
Clearly, this was not the Pilgrims’ view. They had come to this land in 1620, not to escape God, but to find Him in His fullness. They bowed their heads in acknowledgment of His power and grace. To them, He was the one and only truth.
In front of them was a desolate wilderness in a harsh Massachusetts winter. Behind them was a vast ocean that separated them from the rest of civilization.
Before starting their new lives, they made a covenant with God written in the Mayflower Compact. They had come to form a colony for the “glory of God.” In return, they would receive His protection and blessings in this new land. That bond, of their faithfulness and His blessings, would be the key to their survival.
After the first harvest was completed in 1621, Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer, and so the holiday was born. During a period of drought in 1623, a day of fasting was changed to thanksgiving when during their prayers it began to rain.
They understood what gratitude to the Almighty is about. “Instead of famine, now God gave them plenty,” Gov. Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.”
An informal custom evolved in New England over the years of annually celebrating thanksgiving after the harvest. In 1863, President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as an official national day of Thanksgiving.
Like the Pilgrims, President Lincoln believed America’s prosperity was not the result of our own making. “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things,” he wrote. “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
Lincoln asked Americans to set aside time “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” We would give thanks for the blessings God had granted us, “solemnly, reverently and gratefully . . . as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”
Lincoln’s words might seem a bit old-fashioned today. No doubt, some would argue they violate the separation between church and state.
Yet, in millions of homes across the nation, people will still thank the Lord for many gifts; for health and good fortune in the year gone by; for the feast on the table and the companionship of loved ones; for living in America.
The Bible says in Deuteronomy, “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.”
Living in a land of freedom, and the prosperity it makes possible, is an extraordinary gift. By the grace of God, America is a society in which more people enjoy more liberty and more prosperity than has ever been known at any time and anywhere in history. There is no better time than Thanksgiving to express our gratefulness for these blessings.
Jeff Lukens is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc., a non-profit (501c3) coalition of writers and grass-roots media outlets. He can be contacted through his website at http://www.jefflukens.com
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Friday, November 17, 2006
What Pelosi Stands For
Far-left liberals like Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi decry “tax cuts for the rich.” But their policies do much to help the rich and harm the poor.
Reading Thomas Sowell’s column written four years ago offers insights into the meaning of the term “San Francisco liberal.”
Liberalism is crude hypocrisy to the extent that liberals really understand the effects of their doctrine. The best that can be said for them is that they are ignorant of economics.
Liberals like Senator Ted Kennedy are the sort of people who pat themselves on the back for doubling an addict’s dose of heroin, because they are “sensitive” to his suffering.
November 14, 2002
A San Francisco liberal
Now that Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is becoming the Democrats’ House minority leader, she is being celebrated as the first woman to hold such a high post. But she is also being described as a “San Francisco liberal”—which she definitely is.
What do San Francisco liberals do? They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so just look at the picture on page 58 of the October 28 issue of Fortune magazine. It shows a small, nondescript wooden house, wedged in between two other houses on a street in San Francisco. The caption reads: “Is this house worth $1.2 million?”
San Francisco liberals, like liberals across the country, spend a lot of time talking and wringing their hands about the need for “affordable housing.” Yet, wherever liberals have been politically dominant housing prices are most unaffordable.
Liberals proclaim their concern and compassion for minorities and people with low incomes. Yet these are precisely the people who are being forced out of places like San Francisco, which has the highest rents of any city in the country.
The black population of San Francisco went down 15 percent between the 1990 census and the 2000 census. The number of children in San Francisco has also gone down, since people young enough to have children can seldom afford San Francisco housing.
Despite liberals’ professed concern for the poor, San Francisco is increasingly dominated by the affluent. It has the highest average income of any city in the country.
That is not necessarily because San Francisco employers are more generous. People who work in San Francisco, but are not paid high salaries, are likely to be living outside the city—sometimes far outside—and commuting to work.
All these things might be considered to be just unfortunate coincidences, if the same patterns did not appear time and time again, in other places where liberals have ruled the roost for years on end, whether in San Francisco or elsewhere. You can see the same thing in elite college towns like Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as in Berkeley across the bay from San Francisco or in Palo Alto, adjacent to Stanford University.
How do liberals manage to leave so much economic and social havoc in their wake, all the while feeling good about themselves and proclaiming their compassion for the poor, minorities, children and others? Economic illiteracy helps, but liberals are also tied in with environmental zealots who promote sweeping bans on the building of housing, using lovely phrases like “open space” and “protecting the environment.”
Since housing is subject to supply and demand, like everything else, stifling the supply is enough to cause home prices and apartment rents to shoot up out of sight. History shows clearly that it was not demand which caused the explosive increase in California housing prices that began in the 1970s.
During the decade of the 1970s, when home prices quadrupled in Palo Alto, for example, the population of that city actually declined slightly. The number of children declined so much that several schools in Palo Alto had to be closed.
It wasn’t demand that drove the prices up because the average increase in income in California was less than in the rest of the country during the decade when the state pulled way ahead of the rest of the country in the prices of its homes and apartments.
Why did housing prices go up then? Because this was the decade when severe land use restrictions spread through those places in California where liberals were politically dominant. Only in the remaining parts of California could you still find the “affordable housing” that liberals talked so much about.
In recent years, the closing down of military bases has left great expanses of prime land, with magnificent views, available in and around San Francisco. If all this land could be auctioned off on the open market for the building of housing, it could enrich the city, wipe out the housing shortage and bring down rents and home prices. But congressional liberals and San Francisco liberals have made that impossible.
So long as Nancy Pelosi remains in the congressional minority, the rest of the country may escape the effects of San Francisco liberalism. But if such people are ever in the majority, look out!
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Thursday, November 16, 2006
Old Testament tribulations of Judah and Israel, the 19th century events that set the stage for British decline as a world power, and the current state of affairs in the United States have worrisome similarities. All three peoples turned away from God and vaunted their own intellectual powers.
In the Old Testament books of Judges and 1st and 2nd Kings, as well as the numerous books of the prophets, the repeated message to rulers and to the people is that turning away from God to worship idols, whether of man-made gods or of wealth and power, always led to disaster at the hands of foreign aggressors.
A society in which individuals and rulers failed to deal justly with the poor, the widows, and the orphans, a society in which the rulers failed to pray to God for guidance, was a society that disintegrated from internal rot.
England, while it was a united Christian nation, became the greatest commercial power on earth and the nation with the greatest degree of individual political liberty. That began to fall apart by the middle of the 19th century, when the materialistic doctrines of atheism and agnosticism began their rise to dominance in intellectual and political life.
Following the same pattern, while still a nation united under God, the United States grew rapidly, both in population and industrial production, to eclipse England by the end of the 19th century. Only a couple of decades later, the Godless doctrine of socialistic materialism had completely infected our major universities, ultimately corrupting our youth.
Today we have a nation unified by little other than selfish pursuit of sensual gratification, one whose entertainers’ and politicians’ stock-in-trade is ridicule of the Judeo-Christian founding traditions of our nation. President Bush is pilloried as a dangerous, evangelical nut, because he seeks guidance and peace of mind in prayer to God.
Just as England began to decline from its world dominance in the late 19th century, essentially giving up the struggle by the end of the First World War, the United States is poised for decline into the fecklessness of the old Western European powers. Unless God grants us a new Great Awakening of religious consciousness, and we turn back to personal morality and individual responsibility, we will continue to rot and become easy prey for foreign aggressors.
The history of 19th century England is, in spiritual terms, a close parallel to 20th century events in the United States.
After the American War of Independence, before 1870, English statesmen viewed overseas empire as something to be disposed of as quickly as practicalities allowed. However naive it seems to us today, Englishmen in the 17th century saw the Royal Navy’s opening trade to the world as a way to bring the benefits of civilization to backward peoples and to spread the Word of God through missionary societies.
Historian Paul Johnson’s A History of the English People gives us an excellent, comprehensive overview of this period. Around 1800 the four great overseas Christian missionary societies had been formed. In 1833 England became the first nation to outlaw slavery, and the ban applied throughout the British Empire. Johnson notes, Indeed, it was possible, at that time , to foresee the culmination of the Empire in universal self-government not in a remote future, but in a matter of decades. The Empire was cultural, not military.” After the Indian Mutiny of 1857, “[Historian Thomas] Macaulay predicted that the moment when the Indians, ‘having become instructed in European knowledge….demand European institutions’ would be the proudest day in English history.”
Those noble sentiments began to change. The doctrine of atheistic materialism which imbued socialism and Auguste Comte’s Religion of Humanity began its insidious seduction of England’s intellectuals and ultimately its politicians.
An opening wedge was Jeremy Bentham’s works on the philosophical doctrine of Utilitarianism, among the first of which was published in 1789, the year of the French Revolution. After being taken up by his disciple James Mill in the 1820s and 30s, Utilitarianism become widely influential.
Utilitarianism was based on the wholly materialistic hypothesis that humans are merely mechanical receptors of pleasure and pain. Judeo-Christian morality played no part in Utilitarian calculations.
Government administrators, according to the hypothesis, were able to structure regulations that would employ pleasure and pain to channel human activity into patterns that would produce the greatest good for the greatest number. Intellectuals, of course, would be the ones to calculate what constituted the greatest good for the greatest number. One glaring problem was that Utilitarians, rejecting God and the dimension of human spirituality, measured societal good only in terms of material goods. In these respects, Utilitarianism is essentially indistinguishable from socialism.
One of Bentham’s early collaborators was Robert Owen, who generally is regarded as the founder of English socialism. Owen organized socialistically-managed communities in the UK and in the United States. The latter, New Harmony, Indiana, was a complete failure and was abandoned by its first residents. Owen’s A New View of Society (1813) espoused the materialistic thesis that human character is entirely a product of physical environmental factors, a doctrine that Karl Marx was to adopt twenty years later.
Along with James Mill in the 1830s, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels began their voluminous writings to support the communistic version of socialism. Their Communist Manifesto was published in England in 1848.
In 1859, both John Stuart Mill and Charles Darwin published their works advocating moral relativism.
J. S. Mill’s On Liberty rejected the idea that society should have common standards of decency and morality emanating from Christianity. All ideas and modes of behavior ought to enjoy equal tolerance by society, Mill opined.
Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was, as he wrote in his autobiography, motivated by a desire to discredit the"damnable” doctrine of Christianity. His great intellectual champion Thomas Huxley preached that evolution proved that there was no such thing as sin, no such thing as right or wrong. There was merely the struggle for survival.
By 1870, when premier art critic John Ruskin gave his inaugural lecture at Oxford, Darwin’s hypothesis had been taken up by materialists under the rubric of Social Darwinism, one implication of which was that the stronger races of humanity deserved to rule the world. Ruskin earlier had abandoned his Christian upbringing and become a promoter of the misnamed Christian Socialism, which aimed to change traditional Christian charity from a personal moral obligation into a political responsibility of state planners.
Paul Johnson quotes Ruskin’s lecture: There is a destiny now possible to us, the highest ever set before a nation….We are still undegenerate in race; a race mingled of the best northern blood….[England] must found colonies as fast and as far as she is able…and their first aim is to be to advance the power of England by land and sea…
This sentiment obviously is a complete reversal of the Christian missionary view of England’s role only forty years earlier. No longer was the aim to bring the benefits of civilization to more primitive societies and equip them for enlightened self-government. It was to be political and economic domination of those societies for the economic benefit of a supposedly superior English race.
England’s declining economic fortunes gave political impetus to Ruskin’s widely read and influential views.
After our Civil War, which coincided with Bismarck’s creation of the German Empire, American and German manufactures were increasingly cheaper and often of better quality than those of England’s small and, by then, outmoded factories. Our vast network of railroads opened Midwest farm production to world markets, decimating English farming. A large portion of England’s population found themselves unemployed as a result, much as is true with American manufacturing today, for the same reasons of international competition.
Creation of an overseas empire appeared to English politicians to be a handy economic solution. The new empire was to create a self-contained trading universe, insulated from American and German competition, in which the colonies would have no choice but to buy English manufactures. In the United States today, many urge the same sort of solution via high tariff walls.
In this, one can see an example of the inherent vulnerability of atheistic socialism to tyranny. As early as 1870, but for the enduring common sense of the English people, the world might have witnessed a first run of Lenin’s liquidation of millions of dissidents “for the benefit of humanity.” The same drive towards economic insulation via territorial dominance was to appear in the 1930s with Hitler’s National Socialism.
With English intellectuals and politicians increasingly under the sway of the atheistic materialism of Continental socialism, and Christian morality correspondingly in decline, few people raised scruples against the need to employ military force to acquire and to dominate the new colonies.
Unforeseen was the extent of foreign policy consequences. In the past, the British Isles had been untouched by endless Continental border skirmishes among contending national powers, having no common boundaries with any of them. This enabled England to stand apart from those nationalistic wars and to throw its military and economic weight to the weaker powers whenever one nation threatened to dominate the Continent. England’s foreign policy traditionally had been to maintain a balance of power to deter military aggression.
But after the late-Victorian creation of the new British Empire, covering roughly a quarter of the entire globe, England had common frontiers everywhere with competing European empires.
The old England would have had no need to become a direct participant in the First World War with Germany. By 1914, however, the British Imperial General Staff had for many years established military coordination plans with the French. When Germany attacked Belgium, England was unable to play her independent foreign policy role of past decades. She was committed to declare war against Germany, a war that killed and maimed more than a million young Englishmen, along with comparable numbers of young men from all parts of the Empire.
England emerged from World War I deeply in debt, having sold off much of her assets to fiance her participation in the catastrophic war. She never fully recovered economically or militarily. The way was opened for takeover of the government by the socialists. By the 1950s, England, once the greatest power in the world, was condescendingly dismissed as the “sick man of Europe.” Not until Margaret Thatcher’s government, with its reemphasis upon individual responsibility, did England begin to climb out of the socialistic swamp.
In retrospect it’s clear that England’s fall from Grace resulted from its abandonment of God and its turning to worship of the political state exalted by the atheistic and materialistic religion of socialism.
The path of the United States since the beginning of Franklin Roosevelt’s administration in 1933 has followed the same course.