Saturday, November 21, 2020

QUORA *: ‘Does capitalism reinforce or lessen the separation of classes?’

QUORA *: ‘Does capitalism reinforce or lessen the separation of classes?

I posted this answer:

There are no classes in a capitalist--that is, fully free--society. No one is locked into a caste from which he cannot escape. Under capitalism, the rights of all individuals to live peacefully--to take whatever actions economically and intellectually one deems necessary to the furtherance of one's well-being--are fully protected by the government. The only condition of this freedom is to respect the same rights of others to live by their judgement, and to deal with others only on a voluntary, consensual basis--or peacefully go their separate ways, agreeing to live and let live. This is accomplished by banning aggressive (or intiatory) force from human relationships, including relations between private citizens and government officials.

Of course, given the individual diversity of humanity in terms of ability, ambition, interests, moral character, personal circumstances, and so on, there will be a wide diversity of individual economic and social outcomes. But that is the natural consequence of a free society. But no one is preordained or “locked in” to any particular outcome. Thus, there are no classes under capitalism.

Related Reading:

QUORA: ‘How do capitalists justify the inequality/high disparity part of a capitalistic society that a socialistic system tends to stop?’

QUORA: 'Can certain forms of capitalism be made to work for the people instead of just the elite?'

QUORA*: ‘Is it fair to claim that capitalism does not create better lives, but simply shifts the suffering somewhere else?’

QUORA: 'Why do people think capitalism is ethical?'

QUORA *: 'How is capitalism good despite the fact that it creates higher and lower classes?'

QUORA: '[W]hy do we ignore all the examples of capitalism failing, like the major divide between the wealthy and the poor in the US?'

QUORA: ‘Given that I live in a capitalist society, how can I avoid having my labor exploited?’

* [Quora is a social media website founded by two former Facebook employees. According to Wikipedia:

Quora is a question-and-answer website where questions are created, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. The company was founded in June 2009, and the website was made available to the public on June 21, 2010.[3]Quora aggregates questions and answers to topics. Users can collaborate by editing questions and suggesting edits to other users' answers.[4]

You can also reply to other users’ answers.]

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Associated Press’s Biased ‘Reporting’

Given the gravity of the policy alternatives facing America, it is more important than ever these days to be a “philosophical detective” when reading the news. Why? Because so much “news” is really propaganda.

Take, for example, an Associated Press report that was published on page 9 of section one of the Sunday 10/25/20 New Jersey Star-Ledger in the section Nation & World. The article was titled “After the debate, some ask: So what is Biden’s energy plan?” * The article reports on confusion sowed by Joe Biden’s contradictory remarks in his second debate with Donald Trump.

But I want to highlight a few instances of bias that I believe objective people should be on the lookout for. All further italics are mine.

The Democratic presidential nominee has spent months touting a $2 trillion plan to boost investment in clean energy and stop all climate-damaging emissions from the U.S. economy by 2050. 

Later, the article uses the term “climate-damaging fossil fuels.” Human caused emissions of greenhouse gases, namely carbon dioxide, have contributed to a general, though relatively mild, global warming, a.k.a. climate change. But climate change does not equal climate damage. The warming likely has some negative effects, but also some important positive effects, such as accelerated plant growth, which has helped expand food production and the subsequent drop in hunger. A more objective term would be “climate-impacting emissions.”

With less than two weeks until the election, Biden’s comment is prompting a sudden test of whether voters who increasingly say they are worried about the climate crisis will embrace steps to confront it.

The term “climate crisis” is a political slogan. It’s purpose is to sow a sense of fear and urgency. Statists need a sense of crisis to justify their power, and they’ll need plenty of liberty-crushing power to push through the Green New Deal and other criminal socialist agenda items. To Environmentalism, which these days has formed an unholy alliance with the socialist Left, the crisis has nothing to do with reducing climate danger. The “crisis” is in the very fact that the climate is changing due to human activity. Environmentalists’ value standard is nature unaltered by human impact. Climate danger has always been a crisis for humans. So the fact that humans have impacted nature in a positive way, making ourselves safer from those dangers, means nothing. Human benefit is not a good. It is a crisis, because human betterment requires impacting the environment in a big way. Climate impact is a side effect. But it’s not the bad effects that concern the climate crisis mongers. Good or bad, human caused climate change is bad because it’s not “natural,” and must be stopped regardless of the harm to human well-being. Yet here is the Associated Press using the term “the climate crisis” as if it is an objective fact, not agenda-driven propaganda.

During a season of worsening wildfires, hurricanes and other disasters, scientists are issuing urgent warnings that big cuts in burning oil, gas and coal are needed right away.

Scientists’ “urgent warnings” are the result of political interests trapping scientists into conclusions with leading questions. As Bjorn Lomborg explains in his book False Alarm, the gimmick is to give scientists an impossible “what if” question; to wit, “If we are to keep global warming to 2c degrees above pre-industrial levels, what actions are needed?” Why 2 degrees? It’s arbitrary. So scientists are trapped into “issuing urgent warnings.” Does this mean scientists believe fossil fuels should be drastically cut? No. Only that if we are to keep warming to 2c degrees, then we must cut fossil fuels. Does this mean disaster without “big cuts” in fossil fuels. No. The IPCC’s own projections show continued human progress in life quality and prosperity without any cuts whatsoever, even if the projected increases in frequency of weather extremes comes to pass.

Polling by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago shows a majority of Americans acknowledge people are causing global warming and link global warming to worsening natural disasters.

It has become a knee-jerk response to always blame every “natural disaster”, no matter how common, on climate change, evidence not needed. This is not surprising, given the steady drumbeat of propaganda. But a closer look at the evidence shows little, if any, meaningful worsening of destructiveness from weather extremes. A good example of how this dichotomy is being pulled off can be seen from a Reason article by Ronald Bailey, U.N. Reports 'Staggering Rise in Climate-Related Disasters'. “And yet,” Bailey notes, “fewer lives are being lost with no increase in proportional economic losses.” Digging into the report’s “evidence for how rising average global temperature specifically is affecting humanity,” Bailey finds a trend of increasing climate safety for humans. Where it counts most, things are getting better, not worse. The genuine disaster would be from drastic cuts in fossil fuels, which provide the energy needed to keep us safe from climate danger. Polling will not tell you that. Facts will.

Improving technology and falling prices mean renewables already are making huge gains in the marketplace. 

This is simply not true. Yes, technology is improving and prices have come down, as expected as economies of scale take hold. But gains in the marketplace? Take my home state of New Jersey. Despite years of subsidies, NJ still gets 94% of its energy from natural gas and nuclear power. Worldwide, fossil fuels continue to outgrow wind and solar.

Solar, wind and other clean energy will surpass coal and nuclear next year in the share of U.S. electricity they produce, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says.

This is vague. What constitutes “clean energy” when the cleanest energy source, nuclear, is lumped in with coal? The AP’s bias toward Environmentalism, which opposes nuclear and is a key faction of the Left, is obvious. Objectively, any serious agenda to “fight climate change” must include nuclear power. As to “the share of U.S. electricity,” the statement only makes sense if natural gas counts as the “other clean energy.” Natural gas is booming, thanks to the fracking revolution, and has been replacing coal at a ferocious rate, as it has gotten cheaper and more plentiful. The AP’s vageness leaves the impression of dramatic solar and wind gains, not the reality that the main driver of clean energy gains is from natural gas, a carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuel. The only way “Solar, wind and other clean energy will surpass coal and nuclear” is if the “other” is natural gas. 

In 2019, major media outlets worldwide launched a Covering Climate Now campaign. This is the way CNN/Business announced the launch of the project:

More than 250 news outlets around the world have committed to Covering Climate Now

What is it? An initiative to provide focused coverage of the climate crisis in print, on air and online. 

Participating news outlets are running stories in the run-up to the UN Climate Action Summit on September 23 [2019]. The organizers hope to keep it going well past this month. [emphasis added]

I don’t know how this initiative fared since then. But this is pretty much a smoking gun on the media's approach to climate change. Articles like this one are no surprise.  This is not reporting. This is activist journalism smuggled in under cover of news reporting.

* [This is the title given by the Star-Ledger. The AP’s original title is Biden’s warning on oil tests voter resolve on climate change. By ELLEN KNICKMEYER and KATHLEEN RONAYNE, and published on October 24, 2020]

Related Reading:

The Collectivist Left Media Launches Major ‘Climate Crisis’ Propaganda Campaign

False Alarm by Bjorn Lomborg

New U.N. Study Shows Climate Catastrophists Getting More Open About their Totalitarian Designs

‘Climate Crisis’: The Dem’s Path to Totalitarian Socialism

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-first Century--Ronald Bailey

Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know: And Many Others You Will Find Interesting by Ronald Bailey and Marian L. Tupy  

Sanders Validates Hicks’s ‘Crisis of Socialism’ Contention

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Chris Christie’s School Choice Achievement.

My wife Kathy recently shared this Facebook post:

I posted these comments:

This cartoon has real substance. Newark, New Jersey public schools were so bad that the state had to take control in 1995. But no progress took place until beginning in 2010, when new Governor Chris Christie initiated his charter school program for inner cities. At that time, Newark parents, most of whom could not afford private schools, had no choice but the terrible public schools. Under Christie, parents flocked to the new non-union, privately run charter schools opening up. By the time Christie left office in 2017, 1/3 of Newark’s kids, 12,000, attended charters. These are parents who voluntarily exercised school choice. Tom Moran, editor of the NJ Star-Ledger, called the education improvement “dramatic” and Christie’s charter school reforms a top achievement. Moran, usually a major Christie critic, said there has never been “a Democratic governor who did as much for poor minorities” as Christie. And school choice was a centerpiece of that achievement.  

School choice is a major issue for me. I believe education tax dollars should follow the student—every student—with the parents making the choice of schooling options. Inner city parents need that choice the most. But every parent should have that choice. It’s not just a civil right. It is an individual, that is, a moral, right. Charter schools are a small, but important, step forward for school choice. 

It’s pleasing to see someone from the “other side” give credit where credit is due. Here are some excerpts from Tom Moran’s Chris Christie: Remember the upside

Christie did big things, and one of them was that 2011 reform, known as Chapter 78. It saved taxpayers billions of dollars, and it left our teachers, cops and other public workers with benefits that are still far more generous than most taxpayers enjoy.

His reforms improved schools in Newark and Camden dramatically, and he had to bang his head into brick walls to get it done. It’s not just that he built one of the best charter school sectors in the country, the traditional schools improved, too. And it was no right-wing model; his plan was almost the same as Barack Obama’s, and Cory Booker was his chief ally in the fight.

I torture my Democrats friends sometimes by asking them to name a Democratic governor who did as much for poor minorities. What, for example can Jon Corzine or Phil Murphy put up to match Christie?

Here are some excerpts from Tom Moran’s Ex-NJ Gov. Chris Christie speaks from hospital bed after COVID-19 diagnosis, feisty as ever

I’ve had more head-banging fights with this man than anyone in my career but I respect him. He was a consequential governor, and not just because of the fiscal reforms he launched. He transformed urban schools in Newark and Camden. And his bail reform freed thousands of low-income defendants who couldn’t pay bail. What Democratic governor did as much for poor people of color? 

Related Reading:

Charter Schools – Good, but Not the Long-Term Answer

As NJ State Closes 3 ‘Failing’ Charters, What About the Parents and the Children?

Real School Choice Depends on Free Exercise of Individual Rights

Newark's Successful Charter Schools Under Attack—for Being Successful

Charter Schools and their Reactionary Enemies--Part 1

Charter Schools and their Reactionary Enemies--Part 2

Charter Schools and their Reactionary Enemies--Part 3

NJ Mom Should Demand More Educational Freedom for Herself, Not Cut Down Others’ Freedom

A Newark, NJ Mother Demonstrates the Educational Power of Parental School Choice

Dividing Parents Over Charters and Traditional Government Schools

‘Investing’ of ‘Resources’ In Education Is Up to the Taxpayer

Backlash Against NJ's Charter School Expansion

Parents’ School Choice Rights Shouldn't Depend on Winning Elections

On Neo-George Wallaces Standing in the Schoolhouse Door, Keeping Children IN, rather than OUT

Toward a Free Market in Education: School Vouchers or Tax Credits? My Objective Standard article and letter replies:

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

On This Veterans Day, A Word About Those Who Support the Greatest Military in History

This is the time of year that America rightly salutes, and gives thanks to, our military veterans who have protected this nation from foreign enemies for more than two centuries. I join in that celebration. My thoughts about them are conveyed in my Memorial Day tribute, and need no restatement here, except to reiterate the essence of that post:

The highest tribute I can pay to those who perished in that cause is to say that they were cut from the mold of the Founding Fathers; that they did not set out to die for their country but rather that they set out to fight, often at great personal risk, for the only values under which they desired to live—that radical set of ideals that is the United States of America. [See Related Viewing link]

But America’s veterans are not the whole story. So, I’d like to use this Veterans Day post to acknowledge the unsung hero of America’s military prowess, the productive American citizen. No military as strong and as competent as America’s can exist in a vacuum. It requires something else - something indispensable – a great economy.

America's economy, historically the most productive the world has ever seen, is the foundation that supports our military personnel. American taxpayers pay trillions of dollars in defense taxes. American defense contractors invest in and produce the most advanced weaponry in the world, weaponry that American soldiers rely upon to do their jobs, stay alive, and defeat the enemy. American technology produces the high tech means for our intelligence community to gather the information our soldiers need to keep track of the enemy.

What enabled the creation of the economic powerhouse that enabled the creation of our military powerhouse? What is the foundation of that foundation?

In 1776, the Founders of this nation signed the Declaration of Independence, which sanctioned the individual to egoistically pursue his happiness in support of his life, by guaranteeing him a government that protected his unalienable individual rights – his liberty – to act upon his own reasoning mind. That short document unleashed the power of the human mind, possessed individually by every person. The result was an unprecedented explosion of productiveness leading to exploding general prosperity and a standard of living unimaginable by the wealthiest noblemen of centuries past. The cause of that progress is simple: the unleashing of every individual to self-interestedly strive to make his own life the best it can be, by his own effort, in voluntary trade with others, free from the coercive interference of his fellow man, including the government. Another name for this social statement—free market capitalism. America was built not by sacrifice, as it is fashionable to assume, but by personal achievement unleashed by individual liberty.

America’s response to the threat of the Axis powers at the onset of World War II demonstrates this incredible power behind America’s military power—American free, private enterprise. If you’ve ever visited the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, you’d be struck—I know I was—by the section that displays the array of private, profit-seeking companies that rose to meet the threat posed by Germany, Italy, and Japan. Companies from Boeing and Caterpillar to Harley Davidson and the Mars Candy Company converted their consumer-oriented production facilities to produce for the war to defend America. Dozens of household names are profiled in the display, and undoubtedly far more smaller companies labored anonymously in support of the war effort.

Germany’s Hitler was said to have ridiculed America as soft, because America was good at making consumer goods like razor blades and washing machines, but not military hardware like aircraft. This was mentioned in a fantastic film narrated by Tom Hanks titled Beyond All Boundaries, presented by the museum. Indeed, charts on display at the museum showed that, in 1939, America’s military was utterly dwarfed not only by the commulative size of the Axis powers Germany, Italy, and Japan, but in comparison to those countries individually as well. But just a few short years later, America’s military dwarfed all three combined, as America’s industrial might turned its focus from producing consumer goods to producing for the American military. Hitler obviously underestimated what can happen when a free enterprise nation, which only wants to live in peace, freedom and prosperity, is threatened by tyrannical aggression.

Tyranny, as the history of WW II demonstrates—and as Germany, Italy, and Japan learned the hard way— is no match for a free market capitalist nation when that nation is aroused to turn its industrial might to self-defense. America won not only because of the bravery and skill of its soldiers, but in no small measure because America simply out-produced—in quantity and technological might—the enemy. Not only did America rearm amazingly fast, it did so even while rearming Britain and supplying arms to Russia, China, and other nations battling against the Axis powers. As the museum’s website explains:

Total war meant that all levels of the economy and all segments of society dedicated themselves to victory. FDR urged Americans to join the war effort by “out-producing and overwhelming the enemy.” While scarcity, rationing, and shortages became regular topics of conversation, so too did talk of duty, patriotism, unity, and victory. The United States, which had the world’s 18th largest military in 1939, mobilized itself for total war production almost overnight once the nation entered the war. The immediate conversion of peacetime industries into war production facilities involved companies of all sizes and types. Toy companies began to manufacture compasses. Typewriter companies made rifles and piano factories produced airplane motors. The Ford Motor Company ceased producing cars and began turning out tanks and bombers. And behind each soldier stood hundreds of civilian workers making everything an army needs to fight around the globe. The Depression was over. Full employment was a reality and confidence in victory was strong.

From 1940 until the Japanese surrender, the United States produced more than 300,000 aircraft, 86,000 tanks, and 12.5 million rifles. Its shipyards were just as productive, building 107 aircraft carriers, 352 destroyers, and 35 million tons of merchant shipping. The US also supplied a majority of war materials for its Allied partners. By 1945, the U.S. had produced more than twice the war supplies of Germany, Italy, and Japan combined.

If Hitler underestimated America, some in Japan, it seems, were more prescient. As Japan’s political leadership confidently prepared for war with America, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto soberly warned:

Should hostilities once break out between Japan and the United States, it would not be enough that we take Guam and the Philippines, nor even Hawaii and San Francisco. To make victory certain, we would have to march into Washington and dictate the terms of peace in the White House. I wonder if our politicians (who speak so lightly of a Japanese-American war) have confidence as to the final outcome and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.

After his nation's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, Yamamoto was said to have uttered, “I fear all we have done today is to awaken a great, sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

Indeed, from a starting point of 18th largest military, America had, as FDR envisioned and as Yamamoto feared, out-produced and overwhelmed the enemy. So, let’s celebrate, along with the brave contributions of our vets, the productive American of all income levels—the CEOs, entrepreneurs, innovators, scientists and inventors, workers, investors—and the resultant industrial powerhouse upon whose shoulders our military might stands. Let’s celebrate the individual pursuit of happiness that is the fuel for that American strength. Let’s celebrate his willingness to pay for, build, and support the military whose job it is to protect his pursuit of the good life.

Today, the foundation of America’s economic and military might is under intense attack by those who would “fundamentally change America”—a change that, in actuality, has been going on for decades. Let’s stand up and reject that slow-motion “change” from liberty to tyranny, and instead renew our allegiance to the Founding Fathers, who engineered a change from tyranny to liberty. The best tribute one can give to our military veterans is to vow to fight for the rediscovery and reinstatement of the ideals that this country stands for: the supreme value of the individual human being, his freedom, and a government whose sole duty is to protect his right to live and prosper for his own sake.

Margaret Thatcher correctly observed: "Europe was created by history. America was created by philosophy." That philosophy--the inalienable individual rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--is what the American veteran fought to defend, for herself and for us all. That is the fight that we all--we, as private citizens who value freedom, with freedom's most potent weapon, our individual voices--should continue at home.

Happy Veterans Day!!

-Mike LaFerrara

Related Viewing:

Why a Free Man Fights—Lt. Col. Scott McDonald, USMC

Monday, November 9, 2020

‘Monkey Up’ a ‘Racist’ Phrase? Only to the Racist Left

When Ron DeSantis won the Florida Republican gubernatorial primary in 2018, he said,

The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases bankrupting the state. That is not going to work. [my emphasis]

DeSantis was referring to the socialistic policies of his Democratic counterpart, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Dennis Prager, quoting from the South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, reported

"Gillum is an unabashed champion of his party's most progressive ideas -- including things like Medicare-for-all single payer health system, abolishing the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and impeaching President Donald Trump." 

Gillum is part of the far Left self-described socialist wing of the Democratic Party, it seems accurate to say. Well, Gillum’s supporters jumped all over DeSantis for his remarks critical of his policies. “Monkey up,” it turns out, is a “racist dog whistle” according to the far Left. 


I’ve heard the term used from time to time all of my life. Someone’s “race”—that is, skin color—never entered my mind. But I thought, maybe I’m missing something. So I looked it up. 

The Free Dictionary defines “monkey up” as “To hack together hardware for a particular task, especially a one-shot job. Connotes an extremely crufty and consciously temporary solution. Compare hack up, kluge up.”

The Urban Dictionary’s Top Definition defines “monkey up” as 

Mess something up. Probably influenced by similar phrases like "monkey around with," "monkey business," and "throw a monkey wrench into." Possibly used as a euphemism for "muck up" by people who consider that already-euphemistic phrase too similar to "fuck up."

There are many ways the word monkey is used as an idiom, including “monkey bars.” Mirriam-Webster, my favorite go-to dictionary, doesn’t list the term “monkey up.” It does have “to make a monkey out of,” which means “to cause (someone) to look very foolish : to make a fool out of (someone).” Netflix even has a movie titled Monkey Up, about a talking monkey. Clearly, few people equate black people with monkeys.

As Prager reports, many of the Leftist accusers claim that historically, blacks have often been equated to monkeys:

The NAACP Florida State conference said that "apes" and "monkey" are "by far the best-known racist references to African-Americans in our national folklore. It's only equal in racial semantics to the 'N-word.'" 

Perhaps. But everywhere I looked, definitions and the way people use the term “monkey up” today conforms to the definitions stated above. It’s clear how DeSantis meant it. He was referring to economic policies that he believes are harmful to people’s economic well-being. Everyone knows what “monkey up” means. It means to “mess up.” More crudely, it’s a polite way of saying “fuck up.” Leftists are good at it. They fuck up the language to evade the responsibity of actually evaluating and rebutting their political opponents’ ideas and opinions objectively.

The accusations are definitely political. But is there some deeper psychological motive involved, at least for some? The Urban Dictionary has an interesting follow up that sheds clarifying light on the Left’s accusations:

The phrase does not have any racial implications, though some have called it a "racist dog-whistle" referring to black people. The dog-whistle metaphor is apt because only a racist who secretly equates monkeys with black people would hear this phrase as having a racial dimension.

This definitely fits the modern New Left. It’s entire agenda is collectivist, largely centered around skin color. Who’s the racist? DeSantis, who used the term innocently? Or his collectivist “dog whistle” accusers on the Left, who see everything through group identity, from gender to sexual orientation to age . . . and to melanin levels (skin color)? The answer is obvious.

Related Reading:

Identity Politics: America’s ‘Pre-Existing Condition’, and the Cure

The Founding Fathers, Not ‘Diversity,’ is the Solution to ‘Our Racialized Society’

How Identity Politics Is Made to Destroy Us By David Horowitz

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

Collectivism vs. Individualism in Letters

The ‘Alt-Right’: The New Left’s Chickens Homecoming.

Fellow Republicans, Don't Sell Your Souls for Bannon and the Alt-Right  By Walter Hudson