A clean, cool, beautiful, fertile planet – praised be mankind 12

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, an Argentinian Communist and Pope, is telling whoppers.

Fortunately, Christopher S. Carson puts him right with a wonderfully cheerful story. It comes from Front Page. We slightly abbreviate it:

Last week, Pope Francis released his controversial environmental Encyclical, Praised Be, to the public.  It is not simply a matter of global warming endangering the planet, he writes.  The Pope has a comprehensively dark vision of the world.  He writes that

The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth … beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish … Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.

In other words, the Industrial Revolution is to blame for covering the planet in rubbish.  But if it’s covered in trash, it’s a strange kind of trash that has caused global crop yields to increase by 160 percent since 1961 and deaths from droughts to be reduced by 99.8 percent since the 1920s.

It’s an odd kind of “mistreatment” of the planet over the life of the Industrial Revolution that’s resulted in the global life expectancy rising from 26 years in 1750 to 69 years in 2009.  This is in spite of the fact that Earth’s population increased from 760 million to 6.8 billion and incomes (in real dollars) rose from $640 to $7,300 during the same period. …

If the globe were truly turning into a great heap of exploited waste, you would expect natural resources to become more expensive as the cost of extracting rises and scarcity becomes the norm.  But natural commodities are cheaper today than ever.  The real price of almost all natural resources – from iron to salt to coal – is cheaper today in than 50 or 500 years ago.  In Britain, artificial light is 20,000 times cheaper per man hour worked than it was in 1300.

On a global scale, with only a few exceptions like China, air and water is cleaner than ever. Since the late 1970s, pollutants in the air have plunged.  In advanced countries, lead pollution declined by almost 100 percent, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide by more than 50 percent; ozone and nitrogen dioxide declined as well.

A car today emits less pollution cruising at full speed than a parked car did in 1970.

In the America of 1900, about 25% of all deaths were from contaminated drinking water.  Today, hardly anyone here dies from this scourge.  The Pope seems oblivious to the fact that the richer the nation is, the cleaner its environment.

Despite the masses wading around in the Pope’s seas of “filth,” and despite a world population of 7.3 billion, the poorer countries’ incomes have surged since 1975; since 1981, the number of Earth’s people in extreme poverty fell by an amazing 1 billion, even as the population increased by more than 1.5 billion.

But if there is one environmental issue that most exercises the Supreme Pontiff, it is global warming.  “A very solid scientific consensus,” he writes, “indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. In recent decades this warming has been accompanied by a constant rise in the sea level and, it would appear, by an increase of extreme weather events.”

Well, the warming over “recent decades” apparently does not include the last two decades, because over the past 18 years no net increase in global temperature has been recorded, despite the atmosphere’s CO2 content rising by 8 percent.  Both the Arctic Ocean and Antarctica have this year posted record high ice packs.

The Pope’s letter seems quite concerned about the poor of Africa experiencing crop failures as a result of global CO2 emissions.  But the opposite appears to be true: CO2 is plant food, and the rising CO2 levels are helping to water and green the continent.

According to a 2007 study in the science journal Geology, Africa is currently “experiencing an unusually prolonged period of stable, wet conditions in comparison to previous centuries of the past millennium. … The patterns and variability of 20th century rainfall in central Africa have been unusually conducive to human welfare in the context of the past 1400 years.”

If the trends of higher CO2 concentrations continue, and political strife abates, Africa, far from being a ruined land of desiccated drought, could well become the breadbasket of the world.  All it needs from the West is fertilizer and genetically hardened crop strains that resist insect damage.

“Praised be” … Mankind, which has so rapidly improved his lot and that of his Earthly home.

Time to blame the Third World – and bring back empires? 1

Countries trying to be nice help bad countries to do worse.

The people in Third World despotisms are victims for sure – but not victims of the First World. They are the victims of their own tyrants.

By accepting those who flee from them, the successful, prosperous, civilized West is allowing the tyrants to carry on as usual.

This is from an important editorial in Investor’s Business Daily:

At 60 million and rising, the global refugee population has never been larger. But instead of blaming the states that take in the refugees, isn’t it time to demand accountability of the nations that create their misery?

The UN’s refugee agency’s “Global Trends Report: World at War” got virtually no press when it was released Thursday, but it should have. Its stark data signal a global crisis of refugees and a great wrong in the established world order. Fifty-nine-and-a-half million people were driven from their homes in 2014 as a result of war, conflict and persecution, the highest number in history, as well as the biggest leap in a single year. A decade ago, refugees totaled 37.5 million. An average 42,500 are displaced each day, 1 out of every 122 people on earth, or, if placed together, a nation that ranks 24th among world populations.

“We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

Guterres rightly sees the scope of the problem, and as a global bureaucrat can be forgiven for his concern about “the response required”. But that focus on the response is precisely why the crummy Third World dictatorships, terrorist groups and corrupted democracies that create the refugees keep getting away with it.

Where is the scorn for the nations whose anti-free market, oligarchical and hostility-to-minority policies are the root of the problem?

It seems that the only criticism and attention that ever comes to refugee issues centers on whether the countries are able to take them in.

Southern Europe, for example, is being browbeaten by the UN, the Vatican and the European Union for not rolling out the welcome mat for the thousands of smugglers’ boats full of refugees from Syria, Niger, Chad, Libya, Afghanistan and elsewhere fleeing to their shores.

The same can be said of the United States, which is watching a stop-and-go border surge of Central Americans who insist they’re escaping gang violence in their home countries. Australian and Southeast Asian states have been berated by the same actors for not wanting to take in thousands of refugees sailing from Bangladesh and Burma.

The Dominican Republic is taking global brickbats for trying to preserve the integrity of its borders.

Are there any war-crimes tribunals in the works for captured Islamic State members whose terror is the No. 1 reason for refugee flight? Where’s the criticism of the government of Afghanistan, which makes corruption the priority over a livable homeland?

How about the governments of Chad, Niger and Somalia, or the leftist regimes in Central America, that actually encourage refugee outflows so they can live off their remittances instead of developing their economies through free markets?

Are any of these places being kicked out of international organizations for the misery they are responsible for? Has anyone ever been singled out for their failure to make their states livable? Not one.

Colombia was a creator of refugees a decade ago, but no longer. Why? It put itself under the wing of the US through Plan Colombia in 1998 and learned how to take control of its country and initiate free-market reforms.

Which brings up one idea that isn’t being discussed amid so much wretchedness: empire. In a 2014 article in the Atlantic Monthly, geography expert Robert D. Kaplan pointed out that empires are the foremost creators of stability and protectors of minorities. The topic is taboo. But in light of the growing failures of the international community to halt the refugee problem, it belongs on the table just as much as the UN’s solution — throwing more money at it.

With global refugees on the rise, it’s time to talk about the cause of the crisis as well as the cure.

The song of Western triumphalism 0

Listen to this inspirational song that is sung continually by white men, capitalists, Israelis, and American conservatives:

Posted under America, Capitalism, Islam, Israel, jihad, Muslims, United States, Videos by Jillian Becker on Saturday, June 20, 2015

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The 100th Man 0

Here is a refutation of Socialism in under 10 minutes.

An African parable on how profits work to the benefit of all society. Produced by the Free Market Foundation as a gift to African Students For Liberty.

Posted under Africa, Capitalism, Economics, education, Videos by Jillian Becker on Friday, June 19, 2015

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Keynes must die 4

To follow yesterday’s post on the GOP proposals for repealing Obamacare and replacing it with free-market solutions to health care needs (Health in the market place, June 7, 2015), we reproduce a comment made by Tibor Gaspardyn, originally on our Facebook page.

It provides important information on little-known problems of Health Care in America – and prescribes a cure for them.

From its founding in 1846, the American Medical Association (AMA) has been a union … a union by exclusion. It has been less concerned with improving medical practice, which it does, but with advancing professional prestige and economic reward. (Why does it so vigorously hide doctors’ performance information?)

In the 1880s it became one of the first and perhaps the most influential lobbying organizations in the Republic; only the banking lobby had greater influence. With the imposition of the progressive movement, in the American Republic (1890’s into the late 1920s) significantly promoted by Teddy Roosevelt and continuing under and through Woodrow Wilson, the AMA was granted, and it retains, incredible power and control over medical practice. The AMA’s stranglehold on medical practitioners and services was increased under FDR and it continues to grow stronger. There has never been an administration or Congress, since the AMA’s founding, that has ever challenged it’s economically-destructive control.  As with all unions, political contribution and support gains “look-the-other-way” privilege. And the AMA union members have some really deep pockets.

The AMA/political cabal allows the AMA to govern, with power and authority emulating law, the number of hospitals; the number of teaching hospitals; the number of those training as doctor, nurse and other related vocations; what the definitions and responsibilities are of the various medical vocations; the requirements, certifications, accreditations and qualifications for participation in the medical field – and more. In other words, the AMA, not free market capitalism, controls the entire supply, and therefore the quality and COST, of medical delivery, doctor’s incomes, within the USA. 

Too few doctors relative to those seeking medical care means fees go up. Nurses not allowed to perform routine procedures means billings go up. So, any plan to “fix” healthcare must eliminate the control of the AMA. Otherwise, there is no “patient-orientation”, costs will not be market-based; it will still be a union managed for the benefit of the purposefully-limited providers system. Critically, the self-balancing of supply and demand afforded under a real free market system is missing. Who is being served in our current AMA-based system?Consumers don’t count. Are you being made to sit in a  waiting room for an hour and a half? Is ‘house call’ still in the dictionary?

That analysis and description was just about the medical side of healthcare. Insurance and pharmaceuticals are also fully managed for the benefit of the suppliers. Not, however, by a self-serving  wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing union but by the suppliers themselves through their favorite career-politicians.

Health insurance is a government granted monopoly (anti-consumer monopolies and cartels are an impossibility in a free market capitalistic system). By law, only a handful of cartelized-insurers are allowed to operate in a state. No sales are permitted across state lines. That choice is outlawed. Why aren’t there any insurance policies that go with you, cover existing illness, offer all those coverages the liberals demand? Because they don’t have to. The insurers need only contribute to a campaign … serving consumers isn’t required! It is the same for the pharmaceutical industry.

Indeed, healthcare and all industries have become self-serving plunderers through political connection, technically called mercantalism – today wrongfully termed “crony ‘capitalism'”, and managed in an authoritarian – ie. fascist –  manner (the application of legislation, taxes, fees, certifications, inspections, etc. in order to control firms/the economy whilst allowing the appearance of private ownership and control). And, everywhere you turn you hear the cry for even more regulation. Regulation is simply code for anti-competition government intervention for the benefit of a favored company or industry - typically, called for covertly by the industry to be regulated. How many cable companies exist in your area … one? Yet, they claim stiff competition. Like so many, just another government granted monopoly at your expense. Further, incredibly, all the regulators come right out of the industries they are charged to regulate … no conflict there! The bottom line,all this political/re-election-directed economic intervention, healthcare or otherwise, increases costs above market pricing with quality of goods and services well below competition-based offerings.

It needs to be known that the AMA represents only 17% of doctors in the USA. The AMA agenda is not supported by those actually in the profession.  The agenda is supported by the politicians benefiting from the AMA’s substantial financial contribution and their lending of prestige (stooging) to political shenanigans through the 3rd-Party Authority Agrees Deception & Deflection Tactic (to pass a program and then after the program fails -  “Leading doctors agree…I relied on leading doctors”).

Lastly, until the Republic’s leadership is de-careered & un-partied, and the rigged regulation system is disbanded, and the Federal Reserve engine financing corruption and socialism is got rid of, the Republican group can plan all they want … election after election … there will not be change.

Keynes must die … if the American Republic is to live!

Posted under Capitalism, Economics, Socialism, United States by Jillian Becker on Monday, June 8, 2015

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“I, Pencil” forever 2

We posted this classic essay by Leonard E. Read at least twice before, but it seems to have dissolved in the mists of time. We were recently reminded of it by our contributing commenter, Don L.

It needs to be known by all generations down through the ages.

So here it is, or most of it. (We have made a few small cuts to appease our prejudices.)

As I sat contemplating the miraculous make-up of an ordinary lead pencil, the thought flashed in mind: I’ll bet there isn’t a person on earth who knows how to make even so simple a thing as a pencil.

If this could be demonstrated, it would dramatically portray the miracle of the market and would help to make clear that all manufactured things are but manifestations of creative-energy exchanges, that these are, in fact, spiritual phenomena. The lessons in political economy this could teach!

There followed that not-to-be-forgotten day at the pencil factory, beginning at the receiving dock, covering every phase of countless transformations, and concluding in an interview with the chemist.

Had you seen what I saw, you, also, might have struck up a warm friendship with that amazing character, I, PENCIL.

Being a writer in his own right, let I, PENCIL speak for himself:

I am a lead pencil — the ordinary wooden pencil familiar to all boys and girls and adults who can read and write.

Writing is both my vocation and my avocation; that’s all I do.

You may wonder why I should write a genealogy. Well, to begin with, my story is interesting. And, next, I am a mystery — more so than a tree or a sunset or even a flash of lightning. But, sadly, I am taken for granted by those who use me, as if I were a mere incident and without background. This supercilious attitude relegates me to the level of the commonplace. This is a species of the grievous error in which mankind cannot too long persist without peril. …

I, Pencil, simple though I appear to be, merit your wonder and awe, a claim I shall attempt to prove. In fact, if you can understand me — no, that’s too much to ask of anyone — if you can become aware of the miraculousness that I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing. I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because — well, because I am seemingly so simple.

Simple? Yet, not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me. This sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Especially when it is realized that there are about one and one-half billion of my kind produced in the United States each year.

Pick me up and look me over. What do you see? Not much meets the eye — there’s some wood, lacquer, the printed labeling, graphite lead, a bit of metal, and an eraser.

Just as you cannot trace your family tree back very far, so is it impossible for me to name and explain all my antecedents. But I would like to suggest enough of them to impress upon you the richness and complexity of my background.

My family tree begins with what in fact is a tree, a cedar of straight grain that grows in Northern California and Oregon. Now contemplate all the saws and trucks and rope and the countless other gear used in harvesting and carting the cedar logs to the railroad siding. Think of all the persons and the numberless skills that went into their fabrication: the mining of ore, the making of steel and its refinement into saws, axes, motors; the growing of hemp and bringing it through all the stages to heavy and strong rope; the logging camps with their beds and mess halls, the cookery and the raising of all the foods. Why, untold thousands of persons had a hand in every cup of coffee the loggers drink!

The logs are shipped to a mill in San Leandro, California. Can you imagine the individuals who make flat cars and rails and railroad engines and who construct and install the communication systems incidental thereto? These legions are among my antecedents.

Consider the millwork in San Leandro. The cedar logs are cut into small, pencil-length slats less than one-fourth of an inch in thickness. These are kiln dried and then tinted … [because] people prefer that I look pretty, not a pallid white. The slats are waxed and kiln dried again. How many skills went into the making of the tint and the kilns, into supplying the heat, the light and power, the belts, motors, and all the other things a mill requires? Sweepers in the mill among my ancestors? Yes, and included are the men who poured the concrete for the dam of a Pacific Gas & Electric Company hydroplant, which supplies the mill’s power!

Don’t overlook the ancestors present and distant who have a hand in transporting 60 carloads of slats across the nation.

Once in the pencil factory — $4,000,000 in machinery and building, all capital accumulated by thrifty and saving parents of mine — each slat is given eight grooves by a complex machine, after which another machine lays leads in every other slat, applies glue, and places another slat atop — a lead sandwich, so to speak. Seven brothers and I are mechanically carved from this “wood-clinched” sandwich.

My “lead” itself — it contains no lead at all — is complex. The graphite is mined in Ceylon. Consider these miners and those who make their many tools and the makers of the paper sacks in which the graphite is shipped and those who make the string that ties the sacks and those who put them aboard ships and those who make the ships. Even the lighthouse keepers along the way assisted in my birth — and the harbor pilots.

The graphite is mixed with clay from Mississippi in which ammonium hydroxide is used in the refining process. Then wetting agents are added such as sulfonated tallow — animal fats chemically reacted with sulfuric acid. After passing through numerous machines, the mixture finally appears as endless extrusions — as from a sausage grinder — cut to size, dried, and baked for several hours at 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit. To increase their strength and smoothness the leads are then treated with a hot mixture that includes candelilla wax from Mexico, paraffin wax, and hydrogenated natural fats.

My cedar receives six coats of lacquer. Do you know all the ingredients of lacquer? Who would think that the growers of castor beans and the refiners of castor oil are a part of it? They are. Why, even the processes by which the lacquer is made a beautiful yellow involve the skills of more persons than one can enumerate!

Observe the labeling. That’s a film formed by applying heat to carbon black mixed with resins. How do you make resins and what, pray, is carbon black?

My bit of metal — the ferrule — is brass. Think of all the persons who mine zinc and copper and those who have the skills to make shiny sheet brass from these products of nature. Those black rings on my ferrule are black nickel. What is black nickel and how is it applied? The complete story of why the center of my ferrule has no black nickel on it would take pages to explain.

Then there’s my crowning glory, inelegantly referred to in the trade as “the plug,” the part man uses to erase the errors he makes with me. An ingredient called “factice” is what does the erasing. It is a rubberlike product made by reacting rapeseed oil from the Dutch East Indies with sulfur chloride. Rubber, contrary to the common notion, is only for binding purposes. Then, too, there are numerous vulcanizing and accelerating agents. The pumice comes from Italy; and the pigment that gives “the plug” its color is cadmium sulfide.

Does anyone wish to challenge my earlier assertion that no single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me?

Actually, millions of human beings have had a hand in my creation, no one of whom even knows more than a very few of the others. Now, you may say that I go too far in relating the picker of a coffee berry in far-off Brazil and food growers elsewhere to my creation; that this is an extreme position. I shall stand by my claim. There isn’t a single person in all these millions, including the president of the pencil company, who contributes more than a tiny, infinitesimal bit of know-how. From the standpoint of know-how the only difference between the miner of graphite in Ceylon and the logger in Oregon is in the type of know-how. Neither the miner nor the logger can be dispensed with, any more than can the chemist at the factory or the worker in the oil field — paraffin being a byproduct of petroleum.

Here is an astounding fact: neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. Each one wants me less, perhaps, than does a child in the first grade. Indeed, there are some among this vast multitude who never saw a pencil nor would they know how to use one. Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. I may or may not be among these items.

There is a fact still more astounding: the absence of a mastermind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work. This is the mystery to which I earlier referred.

… I, Pencil, am a complex combination of miracles: a tree, zinc, copper, graphite, and so on. But to these miracles that manifest themselves in nature an even-more-extraordinary miracle has been added: the configuration of creative human energies — millions of tiny know-hows configurating naturally and spontaneously in response to human necessity and desire and in the absence of any human masterminding! …

The above is what I meant when writing, “If you can become aware of the miraculousness that I symbolize, you can help save the freedom mankind is so unhappily losing.” For, if one is aware that these know-hows will naturally, yes, automatically, arrange themselves into creative and productive patterns in response to human necessity and demand — that is, in the absence of governmental or any other coercive masterminding — then one will possess an absolutely essential ingredient for freedom: a faith in free people. Freedom is impossible without this faith.

Once government has had a monopoly of a creative activity such, for instance, as the delivery of the mails, most individuals will believe that the mails could not be efficiently delivered by men acting freely. And here is the reason: each one acknowledges that he himself doesn’t know how to do all the things incident to mail delivery. He also recognizes that no other individual could do it. These assumptions are correct. No individual possesses enough know-how to perform a nation’s mail delivery any more than any individual possesses enough know-how to make a pencil. Now, in the absence of faith in free people — in the unawareness that millions of tiny know-hows would naturally and miraculously form and cooperate to satisfy this necessity — the individual cannot help but reach the erroneous conclusion that mail can be delivered only by governmental “masterminding.”

If I, Pencil, were the only item that could offer testimony on what men and women can accomplish when free to try, then those with little faith would have a fair case. However, there is testimony galore; it’s all about us and on every hand. Mail delivery is exceedingly simple when compared, for instance, to the making of an automobile or a calculating machine or a grain combine or a milling machine or to tens of thousands of other things.

Delivery? Why, in this area where men have been left free to try, they deliver the human voice around the world in less than one second; they deliver an event visually and in motion to any person’s home when it is happening; they deliver 150 passengers from Seattle to Baltimore in less than four hours; they deliver gas from Texas to one’s range or furnace in New York at unbelievably low rates and without subsidy; they deliver each four pounds of oil from the Persian Gulf to our Eastern Seaboard — halfway around the world — for less money than the government charges for delivering a one-ounce letter across the street!

The lesson I have to teach is this: Leave all creative energies uninhibited. Merely organize society to act in harmony with this lesson. Let society’s legal apparatus remove all obstacles the best it can. Permit these creative know-hows freely to flow.

Have faith that free men and women will respond to the Invisible Hand. This faith will be confirmed. I, Pencil, seemingly simple though I am, offer the miracle of my creation as testimony that this is a practical faith, as practical as the sun, the rain, a cedar tree, the good earth.

Posted under Capitalism, Commentary, Economics by Jillian Becker on Monday, May 18, 2015

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Hayek speaks 2

Hayek-on-Socialism-copy.jpg,qresize=456,P2C425.pagespeed.ce.AzQc0qvK8w9qE9wI7ZeA

Posted under Capitalism, Economics, Socialism by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, April 1, 2015

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Libertarianism the wave of the future? 9

The Left likes to believe – as Obama and Harry Reid often iterate – that it is “on the side of history”.

Is history then stuck with those stale and failed ideas of a Marxian stamp propagated by the likes of Kenneth Galbraith, John Maynard Keynes, or the bone-headed strategies of Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Priven?

Or tending back to the Dark Ages with a resurgence of Islam?

Surely not. A civilization that has put a man on the moon; has invented the computer, the internet, the driverless car; that watches the expansion of the universe; that can replace a faulty human heart with a new one; that has used liberty to become rich, knowledgable, and ever more inventive, is not going to go back to communism or the law of the seventh century desert?

Quo vadis then?

The maliciously lefty and deeply nasty New York Times notices a rise in libertarian opinion in America.

Libertarianism has been touted as the wave of America’s political future for many years, generally with more enthusiasm than evidence. But there are some tangible signs that Americans’ attitudes are in fact moving in that direction.

The NYT goes on to substantiate its claim with figures and a chart.

It defines a libertarian, fairly enough, as “someone who believes that the government is best when it governs least”.

There have been visible shifts in public opinion on a number of issues, ranging from increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization on the one hand, to the skepticism over stimulus packages and the health-care overhaul on the other hand, that can be interpreted as a move toward more libertarian views.

The Tea Party movement also has some lineage in libertarian thinking. Although polls suggest that many people who participate in the Tea Party movement have quite socially conservative views, the movement spends little time emphasizing those positions, as compared with economic issues.

The perception that the Tea Party – whose chief issue is the need for fiscal responsibility – has “some lineage in libertarian thinking” is remarkable for that newspaper. It seldom removes its red blindfold long enough to replace it for a short time with blinders. For it to see something that is actually there but not obvious is a lucky moment of illumination worth a cheer or two. The author of the article is Nate Silver. Perhaps he found some cunning way to let that uncongenial revelation slip past editorial oversight.

Or perhaps he and his editors think that libertarian thinking is bad anyway. If we didn’t know that to be the case already, there’s a hint of it in what comes later.

The libertarian opinions, revealed by a CNN poll and quoted in the article, are these:

Some 63 percent of respondents said government was doing too much — up from 61 percent in 2010 and 52 percent in 2008 — while 50 percent said government should not favor any particular set of values, up from 44 percent in 2010 and 41 percent in 2008.

The author, apparently not happy to accept what the poll reveals, comments:

Whether people are as libertarian-minded in practice as they might believe themselves to be when they answer survey questions is another matter. Still, there have been visible shifts in public opinion on a number of issues, ranging from increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization on the one hand …”

So a tolerance with which he has sympathy …

 … to the skepticism over stimulus packages and the health-care overhaul on the other hand …

So a skepticism he condemns  …

 … that can be interpreted as a move toward more libertarian views.

How confusing for Nate Silver! Libertarians like some of the things he likes. But they also dislike things that he holds dear.

Well, actually, that is the case with us too.

We welcome the spread of libertarian sentiment.

We too see no reason why marijuana should be illegal.

As for same-sex marriage, we think it is an hilarious farce, but would on no account oppose it. A 12-year old boy once defined marriage for us as “a legal union between two or more things”.  Why not  more than two? Why not things or beasts as well as humans?  If – as the argument goes – they love each other? (Well, we said it’s a farce.)

Where we are strongly with libertarians is on the issue of economic freedom. As our contributing commenter Don L often recommends: accept that the Austrian School is right and allow no government interference whatsoever in economic activity – and abolish the Fed. We also advocate keeping taxes (flat-rated) very low. So low that they cannot sustain a government that does much more than it absolutely has to do – protect the liberty of the people, from outside enemies, and domestic criminals. And enforce the law of contract.

But we too have some quarrels with libertarians.

There are those among them who outrageously condone the corruption of children, even the use of them for pornography “as long as they are willing and are paid for their services”!*

Quite a large number of libertarians are historical revisionists, and some who ridiculously and with evil intent deny that the Holocaust ever happened.**

And most libertarians want America to take no notice of what’s going on in the world beyond its borders, except for trade and vacations. As if ignorance is a protection from a world full of expansionist tyrannies and ideologies.

No. None of that.

But a libertarianism that holds individual freedom as the highest value, and knows that it is only possible under the rule of law; and at the same time is committed to preserving the best of everything America has achieved in the past, is a libertarianism that we can – and do – embrace.

 

NOTES:

* We cannot link to articles that discuss this. Access to them is “forbidden”.

**Although the article we link to here does endorse what we say that some libertarians deny  the Holocaust, it goes too far in criticizing Reason and its sponsors.

Death of a great leader 3

On March 23, 2015, Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s Prime Minister from 1959 t0 1990 and leader to his last day, died at the age of 91. The city-state he founded is in its 50th year of independence, a prosperous model of economic freedom to all the world.

lky   

Singapore was under British sovereignty from 1826 to 1963 (but was occupied by the Japanese during the Second World War). In 1959 it became self-governing, and Lee Kuan Yew, leader of the People’s Action Party (PAP), became prime minister. After decolonization in 1963, Singapore joined with other newly independent territories – Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak – to form the Federation of Malaysia. Political disputes led to its expulsion from the Federation in 1965.

From Lee’s obituary in Malay Mail Online:

When Singapore was expelled from Malaysia in 1965, two years after the federation was formed, Lee was left with a tiny city-state of migrants without a common language, culture or destiny, with no natural resources, surrounded by powerful neighbours like Indonesia and China. …

At the helm of a nation-state in its infancy, Lee built Singapore after his own image – stern, disciplined and no-nonsense. He brooked no dissent and did not tolerate corruption. He focused on running an efficient, pragmatic and meritocratic administration. Corporal punishment was used for even minor infractions like vandalism.

The People’s Action Party (PAP) government under Lee’s leadership industrialised Singapore, turned it into an exporter of finished goods and brought in foreign investment. A low-cost public housing programme was implemented and Lee introduced serious measures to tackle graft by creating an enforcement agency that reported directly to him, besides revising government service salaries periodically and increasing the standard of living for workers.

Lee expanded education and made English the working language in Singapore, although the majority in the multi-racial country spoke Mandarin. While he worried of the racial turmoil that could come with a monolingual policy favouring the majority Chinese community, it was his practical concerns that guided his decision since Singapore was trying to attract multinational corporations as a manufacturing hub. …

He also boosted Singapore’s defence force and implemented an Israeli model of national service, where all 18-year-old men are required to train in the programme for two years.

Singapore spends a quarter of its annual budget on defence and is the fifth-largest importer of military hardware …

Lee described himself as a street fighter. A knuckle duster who took on communists with “killer squads” and “Malay ultras” when Singapore was in Malaysia for two years. A tough and unyielding man feared by citizens.

Lee was the longest-serving head of government in Asia and remained in government even after stepping down as prime minister in 1990. Although he had resigned as prime minister in 1990, he had remained in government for another two decades: first serving as senior minister and later as minister mentor.

He only fully retired from the Cabinet in 2011 after PAP’s worst electoral showing since independence. …

Despite Singapore’s success as a “first world oasis in a third world region”, Lee believed that the country was still fighting for survival and that everything could come undone very quickly. He had a paranoid fear of nebulous threats and constantly reminded his people about the country’s vulnerabilities and to be vigilant.

“Where are we? Are we in the Caribbean? Are we next to America like the Bahamas? Are we in the Mediterranean, like Malta, next to Italy? Are we like Hong Kong, next to China and therefore, will become part of China? We are in Southeast Asia, in the midst of a turbulent, volatile, unsettled region. Singapore is a superstructure built on what? On 700 square kilometres and a lot of smart ideas that have worked so far,” Lee said in a 2007 interview with US columnist Tom Plate and new-media expert Jeffrey Cole.

The one time when the man known for his strictness and unsentimentality lost his composure in public was when Malaysia ejected Singapore.

In a press conference on August 9, 1965, where he announced Singapore’s independence and separation from the federation, a tearful Lee described it as a “moment of anguish”, his voice choked with emotion, pausing a few times as he spoke before finally asking for the [TV] recording to be stopped temporarily.

“For me, it is a moment of anguish because all my life … you see, the whole of my adult life … I have believed in Malaysian merger and the unity of these two territories. You know, it’s a people, connected by geography, economics, and ties of kinship … Would you mind if we stop for a while?” he had said. …

Lee focused on building a meritocracy in multi-racial Singapore and strove for equality to harness talent that was the city-state’s only resource. He disagreed with the way Malaysia managed its multi-cultural, Malay-majority society through affirmative action policies.

“Our Malays are English-educated, they’re no longer like the Malays in Malaysia and you can see there are some still wearing headscarves but very modern looking,” he told NYT in 2010.

Lee said Malaysians saw Malaysia as a “Malay country” and was critical of how the Bumiputeras dominated Malaysia.

“So the Sultans, the Chief Justice and judges, generals, police commissioner, the whole hierarchy is Malay. All the big contracts for Malays. Malay is the language of the schools although it does not get them into modern knowledge. So the Chinese build and find their own independent schools to teach Chinese, the Tamils create their own Tamil schools, which do not get them jobs. It’s a most unhappy situation,” he said in the 2010 New York Times interview. …

Lee’s critics have often accused him of suppressing civil liberties and using libel suits to intimidate his political opponents into not running against him. The opposition boycotted Parliament from 1966 onwards, leaving a Parliament completely dominated by the PAP until the ruling party lost a parliamentary seat in a 1981 by-election. The watershed 2011 general election later saw the opposition Workers’ Party winning six parliamentary seats.

Lee believed that democracy was secondary to discipline, development and good governance.

“What are our priorities? First, the welfare, the survival of the people. Then, democratic norms and processes which from time to time we have to suspend,” Lee said at a 1986 National Day Rally.

He shied away from Western-style democracy, saying he had to amend the British system for multi-racial Singapore.

“Supposing I’d run their system here, Malays would vote for Muslims, Indians would vote for Indians, Chinese would vote for Chinese. I would have a constant clash in my Parliament which cannot be resolved because the Chinese majority would always overrule them,” Lee told German magazine Spiegel in 2005.

He laughed off a journalist who called him a dictator, saying, with a touch of arrogance, that he did not have to be a dictator when he could win “hands down”. 

“I can get a free vote and win. And there’s a long history why that is so. Because I have produced results, and the people know that I mean what I say and I have produced results,” Lee told NYT’s William Safire in 1999.

Although there were laws against homosexuality they were not enforced. He himself was “indifferent to homosexuality”, but he …

… frowned on [gay] pride parades because he wanted to maintain social order.

“China has already allowed and recognised gays, so have Hong Kong and Taiwan. It’s a matter of time. But we have a part Muslim population, another part conservative older Chinese and Indians. So, let’s go slowly. It’s a pragmatic approach to maintain social cohesion,” he said.

Lee’s cold pragmatism, in line with his ambivalence about the divine, was devoid of romanticism and ideology. …

“Ambivalence about the divine”? Lee was an agnostic. We do not regard agnosticism as “ambivalence about the divine”.  (Actually, we regard agnosticism as atheism in kid gloves.) But the authors of the report do point out some contradictions in Lee’s view of religion.

He also practised meditation, in which he repeated a Catholic mantra “Ma Ra Na Ta” for 20 minutes, which means “Come to me oh Lord Jesus”, though he was an agnostic. …

Lee remained a fighter to the end. He didn’t care what his critics thought of him. The final verdict would not be in his obituaries, he said.

Lee had built the foundation for a thriving Singapore from nothing and turned the country into Asia’s financial centre, a developed country in a Third World region. But he also realised that his time of fighting communists and extremists had passed and that it was a new world now. He called for a “fresh clean slate” when he retired from Cabinet in 2011.

Younger voters who grew up in Singapore’s concrete jungle now worry about the cost of living amid a widening income gap and resent the country’s liberal immigration policy that PAP had long introduced to support its flourishing economy. …

He is not above all criticism even by admirers. He did not allow freedom of the press.

Information was tightly controlled in a muzzled press. …

He liked and tried to enforce tidiness and cleanliness. He outlawed chewing-gum, probably because it makes city streets dirty. It was as if his city-state was his household.

“Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel something is going wrong, I will get up,” Lee once said in 1988.

The report also tell us that his favourite book was Don Quixote. 

A choice that fits well with his great qualities as a man as well as a leader. As does this:

When his wife Kwa Geok Choo was bedridden in 2008 from a stroke for two years before her death, he used to sit beside her and read her favourite poems to her and tell her about his day, convinced that she could hear him and understand though she could not communicate.

Finally we quote from the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom:

Singapore’s economic freedom score is 89.4, making its economy the 2nd freest in the 2015 Index. …  Only 0.2 point behind Hong Kong, Singapore ranks 2nd out of 42 countries in the Asia–Pacific region. …

A highly educated and motivated workforce has added to the economy’s dynamism and resilience, reinforcing Singapore’s innovative capacity. Singaporean society has a low tolerance for corruption, and the effective rule of law strongly undergirds all aspects of economic development. …

Singapore is one of the world’s most prosperous nations. Its economy is dominated by services, but the country is also a major manufacturer of electronics and chemicals.

Singapore has traditionally been lauded for its lack of corruption. As in most countries, there are ongoing concerns over issues of transparency and the power of deeply entrenched groups. Political speech is regulated, inhibiting organized pressure for policy changes. Contracts are secure, there is no expropriation, and commercial courts function well. Singapore has one of Asia’s best intellectual property regimes. … Starting a business takes three days, and required procedures are straightforward. No minimum wage is enforced, but wage adjustments are guided by the National Wage Council.

So even in Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew,  there’s been a little state interference in the economy.

The state funds housing, education, transport, and health care subsidy programs and influences other prices through regulations and state-linked enterprises. … Imports of chewing gum and “objectionable” publications are restricted, and some service industries face barriers. …

Now that Lee Kuan Yew has gone – and if he does not “get up” from his grave – what are the chances that the state will grow and regulations will multiply? That while objectionable publications will no longer be restricted (because social media will spread information anyway), and chewing-gum will become freely available, Singapore will drop from second place in the Freedom Index? We hope it will not. But we are too realistic – or pessimistic – to declare such a development unlikely.

Posted under Capitalism, Commentary, liberty by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, March 25, 2015

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Who remembers freedom? 5

Yesterday (March 9, 2015), on Fox TV, Charles Krauthammer pointed out to Bill O’Reilly that the Left now has control of almost all the institutions that shape our culture. He is right.

The chief disseminators of ideas – the universities, the entertainment industry, and almost all the press and TV news media – accept and propound Leftist values and aims almost as naturally and unquestioningly as we breathe air. The only exceptions, as Krauthammer pointed out, are Fox News, “three pages of the Wall Street Journal”, and talk radio. Of course the intolerant dictatorship of the Left wants to silence them. The Left brooks no dissent.

Generation after generation is growing up and becoming the workers and welfare-dependents, the rulers and bureaucrats, the parents and teachers, the writers and preachers of what used to be the free world, convinced to a man and woman – and every one of the other 70-plus genders now compulsorily recognized by the Left – that there is such a thing as “social justice”, that it is supremely desirable, and that it can be attained by government controlling the economy, pretending to control the climate, and tightly regulating how and where and for how long people live their lives.

Leftists really do believe that their dogma is “the truth”, and the only good. Just like religions. Which is why we say that the creed of Leftism, though it does without a traditional divinity, is a religion. It has a god of sorts in History, which it holds to be the uber-director of our destiny, warning us, like the Borg in Star Trek: “Resistance is futile.”

Those of us who still cling to the quaint old-fashioned notion that individuals should be free to live and think and act as they choose, and that their freedom should be protected by the rule of objective law, are a fast diminishing minority. Our own descendants will consider us cranks.

America was founded on the idea of individual freedom protected by the rule of law. Because its people were safe and free, they made the United States the mightiest and the most prosperous country of all time.

It was good while it lasted.

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