Race to the top 7

How much worse race relations have become since Barack Obama was elected (ludicrously) to the presidency. Of course he got elected because a great many whites voted for him for no better reason than that he is black. A totally racist reason. So the signs for the elimination of race as a divisive political issue were not good.

It was a very poor reason to vote for him, his skin color. In no way did he, although a black American, embody the experience and historical consciousness of most black Americans. Through his paternal line he is a member of the Luo tribe of East Africa. His (Muslim and Communist) Luo father was not even an immigrant in America, only a short-stay student visitor. So if some thought a vote for Obama was a vote to make amends to black Americans for the enslavement of their ancestors, they widely missed the mark.

In two of his columns syndicated today, Thomas Sowell deplores the latest measures Obama is taking to stress and exploit racial differences.

First he writes against a policy being implemented in Minneapolis to privilege black delinquent children by giving them lighter punishment than white children who commit the same offenses:

If anyone still has any doubt about the utter cynicism of the Obama administration, a recent agreement between the federal government and the Minneapolis Public Schools should open their eyes.

Under the Obama administration, both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have been leaning on public schools around the country to reduce what they call the “disproportionate” numbers of black male students who are punished for various offenses in schools.

Under an implicit threat of losing their federal subsidies, the Minneapolis Public Schools have agreed to reduce the disparity in punishment of black students by 25% by the end of this school year, and then by 50%, 75% and finally 100% in each of the following years.

In other words, there are now racial quota limits for punishment in the Minneapolis schools.

If we stop and think — as old-fashioned as that may seem — there is not the slightest reason to expect black males to commit the same number of offenses as Asian females or any other set of students.

When different groups of human beings have behaved differently in all sorts of ways, in countries around the world, for thousands of years of recorded history, why would we accept as dogma that the only reason one set of students gets punished more than others is because the people who are doing the punishing are picking on them?

Politically — which is the way the Obama administration looks at everything — any time they can depict blacks as victims, and depict themselves as their rescuers, that means an opportunity to get out the black vote for Democrats.

On the surface, this may look like a favor to blacks. But only on the surface.

Anyone with common sense knows that letting a kid get away with bad behavior is an open invitation to worse behavior in the future. Punishing a kid for misbehavior in school when he is 10 years old may reduce the chances that he will have to be sent to prison when he is 20 years old.

Other schools in other cities, which have also caved under pressure from the federal government, and agreed to lighten up on black kids who misbehave, have reported an increase in misbehavior, including violence. Who would have thought otherwise?

Letting kids who are behavior problems in schools grow up to become hoodlums and then criminals is no favor to them or to the black community. Moreover, it takes no more than a small fraction of troublemakers in a class to make it impossible to give that class a decent education. And for many poor people, whether black or white, education is their one big chance to escape poverty.

Next, Sowell writes about the absurd policy of enforcing “racial quotas for academic performance” in public schools:

Just as school boards across the country scramble to meet new federal limits for punishing black students, Obama’s educrats now want them to hit racial quotas for academic performance, too.

Last month, slipping almost everybody’s notice, the Education Department’s office for civil rights issued a guidance letter to 14,000 local school districts that expands “racial equity” beyond school discipline into virtually every aspect of public education.

Breathtaking in its scope, the 37-page edict warns school boards that they have to reach the same equity, based on “disparate impact” statistics, in:

1) advanced placement courses;

2) gifted and talented programs;

3) distribution of funds;

4) school facilities;

5) technology; and,

6) teacher talent, experience and diversity.

Those who don’t get their numbers right risk forfeiting federal funding and being investigated for discrimination. It doesn’t matter if school policies provide black students equal access to fast-track programs and resources. Or if standards are color-blind.

If disproportionate numbers of African-Americans don’t avail themselves of those policies, schools can expect a visit from Obama’s diversity cops. …

From now on, racial imbalances in “advanced placement and international baccalaureate courses, gifted and talent programs” and other honors programs will be flagged by Obama’s racial bean counters. If your school has “too many” whites and Asians and “too few” blacks in those programs, you might want to lawyer up. …

Of course, most boards will not want to fight Washington and risk losing subsidies. So they’ll more than likely work to get their numbers right — even if it means lowering entrance standards and curving test scores.

Liability does not end there. The Obama regime also sees as racist disparities in the quality of facilities, resources and teachers. …

It blames these allegedly discriminatory disparities for lower black graduation rates. …

School districts that show statistical disparities by race will be aggressively investigated under the administration’s unconstitutional disparate impact theory and “be expected to put in place a clear plan for remedying the inequality in a timely fashion.” …

In effect, activist federal bureaucrats are micromanaging all local school decisions now, with the goal of massive redistribution of resources and outcomes.

The best way to ensure underprivileged kids have access to quality education is to give their parents better options through school choice facilitated by education vouchers. But Democrats and their school union donors fight such common-sense solutions and opt for race-baiting instead.

The incoming GOP majority in Congress ought to demand the administration rescind its draconian new school policy guidance.

Nowhere at this time is the result of Obama’s racist policies more starkly apparent than in Ferguson, Missouri.

Obama made an unscheduled visit to the black leaders of recent protest riots there and told them to “Stay on course”.

Seems they will.

Kerry Picket writes at Breitbart:

Protesters anxiously awaiting the St. Louis grand jury decision relating to the shooting death of 18-year-old Mike Brown have been training activists all weekend in preparation for the day the grand jury makes an announcement about whether to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for Brown’s death.

Regardless of the verdict, then, “activists” will protest.

In a small room located on South Jefferson Avenue … organizers like Rev. Osagyefo Sekou are instructing groups of individuals about tactics relating to resisting police commandsduring demonstrations. Sekou is a St. Louis native who grew up in the area but now lives in Massachusetts.

He’s come to Ferguson specially for the sport.

Topics covered by organizers like Sekou … included decentralized protest actions, jail support, first aid, legal issues, as well as staying safe on the streets during demonstrations. …

Sekou says to the group, “Our task in part is, in addition to all the information is get a sense as to why we are here. We are part of the guiding principles for this movement. It’s militant non-violent civil disobedience. Can you please say that?”

Attendees respond, “Militant non-violent civil disobedience.”

“Militant” but also “non-violent”?

Sekou continues, “And we use the word ‘militant’ as opposed to the word ‘passive’ non-violent civil disobedience, because we are about a direct encounter with the state to create drama to show that we are willing to take a risk in confronting the state because of injustice. Right?”

Attendees reply, “Right.”

The injustice is accepted as a fact.

“We break unjust laws, because it’s the morally right thing to do. That’s why we do it. And there’s a tradition of that,” Sekou says to the group of mainly white attendees – many who are at least 50 years old.

Elderly whites will be breaking the law to create drama to show that they’re willing to take a risk in confronting the state. If they do, there will be no outcry from the media. It’s not as if these were members of the Tea Party.

“And militant non-violent civil disobedience gave us the 8 hour work day. It gave us women’s right to vote. It gave us the possibility of me standing here in this room with you without the relative fear of arbitrary violence because this meeting would have been historically illegal 50 years ago. That’s what militant non-violent civil disobedience gave us.  We are angry, but we will not allow the anger to have the last word,” says Sekou as the protesters-in-training answered him positively with rousing congregational “yeahs” after each sentence.

“So what militant non-violent civil disobedience allows us to do is to create a container that we can channel it directly at the state, because this is not about bad apples. This is about a rotten system,” Sekou tells the trainees.

“Because you can be a good cop who doesn’t shoot black people but if you give out more tickets in Ferguson than there are actually people in Ferguson, that’s an evil system.”

Sekou then starts, “So we are confronting an…”

The audience finishes his sentence stating back to him, “Evil system.”

He continues, “[This is] not about an individual police or about individuals. This is about confronting an evil system. And the thing that guides us is love — not the kind of love that you see somebody and you think they’re cute — not that — [but rather] deep abiding love. Say that.”

Attendees responded, “Deep abiding love.”

“That’s what guides us, because deep abiding love says you’re willing to go to jail for what you believe in. Deep abiding love says you’re willing to risk your life for what you believe in,” Sekou says. “That’s what deep abiding love does. Deep abiding love in the front of tanks and tear gas and pepper spray says you will not bow down.” …

At this point some attendees are asked to participate in an exercise involving locking arms while others play the police vociferously demanding they leave the area.

Sekou asks those who are locking arms how they felt after that experience.

“Did you tense up? In those instances what’s the guiding principles?”

They reply, “Deep abiding love.”

“So when you feel the person next to you, you hold the line. You hold the line. One of the toughest things to do is if you are being advanced upon, if you sit, it’s harder for you to be broken up, right? So as they come for you this time, I want you to sit and lock,” he says.

The topic of race came up briefly as Sekou points out, “Look at all these white folks putting their bodies on the line for black people, because this is not a separate struggle. It is one struggle.”

Another organizer, later in the training, tells the group there is indeed “mostly white folks here.”

The sort of white folks who approve of Obama no matter what he does because he is black. Racist white folks.

A birthday to celebrate 9

Today is the anniversary of the birth of the great Austrian economist and political philosopher, F.A.Hayek.

This tribute to him comes from Investor’s Business Daily, by Gerald P. O’Driscoll Jr., senior fellow at the Cato Institute:

Hayek’s work, whether on economics, politics or law, focused on the ineluctable problems of uncertainty and incomplete information. In economics articles going back to the 1930s, he analyzed the price system as a mechanism for communicating information to buyers and sellers about the intensity of preferences for goods and their relative scarcity. He concluded that the information does not exist anywhere in its entirety and could not be centralized. … Socialist (really communist) societies relying on centralized planning would be characterized by gross economic inefficiencies.

Hayek was vindicated by subsequent events. The power of this argument is lost today on policymakers engaged in “planning lite,” attempts to allocate credit to favored industries and pick winners.

The Great Recession was in large part the consequence of such a policy. The Fed’s balance sheet is loaded up with housing finance paper. In “Ben Bernanke Versus Milton Friedman,” historian Jeffrey Rogers Hummel argues that the Fed has evolved from monetary authority to a credit allocator.

Hayek first began evolving his information argument in his monetary analysis. In 1932, he questioned whether deliberate monetary management could avoid economic fluctuations.

Friedman later developed the argument against discretionary monetary policy in a series of articles that detailed the information problems confronting a central bank. His argument later became encapsulated as the “lags” in monetary policy — i.e., the unpredictability of when the effects of monetary policy actions will be felt. Monetary policymakers give lip service to Friedman’s arguments, but ignore them in practice.

Hayek deftly summed up his argument on information in his 1988 book, The Fatal Conceit:

The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

A market economy is a complex order, the outcome of societal evolution that confounds efforts to redesign it. The central tenet of classical liberalism was summed up by George Smith in his brilliant book, The System of Liberty:

Laissez faire in all spheres, personal, social and economic, was the fundamental presumption of liberalism — its default setting, so to speak — and all deviations from this norm stood in need of justification.

In America, by linguistic legerdemain, progressives transformed the meaning of liberalism into nearly the opposite of what it originally meant. Progressives became liberals, and true liberals lost their identity. Hence, we have the peculiar use of conservative to denote in America what had once been liberal thought.

So when Hayek wrote a famous essay on “Why I Am Not a Conservative,” he confabulated some American conservatives. He was not attacking American conservatism. Instead, he was combating the transplantation to America of a “European type of conservatism, which (is) alien to the American tradition.” That European conservatism upheld tradition and status over liberty and innovation.

Hayek argued there, and elsewhere, that liberalism must be the political philosophy of principles. Its central principle is individual liberty.

Hayek provided a much-needed program for American conservatives today. They must stand for free markets and free people. Free markets and free trade must be seen as the economic core of an opportunity society that provides hope for all. …

Hayek was born in Vienna at the high point of the global liberal economic order comprising free markets, free trade and capital movements, and the classical gold standard. That glorious edifice ended with World War I. So for decades he was arguing against the tide of history. Yet he lived long enough to be vindicated. His words, written over the course of much of the 20th century, constitute a message for today.

On the centenary of Hayek’s birth, May 8, 1999, Barun S. Mitra wrote a tribute to him, published by the Liberty Institute, India.

We quote from it:

Today, a wide range of people has acknowledged his contribution all over the world. From philosophers like Karl Popper, Robert Nozick … to political leaders like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Vaclav Klaus, to Nobel laureate economists like Milton Friedman, James Buchanan … and countless others. As the iron curtain was being built in the aftermath of World War II, Ludwig Erhard, the finance minister of West Germany turned to Hayekian ideas to rebuild his country. Half a century later when the iron curtain collapsed, leaders in many countries in Eastern Europe again turned to Hayek in their attempt to rebuild their societies. And Hayek is reportedly available on the bookshelf of even the Chinese Prime Minister.

If today, the world is witnessing a perceptible change in thinking, it is in no small amount due to the legacy of Hayek. …

No wonder commemorative events are being organised in London, Paris, Vienna, Washington, D.C., Montreal, Eastern Europe, and Central America. The Adam Smith Institute in the United Kingdom has named him the man of the century. …

Hayek was more than a Nobel Prize winning academic. He was an intellectual giant, who was also a gentleman to the core. The man, who went on to become one of the greatest champions of liberty, had begun his life as a young soldier in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and sent to the Italian front in 1917. An academic, whose “controversial ideas” were eventually recognised by the Nobel committee in 1974, Hayek was also an activist who was among the founders of the Mont Pelerin Society in 1948. This was an organisation dedicated to pursuing the intellectual battle against all forms of authoritarianism and tyranny at a time when it was fashionable to call oneself socialist. Today, it has hundreds of members, including many Nobel laureates, spread across all the continents. He inspired many to take up intellectual activism like the late Sir Anthony Fisher, the British businessman who founded the Institute of Economic Affairs in London in 1955. Over the years, IEA, an independent think tank, has produced countless policy papers and books on contemporary issues, and is recognised to have contributed to changing the popular perception that made the Thatcher revolution possible in Britain in the 1980s

Hayek was born in Vienna, Austria, on May 8, 1899, to August Edler von Hayek & Felicitas von Hayek. Even as a teenager, he was interested in philosophy, economics and ethics. But his studies were interrupted as he was called for military duty in 1917, and saw action on the Italian front. On his return from service he went back to college. In the 1920s Hayek was part of that heady circle in post-war Vienna, a group which featured some of the greatest minds of the century. He earned two doctorates, one in law and another in political science. He studied economics under Ludwig von Mises, one of the greatest exponents of the Austrian School. He left for England in 1931 worried about the rise of the Nazis in Germany. Hayek mainly taught at the London School of Economics, but had short spells at universities around world including, Cambridge, Chicago, Stanford, Tokyo, and Freiburg.

Hayek was one of those few fortunate people who lived to see the tumultuous events that shook the socialist empire, and be vindicated. In a letter written in 1989, he noted, “the ultimate victory of our side in the long dispute of the principles of the free market.” He must have been saddened at the enormous cost, both human and material, that was paid in pursuit of a doomed experiment.

Hayek died in  Freiburg on 23 March 1992.

Dispersed knowledge

In the 1930s, Hayek was the principal opponent Keynes. In various scholarly publications – Monetary Theory of Trade Cycle (1933), The Pure Theory of Capital (1941) – he had pointed out that business cycles are caused by monetary mismanagement in [government]. This contribution of Hayek was noted by the Nobel committee. Subsequent events have completely vindicated Hayek. Concerned about the stability of value, he wrote a radical essay in the 1976, “The Denationalisation of Money”, where he argued that it was a serious mistake to allow governments to monopolise the legal tender. He called for the freedom of the individuals to trade in whatever media of exchange they thought best.

Hayek emphasized that division of labour and division of knowledge were complimentary. Every individual possessed some specialized and local knowledge that was particular to his situation and preferences. Yet, the market, through the competitive price system, successfully coordinated all these bits of knowledge. Prices provide the incentive to invest in certain areas, and the information regarding the possible opportunities. Hayek explained, “We must look at the price system as such a mechanism for communicating information if we want to understand its real function… … The most significant fact about this system is the economy of knowledge with which it operates, or how little the individual participants need to know in order to be able to take the right action.” …

Spontaneous order

Hayek also developed the idea of “spontaneous order” to describe the progress of civilizations. Language, customs, traditions, rules of conduct, have all evolved without any conscious design, and without that freedom societies may not have evolved beyond primitive levels, he held. Advancement of society was dependent upon no one overall “plan” being imposed over the actions and plans of the individuals making up the society. Building on Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”, Hayek showed that planning need not necessarily lead to order and lack of a guiding hand need not degenerate in to chaos.

[Hayek wrote:]

It is largely because civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not possess, and because each individual’s use of his particular knowledge may serve to assist others unknown to him in achieving their ends, that men as members of civilized society can pursue their individual ends so much more successfully than they could alone.

This characteristic of the market where order seemed to develop quite spontaneously, along with dispersed nature of knowledge, raises one of the most fundamental questions on the utility of government intervention in the economy to achieve a particular end. The institutions created by government decree to provide direction to such intervention would under the best of circumstances simply be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of knowledge that they will need to process.

In contrast, the market routinely brings to order millions of evaluations undertaken by each individual participant. Hayek showed that progress arises from a continuous process of “discovery” wherein a variety of producers and consumers experiment with a wide range of possible opportunities to make profit. Most such experiments fail in the marketplace, and the innovators bear the cost taking the risk. But some succeed, and the benefits are enjoyed by all. That is the reason why in a free market, voluntary trade creates a win-win situation for all participants. …

The Road to Freedom

Hayek also published works more accessible to a wider public, which included books such as The Road to Serfdom (1944) and The Constitution of Liberty. The former has been nominated by journals like London’s Time Literary Supplement as one the noteworthy books of this century. Dozens of unauthorised editions of it were known to be in circulation among the underground activists in the Eastern block during the cold war. This book has now been published in many languages across the world. …

Then Mitra, looking at Hayek’s ideas from an Indian perspective, points out that India would have done well to have learnt what he taught:

We are concerned that after fifty years of independence, poverty is so wide spread, and as a measure to speed up the process of redistribution of wealth, we thought it prudent to abolish right to property as a fundamental right. Hayek had cautioned all those years ago that “The system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom, not only for those who own property, but scarcely less for those who do not.”

We want “social justice”, while Hayek warned that “There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal”, and to attempt otherwise would only contribute to social collision. “Equality before the law and material equality are therefore not only different but are in conflict which each other; and we can achieve either one or the other, but not both at the same time”, wrote Hayek.

The world has had a bitter experience in the 20th Century. The dreams of a socialist-collectivist utopia were shattered by economic collapse and degenerated into tyrannical police states. According to historian Thomas Sowell, if one was to mark the time when the intellectual tide began to turn against the ideal of socialism then it was with Hayek’s [The Road toSerfdom. …

While the world is marking his centenary now, the next century could well belong to him. And ideas do change the world. Let us hope that the intellectual tide in favour of Hayek will become a tidal wave in the next millenium. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom may actually help pave the road to freedom for all of us.

If only!

The land of the formerly free 9

There may be something to the claim that all people want to be free. But it is a demonstrable fact that freedom has been under attack, usually successfully, for thousands of years.

So Thomas Sowell writes in a column titled Freedom Is Not Free. He argues that the thuggish Obama regime is implementing a totalitarian agenda. The evidence that individuals are being hounded by government agencies is enormous and mounting. He mentions a few examples.

The Federal Communications Commission’s recent plan to have a “study” of how editorial decisions are made in the media, placing FCC bureaucrats in editorial offices across the country, was one of the boldest assaults on freedom of the press. Fortunately, there was enough backlash to force the FCC to back off.

With all the sweeping powers available to government, displeasing FCC bureaucrats in editorial offices could have brought on armies of “safety” inspectors from OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration], audits from the Internal Revenue Service and many other harassments from many other government agencies.

Such tactics have become especially common in this administration, which has the morals of thugs and the agenda of totalitarians. They may not be consciously aiming at creating a totalitarian state, but shameless use of government power to crush those who get in their way can produce totalitarian end results.

Too kind. We see clear evidence that Obama and his henchmen (and henchwomen) are consciously aiming at totalitarian power.

The prosecution of Dinesh D’Souza for contributing $20,000 to a political candidate, supposedly in violation of the many campaign finance laws, is a classic case of selective prosecution.

Thugs who stationed themselves outside a polling place in Philadelphia to intimidate white voters were given a pass, and others accused of campaign finance violations were charged with misdemeanors, but Dinesh D’Souza has been charged with felonies that carry penalties of years in federal prison.

All of this is over a campaign contribution that is chicken feed, compared to what can be raised inside of an hour at a political fundraising breakfast or lunch.

Could this singling out of D’Souza for prosecution have something to do with the fact that he made a documentary movie with devastating exposures of Barack Obama’s ideologies and policies? That movie, incidentally, is titled “2016: Obama’s America,” and every American should get a copy of it on a DVD. …

It doesn’t matter what rights you have under the Constitution of the United States, if the government can punish you for exercising those rights. And it doesn’t matter what limits the Constitution puts on government officials’ power, if they can exceed those limits without any adverse consequences.

In other words, the Constitution cannot protect you, if you don’t protect the Constitution with your votes against anyone who violates it. Those government officials who want more power are not going to stop unless they get stopped.

As long as millions of Americans vote on the basis of who gives them free stuff, look for their freedom – and all our freedom – to be eroded away, bit by bit. Our children and grandchildren may yet come to see the Constitution as just some quaint words from the past that people once took seriously. …

Arbitrary power is ugly and vicious, regardless of what pious rhetoric goes with it.

Freedom is not free.

You have to fight for it or lose it. But is our generation up to fighting for it?

So there may be no truth in the claim that all people want to be free.

Only a minority, it seems, will vote for freedom. Even fewer will fight for it.

What chance is there that such freedom as we still have will not be lost?

Posted under Commentary, government, liberty, tyranny, United States, US Constitution by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, March 4, 2014

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Government is bad for the economy 12

A truth that should be universally acknowledged is that everything a government does it does badly. Sure, there are some things only government can do, or should do: first and foremost, if not only, defend the nation and protect individual liberty. And those are two things Obama doesn’t want to do.

Government meddling in the economy is at the very least a brake on prosperity, at worst a wrecker. (Vide Greece and Detroit.)

Thomas Sowell writes:

Since this year will mark the 50th anniversary of the “war on poverty,” we can expect many comments and commemorations of this landmark legislation in the development of the American welfare state. The actual signing of the “war on poverty” legislation took place in August 1964, so the 50th anniversary is some months away. But there have already been statements in the media and in politics proclaiming that this vast and costly array of anti-poverty programs “worked.”

Of course everything “works” by sufficiently low standards, and everything “fails” by sufficiently high standards. The real question is: What did the “war on poverty” set out to do — and how well did it do it, if at all?

Without some idea of what a person or a program is trying to do, there is no way to know whether what actually happened represented a success or a failure. When the hard facts show that a policy has failed, nothing is easier for its defenders than to make up a new set of criteria, by which it can be said to have succeeded. 

That’s what has happened with the “war on poverty.” It has failed, but the government and its hallelujah chorus will pretend otherwise.

Both President John F. Kennedy, who launched the proposal for a “war on poverty” and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, who guided the legislation through Congress and then signed it into law, were very explicit as to what the “war on poverty” was intended to accomplish.

Its mission was not simply to prove that spending money on the poor led to some economic benefits to the poor. Nobody ever doubted that. How could they?

What the war on poverty was intended to end was mass dependency on government. President Kennedy said, “We must find ways of returning far more of our dependent people to independence.” The same theme was repeated endlessly by President Johnson. The purpose of the “war on poverty,” he said, was to make “taxpayers out of taxeaters.” Its slogan was “Give a hand up, not a handout.” When Lyndon Johnson signed the landmark legislation into law, he declared: “The days of the dole in our country are numbered.”

Now, 50 years and trillions of dollars later, it is painfully clear that there is more dependency than ever.

Ironically, dependency on government to raise people above the poverty line had been going down for years before the “war on poverty” began. The hard facts showed that the number of people who lived below the official poverty line had been declining since 1960, and was only half of what it had been in 1950.

On the more fundamental question of dependency, the facts were even clearer. The proportion of people whose earnings put them below the poverty level – without counting government benefits – declined by about one-third from 1950 to 1965.

All this was happening before the “war on poverty” went into effect – and all these trends reversed after it went into effect.

The more the government does to “fight poverty”, the more poverty grows and spreads. Year after year, under the Obama administration, the number who “need” government assistance has increased, so that, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) as reported by CNS News –

A record 20% of American households, one in five, were on food stamps in 2013 … and …  the cost of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), was at an all-time high.

The USDA says that there were 23,052,388 households on food stamps in the average month of fiscal 2013, an increase of 722,675 from fiscal year 2012, when there were 22,329,713 households on food stamps in the average month. …

In the past five years alone, the number of households on food stamps has greatly increased. In fiscal year 2009 – Oct. 1, 2008 through Sept. 30, 2009 — the number of households on food stamps was 15,232,115. Five years later, in 2013, that amount had increased by 51.3% to reach 23,052,388 households.

It should be remembered that most of “the poor” in America are comparatively well off,  the least poor of the world’s  poor.

But if government would stop interfering, the economy would grow faster and people would have a better chance of doing well, and even becoming really (maybe gloriously) rich.

Always, figuratively speaking, the fatter the government, the thinner the people.

Citizens or subjects? 1

On entering the new year, Thomas Sowell writes:

Whenever we stand on the threshold of a new year, we are tempted to forget the hazards of prophecy, and try to see what may lie on the other side of this arbitrary division of time.

Sometimes we are content to try to change ourselves with New Year’s resolutions to do better in some respect. Changing ourselves is a much more reasonable undertaking than trying to change other people. It may or may not succeed, but it seldom creates the disasters that trying to change others can produce.

When we look beyond ourselves to the world around us, peering into the future can be a very sobering, if not depressing, experience.

ObamaCare looms large and menacing on our horizon. This is not just because of computer problems, or even because some people who think that they have enrolled may discover at their next visit to a doctor that they do not have any insurance coverage.

What ObamaCare has done, thanks to Chief Justice Roberts’s Supreme Court decision, is reduce us all from free citizens to cowed subjects, whom the federal government can order around in our own personal lives, in defiance of the 10th Amendment and all the other protections of our freedom in the Constitution of the United States.

ObamaCare is more than a medical problem, though there are predictable medical problems – and even catastrophes – that will unfold in the course of 2014 and beyond. Our betters have now been empowered to run our lives, with whatever combination of arrogance and incompetence they may have, or however much they lie.

The challenges ahead are much clearer than what our responses will be. Perhaps the most hopeful sign is that increasing numbers of people seem to have finally – after nearly five long years – begun to see Barack Obama for what he is, rather than for what he seemed to be, when judged by his image and rhetoric.

What kind of man would blithely disrupt the medical care of millions of Americans, and then repeatedly lie to them with glib assurances that they could keep their doctors or health insurance if they wanted to?

What kind of man would set up a system in which people would be forced by law to risk their life savings, because they had to divulge their financial identification numbers to strangers who could turn out to be convicted felons?

With all the time that elapsed between the passage of ObamaCare and its going into effect, why were the so-called “navigators” who were to be handling other people’s financial records never investigated for criminal convictions? What explanation could there be, other than that Obama didn’t care? …

Those who have still not yet seen through Barack Obama will have many more opportunities to do so during the coming year, as the medical, financial and other painful human consequences of ObamaCare keep coming out in ways so clear that not even the mainstream media can ignore them or obscure them.

The question then is: What can be done about it? Nothing can be done about Obama himself. He has three more years in office and, as he pointed out to the Russians, he will no longer have to face the American voters.

ObamaCare, however, has no such immunity. It is always hard to repeal an elaborate program after it has gone into effect. But Prohibition was repealed, even though it was a Constitutional Amendment that required super-majorities in both houses of Congress and super-majorities of state legislatures to repeal.

In our two-party system, everything depends on whether the Republicans step up to the plate and act like responsible adults who understand that ObamaCare represents a historic crossroads that will determine what kind of people we are going to be, for this generation and generations yet unborn – citizens or subjects.

This means that Republicans have to decide whether their top priority is internal strife among the different wings of the party – another circular firing squad – or whether either wing puts the country first.

A prediction on how that will turn out in the new year would be far too hazardous to attempt.

We make no predictions today, but we thank our readers and commenters for their interest and contributions, and wish you all a Very Happy New Year!

Posted under Collectivism, Commentary, government, Health, Law, liberty, United States by Jillian Becker on Wednesday, January 1, 2014

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Sowell speaks sagely (as always) 0

Picture from PowerLine, among others worth looking at.

Posted under Humor, Socialism by Jillian Becker on Sunday, December 15, 2013

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At what price? 1

Thomas Sowell talks to Fred Barnes of the Weekly Standard about the differences between Liberalism (ie. statism) and Conservatism. (The video dates from 2010.)

Posted under Commentary, education, Videos by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, November 5, 2013

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Thomas Sowell said … 1

“The only way the Constitution can protect us, is if we protect the Constitution.”

And we hear many more wise words from Professor Thomas Sowell in this video made just before the 2012 presidential election.

 

Posted under Commentary, Conservatism, Economics, government by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, July 30, 2013

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White? Be ashamed and repent 1

It’s probably from Christianity that Socialism derives the idea that it’s virtuous to abase oneself. Sociological thinking and the leftist collectivist ideal of leveling require self-abasement.

Sometimes we come across statements or practices by leftist ideologues that sample for us all that is repulsive, anti-human, narrow and dumb about the Left.

Here for instance is a report, by Kyle Olson at Townhall, of just such a sample. It is about education officials prescribing self-abasement for Whites – as St. Paul did for Christians.

Wisconsin Education Officials Want Students to Wear “White Privilege” Wristbands.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction runs several programs that heavily emphasize racial issues in public schools …

Some feel that one of those programs – an Americorps operation called VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) – may go a bit overboard by encouraging white students to wear a white wristband “as a reminder about your (white) privilege.”  …

A  Gloria Steinem quote on the top of VISTA’s Facebook page reads ominously:

 “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”

The webpage also offers a series of suggestions for high schools students to become more racially sensitive. They include:

Wear a white wristband as a reminder about your privilege, and as a personal commitment to explain why you wear the wristband.

Confess, confess. Confess to being white. Hang your head and be ashamed. Make amends by abasing yourself.

Set aside sections of the day to critically examine how privilege is working.

Put a note on your mirror or computer screen as a reminder to think about privilege.

Examine your conscience. Repent being white.

The Wisconsin DPI also sponsors several similar programs, including CREATE Wisconsin, an on-going “cultural sensitivity” teacher training program which focuses largely on “whiteness” and “white privilege.”

Hating whitey sessions? After which the teachers will be better able to educate the children of Wisconsin?

An opposite way of thinking about race may be found in a column by the wise and great Thomas Sowell. He writes:

There are so many fallacies about race that it would be hard to say which is the most ridiculous. However, one fallacy behind many other fallacies is the notion that there is something unusual about different races being unequally represented in various institutions, careers or at different income or achievement levels.

A hundred years ago, the fact that people from different racial backgrounds had very different rates of success in education, in the economy and in other endeavors, was taken as proof that some races were genetically superior to others.

Some races were considered to be so genetically inferior that eugenics was proposed to reduce their reproduction, and Francis Galton urged [in tune with Marx and Engels – ed] “the gradual extinction of an inferior race.”

It was not a bunch of fringe cranks who said things like this. Many held Ph.D.s from the leading universities, taught at the leading universities and were internationally renowned.

Presidents of Stanford University and of MIT were among the many academic advocates of theories of racial inferiority — applied mostly to people from Eastern and Southern Europe, since it was just blithely assumed in passing that blacks were inferior.

This was not a left-right issue. The leading crusaders for theories of genetic superiority and inferiority were iconic figures on the left, on both sides of the Atlantic.

John Maynard Keynes helped create the Cambridge Eugenics Society. Fabian socialist intellectuals H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw were among many other leftist supporters of eugenics.

It was much the same story on this side of the Atlantic. President Woodrow Wilson, like many other Progressives, was solidly behind notions of racial superiority and inferiority. He showed the movie “Birth of a Nation,” glorifying the Ku Klux Klan, at the White House, and invited various dignitaries to view it with him. …

Now, instead of genes being the overriding reason for differences in outcomes, racism [has become] the one-size-fits-all explanation …  [for]  the same false premise — namely, that there is something unusual about different racial and ethnic groups having different achievements. …

Not only different racial and ethnic groups, but whole nations and civilizations, have had very different achievements for centuries. China in the 15th century was more advanced than any country in Europe. Eventually Europeans overtook the Chinese — and there is no evidence of changes in the genes of either of them.

Among the many reasons for different levels of achievement is something as simple as age. The median age in Germany and Japan is over 40, while the median age in Afghanistan and Yemen is under 20. Even if the people in all four of these countries had the same mental potential, the same history, the same culture — and the countries themselves had the same geographic features — the fact that people in some countries have 20 years more experience than people in other countries would still be enough to make equal economic and other outcomes virtually impossible.

Add the fact that different races evolved in different geographic settings, presenting very different opportunities and constraints on their development, and the same conclusion follows.

Yet the idea that differences in outcomes are odd, if not sinister, has been repeated mindlessly from street corner demagogues to the august chambers of the Supreme Court.

*

Here’s Thomas Sowell, with Peter Robinson, talking good sense on race, racism, and discrimination

The price of a theory 1

Experimenting with people’s lives is the occupation and preoccupation of the Left.

If leftists’ do-goodery does painful harm, they do not see it as a reason to abandon a theory that makes them feel good for believing in it.

Thomas Sowell writes at the National Review:

If there is ever a contest for the law with the most grossly misleading title, the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 should be a prime candidate, because the last thing this act protects is the welfare of Indian children.

The theory behind the Indian Child Welfare Act is that an American Indian child should be raised in an American Indian culture.

Based on that theory, a newborn baby of American Indian ancestry, who was adopted immediately after birth by a white couple, was, at 27 months of age, taken away from the only parents she had ever known and given to her father.

Apparently, the tribe has rights under the Indian Child Welfare Act. If this child were of any other race, a court would be free to decide the case on the basis of whatever was in the best interests of the child. Instead, the child is treated almost as property, contrary to the 13th Amendment, which outlawed slavery. …

Anyone who would ruin a helpless child’s life in order to assert [his]  own legal prerogatives, or to protect the tribe’s turf, raises very serious questions about what kind of parent [he] is.

The question is not just which home is better, but whether the child will ever feel secure in any home again after the shock of being forcibly taken away.

The welfare of a flesh-and-blood human being should trump theories about cultures — especially in the case of a two-year-old child who has been torn away from the only parents she has ever known, and treated as a pawn in a legalistic game.

This little girl is just the latest in a long line of Indian children who have been ripped out of the only family they have ever known and given to someone who is a stranger to them, often to live on an Indian reservation that is foreign to them. This has happened even to children who have spent a decade or more with a family to which they have become attached and which is attached to them.

There have already been too many scenes of weeping and frightened children, crying out in vain for the only mother and father they know, as they are forcibly dragged away.

Whatever the merits or demerits of various theories about culture, they are still just theories. But too many people put their pet theories ahead of flesh-and-blood human beings.

One of the rationales for the Indian Child Welfare Act is that, in the past, Indian children were wantonly wrested from their Indian parents and sent off to be raised by non-Indians. But nothing we can do today can undo the wrongs of the past — especially not by creating the same wrongs again, in reverse.

While those who are most victimized by the so-called Indian Child Welfare Act are the children ripped out of their homes to satisfy some theory, they are not the only victims. Indian children without biological parents to take care of them can be needlessly left in institutional care when there are not enough Indian foster parents or adoptive parents to take them into their homes.

Less than 2 percent of the children in Minnesota are Indian, but 15 percent of the children in that state’s foster-care system are Indian. In Montana, 9 percent of the children are Indian, but Indian children make up 37 percent of the children in foster care.

What a price to pay for a theory!

Here is a young Thomas Sowell arguing against state welfare with a dyed-in-the-wool do-gooder – whose preferred policies have continued to increase poverty and dependency. (Milton Friedman is also there, smiling with delight – we guess – at Sowell’s exposition.)

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