Tuesday, August 14, 2018

‘Dark Money’ is Free Speech. Protect It

The New Jersey Star-Ledger is at it again, railing against “dark money” in politics. In It's not just Putin. Trump protects all dark money meddlers, the Star-Ledger mixes apples and oranges--that is, legitimate law enforcement with innocent private individuals and groups, taking its obligatory swipe at the pro-freedom Koch brothers. As one reads the editorial, you can see the gradual turn from clearly illegal activities like Putin’s election meddling to going after innocent American citizens. “Trump is likely doing this because conservative heavy hitters like the Koch brothers fought for it,” the Star-Ledger rants. “They want to keep their dark money donors secret.” It doesn't mention that the Koch brothers are regularly harassed with death threats--a good reason for donors to want to remain free from "public disclosure."

I left these comments:

“Dark Money” is the language of dictators who want to silence the free speech of private citizens. Another word for “dark” is anonymous. Given the inextricable link between spending and speech, anonymous spending equals anonymous expression. Anonymous expression is a right that should be protected. Political anonymity has been used throughout history by free speakers to avoid harassment and intimidation by both governments, political opponents, and private thugs. It was used by Revolutionary advocates of freedom and independence to shield them from British reprisals. It was used by 20th Century black Civil Rights advocates to shield them from white racist lynch mobs.

Aside from protection, some people might want to head off ad hominem attacks so their ideas can be debated on the merits.

In cases of actually illegal activity, such as foreign government interference in American elections, that should be treated like any other crime. Investigators seeking disclosure from private political action groups should need a subpoena based on evidence and probable cause. Otherwise, no forced disclosure of political donors.

Monetary expenditure is intricate to free speech. Rights to anonymity is crucial to spending on free expression. Free expression is crucial to intellectual freedom of the individual as well as public debate during election seasons or regarding law and policies. After all, what is the “democratic process” but free and open debate for the purpose of persuading and influencing? Those who throw around terms like “dark money” are up to no good.They are attacking freedom of speech. Unless a crime is committed, keeping one’s political donations large or small private from both public and government is a fundamental right that should be protected by government.

Related Reading:

The Intimidation Game: How the Left Is Silencing Free Speech--by Kimberley Strassel, especially Chapter 2, “Publius & Co.”

The Anti-Free Speech Fallacy of ‘Dark Money’

Making Private Donations Anonymously is a Right

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Don’t Force Anybody to Finance NJ's 'Fight on Climate.' Just End It

In How N.J. forces the poor to finance the fight on climate, Tom Moran writes for the New Jersey Star-Ledger:

In Newark's South Ward, friends and family gathered at their church Wednesday morning to say good-bye to Linda Daniels, a 68-year-old matriarch who died gasping for breath on a hot afternoon, a few hours after PSE&G cut off her electricity, causing her oxygen machine to sputter to a halt.

That was no act of God. Electricity rates in New Jersey are among the highest in the country, and one reason is that we lard electric bills with added charges, mostly because raising taxes is a steeper climb, politically, than raising fees.

New Jersey is spending more than $1 billion a year to fight climate change, all financed through regressive electricity bills. Before long, the number could easily reach $2 billion.

So, after this awful death of this good woman, it's time to take a second look at that. Fighting climate change is imperative. But putting such a heavy cost on the shoulders of people like Linda Daniels is just wrong.

But, observes Moran in a fit of honesty, “this is no right-wing conspiracy against the poor. In New Jersey, at least, it's coming from the left.” Moran concludes:

But no one is talking yet about the need for a fundamental change in how we finance the fight against climate change. Perhaps if Daniels' death sparks that conversation, it will offer some small solace for this tragedy.

I left these comments:

“But no one is talking yet about the need for a fundamental change in how we finance the fight against climate change.”

This is a sneaky attempt to frame the debate. I’m not biting. But I am talking.

The problem is not “how we finance the fight against climate change.” The problem is the fight, which is really a fight against reliable, affordable energy. No one should be forced to pay that political bill. Eliminate that $1 - 2 billion in state expenditures—along with the “renewable energy” subsidies, Clean Energy Fund, and associated taxes and electric bill fees—and get the state out of the fight against climate change. Then let each household and business decide for themselves whether they want to “fight climate change.” If someone wants to, they can foot the full bill for their solar panels or windmills or whatever themselves: They will not be stopped. But neither will anyone be forced to pay.


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It’s encouraging to see the price of renewable energy--unaffordable electric bills--come to the fore. Sadly, it took a tragedy to accomplish that. And it was entirely unnecessary. The cost of “fighting climate change” has been shown in practice. As Alex Epstein observed in testimony before Congress, Germany has gone down the road to a “green energy revolution” and its consumers have paid dearly, to the tune of electric bills 3-4 times higher than Americans pay. And despite all of that economic pain, Germany has had to turn back to coal to keep the electrons flowing.

Related Reading:

The Obama-Clinton One-Two Blackout--Alex Epstein

"Clean" Energy Subsidies vs. Oil Industry "Subsidies"

End All Corporate

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Essential Anti-Human Soul of Environmentalism

An aging, obsolete hydroelectric dam in Warren County, New Jersey, is scheduled to be demolished, Steve Novak reports for lehighvalleylive.com. Normally, this wouldn’t be news. But here in NJ, Environmentalists are celebrating the destruction of the dam--not because it will be replaced with some superior electric generating station, but because the stream and surrounding area will be returned to its “natural” state.

None other than NJ’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe was there, saying

"I want to thank Mother Nature ... for the 109-year loan" of the Paulins Kill for hydroelectric power, DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe said. "And now, Mother Nature," she continued, holding a prop sledge hammer aloft, "you can have it back."

I left this comment:

Notice what’s missing from “Mother Nature”--man, and his survival needs. We are just “borrowers”; she’s being polite. She means hijackers.

To an Environmentalist, nature is a supreme benevolent consciousness that encompasses everything but man, who is a destructive, unnatural intruder. Why isn’t that dam considered “natural?” Because man built it to serve his survival and flourishing. If a beaver builds a dam, it is “natural.” But not man.

Nature is not a consciousness-- a “Mother.” That is superstition. Nature is impersonal existence, along with everything in it, including man. But nature doesn’t provide for man’s needs, as it does other species. Nature gives man a dangerous environment, albeit one filled with raw materials. Unaltered nature is wholesale death for man. But unlike other species, nature gives man a reasoning mind. To live and thrive, man must use his intelligence to transform raw nature to suit his needs, such as build dams.

I have no problem with dismantling an obsolete industrial project. I do have a problem with Environmentalism because its ideal environment does not include man--intelligent, creative, flourishing, nature-improving man. Environmentalism recognizes every species’ right to its means of survival as “natural.” But not man’s means, which is reason and productive work and harnessing nature. Man only “borrows”--at best. The statement by McCabe exposes the underlying anti-humanist soul of the Environmentalist Movement--the primitive-like valuing of “Mother Nature” over human life.


Related Reading:

Human Energy Needs vs. 'Mother Earth'

How Earth Day Anti-Industrialists Hijack ‘Science’ to Deny Humans the Benefits of Science

“Not-so-Sane” Environmentalists are Perfectly Sane--and Anti-Humanist

Trump Could Give Us a Welcome Respite from Environmentalist Political Domination

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Banning of Alex Jones: Facebook Choice or Regulatory Extortion?

Facebook banned Alex Jones from its platform for posting “hate speech” and “bullying.” The Associated Press reports:

Major tech companies have begun to ban right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from their services, reflecting a more aggressive enforcement of policies against hate speech following protests on social media.

Facebook has taken down four pages belonging to Jones, including two featuring his “Infowars” show, for violating its hate speech and bullying policies. Over the past several days, Apple, YouTube and Spotify have also removed material published by Jones. Twitter, which hasn’t banned Jones, has also faced similar calls.


The question is, are these companies truly doing this on their own, as a matter of principle, business policy, or market pressure? Or are they being coerced by political threats of regulation?

If the first, then it is their right, even if dumb. And it is dumb, if done on principle. You can’t defeat ideas you consider bad except by exposure by letting those holding those views express themselves. They can only be defeated by intellectually discrediting, and then by countering with a better viewpoint. What better place to expose and open to refutation bad ideas than on social media? They, after all, the media, not Starbucks. Prohibition does not work. It didn’t work with alcohol. It doesn’t work with the “War on Drugs.” And it won’t and never has worked with ideas. Truth-seeking is about exposing and debating, not burying and retreating into an “echo chamber.” This view gets support from a surprising source, Former President Barack Obama. Obama said it is wrong to silence “people who are different than us.” We should instead listen to them “because we should try to understand their point of view. Maybe we can change their minds, maybe they'll change ours. You can't do this if you just out of hand disregard what your opponent has to say from the start.”

The effect of the ban is actually to have the opposite effect: to elevate what is said in importance. Bans only make martyrs of the silenced, drawing more attention to them and widening their reach. It’s interesting that until I read about Facebook’s ban of Alex Jones, I had never heard of Alex Jones. Now, I’m investigating his views to see what the hoopla is all about, so I can judge for myself. News of Facebook’s ban is actually helping to expose more people to Jone’s ideas, even as it makes them less exposed. Censorship doesn’t do anything but drive ideas underground, where they continue to spread but with much less public scrutiny. And by cutting Jones out of Facebook, Facebook is denying intelligent opponents the chance to use their own free speech to challenge and refute the ideas--all for the sake of people who lack the courage or ability to fight back on the “battleground” of ideas.

If the second, it gets much worse: We’re dealing with outright government censorship. The First Amendment protects the likes of private entities like Facebook to ban points of view it doesn't approve of. The First Amendment doesn’t give us the “right” to broadcast at others’ expense. It does protect us from forcible government censorship or jailing for speaking our minds. But what if politics intersects with the private sector? Politicians have been threatening these companies, saying “Either you control your content, or we will.” Jesse Walker for Reason looks back at the McCarthy era of Communist blacklisting by targeting Hollywood, and draws parallels to today:

In the Trump era, the target of choice for people worried about foreign subversion—and other disfavored speech, from "fake news" to sex ads—is social media. "You created these platforms, and now they're being misused," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) told representatives from Facebook, Google, and Twitter during last year's hearings on Russian activities during the 2016 election. "And you have to be the ones who do something about it—or we will."

As tech companies create ever-more-intrusive rules about what can and can't be said using their products, threats like Feinstein's clearly play a substantial role in their decision making. [My emphasis]

Whether through direct regulation, or the back door of threats of regulation, we’re dealing with another assault on free speech and press, in direct violation of the inalienable individual right to intellectual freedom and expression and conscientious objection as explicitly guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Facebook and the other companies appear to be caving in to political pressure. If so, they are aiding and abetting the advance of dictatorship in America. Aspiring dictators need to suppress dissent and control the intellectual narrative. They have found a powerful weapon in the internet and social media companies. First, they tried to control the internet through “net neutrality” regulatory control of internet service providers (stymied by Trump, for now). The logical next step is to control the internet content providers. The statists, mostly on the Left, must be exposed. It is these statists, not the Alex Jones of the world, who are the real threat. They must be stopped. As Walker implores:

Anyone who cares about free expression should object to censorship by proxy, both as it manifested itself in the early days of the Cold War and as it threatens to re-emerge in social media today.

Related Reading:

The Life and Death of a Hollywood Blacklist: Sometimes censorship is a public-private partnership, by Jesse Walker for Reason.








Monday, August 6, 2018

To 'Stop Gun Violence,' Stop Free Speech, Leftist Says

Left statists are ever looking for rationalizations to assault free speech rights. The latest salvo comes from Alan L. Moss, “former wage-hour chief economist and congressional fellow to the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey,” a “liberal” Democrat. In a New Jersey Star-Ledger guest column, Moss asserts that in order To stop gun violence, we must revamp 2nd Amendment, remove big money from federal elections: i.e., go after the First Amendment:

Attempts to limit campaign contributions that give the gun lobby (and others) the ammunition to win political support also have been decimated by the Supreme Court (Buckley v. Valeo, 1976). In that and later decisions, it found that campaign-expenditure limits contravene the First Amendment provision on freedom of speech; corporations were given the go-ahead to spend from their general treasuries to influence ballot initiatives; and aggregate limits on political giving by an individual to candidates, political action committees and party committees combined were found to be unconstitutional. These decisions have opened the floodgates to bribery through campaign donation. [My Emphasis.]

To counter this freedom, Moss calls for a constitutional amendment, jumping on the Article 5 bandwagon—”a convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution -- called for by two-thirds (currently 34) of the state legislatures” * :

[A]a new amendment must be fashioned to relieve federal political candidates of the burden to raise campaign funds. Formulas should be developed to estimate reasonable funding requirements for those who represent a minimum of voter potential either through party acceptance or other proof of popular support. Under this system, the federal allocation of campaign funds would be the only financial resources devoted to election expenditures. [My Emphasis.]

Moss would go way beyond placing limits on campaign funding, which we already have. He would outright ban them. More ominously, we see that Moss is not just talking about direct contributions to political candidates. He proposes to ban campaign spending “to influence ballot initiatives.” Though he refers specifically to corporate spending, where does one draw the line? Indeed, Moss doesn’t. He seeks to ban all private election spending, including for issue advocacy: “the federal allocation of campaign funds would be the only financial resources devoted to election expenditures.” That sweeping statement is crystal clear: Only government can engage in election spending. We the People are cut out of the loop.

I left these comments:

The right to political advocacy at one’s own expense, either individually or in association with others--to express oneself; to persuade and influence; to support political candidates of one’s choice--is fundamental to freedom. Likewise candidates’ freedom to seek funding, privately and voluntarily, from willing donors.

Moss would throw all this freedom out. He says private campaign funding is “bribery through campaign donation.” But in fact forcing private citizens to fund political candidates and ideas through their taxes whether they agree or not is criminal. It puts government officials in charge of deciding who gets to run for office and who doesn’t. Note Moss’s moral inversion: Private voluntary political advocacy is “corruption”: Government control of the electoral process is “the will of the people.”

Moss’s motive, echoing the Left, is to silence dissent, as all aspiring to dictatorship must. Advocating the “wrong” ideas; successfully persuading voters of the “wrong” ideas; who then vote for the “wrong” candidates; who then vote for the “wrong” policies and laws: Subversive ideas cannot be permitted. So criminalize basic freedom of speech.

Don’t be suckered by the “big money” ploy. Those with the resources to reach a mass audience express not only themselves; they give voice to the millions who agree but lack the resources. Ban “big money”, and you silence millions of average voters. Of course, that’s the point--too many average people vote the “wrong” way.

Private financing of political expression and campaigns is the governed's best way of keeping the political class accountable. Exploiting “gun violence,” Moss would strip the people of those basic individual rights by outlawing free speech in federal elections, an ominous portent for America.


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Moss goes well beyond even the proposed First Amendment-eroding Democracy for All Amendment. That would constitutionally empower “Congress and the States [to] regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.” 

That’s bad enough (see links below). Moss would outright ban private initiatives “to influence elections.” Moss would leave no discretion to elected legislatures, and thus future voters. What will be left of the electoral process--of free elections? What will be left of our Constitutionally Limited Republic? The Left gets more brazen in its drive to end free speech every year. They must be stopped.

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* [Calls for an Article 5 convention of the states are coming from both the “Progressive” Left and Conservative Right **. See, for example, Mark Levin’s The Liberty Amendments. As Moss’s article demonstrates, this could be a dangerous road for liberty lovers.]

** [As opposed to the Liberal Right. See Craig Biddle, Principles of the Liberal Right.]

Related Reading:

Democracy for All Amendment: The Battle for Free Speech Reaches the Constitutional Pinnacle

Democracy for All: The "Drown Out the Voice of Average Americans" Amendment

Democracy for All Amendment: Proponents Don't Even Believe Their Own "Drown Out" Hype

Anti-First Amendment Democracy for All Amendment Introduced in Senate

Hillary's Pledge to Overturn the First Amendment—and Why it Should Be Defeated

Obama Urges Amendment to Overturn the First Amendment

Saturday, August 4, 2018

'Social Justice' Collectivism in American School and Culture

A For the New Intellectuals post by Anoop Verma:

“You’ll sit enthroned and enshrined, you, the little people, the absolute ruler to make all past rulers squirm with envy, the absolute, the unlimited, God and Prophet and King combined. Vox populi. The average, the common, the general. Do you know the proper antonym for Ego? Bromide, Peter. The rule of the bromide. But even the trite has to be originated by someone at some time. We’ll do the originating. Vox dei. We’ll enjoy unlimited submission—from men who’ve learned nothing except to submit. We’ll call it ‘to serve.’ We’ll give out medals for service. You’ll fall over one another in a scramble to see who can submit better and more. There will be no other distinction to seek.”

~ Ellsworth Toohey, whose life is devoted to creating a collectivist society, addressing one of his victims, Peter Keating (from Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead)

A recent family encounter immediately came to mind. I left these comments:

During a recent family picnic, I sat (suffered) through a recording of my brother-in-law’s commencement address to the 2018 graduating class of the Rhode Island high school he principals. His speech lauded the students who “studied” “social justice,” “sustainability,” and “renewable energy.” On individual “achievement,” he reserved his highest praise for a student who logged 3000 hours—that equates to 1-1/2 years of full time work @ 40 hours a week—in “community service.” (That’s no misprint. 3000 hours in 4 years.) That was the only part of the speech that was interrupted by cheers from the audience! The speech was generally classic Left collectivism. My brother-in-law was quite proud of it.

Ellsworth Toohey is alive and well.

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I often hear about indoctrination in America's schools. I get anecdotal evidence from time to time; in an article, a conversation with a friend or teacher, something one of my grandchildren say. But my brother-in-law’s speech is “straight from the horse’s mouth” evidence of systematic collectivist/Leftist indoctrination. I want to focus on so-called “social justice.”

“Social justice” is collectivism and is particularly insidious and evil. “Social justice” holds that only groups based on some common characteristic—race, gender, sezual orientation, national origing, the catogories keep expanding—count, with each member judged according to average group statistical outcomes current or historical, and then assigned victim or oppressor status according to his group regardless of his individual choices, character, or circumstances. The goal is to equalize outcomes through economic redistribution and regulation, taking from “oppressor” groups and giving to “victim” groups. It’s always about the group, not the guilt, innocence, actions, or actual injustice or victimization of individual people.

Real justice applies only to the human entity that actually exists--the individual. But the individual doesn’t matter to “social justice.” He is an inconsequential cog in a group machine. It doesn’t matter whether the success you achieved was earned or not, whether you were lazy or ambitious. It doesn’t matter whether you are racist or not, or whether you were ever a victim of racism or not. In the case of actual oppression, such as against blacks in earlier America, it’s not enough to correct the injustices (such as repeal of Jim Crow Laws). You are what your group is deemed, victim or oppressor, in perpetuity, until the “injustice”—including past injustices that you had nothing to do with—has been “corrected” (reversed, actually) or until average equal outcomes are realized—the equality imposed by government policy; i.e., by force. It’s the collectivist mindset that leads straight to massive injustice, including genocide.

I’ll give you another personal example of the “social justice” mindset, this time relating to a specific event.

My wife was explaining to a leftist friend about how unfair it is that our daughter must pay school taxes even though she homeschools her four children. Our friend’s retort? “She’s lucky she can do it. But I believe we have a moral responsibility to those less fortunate.” Does it matter that our daughter is a victim of injustice perpetrated against her by her own government? Doesn’t that qualify as “less fortunate?” No. Because she’s “lucky”--that is, capable and willing to make the extraordinary effort to take on the responsibility of educating her own kids. Who are these “less fortunate” others? Who knows. Who cares whether their “less fortunate” status is due to bad circumstances beyond their control, their choice to send their kids to public school, or lazyness, or incompetence, or just lack of interest in their kids’ education.

Who cares even who they are? To the collectivist, it’s all about some abstract grouping, not real people with real circumstances. Our daughter is a real victim of a real injustice, yet “thrown under the bus” for an abstraction, “those less fortunate.” Collectivism is a moral escape hatch--an end run around an actual moral judgement. It’s merely an individual. How does a mere individual compare to the “greater good” of taking care of the “less fortunate?”

“The rule of the bromide.”

“Social justice” is anti-justice. Social justice in fact makes real justice impossible, because it shifts the focus away from real, actual, living, breathing, thinking human beings. It’s a repudiation of the dignity and autonomy of the individual. “Social justice,” like all forms of collectivism, is a moral escape hatch--an escape from having to treat people fairly. The ultimate goal of the Social Justice movement is, of course, socialism—the social system of greed, powerlust, envy, and hatred of and desire to destroy success and achievement. This is really what the school indoctrination is all about--to condition the young to reject individualism and accept the basic premise of collectivism, thus paving the road, a back road, to a socialist America.

Related Reading:

Collectivism Generates Irrational Hatred

The idea of ‘Protected Classes’ Does not Advance Individual Liberty

Collectivized 'Rights' versus Individual Rights—Ayn Rand

Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice—Craig Biddle

Related Viewing:

How Social Justice Warriors Rationalise Their Hatred For Life & Humanity—Yaron Brook







Prager U. VIDEO: What is Intersectionality?—Ben Shapiro

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Some Relief, and Fairness, to For-Profit Colleges, Thanks to DeVos

The Obama Administration, true to its statist, Leftist agenda, spend years waging an assault on private sector colleges and universities. The Trump Education Department, under the leadership of Betsy DeVos, is taking a different approach, giving some relief to these schools.

In If Betsy DeVos and her unscrupulous profiteers won't do their jobs, N.J. will, the New Jersey Star-Ledger attacked Betsy DeVos for rolling back the Obama-era assault on private, especially for-profit colleges. The Star-Ledger wrote:

For-profits aren't the ones lending students money, so don't care if they can't pay back it back. They encourage people in dire straits to take out as much financial aid as possible. Then they suck up this federal loan money like sponges, leaving veterans, single parents and others who live paycheck-to-paycheck with huge debts and no degrees.

I left these comments:

All colleges “suck up” federal loan money. Why single out for-profits? The problem of the disconnect between too-high student loan debt relative to career earning potential cuts across all higher education—including public colleges, which have ridden the government’s student loan gravy train to tuition increases four times the rate of inflation over the last several decades. Anyway, education producers, private or public, should be no more responsible for students who overpay than other businesses are for someone overpaying for cars, vacations, or anything else. Don’t the consumers of education have any responsibility for controlling their spending?

For-profit colleges sell education, like all colleges. They cater mostly to mature working poor and middle class students who are trying to improve their skills through education while juggling jobs, families, and other adult responsibilities. These schools largely succeed despite unfair competition from public colleges, which have the benefit of taxpayer subsidies that enable them to keep tuitions artificially low. True, there are some unscrupulous actors, as in every field. But the Left, due to its irrational hatred of profit-seeking and private enterprise, is waging a war against private colleges, hoping eventually to eliminate them and gain increasing government control over higher education. Kudos to DeVos for rolling back the Left’s discriminatory assault on private colleges.

The government should not be involved in lending money to students at all. But so long as it is, and so long as it regulates these loans, it is morally obligated—and should be legally obligated—to treat all students and all educational institutions equally under the law.


Related Reading:

The Government’s Assault on Private-Sector Colleges and Universities

The Government’s Renewed Assault on Private-Sector Colleges.

Stamato's For-Profit College Hatchet Job

Obama’s “Free” Community College Scheme