The St. Croix Review

The St. Croix Review

The St. Croix Review speaks for middle America, and brings you essays from patriotic Americans.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 13:21

The Positivist and Pragmatist

The Positivist and Pragmatist

Thomas Martin

Thomas Martin teaches in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. You may contact Thomas Martin at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
"The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." --G. K. Chesterton

Harold Andersen, in his editorial "Debate Over Research Took Irrelevant Turn," in the Omaha World-Herald on January 18, 2007, continued his ongoing defense of embryonic stem-cell research when he stated:

Acceptance of the pro-life activists' argument that a human being, a person, is created at the instant of conception means, it seems to me, a complete rejection of the commonly understood version of what constitutes a human being or a person. My dictionary defines a human being as "conscious of mortal existence. The complex of physical and spiritual qualities that constitute an individual, human, person." And a person is defined as a "being characterized by conscious apprehension, rationality and a moral sense." Doesn't sound like an embryo, frozen or unfrozen, to me.

If we accept as true Harold Andersen's "commonly understood" definition, then even unborn babies and children are not human beings. In fact, both the unborn child in a mother's womb and the child in her arms are blissfully ignorant of mortal existence. Being aware of death is reserved for adults.

Then again, children in their innocence have an imagination which is not hindered by the laws of science. In a child's world, horses can fly, dolls talk, and cows jump over the moon.

In this respect, the uncommonly understood definition of a person is that the child is the father of man. The child of whom I write was not conscious of mortal existence inasmuch as he was conscious of immortal existence. Man is much more than his body; man is a living soul. A living soul has a conscience, as well as the faculty of reason, placed in him by God, which is directed by moral principles, such as what you do unto the least of these, you do unto me. And the very least of me is who? My embryonic state.

We live in an age that is held captive by the mentality of scientism, thinking that all our problems can be understood and resolved by science. It is the age of the positivist and the pragmatist. The former holds that valid knowledge is attainable only through the methods employed by the natural and social sciences, so no knowledge is regarded as genuine unless it is based on observable phenomena; the latter holds that the only valid test of truth is that it works: if it can be done it should be done.

The positivist, limited to the information of his senses, does not know how and when life came to be. However, he does know that he can separate the part from the whole by taking a human embryo from a woman's body. It is important to remember that, though a human embryo does not exist naturally by itself but as a fertilized egg housed in the womb, it is a fallacy to think the part does not have the potential to be a person apart from its mother.

The positivist, limited by the information of his senses, does not use reason to move from or toward moral principle, and the pragmatist justifies his actions by rationalizing that the end justifies the means.

We live in an age that is captivated by the image of youth. We are self-indulgent and do not want to grow old or even be reminded of death. In such a state, reason becomes the slave of passion and science is the handmaiden of desire, to be used to satisfy our worldly needs and wants.

Now the problems facing modern man are those of emphysema, heart disease, diabetes, liver and kidney disease, Parkinson's, spinal cord injuries, stroke, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It is said the solution to these life debilitating and threatening diseases is hopefully going to be found in human embryos.

I am here reminded of C. S. Lewis, who in The Abolition of Man, noted:

From propositions about fact alone no "practical" conclusion can ever be drawn. [That] this will preserve [life] cannot lead to "do this" except by the mediation of [life]"ought to be preserved.

In other words, the pragmatic positivist cannot get a conclusion in the imperative mood out of a premise in the indicative mood; he cannot learn what he ought to do from what it is in his power to do.

Through our fear of death, we commit the scientific fallacy of not acknowledging the soul. The supporters of embryonic stem-cell research wrongly characterize it as being potentially "life-saving"; for while it is in the province of medical researchers to relieve pain and cure diseases, it is outside of their realm to preserve a person's life indefinitely. That is reserved for the child who is the father of man. *

"A government that robs Peter to pay Paul will always have the support of Paul." --George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 13:21

Mischievous Feminists, Title IX, and Weak Men

Mischievous Feminists, Title IX, and Weak Men

W. Edward Chynoweth

W. Edward Chynoweth is a graduate of West Point, and a retired deputy county prosecutor for San Francisco. He is the author of Masquerade: The Feminist Illusion, University Press of America, 2005.

America is at a crossroads yet to be noticed by her undiscriminating citizens. This is not careless name-calling; it's the present law. They are forbidden to "discriminate" except as a court might allow, etc. (Titles VII & IX, the Glass Ceiling Act, Custred/Connerly anti-discrimination initiatives repeating the edict, etc.; while lockstep conservative pundits ritually recite fashionable "anti-preference," "thou shall not discriminate" litany.) Thanks to such misguided theory, even homosexuals now claim they've been discriminated against by centuries of Western culture, convincing gullible politicians to distort the honored institution of marriage to include homosexual "unions." Edmund Burke would advise against such thinking:

. . . whenever I speak against theory, I mean always a weak, erroneous, fallacious, unfounded, or imperfect theory; and one of the ways of discovering that it is a false theory is by comparing it with practice. This is the true touchstone of all theories which regard man and the affairs of men -- Does it suit his nature in general? -- does it suit his nature as modified by his habits?1

Ignored by leaders truckling to homosexual politics is the sexually dimorphic nature of humankind requiring for its survival enduring unions of male and female. Nothing is more unnatural in God's creation than presuming to perpetuate the race with homosexuals.

However, there is hope, since, aside from shrill female voices reporting, advertising, and orating on current issues or commanding male platoons; Democrats and male conservatives whimpering about having to fight another war; beltway pundits talking their way through current events without deep thought; or endless politicking by men and women seeking votes but not truth or the common good; there is an undercurrent of concerned citizens who sense the lack of common sense in their nation's doings and dialogue. We need leaders to stir a commonsense dialogue towards reestablishing long-proven Western patterns. Pope Benedict and others provide a basis but politicians and editors go with the flow. It will take two of Burke's favorite ingredients now being neglected -- manly knowledge of our heritage and prudence. Although the subject has broader scope, this essay will concentrate on Title IX of the Civil Rights Act.

Our post-50s revolution (with roots in the 1800s) is analogous to Burke's times, and we would benefit from his and our Founders' thinking. In their 1964 leveling of the sexes, Congressmen defrocked men of their responsibilities, unwillingly conferring them on women. The current fancy of "empowering" women is an illusion of our times, ignoring what men through the ages took for granted, namely, that women possess so much natural power the law needn't grant them more. Now, annual "conferences on women" dedicated to "empowering women" are mere vehicles for politicians, advertisers, and publishers to advertise their wares and give women a day off to enjoy themselves and feel "empowered." The 1964 Congress set the pace, "destroying at their pleasure the whole original fabric of their society." Such "unprincipled facility" with "floating fancies or fashions" broke the "whole chain and continuity of the commonwealth" and rendered American males "little better than the flies of a summer."2

Bringing this home literally, androgynous chickens are coming home to roost. Consider the ongoing travail caused by the aspect of the theory of "sex equality" requiring "equal opportunities and equal outcomes for men and women in college sports programs." Such sexual innovations weren't the result of wise deliberation on whether it suited our natures but of temporizing subservience to feminists, who represented not most women but the disgruntled ladies who flourish in feminism. Now, most people bow to Title IX as "the law," oblivious to long-standing principle that lawmakers "have the power but not the right" to enact any law they please especially if it's "contrary to the eternal laws of right and wrong -- laws that ought to bind all men, and above all men in legislative assemblies."3 Laws that exceed this right should be repealed. Those who think that this would end sports programs for women or diminish their standing in society don't understand women or Western society.

Though California universities are experiencing a spate of lawsuits alleging violations, the public response juggling "gender equity" and "sex discrimination" is remarkable mainly for the general lack of understanding. Apparently relying on Internet blurbs, newscasts, or talk radio, people seem unaware that such terms are neither reliable standards nor common law (any more than abstract "equal opportunity"). As Burke saw, "Men little think how immorally they act in rashly meddling with what they do not understand."

As a result, critics fault everything but the cause. Blaming individuals involved at one school (Fresno State), e.g., the plaintiff, the school President, the Athletic Department, The Fresno Bee, the courts, or the aberrant jury, they ignore the statute itself. One doesn't blame the smoke on those choking but finds the fire and douses it, in this case a badly conceived statute out of tune with nature and long custom that can only result in loose-gun jurisprudence. The fault lies in ourselves for condoning Title IX!

The feminist propaganda vehicle for such doings is the college program known as "women's studies" (hereinafter, "W. S.") -- a woman-centered exercise deserving a closer look from faculty committees and deans. Unfortunately, after decades of indoctrinating, many more women now accept the idea that women have been shortchanged over millennia and need "empowerment," which amounts to blatant misunderstanding of and disrespect for women. Instead of "broadening views," W. S. present, in the words of one male observer, a "shallow agenda ruthlessly enforced with parameters of the debate narrowly drawn. Its dynamic is to see who can top whom in exposing oppression."4 Fresno State's own Susan Arpad elaborated:

Women's studies classes have an essential life component that more theoretical oriented courses do not. Students discuss frankly the issues of relationships, career, and cultural institutions such as religion. This can touch a lot of raw nerves.5

In other words, W. S. amount to a college counseling session or sorority bull session, but not higher education. Here germinate the seeds of solipsistic female thought these days.

For instance, considering women's current prevalence in all the former male roles, W. S.'s claim of "gender bias" always sounds hollow. With their other interests and different thought processes, women have never been great composers, philosophers, scientists, etc., and W. S.'s vocabulary is no exception. Rife with artifice and self-promotion, it stirs wonder at how this supposedly educational canon has been allowed for so long. Again, their vast literature reveals tenuous scholarship -- mostly revisionist and anti-traditionalist -- suggesting that W. S. might more accurately be called "young women's promotional sessions," or elicit Mark Twain's comment on his wife's swearing, "My dear, you have the words but not the tune."

A remarkable example appeared recently as an op-ed article in The Fresno Bee, with a feminist professor stretching the tired W. S. lexicon from noting the value of sports in rearing boys to manhood, to applying it equally to girls, never mind the incongruity. Their problem is that, despite feminism's avowed goal of (sterile) androgyny, our species is sexually dimorphic and quite fertile, which defeats their entire platform. The professor's flailing at this reality in the now familiar turgid terms of "gender discrimination," "male privilege," "sexism," "lesbian-baiting," "cultural definitions of femininity," or "disturbing student testimonies of the homophobic climate in athletics" didn't help their cause. How can a sex known for its networking and "solidarity" honestly castigate males for the same attributes? And, considering the many deserved female privileges, her attacking "male privilege" makes no sense. Women's studies (feminism's) reasoning is simply different, passionately resenting "imagined bonds of brotherhood trumping professional responsibility" -- while overlooking not only their own "professional responsibility," but also the historical value to humanity of bonds of manliness ("brotherhood").

Ironies abound: (1) Despite their women-centered focus, W. S. professors actually abjure womanly femininity as dysfunctional, and aspire to male roles! (Or, as one woman acknowledged somewhat irrationally, "equality in all roles except those requiring strength and risk.") Thus society misdirects young women's great and true value, nudging them into the biblical pattern of "contentious women." (2) A healthy society should not encourage girls to seek male paths but to follow their own, and to raise boys to be strong males respectful of the opposite sex -- i.e., gentlemen. In other words, humanity is a communal enterprise requiring right order between the two sexes, not foes contending with each other. Pirouetting ballerinas don't "deserve" to play their partner's role too, without whose support and guidance their graceful art collapses in folly.

As Edmund Burke saw,

. . . our manners, our civilization, and all the good things which are connected with manners, and with civilization, have . . . depended for ages upon two principles; and were indeed the result of both combined, I mean the spirit of a gentleman, and the spirit of religion.

As most women realize, it takes a gentleman to support the companion spirit of a lady. In his time, Tocqueville appreciated the "superiority" of American women under the natural division of labor, but, since then, men have gradually weakened. By 1900, Henry Adams's female friend answered the question "why the American woman is a failure" by retorting, "Because the American man is a failure!" Thus, Tocqueville's prediction for "sex equality" had come true: "weak men and disorderly women."

Returning to Title IX, actually, news photos of female athletes belie Title IX-inspired "gender equity" rhetoric with graphic evidence of sex differences -- facial expressions, bodily contortions, femaleness, all revealing distinct natures and differing athletic abilities. Furthermore, despite the litany of being "institutionally denied," girls simply do not flock to the playing fields of Fresno State like boys do. They do partake of much publicized team sports but more because of scholarships than a natural bent. Behind many a female athlete also is a father, brother, son, or male coach who judges girls by their performance in male roles, hardly a discerning appreciation of womanhood. Plaintive W. S. boasts that "female athletes prove that toughness is not an exclusively male attribute" insult not only great-grandmothers but all women known for their courage, resilience, and durability. Conflating female and male "toughness" is like equating a crepe myrtle to an oak tree. Though politically overlooked in post-60s America, woman differs profoundly from man. National schizophrenia or dishonesty displays woman in every other arena but politics and journalism as, well, quite different.

As for the supposed "promise of Title IX" and revisionist claims of its legitimacy, it was a mere adjunct to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to which "sex" was added as a southern ruse but which passed anyway, under feminist pressure, thus dismantling at will, as mentioned above, the fabric of ages without a model of proven utility for replacement. Neither then nor now has there been a national outcry for more female athletes or Soviet-style "compliance monitoring offices" to force educators to create an abstract "gender equity" in sports.

We should remember that order and stability in the universe, whether through the control of God's gravity, a quadratic equation, or countless other examples, require the interaction of counterbalancing functions and forces. "Equality of the sexes" is no more feasible than "equality" of the shank and lever of a ratchet. As Burke knew, any sort of human "equality" or "liberty" should be subordinate to justice and underlying arrangements developed over centuries, which require more thought for the human sexes than W. S. wish. As he realized, the only real human equality would be moral equality. With Titles VII and IX, we upset a long-proven balance, forbidding the very "discrimination" needed to sustain the healthy interaction of wise, manly men; and wise, womanly women. In failing to study feminism and resist its patent onslaught on a right order of the sexes, Western men have failed miserably to uphold their part by performing their manly duties.

As for the philosophical error of condemning "sex discrimination," if we didn't discriminate as to sex, there'd be no children -- the true sex equity -- our inheritance. It is women's great and natural power, with the force of reproductive behavior inevitably demanding the discrimination necessary for sensible relations between the sexes. Why do Americans numbly pretend otherwise? That a people accept the notion suggests ignorance, or an inability to read or -- discriminate! Because Titles VII & IX's thoughtless drafters were only catering to militant feminists, any excuse for them vanishes. (As if this weren't bad enough, the 1980s' "Glass Ceiling Act" added a dose of pretentious, socialistic, micro-psychobabble.)

That institutions of higher learning, docilely obedient to state-mandated Marxist "committees of compliance," cannot muster the needed intellectual leadership to preserve their educational tradition is disgraceful for all responsible -- legislators, educators, citizens, trustees, governors, executives, editors, etc. Again, in the end it is not various scapegoats or the courts doing; it is our own for condoning a bad law. Sports programs are best left to school administrators whom we can hold accountable, not to abstract, draconian theories of mere politicians. Instead of following the lead of people like California State Senator Dean Florez, currently busy in Sacramento trying to amplify Title IX by squeezing the budgets of state universities who don't give "equal athletic opportunities to women," men and women need to stir themselves and their representatives to repeal arbitrary statutes meddling with the two sexes, whose long partnership is better managed by a civilized people and the common law than shortsighted innovators. Once they're gone, then we can judge universities on how well they educate.

In his eagerness, Dean Florez gives no thought either to consequences or our freedoms, reminding us of Goethe's insight, "Legislators and revolutionaries who promise equality and liberty at the same time are either psychopaths or mountebanks."6 Our own constitutional system of checks and balances, and separation of powers, was characterized:

. . . not by objectives but by its mode of operation and devotion to a body of laws which codified that mode. . . also defined by procedures, by way of conducting official business, as opposed to a high-minded set of purposes hidden away beneath its surface like a ticking bomb.7

In centralizing control of education in Sacramento according to his politics, Florez undermines the freedom and responsibility of those actually doing the job -- a classic example of poor management as well as a "ticking bomb."

Again, the many efforts to defend Title IX reflect the striking analogy of our time with Edmund Burke's -- when abstract claims of "liberty, equality, and fraternity" brought violent destruction. Ours is less bloody (if one overlooks millions of aborted babies) but equally radical, since we are neither the socialistic republic nor matriarchy that many people are taking for granted. It will need robust, relevant debate to confront the trends and men will have to decide whether to surrender leadership to women or not. If they do decide to, they'll be the first in history. *

"A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar." --H. L. Mencken


1 Speech on the Duration of Parliaments (1780), The Best of Burke, edited by Peter J. Stanlis (Regnery).

2 Quoting from Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France.

3 Edmund Burke, as quoted from his speeches by Peter J. Stanlis, in Edmund Burke: The Enlightenment and Revolution, p. 15 (Transaction).

4 Michael Weiss, Academic Questions, Summer 1992.

5 Contact, CSUF, Winter 1989.

6 Maximen and Reflexionen, quoted by Hans Hermann Hoppe, in the October 1999 issue of The Free Market, Ludwig von Mises Institute.

7 Prof. M. E. Bradford, Original Intentions, p. 104, in quite Burkean terms.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 13:21

The Legacy of the 1936 Election

The Legacy of the 1936 Election

Amity Shlaes

Amity Shlaes is a syndicated columnist for Bloomberg and a senior fellow in economic history at the Council of Foreign Relations. She is the author of two national bestsellers, The Greedy Hand, a profile of the tax code, and the currently best-selling history of the Great Depression, The Forgotten Man. The following is adapted from a lecture delivered on the Hillsdale College campus. Reprinted by permission from Imprimis, a publication of Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan.

What makes the current field of candidates so timid? It is clear listening to figures from both parties this year that they still believe Social Security is untouchable. This despite the fact that bringing Social Security into solvency is a relatively easy task. When it comes to the more serious fiscal burdens upon our grandchildren, the candidates are likewise timid. This despite the fact that those burdens only become heavier as we delay. We speak of 2008 as an election year, but it is also the year when the tide of Social Security cash begins to recede with the retirement of Baby Boomers.

But where is the origin of the problem? Traditionally historians have focused on the slow rise of American progressivism over the past century and a half. I'm going to do something different, and undertake an almost artificial exercise. Here I will compress history and argue that this destructive hesitation comes out of a single political campaign, the presidential campaign of 1936. This campaign marked the virtual end of old-fashioned American federalism and the rise of a new kind of politics. It was 1936 more than any other campaign that created modern interest groups and taught us that Washington should subsidize them.

Pinning blame on a single campaign (and its run up) may seem facile. Still, the story is well worth telling.

The Run Up

In 1932, total federal spending was still only 5 percent of gross domestic product. Spending by states and local governments represented by contrast 10 percent of GDP. Even well into the Depression, it was to state and local governments that many looked for a means to recovery. There was no big tax redistribution. The word "liberalism" still signified a belief in individual liberty rather than paternalistic government. Nor did American workers view themselves so much as a class in those years. They viewed themselves as moving up and down the economic ladder. Even our greatest union, the American Federation of Labor, was more of a craft and trade union than a class union. But all this was soon to change.

In his 1932 campaign, Franklin D. Roosevelt had talked about helping someone he called "the forgotten man." He was thinking of the poorest man, or as he put it -- invoking the time of the pharaohs -- "the man at the bottom of the economic pyramid." His speechwriter, Ray Moley, had inserted the phrase into an address on The Lucky Strike Hour. Moley wrote to his sister Nell that he didn't know where the phrase came from. But in fact it did have a provenance. It came from an essay (and later a book) written decades before, called "The Forgotten Man." Written by a famous Yale professor named William Graham Sumner, this essay defined "the forgotten man" differently.

Sumner employed an algebra to explain what he meant: A and B want to help X, he wrote. This is the charitable impulse. The problem arises when A and B band together and pass a law that coerces C into co-funding their project for X. Sumner identified C as the forgotten man. He is the man who works, the man who prays, the man who pays his own bills, the man who is "never thought of."

But this did not matter to Roosevelt, who of course won handily in 1932 without thinking much about the phrase again. He spent the next few years trying to help the poor through the now famous New Deal measures. But three years into his presidency, his efforts were still failing. The New Deal was having mixed results. Unemployment in May 1935 stood at what we today would compute to 20.1 percent -- a large share of Americans were still forgotten men. The Brookings Institution wrote a nearly 1,000-page report on the New Deal's centerpiece, the National Recovery Administration, concluding that it "on the whole retarded recovery." The Dow was stuck in the low hundreds, nowhere near even the 250 it had been in 1930 under Hoover, well into the downturn. As a result, in July 1935 -- the year before the 1936 election -- Roosevelt made a decision to give up on trying to help the general economy. Instead, he decided to refine his definition of "the forgotten man." No longer would this man be simply the poor person at the bottom of the economic pyramid. The forgotten man would now be the member of certain defined constituency groups -- groups like senior citizens, farmers, writers and artists, and union members.

Federal Largesse

Critical to FDR's plan was to invent ways to alter the bonds of towns and individuals with their states and establish bonds with Washington, D.C. One of the first important institutions through which this was accomplished was an old office that we rarely talk about anymore, the Public Works Administration or PWA. The PWA was placed under the control of Secretary of the Interior Harold L. Ickes -- father of Harold M. Ickes, the prominent Democratic strategist who has worked with Bill and Hillary Clinton. The PWA's role was to fund buildings, bridges, and other structures in towns and villages all over America.

The PWA went to counties and towns to offer them a combination of grants and loans to build schools or dams or power plants, or any kind of public buildings. PWA regional offices sent all bids for structures back to the national office, where Ickes reviewed them. Then, every week, with a manila envelope, he went to the White House and Roosevelt looked them over personally, just as he looked, say, over his stamp collection in the evenings.

On the local end, the experience was a pleasant one for mayors or officers of the county. They were able to allocate the cash, to pick the architect and even the contractors. The money made them feel empowered.

The scale of the spending of the PWA was unprecedented. Its budget was $3 billion in its first few years, or half the size of the federal budget in any given year. Ickes himself was stunned by the magnitude: "It helped me to estimate its size," he wrote, "by figuring that if we had it all in currency and should load it into trucks, we could set out with it from Washington, D.C., for the Pacific Coast, shovel off one million dollars at every milepost," and at the end "still have enough left to build a fleet of battle ships." It is hard now, when we have become accustomed to imperious Washington bureaucrats, to imagine the high of the brand new experience Ickes was enjoying. Riding up and down the East Coast and across the country on a train with the President -- in special cars with a new luxury that Ickes in his diary calls "cooled air" -- he felt that his job gave him the ability to reshape the country. And indeed, the pyramid image appeared again: people called Ickes a pharaoh. And in fact, the PWA enabled him to be like a pharaoh -- simultaneously grandiose and petty. On each PWA structure were placed the words: "Harold L. Ickes, Secretary of the Interior."

There were more than 3,000 counties in the United States, and all but 33 of them received a PWA project. Many received several. At Michigan State University alone just up the road from Hillsdale -- nine PWA buildings went up.

What did the country think of it all? The critic Frederick A. Gutheim wrote an article at the end of the 1930s complaining that the entire PWA produced "not one architectural masterpiece." But that in a way was the point. Roosevelt knew that masterpieces were not what was needed for his purpose. On the contrary, a masterpiece from Washington might stand out too much in small town America. This was a task of ingratiation.

The goal was to make the towns feel that the buildings were theirs, to get people used to Washington's hand being involved in projects that formerly were entirely local. Relatedly, Ickes was attacked on all sides for the pickiness with which he reviewed PWA projects. But Roosevelt told Ickes that he did not mind. "This slowness did not displease him," Ickes wrote. "On the contrary, he said to me, 'I do not want you to move any faster.'" The extra months that the process took were extra months of activity that held the eye, evidence that Roosevelt the candidate was doing something.

With this advertisement campaign in place, Roosevelt went on to connect with all his targeted groups. The Wagner Act, the Public Utilities Law, the Social Security Law, and the Works Progress Administration -- WPA, not to be confused with PWA -- were all passed in great haste, beginning in the summer of 1935. Senator Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan was so aghast at the scale of WPA spending that he decried the "four or five billion worth of lost liberty."

The WPA served much the same purpose as the PWA. Many here will recall those humble, high quality WPA guidebooks to cities, states, and regions. They were another way of making the new federal role seem less threatening. Just like the building projects of the PWA, they symbolized a new relationship between the federal government and the counties and localities, from which states are cut out.

The WPA also developed a direct form of propaganda: writings and theater that supported the New Deal. In October 1935, the Agency announced that it was producing a play in New York about agriculture called Triple A Plowed Under (Triple A was a New Deal agency). The WPA also produced Power, a Marxist play that caricatured private-sector utilities executives as old men who exploit American households. The New Deal produced some real art -- we all remember the compelling photo of the migrant mother by Dorothea Lange. But it also produced pure propaganda.

It is hard for us now to overestimate how welcome it was for so many journalists, photographers, artists, sculptors, and actors, to be on the Washington payroll. There was no Hatch Act in those days, no federal law precluding political activity by government officials. The WPA was the equivalent of Congress or the White House today moving, after a market crash, to put the staffers of Slate and Google on its payroll as bloggers.

Even by the end of 1935, what the federal government was doing was so changed that it would have been scarcely recognizable to someone from the minimalist 1920s. Washington spent $5.6 billion for the year, double the level of 1930 -- and this was before the first Social Security check was cut.

Interest Group Politics

It is worthwhile to pause and consider what all these New Deal programs were doing. They were not bringing the economy back to health. Indeed, they frightened participants in the economy. Utilities, for example, were seeing increased use of electricity, even in the Depression. But utility stocks were not booming because Roosevelt was attacking utility companies as enemies of "the forgotten man." In fact, Ickes was giving towns power plants in exchange for their commitment to use government power instead of private power. The Dow, as mentioned before, was still in the 100s. Unemployment was still through the roof -- 19 percent in March 1936. Nonetheless, Roosevelt saw what his work at identifying groups to receive federal largesse would do: it would get votes. He continued to reach out to the mythical figure of "the forgotten man" through the spring, summer, and fall of 1936. Interestingly, people especially preferred the projects that were not for the poorest -- the ones that instead helped the middle class along, not with relief, but with work and entitlements. This foreshadowed our own attitudes today.

Toward the end of the 1936 campaign, near the elections, Roosevelt moved into a frenzy, reaching out even to those groups he might have neglected before. He announced a $2 million expansion at Virginia State College, a black institution. In late October of 1936, days before the vote, he told an audience at Howard University that there are "no forgotten men and no forgotten races." By the last days of the election Roosevelt therefore had cemented his party's position vis-a-vis his revised "forgotten man" -- now a member of a group, not an individual. The job of everyone in the "unforgotten" groups henceforward would be to pay for the larger Washington that in turn would pay for the "forgotten" ones.

In 1936, federal spending moved to 9 percent of GDP, up from 2.5 percent in 1929. If the gift to the 1932 electorate had been liquor -- with the promise of Prohibition's repeal -- federal spending was the gift in this election cycle. Historian Jim Couch of the University of North Alabama has shown the precision of the targeting of this money as a way of buying votes. He documents that Roosevelt poured money into battleground states and gave short shrift to safe states, including those of the poor South. Richard Vedder of the University of Ohio has data that suggests that the creation of jobs was also targeted politically. Reckoning unemployment rates month-by-month for 1930 to 1939, he found that though the average for 1935 or 1936 is between 15 and 20 percent, there is one month where unemployment dropped to 13.9 percent: November 1936, the month of the election. It went below that, and then rose again.

In other words, it is true that FDR was at his most popular in 1936, taking 46 of 48 states; but that fact cannot be credited entirely to his radio voice. Nor to the heroic popularity of an ailing president leading a nation through World War II -- as we now, anachronistically, remember the 1930s elections. That would come later. In 1936, Roosevelt's was also the popularity of a leader who had invented a new way to reward the constituencies that he needed to win.


The overall lesson of this is that we can continue to respect many aspects of Roosevelt's presidency today. But we shouldn't have false nostalgia about it. After all, it was Roosevelt's political machinations in the 1936 campaign -- symbolized by the PWA -- that gave us the "earmarks" that bedevil Congress today, on both sides of the political aisle. Action is more important today because of our fiscal challenge -- the new forgotten men are the grandchildren who will pay if we do not give up some of that costly nostalgia. John Marini was right when he said, right here at Hillsdale and earlier this year, that the country must choose now between Reagan and Roosevelt. That Reagan himself did not have to choose was because of demography. Unfortunately, now we must.

When I was writing my book on the Great Depression, I kept thinking back to William Graham Sumner, who originated the idea of "the forgotten man." Sumner was a Victorian who died in 1910. But I continued to hear him in the background as I studied Roosevelt and Ickes, and what Sumner said continued to apply -- both to the 1930s and to our current political life. He spoke prophetically about the voter who was not included in preferred interest groups -- the man or woman who everyone fails to think about. He spoke of the forgotten voter for whom there is "no provision in the great scramble" for federal largesse. Our elections are not good elections until they welcome back that voter, too. *

"A politician thinks of the next election, a statesman of the next generation." --James Freeman Clark (1810-1888)

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 13:21

Some Thoughts on Inflation

Some Thoughts on Inflation

David J. Bean

David J. Bean is a freelance writer living in California.

Everyone knows what inflation is: It is the increase in prices over time; the increase in prices this year as regards to last year or a number of years ago. Simple!

But is it really that simple? A classic definition of inflation is "an increase in the price of a good or service without a corresponding increase in value." And that works pretty well except now we are stuck with a definition of value. When you think about value you have to realize that it is always considered in relation to something else. This is more valuable than that, etc. So the value of any good or service must be compared to something else before we can determine its "value." And unfortunately, there is no international standard for determining what anything should be compared with in order to determine its "true" value. It used to be that most countries used gold as their standard for determining value, and many still do, but since no country is on the gold standard now, that is not a rock-solid base. And besides, gold prices change drastically, too.

The problem with gold is to find something solid to compare it to. Most of us compare it to the number of dollars it costs. But when you think about what money really is you can see the problem. Money is an IOU. It promises to be exchangeable for a good or service at a later date. But if that date is very far in the future, money (or the dollar) is not a very good store of "value" because of inflation. Thus, with gold at $700+ an ounce it is being compared to the value of a dollar with the hope that if the value of a dollar goes down, the dollar price of gold will go up. But this is not necessarily so. In the 1970s the price of gold was over $800 per ounce but not too many years later it had fallen to less than $300 without an equal corresponding change in a dollar's value. And when storing gold (as a store of value) one must consider storage costs and the lost interest that could be obtained by an equal investment in stocks or bonds. So gold in itself is not a rock-solid storage of value either.

For years many people thought land was the best storage of value. And land prices, in general, do go up over time. Do they go up more than inflation? Some times, but once again, there is no guarantee. And land can be taxed, flooded, or zoned into less value. So land can be a good storage of value but there is still risk involved.

The Federal Reserve Bank uses a "basket of commodities" as a standard in measuring inflation. This is so they can remain "modern" in what commodities are popular. It would be silly to use the price of buggy whips these days as a mark of inflation.

We can get a pretty good idea of the effects of inflation but we haven't really determined what causes inflation.

Most economists say that inflation is caused by "too much money, chasing too few goods," but when you examine this theory in specific cases it doesn't make sense. Shortages certainly can cause a short-term spike in the price of a good or service, but for a long-term trend in price advancement we have to look at other causes. For example, is there a shortage of gold? NO; we have enough in Fort Knox to build a fence clear around Texas, and in spite of the fact that with the computer age we are using a lot more gold for electrical contacts, jewelry etc., more is being mined every day. Other countries also have huge stores of gold. Or more simply, how about the price of bread? Is there any shortage of bread? NO, again, yet its price is approaching $4 per loaf. Well, how about the price of an automobile? Certainly there is no shortage of those, but look what their prices have done in the last ten years.

Many economists believe inflation is caused by the creation of too much money. The government prints the money but banks create it. With our fractional banking system banks can lend out more money than they have on deposit or reserve; sometimes as much as ten times as much. Thus, our banking and loan system creates money. These banks are restricted by the amount of reserves they must hold, but when they get low they can borrow from the Fed discount window and these loans go into their reserve so they can loan the public more money. The banks pay interest on their loans of course. The Fed tries to control the amount of loans banks can issue by raising or lowering the interest rates on the loans to the banks and thus tries to control the amount of new money that the banks can create.

So the dollar, which has been the de facto standard in the world for years, is starting to lose its position as a standard of value, a unit of account, a store of value, or a medium of exchange. Most of this loss can be attributed to the devaluation of the dollar with respect to other currencies. When the euro was introduced it was valued at less than a dollar; today it is worth $1.41. This makes things much cheaper for European countries who buy U.S. goods or services but makes all our imports from them much more expensive. What this really reflects is a lowering of the perceived value of a dollar in relation to other currencies.

A nation's wealth is not determined by the amount of currency it has afloat; it is determined by the amount of salable goods or services it produces. The value of this production is usually expressed in terms of GDP or Gross Domestic Product. The U.S. has been, and still is, the leader in gross production, but the rest of the world is catching up. Think of our gross production as a huge pile of units, some of which are exported but most are consumed by ourselves. We buy most of the cars, washing machines and other things we produce ourselves and, in fact, import and consume more goods than we export. Thus we experience a "trade gap." We import and consume the goods or services and give the foreign producer dollars in exchange. These dollars are IOUs for future goods or services that all of the U.S. producers have to cash at some future date.

Europe is starting to feel the bite as the U.S. dollar plummets, making French wine, Italian fashion, and German cars, more expensive in the U.S., the EU's main export market. The Wall Street Journal reported that the employer group BusinessEurope said that the euro had crossed a "pain threshold" for European companies.

Governments in general do not directly contribute to the GDP, but government policies can promote or restrict production in specific areas. In fact, governments are really consumers of production because the costs of government must come out of that pile of units that the working citizens produce. In a well-governed country the taxes paid by the working section (which is the portion of the production units taken by the government) would equal the amount spent in providing government services. For the last series of decades, however, the U.S. government has been spending and obligating a whole lot more than the producers have been able to produce. The result is a huge working deficit and an even larger future obligation brought on by unfunded promises Congress has made. The result is trillions of dollars of debt to cover present and future obligations that no one has any idea how to pay. The current year deficit in the spring of 2007 was predicted to be over 400 billion dollars. Thus, the world's investment communities have a loss of confidence in the future value of the dollar with the result that its value with respect to other currencies has dropped.

Of course inflation can help pay this debt by letting the government pay the debt with dollars that are worth a whole lot less than what they were at the time of the original borrowing. This is what politicians count on and it provides an incentive for people to invest using borrowed funds. What this system does, however, is rob savers who are stuck with investments paying a lower interest than inflation. And for current investors it makes savers require higher interest when they invest. A saver must receive a higher return than the projected inflation rate or he is guaranteed a loss on his investment.

Well, why don't we just raise taxes enough to cover what the government is spending and obligating? For one thing, taxes are a strong disincentive to production and hurt the economy. Also, politicians are afraid to call a halt to all this credit card-type spending by telling the people that the bill is finally due and payable. The government is already taking over 20 percent of the production now (but in reality, taking twice as much -- see below) and obligating a lot more than that. And taxes contribute to inflation because there are literally thousands of taxes today that were not imposed as recently as fifty years ago. For example, a recent study concluded that there are over 20 Federal taxes on a simple phone call and countless state and local taxes on top of that. A recent Associated Press article on food prices said that a bowl of cereal and milk cost 49 cents this year as opposed to 44 cents last year. The article also dissected a dollar spent on food and concluded that for each dollar spent, 38.5 cents went to labor, 19.5 cents to farm products, 12 cents to advertising and packaging, 7.5 cents to transportation and energy, 7 cents to rent and insurance, 6 cents to direct taxes and 9.5 cents to depreciation and profit.

It was pointed out in an August 2007 St. Croix Review article (page 53) that ultimately consumers pay all taxes. The article shows that when a person consumes a good or service he is paying a portion of all the taxes paid by all the people who had anything to do with bringing that product or service to the market because all their taxes (which they paid out of what they were paid) were expensed and are included in the price consumers pay for the product or service. This rather simple concept is not universally understood but nevertheless is true. The implications of this revelation have not been discussed or debated but it does show that the progressiveness of our tax laws is a pathetic fraud. Also it shows that we collectively pay all taxes twice! Don't believe it? Take a hypothetical CEO who makes $1 million per year. Assume he pays $250,000 in taxes. The quarter million goes directly to Washington but is expensed as part of his salary so goes into the cost basis of the product or service his company produces and is paid again by the consumers who buy that product or service.

Now look at the Associated Press breakdown of the cost dollar above. In each one of the items that involve people such as labor, farm value, advertising, transportation, and rent, the pay those people receive must cover all of their tax obligations. Assuming that is their only job, where else could they get the funds to pay their taxes?

All of the above suggests that long-term inflation is caused by the general belief that a future dollar will not buy as much as a present dollar. This belief is reinforced by the knowledge that Congress keeps spending and obligating future wealth, no matter that the Secretary of the Treasury has stated many times that he believes in a strong dollar. As long as this deficit spending continues we will experience inflation. Deficit spending has now been practically constant for the last 40 years and totals several trillion dollars and now is still over 260 billion for this year, 2007.

Politicians obligate government's share of the production to the extent they can without being held accountable for the resulting deficit or the potential collapse of the economy. They use class jealousies to set the lower producers against the higher producers and constantly try to level the share of production that is distributed through our economic system. This tendency toward pure democracy is dangerous because when 51 percent of the nonproductive masses find out that they can vote themselves an unearned share of the production, many of the 138 million producers we have will quit producing.

A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for candidates who promise the most benefits.

[The origin of the above quote is unknown. Some have attributed it to Alexander Fraser, Tytler, more formally known as Lord Woodhouselee. Others attribute it to Lord Macauley or Alexis de Tocqueville.] *

"Timid and interested politicians think much more about the security of their seats than about the security of their country." --T. B. Macaulay, Speech in House of Commons, May 1842

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 13:21

Free Trade: A Threat to America's Future?

Free Trade: A Threat to America's Future?

Mark W. Hendrickson

Mark W. Hendrickson is a faculty member, economist, and contributing scholar with the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College, Grove City, PA. This article is reprinted with permission from the online publication of Vision and Values: V & V.

Protectionists claim that free trade is bad for America -- that increasing imports of goods means increasing exports of jobs, thereby gutting our economy. This notion could only be valid in a zero-sum world with a fixed number of jobs, where one country's gain would be another's loss; in fact, though, the number of jobs, both at home and abroad, is locked into a clear uptrend. New businesses and industries continually emerge in the never-ending attempt to satisfy humankind's insatiable wants. We can never run out of jobs.

Free trade doesn't reduce employment, but rearranges it to more efficient applications, just as economic competition across town, across the state, or across the country causes some jobs to supplant others. This process is natural and healthy, not sinister or harmful. Yes, as counterintuitive or perverse as it may seem, a healthy economy is one that destroys jobs -- by replacing them with new jobs. Just as a healthy human body undergoes a constant process of renewal by shedding dead cells and replacing them with living cells, so a healthy economy is one in which more efficient providers of goods and services displace less efficient providers.

If that sounds cold and clinical to you, then ask yourself if you would rather be part of the U.S. economy or to have been a worker in the Soviet economy. The Soviet Union had the most protectionist system possible -- the government guaranteed everyone's job so that there was never any unemployment. The price for guaranteed employment was an economy without flexibility or adaptability. With employment and the economy frozen in place, the Soviet planners in effect outlawed economic progress, resulting in devastating stagnation and impoverishment in the so-called "worker's paradise."

By contrast, the dynamic U.S. economy has always pushed people out of old jobs and into new jobs. While challenging for the individuals affected, these are the inevitable growing pains associated with progress for us all. Look at American agriculture, for example. Over the past 250 years, farm employment has shrunk from over 80 percent of our population to less than 2 percent. We may sympathize with the anguish of millions of Americans who have had to abandon farming as their source of income, but our society is much richer today as a result of this shift. Because so few people are needed to produce agricultural commodities, tens of millions of other Americans are now free to provide countless other goods and services that wouldn't even exist if their providers were still back on the farm.

The slogan "Buy American" resonates within and appeals to our patriotism, but insofar as it means to shop for American-made products instead of the lowest-price, highest-quality products, it is a rejection of economic rationality. Economists going back to Adam Smith understand that the true measure of "the wealth of nations" is how affordable is John Q. Public's cost of living. If the United States had been closed to foreign trade over the past fifty years, we might be paying $40,000 for a Ford Pinto IV, $15.00 for a gallon of gasoline, $5.00 for a quart of orange juice, etc. We would all be a lot poorer.

What actually has happened over the past fifty years is that protectionist barriers have been lowered. It is estimated that the average American household's income is $10,000 per year higher as a result of tariff reductions in the past half-century.

In 1992, Reform Party presidential candidate Ross Perot, warned of "a giant sucking sound" of jobs moving from the United States to Mexico if the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) were adopted. Since NAFTA took effect in 1994, the United States has enjoyed a net increase of nearly two million jobs per year, with compensation in three-fourths of the new jobs above the national median.

What, then, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, explains the persistent warnings about trade's alleged threat to the country? These cries are protests from those Americans whose jobs are most threatened by foreign competitors with greater productivity. Those workers will need to reinvent their careers as American production continues to evolve in the direction of higher value-added, digital- and knowledge-based goods and services, and away from low-tech or semi-skilled physical labor. Who can blame these Americans for being unhappy? But like generations of bankrupt farmers before them, the individual travail of certain individuals is essential to the progress of the nation. As one who has suffered unemployment, I sympathize with those who are forced to change their job, but the overarching fact is that as long as our economy keeps generating new jobs, the country's economic future is bright.

There are two major risks to this bright future. One would be if Americans have lost the will, energy, and can-do spirit that enabled earlier generations to surmount prodigious challenges. The other is the "government disease" -- the myriad government interventions, like excessive taxation, hyper-regulation, unfair labor laws, etc. -- which are so many like Lilliputian strings, threatening to tie down the American Gulliver. We need free trade if we are not to become global laggards, but we also need government to allow us to compete with the rest of the world without one arm tied behind our back. There is only one country capable of knocking the United States out of its place of global economic primacy, and that is the United States of America. Great economic success awaits America's great businesses and entrepreneurs unless Uncle Sam, through excessive meddling in the economy, snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.


Perhaps the most prominent American voice raised against free trade has been that of Pat Buchanan. In speeches and books, Buchanan argues that free trade led to the decline of the British Empire and now threatens to bring down the United States. Buchanan -- a brilliant writer and clear thinker -- is right about so many issues, but mistaken about this one.

Relying on history instead of economic analysis, he commits a fundamental mistake -- that of taking two events that happened concurrently, and then drawing a cause-effect relation between them. The fact that Great Britain practiced free trade during its period of decline does not mean that free trade contributed to the decline. That is no more valid than for me to say that chronic federal deficits in the United States began around 1960; Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the union in 1959 and 1960, respectively; therefore, Alaska and Hawaii are to blame for our mounting national debt. Many empires collapsed before there ever was such a thing as free trade.

And if free trade causes economic decline, then how can one explain the phenomenal economic growth and prosperity that followed the establishment of the world's first free trade area -- the United States? If free trade were the kiss of death, the colonies should have stagnated rather than boomed.

Finally, since expanded trade leads to increased efficiencies and a concomitant increase in wealth, Buchanan's argument boils down to "wealth causes decline." This is a dubious proposition at best, but even if it were so, I doubt the people would say, "Let's adopt policies that keep us from being wealthy, since wealth leads to decline." It would never fly.

Buchanan cites many valid concerns that our country needs to address, such as cultural and moral decay and the stifling deadweight of Big Government, and I am with him 100 percent on those points. *

"If you put the government in charge of the Sahara desert, in five years there would be a shortage of sand." --Milton Friedman

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 13:21

The Final Inspection

The Final Inspection


The author of this poem is unknown; Chris Lyon has edited it. Chris Lyon is a young Marine who has already fought in Fallujah, Iraq, and will going back to Iraq next year.

The Marine stood and faced his God

Which must always come to pass . . .

He hoped his shoes shone brightly,

As all his spit-shined brass.

"Step forward, now, my Warrior . . .

How shall I deal with you?

Have you always turned that oft-scarred cheek?

To My Church have you been true?"

The Warrior squared his frame and said,

"No, Lord, I guess I ain't.

For those of us as carry guns,

Can't always be a saint."

"I've had to work most Sundays,

At times my talk was tough . . .

And sometimes I've been violent,

For the World is awful rough."

"But . . . I never took a penny,

As wasn't mine to keep . . .

I've worked a lot of overtime,

When the bills just got too steep."

"I never asked a man for help,

Though I often shook with fear . . .

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears."

"I know I don't deserve a place,

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around,

Except to calm their fears."

A silence fell around the Throne,

Where saints and angels trod . . .

The Marine, in silent splendor,

Awaited judgment from his God.

"Step forward, now, My warrior,

You've borne your crosses well . . .

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets . . .

You've done your time in Hell."

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 13:21

George W. Bush, Globalist

George W. Bush, Globalist

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America.

Have the Bush Republicans ceased to be reliable custodians of American sovereignty? So it would seem.

President George W. Bush began well. He rejected the Kyoto Protocol on global warming negotiated by Vice President Al Gore as both injurious to the economy and rooted in questionable science. He refused to allow the armed forces and diplomats of the United States to be brought under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

But now President Bush is about to take his country by the hand and make a great leap forward into World Government. He has signed on to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), which transfers jurisdiction over the Atlantic, Pacific, Indian, and Arctic oceans and all the oil and mineral resources they contain, to an International Seabed Authority. This second United Nations would be ceded eternal hegemony over two-thirds of the Earth. It is the greatest UN power grab in history and, thanks to George Bush, is about to succeed.

Within the Authority, consisting of 155 nations, America would have one vote and no veto. However, we would pay the principal share of the operating costs, as we do today of the United Nations.

In 1978, Ronald Reagan declared, "No national interest of the United States can justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the Earth's surface over to the Third World."

Rejecting the New International Economic Order that sought to effect a historic transfer of wealth and power from the First World to the Third, President Reagan in 1982 refused to sign the Law of the Sea Treaty or send it to the Senate. Now, Bush, Sen. Richard Lugar, (R-IN) and Sen. Joe Biden, (D-DE), have resurrected this monstrosity and are about to ram it through the U.S. Senate with, if you can believe it, the support of the U.S. Navy.

The rot of globalism runs deep in this capital city.

What is the matter with Bush? What is the matter with the U.S. Navy? For the sea treaty grants us no rights we do not already have in international law and tradition -- it only codifies them. It siphons off national rights, national sovereignty, and national wealth, however, and empowers global bureaucrats and Third World kleptocrats whose common trait is jealousy of and hostility toward the United States.

Under LOST, if the United States wishes to mine the ocean or scoop up minerals from its floor, we would have to pay a fee and get permission from the Authority, then provide a subsidiary of the Authority called the Enterprise with a comparable site for its own exploitation with our technology. Eventually, the Authority would collect 7 percent of the revenue from the U.S. mining site, giving this institution of World Government what the United Nations has hungered for for decades: the power to tax nations.

While the treaty assures the right of peaceful passage on the high seas and through narrows that are territorial waters, we already have that right under international law. And for the past two centuries, we have had as guarantor of the right of free passage the U.S. Navy. Now, we will have it courtesy of the International Seabed Authority.

"It is inconceivable to this naval officer," writes Adm. James Lyons, former commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific:

. . . why the Senate would willingly want to forfeit its responsibility for America's freedom of the seas to the unelected and unaccountable international agency that would be created by the ratification of LOST.
The power of the U.S. Navy, not some anonymous bureaucracy, has been the nation's guarantee to our access to and freedom of the seas. I can cite many maritime operations -- from the blockade of Cuba in 1962, to the reflagging of ships in the Persian Gulf, to our submarine intelligence-gathering programs -- that have been critical to maintaining our freedom of the seas and protecting our waters from encroachment. All those examples would likely have to be submitted to an international tribunal for approval if we become a signatory to this treaty. . . . This is incomprehensible.

U.S. warships today inspect vessels suspected of carrying nuclear contraband. In the Cold War, U.S. submarines entered harbors to tap into communications cables to protect our national security. Our subs routinely transit straits submerged. To do this, post-LOST, the Navy would have to get permission from an Authority composed of states most of which have an almost unbroken record of voting against us in the United Nations.

Why are we doing this? Do we think we will win the approbation of the international community if we show ourselves to be good global citizens by surrendering our rights and our wealth?

The Law of the Sea Treaty is an utterly unnecessary transfer of authority from the United States and of the wealth of its citizens to global bureaucrats who have never had our interests at heart, and to Third World regimes that have never been reliable friends. That Republican senators think this is a good idea speaks volumes about what has become of the party of T.R., Bob Taft, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan.

And they call themselves conservatives. *

"Newspapers . . . serve as chimneys to carry off noxious vapors and smoke." --Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 13:21

Healthcare -- Editorial

Healthcare -- Editorial

Angus MacDonald

President John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO is putting the full force of ten million union members and three million union retirees to win healthcare for everyone by 2009. This will bypass present union-employee contracts, state-funded healthcare, private insurance, and individual responsibility.

The average household can get along without insurance, or only catastrophic insurance, until the adults are in their senior years. My parents had three children. The older two were healthy; the youngest was the only problem. A steamroller was parked on the beach. I climbed to the top, jumped off and broke my arm. I dove into a shallow pool and damaged my nose. My sister and her friend took me to a park and played on a swing. I walked from one side to the opposite side and had a concussion. I had appendicitis. At ten years old I had epilepsy. Pills took care of that but lessened my ability to resist infection. We took care of that with attention to the problem. All of this sounds serious and expensive. It was neither. My parents could not afford insurance but could afford to pay our modest bills. I suspect the increased costs today are partly because of insurance. If the money is available, it will be demanded.

Many want healthcare, but they should not ask the federal government to take charge. We are about three hundred million people, a lot of people, difficult to put into categories, and the federal government is famous for inefficiency. States are able to provide healthcare and do. Minnesota has a program that will take care of the health needs of low-income families and will charge only what the recipient can pay. I have never heard a criticism of the program. I assume all states have similar programs.

When we read or think of healthcare we seldom think of doctors, assuming they are content in their work. That is not always the case. The family physician is the first connection for medical treatment but he could be harder to find in the future. Graduating medical students are not encouraged to enter family practice. Salaries are determined by politicians or insurance companies, and the doctor or hospital can do no more than complain. In comparison with specialists, the family doctor takes second place.

Even among well-trained specialists, there is an exodus to better paying work. Scott Haig, M.D., writes of a cardiologist who gave up his practice to remove hair from ladies' private parts; a pathologist who made more money than his medical practice gave him by selling magnetic water; three anesthesiologists who became financial analysts. Cosmetic surgery pays well, and any physician can enter the field. Operating diagnostic machines brings in a good income, often better than the surgeon who performs the operation, and the analyst has no liability. Then there are trivial maladies for which there are no remedies: headaches, backaches, aching feet, fatigue, anxiety. Clever doctors take note and their patients come back again and again.

Add to the above the cost of liability insurance. Lawyers are waiting and watching for unhappy patients who are ready to sue their physicians for enormous amounts of money. If my memory tells me correctly, one of the Democratic candidates for the presidency made a fortune through liability suits, the one who has $1200 haircuts. In the current year, out of 3,600 health-related bills, 26 medical insurance bills have been introduced in state legislature, but several states have ruled that putting caps on claims is unconstitutional. Senator John Ensign, (R-NV), says the present Democratic majority in Congress does not bode well for reform in the national legislature. I have known surgeons who have been tempted to leave their practices because of the cost of liability insurance. "The total cost of defensive medicine to our society is an estimated $50 to $100 billion per year." (Stuart M. Butler, Heritage Foundation.)

Added to the difficulties of doctors is the astounding increase in medical costs that have been legislated by Congress. Economist Tracy L. Foertsch says income taxes would have to rise by almost 40 percent to cover retirees' health and pension benefits. Edward Feulner of the Heritage Foundation says that by 2050 total obligations for Social Security and Medicare will be $38 trillion. Add the national debt and the liabilities for each household in the United States will be $440,000. Notwithstanding these incomprehensible figures, a report in 2001 estimated that an additional $317.9 billion was needed to discharge committed obligations. What the estimate is today I do not know.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, 2/16/2007, Daniel L. McFadden lauded the Canadian health system. We pay $6,102 a person a year for healthcare, but Canada pays only $3,165. He implies that the Canadian system is better and we need improvement. Our system does need improvement, but not along the Canadian or British style. You can hear a weekly program on television about medical practice in Britain. Politicians build hospitals and citizens look for treatment, but do not get it promptly. The World Health Organization says around 10,000 British people die of cancer each year for lack of treatment. In Canada, waiting for treatment for oncology takes only 4.9 weeks, but orthopedic surgery 40.3 weeks, plastic surgery 35.4 weeks, and neurosurgery 31.7 weeks. Private clinics, by law, are forbidden to provide services covered by the Canadian Health Act. In British Columbia a surgeon can be fined up to $20,000 for accepting a fee for an operation. A couple of hospitals in Washington are wooing patients across the border for Canadians who are tired of waiting for medical treatment. Cleveland is Canada's hip-replacement center.

The field for medical payments should be leveled. Those whose payments are paid by the employer are tax exempt. So should the payments by individuals be tax exempt.

The mortgage interest deduction made it easier for people to buy a home and all America benefited. Similarly every worker should get a deduction for health-insurance premiums. (W.S.J.)

We should legalize tax-free saving for possible future healthcare costs that could grow over the years and become a part of an individual's estate.

Hillary and the other Democratic candidates for the presidency are all in favor of the federal government taking over healthcare of everyone in the country, joining President John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO. They seem to think that, if you advocate big ideas, you are doing something helpful. The opposite is closer to the truth. John Stossel wrote:

The average American doctor now spends 14 percent of his income on insurance paperwork. A North Carolina doctor we interviewed had to hire four people just to fill out forms. He wishes he could spend that money caring for patients. . . . The paperwork is part of insurance companies' attempt to protect themselves against fraud. Many people do cheat. They lie about their history or demand money for unnecessary care or care they never received. *

"In the midst of this wealth poverty increased, for the same variety and freedom of exchange that enabled the clever to make money allowed the simple to lose it faster than before." --by Will, Durant The Life of Greece, p. 465,

We would like to thank Colonel Joseph H. Grant for supplying The St. Croix Review with the quotations at the end of each article.

Libertarian's Corner: The Package Deal and Microsoft

Joseph S. Fulda

Joseph Fulda is a freelance writer living in New York City. He is the author of Eight Steps Towards Libertarianism. The essay first appeared in Economic Affairs, a British journal.

In one of his finest and most enduring articles,1 Leonard E. Read, one of the 20th century's strongest and proudest voices for freedom, elaborated on a remark of Tolstoy's to the effect that when men do things in councils that they would not and could not do in their own name, there lies the beginning of all troubles. I would like to suggest here that the opposite is also true, that when men do things in councils that they would have no problem, ethical or otherwise, in doing in everyday life, the fact that they act in concert makes no difference, ethically or otherwise.

Thus, Microsoft stands accused of parlaying its superiority in the field of operating systems into an advantage in the field of browser technology, multimedia technology, and, most recently, gaming technology.2 Microsoft has gone to enormous lengths to deny these claims, when, as the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit3 and the E.U.4 alike found, those denials are not even plausible. Such is the wrong-headed understanding of monopoly power that Microsoft was precluded from arguing, more truthfully and much more powerfully, "So what! Everyone does it all the time!"

What Microsoft has done is what everyone, from Mom and Pop stores to private individuals, has always done: offer package deals. When you go to a restaurant and you order a certain entree, it comes with certain sides. A pair of pants and a jacket comprise a suit. Want the pair of pants without the jacket or vice versa? It's simply not sold that way, for the suit is a package deal. The state doesn't get to step in to decide whether the clothier could break up a suit without too much harm. The suit may even come with a vest, and a pair of pants occasionally comes with a belt. Want the vest without the suit, the belt without the pair of pants? Sorry, it is up to the merchant to decide what goes with what -- and up to consumers, not the government, to reward or punish him for his business sense.

Consider the St. Croix Review. It, too, is a package deal. Some readers like certain authors and topics, while other readers prefer other authors and topics. But it is the editor who decides what appears in an issue. Don't like it? Each issue of the Review is a package deal, and you take it or leave it. Sometimes one will, indeed, be "forced" to buy a magazine or an anthology for just a single article included inside it. Should the state mandate "unbundling" of articles or should magazine and book editors have their professional judgment tried only in the venue of the marketplace? "Ah," you say, "but Microsoft is different. Editors don't try to package better articles with weaker articles in order to parlay an advantage in one area into an advantage in another." Don't they? Anthologies often seek a few "top names" to contribute an essay; magazines and journals, including this one, have distinguished columnists, and newspapers have attention-grabbing headline stories to draw readers into purchasing an entire reading package, just as Microsoft uses the lure of Windows to draw folks into buying an entire computing package. The law even has a name for take-it-or-leave-it contracts: contracts of adhesion.

Individuals do the same thing outside of the commercial sphere. Your best friend has many good qualities to offer you, as does your spouse. But I am sure you would prefer both of them without anything that you would perceive as a fault, just as they would, no doubt, prefer you without anything they perceive as a fault. But neither you nor they have such options: Your best friend and your spouse are packages, and you accept those packages as a whole, knowing full well that both you and they seek to overcome your respective faults by your respective good qualities.

As emphasis in the Microsoft case has been on "unbundling," on separating the operating system from the browser,5 from multimedia software,6 and the like, reams of technical arguments have been made on the issue of whether Microsoft's browser is an integral part of its operating system (it is) or not. What a waste of engineering and legal talent! You are free to take the company's package or not as you wish. It is a contract of adhesion and you must simply choose a radio button; much as you might wish to repackage Microsoft's deals in your own way, since it is Microsoft's software and Microsoft's marketing strategy and Microsoft's capital at risk, it is -- or ought to be -- up to Microsoft to decide exactly what packages to make available to others.

Imagine how destructive it would be if suitors other than the one who eventually became your spouse were able to enlist the government to try to prevent your future spouse from parlaying advantages in one area into advantages in another area, if they were able to attempt to unpackage your spouse or your best friend, in the name of a "level playing field." Imagine if lawyers and psychiatrists were to argue at length as to which qualities were essential to your future wife, and which could be safely unbundled -- without causing her to malfunction too much. Obviously, since you are chuckling as you read this, you get the point. What I want to ask is why this situation is preposterous for you, your spouse, and your best friend, and for the restauranteur, clothier, editor, or other merchant, but not equally preposterous when a large software company is involved. It is a corollary of what Leonard Read argued some half-century ago that what is fine for the individual acting alone is fine when he acts in councils. *

"Principle -- particularly moral principle -- can never be a weathervane, spinning around this way and that with the shifting winds of expediency. Moral principle is a compass forever fixed and forever true."--Edward R. Lyman


1. Leonard E. Read, "On That Day Began Lies," Essays on Liberty (volume 1) (Irvington-on-Hudson, NY: Foundation for Economic Education, 1952), pp. 231-252. Originally issued as a pamphlet in 1949. An abridged and edited form appeared under the same title in The Freeman 48 (May 1998): 263-271.

2. The fear is that dominance in the Windows market might combine with Microsoft XNA to achieve dominance in the gaming market. See

3. See, generally, United States v. Microsoft, 253 F.3d 34 (D.C. Cir. 2001).

4. See, generally, 2004 ECJ CELEX LEXIS 390 (July 26, 2004).

5. The U.S. case, n. 3.

6. The E.U. case, n. 4.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015 13:10

Finding an Answer to School Disorder

Finding an Answer to School Disorder

Haven Bradford Gow

Haven Bradford Gow is a former law clerk for two Chicago law firms, a T.V. and radio commentator, and writer, who teaches religion to children at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Greenville, Mississippi.

A news report in the March 31, 2007, News-Star, Monroe, Louisiana, pointed out that:

A teacher who spoke out about the conditions at a Union Parish (LA) high school where fifth-grade students were reportedly having sex in a classroom earlier this week was suspended indefinitely with pay. . . . The suspension comes one day after (teacher Michael) Walker spoke out about conditions at the school, saying the students controlled the school and were hardly ever disciplined . . . four fifth graders admitted to having sex in a classroom during an assembly at the school.

According to a joint study by the U.S. Dept. of Justice and U.S. Dept. of Education, school crime, violence, and disorder have adversely affected the ability of teachers to teach and of students to learn. The study declared:

Preliminary data on fatal victimizations show youth ages 5-19 were victims of 22 school-associated deaths from July 1, 2001, through June 30, 2002 (17 homicides and 5 suicides). In 2003, students ages 12-18 were victims of about 1.9 million non-fatal crimes at school, including about 1.2 million thefts and 740,000 violent crimes (simple assault and serious violent crime) -- 150,000 of which were serious violent crimes (rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault). These figures represent victimization rates of 45 thefts and 28 violent crimes, including 6 serious violent cr per 1,000 students at school in 2003.

According to educator SiriNam Khalsa, character education has proven to be an effective way to curb school crime, violence, and disorder. In his book Teaching Discipline and Self-Respect (Corwin Press), he observes that:

. . . a student's belief system and self-esteem play a large part in this process (of addressing school crime, violence, and disorder). Character building addresses the cause of many of the problems inherent in (anti-social and criminal) behavior. We recognize that all children need a set of core beliefs that will guide their behavior in school and in the community.

Government and education officials in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas have been pushing education reforms as a way to improve test scores and the ability of students to read, write, and do math. However, well-intentioned though they may be, reforms cannot succeed unless we first restore in our schools a climate of order, decency, civility, and morality.

Leland, Mississippi, Police Chief Eddie Johnson insists that the absence of God and prayer in the schools has contributed to the breakdown of decency, civility, and morality in the schools; the absence of God and prayer has created a moral and spiritual vacuum, and the doors of our schools have been left wide open for crime, violence, disorder, drugs, and immoral sexual activity to enter.

Certainly a nexus exists between the lack of character education and the crime, violence, and disorder. Consequently, if our schools are to make true progress -- that is, moral and spiritual as well as intellectual progress -- our families, churches, schools, social organizations, and business community must re-emphasize the teaching, learning, and practice of moral values -- like courtesy and kindness, honesty and decency, moral courage, justice, self-respect, respect for others, good sportsmanship, and the Golden Rule of treating others the way we want to be treated; these values are universally esteemed and essential to the survival of any civilized society.

In her book Creating Emotionally Safe Schools (Health Communications), former teacher Dr. Jane Bluestein observes:

Throughout our history, school shootings and other forms of extreme violence simply have not been a part of our cultural reality. . . . Overnight, it seems, the rules have changed and the stakes became dangerously high.

As Columbia University educator Dr. Nel Noddings points out in Educating Moral People (Teachers College Press, Columbia University), "Many people today are deeply concerned about the apparent decline in moral standards among young people." Educators and parents sense that something important is missing in public school education today, that is, a moral and spiritual dimension.

Dale Feicke, a social critic in Mendenhall, Mississippi, points out the immoral and anti-social pressures on young people today:

If you can't understand why kids are shooting kids . . . you need to open those eyes. Turn on the radio; get and listen to some of your kids' CDs; go to a video arcade or on the computer and see the nature of some of the video games the kids play.

To help young people develop noble and strong characters and morals so they can deal with immoral peer and societal pressures, the Mississippi Economic Council (Box 23276, Jackson, MS) has proposed that character education become a normal, everyday aspect of public school education. The council urges that these moral values permeate the entire school curriculum and all school activities and programs: Honesty; courage; friendship; loyalty; compassion; respect; responsibility; self-discipline; perseverance; and work.

In their work Implementing Character Education (Educational Assessment Publishing, 3033 Fifth Ave., #200, San Diego, CA), educators Dr. B. David Brooks and Patricia Freedman make these spiritually discerning and wise observations:

All teachers working with students are character educators. . . . Good teachers have always included character education as part of the life of the school or classroom. The purpose of formal education is to teach students academic subjects and, equally important, to teach them to be good people.

They add:

Character education is primarily the responsibility of the home. Nevertheless, the school has the responsibility and the opportunity to support the efforts in the home and/or introduce the habits of good character in cases where the home has failed to do so.

Certainly we must teach young persons to be good human beings, and not just good students. By so doing, we can help create a moral and educational climate conducive to teaching and learning such basics as reading, writing, history and arithmetic. *

"Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country." --Noah Webster

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