Thursday, November 21, 2019

Does the Left Hate America?

Whenever leftists are charged with not loving or even with hating America, they respond angrily, labeling the question absurd, mean-spirited and an example of right-wing McCarthyism.

But there can be little doubt that the left has no love for America, just as there can be little doubt that liberals and conservatives love America. Love of America is one of the many dividing lines between liberalism and leftism. (For a description of six differences between liberalism and leftism, please see my PragerU video "Left or Liberal?")

Here are six reasons to believe the left hates America:

1. No one denies that the international left -- the left in Europe, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere -- hates America. Therefore, in order to argue that American leftists do not hate America, one would have to argue that on one of the most fundamental principles of international leftism -- hatred of America -- American leftists differ with fellow leftists around the world: All the world's left hates the U.S., but the American left loves it.

This, of course, makes no sense. Leftists around the world agree on every important issue. Why, then, would they differ with regard to America? Has any leftist at The New York Times, for example, written one column critical of the international left's anti-Americanism?

2. Leftists want to "fundamentally transform" the United States. Five days before the 2008 presidential election, candidate Barack Obama told a huge audience in Columbia, Missouri, "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."

More recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced that she plans to "fundamentally transform our government," that America needs "big, structural change" and that her proposed Accountable Capitalism Act would bring about "fundamental change."

Likewise, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said earlier this year, "We're going to try to transform the United States of America," and last month he said, "This campaign is about fundamental change."

Examples are legion.

So, here's a question: How can one claim to love what one wishes to fundamentally transform?

The answer is obvious: It isn't possible.

If a man were to confide to you that he wants to fundamentally transform his wife, would you assume he loves his wife? If a woman were to tell you she wants to fundamentally transform her husband, would you assume she loves him? Of course not.

3. Leftists have contempt for the American flag.

I am unaware of a single left-wing individual or organization that has condemned NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand for the flag during the playing or singing of the national anthem that precedes NFL games. To the contrary, on the left, he is universally regarded as a hero. Indeed, Nike anointed him as one, making him its brand model.

Leftists might respond that Kaepernick's public refusal to stand for the flag and national anthem says nothing about his love for America, as it is only a form of protest against racial injustice. But that is nonsense. Would leftists argue that anyone who publicly refuses to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day really loves Dr. King?

4. Leftists routinely describe America as racist, sexist, xenophobic, imperialist, genocidal, homophobic, obsessed with money and morally inferior to most Western European countries. No moral person could love such a place. As one person commenting on a Paul Krugman column wrote, "Does loving your country mean you love or ignore the fact that we destroyed Iraq, shot down an Iranian commercial airliner, and waged a brutal war in Asia for reasons that today make no sense?"

5. America is the most successful country in world history -- while being the most committed to capitalism and remaining the most religious of all the industrialized democracies. To the extent that America is great, that means two of the institutions the left most loathes -- Christianity and capitalism -- are also great.

6. Love is, among other things, an emotion. So, here is a question about leftists' emotions: Do any leftists get the chills when the national anthem is played or when they see the American flag waving as the anthem is played? Given their rhetoric, it is most unlikely. Yet, every person I know who loves America does get a chill at such moments. Do leftists, as opposed to some liberals and conservatives, display the flag on any national holiday? How many leftists even own a flag?

Finally, if leftists do not love America, what do they love?

According to their own rhetoric, they love the planet -- Mother Earth, as they frequently refer to it. And they love animals.

They really love power, and they claim to love material equality.

They don't love Western culture -- and they now dismiss praise for it as a euphemism for white supremacy.

Interestingly, while they often claim to love humanity, many don't seem to love people. They give less charity and volunteer less time to the downtrodden than conservatives, for example. They have much less interest in having children and making families. They are far more likely than conservatives to cut off relations with friends or relatives with whom they differ politically. And if they really loved people, they would love capitalism because only capitalism has lifted billions of people from poverty.

But most of all, they love ... themselves.



Those Shaming Amazon about Bangladeshi Factories Should Be Ashamed of Themselves

It’s difficult to muster a lot of sympathy for Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, reportedly the world’s richest individual, whose divorce this summer from his wife of 25 years cost him an estimated $38 billion. But recent attacks on Bezos and Amazon for selling clothing made in Bangladesh are ill-informed and unfair.

The controversy began in October when a Wall Street Journal investigation revealed that Amazon sells clothes from Bangladeshi factories that other retailers have blacklisted for poor safety records. Amazon’s critics ignore that the blacklisting these factories denies Bangladeshi garment workers the opportunity to earn a living.

Concerns about the safety of Bangladeshi garment factories stem from the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed more than 1,100 workers. In the aftermath of the collapse, the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh was established to promote factory safety and monitor compliance with safety agreements. The accord now includes more than 1,600 factories employing more than 2 million Bangladeshi workers.

Far more Bangladeshi firms, however, are not party to safety agreements under the accord. According to the International Labor Organization, there are more than 5,000 garment factories in Bangladesh; one study estimates there may be as many as 8,000 factories if subcontractors are counted. The 3,400 to 6,400 firms that aren’t part of the accord also employ about 2 million garment workers.

Last February, I participated in a panel discussion at the University of Denver alongside Joris Oldenziel, the accord’s deputy director for implementation. Understandably, perhaps, Oldenziel believes all Bangladeshi factories should have to live up to the accord’s safety standards. Similarly, the Wall Street Journal report implied that Amazon was harming workers by sourcing from factories blacklisted by the accord. Both are wrong.

With a per capita annual income of just over $1,500, poverty is widespread in Bangladesh. Factory work, even in unsafe factories, is a big step up for workers compared to subsistence agriculture, household services, or most other available alternatives. As I pointed out in my book, Out of Poverty: Sweatshops in the Global Economy, even the workers at garment factories that U.S. activists protest and label as harmful “sweatshops,” on average, earn far more than the “less than $2 a day” the vast majority of Bangladeshis were earning at the time of my analysis in 2010.

Better safety is not free, and companies respond to increased costs by shifting production to cheaper labor from other parts of the world or by investing in machinery and other automated processes that reduce employment. Forcing all companies to meet accord safety standards, either by passing new safety laws or by shaming companies like Amazon, jeopardizes jobs that provide millions of Bangladeshis the opportunity to escape extreme poverty.

When the overall pay is low, workers prefer the vast majority of their compensation to come in the form of wages, rather than safety expenditures or other benefits. That’s because they are in a struggle just to feed and clothe their families.

When productivity rises, so does total worker compensation. And as workers become wealthier, they demand more of their compensation in the form of safety and benefits. This process is underway in Bangladesh, and the accord is part of it.

Today, about only 10% of the employed population in Bangladesh is living on less than $1.90 per day. As productivity and compensation have risen, safety has also improved. The accord provides credible information on factory safety standards—or the lack thereof—giving workers more information to choose where they want to work.

The factories participating in the accord are disproportionately the larger firms with higher revenues. To force accord safety standards on smaller firms, where many of the poorer and less productive Bangladeshi workers are employed, would result in job losses for those who need jobs the most.

Sustainable safety improvements come through the market’s process of economic development. Amazon and other U.S. companies sourcing from accord factories, unlisted factories, and blacklisted factories are part of this process. If we care about the welfare of Bangladeshi workers, we need to continue to let the process play out.



The Bolivian ‘Coup’ that Wasn’t

Claiming to be the victim of a coup, former Bolivian president Evo Morales has been granted political asylum by Mexico, where he and his allies will continue to push the fiction that he was forced out by Bolivia’s powerful oligarchy.

Morales’s claim stands truth on its head. In fact, it was Morales who tried to engineer a coup—and not for the first time—by rigging the Oct. 20 presidential election.

Morales came to power at the beginning of 2006 after two previously elected presidents were toppled by Morales-led mobs. As is customary among those embracing “21st century socialism,” Morales then convened a constitutional assembly, the main purpose of which was to rubber-stamp his proposal to amend the constitution to allow the president to seek a second term, something the previous constitution expressly banned. Not surprisingly, the constitution was rewritten and Morales was reelected in 2009.

That, too, wasn’t enough for Morales. So he turned to Bolivia’s constitutional tribunal—the court in charge of protecting the constitution—to extend his rule even further. And to no one’s surprise, the court decreed in 2013 that he could stand for a third term, ruling that his first term didn’t really count since the country had been “refounded” in 2009 when the new constitution was adopted.

Morales then began to plot against the constitution’s two-term limit, with his cronies in the legislature approving a referendum that would put the two-term limit to a vote. When the vote was held in 2016, to Morales’s shock, the people rejected the proposal.

But Morales couldn’t take no for an answer. His constitutional tribunal decided he had a “human right” to be reelected. In perfect theater-of-the-absurd style, Morales and his stooges invoked Article 23 of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, which states that citizens have a right “to vote and to be elected in genuine periodic elections.” So, once again, Morales stood for reelection.

Only this time things didn’t go so well. When it became clear that Morales wouldn’t win the needed majority and instead would have to face off against former president Carlos Mesa in a “mano a mano” contest Morales was likely to lose, the vote counting system mysteriously crashed. Twenty-four hours later, it miraculously recovered—and lo and behold Morales all of a sudden had a better-than-10-point lead, enough to avoid a runoff.

The electoral fraud triggered massive protests that eventually forced the government to accept an international audit by monitors from the Organization of American States. The monitors concluded that widespread irregularities had taken place and that it was “statistically unlikely” that Morales won the election.

Which brings us to the present mess. After the massive protests turned violent, with several police garrisons stepping in to protect the public from paramilitary thugs loyal to Morales, the head of the military, a longtime ally of the president, “suggested” that Morales stand down.

The general’s stance might have been imprudent, but it had nothing to do with a classic military takeover—so common in Latin America. Instead, it was a decision by the military leadership to steer Bolivia away from a bloodbath, which likely would have occurred if they had rejected the will of the people in support of Morales’s attempt to extend his tenure through a rigged election.

This is what led Morales to claim he was the victim of a coup. Since Morales’s vice president, a close ally, also resigned, as did the head of the senate, who was next in line to take over, this puts the new president of the legislative assembly in charge until new elections are held and the reins of power are handed over to Morales’s duly elected successor.

As I write, the chaos continues, as one might expect given the harm Morales has done to his country’s constitution and institutions, the violence his thugs have instigated and the fury his critics feel after he attempted to steal the presidential election.

But let us be clear: There has been no coup in Bolivia except the one Morales tried to engineer.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated), A Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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