Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gay Marriage and Individual Rights

In my Introduction to this blog, I wrote:

“[T]he only real guide to understanding human events, their relationships to one another, and where they may lead us, is to discover the fundamental philosophical and moral principles that drive them: hence, the title of my blog. Discovering them is not always an easy task, but with Objectivism as my frame of reference, that is what I aim to do as I analyze and opine on today's events.”

Ayn Rand wrote: “Abstractions as such do not exist: they are merely man’s epistemological method of perceiving that which exists—and that which exists is concrete.” Since abstractions as such do not exist but are merely mental tools for understanding reality, they must be logically relative to concrete events and facts. Otherwise, they are merely “floating” … disconnected from reality and thus useless. Since my blog is based on the premise that abstract ideas drive human events, my task is to validate my principles with reference to today’s issues.

Put another way, my blog is about the concretization of abstractions. The number one abstract principle that is my driving passion is the concept of individual rights. That abstract reference point is the focus of this post’s analysis of a very controversial subject. It is also a good demonstration of why we need to make full use of our uniquely human conceptual faculty (i.e., our powers of abstraction), and why without abstractions we are essentially “flying blind”.

On January 6, 2010, the Same-Sex Marriage bill went down to a resounding defeat in my rather liberal state of New Jersey. This result should not have happened, and is a case study on the wrong way to advocate for anyone’s rights. On the same day, the New Jersey Star-Ledger foresaw the defeat, pinning the blame on “political missteps”.

For a change, I agree with the Star-Ledger. The gay marriage ban should have been lifted in New Jersey. I agree with the Editors’ stand, but not their murky logic … the source of the cause of the defeat.

The failure was not political, but philosophical. A look at the Editors’ logic exposes the cause of the inability of so many politicians to take a firm stand – the “soft supporters [who] may run for cover”. The Editors lament this spectacle and ask: “How did this bill become such a long-shot in a state where most polls show solid support, and where the Democratic governor and leaders of both houses supported it?” It was indeed a long shot. The bill was defeated by a heavily Democratic State senate by a decisive 20-14 margin (with three abstentions). Why? We need to take a look at the Star-Ledger’s own reasoning.

I am sometimes asked a question such as: “Do you support or oppose gay marriage?” This question misses the point. The question is, does anyone have the right to employ the government’s power of legalized physical force to prohibit two people of the same sex to forge a marriage contract? I firmly and unequivocally believe the answer is no. My personal opinions are irrelevant here. Upholding the right to same-sex marriage no more indicates my support for gay marriage than my defense of a woman’s right to her own body indicates support for abortion; or my defense of the First Amendment indicates support for pornography among consenting adults; or my opposition to Affirmative Action indicates support for racial discrimination.

The basic issue is individual rights, the inalienable sanction to take the actions necessary to achieve one’s long-term goals, well-being, and happiness – so long as those actions don’t involve the violation of the same rights of others. Since rights are held equally and at all times by all people, the state’s legal sanction of a marriage contract between any two consenting adults must necessarily include same-sex couples, if the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause means anything. Of course, a private institution like the Catholic Church has every right to refuse to sanction gay marriage. But it has no right to trample the rights of others who disagree.

My opinions aside, it’s hard to see how a marriage between two gay people violates or presents a threat to the rights of anyone else, as would be the case between, say, the parties in a Mafia hit “contract” or the perpetrators of a fraudulent Ponzi scheme. Since the freedom of contract is derived from the right to life and liberty, the burden of proof is on the anti-gay marriage side to validate its stand. It hasn’t and, in fact, cannot do so.

Yet, it won the day in New Jersey.

When the issue is defined properly, there are no “soft supporters”. Broad abstract principles leave out personal judgements on how one feels about the concrete issue involved. When one declares his allegiance or opposition to an abstract principle, he offers a yardstick by which others can judge his stand on a virtually unlimited number of concrete issues. The principle of individual rights, properly understood, leaves no room for “flirting with both sides”, “winks and nods”, or “hiding”. The Editors demand to “learn where each senator stands on gay marriage”. The proper question is: “Where do you stand on the principle of individual rights?” Each legislator’s answer to that question leads logically to a specific vote on the gay marriage bill, since it is essentially a vote on individual rights. But modern politicians on both sides of the ideological divide recoil against principled stands on any issue.

The idea of individual rights is much broader than any single concrete issue, and it is sometimes not readily apparent how to apply it to some particular concrete issue. Disagreements concerning practical application can and do arise among people who hold, and understand, a given principle. But first, the principle must be clearly identified. By evading it, the debate was focussed narrowly on homosexual marriage. This forced the politicians to declare whether they are for or against “gay marriage” and, by implication, homosexuality as such. But as I stated above, that is not the issue. It should never have come down to that. The senators should have been obliged to take a firm, either/or stand on the paramount question – Do you support or oppose the number one Founding principle of America, unalienable individual rights?

The debate wasn’t properly framed, so it went down to resounding defeat. The supporters such as the “gay rights” group Garden State Equality are partly to blame here. By basing their argument on the premise that they are fighting for “gay rights” rather than the broader principle of individual rights, they undercut their own case by, in effect, fighting for what one correspondent called “SPECIAL rights”. Fromexperience wrote:

“Marriage is not a right -- civil or otherwise.
In five state and DC, homosexuals have been legislatively "awarded" SPECIAL rights through SSM. Those civil unions and domestic partnerships available ONLY to ss couples are ALSO special rights.”

Marriage is a right, but it’s true that marriage is not a fundamental right. It is a derivative of the foundation of all rights – the right to life. As long as the issue is gay rights, the supporters are vulnerable to this line of attack. Fromexperience is correct that rights are not “special” or “legislatively awarded” or applicable only to gays. But he evades the fact that they are unalienable … i.e., based upon the provable metaphysical facts of reality and, thus, inseparable from man qua man, and possessed equally by each and every individual. That includes the right of free association, which includes contractual freedom, including marriage contracts. The government’s role is to enforce those contracts, equally. Defending the SSM bill on this proper basis explodes fromexperience’s argument, because to deny an unalienable right to anyone is to deny the same right to everyone … including the contractual right to heterosexual marriage.

It’s obvious why not only liberals but also conservatives ignore, evade, and refuse to explicitly endorse the principle of unalienable individual rights. The implications for both would expose each side to a withering critique of their entire agenda. Adherence to principle cuts through the fog of pragmatism, and obliterates any chance of having one’s cake and eating it too.

For the liberal, it becomes necessary to explain why gays should have the right to freely contract with each other in marriage but not with their health insurance company. If abortion is a medical procedure that should be decided solely between a woman and her doctor, the basic logic behind Roe v. Wade, then why shouldn’t that same line of reasoning (non-interference by government) apply to all issues regarding healthcare? If the government has no right to force a woman to bear a child or deny gays the right to marry, then why should that woman or that gay person be forced into any government-run “insurance” scheme like Medicare, or forced to buy a policy full of state-mandated coverages or submit to an “individual mandate”, or be denied the right to refuse to pay for emergency room visits by uninsured people?

Likewise, for conservatives, it becomes necessary to explain why international free trade is good with regard to material goods, but not to people (immigration). Why is it wrong to force people to fund the latest liberal welfare scheme, but OK to force them to fund Bush’s Faith-Based Initiatives? And why is it wrong to restrict freedom of speech, except to demand that the FCC crack down on “obscene” material in the media?

The inconsistencies are manifest on both sides, if the principle of individual rights is the yardstick to measure the validity of one’s stand on concrete issues. But the Star-Ledger wants to have it both ways. Thus, the Editors defend the gay marriage bill with vague references to “civil” rights or “gay rights”, as if rights are privileges bestowed by society or possessions specific to some group. By evading the exact nature of rights, the advocates of this bill can uphold gay rights but not medical rights. I offer into evidence the Star-Ledger’s support for the totalitarian "Affordable Health Care for America Act", or HR3962 (and the Senate’s incarnation of ObamaCare), a massive rights-violating monstrosity that makes a mockery of its support for NJ’s SSM bill. If the Editors were to base their call for passage of the Gay Marriage Act on the proper grounds, they would logically have to oppose those healthcare “reform” bills. Both issues are tethered to the principle of individual rights. But, since the Editors don’t really support the actual rights of gays (just “gay rights”), there is no need to reconcile those contradictory positions.

“Unprincipled inconsistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”, to paraphrase Emerson, who got it exactly backwards. Of course, one must be consistent based on the right principles … i.e., ideas consistent with objective, concrete reality. And it’s not always easy and sometimes hard. Loyalty to principles often means defending or advocating that which runs contrary to one’s personal convictions. Think of Voltaire, who once said in defense of free speech: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it.” The preservation of freedom demands nothing less than that kind of conviction. That’s what’s been in play in my mind, as I grappled with this issue in recent years. I have always thought of marriage as a union between one man and one woman. That hasn’t really changed. But, over the years, I’ve had to rethink my stand on certain political issues in order to bring them into line with my passionate belief in the rights of the individual. Gay marriage is one. I was against its legalization, but eventually came to support NJ’s 2002 domestic partnership law and 2006 civil union legalization.

But as fromexperience notes, those laws represent “special rights” and are thus untenable. This has led me to full support of the legalization of same-sex marriage. It is the only stand consistent with the principle of individual rights and of our constitution.

Regardless of what one personally believes about it, the overriding principle relating to gay marriage points unequivocally to only one conclusion – same-sex couples have the same unalienable rights to contractual freedom as heterosexual couples. The law should recognize that fact.

It’s not always easy acting on principle. It often puts one’s political opinions at odds with one’s personal values and morals. Announcing one’s fundamental beliefs … wearing one’s moral principles on one’s sleeves, so to speak, as I do on this blog … exposes one to the judgement of others by one’s own standards. This is as it should be. One way to avoid that personal responsibility as well as the inevitable (and proper) judgements of others is to simply run from abstract principles, and declare that anything goes on the whim of any moment or issue. That’s the tactic employed by both sides in this debate, including the Star-Ledger Editors. This “pragmatic” approach enables political factions and pressure groups to battle in a domestic civil war, each vowing to grab some political or economic advantage at the expense of others based upon some newly minted group “right”.

But it should be remembered that we owe the very existence of our America to a revolutionary group of men who pledged “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor” on a radical set of political principles to forge history’s greatest and most moral country ever. Principles are crucial. That is why the principle of individual rights must be placed at the political center stage. It is the means of stemming the aggression of rights violators who seek to impose their own moral judgements on others. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law. Put another way, the abstraction “individual rights” is the means of stopping anyone from taking the concrete actions of physically preventing a survivor from inheriting the pension benefits of his same-sex deceased partner or another from visiting his same-sex partner in a hospital … i.e., from signing a concrete marriage contract.

The concrete gay marriage bill failed for lack of a proper defense – the abstract moral concept of individual rights.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The ObamaCare Nightmare - Finally Over?

The New York Times is reporting that:

"With no clear path forward on major health care legislation, Democratic leaders in Congress effectively slammed the brakes on President Obama’s top domestic priority on Tuesday, saying that they no longer felt pressure to move quickly on a health bill after eight months of setting deadlines and missing them."

The Democrats' last-ditch effort to save ObamaCare by ramming it through using parliamentary gimmicks has collapsed, prompting Harry Reid to say "“We’re not on health care now... There is no rush".

I'm no political pundit, but I read the Dems' sudden go-slow approach as meaning there will be no health care legislation until after the election ... if at all.

This is an incredible turn of events.

The danger now is the Republicans. Will they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

Despite being vastly outnumbered in congress, they are in the driver's seat. This is more by accident than by design. The defeat of ObamaCare was entirely a grassroots, Tea Party affair. Still, they have the incredibly powerful tailwind of overwhelming public opposition to the Democrats and their attempted hostile government takeover of American medicine behind them. What will they do with it?

The danger is that they will compromise with the Democrats in the "spirit of bipartisonship", giving us ObamaCare light. This is the failed approach that will continue the decades-long trend of incremental socialism. If this happens, the Democrats will have won.

My hope is that somewhere within the GOP, leadership will emerge with the guts to lead the party into the 2010 midterm elections not by catering to the so-called "middle", but by laying out a true pro-capitalist, pro-individual alternative to ObamaCare. Most Americans have no real idea what that means. But the Tea Party Movement, though fractured philosophically, has the undercurrent suited to that approach. That undercurrent can best be summed up with the phrase: "Don't tread on me!"

In short, the political raw material is there. Will the Republicans seize the moment?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Objectivist Review of "Goddess"

The Objective Standard has published a review of one of the two new Ayn Rand biographies by an Objectivist intellectual.

Robert Mayhew writes:

As [author Jennifer] Burns has no personal ax to grind, is a professor of history, and had nearly unprecedented access to the Ayn Rand Archives, those interested in Rand had reason to expect Burns’s book to tell much about the life and thought—especially the political thought—of the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

What readers might have expected—what such a book could have been—is a presentation of the development of Ayn Rand’s political thought and its basis in her more fundamental philosophy, a history of her political activities and interactions with others on the right explained largely in terms of her philosophy, and a discussion of how she compares to others on the right in terms of essentials. The successful execution of such a project would not require agreement with Rand’s philosophy or political views; but it would require at least a basic understanding of, and interest in, her philosophical fundamentals and her arguments for her political ideas. Burns, however, has no grasp of or interest in Rand’s philosophical ideas or arguments, and chose to write a different sort of biography.

For example, Mr. Mayhew writes, Burns presented Rand's thought as the result of deterministic influences, and discusses her political thought with virtually no reference to her extensive philosophical system. "Crucial aspects of Rand’s political theory—such as the evil of the initiation of force, the distinction between economic and political power, and the principles underlying such ideas—are given short shrift..."

While I have not read the book, I have no reason to believe that this reviewer does not accurately portray the content of the book. In fact, my review of another review of Burns' book (by someone hostile to Ayn Rand) confirms Mr. Mayhew's conclusions.

In addition, I have read many critiques of Rand, and posted on some, in recent months and have found a common thread running throughout - an out right failure, for one reason or another, to portray or confront Objectivism fairly and honestly. This is frustrating and sometimes infuriating. But it does speak well of the power and logic of Rand's thought.

Friday, January 22, 2010

"The Declaration of Independents"

Through his organization Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM), Dr. Paul Hsieh has worked tirelessly to defeat ObamaCare and promote the only viable alternative - a free market in medicine. Largely due to his efforts and the inspiration he has given to so many others (including yours truly), we defenders of Lady Liberty have blown a mammoth hole in the Democrats' seemingly unstoppable drive toward socialized medicine.

As I've said before, the Brown stunner was a Tea Party phenomenon, which is a movement by and for Independents. The Tea Party Movement is now firmly entrenched in the electoral process. Republican gubernatorial victors in Virginia and New Jersey carried the Independent vote by 2 - 1 margins, and Scott Brown grabbed an astounding 3/4 of the Independent vote in Massachusetts.

Investor's Business Daily's Terry Jones calls Independents a true third party, broadly defined by economic and social freedom. They are currently the largest and fastest growing voting bloc, as Americans increasingly abandon the bankrupt major parties.

In light of these developments, Dr. Hsieh has published his latest op-ed. Taking a break from the subject of healthcare, he offers his take on the recent elections in a cleverly, and aptly, titled piece, Brown’s Victory: The Declaration of Independents.

His concluding remarks offer advice and a warning to the Republicans, if they are to capitalize on the powerful grassroots forces now unleashed:

"From the tea party protests to the polling booths, independents have been declaring that they want a limited government that protects individual rights.

The Republicans have won an important victory in Massachusetts — one that will reverberate throughout the country as the 2010 election cycle heats up. But they shouldn’t get overconfident.

If Republicans choose to run on a platform of limited government, economic freedom, and individual rights, then they will retain the support of the independents and win. But if they take these recent election victories as a mandate to promote a divisive “social issues” agenda, then they’ll once again drive away the independents and lose.

The independents have spoken — and they want the Democrats out of their pockets and the Republicans out of their bedrooms.

Will our politicians listen?"

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Now?

It’s hard to overstate the significance of the Brown victory in Massachusetts. This is an incredible moment in American history. Obama statism has hit a wall, at least for now. The political and ideological vacuum I wrote about in my New Year’s commentary has widened significantly.

As I stated yesterday, this election was a win for the Tea Party Movement (TPM), not for the Republican Party. I believe that the Democrat electoral surge of 2006 and 2008, and the accompanying but brief surge of Leftwing legislative initiatives in Washington may well have signaled the last political gasp of socialism in America.

This does not mean, however, that the trend toward socialism will now end. Socialism has been dead as an ideal since the end of World War II, and especially since the collapse of the Soviet Empire. Yet it keeps reappearing, like a vampire in the night. Why? It has been advancing by default of a committed pro-capitalist political alternative.

Remember that the most recent lurch toward statism that triggered the TPM began with Bush. The Obama Administration accelerated an established trend and, more importantly, gave it intellectual clarity. The result of that clarity was the TPM. But the TPM is not just anti-Democrat, but anti-statism. As such, it is also largely anti-Republican, as well.

I foresaw the rebellion that I believed Obama would trigger, but the strength and startling rapidity of its success was well beyond my most optimistic expectations. This is a testament to the residual strength of the individualist American spirit that gave birth to this country. John David Lewis, in an Objective Standard piece entitled Obama’s Atomic Bomb: The Ideological Clarity of the Democratic Agenda, very presciently wrote last September:

Obama’s image as a radical leftist is accurate. Obama’s great vulnerability is that a silent majority of American voters will see this, and will recognize that he does not share either their values or their vision of what America was and should be. Although only a minority of Americans has joined in the [Tea Party] protests, many more are silently stewing over Obama’s agenda. As one writer put it, “It is not, in the end, the demonstrators in those town hall meetings or the agitation of his political enemies that Mr. Obama should fear. It is the judgment of those Americans who have been sitting quietly in their homes, listening to him.”13

This is the clarity that Obama has brought to the American political scene. To see a president’s clear and principled commitment to an ideology—any ideology—is precisely what America has needed for decades. This sight has helped many people understand the issues at a more fundamental level than they ever have. Obama and his congressional allies have unwittingly launched a grass-roots movement that is actively questioning the role of government in our lives. Although a large portion of the protesters remains confused about the principles at stake, an increasing number are gaining clarity. They are coming to see the Democratic proposals for health-care “reform,” for instance, not as a matter of new programs backed by good intentions, but as an attack on individual rights and an effort to impose a dictatorship—as signs at tea parties attest. And many are beginning to see that the Republicans as well have been guilty of such attacks.

Clarity is the first step toward understanding, and understanding is the prerequisite to rational evaluation. For three generations now, America has needed a blunt confrontation with the policies that have been leading the nation toward dictatorship and into bankruptcy. Such confrontations were stillborn in 1940, 1964, and 1980 because in each case Republicans failed to stand up, on principle, for capitalism, liberty, and individual rights. Republicans repeatedly collapsed into the quicksand of compromise and accepted the welfare state principles of their opponents while arguing about the “proper” amount of government coercion they would enact. The trend toward statism continued, because the incremental steps accepted by Republicans obscured the stark difference between America’s founding vision and its statist future.

Obama has given active-minded Americans a close-up view of this future. His vision—a government bureaucracy to administer medicine, an environmental agency to shackle industry, and the institutional mechanisms for bringing the government into the most intimate details of our lives—is where we have been headed for decades. But until now this destination has been hidden by the smoke and mirrors of rhetorical obfuscation. Obama’s strident efforts to impose this agenda are enabling people to see that future with clarity.

The lesson of the recent elections is that the “silent majority of American voters” now see it clearly. They are “silently stewing” no longer. The socialist/statist Obama agenda has been dealt a severe, if not a mortal, blow. The only thing that can save it now are the Republicans, if they repeat the mistakes of 1940, 1964, and 1980 – the three ultimately failed 20th century conservative waves.

The Tea Party Movement has the potential to fill the ideological vacuum, and kill the vampire of American collectivism once and for all. What it needs is a coherent political voice. In that regard, the TPM is tailor made for the Republican Party, if it has the courage to seize the opportunity. That will take nothing less than a Philosophical Contract with America, coupled with a comprehensive political platform of concrete proposals to implement those Contract principles.

The time is now. The GOP is riding the Tea Party wave and the Obama collapse toward big wins in November 2010. But the victories will be hollow and ultimately counter-productive without the kind of mandate only an ideologically clear pro-individual rights/pro-capitalist/pro-limited government agenda can give them.

It’s time for the Republican Party to match Obama’s radical-Left “Atomic Bomb” clarity with a radical-Right clarity of its own. It's time for the GOP to finally fulfill Barry Goldwater's pledge. It’s time the American people were given “A Choice, not an Echo”.

America desperately needs it.

Comrade Kennedy, Rest in Peace

What a difference a year makes!

On inauguration day, January 20th, 2009, Barack Obama and his congressional super-majority roared into power vowing to set the nation on a new course.

Today, January 20th, 2010, the stunned Democrats are nursing their wounds after having lost the senate seat once held for 47 years by the number one liberal icon of the past half century, Ted Kennedy. Their statist healthcare agenda is crumbling, salvageable now only through possible political dirty tricks. A catastrophic mid-term election is looming in just 9+ months, signaled by a monumental electoral upset in the most liberal state in the nation.

The Left is reeling.

In so short a time, the tide has turned. And it turned with no help from a me-too Republican Party still floundering for lack of any coherent philosophical/political message.

This was a seismic defeat for the Democrats. This was the end of the Kennedy myth. This was real change.

But, it was no victory for the GOP.

Welcome to the grassroots Tea Party rebellion!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Independents: "On the Move"

“The sweeping countrywide victories of 2006 and 2008 that gave Democrats their congressional majorities were built largely on new-found support among independents, the fastest-growing segment of the electorate.

“No matter who wins Tuesday, the Coakley-Brown race suggests independents are on the move again, this time toward the GOP. In the process, they’ve transformed what should have been a purely local election into a national test.”

So wrote long-time political observer John Farmer of the NJ Star-Ledger (Massachusetts Senate race scares the Democrats, win or lose). Remember that the Tea Party Movement is driven by and for Independents and independent-minded Republicans and even Democrats. The traditional Republican sector, including its leadership, is largely behind the historical curve here – seeming utterly clueless as to the meaning of the Tea Party phenomenon or how to exploit it. Tellingly, “Brown has tried to distance himself from the national GOP on issues…” reports Mr. Farmer.

Meanwhile, President Obama has exposed the desperation of the Democrats by travelling to Massachusetts at the eleventh hour to pull Coakley across a finish line thought to be out of reach of any Republican just a few weeks ago. Charles Hurt, writing in the NY Post, said:

“They just don't get that inside is out here. President Obama's emergency rescue mission to save Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley could prove to be the final nail in her already-closing political coffin as this race -- Coakley's ongoing circus of gaffes aside -- is shaping up to be a bitter fight between the blessed insiders and scorned outsiders.

“[The outsider tag] worked for [Obama] two years ago, but not today. Not now that he and his fellow Democrats control every conceivable lever of power in Washington.

And certainly not for Coakley, who has built her entire campaign around being the chosen successor to the ‘Kennedy seat.’ ”

“Be careful what you wish for” etc., goes the old saying. On 10/31/08, the eve of the presidential election, I wrote:

“Obama is an unabashed socialist. He is a clear target.

“With Obama in the White House and a Democratic congress, the Left’s agenda will take explicit center stage. This will open the door to a full exposure of the true authoritarian nature of their designs on America. Rather than sneaking their freedom-eroding agenda into law piecemeal under stealth cover of a Republican administration, the Dems will have nowhere to hide.”

Nowhere to hide, indeed! They swept to a dominant majority in the House, and a filibuster-proof 60-40 super-majority in the Senate. But far from riding a popular mandate to easy enactment of their openly statist agenda, the authoritarian fishbowl they now find themselves in has them trapped with nowhere to hide. Americans, the Dems are finding out, elected the empty suit, Barack Obama. They did not elect Left Wing statism.

Now, as Michael Barone argues in another NY Post column, that lopsided congressional power has become a curse as the Democrats attempt to ram their healthcare bills through. The old Obama magic is working in reverse as his popularity shrivels. Mr. Barone writes:

“Obama was supposed to be a great persuader. It turns out that's only half true. He did persuade most of us that he should be president. But in Year One, he has failed to get most of us to support his major proposals. He's even moved us in the other direction. That's clear, whatever happens in Massachusetts.”

By some accounts, the national Democrats are already writing off the senate seat, and turning their focus to trickery to sneak their healthcare bill across. Michael Barone writes:

“But their bill isn't going to pass if Brown is elected. Some Democrats are talking about delaying his swearing in and passing a bill in the meantime. Doing that in open defiance of the clearly expressed views of (Massachusetts!) voters would touch off a political firestorm unlike any we've seen since Richard Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox.”

Meanwhile, on the ground as we head into tomorrow’s election, Brown’s momentum still seems intact. The latest poll (and final by this organization) has Brown up 51-46%, and Fox News reported tonight that Brown continues to pull huge, enthusiastic crowds compared to Coakley’s anemic gatherings – a good harbinger.

Get ready for an interesting Tuesday night.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Election Update

The fallout from the Democrats’ corrupt buy-off of the Union special interest group, which I alluded to yesterday, has begun.

Posting over at Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine (FIRM), Paul Hsieh reports: “Even the normally liberal Denver Post has come out against the ObamaCare proposal.”

Quoting from the Post’s editorial:

“From the wildly improper gifts to senators like Nebraska's Ben Nelson to this week's backroom deals for unions, the so-called health care reform emerging from Washington has become bad medicine for America and ought to be rejected. Quickly.

“Unbelievably, the bill got even worse this past week when lawmakers agreed to exempt union workers from paying taxes that other workers will have to pay for years.”

Hsieh concludes:

“I'm glad to see that the corrupt favor-trading and deal-making has become so apparent that even supporters of "universal health care" are against this particular bad proposal.

“If by some political miracle ObamaCare is defeated, another version will inevitably be proposed. But at least it will have bought more time for free-market advocates to continue to make their case to the American people and our elected officials.”

That’s what we’re fighting for right now – time.

Unfortunately, the Democrats’ corruption is matched only by the Republicans’ inept failure to seize the Tea Party Moment and put forth a genuine, comprehensive free market health care reform alternative that includes rolling back existing problem-causing government policies.

As to the union deal, let me say that as a lifelong union member, I am utterly appalled at this deal the so-called union leaders forged with the Democrats. They’re supposed to be defending the interests of their members. But this deal is blatantly un-American, as it makes a mockery of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution (Amendment XIV, Section I) which says that “No state [shall] deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” It’s clear that the intent of the 14th Amendment is not limited to state laws. Cornell University Law School says that:

“The 14th amendment is not by its terms applicable to the federal government. Actions by the federal government, however, that classify individuals in a discriminatory manner will, under similar circumstances, violate the due process of the Fifth Amendment.”

A union that tramples the US Constitution is not looking out for the rights or interests of its members. I oppose the tax on so-called “Cadillac health insurance plans”, but the larger issue is that even a bad law must be applied uniformly if our freedom is to be protected from arbitrary government power, an essential ingredient of tyranny. The Post puts it simply:

“Unions bitterly opposed the Senate's tax on the so-called "Cadillac" health insurance plans that many union workers enjoy. In private meetings with the White House and President Obama this week, union chiefs won a deal in which workers with high-end insurance don't have to pay the tax for five years.

“The reasoning is that union members need the time to negotiate with management for contracts that adjust for the new taxes. Fair enough, but why doesn't that protection apply equally for those workers who aren't members of unions?”

The obvious influence peddling is sure to sway even more voters into the Brown column, or at least into the stay-at-home, disgusted voter column. A Massachusetts Miracle that blows up ObamaCare is a real possibility.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Massachusetts Miracle?

A voter revolt over ObamaCare is brewing.

Barely a year after the inauguration of Barrack Obama as president and his Party’s huge congressional majorities, the Democrats’ window of opportunity for enactment of their radical statist agenda is rapidly closing.

Following on the heals of the emergence of the Tea Party Movement and the November Republican gubernatorial victories comes an increasing likelihood that Republican Scott Brown will shock the political world by defeating Democrat Martha Coakley in the special Massachusetts Senatorial election coming up on 1/19/10. Writing in the New York Post, Charles Hurt reports:

Riding a wave of opposition to President Obama's push for health-care reform, the Republican candidate seeking to fill Ted Kennedy's old Massachusetts Senate seat has surged into the lead, a surprising new poll showed late yesterday.

"It's a Brown-out," David Paleologos, director of Suffolk's Political Research Center, told the Boston Herald. "It's a massive change in the political landscape."

While the difference falls within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 points, if it holds it would be a stunning upset in a Democratic stronghold, and would likely scuttle Obama's efforts to overhaul the nation's health-care system.

A Brown win would break the Democrats’ filibuster-proof 60-vote majority. Significantly, Brown has made ObamaCare the centerpiece of his campaign. Considering the fact that ObamaCare is modeled after RomneyCare, the Massachusetts universal health plan named for its former Republican governor, this is astounding. In early January, as Brown began his surge, Rand Simberg noted over at Pajamas Media:

"If a Republican running against ObamaCare managed to pick up the seat of Ted Kennedy, or even come close to doing so, it would be a political earthquake of Richter 8+. What would that say about the popularity of the bill if it wasn’t even a winning issue in the state that had the most first-hand experience with it, not to mention in the election to replace the senator who had been a leading proponent of it? It would make it very difficult for the Democrats to continue to delude themselves that this legislation is a winning issue in the country at large, if it clearly wasn’t in one of the bluest of the blue states."

David Gratzer writes:

[A Coakley win] should be a forgone conclusion in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-to-1…

Yet, in recent polling, there's been a major shift. In an early January poll, Rasmussen Reports found Brown narrowing a 31-point gap to a single digit…

[The election is] turning into a referendum … on approval of the White House's health care management.”

Why the shift? Bay State voters may be decidedly liberal, but they understand a thing or two about sweeping health reforms, having passed their own legislation back in 2006. An expansion of Medicaid, subsidies for those with low income, an insurance exchange, a mandate for individuals to buy insurance -- all of these ideas that are core to Obamacare already passed in the Bay State a few years ago.

And, by all accounts, the experiment has been problematic. Yes, the total number of uninsured has dropped. But insurance premiums soared, boasting double-digit annual increases. The Boston Globe recently proclaimed that Massachusetts now has the highest insurance costs in the country.

Needless to say, state officials are at a loss -- and on the hook. Program spending is about 85 percent higher than originally projected. Recently discussed proposals include a return to managed care-like capitation and even price controls.

Next week, Massachusetts voters go to the ballot box in a close election. The Democrat will probably win, but if a state that voted for Obama over McCain by 26 percentage points has hesitation on government-heavy health reforms, Democrats are in for an unpleasant election year.

That was written on 1/13/10. Since then, the polls have continued to show Brown momentum. And what will be the polling fallout from the Democrats' special interest cave-in to the unions on the taxing of "cadillac" health plans?

The Dems are in a tight spot. Desperate to hold onto the seat, President Obama has decided to take the risky step of campaigning for Coakley, a move that could backfire. This was a 180 degree switch, but apparently made necessary by Brown’s momentum which enabled him to overcome a 30 point Coakley lead in just a few weeks. On 1/12/10, Charles Hurt reported:

"Obama's decision to stay out of the contest sparked speculation that he won't campaign in the state because of fears his slipping popularity would do Coakley more harm than good…"

Brown’s lead is small. But the very fact that a Republican could be this close in such a liberal stronghold is evidence of the depth of the Democrats’ political troubles. What’s more, Brown has a huge lead among Independents… as much as 71%-23% in one poll.

I don’t know much about him yet, but from what I’ve read, Brown appears to be a very mixed bag philosophically, and is probably not the kind of Republican that can draw me back to the GOP. But at this critical time, with ObamaCare racing to squeeze through a window slamming shut, any short-term opportunity that can stall the bill will likely kill it.

From the longer-term perspective, the Tea Party Movement is emerging into the political arena and could be signaling a 2010 mid-term GOP election tsunami … or, more precisely, a monumental Democrat sinkhole. This Tuesday’s Massachusetts election should be very telling.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best of 2009

2009 was a tumultuous year, and I had fun writing about it on this blog. The year provided so much intellectual fodder for commentary that I frequently didn't know
which way to turn next. Here is a diverse sampling of some of my favorites.

A vision of what the coming Obama Administration's political agenda would look like was as easy as predicting tomorrow's sunrise. In Obama's Inaugural Speech- A Call to Statist Arms, Obama's operational tactics - which he portrays in somewhat abstract terms - are analyzed and explained.

In my post, "Tear Down This Wall", I acknowledged the 20th anniversary of an event that must rank with the top historical events of all time.

The stunning surge in interest in Ayn Rand and her novel Atlas Shrugged was a huge cultural phenomenon in America. That is the subject of Is Atlas Shrugging?

The rise of the Christian Left gathered political momentum in 2009. Obama's Christian Strategy discusses Barrack Obama's strategy to cash in on it.

For the past century or more, statism has advanced more or less steadily in America, in the face of a Conservatism impotent to stop it. In Part 1 and Part 2 of my review of Conservative icon Mark R. Levin's best selling Liberty and Tyranny, the reasons for that failure are demonstrated.

The Battle for the Moral High Ground explains why capitalism's proponents must cast off the failed Conservative strategies of the past and embrace the moral case for capitalism.

A is A, and Socialism by any Other Name... explodes the preposterous claim that ObamaCare is not socialism.

What is money? Understanding the role of money in human affairs, and from where its value derives, is vital to understanding economic issues. Healthcare and the Role of Money briefly addresses three aspects of that question as they relate to President Obama's top domestic priority.

The dangerous philosophy of President Obama's first Supreme Court nominee is the subject of Sotomayor, Mr. Spock, and A Government of Men

With Cap & Trade legislation pending before Congress, Environmentalism was very much on the front burner in 2009 (so to speak). Environmentalism's nature and the anti-man message of "Earth Day" is the subject of The "Anti-Industrial Revolution" Rolls On

Honoring American Heroes...Forgetting American Ideals is a good concrete example of the destructive contradictory premises held by too many Americans.

The year started with Obama flying high, and ended with the president afraid to campaign for the Democrat Coakley (running against the Republican Brown) in the Massachusetts 1/19/10 special Senate election - because of his unpopularity! This was a shocking (though not to me) collapse in less than a year. Why? Obama won the election, but Obama statism did not. Arguably, the biggest and potentially most significant political development in decades was the emergence of the powerful rebellion against Democrat statism called the Tea Party Movement. My wife Kathy, daughter Susan, and yours truly engaged in our first experience as street demonstrators. Our experience regarding the 9/12/09 Washington, DC Tea Party is layed out by Susan and I on our respective blogs, complete with pictures and all. See My jump into activism and DC Trip from Sue, and 9.12.09 - Here We Go and Some Post - DC Observations.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

ObamaCare - "Mandated to Fail"

With the Senate passage of its version of ObamaCare, the draconian enactment of the president’s dream of “meaningful healthcare reform” appears all but certain. The battle, then, will shift to the next level – building support for full repeal coupled with the presentation of a comprehensive and philosophically consistent alternative.

For supporters of the free market, there are two crucially important questions that must be asked and answered as we go forward. First, what is the nature and purpose of the Democrat’s plan? Second, how did we get to the precipice of socialized medicine despite overwhelming American public opposition to socialism?

NJ Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine does a pretty good job of answering the first question. ObamaCare is designed to fail. It is a fascist bill. The government will gain almost total control over American medicine, even though ownership of insurance companies, hospitals, the medical providers, product manufacturers, etc., will remain in private hands. This will give the illusion of a private, market-based system. When the government-controlled system, which is riddled with perverse incentives, fails, the free market will be blamed. Mr. Mulshine writes:

“The Democrats’ biggest accomplishment of this decade was getting a package through both houses of Congress mandating that every American have health insurance.

“Their biggest accomplishment of the next decade will be watching it fail. Then they can get what they really want, a government takeover of health care.

“That’s my prediction. It’s based on what I call the Frito-Lay theory of health reform: Mandates are like potato chips; you can’t have just one.”

Mr. Mulshine gives a brief description of how government controls (in this case in the form of mandates) lead to more and more government controls, citing New Jersey’s experience with auto insurance mandates in the 1970s which almost left the state without any auto insurers. He relates that experience to the individual health insurance mandate and its logical consequences. He concludes:

“ ‘It just becomes a never-ending game of cat-and-mouse,’ said [the Cato Institute’s Michael] Cannon. ‘When you force people to behave in these ways, some do what they’re told, but enough of them do what they can to avoid the mandates so that you end up doing more harm than good.’ ”

“Of course, that depends what you mean by ‘harm.’ Liberal Democrats will look over the wreckage and say, ‘See? We told you this would happen if you left it up to private insurers.’ Then we’ll get the public option after all. And eventually it will grow to become something close to a single-payer system.”

“But if the individual mandate survives, the government takeover of the health care system will arrive as surely as death and taxes, but in the opposite order.”

This is classic statism creep – American style. First cripple an industry and hamper its market segment with a government monkey wrench. Then, when it can’t function, declare it a failure and hold government up as the “solution” of last resort. In this case, the public “option”.

So how does an opponent fight back? Mr. Mulshine reports on one method - the legal challenge:

“The only way to halt this is to halt the individual mandate. Many conservative legal scholars are now working on ways to challenge it in the courts. Their central argument is that the federal government lacks the authority under the U.S. Constitution to order a citizen to enter into a contract with a private commercial entity.

“Whether the Supreme Court will accept that argument remains to be seen.”

The individual mandate certainly is unconstitutional, and perhaps the courts will agree … perhaps. But for the past century plus, the courts have on balance undermined and ignored the constitution. Nowhere does the constitution grant to the government what President Obama calls “redistributive change” authority. Wealth and income redistribution is the economic essence of socialism. In other words, the entire welfare state establishment is unconstitutional, as even Obama implicitly acknowledges. That hasn’t stopped its advance.

This leads us to the second, and more fundamental, question that we must answer. For that, I would point to a recent IBD op-ed by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins entitled Memo To Foes Of Health Reform: Repudiate The Morality Of Need. After a brief description of the utilitarian argument opponents of “reform” have relied on to demonstrate the practical failures of socialized medicine, they write:

“[The opponents] were right — yet it looks like Obama will get his bill.

“Why? Consider the history of government involvement in health care.

“In the 1960s there was a perception that some elderly were not receiving adequate health care. To meet this need, Congress passed Medicare. The same concern was voiced about the poor. To meet their need, Congress passed Medicaid.

“The same concern was voiced about those too destitute (or too irresponsible) to buy health insurance, and in the '80s Congress passed the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, forcing emergency rooms to treat anyone who needed medical attention, regardless of their ability to pay.

“The same concern was voiced about parents who were too well off for Medicare, but who nevertheless couldn't meet their children's health care needs, and in the late '90s Congress passed the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

“The message is clear: If you have a need, you are entitled to have it fulfilled at others' expense.

“The reason we continue to move toward socialized medicine is that everyone — including the opponents of socialized medicine — grants its basic moral premise: that need generates an entitlement.”

The God of Need is my phrase to describe that moral premise. This is the crucial point that free market forces need desperately to grasp. The battle for freedom in medicine will not be won or lost on the utilitarian argument of what “works” best. Nor will it be decided in the courts (although a victorious legal challenge can buy us time).

The decisive arena is the moral battleground. All of the Democrats’ artillery is positioned there. It’s all they’ve got. They completely ignore the fact that government is the cause of all of the problems of the healthcare status quo. They won’t allow in the argument for the free market/individual rights alternative to the status quo. They lose on both counts. They know they can’t win in those arenas. But, they don’t have to. As long as their Republican opponents operate under a self-imposed unilateral moral disarmament, the Democrats can wield the most potent political weapon around – the moral high ground.

Mr. Brook and Mr. Watkins write:

“So long as that principle goes unchallenged, government intervention in medicine will continue growing, as each new pressure group asserts its need and lobbies for its entitlement, until finally the government takes responsibility for fulfilling everyone's medical needs by socializing the health care system outright.

“The only way to effectively oppose socialized health care is to reject the morality of need in favor of a genuinely American alternative. According to the American ideal, men are not their brother's keeper — we are independent individuals with inalienable rights to support our own lives and happiness by our own efforts.

“That means taking responsibility for your own medical needs, just as you take responsibility for your grocery shopping and car payments. It means no one can claim that his need entitles him to your time, effort, or wealth.”

One saving grace in the bill is that enactment will be a long, drawn-out multi-year affair. There is ample time to build the kind of individual rights-based political strategy that I have been advocating. This requires a rejection of the God of Need. As we move toward enactment of ObamaCare, there is little sign that the GOP will base their 2010 election strategy on challenging the altruistic moral premise it is based upon.

But rolling back and repealing not only ObamaCare but also all of the destructive government intrusions into medicine that have built up over the decades will require the kind of political courage needed to pick up the challenge Brook and Watkins hurl at the American Right:

“Where is the willingness to defend this ideal by saying, ‘Your health care is your responsibility — and if you truly cannot afford the care you need, then you must ask for private charity — not pick your neighbor's pocket to pay for it’?

“Those who truly want to fight against socialized medicine in America must realize that it's time to drop the morality of need and proudly say: I am not my brother's health care provider.”

Monday, January 4, 2010

Aborting "CO2 Machines"

“But can we get away with it?” asked Wesley Mouch. His voice was high with anger and thin with fear.

It was Eugene Lawson who answered. “That’s not, it seems to me, the way to put it. We must not let vulgar difficulties obstruct our feeling that it’s a noble plan motivated solely by the public welfare. It’s for the good of the people.”

“It’s obvious that measures have to be taken. Drastic measures,” said James Taggart, speaking … to Wesley Mouch. “We can’t let things go the way they’re going much longer.” His voice was belligerent and shaky.

“Take it easy, Jim,” said Orren Boyle.

“Something’s got to be done and done fast!”

“Don’t look at me,” snapped Wesley Mouch. “I can’t help it. I can’t help it if people refuse to co-operate. I’m tied. I need wider powers.”

The above is a fictional account of a group of high-ranking government officials and prominent businessmen pondering a vast increase in government power over the people in response to a national economic emergency. The concrete particulars differ, but the same mindset is prevalent among today’s real government officials who gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the recently concluded (and ultimately failed) Climate Conference.

The drive to put in place draconian worldwide carbon curbs through massive expansions of government controls over energy production, the lifeblood of our economic lives, has taken on an hysterical urgency. The sentiment that “Something’s got to be done and done fast!” is allegedly because of an impending climactic cataclysm. But the real cataclysm, for the Copenhagen gang, is that the entire global warming fraud is unraveling at an accelerating pace. It’s only a matter of time before public opinion catches up with the scientific facts.

That is because the emperor is naked, and always has been. Global warming, to the extent is has occurred in recent centuries, is mostly (if not entirely) a natural phenomenon. To the extent that human activity has contributed to climate change, it is a necessary and benevolent by-product of man’s productive activities … activities that have vastly improved the environment. Improved, that is, from the standpoint of human beings as a value. But that is not the way Environmentalist theorists and fundamentalists see it. Improvements in man’s living conditions (man’s environment) are not a value, according to them.

EPA stands for Environmental Protection Agency. The very name implies antagonism toward human needs, to put it mildly. “Protection” from what? From human exploitation of the world’s natural resources, which are said to have intrinsic value in their “natural” state. But man’s mode of survival, unique among Earth’s living species, is to transform nature’s elements to fit human needs and comfort. To the extent that the environment is “protected” by force from transformation by man, is the extent to which man’s ability to survive and flourish is harmed. This is the real, sinister purpose behind environmental protection. Since man is by nature a rational, productive being, there is only one way to protect the environment from human control. How? Control humans. Individual freedom is the social condition that unleashes people to exploit the environment and prosper. To stop that exploitation, freedom must be curtailed. There is no other way. Either men are free to control nature, or men control men.

This is what Copenhagen is all about. But regardless of what policies come out of Denmark, the US Environmental Protection Agency is way ahead of the curve. The “wider powers” Wesley Mouch demanded came in the form of Directive 10-289. The wider powers the EPA has acquired dwarfs the fictional Directive 10-289, and in fact exceeds that of the elected branches of government. Ayn Rand’s terrifying vision of America’s future under current trends is within sight.

Iain Murray and Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute reported on the EPA’s efforts to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) as a pollutant, based upon its determination “that global warming, allegedly caused by mankind's burning of fossil fuels, endangers public health.” This is an enormous power grab – so big, in fact, that it grants them “more power than even they think they can handle.” Murray and Lewis write:

“The EPA already holds massive power to stop energy projects. It has used its regulatory powers to hold up the construction of new coal, gas, nuclear and even renewable-power plants and electricity-transmission lines around the country.

“Yesterday's finding will much expand those powers. It will trigger a regulatory avalanche that vastly expand the number of activities that require EPA permitting

“The EPA recognizes the danger. It has issued a ‘tailoring rule’ that warns that if PSD and Title V are applied ‘literally’ to CO2 emissions, the permitting programs will crash under their own weight…

“Realizing that this would still produce a thunderous political backlash, the EPA wrote the ‘tailoring rule’ to limit its regulation of CO2…”

But once the power is embedded in a government agency, its exercise is a foregone conclusion. All it awaits is some future Wesley Mouch demanding, “I need wider powers”. They write:

“That is, the EPA is trying to acquire the extra powers from the endangerment finding, while avoiding the accompanying duty of regulating small businesses.” And the power derived from regulating CO2 as a pollutant is an awesome power at that, going much beyond the regulatory crippling of small business.

Physics Professor William Happer of Princeton University is an expert in the phenomenon underlying the entire global warming issue, the greenhouse effect. In the opening remarks of his illuminating congressional testimony in February 2009 (which is well worth reading in its entirety), Mr. Happer stated:

“I am not a climatologist, but I don’t think any of the other witnesses are either. I do work in the related field of atomic, molecular and optical physics. I have spent my professional life studying the interactions of visible and infrared radiation with gases – one of the main physical phenomena behind the greenhouse effect. I have published over 200 papers in peer reviewed scientific journals. I am a member of a number of professional organizations, including the American Physical Society and the National Academy of Sciences. I have done extensive consulting work for the US Government and Industry. I also served as the Director of Energy Research at the Department of Energy (DOE) from 1990 to 1993, where I supervised all of DOE’s work on climate change.”

Impressive credentials. Here is what he says about the regulation of CO2, as reported in a NJ Star-Ledger column by Paul Mulshine:

So why the emphasis on CO2?

Simple. "If you want to get rid of CO2, you want to get rid of people," he said.

We humans are CO2 machines. Every breath you exhale has more than 100 times the carbon dioxide of the air you inhaled. And almost everything you do generates CO2 in one way or another.

In Happer’s opinion, the carbon-control movement is really a population-control movement. He traces it back through the "Population Bomb" movement of the late 1960s all the way to the 18th-century writings of Thomas Malthus.

Other scientists have said the same, but Happer says it the loudest. He terms the IPCC crowd a "religious cult" and says, "Disagreeing with them is like going to Saudi Arabia and criticizing Muhammad." (Emphasis added.)

And here is a brief excerpt from Professor Happer’s testimony:

"Without greenhouse warming, the earth would be much too cold to sustain its current abundance of life. However, at least 90% of greenhouse warming is due to water vapor and clouds. Carbon dioxide is a bit player.

"I keep hearing about the 'pollutant CO2,' or about 'poisoning the atmosphere' with CO2, or about minimizing our 'carbon footprint.' This brings to mind another Orwellian pronouncement that is worth pondering: 'But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.' CO2 is not a pollutant and it is not a poison and we should not corrupt the English language by depriving 'pollutant' and 'poison' of their original meaning. Our exhaled breath contains about 4% CO2. That is 40,000 parts per million, or about 100 times the current atmospheric concentration. CO2 is absolutely essential for life on earth."
– From Princeton physics Professor William Happer's testimony to Congress on climate change from February of 2009, (emphasis added).

If carbon dioxide is a “bit player”, as this greenhouse effect expert says; if CO2 is not a pollutant or a poison…then why the panicky focus on it? CO2, after all, is life. It’s obvious, but let’s hear from the other side, anyway.

Jeff Scialabba, writing at Voices for Reason (Just say “no” to children?), says:

"Echoing the sentiments of Paul Ehrlich’s environmentalist manifesto, the 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb, British columnist Alex Renton of The Guardian writes, 'the worst thing that you or I can do for the planet is to have children. If they behave as the average person in the rich world does now, they will emit some 11 tonnes of CO2 every year of their lives. In their turn, they are likely to have more carbon-emitting children who will make an even bigger mess.' "

The “mess” that your children and their children’s children will make has nothing to do with industrial pollution, a by-product of our advanced technological, industrial society that can and is being alleviated by further technological advances. As philosopher Ayn Rand wrote in her devastating critique of the 1960s Ecology movement (the precursor to modern Environmentalism):

"Actual instances of local pollution and dirt…, city smog and filthy rivers are not good for men. [But] this is a scientific, technological problem. Even if smog were a risk to human life, we must remember that life in nature, without technology, is wholesale death." (Return of the Primitive, page 282-283, emphasis added)

The “mess” Mr. Renton decries is human life-promoting activity as such – i.e., taking the actions necessary to live. It is to promote nature untouched by human technology and industrialization …i.e., by human intelligence … that environmentalism is all about. The CO2 regulatory regime is the draconian authoritarian tool that will be the means to a nightmare end, if it continues on the path to full implementation. Mr. Scialabba continues:

"The New York Times’ Andrew Revkin says … 'probably the single most concrete and substantive thing an American, young American, could do to lower their carbon footprint is not turning off the light or driving a Prius, it’s having fewer kids, having fewer children.' "

“The only way to leave no ‘footprint’ would be to die”, is how Keith Lockitch more accurately puts it - or to not be born in the first place.

[For environmentalists], population control is a logical progression within the framework of the environmentalist ideology, which views “the planet” as an inherent good that must be “saved” from the plague of man…[and] neither Mr. Renton nor Mr. Revkin is at all shy in…suggesting that government force is necessary to achieve it.

Mr. Renton lauds China’s one-child policy as “the most successful governmental attempt to preserve the world’s resources so far.” Noting that China’s policy is too “draconian” for Western tastes, however, he offers this alternative: “Could children perhaps become part of an adult’s personal carbon allowance? Could you offer rewards: have one child only and you may fly to Florida once a year?” Mr. Revkin concludes “So should there be, eventually you get, should you get credit–if we’re going to become carbon-centric–for having a one-child family when you could have had two or three?”

Cap-and-trade for children? This is less draconian? (Emphasis added.)

Remember what China’s one-child policy has meant to millions of children over there, especially baby girls, where “female infants are often killed, aborted, or left to die so the family may have a boy”.

And it's not just children who are victims of China's one-child policy. Consider this from Medical News Today:

Although "no one supports forced abortion," coerced abortions and involuntary sterilizations "are commonplace in China" under the country's one-child policy, syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker writes in the Washington Post. The Chinese Communist Party "insists that abortions are voluntary" under the policy, but "electronic documentation recently smuggled out of the country tells a different story."

The evidence presented by ChinaAID and Women's Rights Without Frontiers included "tales of pregnant women essentially being hunted down and forced to submit to surgery or induced labor," Parker continues. Citing a conversation with Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of WRWF, Parker writes that a woman who does not have a "birth permit" or has an "out of plan" pregnancy "has to surrender her unborn child to government enforcers, no matter what the stage of fetal development."

This is what Alex Renton calls “the most successful governmental attempt to preserve the world’s resources so far.” Preserve the world’s resources - for whom? For their own sake! To environmentalists, all of nature has intrinsic value, except human beings, who are expendable.

And the Left calls capitalism “inhumane”!

But that’s Communist China and this is America, you say? Then consider this:

• Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not;
• The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation's drinking water or in food;
• Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise;
• People who "contribute to social deterioration" (i.e. undesirables) "can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility" -- in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.
• A transnational "Planetary Regime" should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans' lives -- using an armed international police force.

Those are the ideas once advocated by John Holdren, President Obama’s “Science Czar”. The White House and Holdren have distanced themselves from those positions, published three decades ago. But that doesn’t change the fact that those ideas were (and are) a matter of serious consideration in America and elsewhere, and are exactly what one would expect under a CO2 regulatory regime. There is, ultimately, no other alternative if “saving” the planet is one’s goal. Humans, remember, are “CO2 machines”. In a book he co-authored with The Population Bomb author Ehrlich, Holdren is quoted as saying:

To date, there has been no serious attempt in Western countries to use laws to control excessive population growth, although there exists ample authority under which population growth could be regulated. For example, under the United States Constitution, effective population-control programs could be enacted under the clauses that empower Congress to appropriate funds to provide for the general welfare and to regulate commerce, or under the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Such laws constitutionally could be very broad. Indeed, it has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe to endanger the society. Few today consider the situation in the United States serious enough to justify compulsion, however.

That was 32 years ago. Today, many “consider the situation in the United States (and the world) serious enough to justify compulsion”, and massive amounts of it. (The Constitution’s “General Welfare” and “Commerce” clauses bestow no such power upon the government, but they are just vague enough that – with the help of liberal courts – they have become the wedge for prying government away from constitutional constraints.)

And the ideas embraced by Holdren continue to percolate. Jonah Goldberg, covering the Copenhagen Climate Conference for the New York Post, writes:

“So consider instead Diane Francis, a ballyhooed Canadian pundit.

“In a recent Financial Post column, Francis wrote that the ' 'inconvenient truth' overhanging the UN's Copenhagen conference is not that the climate is warming or cooling, but that humans are overpopulating the world.'

“She insists that 'the only way to reverse the disastrous global birthrate' is to implement a 'planetary law, such as China's one-child policy.'

“Population control has always been at the heart of the progressive project, so it's no surprise that it's in fashion once again.”

Francis advocates a "planetary law, such as China's one-child policy." Holdren calls for a "Planetary Regime". Karl Marx called for a one-world communist utopia. Islamic totalitarianism strives for a global Islamic theocracy. You get the picture.

The power of ideas is inexorable. “The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow”, wrote Ayn Rand in the aforementioned essay. Today, the 1960s anti-industrial, anti-science Ecology crusade has spawned an all-powerful EPA. There is little immediate danger of the population-control measures discussed above being implemented. This country would not stand for them, yet. But the constant collectivist drumbeat of calls for service and sacrifice to the "community" (i.e., the state), coupled with predictions of impending environmental catastrophe despite the utter lack of any rational scientific basis, continues to germinate government power. Yesterday’s fringe Population Bomb rantings are today embedded in the highest levels of our government, Holdren’s repudiations to the contrary notwithstanding.

There is also a warning here for legal abortion foes. These two seemingly unrelated issues … environmentalism and abortion … are in fact tethered together by ideas, unifying principles, and universal truths … i.e., philosophy. The Environmentalists’ talk of forced abortions for population control and the Religious Right’s “pro-life” campaign to legally ban abortion involve the same fundamental issue – government control of a woman’s body … i.e., individual rights.

Thomas Jefferson famously said: “Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have…” Switch a few words and the same principle applies here: When you hand a government the power to compel a woman to bear a child, you hand it the power to compel a woman to abort her child. In either case, as Jefferson put it, “The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.” Most “pro-lifers” would be shocked to hear that by advocating a ban on abortion they could be condemning future women to forced abortions. But the carbon-control/population control ideologues provide the rational, the CO2 ruling the means, and the "pro-life" movement the legal precedent (if they are successful) for just such an outcome.

Environmentalism is not an anti-pollution movement. It’s not about cleaner industrialization. It is an anti-industrial movement. Which means, it is anti-man and anti-life. Complacency is a dangerous game, and brushing off the absurdities of environmentalist theoreticians as too far fetched for serious consideration is exactly what is paving their way. The kinds of powers governments are arrogating, and the kinds of people ascending the ladder of political power to claim those "wider powers", are real and dangerous.

The assault on America and freedom is coming at us from many directions today. The only way to repel this assault is through an uncompromising, “extremist” defense of individual rights – the moral right of each person to his own life, liberty, property (including his body), and pursuit of happiness.