The St. Croix Review speaks for middle America, and brings you essays from patriotic Americans.
Fayette Durlin and Peter Jenkin write from Brownsville, Minnesota.
In its January 27th issue National Review published an outstanding article,
"Green Drought: California's farmland lies fallow for a fish," by Charles Cooke about the San Joaquin Valley where 13 percent of all agricultural production in the United States is concentrated: 250 crops (80 percent of the world's output of almonds, for example). And where Greenism is destroying that production. The article is about Harris' Farms, where 9,000 of its 15,000 acres lie fallow, "devoid of water and therefore of crops and workers." Why? Because in 2007 the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) won a lawsuit to force more protection for the Delta smelt, an insignificant fish already protected by the absurd Endangered Species Act, arguing that the pumps directing water from the reservoirs in the river deltas to the San Joaquin Valley and beyond were killing too many Delta smelt. So the pumps were shut down, water was severely curtailed, and farming thrown into chaos and uncertainty. In California if you don't know how much water you can depend on from year to year, you can't plan so can't plant. The water allocation varies from one year to the next, but it's never enough.
If this manmade drought is devastating to farmers, to their workers it's catastrophic. In 2009 for instance, when the allocation was especially meager, the unemployment rate was 45 percent. Democrats, both state and federal, are solidly behind the Greens, and the GOP is moribund in California and nationally quite uninterested in disasters caused by Greenism.
The account itself is almost flawless - thorough, concise, gracefully expressed - and Mr. Cooke shows some glimmerings of understanding about Greenism, as these quotations show:
. . . The peculiarly suicidal instincts that rich and educated societies exhibit when they reach their maturity. . . .
. . . The later chapters of The Decline and Fall of the U.S. will make interesting reading . . .
. . . [Americans] are assiduously inoculated from exposure to reality and they enjoy the time and sense of material security that is necessary for a religion such as environmentalism to flourish. . . .
. . . Complacently convinced of their infallibility, legislators in the nation's richest state have prostrated themselves at the feet of many silly ideas in recent years. But for authorities to have put the livelihood of millions of citizens at the mercy of a tiny little fish is almost too much to bear.
But, like so many conservatives, the author cannot really see the forest for the trees. For instance, he notes that the NRDC wants to curtail farming the valley "on the peculiar grounds that it isn't native to the area," but he sees it merely as something bizarre. Unable to fathom the implications, he cannot see that Greens want to destroy all modern agriculture in their campaign to herd us all into utopia of a "simple" impoverished pastoral society. Until conservatives recognize the deadliness of Greenism and make it their big issue, we will continue along the road to catastrophe.
Here is a book - The Revolt Against the Masses, by Fred Siegel - reviewed the Feburary10th issue of The Weekly Standard that should be of interest to our readers. The subtitle, "How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class," accurately limns the subject, and the reviewer, Vincent Cannato, in "The gentrification of the American left," scrupulously traces the intellectual lines governing the subject of modern liberalism so that we can see the book's argument in the context of current conservative thought. So he enunciates the argument, associated with the Claremont Institute, that the Progressives of the Teddy Roosevelt era, thinking that the Constitution was archaic, incapable of dealing with the modern industrial economy's power, wanted to curtail its cumbersome restraints in order to empower a strong administrative state. In this view, modern liberalism, a lineal descendent of Progressivism, is a "corporatist alliance of big government and big business," and state power and social control is the essence.
Fred Siegel differs from the Claremont view, seeing liberalism as a rejection of Progressivism (and middle class norms) by radical writers and intellectuals after World War I. Anyone familiar with the cultural avant garde of the time will agree with that. What inspires modern liberalism in Siegel's view is the "contempt in which it holds bourgeois society and its norms."
The reviewer thinks that both Siegel and the Claremont writers are correct because each describes one aspect of liberalism, which is aggressively focused on the expansion of state power to regulate the economy and provide "social justice," "while at the same time being radically civil-libertarian . . . and dismissive of bourgeois conventions." He sums up the vital relations of those two theories when he says
As much as liberalism is a political or economic theory, it is also an attitude or pose, a way of thinking about the world and one's fellow citizens.
During the 1950s there was an accommodation of liberalism with the moderate right. Cannato writes:
Republicans would not seek to roll back the New Deal while liberals would fight Communism abroad with containment. Both sides agreed that the way forward was through economic growth, not redistribution. There was a great expansion of the middle class, of prosperity, but intellectuals and their cultural hangers on derided the era, condemning its vulgar consumerism, belittling the lives of middle class Americans. The cultural upheavals of the 1960s brought to the fore the radical anti-bourgeois aspects of liberalism, now manifested in the Obama administration.
Siegel's book gives us a nuanced conception of modern liberalism, which, joined to the Claremont's writer's characterization of it as a lust for state power and social control, creates a more complete and complex idea of what we must combat. It is wise to know your enemy and Siegel's book helps.
We returned to find the February issue of The New Criteron in our mailbox, and when we turned to the Art section, the contrast with our recent experience was depressing. The lead article is about an addition to a museum in Fort Worth, whose collection is mainly of British and French 18th and 19th century portraits. Two "Exhibition Notes" follow, one about a collage artist, "a combination of fairy tale ambiance, steampunk art, and an oleaginous Surrealism." The other notes an exhibition of Wassily Kandinsky's early work, another abstract painter. Next is the "Gallery Chronicle" notes of a series of exhibitions of contemporary artists, all of whom seem to be trying to find ways to construct incoherence. That the NC takes this stuff seriously is no surprise; it has always been dedicated to Modernism. What always surprises us is that such sharp critics of liberalism cannot see that the Modernist movement in art begun before World War I was a signal of the decadence that would eventually contaminate all our culture. Art and culture always precedes politics.
Hilton Kramer, founder of the magazine, was no fan of American art (unless it was Modernist) and we are sure he and his successors would dismiss the art we saw in Oklahoma with contempt, just as modern liberalism looks upon the middle class (whose taste is reflected in those museums) with scorn. It is too bad that the only conservative magazine that interests itself in esthetic matters is still so mesmerized by what was once thought to be a liberating force in art, that it cannot see that it was only a harbinger and decline.
For ourselves, we were immensely cheered by our Oklahoma experience. *
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows. -Robert Frost "Mowing"
Ever since 1969 we have kept a record of our activities in desk diaries, booklets with days of the week on each page, no space for ruminations but enough for telegraphic notes, e.g., this entry for January 1, 1992:
Blizzard. Writing. Laundry. Terrible wind broke storm windows, blew tin sheet off barn roof.
We both kept diaries, but since we shall be examining mine for 1992, it will mainly be about my activities. To make sense of the diary and to transform its brevities into continuous narratives, I shall sort actions by their frequency, starting in the vicinity of the house and working outwards.
Writing is obvious - I wrote nearly every evening except during haying time, when I was too tired. We had no washing machine, so each family member did his or her own laundry, using the soft soap I made every spring by seeping rainwater through a barrel of hardwood ashes and then cooking the resulting potash lye with fat, and scrubbing the clothes on a scrub board. I also did the towels and with some help, the sheets. I made hard soap in the fall with commercial lye. Laundry was a chore due about every 10 days. I made butter once a week, cleaned the privy twice a week, and washed and waxed the kitchen floor once a month (I am proud to say that Jo Ann has never washed a floor since our marriage). I scrubbed the porch, made of wide hemlock boards three inches thick from trees cut in our woods, and painted it with a mixture of turpentine and linseed oil, every spring. In November I put up storm windows and piled eel grass and spruce boughs around the house to a height of three feet to catch snow and insulate the house. For guests in our log cabins (and of course for ourselves), several times in the summer I went down to the icehouse beside the pond, dug a block of ice out of the sawdust, carried it up to the house and used it with rock salt to make six quarts of ice cream. The ice didn't grow in the ice house; we had to cut it out of the pond and store it in the sawdust, a strenuous one day job in January or February when the ice was at least 1 foot thick, the hardest job I have ever done because once the ice is cut (hard enough) it had to be hustled into the house where Jo Ann packed it away.
Then there was the regular round of horticulture. We had an excellent hotbed heated by fermenting horse manure: a meat case eight feet long, heavy glass window in front, sliding doors in back, a relic from a bankrupt butcher shop, and there in April I planted early seeds - tomato, pepper, cole crops, cucumbers, melons. Peas were planted along a wire fence in May, and the raised beds were planted in June.
We ran a small nursery for several years, and we sold rose, currant, and gooseberry plants until the end in 2001. In 1992 we raised tomato plants for a few friends. I layered black currant and gooseberry plants in April to grow plants for sale, and by August we were picking both black and red currants and gooseberries. A little later we began picking our high bush blueberries. September saw us picking elderberries, plums, and apples. Of the 12 apple trees near the house (we had others elsewhere) only five were any good; the rest were zealously harvested for the pigs. The last act for all the berries and roses was pruning, manuring, and mulching in November.
What else were habitual tasks? Woods work, of course. From January into April we felled softwoods - pine, spruce, hemlock, balsam - for lumber, and beech, ash, yellow birch, hard and soft maple for firewood, and hornbeam for handles, wagon poles, and shafts. Everything was cut to length in the woods and hauled home where the firewood was split and stacked in the sun to dry before being moved into the woodshed in November. Fence posts and rails were cut in April and May.
Slaughtering went on all the time (peaking in November), both for ourselves and customers, but we ate meat seasonally: chicken from June to October, fresh pork in fall, ham winter and spring, beef winter, bacon year 'round. I had my custom curing and smoking business, so I was often busy processing salmon, lake trout, herring, and mackerel, as well as bacons and hams. In the past country people were really frugal, so we had no trouble selling old hens in the fall. Year after year the same old couples would come to buy them for soup, $1 on the hoof, $2 dressed.
Grading the half-mile lane was a dreaded chore I had to do about once a month from May through October, because I was never able, because of the resistant clay, to do a fully satisfactory job, and it was hard work for the horses. To relieve them I once hitched three abreast, and they went so fast that the grader just bounced from one hump to another while I hung onto the reins for dear life. I made the grader from two old railroad ties bolted together at an angle, faced with discarded grader blades.
The care of the horses was ongoing in the sense that I had always to watch out for ailments and injuries (fortunately rare), and I had to shoe them periodically (with all that that entails). In April I trimmed their manes and tails. They were always busy, skidding, and hauling in the woods, plowing in November, discing in May, mowing, teddering, and hauling hay in summer, bringing firewood from the woodshed to the house once a week through the winter, taking us to town or to the sawmill, hauling logs, lumber, and sawdust.
From May into October we swam in our pond nearly every day, twice a day during haying.
Manure was spread with dung forks twice a week from the time the cows and horses were confined to the stables in November until they went out to pasture in late April. During the summer we cleaned the pig pens every noon, and when the horses were kept in during horsefly time in July, the stables too, wheelbarrowing the manure to a 10 foot by 16 foot log enclosure in the barnyard where it was covered with old hay or sawdust (preventing flies from laying eggs) until November when I forked it over. Next April the rotted compost was used to refresh our six raised beds measuring 1800 square feet.
From spring til late fall we sought mushrooms in the fields and woods, and in October we walked three miles to a lagoon on the Bras d'Or Lake where we picked wild cranberries.
More than the regular round of chores went on, of course. We sold farm products and rented our two log cabins to guests, so there was a procession of people, customers, and guests and friends, passing through, and one of the difficulties in reading the diaries is to remember those people, to attach faces and actions to names and faces: "August 13. John Gillis brought pump." Who was he? What pump was that? Even Jo Ann, with a better memory for people than I, can't solve that. It will pester me, I know.
It amazes me, looking at the record, to see how many people come to our farm, for it was far from anywhere at the end of a wretched road (graded only once a year), through an unpeopled lonely land, its farmsteads rapidly reverting to wilderness. But by then we were virtually the only source on the island for homemade butter and cheese and curds, for buttermilk and sour cream (very popular with Indians), home-cured bacon and ham and fish, and mid-August, ripe tomatoes (before our appearance the only ripe tomato a Cape Bretoner ever saw was in a store), so the old people and Indians were regular visitors. And we had friends all over the Island, as well as people who met Jo Ann at craft sales. I marvel at their intrepidity and only wish I could remember them all.
Although it is obvious that the recurring chores done by only two people (with the aid of horses) took much time and effort, their very regularity and repetition gave us time to think, and many were the long discussions we had together as we milked the cows or loaded the haywagon or spread manure. The work satisfied our desire to maintain our beautiful farm, and its familiar rhythms, practiced for so many years, were in themselves a pleasure.
One thing we did that summer that was unique in our experience. A neighbor who knew we did a lot of canning, brought us a big salmon and asked us to cure, smoke, and can it for him. To give you an idea of its size, we used 10-quart jars.
A writer is supposed to present the whole experience, but I have not done that here, I have not filled the spaces between stark notes of tasks to describe thoughts and feelings which would have to be, 14 years later, no more than generic clichs. I wonder if my readers are bored or puzzled, thinking it a rather humdrum account. I hope not. This record must stand as actions, and of course this is only the barest sketch; we did much more, canning and preserving, for instance. Reread it and you will see its fascination as task succeeds task in the seasonal round, and whether we like it or not (the feelings and thoughts I have left out), we must take up each burden in turn, and that toil shapes our minds as well as bodies; so we are prepared for the trials and rewards of aging, granting us the strength to sweeten our lives with a continual harvest which, in words, we share with our readers.
The fact is the sweetest dream that labor knows. *
AboutL Philip Vander Elst is a British freelance writer and lecturer whose many publications include Power Against People: A Christian Critique of the State (IEA, 2008) and Vindicated by History: Statism's 19th Century Critics (Cobden Centre, 2012). His article first appeared in the March 2014 issue of the American libertarian magazine, Future of Freedom, and is reproduced here by their kind permission.
Each year the [European Union] takes and spends more of our money without EU auditors being able to reliably confirm where much of this money has actually gone. The number of EU bureaucrats rises ever upwards. Ever more bureaucrats seem inevitably to lead to ever more rules and regulations, allowing the EU to expand its influence to almost every area of our lives. . . . Each time the EU produces one of its treaties, it seems to grab more power for itself, making our elected governments increasingly unable to oppose often costly EU legislation with which they may disagree. And whenever Europe's citizens dare to vote against the EU's growing power, the eurocrats derisively ignore public opinion and press on with their project regardless.
These words, from David Craig and Matthew Elliott's book, The Great European Rip-Off: How the Corrupt, Wasteful EU Is Taking Control of Our Lives (London: Random House Books, 2009, p. 6), represent an accurate British summary of both the process and results of half a century of European integration. One of its co-authors, Matthew Elliott, is Chief Executive of the Taxpayers' Alliance, one of Britain's leading anti-statist organizations, and this significant fact, as well as the findings presented in their well-documented study, help to explain why most British libertarians and conservatives now oppose the project of European unification.
To understand the anti-democratic origins and illiberal character of the European project, Americans need to appreciate the traumatic psychological impact of the First and Second World Wars on the thinking of a significant section of the European elite. Horrified by the scale of the destruction they witnessed between 1914 and 1945, and by the rise of Fascism and Nazism in the interwar period, the pioneers of European integration drew two erroneous lessons from these events. The first was that "nationalism" was an inherently evil force, which could not be contained and defeated unless the nations of Europe could be induced to sacrifice their national sovereignty in the interests of peace. The second was that democracy could not be relied upon to build a better future, since millions of Germans and Italians had voted for Hitler and Mussolini, and millions of other Europeans had supported authoritarian nationalist movements in other parts of Europe, including Spain, Hungary, Romania, and even France. For these reasons, they concluded, the creation of a new European State was not only a necessary objective of civilized statesmanship; it was also a goal which, in its initial stages, would have to be approached by stealth, so as not to upset the national sensitivities of the unenlightened majority.
To quote just one of these pioneers of European integration, Peter (later Lord) Thorneycroft, a British Conservative politician who became Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late 1950s and Conservative Party Chairman in 1975:
. . . it is as well to state this bluntly at the outset - no government dependent upon a democratic vote could possibly agree in advance to the sacrifices any adequate plan [for European Union] must involve. The people must be led slowly and unconsciously into the abandonment of their traditional economic defenses . . . " (Quote from his pamphlet, "Design for Europe," May/June 1947).
The long and tortuous process by which this goal of European unification by stealth has been pursued, including a lengthy analysis of its historical and intellectual origins, and its chief protagonists, is described in compelling and scholarly detail by Christopher Booker and Richard North, in their widely acclaimed book, The Great Deception (Continuum, 2005). Like Craig and Elliott, they show how the supra-nationalist project of the European Union's founding fathers has advanced by a gradual and indirect process of economic integration. The most important initial stage was the 1957 Treaty of Rome, establishing a protectionist European customs union (the European Economic Community, or EEC) consisting of West Germany, France, Italy, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Today, 56 years and 5 European treaties later, the European Union has ballooned into a supra-national Leviathan comprising 28 countries and 24 official languages. (See: europa.eu, the official EU website.)
Whether they like it or not, Britons and other European nationals already live in an emergent European state with a common flag, passport, citizenship, anthem, supreme court, executive, parliament, bureaucracy, central bank, and currency (the euro), used by 17 of the member countries, excluding Britain. The foundations have been laid for a future European army and police force, and the European Union now has its own official diplomatic corps. As a result of all these changes and the development of common European policies in nearly every conceivable field, Britain, for example, has lost control of her agriculture, her fishing grounds, her external trade, decisions about Value Added Tax, aspects of employment law, immigration, and internal trading standards - including weights and measures. Most recently, under the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, which extended "Qualified Majority Voting" (abolishing national vetoes) into 63 new policy areas, the EU has been given new powers over external border controls and internal security, as well as a role in standardizing civil and criminal laws and procedures. It has, in addition, been allowed to appoint its own EU foreign minister, who will conduct the Union's common foreign and security policy.
In 1992, the then German Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, declared:
The European Union Treaty (referring to the 1991 Maastricht Treaty) . . . within a few years will lead to the creation of what the founding fathers of modern Europe dreamed of after the war, the United States of Europe. (Quoted in Treaty of Maastricht, Civitas: London, November 2005.)
American readers can judge for themselves how close the rolling bandwagon of European supra-nationalism has come to reaching this final destination.
A loss of democratic control previously enjoyed by national electorates over the laws and regulations governing their daily lives, has been an inevitable consequence of the centralizing supra-nationalist process of European unification. For instance, despite being one of the biggest EU member states, Britain's decision-making power within EU institutions like the Council of the European Union (representing national governments) and the European Parliament, is extremely limited. British representatives only control around 8 percent of the total votes. As the European Union expands to include more countries, this loss of democratic accountability through the dilution of national representation at European level, only increases, a problem troubling other European nationals as well as many British observers.
To quote the words of Germany's former President Herzog, written in January 2007:
It is true that we are experiencing an ever greater, inappropriate centralization of powers away from the member states and towards the EU. The German Ministry of Justice has compared the legal acts adopted by the Federal Republic of Germany between 1998 and 2004 with those adopted by the European Union in the same period. Results: 84 percent come from Brussels, with only 16 percent coming originally from Berlin . . . (Article on the 2004 EU Constitution, jointly written with Luder Gerken, Welt Am Sonntag, 14 January 2007.)
Whilst popular disenchantment with the process of European integration has increased markedly in recent years, most of all in Britain, the latter's subordination of national institutions to supra-national ones has evoked less opposition than might otherwise have been expected, due to its largely hidden nature. As Mark Leonard, of the Centre for European Reform, explained in 2005:
Europe's power is easy to miss. Like an "invisible hand" it operates through the shell of traditional political structures. The British House of Commons, British law courts and British civil servants are still here, but they have become agents of the European Union, implementing European law. This is no accident. By creating common standards that are implemented through national institutions, Europe can take over countries without necessarily becoming a target for hostility. (Booker & North, Op. cit., p. 1.)
Resistance to the growing power of the European Union is not only undermined by its partially hidden character, but also by a deep-seated conviction, particularly strong in Germany, that the cause of peace is worth almost any sacrifice of national sovereignty, however initially unwelcome. The visitor centre in the European Parliament building in Brussels, for instance, prominently displays the following quote by Philip Kerr (later, Lord Lothian), a former British civil servant and one of the leading advocates of both European unification and world government during the 1930s (see Booker & North, Op. cit., pp. 24 - 26):
National sovereignty is the root cause of the most crying evils of our time and of the steady march of humanity back to tragic disaster and barbarism. . . . The only final remedy for this supreme and catastrophic evil of our time is a federal union of the peoples.
There is, however, no basis either in history or logic for the belief that national sovereignty is "the root cause" of war and "barbarism." Religious and ideological divisions, and the dynastic ambitions and family quarrels of emperors and kings, caused plenty of wars in Europe (and elsewhere) long before the advent of the modern nation-state. If any one factor can be singled out as the primary cause of war and barbarism down the ages, it has not been national sovereignty, but tyrannical government and the lust for power of rulers and elites, as all the great classical liberals, and notably Herbert Spencer, recognized. This has been even truer in the 20th century, the age of totalitarian socialism in all its variants - Communist, Nazi and Fascist. Anyone who doubts this, should read not only R. J. Rummel's seminal studies, Death by Government and Power Kills (Transaction Publishers, 1996 & 1997), but also The Coming of the Third Reich (Penguin Books, 2004), by Richard Evans, Professor of Modern History at Cambridge. Evans' book is particularly relevant because it shows that Imperial Germany's authoritarian, anti-Semitic, and aggressively militaristic political culture was the biggest single cause of the First World War as well as the soil in which the seeds of Nazism were planted long before Hitler came to power in 1933.
Since illiberal political cultures are the real enemies of peace and freedom, rather than national sovereignty, the cause of progress is not advanced by the movement towards supra-nationalism either at the European or the global level. A Europe of independent self-governing nation states, respecting human rights and engaged in free trade and mutual co-operation on an intergovernmental basis, decentralizes power and offers many opportunities for the free movement of goods, people and ideas. As such, it represents the enduring internationalist vision of the great classical liberals of the 19th century, like Cobden, Bright and Bastiat. The supra-nationalist alternative of a single European State, by contrast, threatens both liberty and democracy because it creates a new and wholly unnecessary concentration of power which cannot be subject to effective democratic control within a multinational entity comprising 28 different electorates divided by 24 different languages and cultures. As American experience has shown, even the most carefully constructed federal system, buttressed by an originally homogeneous and libertarian political culture, has failed to prevent the growth and abuse of power by the Federal Government in the U.S. How likely is it, then, that the European Union will avoid a much worse fate given the authoritarian and collectivist political traditions, and unfortunate history, of so many of its member countries?
The relevance of this question is underlined by what happened after May and June 2005, when the French and Dutch electorates rejected the newly negotiated 2004 European Constitution in their national referendums. The angry and contemptuous response of EU leaders, amply documented by Craig and Elliott, was to re-present the rejected Constitution, minus some cosmetic changes, as the 2008 Lisbon Treaty, and then ram it through their national parliaments without any further referendums. As Czech President Vaclav Klaus noted with disquiet in his speech to the European Parliament on 5 December 2008: "I thought . . . that we live in a democracy, but it is post-democracy, really, which rules the EU."
Post-democracy "rules the EU" because European unification has created new centralized supra-national institutions offering increased power and more lucrative careers to the ruling political class. That is why it threatens liberty. *
S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. His specialty is atmospheric and space physics. An expert in remote sensing and satellites, he served as the founding director of the U.S. Weather Satellite Service and, more recently, as vice chair of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere. He is a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute and the Independent Institute, and an elected fellow of several scientific and engineering organizations. He co-authored the New York Times best-seller Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 years. In 2007, he founded and has since chaired the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), which has released several scientific reports [See www.NIPCCreport.org]. For recent writings, see http://www.americanthinker.com/s_fred_singer/ and also Google Scholar. This article is republished from The American Thinker.
The just-published NIPCC reports may lead to a paradigm shift about what or who causes current climate changes. All the evidence suggests that nature rules the climate - not man.
Watch for it: We may be on the threshold of a tipping point in climate history. No, I'm not talking about a tipping point in the sense that the Earth will be covered with ice or become hellishly hot. I'm talking about a tipping point in our views of what controls the climate - whether it's mainly humans or whether it's mainly natural. It makes an enormous difference in climate policy: Do we try to mitigate, at huge cost, or do we merely adapt to natural changes - as our ancestors did for many millennia?
Such tipping points occur quite frequently in science. I have personally witnessed two paradigm shifts where world scientific opinion changed rapidly - almost overnight. One was in cosmology, where the "Steady State" theory of the Universe was replaced by the "Big Bang." This shift was confirmed by the discovery of the "microwave background radiation," a discovery which has already garnered Nobel prizes, and will likely gain more.
The other major shift occurred in Continental Drift. After being denounced by the science establishment, the hypothesis of Alfred Wegener, initially based on approximate relations between South America and Africa, was dramatically confirmed by the discovery of "sea-floor spreading."
These shifts were possible because there were no commercial or financial interests - and they did not involve the public and politicians. But climate is a different animal: The financial stakes are huge, in the trillions of dollars, and affect energy policy, and indeed the economic well-being of every inhabitant of the developed and developing world. For example, the conversion into ethanol fuel of a substantial portion of the U.S. corn crop raised the price of tortillas in Mexico and caused food riots.
Nevertheless, I believe the time is right for a paradigm shift on climate. For one, there has been no warming now for some 15 years - in spite of rising levels of greenhouse (GH) gases. Climate models have not come up with any accepted explanation. This disparity, of course, throws great doubt about any future warming derived from these same models, and indeed also about policies that are being advocated - principally, the mitigation and control of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.
Next year, in Paris, the UN will try to reconstitute the basic features of the (1997-2012) Kyoto Protocol - an international treaty of participating nations to limit their emissions of CO2. They may succeed - unless the current paradigm changes.
We can already see the pressure building up for such a treaty. The big guns of international science are actively promoting climate scares. The Royal Society and U.S. National Academy of Sciences have published a joint major report, containing no new science but advocating a "need for action." The AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science), the largest scientific organization in the United States, is promoting the same policy, again without a shred of science in their slick pamphlet. Even the once-respected Scientific American magazine has gotten into the act and openly advocates such policies.
All of these establishment groups, it seems, have a keen eye open for government funding - not only for research but also the actions that go with such policies. They all accept the climate science as propagated by the three volumes of the 5th Assessment Report (AR5) of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Volume 1, dealing with physical science, was published in Sept 2013; volumes 2 and 3, dealing with impacts and mitigation, will be published in March and April of 2014.
But now, for the first time, we have NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) as a counter to the IPCC, as an independent voice, a "second opinion," if you will - something that was advocated by the IAC (Inter-Academy Council on Science). We now have a credible number of studies, which the IPCC chose to ignore in reaching their conclusion about anthropogenic global warming (AGW). The NIPCC reports were also published in September 2013 (Physical Science), and in March and April of 2014 (Biological Impacts and Societal Impacts).
The NIPCC, in particular its Summary for Policy-Makers (SPM) of Vol 1, looks critically at the evidence that the IPCC uses to back up their claim of AGW. NIPCC notes that the evidence keeps changing over time. The first IPCC report (1990) used an improbable statistical method to suggest that the warming of the early part of the 20th century was due to human-produced GH gases; no one believes this anymore.
The second assessment report of 1996, which led to the infamous 1997 Kyoto Protocol, manufactured the so-called "HotSpot," a region of increased warming trend, with a maximum in the equatorial troposphere. That evidence has also disappeared: a detailed analysis (published in Nature 1996) showed that the HotSpot doesn't even exist. In addition, the assumption that it constitutes a "fingerprint" for AGW is in error.
As a result of these two failed attempts to establish some kind of evidence for AGW, the third IPCC report (2001) latched on to the so-called "Hockeystick" graph, which claimed that only the 20th century showed unusual warming during the past 1000 years. However, further scrutiny demonstrated that the Hockeystick was also manufactured - based on faulty data, erroneous statistical methods, and an inappropriate calibration method. Even purely random data fed into the algorithm would produce a hockeystick.
In its most recent AR5 of 2013, the IPCC has dropped all previous pieces of evidence and instead concentrates on trying to prove that the reported surface warming between 1978 and 2000 agrees with a warming predicted by climate models. This so-called proof turns out to be a weak reed indeed. The reported warming applies only to surface (land-based) weather stations and is not seen in any other data set; the weather satellite data that measure atmospheric temperature show no significant trend - neither do proxy data (from analysis of tree rings, ocean/lake sediments, stalagmites, etc)
It can therefore be argued that there has been no appreciable human-caused warming in the 20th century at all - and that the warming effects of rising GH-gas content of the atmosphere have been quite insignificant. See also http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/11/ipcc_s_bogus_evidence_for_global_warming.html
But what about future global temperatures? Opinions differ sharply - all the way from another "Little Ice Age" (a calamity, in my opinion) to a resumption of warming (aided by the "missing heat" that some alarmists are sure is hiding somewhere). Personally, I don't do forecasts since I know too little about the sun's interior; I simply try to understand and explain the past climate. But if pressed, I would go with historic cycles, like the observed 1000-1500-year cycle; it suggests a modest warming over the next few centuries, perhaps in "fits and starts" - unlike computer models that yield a steady increase in temperature from a steady increase of GH-gas levels.
Will nations accept any treaties emanating from the 2015 Paris Conference? So far, only Western Europe seems to be keen on ratifying - and even there, doubts are developing. Eastern Europe is definitely against any new protocol, as are Japan, Australia, and Canada. And what about the Chinese, the world's largest emitters of CO2? They gain a competitive advantage if their commercial competitors accept the treaty's restrictions, which raise their cost of energy.
The United States may be in a transition mode - and that's where a paradigm shift could really make a global difference. According to the latest Gallup poll, the U.S. public ranks global warming almost at the bottom of twenty issues, mostly concerned with economics. The White House, however, seems to be gung-ho for climate alarmism. President Obama is planning new climate initiatives, based on advice from his science adviser, John Holdren, an erstwhile disciple of Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich. John Podesta has come aboard as counselor and special assistant to the President to push climate initiatives. And of course, the rest of the administration is in tune with the White House.
Secretary of State John Kerry considers AGW the greatest challenge to U.S. security - in spite of having his plate full of foreign-policy problems: the Iran nuclear negotiations, the Syrian civil war, a developing Sunni insurgency in Iraq, the Arab-Israel "peace" negotiations, and the Russian annexation of Crimea. This, of course, is the same John Kerry who, as a U.S. Senator in 1997, voted for the Byrd-Hagel Resolution against the likes of a Kyoto Protocol.
In mid-2014, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) will issue its opinion on the EPA's misguided and unscientific efforts to limit or even abolish the use of coal for electric generation. If SCOTUS can become aware of the NIPCC conclusions, they will surely decide against EPA and therefore the White House. Such an event may become the trigger for a paradigm shift in U.S. policy on energy and climate. The November 2014 elections could tip the balance and finally kill the myth of global warming catastrophes in the U.S. and throughout the world. *
The Affordable Care Act is a scam. Before Obamacare, indeed before managed care health plans, catastrophic policies had high deductibles and fairly low costs. That's because they were purchased solely for financial protection against the cost of medical catastrophes like coma, car crashes, and cancer. They were true insurance and thus relatively inexpensive. People reached for their checkbook, not their insurance card, when they went to a doctor.
But under Obamacare, Americans face policies with huge deductibles - essentially catastrophic coverage - at high prices. Most people are buying the least expensive bronze and silver coverage where average deductibles, per HealthPocket, are about 40 percent higher in bronze plans than in pre-Obamacare individual policies. Obamacare deductibles are around $4,300 to $5,000 for individual coverage. As Deb Hornbacker of Colorado told "CNN Money" last October about Obamacare:
This is like a catastrophic plan. . . . I am totally shocked and taken aback at how little it did provide at the level I could afford.
Many health providers are smiling. We've essentially been forced by Congress to buy their catastrophic policies at first-dollar coverage prices. But because many Americans don't remember catastrophic policies or know what real insurance is or how much insurance should cost - or how low cash-based medical prices could be - they don't know badly they're being scammed.
To be clear, this is not the first act in this Congressional scam. True insurance got more difficult to buy after Congress favored first-dollar health plans with the HMO Act of 1973. Most employers were forced to offer HMO plans. Like the frog being slowly cooked, people began to think of prepaid healthcare (HMO/health plans) as health insurance when it actually was a corporate version of socialized medicine with centralized pooling of dollars and centralized control over medical decisions.
Obamacare is not a gift to the uninsured. It is a gift to health plan corporations. They get:
Boatloads of Cash - 98 percent of all new spending in Obamacare - $1 trillion -
goes to health plans through the Obamacare exchanges.
Fewer Bills - Deductibles are huge, so health plans in the exchanges won't have to pay most healthcare bills.
Reduced Competition - True catastrophic policies were outlawed for people over age 29, forcing many traditional health insurers to stop offering their policies or go out of business.
Control - Although the ACA requires health plans to spend 80-85 percent of premiums on medical care, corporate data systems and intrusive analyses that are used to limit care have been defined as "medical care," decreasing the amount of money health plans must spend on actual medical care provided to patients and allowing them to use premium dollars to control doctors.
Coercion - Americans are forced to buy the insurer's product or pay a "shared responsibility payment" (penalty tax) - unless individuals claim an exemption (22 categories so far).
Pricy Premiums - Premiums paid to Obamacare-approved health plans are high because people are forced to pay for services they will never use.
Bailout - Insurers are shielded from the insurance risks of people with preexisting conditions (or lack of enrollment in Obama's exchanges) by a three-year taxpayer-funded bailout plan.
Dollar Grab - A federal ACA "risk adjustment" program allows health plans with sophisticated data systems to annually claim "sicker patients" and strip premium dollars from smaller health plans that are less tech-savvy.
U.S. Senator Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee, said Obamacare will correct the "maldistribution of wealth" in America. He called the healthcare overhaul an "income shift" to help the poor. Clearly this is not true. Obamacare shifts wealth and wages from taxpayers to healthcare corporations. It's a wealth redistribution scheme that primarily benefits large health insurers.
Are the largest health plans positioning themselves as "too big to fail"? If so, this may secure for them a steady stream of taxpayer-funded bailouts whenever costs outweigh revenues.
Congress may think they can control these "too big to fail" health plans, but they have proven they cannot. Case in point: Congress mandated that employers and individuals buy health insurance, and it did not enact caps on what health plans can charge. Congress has a history of capitulating to health plans. When health plans began dropping Medicare+C (HMO) enrollees en masse, Congress raised capitated payments to the health plans until health plans participating in Medicare+C were making 12 to 18 percent more than fee-for-service providers. What will happen this time is not known.
It's time to end the Obamacare scam. The ACA-mandated grip of health plans on our wages, our personal health and America's wealth must come to an end. Obamacare must be repealed. Insurance must be put back in its proper place. Cash payments for routine and minor care must become the rule, not the exception. And charitable care must be reestablished for the poor and needy. With or without Congress, the American people must begin now to build the post-Obamacare healthcare system. *
Peter Searby is a teacher, musician, and director of the Riverside Center for Education, a center dedicated to providing boys a new landscape of action where they can learn to become young men of courage and imagination. Riverside is a new educational model that combines active hands-on learning with the great heritage of the liberal arts. His web site is located at: http://www.rside.org/art-of-boyhood/.
Imagine a small troupe of young writers and speakers reading great literature; publishing journals and newspapers on a variety of topics; producing radio shows; and short documentaries; and performing dialogues and dramatic scenes from classic literature and drama. Imagine these young fellows engaged in wordsmithing games or decoding etymologies, or engaging in debates over timeless issues in the history of Western Civilization. Imagine an engaged and small troupe of understudies putting great quotes, stories, speeches, and ballads to memory, and performing them in creative ways.
Imagine a tutor working side-by-side with these understudies helping them craft narratives, present their ideas with clarity, and tell stories by listening and imitating the greatest storytellers. Imagine a boy practicing a dialogue or speech, like Demosthenes of old, learning how to use appropriate sayings and choice words. Imagine a room of these young fellows engaged in projects through which they express their own lore knowledge - whether it be their rock collection, dinosaurs, or their love for baseball. Imagine a tutorial set in nature, where they film short documentaries on natural history and record voiceovers imitating David Attenborough and his well-known nature films. Imagine this troupe working throughout the year with a tutor on active and engaging projects.
This kind of workshop is here. It is called The Riverside Tutorial. It's a better way to teach boys how to speak and write because it is active, engaging, and geared towards producing creative projects they can exhibit. Boys yearn to be part of a troupe, wherein the skills they master lead to visible/tangible end goals. They need to play the roles they will someday take on as professional men. They need to be steeped in ideas, stories, and characters that inspire their imaginations, form their consciences, and build up a storehouse of words, wonder, and wit.
We are living in an age of sound-bytes and hyperlinks, where rhetoric is trite and merely informational. We are losing the ability to communicate in meaningful ways because we are racing our young through curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep. We are forgetting the importance of the essentials in education. We have hordes of students filling out bubbles on papers they throw away, their minds full of information that they soon forget as summer approaches. How often do they stand up and defend an idea, tell a story, or present on a topic - with a teacher guiding them in the art of speaking? It doesn't happen because we are not making room in schedules or curricula for the kind of learning the old masters once received.
C. S. Lewis, as a young boy, was trained by a master tutor to whom he attributed his love for literature and his ability to write and speak. "The Great Knock," as he called him, introduced him to the classics and taught young Jack how to criticize and analyze; he taught him how to think, speak, and write logically. Lewis, many years later, wrote in Surprised by Joy, "My debt to him is very great, my reverence to this day is undiminished."
The Riverside Tutorial is a more focused and deeper way to approach the core skills of speaking, writing, and reading. It is not tutoring in the modern sense of this word. It is a workshop replete with creative lessons that guide your sons in the art of communication through projects that are active and engaging. Ben Franklin published on his printing press at a very young age; Don Bosco had his orphan lads, whom he saved from the streets of Italy, produce newspapers and sell them. The history of young men who have produced quality work at a very young age is astounding! Our sons need to do the same. They are yearning for it.
Riverside is now poised to begin a series of tutorials, beginning with this most important academic discipline of writing, speaking, and reading. We have developed a network of liberal arts teachers, rooted in the Western canon and a catholic understanding of man and the purpose of education. Professor Anthony Esolen of Providence college - a teacher and guide who embodies the kind of learning advocated by C. S. Lewis - has endorsed our vision. We have a core group of families committed to our tutorial starting in September 2014.
This is an exciting time in the world of education! It will take an adventure to renew our culture, and now is the time to act. *
Thomas Martin is the O. K. Bouwsma Chair in Philosophy at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Along with his fellow colleagues who are dedicated to the study of the Great Books, he teaches the works of Plato, Aristotle, and G. K. Chesterton. This essay is a commencement speech he gave in 2013.
Before I give my talk, I would like to thank Chancellor Kristensen for inviting me to speak to you, the graduates of the University of Nebraska at Kearney, your guests, members of the faculty and other honored guests. I am proud to be the third of four generations of Martins to teach in the state of Nebraska. Gertrude Wade Martin, my grandmother, was born on a farm south of Battle Creek in 1880, taught in a one-room school in Meadow Grove in the early 1900s. My father Robert graduated from Kearney State Teachers College in 1934, almost eighty years ago. I now teach in Thomas Hall, where my father taught his first classes in what used to be the campus lab school to train teachers. [I still feel his presence when I walk into the classroom.] My daughter Rachel continues the Martin tradition as a high school English teacher at Columbus High School in Columbus, Nebraska.
At a recent wedding for my nephew, Grace Rose, my three-year old granddaughter, walked straight up to my mother, whom she had never met before, looked her in the eye and said, "Who you? Why you here?" Lo and behold, Grace Rose is a philosopher: she has a sense of wonder and the desire to know. In fact, if I did not know better, I would have thought she had been reading Aristotle and Thales. The first sentence of Aristotle's Metaphysics acknowledges, "All men by nature desire to know." Thales, whom Aristotle dubbed the first philosopher in ancient Greece, was asked two questions: "What is the easiest thing to do and what is the hardest thing to do?"
The easiest thing is to give advice to another. The hardiest thing to do is to "know thyself!"
Grace's questions - from the mouth of babes - are a testimony to man's ancient desire to know who we are and what we are doing here, so we can know our purpose and have a meaningful life.
As Grace matures, her questions must become, like every one's questions and especially yours here today, "Who am I?" and "What am I doing here?" if any of us is ever to fulfill ourselves as adults with a sense of purpose in our lives.
How am I to know myself?
As university graduates there is no time better than the present moment to address Thales' maxim, "Know Thyself!" as you enter your new life as a university graduate.
Now you have two eyes and I am not talking about the ones I see. You have an external eye, which looks out from your soul on the world of chronological events streaming right before you. This is your quantifiable eye, the scientific eye, which measures everything by size, shape, color, speed and quantity. The second eye is the internal eye, the eye of the heart, looking deep in your soul, which houses memory and self-examination and is anchored by a conscience and the moral judgment necessary to examine your own life.
While Ptolemy was obviously wrong to assume the earth was the center of the universe, each one of you is the center of your universe. When you look out through the windows of your soul, you draw a bead, which begins with you and ends on the horizon or upon whatever fixed point you are looking.
My granddaughter Grace Rose drew a bead, a line, on her great-grandmother Anna when she asked "Who are you and what are you doing here?"
While there are no fixed points in the universe, you are the creator of the fixed points of any line that can be drawn. For example, your proud parents, at this moment, have drawn a bead right on you.
There are no points in the universe from which to measure that do not begin in a living soul.
Man is the one who connected the stars into constellations and made it possible to navigate the oceans, to find the line between his ship and home in the dark of night.
This reminds me of a story from Plato's Republic.
There was an owner of a ship who was hard of hearing, nearsighted, and lacked the knowledge of the seafaring necessary to captain his ship. His sailors were quarreling with one another about steering the ship, each of them thinking that he should be the captain, even though he'd never learned the art of navigation, could not point to anyone who had taught it to him, or a time when he had learned it. In fact, they claimed that it could not be taught, and they cut to pieces anyone who said it could. The sailors all crowded around the ship owner, begging him and doing whatever possible to get him to turn the rudder over to them. They stupefied the ship owner with drugs, wine, or in some other way. They proceeded to rule the ship as though it were a cruise ship; they hired Jimmy Buffet to play "Margaritaville" and set to sailing whichever way the breeze carried them as they danced into the night. They called the person clever who persuaded the ship owner to let him rule the ship. They dismissed anyone with knowledge of constellations or navigational skills as useless.
The sailors did not understand that a captain must pay attention to the seasons of the year, the sky, the stars, the winds, and all that pertains to his craft if he is really to captain a ship. They did not believe there is any knowledge that would enable him to steer the ship. In fact, they would think of the man standing at the bow looking at the stars with a sextant and advising them on how to chart the course of the ship as a babbling stargazer who looks into the dark of night for direction.
Socrates uses this story to depict the people of Athens, or any nation for that matter, who are in need of a leader to set the course of their lives. The sailors, like politicians, are eager to rule and promise the people whatever will satisfy their desires at that moment. The sailors do not trust anyone who thinks that there is an art to being a human being or that a person must order his life by moral laws that are fixed, like the North Star for the stargazer who could captain the ship.
As university graduates, you have the potential to be stargazers.
We are in rough seas without a compass. This crew of sailors represents all of our physical desires, clamoring to be heard, tasted, smelled, and enjoyed. Will you go with the momentary breeze and follow your appetites that are constantly changing, following whatever is fashionable or politically correct at the moment. Like with the sailors, will you call those who disagree with your chosen desires bigoted and narrow-minded because you know whatever feels good is good.
In your quest to know yourself, a university graduate knows better than to turn his soul over to the sailors who are going to end up crashing on the rocks.
Shakespeare echoed Aristotle when he said the whole world is a stage. You and I are actors in a play. As actors, we have been assigned a part to play, and, by playing this part, we come to know ourselves. At every moment, we can play our part well or we can play our part poorly.
Aristotle referred to humans as "animals with a rational principle." You are a living soul, and you are endowed with the faculty of reason, which is governed by principles. While you may be moved by emotions, instincts, and feelings of pain and pleasure, these are not governing principles.
You were born upside down, head first as a girl or a boy, and you are meant to stand upright and become your better self as a lady or gentlemen. In order to play the part well you need to practice your lines to develop a moral character.
Your character's given name was selected by your parents. I am Tom, which is coupled with a surname. I am a Martin.
Your first name is uniquely you and your last name is your lineage. This puts you on a line between your ancestors and progeny. Tradition is our skin. We do not choose our parents, nationality, race, ethnicity or the century in which we are born - the context of our lives, the stage on which we are expected to act.
We are woven bodily to the earth and spiritually to our parents in our quest to find out who we are. Our parents are our first teachers, our lifelines, entrusted with setting the tension for the formation of the virtuous life that is essential for becoming a lady or a gentleman.
Being virtuous requires having your string pulled. Good parents are the first to pull a child's string, offering guidelines by teaching him to stand up straight, say "please" and "thank you," be kind to others and take pride in himself.
A university graduate has been raised to be a stargazer who has set his compass on universal truths that are not moved by fashion, fads, and his own good at the expense of his fellow citizens.
You are called today to set your course using the tested lines from previous captains that have always held true for university graduates.
Here are some lines from Marcus Aurelius, who is in line with Thales, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
Speak both to the powerful and to every man - whoever he may be - appropriately and without affectation.
Use plain language.
Receive wealth or prosperity without arrogance, and be ready to let it go.
Order your life well in every single act.
Behave justly to those who are around you.
Be vigilant over your thoughts, so that nothing should steal into them without being well examined.
Every moment, focus steadily on doing the task at hand with perfect and simple dignity and with feelings of affection and freedom and justice.
Put away hypocrisy.
Put away self-love and discontent with your portion in life.
We were made for cooperation, and to act against one another is contrary to nature.
Accept correction gladly.
Teach without anger.
Keep yourself simple, good, pure, serious, a friend of justice, kind, affectionate, and strenuous in all proper acts.
Be a living thing, because in the words of G. K. Chesterton, "A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it."
Finally, I must return to my Irish grandmother Gertrude Wade Martin, the oldest Martin in my remembered line of ancestors and say what she would say if she were standing here today.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand. *
Stories have power, either to make us stronger or weaker. Without even being aware of it I create a positive or a negative story about myself, and so I carry an enthusiastic or a pessimistic outlook - it seems that being human involves choosing a role to play, based on who I think I am.
It would be good not to cling to any story about myself too tightly, because only God can see me clearly, and it is only through my connection with God that I can reach my best potential. The storytelling usually goes on below the level of conscious thought: it's like radar - I use stories to navigate my way through life. One can be trapped in a pessimistic outlook and not know that the source of unhappiness is a compulsively repeated habit of seeing myself badly.
When I purposefully choose to be motivated and enthused, based on a positive view of who I am and what my role is, then I have acquired spiritual power.
The story of my father's life, and the story of the founding of The St. Croix Review, is inspirational, and I hope to share inspiration with you. Angus MacDonald's story is quintessentially American. (Following is a brief outline. If you would like to receive the issue of The St. Croix Review that appeared on the occasion of Angus' death for a fuller account please send me a note along with a $5 check.)
Angus MacDonald was born in 1923 in Melbourne, Australia. At the Church of Christ they called him "the little minister" when he was eight. When he was eleven he gave a sermon at the Church. After he graduated from high school he attended the College of the Bible in Melbourne; there were about 50 seminarians and several faculty. Angus was moved to lead people to be good, and for him that meant to be honest ("honest as the day" was an Australian saying), hardworking, and engaged with life.
Angus wanted a worthy intellectual basis for his faith, so he decided to come to America for an education in 1946. He boarded the Marine Lynx, a ship used to transport troops during W.W. II, and left his family and everything he knew behind. He fell in love with the openness of America. He was able to do undergraduate study at Butler University in Indiana. He was able to pursue and obtain a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Columbia University. While studying at Columbia he supported himself by ministering first at a church in Darien, Connecticut, then in another in the Bronx, New York. He met a wide variety of Americans. He was able to sing in the choir, to take piano lessons (he loved to play piano all his life), and to sample the best music in the world in New York City. These were the happiest years of his life, and he became an American citizen. He went on to Churches in Columbus, Ohio, Hutchison, Kansas, and Bayport, Minnesota. He married and started a family in Columbus.
Through time the focus of Angus' life changed. He learned American history and came to love liberty. He saw America through an immigrant's eyes and recognized how precious liberty is - most people who have lived were not free, but survived under some form of tyranny. Everywhere he saw liberty in America under attack by power hungry politicians. He decided to leave the ministry after more than twenty years to found a journal of opinion with the purpose of defending liberty.
Angus founded The St. Croix Review in 1968 in Stillwater Minnesota, a small town in the valley of the St. Croix River in the middle of America. He published many of his friends from the Philadelphia Society who happened to be brilliant writers: Milton Friedman, Russell Kirk, Henry Hazlitt, Henry Regnery, and William Rickenbacker. William Rickenbacker wrote an ad for him in The National Review and immediately there were 500 subscribers.
Angus kept track of subscribers by continually updating index cards. He personally typed each label on each journal he sent. He did the editing, typesetting, the editorials, and the correspondence. Angus resolved to cut costs through buying a printing press and printing the Review himself. Not knowing how to print Angus didn't know that the press was not in proper working order, but he managed to print the next issue - this was an early triumph in the history of The St. Croix Review. A childhood memory was of my father interrupting my T.V. watching to show me a page of printing he had done: "No one can do better than this!"
Angus died two years ago, after publishing essays defending American liberty for 45 years. Today we are building a very competent team to publish The St. Croix Review. The work is vital, because the Left has taken over American culture - high and low.
It is the method of the Left to tell terrible stories about American history, about prominent figures in American history, about currently successful Americans. Because the Left controls the media a constant barrage of disparaging stories are seeping into our culture through our text books, educational curriculum, movies, television, books, magazines, entertainment, art, politics, etc.
It is the also the method of the Left to ignore context while judging America harshly - yes, America hasn't been perfect, but which nation has done better? Which people have been freer, and have accomplished more? In the course of several decades American morale has suffered terribly.
Our mission is to reawaken the genuine American spirit of being a joyous part of living in a good, great, and growing nation as free individuals.
We are a good nation suffering from a degenerate culture. We need to reacquaint ourselves with the spirit of independence, resourcefulness, perseverance, and courage. Like my father was, we need to be good, honest, hardworking, and engaged in life. Also, we must be obedient to God's will. We must give thought to the taming of the heart, and the cultivation of virtues, so that we are kind and generous to each other. There is always room for redemption, a road open to everyone. These are the American qualities that built America.
We are a great nation, the only nation with a Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights designed to promote freedom and protect citizens from an aggressive government. The story of America's Founding, and the stories of our many Founders is inspirational and should be told to our children in schools to a much greater extent than they presently are. The stories of the advance over the frontier, the Civil War, W.W. I, the Great Depression, W.W. II, the Cold War, (including the tragic Korean and Vietnam wars) should be told. There are many stories in between these great themes that are stirring American stories. We are a nation brimming over with heroes - why should we be saddled with negativity as we presently are?
We should always be a growing nation, because we believe in entrepreneurship, the free market, capitalism, property rights, the rule of law, limited government, and local government - these are our foundational American principles. Steve Jobs was free to create; he saw possibilities no one else did, and he changed the world.
Our mission is spiritual, to inspire people to be genuine Americans again: courageous, resourceful, independent, hardworking, engaged, kind, and generous. This is who Angus was, who I am, who our authors are - this is what we write about. *
The following is a summary of the April/May 2014 issue of the St. Croix Review:
Barry MacDonald, in "Redemption," disagrees with Charles Krauthammer on the importance of the "inner" man.
In "Redemption Cannot Be Done Alone," Burke Brownfeld writes about the trouble ex-cons have finding work, and consequently how difficult it is for them to turn their lives around.
Philip Vander Elst, in "God and Liberty: A Libertarian Challenge to Secular Liberalism," lays out a defense of God, truth, beauty, free will, liberty, and a moral order inherent in the universe, and he demolishes atheism.
Mark Hendrickson, in "The War Against Work and Wealth," details how Obamacare and other administration policies are transforming too many Americans into government dependents; in "The State of the Disunion," he sees elected Democrats becoming brazen in their hostility to individual rights, and Republicans reluctant to stop spending.
Allan Brownfeld, in "Focusing Attention on the Real Impediments to Black Progress," shows the importance of having two parents and good role models in the home; in "Economic Inequality, Upward Mobility, and the Decline of the American Family," he writes that a complex mix of issues contribute to less upward mobility for lower-income Americans.
Herbert London, in "Ideological Warfare on Campus," considers an innovation at the University of Colorado: conservative ideology would henceforth be a "protected category." He argues instead for a truly open attitude. In "What Jewish Museums Won't Show," he asks: Where is the concern with the return of virulent anti-Semitism in Europe, Muslim populations, and in Arab and Persian nations?
Paul Kengor, in "Obama Should Study the History of Reaganomics," compares the economic malaise we have today to the successful actions President Reagan took; in "Shirley Temple's America," he remembers the passing of the former child actress who represents patriotism.
Fred Singer, in "Climate Consensus Con Game," points out the tricks activists use to alarm people about "man-caused," "dangerous," climate change.
In "Protect Privacy or Accept Government Control," Twila Brase lays out the insatiable grasp for data the federal and state governments are making, and she explains what it means for individual freedom.
In "Stations in Life Are Vocations Bestowed by God," Thomas Martin writes about the roles each of us play, and the importance of virtue.
In "Educating the Lost Boys," Peter Searby writes: "When a society loses a vision of man - his purpose, his role, his vocation to give of himself to others through the skills and knowledge he has - it also loses a vision of boyhood." Peter Searby shows how our schools are failing to understand boys.
Jigs Gardner, in "The Mother of Prosperity," begins by relating a conversation with a visitor to his farm, and he ends with a surprising and profound truth.
Jigs Gardner, in "The Great American Novel," puts forth a contender.
In "A Curious, Revealing Essay," Durlin and Jenkin review a neoconservative writer's essay on climate change, and note shallowness, ignorance, and distain for conservatives.
Robert Wichterman, in "A Disagreeable Truth," shows how our leaders? common-place lies and selective enforcement of laws are leading the nation astray.
Fayette Durlin and Peter Jenkin write from Brownsville, Minnesota.
The Weekly Standard is a neoconservative magazine. Nothing wrong in that. When neoconservatism first emerged as an intellectual movement 35 years ago, it made a great and lasting contribution to conservative thought. Some of its ideas, like the wholesale export of democracy, were discredited by the aftermath of the Iraq war, so that although it remains a fruitful strain in conservative thought today, its high times are over, as a glance at Commentary, its flagship publication, shows. Once exciting, filled with stimulating articles and a brilliant correspondence section, it is now a dismal read, insubstantial and boring. The Weekly Standard, by choosing a weekly format, hobbled itself from the start, because no political/cultural magazine with pretensions to seriousness, can fill its pages consistently, every week, with first-rate articles. As a result, the magazine seems to exist solely for its two or three editorials, and the rest of it, aside from gallant attempts in its longer feature articles, is largely trivial.
One of two feature articles in the January 13 issue is a very curious and revealing piece because it unwittingly tells us much about the ignorance and confusion in neoconservative thought about Greenism. We have commented before in these pages on conservative ignorance about the subject but that is uncomplicated, a consequence of conservative overconcentration on Washington politics and general ignorance of cultural trends seemingly fixed on the countryside. This essay, however, is another matter entirely, much more depressing than conservative ignorance.
It is about Richard Lindzen, a climate scientist at MIT (now emeritus) and a prominent critic of the climate change crusade. After introducing him, outlining his career and establishing his bona fides as a climate scientist, the writer comes to the point. Although Professor Lindzen has made significant contributions to the International Panel on Climate Change, since 2001, however,
. . . he's grown increasingly distant from prevalent (he would say "hysterical") climate science, and he is voluminously on record disputing the predictions of catastrophe. [Note the scare quotes around "hysterical."]
The writer explains the greenhouse effect (atmospheric CO2 preventing escape of heat from the earth), pointing out that Professor Lindzen "doesn't deny that the climate has changed or that the planet has warmed," but the increase is very small, and Lindzen thinks that's the real issue. He accepts man's role in climate change, but thinks it negligible; most of the change is due to "natural variability." The writer then moves on to the scary predictions of future calamity following from climate change, and Lindzen counters that by arguing that the climate models are inaccurate, noting that they failed to predict the current climate state, which for the last fifteen years has shown no warming. If he is correct that climate change is nothing to worry about, why do "so many climate scientists, many with resumes just as impressive as his, preach imminent doom?" Professor Lindzen's answer is that almost all research money comes from government, and "generating fear . . . is now the best way to ensure that policy makers keep the spigot open."
The writer contends that climate change warriors prefer to ignore the professor, attacking instead "straw men, less credible skeptics," like a believer in "God's intelligent design," the Heartland Institute (which likened climate "alarmists" to the Unabomber) and Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma (a major energy-producing state)." Nevertheless, he has his critics, and the writer quotes some vituperative remarks. He then goes on to point out that there is a conservative/liberal divide on the issue, with the former skeptical and the latter believers, adding, but that "doesn't tell us who has the science right," and then he stands up for skepticism as "essential to science." Finally, when a critic compares Professor Lindzen to scientists who couldn't accept continental drift when it was first proposed, the writer shows up the critic: one man stated the theory and he was ridiculed. He had "challenged the earth science 'consensus' of his day. And in the end, his view prevailed."
What's curious about this article is its ambiguity, its uneasiness. Let us count the ways. The point of the piece is to make a case for Professor Lindzen's argument that climate change is mainly natural variability and not a threat. The writer does not exactly endorse it, but he gives it a sympathetic hearing. On the other hand, it is clear that he does not support wholesale opposition to climate change crusaders. His language is revealing: note the scare quotes around "hysteria" and "alarmists," thus casting doubt on the thoughts. Why does he scorn the Heartland Institute because it compares "alarmists" to the Unabomber, when their aims are similar? And why does he point out that Senator Inhofe represents "a major energy-producing state" an unworthy ad hominem suggestion? Why does he raise the political issue, making the point that Professor Lindzen and other skeptics are conservatives while climate change crusaders are "liberal Democrats"? Although he retreats from the implication of ideological motivation by saying that "doesn't tell us who has the science right," why raise the issue at all? Why does he rest content with the argument that scientists who support climate change hysteria are only in it for research grants?
We think the truth of this very odd performance lies in the relationship between neoconservatives and conservatives. Too often, neoconservatives are disdainful of conservatives, thinking them stubborn and recalcitrant, out of touch with the needs and desires of most Americans, in a word, reactionaries. It is one of their weaknesses that neoconservatives, generally more worldly and sophisticated than most conservatives, are a bit snobbish about their erstwhile allies, and that shows up here in the dismissal of the Heartland Institute and the Senator (as well as a skeptic who bases his criticism on God's providence), and of course in the ambiguity of scare quotes. The writer doesn't want to be identified with such uncouth figures!
Interestingly, Professor Lindzen, unlike the author, who has no inkling of what lies behind the climate controversy, has a sure grasp of the major consequence of Greenism:
It would appear that the privileged members of the global society regard as dogma that the rest of humanity is a blight on the planet, and all effort should be devoted to preventing their economic improvement and development.
The writer does not quote the above (perhaps he's unaware of it). He sees the issue solely as an argument about the science involved, but Greenism (which uses climate change as the chief weapon in its armory) is an ideologically driven fantasy that intends to impoverish all of us as a way to achieve a so-called simple life in a pastoral utopia surrounded by wilderness.
While the scientists on the government payroll may be corrupted by research grants, what drives Greenism is the utopian project. Professor Lindzen had it right when he said what we just quoted, but you'd never know it from the account in the Weekly Standard, which is only an uneasy attempt to align (sort of) neoconservatives with a skeptical scientist while carefully avoiding any contact with other dissenters who do not come up to neoconservative standards of sophistication. *