The View From 1776
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Is liberal self-contradiction deliberate, or the result of ignorance?
Liberal labor union supporters speak of promoting human welfare by opposing free trade. But the evidence shows that free trade has greatly improved the lot of citizens in countries exporting to the United States.
The problem within the United States is not loss of jobs in total, but the loss of jobs in heavily unionized, therefore over-paid sectors of the economy that were able to free-load on the rest of the nation before foreign competition became a reality.
Liberals have hooked the free-trade issue into opposition to globalization, the latter being only indirectly related to the former. Globalization ? the dispersion of a corporation’s activities around the globe to optimize economic efficiency ? is not a necessary implication of free trade. Globalization is rather a phenomenon of instantaneous satellite communications systems and the transition of human activity into a more heavily technological age.
Labor unions deliberately conflate the two as a way to deflect full scrutiny from their purely selfish desire to increase union membership, no matter what the cost to everyone else. If free-trade can be tarred as a new form of colonialism that oppresses people for no motive other than corporate profits, then labor unions can climb upon the pseudo “moral” high ground of liberal-Progressive-socialism.
In liberal-Progressive-socialistic doctrine, of course, profit is an evil word. The very idea that someone would expect to make a profit as an incentive to risk his own savings and livelihood in entrepreneurial activity is unconscionable greed to liberals.
The seamy underbelly of anti-globalism is typified by mass protests that illogically attempt to link globalization with political oppression. A few examples:
From an article by David Horowitz and John Perazzo in the April 13, 2005, edition of FrontPageMagazine.com:
Grassroots International (GRI) .... formed a partnership with the Advocacy Project (AP), an NGO with a strong political agenda and an anti-Israel ideological emphasis. The AP draws a moral equivalence between Palestinian terrorism and Israeli counter-terror measures, and accuses Israel of practicing “apartheid” and “racism.” .... GRI was also a signatory to a May 30, 2000 document denouncing globalization, big business in general, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in particular. Members affiliated with some of the signatories actively participated in the November 1999 riots in which some 50,000 protesters did millions of dollars worth of property damage in their effort to shut down the WTO Conference in Seattle.
Another example, from DiscoverTheNetwork.org:
“Food Not Bombs”?is an anti-war organization composed of?more than 200 independent chapters ....Since the 9/11 attacks, Food Not Bombs has denounced all U.S. military actions aimed at stopping the global threat of terrorism. The group condemns the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and impugns the United States for bringing about “the globalization of the economy,” imposing “restrictions to the movements of people,” and contributing to “the destruction of the earth.”.... FNB works in coalition with such groups as Earth First; the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee; and the Anarchist Black Cross, which seeks to abolish the penal system and has called for “direct resistance to achieve a stateless and classless society.”?FNB?also has ties to the Communist organization Industrial Workers Of The World, a neo-Marxist group that embraces a radical form of socioeconomic anarchism. The Rochester, New York?chapter of Food Not Bombs was a signatory to a May 30, 2000 document denouncing globalization and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
It is particularly appealing to liberal-Progressive-socialists that the globalization aspect resonates with the internationalism of socialism. The Marxian paradigm is one of a worldwide brotherhood within an abstraction called “the workers.” Such abstractions are used to separate consideration of the putative virtues of socialism from the reality of everyday life for those afflicted with socialist regimes.
An example of such thinking is What Real Globalization Would Mean by David Graeber, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Yale University.
Consider for a moment what real globalization [as opposed to “corporate” globalism]—the genuine unification of our planet—might entail.
“Free Immigration: The globe today is divided up by invisible walls called “borders,” maintained by hundreds of thousands of soldiers and police….
[The traditional term for this is nations, an outmoded concept to socialist internationalists]
Proponents of corporate globalization ..... want to maintain the invisible walls, and keep the poor trapped behind them, so as to allow Nike and The Gap to reap the profits of their desperation….
“The Global Rule of Law: Real globalization would also mean creating the backbone of worldwide legal institutions: for instance, permanent tribunals to prosecute war criminals, enforce labor rights, and protect the global ecosystem….
[We shouldn’t imprison terrorists, but American Presidents and Cabinet officers are fair game; the Supreme Court should forget about the Constitution]
The Free Movement of Knowledge, Cultural Products and Ideas:... Instead, the U.S. government…. even going so far as to threaten a trade war with China to preserve Warner Brothers’ right to charge workers who make sixteen cents a day $15.95 for a Michael Jackson CD, or trying to tighten patent restrictions on pharmaceutical production to prevent Indian companies from continuing to manufacture medicine that Indian people can actually afford…
[How does Warner Brothers compel Chinese to buy Michael Jackson CDs? Why should Indian pharmaceutical companies be permitted to steal the billions of dollars of research work of American and European Pharmaceutical companies?]
A Market Principles in Banking: One near universal demand among the protesters in Washington was forgiveness for Third World debt. Really this is just a demand to apply normal market discipline to international bankers. When a banker makes a loan, he is supposed to be taking a risk….
[A banker is also a fiduciary charged with protecting depositors’ funds; simply giving them away to Third World countries is criminal activity]
Corporate globalization means reducing restrictions on those who are already rich and powerful, and strengthening the walls which imprison the poorest and most vulnerable.
[Try to convince unions that immigration law reducing the ratio of workers to jobs is a bad idea]
It is plainly immoral. That’s why so many thousands of America’s young people having been mobilizing to protest it, and demanding a form of globalization which will actually benefit the vast majority of people with whom we share this earth.
[Here we have the scientific, socialistic reason for the anti-Americanism of our college students]
It’s easy for liberals to talk passionately about benefiting “the people” as long as they don’t have to deal in specifics. Liberal-Progressive-socialists gloss over the necessity for tyrannical governments to implement the global uniformity they desire for socialism and abhor for capitalism.
The German movie “The Lives of Others” pictures with clinical lack of emotion the horror of living in a “good socialist” society under the Stasi (the Ministry for State Security, East Germany’s version of the Gestapo), one in which most people are equally poor. Stasi officials spoke always in terms of benefiting society, but individual Stasi leaders inevitably came to equate their personal career advancement, via spying and intimidation, with the common good.
In the same vein, union leaders, enjoying huge salaries and perks many times greater than their members, talk about universal human values to justify forcing unionism upon workers who, in secret ballots, consistently reject unionism.
Costs to the nation of anti-free-trade unionism are substantial. First, union efforts to shut off foreign competition and restrict American production to over-paid union workers would penalize poor citizens in the United States, who, because of inexpensive imports, now can buy a variety of products far beyond the reach of their parents and grandparents. Second, we have only to look at areas like New England and New York State, once major manufacturing centers that have been crippled by pro-union regulations and mandatory medical and other benefits demanded by unions. Costs and restrictions on corporate flexibility have driven business to more friendly locales, in the United States and overseas, leaving high unemployment and stagnant economies in labor union-friendly states.
Lest there linger any doubt about the true nature and aim of labor unionism, let Karl Marx’s colleague Friedrich Engels describe it in specific terms (in The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1844):
The sovereign power of property must come to an end….Wages have come to depend upon the law of supply and demand and upon the state of the labor market at any particular moment….Necessity will force the trade unions to bring to an end not merely one aspect of competition, but all competition.
In a nutshell you have the essence of labor unionism: the sort of tyranny and isolationism that played a major role in the 1930s Depression.
From one side of their mouths liberal-Progressive-socialists and their labor union cohort speak in grandiloquent terms of human values. But from the other side of their mouths they champion exactly the same economic policies as Hitler’s National Socialism: walling off the United States from the world economy to create a tightly regulated, socialized political economy.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
The Free-Trade Dilemma
Free trade may no longer be the winner of the past, but liberal prescriptions will only make the problem worse.
The March 28, 2007, edition of the Wall Street Journal carries a front-page, feature article titled Pain From Free Trade Spurs Second Thoughts.
The article opens with the following paragraphs:
For decades, Alan S. Blinder—Princeton University economist, former Federal Reserve Board vice chairman and perennial adviser to Democratic presidential candidates—argued, along with most economists, that free trade enriches the U.S. and its trading partners, despite the harm it does to some workers. “Like 99% of economists since the days of Adam Smith, I am a free trader down to my toes,” he wrote back in 2001.
Politicians heeded this advice and, with occasional dissents, steadily dismantled barriers to trade. Yet today Mr. Blinder has changed his message—helping lead a growing band of economists and policy makers who say the downsides of trade in today’s economy are deeper than they once realized.
Mr. Blinder, however, is definitely opposed to protectionism. Instead:
He wants government to do far more for displaced workers than the few months of retraining it offers today. He thinks the U.S. education system must be revamped so it prepares workers for jobs that can’t easily go overseas, and is contemplating changes to the tax code that would reward companies that produce jobs that stay in the U.S.
For more regarding Mr. Blinder’s emphasis upon education, see:
Our present liberal-Progressive-socialist dominated Congress eagerly grasps Mr. Blinder’s warning, but ignores his emphasis upon education, rather than protectionism.
Democrats get their largest funding from labor unions and the tort bar. The one hamstrings industry; the other, bankrupts it with class-action lawsuits.
Having been bought and paid for by the unions and the tort bar, the Democrats reflexively revert to the pro-labor and anti-business polices of Franklin Roosevelt that prolonged the Depression for eight years. If they link future outsourcing problems to education, it will be only to rationalize more members of the teachers’ unions to teach the anti-Americanism of multi-culturalism and PC indoctrination.
Following the labor unions’ imperative, the Democrats in Congress will indulge in their own brand of imperialism: they will try to force our trading partners to implement American unions’ stifling work rules in their countries. The idea is that, as American business is uncompetitive because of unionism, in good socialistic egalitarian fashion, let’s reduce all other nations to our level.
Just as industrial unions under Federal protection during the Depression got higher wages that forced disproportionate lay offs non-union labor, today’s labor unions will self-righteously foreclose improved living standards for workers in lesser developed countries.
Free-trade policies and laissez-faire economics first were applied in England after Adam Smith’s 1776 “Wealth of Nations” gradually converted Parliamentary opinion. Under that regimen, Great Britain in the 19th century became the world’s dominant economic and military power. The British navy kept the sea lanes open around the world for commerce with all nations.
During that period, the United States adopted protectionist tariffs for domestic industry. At the same time, we maintained close diplomatic ties with Great Britain, our biggest trading partner. Our 1823 Monroe Doctrine to keep European colonial powers out of Latin America would have been an empty gesture had it not been for the secret backing of the British Foreign Office and the British navy.
In the 1898 Spanish-American War, we began our experiment with imperialism, acquiring Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippine Islands at the end of the war.
Activist President Theodore Roosevelt got his political impetus from service with his Rough Riders in that war. Ascending to the presidency in 1901, after an anarcho-socialist assassinated President William McKinley, Teddy began building our navy (The Great White Fleet). He also began meddling in the internal affairs of Latin American countries, among other things, in connection with building the Panama Canal.
To counter the resulting ill will, President Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929) instituted the Good Neighbor policy toward Latin America. To rebuild diplomatic relations, the United States pledged not to interfere militarily in Latin countries’ affairs and to foster free trade among Western Hemisphere nations. President Franklin Roosevelt in the New Deal continued the policy.
Coming out of World War II, with Western Europe and Japan devastated, the United States, for both diplomatic and economic reasons, continued its free trade policies. Politicians in both parties supported free trade.
At the time, we had effectively the benefits of both free trade and protectionism, since there were no real challengers to our manufacturing industries until the 1960s.
In that unsustainable interlude, labor unions took advantage of businesses’ urgent rush to continue supplying the pent-up demand for consumer goods by a public unable to buy much of anything during the Depression and World War II. Unions, knowing that strikes would be very costly to manufacturers in lost sales, began extorting unrealistic wages, benefits, and restrictive work rules that promoted featherbedding (excessive numbers of workers).
When European and Japanese manufacturers began their assault in force upon the American market in the late 1960s, unions had made impossible nimble competitive reactions by American companies.
Liberal-Progressive-socialists are eager to bring back the glory days of the New Deal, when the world had not yet understood the devastation wrought by socialism in the USSR.
Three generations of students made ignorant of history by our corrosive educational system don’t understand any of this. Moreover, educated in John Dewey’s Darwinian belief that there is no such thing as morality, they frankly don’t care. They have been instructed that anything relating to the American past is evil.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Episcopalians Officially Secede From Christianity
Episcopalians (the American sector of the Anglican Church) have officially subscribed to the atheistic and materialistic doctrine of the Social Gospel.
Read the full story.
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Monday, March 26, 2007
Krugman and Friedman - Part One
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, a proponent of socialistic state-planning, takes a shot at Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman.
My neighbor David Lane asked for reactions to Mr. Krugman’s essay, which appeared in the February 15, 2007, edition of The New York Review of Books. Mr. Krugman pays tribute to the late Milton Friedman, but disagrees with some aspects of his analysis of economic cause-and-effect.
Paul Krugman is a controversial apologist for rather far-left-liberal political and economic views. He is by training and former profession an economist himself. Before joining the Times as a columnist, he was held in high regard among academic economists. Today he is seen more as a propagandist whose economic predictions, usually damning Republic moves such as tax cuts, have often been notoriously wrong.
My reactions are based on detailed histories to be found in Benjamin M. Anderson’s Economics and the Public Welfare, Murray Rothbard’s America’s Great Depression and Allan H. Meltzer’s A History of the Federal Reserve: Volume 1, 1913-1951.
In this Part One, I will address only Mr. Krugman’s assertion at the outset of his essay. He wrote:
And classical economics said that the answer to almost all problems was to let the forces of supply and demand do their job. But classical economics offered neither explanations nor solutions for the Great Depression.
That is not factual.
What were the facts?
The liberal-Progressive-socialist party line was laid out by Stuart Chase, the economist who coined the name New Deal. In that version, the one to which Franklin Roosevelt continually reverted throughout the New Deal, the Depression was the result of greedy capitalists (economic royalists, in FDR’s terminology) who selfishly sucked up all the available money supply to continue building more and more unneeded manufacturing facilities. Neither Mr. Chase nor FDR offered an explanation, other than greed, for what motivated businessmen to such financially disastrous illogicality.
In Mr. Chase’s theory, capitalists figuratively were holding large moneybags and scooping all available money into them. This left insufficient purchasing power for the workers. When they stopped buying, the Depression started.
That thesis doesn’t hold water.
It’s true that farmers and businessmen over-expanded. But only a moment’s reflection should make clear that such action did not, and could not, suck all the credit out of the economy.
Whatever farmers and businesses borrowed from banks went to pay suppliers for seeds, fertilizer, and construction materials for new plants and raw materials for production. They had then to pay wages to farm hands and construction and production line workers. Funds borrowed by farmers and businesses obviously had to continue circulating in the same manner that prevails during normal business conditions.
What then did go wrong in 1929?
Contrary to Mr. Krugman’s assertion, the cause of, as well the remedy for, the Depression were very clearly understood at the time.
The cause, in short, was massive over expansion of the money supply by the Fed during the early 1920s. This imparted inflationary pressures and created a false expectation of future market demand. Farmers and businesses over-expanded and had to curtail output sharply when the temporary excess demand came to an end, after the Fed tightened the money supply in 1928.
World War I having ended in 1918, the Fed expanded the money supply at the urging of European central banks in order to finance their nations’ rebuilding of war-torn economies. A very large portion of the Fed’s money supply expansion went into floating European government bond issues in the New York market, the proceeds of which were used to finance Europeans’ imports from the United States.
The result was an early version of our 1990s dot.com boom and bust. Farmers bought extra land and machinery to supply a European market that was then producing very little of its own food. Machinery manufacturers invested in great expansion of productive capacity to meet European rebuilding demand.
Those expansions of output were far greater than our domestic market could support. As soon as European demand slackened, there was bound to be a recession in the United States, both in the farming (which then accounted for more than 50% of all employment) and in the manufacturing sectors.
Late in 1928 the Fed became alarmed at the degree to which excessive credit was spilling over into the stock market and speculative real estate investment (e.g. the early and abortive Florida land boom, which collapsed in 1925). The Fed began squeezing the money supply. Foreign government loan volume in New York fell off sharply.
Exports to Europe already had begun to decline. A major reason was the high level of United States tariffs (pushed to unprecedented heights in 1930 by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act), which made exporting difficult from Europe to the United States. If Europe could not export as its industries recovered, it could not repay loans that had been floated earlier in New York, nor could it continue importing large volumes of farm goods and manufactured products.
American farmers and manufacturers began to suffer, ushering us into the 1929 stock market crash.
Bottom line: had the Fed not created excess money supply to accommodate European central banks early in the 1920s, there would have been no Depression.
AND, contrary to Mr. Krugman’s assertion, there was a widely known and readily available remedy: let the economic cycle take its normal course.
Had we followed the successful course of the 1920-21 recession with little government intervention, workers would have been laid off until excess inventories were absorbed by the domestic market and costs of production had dropped to the point at which business could have rehired workers and increased production on a profitable basis.
The 1920-21 turn down, as severe at its outset as the 1930 Depression, lasted only a year. The roughly two-year dot.com recession that began at the end of President Clinton’s administration, though subject to many more government interventions than in 1920, is another example of fairly quick recover. Businesses laid off workers and liquidated inventory. Uneconomic dot.com businesses, financed often before they had any sales, let alone profits, were allowed go into bankruptcy.
Why in 1929 didn’t we follow the historical policy of non-intervention by the Federal government?
In a word: Hoover. President Hoover deserves all of the opprobrium heaped upon him by liberals, but not for the reason given in their textbooks. Writers who idolized Franklin Roosevelt have followed the New Deal script that aimed to discredit free-market capitalism and to extol the virtues of socialistic state-planning.
Far from being the old-style, laissez-faire conservative depicted by liberal historians, President Hoover was almost as much a state-planning activist as Franklin Roosevelt. Conservative economists, in fact, date the New Deal from 1930, two years before Mr. Roosevelt’s election in 1932.
In Mr. Hoover’s own words, in a 1932 campaign speech:
No government in Washington has hitherto considered that it held so broad a responsibility for leadership in such times….For the first time in the history of depression, dividends, profits, and the cost of living have been reduced before wages suffered…They were maintained until the cost of living had decreased and the profits had practically vanished…
Why, with the recent 1920-21 quick cure for recession still fresh in mind, would the President turn his back on tried-and-true policy and opt for large-scale Federal interventionism?
Mr. Hoover was a mining engineer by education and occupation. Before entering politics, he had made a fortune supervising the building of mines all over the world. He brought into government service the mindset of the early French social-engineers who orchestrated the first socialist regimes in France of the early 1800s. They too were professional engineers.
Their engineering mindset led to approaching economic and political situations from an idealized structural view point, rather than from a free-market view point. Unfortunately, in practice, no structural model works as planned, because it cannot allow for emotions and expectations of the millions of units comprising the marketplace. Only a free market setting prices can do that.
Immediately after World War I, Mr. Hoover had been immensely successful as the unpaid head of the emergency war relief measures in Europe. That catapulted him into President Harding’s cabinet as Secretary of Commerce in 1921. There he advocated what French socialists called rationalization of industry. Hoover believed that there was excessive and therefore destructive competition in American business. To counter that he urged stronger business trade associations that would, among other things effectively conspire to set prices.
During the 1920-21 recession, Hoover had publicly urged that the Federal government establish a bureau for economic planning to prevent unemployment. Fortunately, President Harding vetoed the idea.
Nonetheless the idea took root. Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1922 organized the American Construction Council to advocate Federal and state funding for large public works projects. The plan was to smooth out the normal cyclical pattern of such construction work.
Another of Mr. Hoover’s state-planning concepts implemented during his administration was first manifested in the middle 1920s. He was strongly pro-union and preached the idea that high wage rates led to higher productivity of labor.
In reality, as we see today in the auto industry, the reverse is true. Business investment in more efficient machinery and better production techniques increases productivity, which permits management to pay higher wages.
Believing as he did, President Hoover in 1930 advocated higher wages to increase productivity as the way to end the Depression. Business profits were the only part of the mix that he regarded as dispensable.
All of these conceptions were part of the “new era” of permanent prosperity proclaimed by liberal-Progressive economists, exactly as they were to do again in the 1960s on the eve of President Johnson’s disastrous stagflation.
Such was the pattern of thinking that governed President Hoover’s reactions to the 1929 crash and the widening recession in 1930.
He began large public works projects and direct financing of private businesses. The only difference between his administration and the New Deal was the much larger scale of the latter operations.
In 1930, two years before FDR’s election, the giant Hoover Dam project was started in Nevada. In 1931 President Hoover established the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). Its purpose initially was to shore up small rural banks without sufficient liquidity to meet depositor runs because of too heavy a concentration in farm loans and insufficient diversification of other assets.
Parenthetically, after Franklin Roosevelt’s election in 1932, the RFC, greatly enlarged under Jesse Jones, was to become the banker for hundreds of private corporations that were never authorized by Congress. In what amounted to government-sponsored Enron-style off-balance-sheet dealing, the RFC lent money to individuals who used the funds to buy stock and capitalize those unauthorized corporations at President Roosevelt’s behest. None of it showed up in Federal budgets scrutinized by Congress.
What appealed to President Hoover’s engineering sense was an organized and planned economy, implemented by voluntary compliance and guided by central planning. Additionally, he favored higher inheritance taxes and regulations to eliminate stock market “speculation.” In other words, socialism.
To that end, President Hoover called heads of major corporations to Washington for repeated conferences in which he urged them not to lay off workers, to keep up wages and prices, and to continue to produce. If they did not do so voluntarily, he suggested, the government would be compelled to impose regulations to that effect. Businessmen were inclined to knuckle under, because they had seen Hoover, as Secretary of Commerce, force U. S. Steel to bow to labor union demands.
Economic reality called for the opposite of President Hoover’s policies.
In real life, artificially holding up wages forces businesses to lay off more workers than would be necessary in a free market. Maintaining prices of goods, rather than liquidating inventories at whatever price the market will bear, causes businesses to reduce production more than otherwise, because inventories can’t be sold at high prices.
Manufacturing businesses had high fixed costs for plant and equipment. No matter what the level of production, they had to keep paying interest on the debt that financed the plant and equipment. To avoid running out of cash during a sales downturn, they had no choice but to reduce labor costs, which were then about 70% of total costs.
Recessions end and workers are rehired only when there is a visible opportunity for businesses to increase production at a profit. That is impossible so long as warehouses are full of unsold inventories, and labor costs are too high. Remedying that requires liquidating inventories to pay off bank loans and cut loan interest payments, as well as laying off workers to cut labor costs.
President Hoover’s jawboning of business leaders flew straight into the face of economic reality. The result was to squeeze profit margins and thereby to forestall normal free-market recovery. When he left office after three years of the Depression, unemployed workers constituted 25% of the labor force, almost six times the level prevailing today.
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Saturday, March 24, 2007
Art and Degeneration
Art historically expressed the highest aspirations of society. In the 20th century art reversed field.
I had the pleasure today of viewing an exhibition of three-dimensional photo collages by Renee Kahn, who has an unerring eye for the artistic aspects of reality. Her subject was “Urban Dreamscapes: Stamford as a Work of Art.”
The occasion was a discussion panel (an artist, an art critic, a film historian-columnist) limning the 20th century setting of art and film as background for Renee’s work.
I was forcibly struck by recurrent themes in their presentations, some intended, some paradoxical.
A dominant theme was art, including movies, as recorder of the degeneration of life quality in the great cities.
What came across, however, was the presenters’ disdain for the source of order that historically had prevented that degeneration before the 20th century.
In today’s presentations there was more than a whiff of liberal-Progressive-socialist theory, which asserts that crime and other forms of aggression are caused by the existence of private property and by disparities between top and bottom rung incomes. Free-market capitalism, in the artists’ view, is apparently the villain in degeneration of the great cities.
All of the speakers alluded to New York’s former Mayor Giuliani as having diminished the quality of life in the city. Did they truly mean that stopping graffiti is repressive denial of liberty?
One of the presenters, photos of whose work were warmly received by the audience, has made his career by illegally plastering graffiti “art” on public buildings and private property in New York City. One has to wonder what such artists’ conception of a good society is.
We learned under Mayor Koch and Mayor Giuliani that little things count: stopping the windshield washers who demanded money for smearing your windshield with dirty rags when you halted for a traffic light; stopping trash dumping on the streets; stopping the graffiti artists who defaced public property. What was wrong about curbing crime so that law-abiding citizens could walk the streets without continual fear of being mugged? What was so terrible about no longer having to avoid tripping over homeless drug addicts and stepping into their excrement on stairways in Grand Central when boarding or leaving trains?
Another theme was the alienation of the individual in industrial and post-industrial society, as seen in the film noire of the 1930s and in the 1950s and 1960s. Film noire movies generally had a negative perspective of life, emphasizing despair, loneliness, and danger. Individuals were alone in a Darwinian world without design or reason, a world of chance and survival of the fittest.
Alienation was a fundamental element in Karl Marx’s damnation of capitalism and his apotheosis of socialism’s atheistic materialism. The gist of Marxian alienation is that division of labor and machine production dehumanized work and reduced the worker to a commodity called labor. The worker was at the mercy of a hostile world, alienated from his fellows.
Yet it was Marx and his fellow liberal-Progressive-socialists, to the present day, who did the most to destroy the one social institution that mitigated the hardships of life for the less fortunate, an institution that created local communities of devotees who supported each other and offered hope for redemption.
That institution was Christianity, which since the fall of the Western Roman Empire had been the common ground for whatever sense of decency and human kindness that existed.
Another theme was dwindling public funding for the arts. Ironically, while the speakers applauded the movie made of Woodward and Bernstein’s book about nailing President Nixon, it was Mr. Nixon who opened the spigot wider than any other president for public funding of the arts.
In classical Greece and in the Roman Empire, public buildings were both civic monuments and temples to the gods that represented virtues of home and public life that rulers wished the people to emulate. After the fall of Rome in 476 AD, art, funded by the Church and wealthy patrons, focused upon glorifying God. In addition to incomparable painting and sculpture, we have the magnificent, awe inspiring cathedrals.
That tradition of wealthy families and churches funding art endured into the 1930s. Everything began to change with the New Deal and its favorable disposition toward the sort of socialist art then admired in the Soviet Union. The Federal Theatre Project in New York channeled enough Federal money to support much of the Broadway theatre scene, where large numbers of playwrights, actors, and theatre craftsmen, if not members of the Communist Party USA, were sympathetic to the party line. Activities of the Federal Theatre Project in New York were dominated by V. J. Jerome, the cultural commissar of the Communist Party USA.
The Wikipedia says of it:
The [Federal Theatre Project] was the most controversial and short-lived of the WPA’s arts projects. Hallie Flanagan, former head of Vassar College’s Experimental Theater, served as director and shaped the FTP into a forum for experimental theater committed to creating public awareness of contemporary issues.
“Creating public awareness of contemporary issues” meant propagandizing for socialism, which many people in the 1930s, but especially in the arts, viewed as the only approvable form of government. That perception remains today as the credo of large numbers of artists, playwrights, screenwriters, and actors (see Tim Robbins Two).
A final theme was expressed by one speaker, who made much of contemporary art in Stamford, in which she saw a reversion to the art and religion of the Sumerian period. To the extent such elements are present in the art she displayed, however, it is at a very superficial level.
Ironically, it was from Ur, one of the principal cities of ancient Sumer, that God called Abram (Abraham) to journey westward to the land of Canaan, to begin the progression from godlike rulers to individual morality in a society under a ruler who is subject to a higher law of morality and has no prerogative to usurp God-given, inalienable individual rights.
Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. (Genesis 11:31)
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. (Genesis 12:1-2)
The Bible, Old and New Testaments, reveals the progressively deepening understanding of God’s presence in the world and of His Will for a just society, based upon moral and loving relations of people for each other as children of God.
Kingdoms like the Sumerian city states and the successor empires of Assyria, Babylon, and Persia, were ones in which their subjects had no direct relationship with God. Rulers were thought to be gods or to be the people’s only nexus to divine blessing and social order. Rules of social conduct were whatever the ruler declared them to be.
Israel under God, however, was a society in which every individual was held accountable for living in accordance with God’s Word. Later the prophets rebuked kings face to face for their failing to deal charitably and justly with the poor, widows, orphans, and disabled.
None of that would have been thinkable in a society like the city states of ancient Sumer, where representational art glorified the deified ruler. Yet it is that sort of society to which some artists, we were told, are reverting for artistic and spiritual inspiration.
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Thursday, March 22, 2007
Tim Robbins Two
Stalin recognized that movies in the 1930s had become the most powerful propaganda tool for influencing mass opinion. That’s why he ordered the Communist Party USA to organize Hollywood screenwriters and crafts workers into Communist dominated labor unions.
Labor Unions: Double-Edged Blade described the affinity of actor-director Tim Robbins for Communist labor unions in Hollywood of the 1930s. The message Mr. Robbins conveys in his film “Cradle Will Rock” is essentially the original Communist Party USA (CPUSA) propaganda line at the time setting of the movie.
Seeing the great success of Leni Riefenstahl’s movies in creating public approval for the Nazi regime in 1934 and 1935, Stalin directed that Hollywood be organized to propagandize for the Soviet Union and the Communist cause.
V. J. Jerome, the CPUSA cultural commissar at party headquarters in New York City, sent Stanley Lawrence to Hollywood for that purpose in 1935. The aim was to create a single, industry-wide union that could shut down any Hollywood studio that balked at filming scripts approved by the CPUSA.
Standing in Lawrence’s way was the biggest Hollywood crafts union, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IA). Roy Brewer, the IA head in 1947, was a Democrat and a self-described liberal. His letter to the House Committee on Un-American Activities, dated October 28, 1947, describes the continual harassment, often violent, by Communist unionists to destroy the IA and replace it with the Communist-organized Conference of Studio Unions (CSU). Mr. Brewer wrote:
I shall present evidence which I think will conclusively establish the fact that there is and there has been a real Communist plot to capture our union in Hollywood, as part of the Communist plan to control the motion picture industry as a whole…With a Communist-controlled union representing all Hollywood technical labor supporting a Screen Writers Guild, through which only pro-Communist writers could get into the industry, we believe that the screen would have been effectively captured, notwithstanding the good intentions of the producers of motion pictures.
Richard Collins was an official in the Hollywood Communist Party branch and a leading member of the Screen Writers Guild. On of his best known scripts was Song of Russia, of which the Wikipedia notes:
“Song of Russia” is a pro-Soviet propaganda film made and distributed by MGM Studios in 1944. .... the credited screenwriters were Paul Jarrico and Richard Collins. The film starred Robert Taylor, Susan Peters and Robert Benchley.
“The picture was a major studio release, and an unabashed pro-Soviet propaganda film. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) would later use “Song of Russia” as one of the three noted examples of pro-Soviet propaganda films made by Hollywood, the other two pictures being Warner’s ” Mission to Moscow” and RKO’s “The North Star.”
Collins later repented his years in the CPUSA. He unburdened himself in Confessions of a Red Screenwriter, published in the October 6, 1952, issue of New Leader. He wrote:
A Communist is always prepared. He, or rather his party, has an answer for everything. When I joined the party, I was handed ready-made: friends, a cause, a faith and a viewpoint on all phenomena. I also had a one-shot solution to all the world’s ills and inequities….Suppose our Comrade keeps up with all the twists and turns of party policy, what is his reward? Why, peace of mind, of course. Since he has an answer for everything, he has a great sense of personal security; the world is safe; everything is explained ? his history and the future; and everything is also simplified ? into black and white….
The party member, on the other hand, has to make only one effort. He must be “flexible.” “Flexible” means that you cheer for Earl Browder [former CPUSA head] on his birthday and the next day you despise him as a “betrayer of the working class”...
Although denying religion, the Communists need it and express it in zealotry in relation to the party. This charge of religiosity angers the Communists a great deal. They answer that their position is based on reason. This is similar to their constant reiteration that Marxism is a science. If it is a science, it is a science without a provable body of facts, a science which has been incapable of correctly predicting anything within its field ? history ? ever since the Bolshevik Revolutions. The Communists, for all their talk of reason and science, proceed on faith….It’s the old story ? a glorious end justifies despicable means.
In expression that sounds remarkably similar to the things that Tim Robbins and many other Hollywood actors have said in recent years, Richard Collins continued:
The Communists [today, liberals] insist that the United States today is like Nazi Germany of the Thirties. Many of the Communists before the House Un-American Committee see themselves as Dimitrov defying the Nazi court.
Today the Iraq war engenders liberal hysteria. In 1937, when Richard Collins joined the CPUSA, the Spanish Civil War was raging. Socialists, liberals, and Communists denounced Generalissimo Franco, whose forces received military support from Hitler’s National Socialist Germany.
Mr. Collins wrote, in that regard:
The Communist party presented itself and the Soviet Union as the great enemy of Nazism and the friend of the democracies….Many of us had no idea that we were embracing, in whole or in part, another tyranny. And we were helped in making that mistake by a section of American liberals who unwittingly became an aid to the American Communist party because they overtrusted the Communists.
The liberals were then, and remain today, what the Soviet Communists called “useful idiots,” people whose utopian theories blind them to political reality.
For voluminous details regarding the foregoing, read Kenneth Lloyd Billingsley’s Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s.
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Selective Abortion and the Decline of Women
Steve Kellmeyer explores additional ramifications of using abortions, infanticide, and polygamy to reduce the ratio of girls to boys.
Journal of the Plague Years
By Steve Kellmeyer
In The White Plague, Frank Herbert imagined how society would be transformed if struck by a genetically engineered plague that preferentially killed women. In his vision, post-Christian Europe and the United States ultimately transform the few surviving women into virtual goddesses who control society by choosing which men they would have sex with, and thereby choosing whose children they would bear.
Herbert’s future is barreling down upon us, but it will look rather different than he imagined.
While the ratio of marriageable women to marriageable men is indeed dropping throughout the world, albeit slightly more slowly than Herbert imagined, the drop isn’t due to a virus. Instead, it is due to abortion, infanticide and polygamy.
As anyone who pays attention to demography knows, China and India have both been killing infant girls at an enormous rate, creating male to female population skews as high as 156 to 100 in some areas. Ultrasound machines combine with a cultural preference for males in Confucian and Hindu societies to create massive female infanticide, both in and out of the womb.
Oddly enough, however, few people have noticed another odd fact: though China and India are killing infant girls at an alarming rate, Muslim societies seem to slaughter them at an even greater rate.
Sort the table on the sex ratio at birth for children and you will discover the “under the age of 15” column shows the Arab Muslim countries have essentially normal male/female birth ratios.
But now sort on the “15-65” age bracket. Six of the seven countries with the worst male-female skew are Muslim. For the “over 65” age bracket, all seven countries with the worst skew are Muslim.
We all know India and China kill pre-pubescent girls; to date, no one has mentioned that Muslims kill post-pubescent women.
But, wait, there’s more.
China is the only country in which the suicide rate is higher among women than men. The male/female ratio of suicide increased between 1991 and 2001 and the trend is likely to continue. The suicide difference is driven entirely by young rural women: only that subgroup had a much higher suicide rates than their male counterparts.
Now, China’s drive to reduce its population growth rests on more than just infanticide. It is also working hard to move its rural population to the cities. Urbanization is associated with lower population growth because it destroys the extended family, and thus destroys the support network into which a child is supposed to be born.
Chinese authorities are forcing rural populations into the cities just as they have forced women to abort children. It is projected that, by 2040, the rapid drop in Chinese birth rates will actually create a greater imbalance between young workers and retired dependents than the United States will face.
As a result, China will soon have an enormous number of single men. A large surplus male population is associated with increased violence (e.g., the American West in the 19th century). Many fear that China will go to war by 2020 in order to bleed off the excess men and stabilize what will become an increasingly violent society.
But China can’t do that, because most of those young men are only children. You see, by 2020, China will also have an enormous number of old people who rely on their only children for support. If millions of only children are killed in a war, there are that many million fewer workers to care for the elderly.
In short, China can’t afford a war. It will kill too many young people, and the Chinese are already short of young people. The lack of women creates a social pressure cooker with no good way to release the pressure. No matter what happens, the Chinese will be stacking a lot of body bags in the coming years; the Chinese economy will implode, just as Japan’s has today.
But Europe is no better off. Its native population is shrinking, its Muslim population is increasing. Europe will be much older, much smaller and much more Muslim by 2040. Muslim policies of polygamy and sharia will create a severe European shortage of women, both through sequestering and murder/suicide. This will likewise leave a large percentage of single young men on the streets, exactly as happens today in the Middle East.
In all of these areas, the shortages in women are currently being met by buying or kidnapping women from low-income countries for use in areas where girls and women are routinely killed. How long can this continue? It depends on how much money families can get by selling their girls. It depends on how much money slavery can generate.
When Frank Herbert imagined a future lacking in women, he imagined its impact on Catholic Ireland. In reality, the lack of women affects communist, Hindu and Islamic countries.
The vision is quite different from the reality.
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Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Labor Unions: Double-Edged Blade
Liberals see labor unions through rose-colored glasses. Reality is somewhat different.
Tuesday’s edition of the Stamford Advocate, my local newspaper, has a front-page article about actor-director Tim Robbins’s attempt to revive public interest in his 1999 film “Cradle Will Rock.” Mr. Robbins, a resident of the adjoining Westchester County town of Pound Ridge, spoke to a Stamford audience the night before at the Avon Theatre Film Center on Bedford Street.
Mr. Robbins’s movie, according to the Wikipedia:
... chronicles the process and events that surrounded the production of the original 1937 musical The Cradle Will Rock by Marc Blitzstein. Tim Robbins, in his third film as director, adapts history to create this fictionalized account of the original production, bringing in other stories of the time to produce this commentary on the role of art and power in the 1930s, particularly amidst the struggles of the 1930s labor movement and the corresponding appeal of socialism and communism among many intellectuals and working class people of that time.
Mr. Robbins’s evidently identifies emotionally with labor unions of the 1930s and sees business as a source of evil.
In a speech given at an antiwar rally in New York City’s Central Park on October 6, 2002, he said:
Let us find a way to resist fundamentalism that leads to violence—fundamentalism of all kinds, in Al Qaeda and within our own government. What is our fundamentalism? Cloaked in patriotism and our doctrine of spreading democracy throughout the world, our fundamentalism is business, the unfettered spread of our economic interests throughout the globe. Our resistance to this war should be our resistance to profit at the cost of human life. Because that is what these drums beating over Iraq are really about. This is about business.
Mr. Robbins’s view is straight out of the Socialist International’s appeal to the “workers of the world” to boycott World War I, on the theory that wars result only from capitalists struggling for monopoly market power, using the blood of the workers to achieve their goals.
In socialist doctrine, economic forces are the only factors having meaning for political societies. The essential feature of that doctrine is that all elements of society must be organized to control production of economic goods. From the very beginning of socialism as a cogent theory, Henri de Saint-Simon pictured the transition to socialism as one of conflict between capitalistic business owners and the workers.
Thus labor unions are absolutely essential to socialism as the organizing mechanism of the entire labor force. Unions are the heart of politics, which has no goal other than production by Marx’s “workers of the world.”
In the 1930s period of Mr. Robbins’s movie, industrial unions first became major factors in our economy. The results then and now have been, on the whole, negative for the United States.
The springboard for socialistic industrial unions was the New Deal’s 1935 Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act), which stacked the bargaining cards in labor’s favor. Overnight, unions were able to employ almost any sort of coercive tactics against businesses, without fear of legal prosecution.
Unions could legally seize private property and prevent businesses from operating. They could prevent all workers from entering private businesses and could stop deliveries of all supplies, including food, to those businesses. Having been exempted from anti-trust prosecution, unions could organize mass boycotts and demonstrations to prevent people from buying products of companies that they targeted. And they did not hesitate to resort to violence to implement such tactics.
In 1936, business enjoyed its only significant rally under the Depression-era New Deal. That rally came as a result of the Supreme Court’s declaring the National Recovery Administration (NRA) unconstitutional. The NRA had been the most onerous of President Roosevelt’s agencies patterned on Mussolini’s Fascist state corporatism.
The rally was shortly thereafter curtailed by the onslaught of union tactics that caused a surge of labor costs. Unable to raise prices to offset higher labor costs, major industries found production essentially unprofitable. By the end of 1936 and into 1937 industrial production turned sharply downward, precipitating a stock market crash as severe as that of 1929. Business never recovered until the nation began gearing up in 1940 for the probability of participating in the European war.
Automobile manufacturing was the union’s first and main target in 1936. Then and after the end of World War II, industrial unions exacted extremely high wages and supplemental benefits for their non-skilled laborers. In the brief period before European and Japanese industry recovered from the war and began exporting to the United States, automobile production costs were pushed completely out of line with those in the rest of the industrialized world.
Japanese auto makers today gain a profit of about $2,000 per vehicle sold here (a great many of them manufactured here by non-union labor). General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, in contrast, lose about $1,200 per passenger sedan made and sold in the United States. They have roughly $2,500 more per vehicle in labor costs than Japanese auto companies manufacturing vehicles in the United States.
Despite union boasts about union labor being better than non-union labor, the public finds the Japanese products to be of higher quality than the Big Three union-made variety.
General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler are now teetering on the precipice of bankruptcy, with intransigent unions heedlessly pushing them.
Labor unions have benefited a limited portion of the American work force and they have been the principal financial and get-out-the-vote engine for their sponsors, the Democratic Party.
But it has been at tremendous cost to the rest of the nation.
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Monday, March 19, 2007
New York City Madrassas
Today, because we view education as little more than a trade school to help children get better jobs, we forget the fundamental, historical role of education: to pass along to youth the cultural ethos and aspirations of society, without which no society can survive.
An underlying theme for this website is the critical importance of education in the survival of the United States.
Sol Stern’s Radical Equations: Marxist pedagogues are hard at work in New York?s public schools, posted March 19, 2007, on the City Journal website demonstrates that it goes both ways. Schools can destroy, as well as preserve, the foundational principles of society.
The use of mathematics instruction by critical studies advocates to radicalize students was covered also in Moral Relativity in Mathematics.
Classroom Totalitarianism noted that this sort of thing is not limited to New York City.
The extreme degree of specialization in college education, a trend originating in the German universities of the late 1800s, facilitates PC education (see Our Fathers’ Education ). When few teachers have a comprehensive understanding of Western history and the critical role of Judeo-Christianity in forming Western civilization, it becomes easier to slip anti-Constitutional doctrine into the classrooms. See also Paradigms: What Should Students Learn?
Another reference in that regard is Tocqueville Revisited - Part One.
How Far Have We Fallen? describes what the founders of the New England colonies regarded as the essential, formative role of education.
For additional background on liberal-Progressivism in education, of which critical studies is a subset, read Progressive Era Scholars: The Socialist Paradigm.
Finally, to understand how we got to today’s sad situation, read The Corruption of Public Education: How It Happened.
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Warriors for God
The Old Testament story of David and Goliath offers guidance to living a true Christian life.
Sunday’s sermon at the Long Ridge Congregational Church (non-UCC) in North Stamford, Connecticut, was delivered by Rev. David Smith, who heads the Pivot Ministries.
Pivot Ministries reorient men out of the thralldom of drugs and alcohol by giving them the personal experience of Jesus Christ’s saving love. They do a wonderful job, guiding men of all ages and from all walks of life along an 18-month program.
Pivot’s website is http://www.pivotministries.org/ . They need contributions to carry on. Contact them and give them your support.
Rev. Smith’s text was 1 Samuel 17, which recounts the famous story of the future king David as a young shepherd boy facing the Philistine giant Goliath and slaying him in battle.
Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Socoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Socoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines. The Philistines occupied one hill and the Israelites another, with the valley between them.
A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. (1 Samuel 17:1-4)
Goliath stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why do you come out and line up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not the servants of Saul? Choose a man and have him come down to me. If he is able to fight and kill me, we will become your subjects; but if I overcome him and kill him, you will become our subjects and serve us. (1 Samuel 17:8-9)
As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground. So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. (1 Samuel 17:48-50)
The context of the story is in some respects the same as that of Moses confronting the Egyptian Pharaoh and conveying Yahweh’s demand that the Israelites be freed. It was the gods of the Pharaohs’ against God Almighty, and God won the confrontation, delivering the Israelites from bondage.
What makes David’s confrontation with Goliath into a parallel story is the fact that David, though just a boy, had already been anointed by Samuel as the future successor to Saul, who had fallen away from God and become too self-important.
The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king. (1 Samuel 16:1)
So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah. (1 Samuel 16:13)
What made David a successful warrior for God?
Rev. Smith draws the following lessons from these passages:
First, be obedient. When God, your parents, or those in authority call you to duty, respond.
Now Jesse said to his son David, “Take this ephah of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread for your brothers and hurry to their camp. Take along these ten cheeses to the commander of their unit. See how your brothers are and bring back some assurance from them. They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines. (1 Samuel 1:17-19)
Divid did as his father commanded, and by doing so found himself in the right place, at the right time to defeat Goliath.
Second, act responsibly. David did as his father commanded, but first arranged for someone else to carry on his duties as shepherd to his father’s flock.
Early in the morning David left the flock with a shepherd, loaded up and set out, as Jesse had directed. He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions, shouting the war cry. (1 Samuel 17:20)
Third, do not be discouraged or deterred from God’s calling by unkind words or actions of others.
When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him. David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him. (1 Samuel 17:28-32)
Fourth, remember the victories God has granted us in the past; don’t lose faith that God will deliver us from evil. It is not our strength, but the Lord God’s that arms us.
David said to Saul: The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”??Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you. (1 Samuel 17:37)
David said to the Philistine [Goliath], “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands. (1 Samuel 17:45-47)