Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Hurricanes and Socialism
by Jacob G. Hornberger
Two articles in the New York Times last week exemplify perfectly why our nation is in such bad shape. Both articles concerned the devastation from Hurricane Sandy. The first was a Times editorial, entitled “A Big Storm Requires Big Government.” The other article was in the form of an op-ed entitled “Grover Cleveland’s Hurricane” by Matthew Algeo.
The thrust of both pieces was that Hurricane Sandy proved that the nation really needs big government in general and FEMA in particular. Without FEMA and big government, the argument goes, there is no way that people in a free society could cope with emergencies and crises.
Actually, however, in the process of praising FEMA, Algeo did Americans a great service. He criticized President Grover Cleveland for having denied federal disaster relief to hurricane victims in the latter part of the 19th century. He also pointed out that Cleveland vetoed a welfare bill for Texas farmers who were suffering a severe drought.
Why is that a service to Americans? Because it bursts the myth that is inculcated into every American schoolchild — that America’s system has always been the same. Americans are made to believe that myth because the last thing statists want them to do is to start wondering why our American ancestors chose a different system than the one that modern-day Americans chose. In fact, in their haste to publish an article criticizing Grover Cleveland and his selfishness, I can’t help but wonder if the Times failed to realize that the article it was publishing, at the same time, was bursting one of the government’s most prized myths.
As Algeo implicitly points out, Americans have lived under two different economic systems and social orders. Our American ancestors chose a way of life in which everyone kept everything he earned. There was no income tax. That wasn’t an accident. Our ancestors believed that a free society necessarily entailed the right of people to keep the fruits of their earnings.
There was also no requirement that people do the “right” thing with their money. They were free to do whatever they wanted with it. They could save, donate, invest, or spend it. The choice was theirs. Our ancestors believed that that’s part of what living in a free society is all about.
Cleveland’s position simply reflected what America was once all about — what a free society was once all about. As Algeo points out, Cleveland stated, “Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character.” That’s not only what Cleveland believed. It was the philosophy that undergirded American society through the 1800s.
Not so today. Having born and raised under a welfare state, many Americans believe they are entitled to be taken care of by the government, When things go wrong, the first response is, “I have a right to federal money,” which is really nothing more than saying, “I have a right to your money, thanks to the taxing power of the IRS and the welfare function of the federal bureaucracies.”
What happened before Americans adopted the income-tax, welfare-state way of life? When government was prohibited from taking care of people, people responded by figuring out ways to help others. But unlike the welfare state, which is founded on force, Americans relied on the voluntary actions of people. They believed that that was what genuine charity was all about.
In fact, Algeo himself alludes to this phenomenon. When Cleveland refused to provide federal money for the hurricane victims, Algeo tells us what happened: “Into the void stepped Clara Barton, the 72-year-old nurse who had founded the American Red Cross 12 years earlier. Almost single-handedly, Ms. Barton organized relief efforts — distributing food and clothing and supervising the construction of new homes (first for widows and the infirm). Her heroic work, especially in the South, saved countless thousands from disease and starvation.”
Imagine that! One person accomplishing so much! And think about this: If Americans had embraced statism from the start of the nation, there never would have been a Red Cross. After all, why would Clara Barton have started the Red Cross if the government was already serving a paternalistic role in American life?
So what happened? What caused the system to change?
American statists hated the principles of economic liberty on which America had been founded. They hated the idea that people should be free to keep the fruits of their earnings and decide what to do with them. They wanted a system in which the government confiscated people’s income and wealth and redistributed it to others. Although today they hate the label, back then many statists didn’t mind being called socialists. They knew that that’s what they were.
Over time, the statists prevailed. They were able to engraft their cancerous philosophy onto America’s constitutional order. They got their income tax amendment in 1913. They got their Federal Reserve Act in the same year. And then Franklin Roosevelt, seizing upon an economic crisis, one that had been caused by the Fed, ushered in the socialist, fascist, interventionist system under which we now live, all under the false pretense that he was “saving free enterprise.”
And then there is the out-of-control federal spending, which increasingly saddles the American people with ever-growing federal debt. But of course, every time someone suggests that federal spending be curtailed even by a tiny percentage, the statists rise up and scream in horror, “Oh, no, the nation couldn’t survive if that particular dole is reduced!”
It’s no different with FEMA. Algeo and the Times suggest that FEMA is one of those vitally important agencies whose budget could never be reduced, much less ended. But wouldn’t they say the same about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, education grants, auto bailouts, the FDIC, and every other socialistic program? Would they say that even a minute reduction in the budgets of the CIA, the military, and the rest of the warfare state would grievously threaten “national security”?
Except for libertarians, the welfare state has severely damaged the principles of self-reliance, can-do, and independence within the American people. Algeo and the Times’ editorial board provide irrefutable proof that Cleveland was right: Federal aid has encouraged the expectation of paternal care on the part of the government and has certainly weakened the sturdiness of our national character.”
Obama and the politics of contempt
"Your first time shouldn't be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy."
So begins the now famous official Barack Obama for President campaign ad that was released last week. The ad depicts a young woman named Lena Dunham, who is apparently a celebrity among Americans in their teens and 20s.
After that opening line, Ms. Dunham continues on for another minute and a half discussing how having sex for the first time and voting for Barack Obama for president are really the same thing, and how young women don't want to be accused of either being virgins or of having passed up on their chance to cast their votes for Obama next Tuesday.
I've never been particularly interested in so-called "women's issues." It never seemed to me that any party or politician was particularly good or bad for me due to the way they thought of women. That all changed with the Dunham ad for Obama.
With this ad, Obama convinced me he is a misogynist.
The Obama campaign's use of a double entendre to compare sex - the most personal, intimate act we engage in as human beings, with voting - the most public act we engage in as human beings - is a scandal.
It is demeaning and contemptuous of women. It reduces us to sexual objects. When called on to vote, as far as Obama is concerned, as slaves to our passions, we make our decisions not based on our capacity for rational choice. Rather we choose our leaders solely on the basis of our sexual desires.
Beyond the ad's bald attempt to impersonalize, generalize and cheapen the most personal act human beings engage in, the ad is repulsive because it takes for granted that what happens in our private lives is the government's business.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is a totalitarian position.
THE WHOLE point of liberal democracy is to put a barrier between a person's personal life and his or her government. A liberal democracy is founded on the notion of limited government. It assumes there are a lot of places where government has no role to play. And first and foremost among those places is the bedroom.
The theory behind limited government is that if the government is permitted in our private space then we are no longer free. When - as in the case of the Dunham ad - a political campaign conveys the message that there is something personally wrong with not actively supporting its candidate, it communicates the message that it sees no distinction between personal and public life, and therefore rejects the basic notion of freedom from government. And this is repugnant, not just for women, but for everyone who values freedom.
One of the oddest aspects of the Obama sex ad is that to believe that this sort of message can be effective, the campaign had to ignore mountains of data about the demographic group the ad targets - young college-educated women.
According to just about every piece of survey data collected over the past 20 years, young women in America today are more accomplished, more professionally driven, and more intellectually successful than their male counterparts. That the Obama campaign believes the votes of this successful, smart group of women can be won by appealing to their basest urges rather than their capacity to reason is demeaning and perverse and, one would think, counterproductive.
But it isn't surprising.
The fact is that the Obama campaign - and indeed, the Obama presidency - has treated the American people with unprecedented arrogance and contempt. On issue after issue, Obama and his minions have eschewed intellectual argumentation.
On issue after issue they have preferred instead to attack Obama's detractors as stupid, backwards, bigoted, bellicose and evil.
For instance, however one feels about current events in the Middle East, there is a legitimate - indeed critical - argument to be had about the nature of the Islamist forces the Obama administration is supporting from Cairo, Egypt, to Alexandria, Virginia.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the most popular movement in the Islamic world. It is also a totalitarian, misogynist, anti-Jewish, anti-Christian and anti-American movement. It seeks Islamic global supremacy, the genocide of Jewry, the subjugation of Christianity and the destruction of the United States.
There is an intellectual case to be made for appeasing these popular, popularly elected forces.
There is a (stronger) intellectual case to be made for opposing them. But rather than make any of the hard arguments for appeasing the Muslim Brotherhood, the Obama administration has deflected the issue by castigating everyone who opposes its appeasement policies as racist, McCarthyite warmongers.
If women who don't support Obama are prudish geeks, Americans who oppose his appeasement policies are bloodthirsty bigots.
Then there was the attack in Benghazi on September 11 and the general Islamic assaults on US embassies throughout the Muslim world that day.
The acts of aggression that Muslims carried out against several US embassies on September 11 and since have all been acts of war against America.
The rioters who stormed the US embassies in Egypt, Tunis and Yemen and replaced the American flag with the flag of al-Qaida all violated sovereign US territory and carried out acts of war. The US had the right, under international law, to repel and respond with military force against the rioters as well as against their governments. Instead the White House blamed the acts of war on a US citizen who posted a video on YouTube.
Then there was Benghazi. In Benghazi, jihadists took this collective aggression a step further. They attacked the US Consulate and a US government safe house with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Their goal was to murder all the US citizens inside the compounds. In the event, they successfully murdered four Americans, including the US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
In the six weeks that have passed since the attack in Benghazi, despite administration attempts to stonewall, and despite the US's media's inexcusable lack of interest in the story, information has continuously dribbled out indicating that Obama and his senior advisers knew in real time what was happening on the ground. It has also come out that they rejected multiple requests from multiple sources to employ military power readily available to save the lives of the Americans on the ground.
There may be good reasons that Obama and his top aides denied those repeated requests for assistance and allowed the American citizens pinned down in Benghazi to die. But Obama and his aides have not provided any.
Rather than defend their actions, Obama and his advisers first sought to cover up what happened by blaming the acts of war on that YouTube video.
When that line of argument collapsed of its own absurdity, Obama shifted to blaming the messenger.
His campaign accused everyone asking for facts and truthful explanations about what happened in Benghazi of trying to politicize the attack.
Obama himself has twice struck the Captain Renault pose and declared himself "Shocked, shocked!" that anyone would dare to insinuate that he did not do everything in his power to save the lives of the Americans whose lives he failed to save.
Canada in trouble too. Overall unemployment level of 7.4% hides a lot
The Financial Post has an interesting story on the state of the Canadian jobs market. It seem over 100% of job growth is from government jobs.
Canada may have added 1,800 jobs in October, but that number hides the fact that almost all the gains came from government and that the private sector lost more than 20,000 jobs.
The 1,800 jobs added was already a disappointment compared with the 10,000 economists had forecast. According to Statistics Canada, that left the unemployment rate unchanged at 7.4%.
The six-month average for jobs gains is now 29,400, according to Reuters. But it’s a very different story when you look at the private sector and public sector separately.
Note: Australia's current unemployment rate is 5.4%, which is about average for the last 10 years. It shows what is possible
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 1:49 AM