Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Who's Shilling for Dictatorship?

As Americans we have an important, life or death, moral choice to make over the next few months. No one should shirk it, not you, not me, not our children; especially not politicians and other influential people. Are we to be a nation that enables morality through freedom or that suffers immorality through dictatorship?

A lot of people are demanding that President Obama should become a dictator. Some are insisting that he just take over. They would not be offended if he simply ruled by edict. To them this would be the right thing to do…because this is the only way to advance his agenda without political criticism and opposition.

I say we are already there and these shills for dictatorship have nothing to complain about.

March, 2009 – In an unprecedented move, President Obama fired GM CEO Rick Wagoner - when our new President turned his attention to ‘solving’ the pending bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler. This interference into the hiring and firing practices of a private corporation represented the beginning of an ominous trend where the President calls his own shots.

May, 2009 – The Obama administration assigned complete authority to a “Task Force” made up of Obama administration officials and Wall Street veterans to restructure General Motors and Chrysler overstepping existing bankruptcy laws and Congressional oversight.

May, 2009 – The Obama administration, in negating the contracts between Chrysler Corporation and private investors, who should have received their investments back in full, set a precedent that threatens to invalidate any legal contract at any time purely on the basis that the President deems it necessary.

September, 2009 – The Obama Justice Department decided to dismiss a case filed against the Black Panthers for voter intimidation. The apparent, though not stated reason for the dismissal is that the Obama Justice Department believes that civil rights cases cannot be brought against the historical victims of racism. That intimidation did take place at the polling place, that election laws were violated, indicates disrespect by the administration for equal protection under the law.

December, 2009 - The Obama Treasury Department removed the $400 billion financial cap on the money it will provide to keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac afloat, sidestepping Congressional oversight authority and further punishing the tax payer for a problem created by the government through the Community Reinvestment Act.

June 2010 – President Obama informs the American public that “Tomorrow I will meet with the Chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of this company’s recklessness.” Though we still don’t know what caused the explosion at the BP drilling station, even Fox News journalist Bill O’Reilly ranted on his television show that the President should do whatever he needed to make BP pay for the mess in the Gulf. He openly stated that the government should use whatever force it needed in order to accomplish this. It did not bother O'Reilly that the demand by President Obama violates the laws and judicial processes already in place to deal with issues of this type. Even after 234 years of freedom in this country, it now becomes proper, because Bill O'Reilly says so, to engage in open extortion of money from a private company.

June 2010 – President Obama declares a drilling moratorium on Gulf of Mexico deep water drilling operations for at least six months. To accomplish this, he used a forged document, and when the administration was asked what legal authority it had for the moratorium, administration lawyers brought up the "authority" of the President in an emergency. Yet, there was no law that gave the President the authority for the moratorium.

Each of these moves by the Obama administration, with the exception of the decision not to pursue the case against the Black Panthers was presumably the result of an emergency. Yet, each of these actions was “unconstitutional”. There was no legal basis for making them. But more importantly, each of them had a set of shills in the media and in Congress that declared the President's action necessary; because, presumably, people would suffer if the President did not act immediately.

None of these people cared to consider that there was something dreadfully wrong with their advocacy of dictatorship: they had forgotten the principles that they relied upon, principles such as freedom of speech, that almost every dictator in history has sought to eliminate. They were calling for dictatorship in the very nation built as a bulwark against arbitrary power and abusive government. For the sake of a short-term benefit to a few people, many of whom were corrupt and responsible for their own situation, they would advocate for the President's violating the Constitution that protected the rights and freedoms of all citizens. And they fell for the biggest shell game of all; the scam of government creating a crisis and then declaring itself the solver of the crisis. Where is the questioning here?

The Constitution gives the President the power to enforce laws passed by Congress. It does not give him the power to make laws, create regulations or otherwise legislate about the actions of private citizens or corporations. This is because of the separation of powers built into our Constitution.

These acts, and many others taken by the President, represent a power that few men in history have held. Those who have obtained this power are members of an elite group known as dictators. Their names include Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, Chavez and many others known for the devastation they wrought.

In “My Ignorant Fascism Rant”, I wrote:

“The rationale for the takeover of private activity was first propagated by some ancient Greeks. The Greeks held that democracy was ineffective during war and that a strong central control was necessary to get a city through an emergency of this kind. This required the establishment of a “tyrant” (who controlled everything) and the suspension of all freedoms until the war had been won. At that point, the city could once again reestablish democratic rule. This is the genesis of our modern day “tyrannies”.

Yet, even some of the Greeks wondered why people wanted to return to democracy when the “tyranny” had been so efficient. Couldn’t a tyranny work during peacetime? In fact, Plato’s recommended “Republic” was a tyranny of the philosophers where the most intelligent men controlled and planned all elements of society in order to advance a common and greater good. Plato’s ideas were forged out of the anger and despair he felt over seeing his beloved mentor and teacher Socrates drink the hemlock at the behest of “the people” who voted that he should die. Plato’s work has served as a blueprint for dictatorships ever since it was written so many centuries ago.”

In America, our revolution sought to eliminate dictatorial power by means of the separation of powers. The Founders sought to ensure that arbitrary power could not develop. They knew that such power by the King of England had necessitated the revolution, and they concluded that a government which governs less is the best government. All private decisions, even responses to emergencies, were to be made by free people without Federal government involvement.

The rule of law makes a civil, peaceful society possible. It facilitates trade, reason, free speech, safety and uniform rights. It declares that all men are equal before the law and strives to make it impossible for men of power to use the law for their sole benefit. The rule of law requires that laws be made by the people through an open legislative process. The principle starts with a Constitution that enumerates individual rights and prohibits government from violating those rights, and through the separation of powers, it makes sure that only the duly chosen representatives of the people can make laws, and, equally important, it requires that every member of government swear to uphold the Constitution.

The practices of our President in denying due legal process to the citizens of our nation are an affront to civil society and freedom. They are an affront to the intent of the Constitution. Are we to be a society where a single person has the authority to make all decisions, or one where the laws are passed through a legislative process controlled by the people? Are we to be a nation of laws or a nation of men?

It is clear that President Obama’s answer to this last question is that he has the wisdom and the authority to decide for us. It is clear that he wants to be a dictator. It is clear that, like all dictators in the past, he is not competent to rule our nation.

For instance, our financial crisis was caused by government’s effort to re-distribute income through the Community Reinvestment Act which forced banks to make bad home mortgages. This violation of property rights got so out of hand that it brought some of our financial institutions down. A private solution would have involved the bankruptcy of those institutions only. After a short period of time, an economic adjustment would have worked its way through the economy with little damage to the people whose investment funds were not involved. As it was, the government and President Obama, forced an additional re-distribution of money from investors and tax payers, prolonging the recovery and putting everyone’s future on the line. This is arbitrary power that collectivized the problem and made sure that everyone suffered, even those people who had nothing to do with creating the problem.

When President Obama declared that all debts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two quasi-government institutions that are responsible for the “meltdown”, would be covered by government, he made another unilateral decision that further enslaved the tax payers and their children. This is arbitrary power, exerted to “solve” a problem created by government, that harmed everyone except the contributors to the President’s political campaigns, the very culprits responsible for the meltdown. This is immoral, illegal and purely dictatorial.

Without a well-constituted legal system, nothing is illegal. We must understand why this is important. You may say that President Obama is merely trying to solve emergencies and that we should just get together for the good of all. But the important issue is that the President’s actions have the (possibly) unintended consequence of totally destroying our legal system; and this will destroy our society. This will make the dishonest person equal to the honest and release the dishonest to prey upon society. This includes not only the rich criminals who use campaign contributions to create massive money laundering schemes, but also the hardened street criminals who will be released to do the bidding of the government that wants their “services”.

This brings us to the Black Panthers, the unions and community agitators. With the President's coddling of criminal elements in our society, his unwillingness to prosecute these elements will give these power-hungry people the opportunity to use physical violence, riots, shakedowns and extortion; in other words, to create more emergencies for the government to “solve”. When we get to a point of no return, there will be nothing we can do except protect ourselves and hope to survive. We will be as animals not knowing what tomorrow will bring; our choice will be between survival by violence or death by violence.

Is this what we want? Or do we have the foresight of our Founding Fathers who sought to ensure that individual rights and the rule of law were preserved?

You may think that this will never happen. I hope I am wrong. But unless we start defending our freedoms against the assaults being made by President Obama against the rule of law, this very negative outcome of violence and revolution is highly possible. There are people who are ready for this situation and who know exactly what they will do when this period arrives. The result can only be concentration camps and slave labor.

“A society of laws and not of men” is a critical principle for our nation. It makes it possible for us to be moral men and women. It is the basis for our individual rights that make up everthing that happens in our lives, everything we think, say, own and create; the destruction of just one of those principles means the destruction of our entire society. Anyone who does not know this, or who routinely ignores it, is no friend of our nation – whether he knows it or not.

The idea of avoiding the courts to resolve legal issues is a hallmark of dictatorship. When a President routinely declares everything an emergency and then makes laws on the fly, it destroys the voluntary relationships in society, turns everything into a question of what the government will do next, and destroys people who have done nothing to deserve destruction (such as Gulf-area oil company employees). Dictatorship destroys everything in its wake.

We have to realize that the danger of full dictatorship will become even more palpable when the President begins naming judges who will refuse to challenge him in his abuses of power; or when he nominates Supreme Court Justices who will harangue other Justices into voting to support the President’s abuses – under the extra-legal justification of using “temporary” powers to deal with an emergency. The truth is that those arbitrary powers will not be temporary and the fight to restore a proper respect for law will be very difficult once the government gets control of all institutions.

We have an important choice to make in November, and we should make this choice with our eyes wide open. This may be the last election we have as a free people if we don't make the right decisions. Are we going to shill for dictatorship and allow the President to continue increasing government power or are we going to stop this madness and insist that the President follow the law?

Impeachment should not be out of the question.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

One-Minute Tea Party

"All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come." – Victor Hugo

“In an intellectual battle, you do not need to convert everyone. History is made by minorities—or, more precisely, history is made by intellectual movements, which are created by minorities. Who belongs to these minorities? Anyone who is able and willing actively to concern himself with intellectual issues. Here, it is not quantity, but quality that counts (the quality—and consistency—of the ideas one is advocating).” – Ayn Rand, “What Can One Do?”

What happens when a new idea displaces an old? Everything that proceeded from the old is also displaced and new perspectives guide human action and opinions. Sometimes even a new terminology replaces an old. This happened twice in our country, first, when individual rights were recognized by our Constitution at our founding, and secondly, when progressivism, under the false name of liberalism, replaced the philosophy of Liberty.

The result of individual rights was reason, capitalism, capital accumulation, new energy, new products, fresh perspectives, hope, pride, self-confidence and happiness; all of which replaced the drudgery of living at the behest of the King.

The result of progressivism was fascism, unreason, egalitarianism, nihilism, re-distribution of income, economic depressions, psychological problems, immorality and a return of the King under the name of “society”.

Today, we are witnessing a restoration of individual rights. The Tea Parties have rejected the ideas of the progressives and are restoring the language of freedom and truth.

The Tea Party Movement is a protest against government over-reach in the areas of taxes, spending and the Constitution. This protest is typified by people expressing pro-freedom opinions during speeches, questions to politicians, emails to local representatives and signs at local and national protests, town halls and educational meetings.

I’d like to suggest the One-Minute Tea Party which consists of a short speech communicating a key argument of the Tea Party protests. You might consider it a wider elaboration of a Tea Party sign that can be communicated to individuals in any context, to media asking questions, to pollsters, to one's friends and family. In this blog, I will provide what I think are the essential principles of the One-Minute Tea Party so you can confidently express your own protest.

First, you must organize your personal protest around a single key message. You start by developing a good understanding of your basic principles and the application of those principles in practice. The more you know the principles and facts that support your message, and why you hold the positions you hold, the easier it will be for you to think on your feet.

Outline of the One-Minute Tea Party speech

1. Define your basic premise
Most Tea Party issues can be reduced to a question of your individual rights; and conversely most issues advanced by the left involve some form of violation of your individual rights. Study the concept, read about how the Founders dealt with it and study other thinkers who elaborated on the principles of the Founders.

Also, remember that Tea Party protests are about government over-reach and spending, high taxes and violations of free markets. The best, most fundamental, way to convince people that government should stop its over-reach, is to base your argument on individual rights. If you don't, you are probably not discussing a Tea Party issue.

Individual rights are inherent in your nature as a human being. No one has a right to violate your right to property, your right to keep your income, and your right to choose what is in your self-interest; in short, your right to the pursuit of happiness. In the real world, we see the foundation of individuals rights in the fact that man can only survive effectively when he exerts his mind to learn about reality, discover, make and use the tools of survival and reap the rewards of his work. In other words, individual rights are necessary so man can freely express his moral nature, practice the virtues that make life possible; virtues such as integrity, rationality, honesty, justice, productivity and pride. Without individual rights, these virtues cannot be practiced consistently.

When a government dictates morality through the imposition of sacrifice, by means of regulations, licenses, laws, codes, boondoggles and re-distribution schemes, it is engaged in a war against morality. By dictating all practices, it eliminates the concept of "responsibility" as a moral concept replacing it with a license to irresponsibility. The progressives' war against individual rights is a war against the possibility of moral action, which means action that would benefit both parties to a transaction. Government knows only how to re-distribute the profits of the producer and wipe out the benefits to the consumer.

Historically, when people stopped defending their individual rights, they started losing them. With their re-discovery in our time, men are beginning to see the wisdom of the Founders in establishing a government whose mandate was only to protect these rights. We are trying to bring that defense of man's rights back into the mainstream. This is the meaning of the slogan: "Don't Tread On Me".

2. Stay on your basic premise
When you argue for the political principles upon which a proper society should be based, these principles have the power of being universal, applying to all circumstances within a specific context of human action. This makes them “true” principles and gives you a stronger argument. For instance, the statement, "You have no right to take my property" is the expression of your individual rights as well as your intent to let others know that you will not allow their violation.

This means that your defense of individual rights is an expression of your right to self-defense. In order to argue against individual rights, anyone opposing you must imply a specific violation of your person, which means a violation of your right to choose the actions that are in your self-interest; it means that you do not have rights; and as authority for this view they wrongly use poor ideas such as "democracy", "the will of the people" and anti-capitalism.

Any effort by the government to tax, regulate, coerce, control, “nudge” or educate you is a violation of your individual rights. No one has the moral authority to violate such rights, because any man who would presume to hold that authority is an individual. He is only empowered by his nature to act for his own behalf. He is not empowered by any principle in nature to violate the rights of others. And, more importantly, no individual or group of individuals has the moral authority to delegate the use of force to violate any other person's rights. In a proper society, force is used only to protect people.

Your progressive opponent, depending upon his or her rhetorical skills, will want to get you off your basic premise in order to turn the discussion to incidental issues. By staying on your premise, you will avoid having the argument devolve into a discussion of meaningless griefs and complaints. If anyone should be complaining about being wronged, it should be you.

3. Identify the facts that validate your basic argument
In any given issue, there are facts of reality that support your argument. We've already mentioned some of them above. By looking at reality, you should be able to understand your experience and ask yourself what would happen in your life if you were not allowed to express your rights; and you can ask the same question of your opponent.

For instance, when you are discussing a recommendation to bailout a particular company, the supporting facts should help you expose the fallacy of government intervention. This "bailed out" company, at one time, chose to take the actions that eventually resulted in losses; it is responsible for its actions. The progressive argument assumes, wrongly, that the company's losses were not its fault; that greed harmed them or that capitalism failed. This mistaken assumption leads, wrongly, to the government's forcing people against their wills to support the failed company. Worse, it compounds that failure by forcing other people to fail also.

This appeal to the facts should also provide you with a clue to the real flaw in progressive ideas and that is the false view that man is his brother's keeper, that men should be forced against their wills to sacrifice for others. This is the idea of altruism and the argument against it leads you to the basic reason why individual rights should be inviolable. Altruism is an effort to destroy the successful. Altruism is the destruction of freely chosen, mutually beneficial economic transactions because it introduces a false zero-sum analysis into those transactions in order to justify the violation of individual rights. Altruism is the enemy of individual rights because it seeks the destruction of the individual.

4. Identify the fallacies of your opponent’s argument
Watch for other distortions of reality that your opponent might use. To provide some help, I am quoting from a previous post of mine entitled “Why the Progressives are Wrong”:

“You would have thought that sooner or later an honest person would have entered the political fray to declare that progressivism is a fraud. You might have even thought that somewhere along the line even a progressive with enough standing in his movement would have recognized that progressivism accomplishes the opposite of its stated goals. But no one has. In the country where free speech still exists, no one has been able to articulate the truth that progressivism is false. Instead progressives continue to cling to a litany of false premises without challenge. How have they advanced their views? They explicitly hold to the following false tenets:

a. Capitalism is theft. This lie has been refuted by many economists. It is based on the labor theory of value which is the idea that the value of a product is dependent only upon the amount of labor expended in creating it. We now know that there are a variety of other factors that determine the value of any given product, not the least of which is the value placed upon it by the purchaser and the amount of money he is willing to pay for a product...regardless of the amount of labor expended on it. We also know that being a capitalist is not exploitation, not a zero-sum proposition; that it takes tremendous skill and ability to conceive, create and manage a highly productive business…it also takes the genius of those leaders who are able to forge new industries and create massive wealth-producing organizations that benefit, not just the owners, but their customers and the laborers.

b. Capitalism is evil. In order to displace capitalism the progressives use propaganda based on the labor theory of value to assert that capitalists maliciously steal the labor of workers. This view is stolen straight from religion; it was the religions of the world that held this world to be evil and any person who favored it over the “higher” spiritual world was considered to be evil. This included rich people such as merchants, jewelers, merchant ship owners and anyone who lived to make a profit from his efforts. Yes, progressives got their main ideas from 2000 years ago.

c. Capitalism is flawed and creates bubbles and distortions. A careful analysis of history shows that it is not capitalism that is responsible for economic depressions but government intervention. In fact, capitalism is nothing more than freely chosen transactions engaged in by free people based on their self-interest. These kinds of transactions cannot cause economic downturns because they are mutually beneficial. The only factors that can cause bubbles and other economic distortions are massive interferences in the economy by government.

d. Incrementalism is the progressive tactic of introducing minor changes in the economy when there is not enough political support for major changes. The purpose of incrementalism is to establish the precedent that government has the right to interfere in peoples’ lives and to lay the groundwork for the later expansion of those interferences.

Incrementalism violates sound economic principles because it coercively interferes with people's economic decisions. Each incremental advance has a negative economic consequence based upon the size of the advance; and an incremental violation of property rights is still a violation of property rights.

In addition, consider the positions of conservatives who compromise with incrementalist progressive activities. These so-called fighters for freedom have no problem with coercion as long as it can be done through a bi-partisan compromise that allows them to re-distribute some of the spoils to their own friends.

But the real question to ask progressives is "what is the point of incrementally instituting statist programs that the people would not choose if they were offered in whole? Does it make sense, is there an honest reason why progressives need to, as a matter of policy, "fool" the people about the programs they offer?"

e. The idea that you can improve conditions for “victims” of capitalism establishes a constituency of dependents upon government that will vote for government coercion. The idea that this is the will of the people violates the basis of a Constitutional Republic and establishes the contradiction that enables progressives to wedge their way into social control over time.

f. Progressives are perennial liars simply because they must hide from people the nature of what they are doing. Questions like: What justifies taking the money of one person and giving it to another? Is using government to “solve” social problems the constitutional thing to do? What happens to the people whose dollars are taken away? How does that affect their standard of living and is it right for them to suffer so that others may enjoy the luxury of not caring for themselves? Are there better non-coercive ways for people to solve their so-called "social" problems? What gives the government the right to confiscate the hard earned money of citizens? What about all the waste and corruption? How are lost funds going to be recovered and why is no one making an effort to recover them? In order to avoid such questions, progressives ignore them and talk about the non-existent benefits of their economic manipulations.

g. Progressives lie that the USA is an Imperialist nation. This lie confuses the need of America to defend itself against dictators and other thugs around the world. The truth is that most examples of American “imperialism” are nothing more than a free country defending itself and its economic interests against thugs and robbers. Although some of our Presidents had imperialist policies, by and large, the history of our nation has been decidedly anti-imperialist. We have fought more empires than we have been accused of creating.

h. Progressives portray themselves as “good” stewards of government while their opposition is considered to be evil and deserving of hatred and ridicule. They offer no reason for this view except that they represent the philosophy of sacrifice which is considered by them to be the most practical way to get things done – and the most moral. In keeping with the view of one of their leaders, they do what they can with what they have and wrap it in moral garments. They take it upon themselves to represent supposed victims in order to acquire the allegiance of those groups and defeat their political opposition. It is a shell game.

i. However, the benefits they provide to those victims corrupt them and turn them, not only into political captives who must support the progressives in the voting booth but into slaves as well. Sound economic principles are ignored by progressives and this opens the door for corruption and theft, oligarchy and fascism, slush funds and re-distribution, all of which accomplish the opposite of progressive promises. The good cannot be advanced by forcing people to sacrifice.

For decades progressives have been promising to fix problems supposedly created by capitalism. Yet, with all the talk about economics, with all the verbiage about this theory and that, the liberals have not explained the basic economic principles that drive their policies and recommended programs. This is because they have written the history books and whitewashed their own complicity in the destruction of the last century. To hide the fact that they caused most of the problems of this century, they blame capitalism.

What is missing in the arguments of the progressives for the actions they take? What is their basic principle that they never discuss? The progressives’ basic principle is the idea that the government has the duty and the right to coerce people. For progressives – all of them – there is no debate about the idea that progressivism is coercive; that it violates the principles of the Constitution. This principle is never debated because the progressives don’t want us to know that coercion is not just their method of operating, it is the goal of their movement.”

5. Summarize your argument
A good, brief statement of your primary argument to finish your speech will indicate that your argument is finished.

For instance, “No person should be forced against his will to support the mistakes of others. Therefore, individual rights should never be violated by the force or coercive measures of government.”

Suggestions to strengthen your arguments:

1. Define your terms
Political and philosophical discussions often suffer from the failure of both parties to define their terms. The result is wasted time discussing two different ideas. There is only one reality and only one truth. People committed to reason can come to agreement if they start on the same foundation.

2. Defend your individual rights on selfish grounds – not on altruistic grounds. A big mistake is to try to argue for individual rights on what is called “utilitarian grounds” which means on the basis of results rather than rights. Utilitarianism is a collectivist idea that accepts altruism as a valid form of economic transaction. Always argue for rights on their proper foundation; and that is that they are inherent in man’s nature; not that they produce the best results.

3. Defend freedom (capitalism) on the basis of the government’s responsibility, under the Constitution, to protect individuals and that it is no longer doing that. Learn as much as you can about the arguments the Founders made to defend liberty and always remember that they saw liberty as the antidote to tyranny which is the result of the progressive philosophy.

4. Expose how the principle of sacrifice (altruism) animates the ideas of your opponent and how the idea attacks individual rights and reason. As we showed above, sacrifice requires that the best, smartest and most forward looking individuals give up the result of their good choices in order to pay for the mistakes of others. This idea and its implementation is the surest way to destroy moral action.

5. Remember that capitalism is not a system, it is not a thing, it is not a government or a nation. It is millions of individual transactions engaged in by free men. Capitalism is nothing more than free people trading voluntarily and all the great things that this makes possible. The "system" that creates capitalism is a constitutionally limited government that defends individual rights. Capitalism is good because free choice is the only actvitity that makes a moral life possible. Capitalism is the product of reason that also liberates man's mind, and therefore, when you become anti-capitalist you are also anti-reason and anti-life and anti-progress and anti-human.

6. Avoid discussion with people who want to shout you down or who might appear to be violent. The Tea Parties are about respecting individual rights which includes the right to civil discourse without violence. It is better to do a “sit-down” Tea Party than it is to shout and argue with people who are only out to make a spectacle. There is nothing wrong with passionately held views; but name calling, character assassination and chanting in order to drown out other voices are not part of civil behavior.

7. Remember that individual rights apply across the spectrum of human action. Do not let the left use the principle of individual rights to defend special protected groups while also advocating the violation of individual rights against business people, alternative media, opposition corporations and groups such as Tea Party protesters.

If you take some time to develop good arguments for freedom based on proper premises and realistic judgments, you will become a modern-day Founding Father. You are engaging, on a grass roots level, in the intellectual issues that drive the future.

Remember: quality not quantity.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Understanding the President

Everyone is trying to figure out what motivates President Obama; what makes him tick?

Some people point to his community organizing days when he learned to shakedown businesses through a “protester for hire” scheme that benefited paying customers. Others point to the sundry socialists and communists that populated his childhood and college years. Others point to his large ego or his “thin skin”. Others point to his tendency to govern through Executive Orders or Presidential decrees. Others think he was abused as a child or that he is a closet communist consciously seeking the destruction of our nation on behalf of a foreign power.

You'll find countless articles on the Internet where competent psychologists and doctors try to understand what is wrong with the President. Why is he so aloof and detached from real people? All of these analyses miss the point.

If you want to figure out this President you have to look for the one key principle that guides his every action. And on this count, he is finally transparent. You will find this principle behind every thought, every act, every bill, every speech, every utterance and every suggestion he makes on how you can live a better life. The principle is altruism.

I think our President, unlike every President with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter, has two psychological attachments: 1) to altruism and 2) to a false belief that altruism actually makes things better. He will always believe the first, but right now, he is grappling with the failure of the second.

You might recall the famous dialogue between candidate Obama and "Joe the Plumber" when he informed the electorate of his opinion that re-distributing money to some people was better for everyone. This statement received the ire of many people who see the President's view as a form of Marxism where the government violates the rights of productive people, turns them into virtual slaves and enriches those who are not self-sufficient or productive. Many see this view as the direct opposite of the principles upon which our nation was founded, ideas such as property rights, individual responsibility, voluntary trade and being able to keep the results of your work. Obama's view is altruism, the idea that people have a duty to work for the sake of others rather than themselves. With altruism, sacrifice is the hallmark of the moral life and anyone who lives for himself is considered to be a selfish brute who deserves ostracism and expropriation.

I think our President, almost instinctively, uses altruism as a way to obtain and maintain power, as if altruism is a magic formula with which no one could disagree. And about this, he is thoroughly convinced. He has even cultivated a mystique, a personality cult where you can almost see a magical aura around him, a saintly quality that ritually motivates people to work toward collective goals. In other words, his basic motivation is to encourage and achieve in every American the exact opposite of the pursuit of happiness. The President is at war with happiness. That few people realize this is why so many can’t figure him out.

I don’t think the President is aware of the oligarchic nature of his policies, the Al Capone aspect of everything he does. He does not realize that he is very much like the leader of a neighborhood gang, constantly working to enlist the love of his members, working to inspire them to die for him, to turn them into dutiful soldiers, jealous of internal and external rivals, always protecting turf with knives and guns while running an illegal protection racket.

For the President, the end, the sacrifice of every productive person in the country, justifies the means, lies, treachery and deceit. Everything he does in the name of altruism is another way to launder money to leftists, re-distribute it to his supporters while extorting it from productive business people through emergencies that he creates. His basic method of operation is to excoriate every private company, individual or activity for not caring about others.

Our President has a fixation on altruism. When speaking to college students, he tells them to go into public service rather than private business. When dealing with executives he assumes it is their duty to give in to his "superior" but non-existent wisdom. In taking over the auto companies, he criticizes investors for not sharing in the sacrifice. When addressing the sub-prime crisis, he demands that tax payers and banks pay to keep people in their homes. When taking over college loans he cavalierly assumes that tax payers should put up the money while he bribes students to do community service in return. He put millions of productive people out of work in order to pay for the Stimulus Package that created no jobs for those very same people. And he has repeatedly packed his bills with millions of dollars in pork that benefited leftist charity organizations. At every step of the way, he has offered up sacrifice as the only solution for every problem - and today all of these problems are worse than when he started.

The President does not understand what it means to pursue happiness because his entire life has been based on exhorting people to sacrifice. He does not know that the pursuit of happiness is a far superior motivation than the call to give up one's product. It is the principle that makes possible cooperation, self-interest, the rule of law and capital accumulation. It is the principle of civilized living.

Nor does he know that the perennial call to sacrifice is not a high principle, not even a principle that works; it is the lowest principle of all, a destructive and uncivilized idea, the justification used by dictators and potentates for theft, plunder, robbery and violation of honest people.

What makes him the worst President in our history is his advocacy of sacrifice as a high ideal. Contrary to his own view, his is not a morality that represents the height of intelligence, the culmination of the best education, the greatest principle ever to be learned; an idea so true that only someone truly evil and selfish would disagree. Yet, you must ask yourself, how difficult does this advocacy of sacrifice make his job as President? When the only guide a President has is the belief that "Selfishness is always the problem and sacrifice is always the solution", how aloof and detached would such a President be? Imagine that slogan on the President's desk. Yet, if this were truly the singular magic formula for Presidential problem solving, anyone could be President. Even Barack Obama. No proof required, no logic needed, just this simple non sequiter as a way of life.

Just look at the kinds of people the President has built his career around: Banks, corporations, union leaders, housing developers, college professors, politicians, government bureaucrats; everything he's done through out his career has involved dealing with people who have gotten money according to the principle of re-distribution. They have succeeded only by attaching themselves to the unearned and re-distributed dollar that government takes from hard working Americans. He's never had to make a profit, make a payroll week after week or achieve a healthy bottom line. And, more importantly, he's never experienced the joy of watching people benefit from the work of his own hands or mind.

The President has always been one step removed from the actual productive person who has fed him all his life.

If you want to know why he is out of his element in solving the Gulf oil spillage problem, this is the reason: he does not know how to solve real problems demanding real solutions because he's always invented his problems and made them into a question of selfishness vs. sacrifice. His life's purpose has always been to find those that he can blame for being selfish, protest against them, extort support from them, tax them and regulate them. When this mode of operating does not apply, he is lost and uncomfortable; and the only thing he can do to make his world right again is to politicize the issue by finding selfish villains to kick.

President Obama is a gangster of altruism.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Go to Cuba, Mr. Gochez

As a Tea Party protester, I've come to the protests because of many years of study of such subjects as economics, history and philosophy. Since I was a young man, I considered it my responsibility to understand the world. My goal was to find truth, to understand ideas, to be informed, and more importantly, to connect ideas to their real life consequences. I’ve studied philosophers, from Jesus to Augustine, to Aquinas, to Locke and with stops at Plato, Aristotle, Rand, Hegel, Hume and Kant to name a few. I’ve tried to understand the good from the evil, the practical from the impractical and the honest from the dishonest.

This is why, now as an older American, it pains me to hear the following words from a young American history teacher:

“I want to start by saying that the young man who spoke a little while ago is one of my students and I am so proud because I know our people have strong leaders for years and years to come. (Name of the organization) a revolutionary Mexican organization here, we understand what the (name) are saying, you’re right, this is not just about Mexico, this is about a global struggle against imperialism and capitalism but we know that all of that is happening in the context that where we now stand is stolen, occupied Mexico and the message that we bring is that we want to bring a little more of a revolutionary context to this. Why is it that these people, these shrill, racist white people want to keep us out of this country; it is not because simply the color of our skin; it’s not because they simply want to exploit us; let me tell you why. Because on this planet right now is six billion people at the forefront of the revolutionary movement is the Raza. We have a long history and example of our commandante, Fidel Castro Ruz, Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales, we have Brazil, Equador, you name it, we have nine, nine, left of center governments in Latin America right now and they know something that one young Argentine called Che Guevarra said, it’s called the domino theory, and he knew that every single country would go revolutionary, one after the other after the other after the other. So what do they fear? They know that every single country; they know that we no longer will fall to these lies called borders, we know that a Salvadorian, that a Guatemalan, a Nicaraguan and a Mexicano; there’s no damn difference, we are all one people, so with that in mind, we see ourselves, all of us here, as the northern front of a Latin American Revolutionary movement. There are more than 40 million of our people north of the Rio Grande. That means to them that’s 40 million potential revolutionaries north of the border inside the belly of the beast, so when you think about why they want to keep us of all people out, that’s why, because they know that we now know the truth, they know that we are now raza, we’re professionals, we’re educators, we are revolutionary students. What does that mean? We are not just a regular culture any more, we are a culture of revolutionary spirit, and that’s the fear. So with that being said, I want to leave you with this, as a revolutionary, and with revolutionary context, let’s be clear about one thing, our enemy is not the minutemen, quote me, our enemy is not the minutemen, because the minutemen are not the ones who have killed over 4,600 people at those borders, our enemy is the same enemy that Hugo Chavez has, our enemy is the same enemy that keeps Africa poor, our enemy is the same enemy that keeps Asia poor, our enemy is capitalism and imperialism. If we are serious about making change, if you are serious about making change, let me tell you, the struggle will go on for many more years after we leave U.C.L.A.. Reading a book or writing a book, or teaching a class, that is not part of the movement. What you do 24 hours a day as a professional revolutionary, that is what will lead our people to liberation.”

This short speech, which is a famous youTube video, represents many of the basic questions that I struggled with as a young man. During my later teens, a widely publicized movement sought to convince me that its view of the world was correct. This movement also preached revolution against capitalism and it saw America as an imperialist nation bent on subjugating the world. These people rioted against the Vietnam War; some of them threw bombs and sought violence; but I realized that they were communist agitators using the War as a way of harming our country and destroying our freedoms. Their descendents are now in power, and they continue to poison the minds of young people.

The teacher who spoke the above words is Ron Gochez. He is a history teacher at LA Unified School District. In another video shot by Fox News he declares openly his advocacy of socialist revolution but claimed that he did not favor violent revolution. With assurances, he informs us that he never lets his revolutionary ideas interfere with his mandate as a teacher. Yet, I seriously doubt this claim. If you watch the video you see a couple of young students at this protest.

I think it is more than hypocritical for a history teacher in our time to claim that he can be objective when his “private” beliefs betray a serious lack of objectivity, a misunderstanding of history and a bias against the very system that feeds him.

In fact, Mr. Gochez is doing serious damage to his students. Even during the speech quoted above, he takes pride in one of his students who had spoken before him, saying “that the young man who spoke a little while ago is one of my students and I am so proud because I know our people have strong leaders for years and years to come.”

The problem for radical communist-leaning agitators like Mr. Gochez is that most Americans are decidedly anti-communist and anti-revolutionary; so much so that, in many circles, radicals have had to “mainstream” their radicalism and mimic “liberal” ideas in order to stay viable. In fact, even today, if you advocate revolution against the American system, most Americans will not listen to you. Do Mr. Gochez’ students know that radical communists in their communities are pretending to be mainstream and that their real goal is not to better the lives and educations of young hispanic people but to indoctrinate them against capitalism?

Probably not, which means they also do not know that radicals have sought to create enclaves that support radical views in their neighborhoods. What this means is that radical communist leaders like Mr. Gochez want to positively dispose young people, not to the truth, but to radical ideas that destroy their ability to do commerce and prosper. By raising young people to be "professional" revolutionaries, these communist teachers are making young people poor, then pointing to the poverty as the fault of capitalism. This, I submit, is a travesty. Where are the parents of these children?

Sometimes when I travel abroad, I encounter people with anti-capitalist views. I also meet honest people who want to improve their societies but don’t know how to do it. My travels provide me with a unique opportunity to understand how the same principles at play in America operate in a different context.

Those with anti-capitalist views that I’ve encountered tend to look to government in order to survive. Many of them are very wealthy but also protected in guarded communities against the poverty that exists just a few blocks from them. They devise business schemes that will make them wealthy; then they turn to government to ensure they receive subsidies, seed money, special privileges and business contracts. They will talk about the history of their country, point to the poverty, the corruption of government officials and then angrily rant against capitalism without a clear statement of just how capitalism did it, much less what their definition of capitalism happens to be. Their hatred is so strong that if you tried to defend capitalism in their presence you would be considered an advocate of slavery and jack boot fascism.

Yet, they know nothing about economics. To them capitalism is not an economic system, it is everything corrupt that has ever happened in their society. I think this is how their thinking goes: Those people who succeed in life have to be aggressive and predatory in order to acquire riches. They have to control natural resources, buy government officials, create monopolies, use slave labor and create favorable laws. Since capitalism is about success at any cost, every corrupt act is capitalism. This view, based on the false idea that self-interest drives people to brutality and plunder, misses the point that capitalism is not a government, it is not a country operating according to mercantilist principles or manifest destiny; it is not a military junta or a family of oligarchs controlling the natural resources of a country. Capitalism is nothing more than freedom for every individual and that means every capitalist transaction is based on voluntary exchange. Any effort to control capitalism by governments is coercion against individual citizens, a violation of their individual rights and an effort to control the decisions that they would otherwise make on their own.

It is important to understand this because many young people, particularly in hispanic communities, have been fed a lie. They are told that capitalism is a system of exploitation where capitalists seek to make fortunes off of workers and consumers and that this process makes everyone but the captitalists poor. They are taught that the opposing principles at work today are force (capitalism) vs. liberty (socialism) which is a reversal of the actual opposing principles. They are taught that self-interest (capitalism) is inferior to self-sacrifice and charity (welfare statism). They are told that our government should fight selfish interests in order to protect the people, that the government should throttle these selfish interests, take their money and give it to the people. They tell young people that every enemy is a capitalist group such as doctors, drug companies, oil companies, bankers, financial professionals, etc. The good people, according to these lies are people like Hugo Chavez, who are supposedly out to destroy this system of self-interest and install a system based on the good of the people (democracy).

What they miss is that they are being duped by people who want to use the arguments above to gain power. Among those are revolutionaries, community organizers, labor unions, politicians and highly placed financial experts who are using their power to plunder the wealth created by the capitalists, not for the sake of the poor, but for the sake of power, not to make a better society, but to establish the principle of re-distribution on such a massive scale that they can launder money (unseen) straight into their own pockets.

The real division in most countries is between individuals (including honest business people) who are increasingly taxed and impoverished versus government officials and oligarchs who use the government (and anti-capitalist propaganda) in order to control the citizens. The real division is between capitalism and liberty versus tyranny and dictatorship. If you've swallowed the poison that people like Hugo Chavez are really on the side of the people, you are being duped by your teachers and fed a lie. What they've missed is that in order for government to do good for "the people" it should leave the people alone to solve their own problems not interfere in those problems. Our nation was founded on this principle.

Those who want to create a better society in many South American countries, the truly honest people, have no idea about what it would take to make things better and they feel helpless, even if they are in government. Why don’t they know how to make things better? They too believe that capitalism is the system that has created so much evil. They’ve been taught that the imperialism of capitalist nations has created their poverty. They’ve been taught that capitalism is corrupt and that self-interest is evil. They have no idea what they should support because anything that is proposed must also compromise with the oligarchs who control the government and natural resources. The last thing they want to support is capitalism because they might be killed by the revolutionaries in their neighborhoods; most likely these revolutionaries are people financed by Castro or Chavez.

I once had a discussion with a foreign journalist from a South American country. I pointed out that in reading about his country, the key question that seemed to perplex most intellectuals was how to balance the forces in society among government bureaucrats who were associated with corruption and the private industrial sector that was regulated by these bureaucrats. It was common to find a debate between government control and private business; about how to maintain a balance so corruption could not get in the way of progress and jobs for the poor. Government regulations and constraints were always seen as necessary in order to protect the people from capitalist corruption, yet the protectors were also corrupt. It seemed to me that all of the negatives in this society were caused by government but that no one had the courage to say so…for fear of his life or job. I told this person that this balancing act was going on even in the United States. I pointed out that it was an aspect of fascism and that he should try to understand the nature of this system if he wanted to understand what was happening in his country. In particular, I suggested Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand as good reading. He had never heard of these people but he told me he would look them up.

This particular society was within the geographic circle around Venezuela. He told me that many people in his country did not like Chavez but others loved him and wanted to turn their government into a copy of what Chavez was building in Venezuela. Remember that Ron Gochez above also praised Chavez. You have to ask yourself how much Chavez money is going into LA neighborhoods to help support the “pro-Chavez” hypocrisy.

Another discussion, with a Venezuelan business person, somehow got around to President Chavez. I listened for a few minutes while he told me about the great things Chavez was doing in Venezuela and how he supported everything. I responded that I disliked Chavez because he was a dictator, whereupon this very same person spent the next half hour describing in detail the horrors of Chavez' rule and how he was ruining the country. His emotion and anger gushed out of him like a flood and I could tell which was his real opinion. He thanked me for giving him an opportunity to express how he really felt about Chavez.

Anti-capitalist views around the world betray a major thinking error that philosopher Ayn Rand sought to address in her writing. Self-interest is considered so evil in our cultural context that anything done for the sake of it is worthy of ridicule and anger. In some countries this view against self-interest is virulent and many people have never discovered that it is deficient and harmful. Everywhere, the ideas of pride, rational thinking, reason, anything created by the individual mind, are considered the cause of bad results, so much so that few people today would dare to claim self-interest as a motive. Rather, they go out of their way to claim that everything they do is for others. The result in economic decline is visible in the lives and neighborhoods of these people. If you are raised to have no pride in your work, if you think that doing anything for your own sake is evil, how can you have the courage and the self-confidence necessary to be successful? I agree with Rand that the self is the basic unit of humanity and that all good proceeds from the individual mind, that rational self-interest does not involve harming others; in fact, the practice of harming others to obtain values is not in anyone’s self-interest.

The Founding Fathers, when they created our country, did something unique. For the first time in history, they declared that man had a right to the pursuit of happiness. This ensured that the government could not interfere in men’s lives. Though few would admit it, this idea was the spark that unleashed self-interest in our society and liberated men to offer in trade their best products in return for the best products of other men. This idea created a society that was not zero-sum, as most societies of the past were. The result was a convergence of millions of men each pursuing happiness, each living according to their self-interest and offering value for value. Contrary to the Marxist view, our system was a system of liberation because it respected the freedom of man to do as he wished and it did not allow men to exploit one another.

The result of our system was civility, a government of laws not of men, ever-improving products, new products, new ideas, economies of scale, cleaner, tastier food, lower prices and jobs, jobs, jobs. The entire society became elevated and everyone saw his life as always getting better. People were happier, cleaner, more self-confident, more opinionated, and like typical Americans, always smiling because life had a surprise behind every corner. As time went by, even the ability to go anywhere one wanted, at a rapid pace, make business deals over broader areas, create massive industries that improved infrastructure, cleaned the environment and helped people live longer lives became commonplace. This was America and it was great because of freedom. Marx never invented a better more successful idea.

Exploitation, which is the hallmark of dictatorship, became impossible in our country because the government was prohibited from interfering in the rights and decisions of the people. Societies like communism and fascism, such as that of Hugo Chavez, became obsolete…until Kant. Kant, who was becoming influential in Europe, began teaching that man could not understand reality, that he had no means for connecting to reality and that his only way of acting was to invoke an imperative to duty. Kant, and others like him, including Hegel, provided the foundation for Marx who preached that the best way to make people do their “duty” was to create a government that acted on behalf of the people; that would direct people about what to do for the sake of the whole. This was the anti-happiness society based on service to others and its basic premise was that the best should take care of the least. Only conflict, resentment and anger could be the result of such a system.

Using misapplied economic principles, Marx acknowledged the power of capitalism to create machines and abundance but wanted government to own and manage the machines. He denigrated capitalists because, presumably they acted only on the basis of what was good for them rather than for the worker or society. For communists, capitalism was wasteful and needed a good dose of economic planning so the needs of the people could be met rather than the lust of the capitalists. Marx preached an overthrow of the capitalist system in favor of the dictatorship of the proletariat. With Marx, every idea became its opposite, freedom became slavery, free speech became praising the leaders, voluntary action became joining the labor union, and free choice became doing as the national economic plan required. Morality became acquiesence and immorality became wanting anything for your own private desires; and finally, abundance and plenty became poverty in the form of products that no one wanted and scarcity of the things people wanted.

Marx wrongly saw economic transactions as zero-sum. In other words, when the capitalist made a trade, according to Marx, he gained and you lost. In this circumstance, it was thought, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. This idea, broadcast millions of times and taught to our children in schools, was a lie. Capitalism actually elevated everyone who participated because the products offered by capitalists actually made peoples’ lives better. And the decider on value was not a government bureaucrat but the individual who evaluated products based upon what was good for him as an individual. In capitalism everyone improved his/her life and poverty was eliminated for the vast majority.

Those influenced by Marx sought to undermine capitalism in order to take over the machines, under the false premise that government can take over the power of production, eliminate the capitalist, and create a new abundance based on what is good for ‘the people’ rather than the evil capitalist. According to this theory, government could become the de facto capitalist and institute collectivism without any damage to the system, without any harm to the principle of supply and demand, or the pricing system, or the banking system, or production, or the happiness of the people. To convince people that capitalism was the problem, their critique of history under capitalism accused the capitalist system of being for slavery, imperialism, exploitation, child labor, the breakup of the family, insanity, alienation and poverty - all hallmarks of the pre-capitalist and communist systems. Every conceivable lie that could be told by these propagandists was told about capitalism. The result: the communist system under "enlightened" leadership and control, brought about the plundering of capital investment(which leads to economic depression and decaying factories and cities), the disruption of supply and demand, the inefficiency of government price controls, the inefficiency of the banking system, less production, less happiness among the people.

And now, after decades of decimation by revolutionary ideas, Mr. Gochez, apparently unaware of this history, praises, in the company of young hispanics, one of the most brutal collectivist thugs (Chavez) on the planet, calls him a liberator and seeks to do to South and North America what Lenin and Stalin did to Russia, through a new revolution in a society full of capitalist goods and self-confident, independent people. Does he really think that hispanic people are that stupid?

Apparently, Mr. Gochez has wiped out of his mind the city of Berlin where people braved guns, barbed wire and concrete in order to escape to the evil capitalist system. I have been to this city (in 1990) and compared the squalor of communist East Berlin with the vibrancy of capitalist West Berlin. Perhaps Mr. Gochez should bring to class some of these stories and pictures of Soviet guards shooting at East German people escaping the revolution that he loves. Then let's see for whom his students will cheer, the escaping citizens seeking freedom or the shooting soldiers trying to protect the revolution.

Or how about stories I was told in Germany about families in the West who allowed relatives from the East to visit their homes. One thing they noticed is how poorly groomed their eastern relatives were, how unkempt, uncut and unshaved were the men and women. Many examples are known that one day these West German professionals returned to their homes to find them burglarized with all possessions gone. Their communist relatives, in many cases, had the courtesy to leave a note behind that said something to the effect, "We've had nothing all these years. Now it is time for us to have something." Perhaps Mr. Gochez can tell his students about this history. There really is plenty of material about this revolution.

Or, to keep it interesting for the kids, perhaps Mr. Gochez can tell his students about "The Moonwalk Revolution" in 1988 during a Michael Jackson concert held in West Berlin, when the Stasi (East German Secret Police) brutalized East German teenagers for screaming "the wall must go, the wall must go" and hauled them off to Stasi headquarters for interrogation. Why would the good communist revolutionaries do that to teenagers, Mr. Gochez? Is this the kind of future you promise to your young students?

What few communists and progressives realized is that this scheme, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, was unworkable. Collectivism required the sacrifice of the able to the unable. This principle caused decline because hard working people soon realized that the system was another form of slavery. The harder they worked, the less they received. So, typically, as happened in the Soviet Union and Communist China, they produced less. The poor, on the other hand, knew that they would be taken care of and so had no incentive to produce. With the decline in production, no one thought to question the immorality of the system (who could possibly question sacrifice for society?). If sacrifice did not work, someone was to blame. As always with collectivism, the able aren't working hard enough or the capitalists are sabotaging the system, there are enemy spies everywhere; someone must be purged, imprisoned or killed. The communist system which promised to liberate the people and make them affluent becomes millions of dead bodies. Yet, even the pictures of the past that prove the unworkability of communism, the pictures of dead starving peasants or concentration camps or firing squads, are not convincing for Mr. Gochez. History means nothing as long as you can blame it on capitalism or manifest destiny or imperialism. So much for honesty in the world of history teachers.

A society based on re-distribution, such as communism or socialism, can never succeed because it does not acknowledge a person’s right to act in his own self-interest. With the heavy antipathy toward self-interest due to Kant’s influence, as well as that of religion, any society (such as Venezuela or Cuba for instance) that descends to re-distribution as foundational, must necessarily have an enemy in the United States, the symbol of the pursuit of happiness. That’s why all socialists accuse the United States of imperialism, war mongering, theft of resources and exploitation. Chavez hates the United States because he cannot exist without a scapegoat, without some other nation to blame for his own mistakes. The lies of Chavez are really about creating cover for his power grab not about some evil done by the USA. No one should be confused about that. What’s your excuse Mr. Gochez?

Notice also the blindness on the part of the ruling progressives today who are nothing more than closet Marxists. Government officials, convinced that the best principle of a proper government is “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, expect that every time this principle is implied in an action of government, it will necessarily produce positive results. They are blind to the history which has shown that this principle has never created abundance. To them government-imposed altruistic sacrifice is a magic formula. Needless to say, they are always disappointed when reality will not comply and things actually get worse. A case in point is the near trillion dollar Stimulus Package of 2009 that produced not one single new job.

Capitalism has nothing to do with exploitation and imperialism. It has nothing to do with concentration camps and jackboots or manifest destiny. On the other hand, Chavez, Castro, Morales (and their enabler Ron Gochez) and those other dominos are about one thing, separating people from their values, destroying their values, destroying their freedoms and their future for the sake of one thing: their thuggish life-long power over helpless victims. Why do they hate capitalism? Free people don’t want to live under dictatorship. Free people can think for themselves. Free people know when they are being lied to. Free people have a strong enough government to squash the cockroaches of socialism.

Mr. Gochez, with the great life he lives in America, as a respected school teacher in LA, for some reason has missed all this. You have to wonder why. Certainly, someone in his past decided to escape the dirt roads, the dirt floors, the tin roofs and the abject poverty found in Mexico. These people did not come to America to escape capitalist exploitation. They voted for America and capitalism. Why not Mr. Gochez? I’m sure he’d say that he’s seen the evils of capitalism, much like other anti-capitalists who don’t have a clue about history. I’d say he’s intellectually blind.

People like Mr. Gochez are blind dupes of the enemies of man and human progress. They are dupes of Marx and today’s equivalent of Hitler in his various disguises. Because he cannot think for himself, Mr. Gochez encourages young people in LA to admire criminals like Chavez and Castro. Ask the Cubans about Mr. Castro. Try praising Castro in a Miami school district and see how many pitchforks come after you.

You have to ask yourself; why would an American school teacher think he is doing good by praising thugs and murderers to knowledge-hungry school children? Why would a history teacher ignore the devastation, poverty, concentration camps, murder and the outright raping of the people that will take place if Latin America goes communist? What convinces him that everything will become peaceful in a communist Latin America when history has shown that communism always degenerates into conflict and theft, murder and plunder…by the very communist revolutionaries that espouse liberation?

Where is this history teacher getting his history? Check his reading list.

As for other young hispanics north of the border, Mr. Gochez, that you encourage to be "professional" revolutionaries, I'd like to ask where they are getting their money. Given the lack of historical accuracy in your views, what productive value are they providing in society that earns them the status of "professional"? In this country of free people, a "professional" usually brings enough value to his job that he pays his own way. Are your "professional" revolutionaries making their own money or are they being paid by tax payer dollars? Or, just perhaps, is it possible they are being provided for by Hugo Chavez? You, and they, must be scamming someone in order to be able to wear new clothes, get haircuts, drive a car, eat at restaurants and preach to innocent young people your "unprofessional" and nonsensical lies. No honest person would pay you to dishonor and insult this wonderful country.

And, believe me, you are dreaming if you think a majority of hispanics will run to your corrupt cause. Many of our ancestors came to this country for freedom; many of us fought for freedom against people who said exactly the same lies as your buddies, Chavez, Castro and Morales. We will never fight for your revolution. We will, however, fight against it and, proudly, we will fight for capitalism and freedom.

You can go to Cuba for all I care.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is Beck off the Rails?

Media studies have reported that Glenn Beck’s Fox News program has had a 30 percent drop in ratings. And even though Beck will be a light across the sky for some time to come, there has to be a reason why his ratings have dropped.

I think it is about his stand on religion. A large number of his viewers are Tea Partiers; many of whom don’t think religion is a Tea Party issue. Certainly, many Tea Party people love watching Beck when he takes on big spenders. Yet, for many, it makes no sense when he routinely ends his shows by saying that the only solution to our problems is “God.”

Why do religious conservatives have an incessant need to bring up religion and God on almost every issue? Is God the conservative’s idea of a fundamental principle that everyone accepts? Are conservatives saying that they refuse to engage in secular political debate? Are they saying that the Founding documents are proof that God exists? Are they saying that their best argument is "divine intervention" and the centuries-old Ten Commandments?

Beck says that God is the basis of our society. To support this view, he trots out religious historians to provide arguments on his show. Since when did the truth in our history come only from historians who think that God has intervened in the founding of our nation? When did it become popular to ignore the influences of Locke, Bacon, Newton and other thinkers who brought us some of our most advanced “secular” ideas? (See my blog post, "The Forgotten "ism")

A case in point is Beck’s recent profile of George Whitefield, a pre-revolutionary religious teacher who developed the speaking style that is still common among Evangelical preachers today. During this show, he elevated the preacher to the status of Founding Father because he was well-known in the colonies and presumably supported the revolution. Whitefield was educated in Oxford, England which at the time was the seat of the Enlightenment, where John Locke and other prominent thinkers also got their educations. Enlightenment ideas were in the air, so to speak, while Whitefield was at Oxford. If he did not grasp the world-shattering “this-worldly” ideas of the Founding Fathers at Oxford, he certainly learned the skill of communication there.

Whitefield visited the colonies often and, as Beck mentions, he was one of the most famous men on both sides of the Atlantic. His preaching, the precursor of outdoor Evangelical revivals of the 19th and 20th Centuries was full of the eloquence and fire possible to a man who knew the use of words, scripture and especially had an understanding of “rendering unto Caesar” in a time when Caesar was the King of England.

One fact that Beck did not mention is that Whitefield actively fought for the re-legalization of slavery in Georgia. At a time when slavery had been banned there, Whitefield was one of the most vocal advocates for slavery. Of course, some of our nation’s Founders had slaves, yet many of them still abhorred the idea. Whitefield had no such view. After slavery became legal in Georgia again, Whitefield purchased several slaves to help him build his orphanage and raise money for charity.

Yet, Beck often quotes Jefferson, "Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there is one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear."(1) He even tells us to apply that maxim to everything that he says on his show.

Beck sees our society as a gift from God, divinely constituted and ordained to follow God's nature. Believe it or not, this view is eerily similar to that of Jefferson who was a Deist. The only difference between Beck and Jefferson is that, like most Deists, Jefferson did not believe that God intervenes in our world. On the other hand, Beck believes our society was created by God's direct intervention through Moses, Jesus and the Founding Fathers.

That God also ordained the myriad churches and religious societies through out history that were not based on individual rights, many of which were murderous, warlike, corrupt and exploitive is somehow lost on Beck. How is it that God got it wrong for so many centuries and countenanced brutality and persecution? I am assuming Beck thinks these societies were somehow not based on God and that God always had our society in mind. He also seems to ignore the fact that the only difference between these past cultures and our own is that ours, uniquely, was inspired by the Enlightenment, not by the Church of England.

Beck's argument, unfortunately, sidesteps reason and falls under the philosophical realm known as mysticism; and it leads him to rationalize the mysticism of many of the Founders as foundational of society. Yet this view does not reflect the fact that many of the Founders saw the establishment of a religion by government as dangerous for our freedoms. Like Jefferson, they saw the imposition of a set of religious ideas, not uniformly agreed upon, as potentially despotic and they had seen such dangers play out in the real world through the Church of England. Jefferson: "Is uniformity attainable? Millions of innocent men, women and children since the introduction of Christianity have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch toward uniformity."(2) The point is that no religion should be established as the state religion because of the danger to our freedoms posed by an effort to establish uniformity of thought. Man cannot be forced to think like his brothers.

The fight to restore our freedoms today is not about freedom of religion. If you believe it is, you should join the Republican Party…but I doubt you would get much support from people who are more concerned about today’s massive interventions of government. I suspect that the point for conservatives like Beck is not that we must fight for God in order to save our society; I think Beck's is more a visceral, emotional insistence on religion that is rooted in past sorrows; and although this is sad, and his rising from the ashes is inspirational, emotions can only help us learn what is going on inside of us, not what is going on in the world, and especially how we should build our society.

There was no miracle of divine intervention in the founding of our country. There was instead some serious and well-thought-out philosophical work, based in logic and experience. Our Founders were thinkers of the highest order and practical men of action; they were people out of time and space who realized, through the singularity of a single thought (that all men are created equal) that in their time they could strike a deadly blow to tyranny; they bravely embraced their opportunity, rather than letting it get away, to make the world beautiful. Unlike so many leaders of the past, they embraced "the pursuit of happiness" not God's utopia.

This singular group of men included the most profound thinkers in the history of humanity and they created a society that made possible free cooperation among men (rather than conflict and plunder); they liberated their minds and bodies to achieve heights never before imagined. Just ask yourself if a free society like ours would have been possible without the influence on these men of the Enlightenment. Let’s give the Founders credit for their accomplishment as men of intellect. With no disrespect intended, why give God the credit when this singular group of men, at this fortuitous turn in history, created the “perfect” nation. We owe them more than our respect; we owe them our very existence, our sacred honor, our love and our highest appreciation. To leave the credit with God makes it more difficult for us to understand the roots in reality of the idea that man should be free.

Like Jefferson, the Founders sought, not a utopian society but a "rational" society. They wanted to live where they deemed, establish the comforts or hardships they chose, think what they wanted and to raise their children in the best possible way. Again Jefferson, in a letter to his good friend Madison: "Monroe is buying land almost adjoining me. Short will do the same. What would I not give you could fall into the circle? With such a society I could once more venture home and lay myself up for the residue of life, quitting all its contentions which grow daily more and more insupportable. Think of it. To render it practicable only requires you to think it so. Life is of no value but as it brings us gratifications. Among the most valuable of these is rational society. It informs the mind, sweetens the temper, cheers our spirits, and promotes health..."(3)

Certainly, many of the Founders were religious men. And some of them, especially Jefferson, were Deists who thought God had little direct influence in the affairs of men; that He had gotten the world started and left the rest to our free will. As a Deist, Jefferson would have appealed to reason, to science, to reality and this attitude is clearly shown in his writings.

He sometimes bemoaned injustice and expressed hope that people would learn from their own experiences that reason taught a different lesson. For Jefferson, God was just, but his justice was sleeping; man had the task of understanding the gifts that God had given and it would be the actions of men that would determine the future. On the issue of slavery, he wrote, "...can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever..." For Jefferson, slavery was such an evil idea that he trembled at its potential for awakening God from his slumber. He was not saying that God would awaken; he was using a rhetorical device to say that slavery was very bad.

For Jefferson, it is man that brought about the abomination of slavery and he hoped that God would not awaken to inflict his punishment. This is Deism; a view that man walked a fine moral line while God slept, and that it was man's role to learn for himself. Jefferson continues: "...that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest."(5)

To men like Jefferson, it was about exposing every idea to the light of reason, even slavery and the idea that God existed. What mattered most to him was how men used their minds. Certainly, among the Founders, many of them, were Christians; but what is unique about them is that they were so principled, so influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment, that they were willing to put their own beliefs on the line and allow the truth to will out…regardless of what that truth would be. Men like Jefferson knew that accepted ideas would change over time; that men would continue to question and test reality; that even the idea of God as it stood in his time would be questioned, that free men could eventually span the universe and learn ideas that men during his time could barely fathom – and he wanted that bright future of questioning everything. He must have felt deeply proud to have been a man ushering in a bright new age of intellectual freedom. To Jefferson and other Enlightenment thinkers human progress was about making advances in human thought, not resting on the stagnant ideas of the past. No conservative was Jefferson.

The constant insistence on religion by conservatives like Beck is quite frankly, scary. We’ve got to restore all of our Constitutional liberties, not just our right to think as we desire. And we must respect the rights of all human beings, even those with whom we don’t agree.

To Mr. Beck, I’d like to say, “I find you to be a highly admirable individual and I am impressed by your ability to communicate complex ideas. You are truly an indispensable person during these times. I shudder to think of the pressures you are under from so many fronts. But the truth that you seek is that of Jefferson.

It is the Founders' insistence on the right to the pursuit of happiness that makes America different and exceptional. The evil of our time is in the sacrificing of the best among us. After fighting this sacrificing and regaining our freedom, how can we then say that we have liberated men so they can sacrifice voluntarily? Is that really a choice to build a nation upon? Would it not be better to say that we have liberated men to pursue their highest joys and to live without guilt?

Sacrifice is not what the Founders sought in their pursuit of liberty. As Jefferson's example shows, they sought a "rational society" rich in freedom and enjoyment and intellectual stimulation.

We should champion man’s capacity for pleasure and happiness, for reason and clarity, not his capacity to suffer and give up. We should look to his inquisitiveness and his desire for exploration, not to an imperative to duty. Only then can a person find peace and happiness.”

(1)Thomas Jefferson to Peter Carr, 1787
(2)Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia, 1782
(3)Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1784
(4)Alf J. Mapp, Thomas Jefferson, a Case of Mistaken Identity
(5)Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia, 1782