Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Climate Catastrophe Update


A senior U.N. environmental official says entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000  
He said governments have a 10-year window of opportunity to solve the greenhouse effect before it goes beyond human control.
--AP, U.N. Predicts Disaster if Global Warming Not Checked, June 29, 1989.

Twelve years. That's the time we have to make drastic reductions in our fossil fuel consumption or we will reach a tipping point in the fight against climate change, and if humanity blows this deadline, the results will be biblical, A UN report released Monday said.


[My Emphasis]

Related Reading:


Monday, October 29, 2018

Bernie Sanders’s Unjust Triple Tax Proposal

The upcoming midterm elections are more than ever a choice between capitalism and socialism. All elections from here on will be. So, it’s a good time to analyze some proposals by the man who brought socialism squarely into the political forefront.

Bernie Sanders proposed a tax on businesses to cover federal welfare payments any of their employees may receive. According to Business Insider:

Senator Bernie Sanders intends to introduce legislation that would require large companies like Amazon to pay a tax to cover the cost of federal assistance for their employees, The Washington Post reports. The intention is to incentivize large corporations to pay a fair living wage.

The bill would set a 100% tax on government assistance received by workers at companies with 500 or more employees. For example, if an Amazon worker were to get $300 in food stamps, Amazon would be taxed $300. Sanders intends to introduce the bill in the Senate on September 5. [It was introduced.]

So get this. Food Stamps and other welfare payouts are forced by government on the taxpayers who fund it. Shareholders, the owners of Amazon and other companies, already pay for these programs through their taxes. In fact, they pay double--first on profits their company earns via the corporate income tax, and again as individuals through personal income taxes on dividends and taxes on capital gains on their stock. Owners of Amazon already pay double tax, some of which goes to pay for these government programs. Now, Sanders wants to tax them a third time for their company’s crime of hiring people at a mutually agreed-upon compensation that happens to be at a level politicians like Sanders believes entitles them to cash in on welfare programs imposed on taxpayers by these very same politicians!

Sanders’s proposed welfare business tax is a gross miscarriage of justice.

Furthermore, as noted by many economists, it is a jobs tax. Sanders’s proposal would tax low-wage jobs, disincentivizing companies from hiring low-wage workers. By killing low-wage jobs, this would make it that much harder for inexperienced people to enter the workforce. Is Sanders just ignorant on economics? Hardly. He is ready with his federal jobs guarantee proposal, which proposes to guarantee a high-paying job to anyone unable to find work in the private sector. Sanders is disingenuous, having it both ways. Either companies pay higher taxes, which he loves. Or they kill jobs, sending more people into government dependency. Either way, Bernie Sanders the socialist wins. Either way, productive taxpayers lose, along with another piece of our freedom as the private economy is further crippled.

Keep in mind that Bernie Sanders is an admitted socialist. He is only interested in moving America step by step into totalitarianism. It’s what socialists do, because that is what socialism is. Sanders is a Democrat, a political party increasingly open about its socialist designs on America. Keep this in mind as you go to the polls.

Related Reading:






Saturday, October 27, 2018

QUORA: ‘Why do you think capitalism today is less popular among Democrats than socialism?’

QUORA* : ‘Why do you think capitalism today is less popular among Democrats than socialism?’ [RE Gallup Poll]

I posted this answer, which is drawn from years of experience dealing with the American Left:

Speaking in terms of political philosophy, the basic difference between capitalism and socialism is in the relationship between the individual and the state. Capitalism holds that each individual owns his life, and is thus independently free by inalienable right to govern his life, including his social associations and property, according to his own judgement in pursuit of his own well-being, so long as he respects the same rights of others. The government’s job is limited but sacred--to protect individual rights equally and at all times. Socialism holds that the individual’s life belongs to the state: The government can thus dispose of any person’s life, associations, or property in any way it determines without his consent according to what it deems to be a “social good.”

To understand why rank and file Democrats now favor socialism over capitalism, one must ask what draws people to socialism and what does the Democratic Party stand for?

So what draws people to socialism? For one thing, a false sense of moral righteousness. In this regard, I’ll defer to Craig Biddle’s article, The Passion of Socialists, for his important observations on the moral motivation behind socialism’s draw. But socialism also appeals to greed, powerlust, envy, and phoniness, aided and abetted by widespread ignorance and a lack of respect for the rights of others to live peaceably by their own judgement. I’ll defer to my in-depth answer to the QUORA question “What makes someone a socialist?”

The Democratic Party from its founding has embraced the philosophy that America is a democracy, meaning legislatures have unlimited power to make law based on “the will of the people” as determined by elections. The rights of individuals are therefore subordinate to government, rather than being inalienable. In this regard, I’ll defer to my blog post Democracism versus Republicanism, and to Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People by Randy E. Barnett.

The Democratic Party has always leaned socialist but never honestly admitted it. It now openly embraces democratic socialism. The Democratic rank and file now favors socialism over capitalism because the Democratic Party intelligentsia now believes it is safe to be open about its embrace of socialism, and is thus a magnet for the kind of people who favor majoritarian tyranny and the supremacy of the state over the individual.


Related Reading:

Constitutional Republicanism: A Counter-Argument to Barbara Rank’s Ode to Democracy

Is There a 'Balance' Between the Rights of the Individual and the Benefits to Society?

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

Aren't capitalist principles of supply and demand similar to communist principles of ability and need?

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

* [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.]

Thursday, October 25, 2018

NJ Government Takes First Step to Becoming ‘the Sole Arbiter of Truth’

I knew this could someday happen in America, given the intellectual and political trends. Still, I can’t quite believe it did, even in New Jersey. But it did. In a move lifted straight out of George Orwell's “1984”, NJ now has a state media--a state propaganda arm, a real life “ministry of truth,” an American-style Pravda. This is no exaggeration. It is now law (N.J. just became the first state to help revive local news). The law reportedly will make NJ “the first state to create a news consortium.”

Here is my letter on the subject, as published in the NJ Star-Ledger on August 31, 2018. As of this posting, it is not available online. Following are links to the referenced articles:

State fund to boost local news is dangerous

I was shocked to read in the Aug. 26 Star-Ledger (“Jersey launches effort to fill void in local news”) that Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill (A3628) creating the Civic Information Consortium, a “grant-making organization ... that would fund media startups” with taxpayer dollars. The alleged purpose, according to Murphy, is to “prevent a world in which popular but false news claims go unchallenged.”

This is an abridgment of freedom of speech and press — core American principles. It would force taxpayers to pay for views or “news” they may not agree with, and force the private press to “compete” against what would effectively be a state propaganda arm. Worse, it would effectively make the state an authority over what news is “true” or “false” through conditions attached to the funding.

In its Aug. 16 editorial, “A free press holds the powerful accountable,” The Star-Ledger declared, “the real enemy of the people ... is a government that wants to be the sole arbiter of truth.” The Civic Information Consortium is a clear step in that direction. Columnist Paul Mulshine has already come out against it (“Keep the press free from academics,” Aug. 26). Let’s hope the editorial board backs up its words with an equally strong stand against this dangerous legislation.

Michael A. LaFerrara Flemington


-----------------------------------

There are already laws restricting free speech both in New Jersey and nationally. But this Civic Information Consortium is a whole new level, going beyond restriction of speech. That legislation of this ilk could not only be proposed but actually pass into law shows that we are further down the road to a totalitarian state than ever before.

LINKS:

Think your enemy is the press? So does every tyrant and corrupt politician

N.J. just became the first state to help revive local news

Keep the press free from the academics and the politicians | Mulshine

A3628

Related Reading:

1984 by George Orwell

New Jersey's Assault on the First Amendment

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Dennis & Judi's Anti-Sikh Insults: Religion vs Race, and other Observations

Recently, the two hosts of a New Jersey FM radio station, Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco of 101.5, mocked NJ’s Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, who is a Sikh, as “Turban Man” because he wears a turban as an expression of his religious beliefs.

Two articles subsequently appeared in the NJ Star-Ledger condemning the offensive comments. The first was published on 7/28/18 titled “Offensive comments hit at our core American values” by Satjeet Kaur, executive director of the Sikh Coalition (which at this writing is not available online). The second is by Afsheen A. Shamsi titled Grewal is not alone. I'm a Muslim woman who has fought hate groups. Here's what you can do, published on 8/5/18. Here are excerpts:

Kaur writes:

The sentiment expressed by Malloy along with co-host Judi Franco, who coined “Turban Man” in a sing-song voice, goes against our fundamental belief that all people are equal and have the right to life, liberty and happiness. His offensive comments are not just an attack on Grewal, they are an affront to our core values as Americans. 
This is especially important at a time when racism and xenophobia are becoming increasingly normalized. It has become clear that our society needs education to learn how to respect one another. 
Whether it’s remarks by radio hosts with media-amplified voices or bigoted comments from elected officials about minority communities on the basis of race, sexual orientation, class or religion, we must speak up and hold one another accountable.
Shamsi writes:

As a civil rights advocate having worked for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, on the Princeton Civil Rights Commission and as an ACLU-NJ board member over the course of my life, I am well aware of the challenges that minorities, in particular the Sikh American and Muslim American communities have faced over time in the United States -- especially after 9/11.

Being on the front lines of advocating for the rights of the Muslim American community, I became the target of hate groups who sent me hate mail, left me threatening messages, and labeled me a terrorist.

And so in the face of recent racist commentary by NJ 101.5 FM radio hosts about Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, I want him and all members of the Sikh American community to know that I admire them for their commitment to their faith and their silent courage.

My emphasis is added.

I sympathize with Satjeet Kaur and Afsheen A. Shamsi. People should not be mocked or treated disrespectfully for peacefully practicing their private religious beliefs, even though even offensive comments are expressions of free speech. And certainly no peaceful person should be subject to physical threats or intimidation, which should be subject to criminal prosecution. Freedom of conscience, religious or secular, is an unalienable right.

But I don’t think religious intolerance equates to racism. Race is not a matter of choice. Religion is. A person’s ideas, including religious ideas, are chosen and thus legitimately open to scrutiny and criticism. Granted, mocking a person for their attire is childish and ignorant, and the 101.5 hosts should be brushed off as such.

But mocking a person for their religious beliefs is not the same as racism. I get mocked regularly for my rejection of climate catastrophism and my belief that fossil fuels are a net benefit to man’s life: I get called a “denier”--an equation to Holocaust denial. But that is not the same as when, as a child, I witnessed my father being called a “Mafia gangster” simply because of his Italian descent. You can rationally defend your chosen beliefs from attack. How does one defend against attacks based on attributes for which one has no choice about?

Being called “turban man” is no different in principle to being called “climate” or “science denier.” Such smearing should be called out. But they do not sink to the level or evil of racism. They are not racist.

It also appears that Kaur doesn’t fully understand core American values. There is no “right to happiness,” only the right to the pursuit of happiness. The distinction is no small matter. The Founding Fathers were precise about that for a very good reason: A “right to happiness” is incompatible with rights to life and liberty. A right to happiness implies someone must be forced to provide whatever any unhappy person requires to be happy. Since government’s function and justification for existing is to protect individual rights, a “right to happiness” implies that government must use its power to force some people to provide for others’ needs and wants, so they can be “happy”--effectively making slaves of those forced to provide, violating their rights to life and liberty. You can’t have it both ways. The rights to life and liberty means to be free from coercive interference in your liberty to live your life by your own judgement. It’s either the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or no rights at all.

I also want to challenge Kaur’s assertion that “racism and xenophobia are becoming increasingly normalized.” I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, I can tell you that racism is at the lowest ebb of my lifetime, and undoubtedly of all time. Where do you see it, except in the Ivory towers and politics of the collectivist Left? Not in everyday life. Whereas racist comments and attitudes were ubiquitous--normalized--when I was young, today they are met immediately with immediate condemnation, whether by public figures or privately. As to xenophobia, it is still more prevalent than I’d like to see. But even there, the globalization of cheap communication is eroding it. I don’t doubt that irrational prejudice against American Muslims—and, because of similar garb, Sikhs—spiked after 9/11. But that is, I believe, a counter-bump in the downtrend of racism and xenophobia in America.

Both Kaur and Shamsi called out Malloy and Franco for their childishly offensive comments, and got published in a major newspaper. New Jersey 101.5-FM radio without hesitation suspended the two hosts of "The Dennis & Judi Show" for their stupid comments. Good for them. Those facts prove my point. You didn’t see that 50 years ago, when Malloy’s and Franco’s comments would have barely made a social ripple. As Kaur encourages, “we must speak up and hold one another accountable.” Agreed. But there’s no need to paint a false bleak picture of racism and xenophobia in America.

Related Reading:

Falsely Smearing the Right as Anti-Immigrant

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

Starbucks/USA Today’s Racist “Race Together” Campaign

Collectivism Generates Irrational Hatred

"Learning Experience", or Anti-Americanism?

Sunday, October 21, 2018

My Star-Ledger Letter On ‘Left Lane Hogs’

It's not always the big weighty issues of the day that grab me. Sometimes, some seemingly small thing comes along that I just can't let pass. 

Recently, the New Jersey Star-Ledger published an article by Larry Higgs about driving. In Hey Jersey, move over already. N.J. drivers set a record last year for 'left lane hog' tix, Higgs reports about people who use the inside, or “fast” lanes, not for passing but for cruising at speeds that slow traffic.

Maybe their rearview mirrors suddenly fell off their vehicle.

Or maybe they just don't notice all of the cars whizzing by them on their right side.

It's a basic rule of the road. Keep right unless you're passing.

Yet, for whatever reason, drivers across the Garden State continue to hog the left lane frustrating drivers who want to use the lane to pass and disrupting the flow of traffic.

Drivers can be ticketed for this, and are in record numbers, reports Higgs.

But there is another type of driver that Higgs barely touches on. This other type of driver was the subject of a letter I wrote that the Star-Ledger published a few days later. I played on Higgs’ description of “left lane hogs.” The Star-Ledger no longer posts letters online. Here is a reprint of my letter, which appeared in the July 4, 2018 edition. The Star-Ledger titled it “A Reason to Drive in the Left Lane.”

To the editor;

Well, it didn’t take long for Larry Higgs’ 6/19/18 polemic against “left lane hogs” to inspire one wild boar to stake out the left lane as his exclusive territory.

I was traveling North with my wife in the center lane of I-287 in Bridgewater at 70 mph when I moved to the left lane to pass an 18-wheeler. Soon a car came up behind, the driver flashing his lights, tailgating, and flailing his hands. As it happened, my exit was coming up--the left lane exit onto 22 W. So I had to remain in the left lane after passing in preparation for exiting. No matter. Despite clearly visible signs announcing the exit and signaling my intent to exit, the boar kept flashing, tailgating, and flailing his hands like a nut.

I imagined this wild boar must have read Higgs’s blatantly one-sided article, taking it as license to declare that no one else should be allowed to pass or use a left lane exit.

If the “left lane hogs” are rude--which they are--then left lane wild boars are worse. They are a menace, and more numerous than the hogs.

Michael A. LaFerrara, Flemington

Friday, October 19, 2018

Tiffany Muller and Marie Henselder Kimmel Want You to Use Your Vote to Silence Your Own Voice. Don't Do It.

Citizens United was the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that liberated large organizations like corporations and unions to finance political campaigns The enemies of free speech, mainly on the Left, have been waging war against that victory for free speech ever since. In a 9/19/18 New Jersey Star-Ledger guest editorial (as of this writing, not available online), Tiffany Muller and Marie Henselder Kimmel* open:

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court made a disastrous decision in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission to allow corporations to pour vast amounts of money into the political system, and it’s breaking the foundation of American democracy.

We know the Constitution says “We the People,” but lately it seems like it’s “We the billionaires and corporations.”

The “foundation of American democracy” is that America is not a democracy. It is a republic based on the primacy of inalienable individual rights to life, liberty, earned property, and the pursuit of happiness, flourishing, and safety. Democracy has a severely limited role in that the vote cannot be used to vote away those rights, either one’s own or others’. Among these inalienable rights are freedom of speech and assembly. Yet, Muller and Kimmel want us to vote away those rights:

Remember, your vote is your voice, and you must use your vote at the polls this November to protect your voice. 
One bill in Congress that would help move our democracy back on track is the DISCLOSE Act. It would shine a light on “dark money” donations and require campaign ads to provide more information about who paid for the ad. A critical fix to the disastrous Citizens United decision is to amend the Constitution to regulate contributions and expenditures, so all citizens — regardless of their net worth — may have an equal voice in the political process. The Democracy for All Amendment Resolution proposes such an amendment and has been co-sponsored by New Jersey Reps. Norcross, Albio Sires, D-8th Dist., and Bill Pascrell, 9th-Dist.

Notice they speak of “an equal voice,” not equal rights.This means that as one’s net worth (economic success) rises, one’s right to free speech shrinks accordingly. But the right to freedom of speech is a guarantee that one may speak, and nothing more. Like other rights, such as right to property, trying to guarantee equality in any manner other than equal protection of the law necessitates the violation of the underlying right--in this case, the right to speak. Muller and Kimmel are calling for nothing less than the repeal of free speech as an inalienable right held equally, and protected equally, for all people at all times--meaning no governmental discrimination based on race, gender, creed, sexual orientation, or net worth—and replacing it with a privilege granted by government permission.

And why? For what critical, overriding reason would any American attack a right so fundamental to intellectual freedom as freedom of speech? “Take the failure of anti-gun violence measures to move in Congress,”, they write. Also, “When Trump and Republicans passed their tax bill last December, it helped special interests and billionaires save money”; “Republican leaders won’t even allow votes to raise wages for rank-and-file workers or to fix the broken pensions system. But they have moved to make health care more expensive and to give tax breaks to billionaires. What we have is a rigged system and it must be fixed.”

Gun control; taxes; minimum wage laws. Translation: We, the Left, lost some elections and legislative battles, so we must stop the opposition from exercising their sacred freedom of speech rights. We can't let something as trivial as free speech stand in the way of ending private gun ownership, increasing taxes, and raising minimum wages--and getting our side elected. I guess Muller and Kimmel are too philosophically challenged to realize that if the Left can stop the Right from speaking, so the Right (or any other faction) can stop the Left.

----------------------------------------------

Billionaires and corporations can’t hurt you. All they can do is spend their own money supporting candidates and issues they agree with, in order to persuade voters. Voters get to choose the candidate and analyze the viewpoint.

The government, however, can coerce obedience to its edicts under threat of fines or jail. The politicians, through their lawmaking powers, are the real threat. Campaign finance and related election expenditures like issue ads, both forms of free speech, are a crucial means for “We the people” to keep politicians accountable.

Likewise, so-called “dark money” means anonymous speech, an inalienable right. Anonymous speech has a long history of use by those fearful of intimidation and violence or governmental reprisals. Courts have long defended anonymous speech rights.

Nobody operates in a vacuum. Wealthy donors speak not only for themselves but also for the millions who agree with their viewpoints or their candidates. Statists want to silence them precisely because they are persuasive and effective. And when government silences the most effective voices, they silence us all.

Don’t let statists define “public interest” according to candidates and legislation they agree with, to the exclusion of dissenting voices. The only true public interest is in protecting the free speech of every individual, including associations of individuals, each to the extent of his means, motivations, and interests. There can be no means test on free speech.

The real purpose of “campaign finance reform” is to empower politicians to control the political life of the country at the expense of the citizenry. Your vote is not your most important voice. Your freedom of speech is your voice. Don’t vote your voice away. “Democracy for All” et al will repeal the First Amendment.

Recognize the DISCLOSE Act, the Democracy for All Amendment, and other “campaign finance” restrictions for what they are, attacks on free speech, and defeat them.

* [Tiffany Muller is the president and executive director at End Citizens United, a political action committee funded by grass-roots donors that is dedicated to getting big money out of politics and reforming the campaign-finance system. Marie Henselder Kimmel represents TriCounty American Promise chapter of Camden, Burlington and Gloucester counties. American Promise is a cross-partisan, nonprofit organization of citizen advocates for a constitutional amendment to restore authority to Congress to set reasonable campaign spending limits.]

Related Reading:

Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America by Steve Simpson

The Intimidation Game by Kimberley Strassel

Obama Urges Amendment to Overturn the First Amendment

"Citizens United" Liberates Unions, Too.

Who Really Has Something to Fear From Unrestricted Campaign Spending?

Yes, ‘Big Money’ in Politics Fosters Ideological Debate—and That’s a Good Thing

Are ‘Average Voters’ Hurt or Benefited by Unrestricted Campaign Spending?

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

"Corporatists" Are Individuals, Too

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

QUORA: "Is having an 'Anarcho-capitalist' society possible?"

QUORA* : “Is having an ‘Anarcho-capitalist’ society possible?

I posted this answer:

No. From the standpoint of a proper understanding of capitalism, “anarcho-capitalism” is a contradiction in terms.

Capitalism understood as a social system applied to a full society depends on a properly structured government of objective laws--that is, a government that protects equally for all persons individual rights to intellectual, political, and economic freedom—but which is constitutionally limited in its lawmaking powers so as not to become a rights violator—that is, a constitution that forbids government officials to legally engage in the very criminal activity that is legally forbidden to private citizens. A society without a government is “anarchy”--which in practice means a free-for-all of gangs. Since capitalism is the system of voluntary consent, mutual respect, and peaceful coexistence, capitalism cannot exist under lawless gang rule and conflict. Capitalism requires a government empowered to remove from society those who employ overt or covert force as a means of dealing with others, don’t respect the rights of others to live by their own judgement, and refuse to leave others with whom one has differences in peace.

A highly essentialized description of the social conditions necessary to give rise to capitalism can be found in the most consequential passage in the Declaration of Independence--the first 55 words of the second paragraph:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. . .

One of my favorite overall outlines of the basic principles and features of capitalism is The Capitalism Site, which draws on philosopher Ayn Rand’s observations of individuals acting and interacting in the absence of aggressive (initiatory) physical coercion--i.e., when they are left free. For a more comprehensive understanding of capitalism, I like The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire by Andrew Bernstein.


Related Reading:

The Dollar and the Gun—Harry Binswanger

Why Capitalism Needs a Moral Sanction

Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal—Ayn Rand

Monday, October 15, 2018

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

A new United Nations climate report declares that the end of the world is almost at hand--unless we all submit to “sweeping global intervention,” as the New Jersey Star-Ledger puts it in an editorial, GOP must get on board with climate crisis, or we'll all pay the price:

Twelve years. That's the time we have to make drastic reductions in our fossil fuel consumption or we will reach a tipping point in the fight against climate change, and if humanity blows this deadline, the results will be biblical.


A UN report released Monday said that without sweeping global intervention, we can expect more floods and rising sea levels. More food shortages and more poverty. More extreme weather, wildfires, and droughts. The endangerment of hundreds of millions of lives, and a global refugee crisis.

The only way it can be addressed, the climate scientists say, is with an unprecedented political will, which is why environmental stewardship should be a precondition for anyone seeking elected office in 27 days.

The problem is you cannot find a GOP House candidate from New Jersey who has shown much of that will lately: Their environmental records - on cap and trade, carbon tax, and President Trump's demolition of regulations on coal or auto emissions - are generally disqualifying with the livability of our planet at stake.

They have two choices: They can acknowledge the scope of this massive challenge, and admit that this UN report means changes to how we live, how we eat, how we develop cities and agricultural systems, and "unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society."

My emphasis. I left these comments:

“Unprecedented political will?” Wrong. We’ve seen this movie before. Marxian socialism (Soviet Russia, Communist China), National Socialism (Nazi Germany). They were ideologically-driven efforts to engineer, from the top down, "unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society."

The UN report is the latest in a decades-old line of apocalyptic predictions, all of which utterly failed. Instead, we’ve seen a steady improvement in human living standards around the world, driven by expanding freedom of markets and rising use of reliable, economical energy, mostly fossil fuels. More food, more clean water, better structures, innovative industries, better jobs. The list goes on. It adds up to a vast and steady improvement in “the livability of our planet,” which is the whole point of industrialization. A climate crisis has always dogged mankind. Far from being something new, we are less at risk from climate-related danger than ever. What we need is the freedom to choose the best energy source available for human benefit, including coal and nuclear.

12 years left? Give me a break. The UN report is not science. It is more politically motivated speculation. Everyone wants to be safer from climate dangers. But “climate science” has become political because it’s not about climate. It is about power and control. “Environmental stewardship” is the latest buzzword for totalitarianism. The Left wants it because it’s a path to democratic socialism, the latest incarnation of Marxism, which requires top-down government control.

For a balanced, pro-humanist view, one must go outside the politically motivated “establishment,” to people like Ronald Bailey and Alex Epstein. As for me, the Democratic Party’s embrace of climate catastrophism is one more reason not to vote Democratic.

----------------------------------------

If you doubt that climate catastrophism is tied to a socialist agenda, then consider the opening paragraphs of the summary for policymakers of the UN Report:

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, the IPCC said in a new assessment. With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday.

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

"With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC," said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

Ninety-one authors and review editors from 40 countries prepared the IPCC report in response to an invitation from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) when it adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015.

The report's full name is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty.

The italics are in the original. The red is my emphasis. These emphasized portions speak for themselves. But let me clarify. “Ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society” does not mean more free market capitalism, the only truly equitable system because it features a government that protects individual rights. It means more forced egalitarian government policies. “Efforts to eradicate poverty” means control of business and industry and massive redistribution of wealth. “The breadth and policy relevance of the IPCC” means the report’s agenda is more about furthering a statist political agenda than dealing with some sort of “climate crisis”. “Global response” means a massive transfer of wealth from the U.S. and other advanced countries to developing countries in order to keep those countries’ development “sustainable”--that is, at a low, energy-starved (non-fossil fuel) level.

At least that’s my take on this report. It's a call for global central planning over everyone's lives and property--especially prosperous people--by powerful elites. What other conclusion can one draw? After all, who generates the most greenhouse gas? Prosperous people. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

To Defeat Discrimination, Let them ‘Discriminate in the Open’

Pierre-Guy Veer, a self-described “gay libertarian,” posted a great article on the Foundation for Economic Education titled I Don't Want Anyone Forced to Bake Me a Cake. Here are some excerpts:

[M]any liberals stand by the ACLU’s faulty reasoning that businesses open to the public must serve everyone – it’s not “personal” property anymore. Faulty because it implies that, once you start selling a product or service, you automatically lose your right to freely and voluntarily interact with other people. It’s opened to the public, so it suddenly becomes public “property” and the business owner loses any say in who he or she does business with.

So anti-discrimination laws applied to the private sector violate individual rights, in this case rights to freedom of association and contract.

But Veer doesn’t stop there. He shows that legalizing discrimination is a very effective anti-discrimination tool:

So instead of having government force businesses to serve anyone, I want it to let them discriminate in the open. This way, I know exactly where not to do business.

With bigots exposed by their own actions, opponents can peacefully (non-coercively) fight back, for example, with boycotts. Veer cites several examples of successful boycotts.

And this is the crux of the matter. Freedom works both ways. The only sure way to weed bad behavior (or bad ideas like so-called “hate speech”) out of the culture is to leave bad actors free to broadcast their beliefs, and then defeat or marginalize them in the open air of freedom. Legal bans only end up driving it underground, allowing it to metastasize without scrutiny. Even if a boycott is unsuccessful at bankrupting or getting a business to change its behavior, each of us is free not to patronize the business. That is the civil way for people to deal with their differences.

Worse, legal bans threaten the freedom of all of us, by putting government in charge of dictating who we may associate with and what ideas we are allowed to express--a sure road to tyranny.

If you value freedom, you must be prepared to stand up for the rights of people who engage in unsavory behavior. This article makes a good case for why this truth is so. Read I Don't Want Anyone Forced to Bake Me a Cake by Pierre-Guy Veer and heed his advice.

Related Reading:

Private Sector Anti-Discrimination Laws are Rights-Violating and Destructive

How to Overcome Bigotry in a Free Society

Does rescinding laws banning private discrimination make a moral statement in support of bigotry?

Freedom, not Laws, is the Answer to Defeating Bigotry

Fighting Anti-Private Discrimination Laws: The Role of Principles in the Fight for Freedom

There is No ‘Right to Equal Treatment’; Only the Right to ‘Equal Protection of the Law’

Thursday, October 11, 2018

QUORA: ‘Do people with disabilities fall behind in capitalistic societies?’

QUORA* : ‘Do people with disabilities fall behind in capitalistic societies?

I posted this answer:

Looking at the issue from a “get ahead” versus “fall behind” perspective is the wrong way to think about it. Life is not a race, where everyone must “keep up.” Human society is not an ant colony or bee hive or herd of buffalo, but an association of individuals. In a capitalist society, the association is built on voluntarism rather than force.

The great danger of any society is restrictions on individual flourishing, not holding anyone back. “Capitalistic” means freedom based on individual rights. One of the great moral virtues of capitalism is that no one is stopped from flourishing according to her ability, ambition, personal values, and other individual factors.

As to disability, no social system has ever provided more opportunity for the disabled to survive and even flourish than capitalism. Capitalism—free minds, free markets, and economic success-through-trade—fosters technological and industrial progress, which requires less and less physical labor and more and more intellectual labor—a trend that definitely favors the physically disabled. The freedom of business and entrepreneurialism to turn scientific knowledge and inventive ideas into useful products and services leads to prosthetics, medications, and workplace tools that enable people of limited abilities to become productive. The prosperity that capitalistic society enables also leads to increasing amounts of investable savings in the hands of productive individuals, the very “surplus” wealth from which philanthropy and charity are built.

I can’t imagine a better society for people with disabilities, not to mention the elderly, than a free capitalist society.


Related Reading:

The Poor, Disabled, and Helpless Under Capitalism--Craig Biddle

Prosthetics Violinist--Thanks to Courage and Capitalism

Serviceman Who Lost Leg Carries Woman Across Finish Line—Thanks to Prosthetics Industry

Koni Dole: Loses a Leg, Shines in Football Anyway

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

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

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

I posted this answer:

Capitalism doesn’t create classes. It eliminates them, by establishing a government that equally protects every individual’s freedom based on individual rights.

Only statism/collectivism creates classes, or castes: e.g., legally enforced group status like aristocrats and peasants, masters and slaves, etc., from which no one can escape. Under capitalism, no one can stop any individual from rising or falling based on his own efforts, so long as his efforts involve only voluntary, non-rights violating agreement, association, and trade with others. (Economic inequality is not classism under capitalism. It is merely a reflection of the individuality and diversity of human nature.)

Today, capitalism doesn’t exist in unadulterated form. Only mixed economies exist--mixtures of statism and free enterprise. Observe that the modern regulatory welfare state increasingly locks people into stagnation—the poor through welfare dependency and reliance on government schools, big business into entrenched dominance over smaller upstarts via cronyism and regulation. Trade groups into quasi-monopoly status via occupational licensure laws and the like.

People can always be divided into statistical groups based on whatever criteria one chooses, and be labeled “classes”—even in a laissez-faire capitalist society. But only capitalism establishes a truly classless society, on principle: that is, a society that banishes rigid social stratification based on wealth, heredity, custom, religion, or other criteria sanctioned and enforced by law and regulation.


* [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.]

Related Reading:

What is Capitalism—Ayn Rand

The Capitalist Manifesto: The Historic, Economic and Philosophic Case for Laissez-Faire—Andrew Bernstein

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Great Achievement of Christopher Columbus

Columbus Day has become controversial. Critics, mostly on the Left, point to Christopher Columbus's brutal treatment of New World natives and support for slavery, which they claim override his exploratory achievements that set in motion the train of events that led to the Enlightenment and ultimately the birth of America. Which holds sway; Columbus's undeniable bad aspects or his positives, which led to the such monumental turning points such as the abolition of slavery throughout most of the world?

History is messy. There are very few total heroes or total villains. Historical context is crucial, and the ultimate evaluation of any achievement must be weighed against this context and the totality of the person. On balance, from a humanitarian perspective, was Columbus a positive or negative force in the overall sweep of history?

Count me on the positive side. As my tribute to Christopher Columbus on this, his day, I present selected excerpts from selected articles by other writers:




By Thomas Bowden


On October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World.


We need not evade or excuse Columbus’s flaws--his religious zealotry, his enslavement and oppression of natives--to recognize that he made history by finding new territory for a civilization that would soon show mankind how to overcome the age-old scourges of slavery, war, and forced religious conversion.


On Columbus Day, we celebrate the civilization whose philosophers and mathematicians, men such as Aristotle, Archimedes, and Euclid, displaced otherworldly mysticism by discovering the laws of logic and mathematical relationships, demonstrating to mankind that reality is a single realm accessible to human understanding.


On Columbus Day, we celebrate the civilization whose scientists, men such as Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and Einstein, banished primitive superstitions by discovering natural laws through the scientific method, demonstrating to mankind that the universe is both knowable and predictable.


On Columbus Day, we celebrate the civilization whose political geniuses, men such as John Locke and the Founding Fathers, defined the principles by which bloody tribal warfare, religious strife, and, ultimately, slavery could be eradicated by constitutional republics devoted to protecting life, liberty, property, and the selfish pursuit of individual happiness.


On Columbus Day, we celebrate the civilization whose entrepreneurs, men such as Rockefeller, Ford, and Gates, transformed an inhospitable wilderness populated by frightened savages into a wealthy nation of self-confident producers served by highways, power plants, computers, and thousands of other life-enhancing products.


On Columbus Day, in sum, we celebrate Western civilization as history’s greatest cultural achievement. What better reason could there be for a holiday?


In another op-ed on Fox News.com, Let's Take Back Columbus Day, Bowden said this:


We’ve been taught that Columbus opened the way for rapacious European settlers to unleash a stream of horrors on a virgin continent: slavery, racism, warfare, epidemic, and the cruel oppression of Indians.


This modern view of Columbus represents an unjust attack upon both our country and the civilization that made it possible. Western civilization did not originate slavery, racism, warfare, or disease--but with America as its exemplar, that civilization created the antidotes. How? By means of a set of core ideas that set Western civilization apart from all others: reason and individualism.


Excerpts from an op-ed in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 10, 2008




By Dimitri Vassilaros


Christopher Columbus could not have discovered a better spokesman than Thomas A. Bowden.


The accomplishments of Columbus should speak for themselves. But thanks to political correctness, the moronic multicultural mob keeps talking them down. Mr. Bowden has been speaking passionately and forcefully about Columbus for years.


"My ancestors were savages," says Bowden matter-of-factly. Everyone can say the same, depending on how far back one is willing to look at lineage. "It's nothing racial or ethnic; it's historical fact."


"Columbus critics have a disguised criticism of Western civilization because Europeans replaced Stone Age Indians. They believe that this continent would have been better off without Europeans, that industrial civilization is an evil that is to be lamented and regretted.


"That is the real criticism of Columbus. I reject it completely."


Indians typically were widely scattered Stone Age tribes, he says. "They had little agriculture and lived in poverty, fear, ignorance and superstition. They had no concept of government, ownership or private property rights.


"Slavery was perfectly common.


Well, didn't Indians at least live in harmony with nature?


"No," says Bowden. "Man should not live in harmony with nature in the sense of simply keeping it pristine. We live by impacting the environment. The environment has no intrinsic value. Our civilization is more in harmony with nature by making it serve our ends."


Well, what about all the land supposedly stolen from the Indians by European settlers?


Indians did not own the vast reaches of land that they traveled on, Bowden says. Ownership of land is deserved, he says. By that, he means a settler can acquire property rights by making the land more valuable by, say, digging it up for farming. Or to build his homestead or business.


Columbus essentially was an explorer and discoverer bringing Western civilization's cures, science and technology, he says. The philosophical legal process was another gift the Europeans gave to the Indians, he says. "Indians got all that for free."


Columbus' critics should fall down on their knees and thank the Founding Fathers for creating a nation based on the moral principle of the individual's right to life, liberty and, Bowden stresses, the selfish pursuit of happiness.


"It's the only nation that came about in such a way. Anyone who has humanity's interest at heart should love America," he says.


Excerpts from Man's Best Came With Columbus—Michael S. Berliner


Did Columbus “discover” America? Yes, in every important respect. This does not mean that no human eye had been cast on America before Columbus arrived. It does mean that Columbus brought America to the attention of the civilized world, i.e., the developing scientific civilizations of Western Europe. The result, ultimately, was the United States of America. It was Columbus’s discovery for Western Europe that led to the influx of ideas and people on which this nation was founded and on which it still rests. The opening of America brought the ideas and achievements of Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, and the thousands of thinkers, writers, and inventors who followed. What they replaced was a way of life dominated by fatalism, passivity, superstition, and magic.


Happy Columbus Day


Related Viewing:


Columbus Day Without Guilt—Thomas A. Bowden


Related Reading:




Opposing Views:

On Christopher Columbus, the Far Left Is Correct—Bryan Caplan

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Save Humans from the Earth Savers

A recent Trump Administration report raised Leftist eyebrows by including a prediction of a 7-degree fahrenheit rise in global temperature above pre-industrial (1880) levels by the year 2100. The New Jersey Star-Ledger jumped on it. In Trump says the planet's screwed, so let's burn as much fossil fuel as we can, the Star-Ledger editorialized:

First the good news: Science may no longer be the greatest casualty in Donald Trump's war on truth, as his official position on climate change has made a tangible shift from "Chinese hoax" and "nonsense."
The bad news is that while his administration now acknowledges the reality of climate change, his policy is essentially this: The planet's screwed, so let's feel free to burn as much fossil fuel as we can.

That is the message contained within an environmental impact statement drafted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which was written to justify Trump's recent decision to freeze fuel efficiency standards on cars and light trucks.

The Washington Post found it buried on Page 191 of a 500-page report: At the current pace, the planet will warm by 4 degrees Celsius (7 Fahrenheit) by 2100, which scientists assert will be catastrophic, so the report concludes that there is no point in trying to prevent it.

"The emissions reductions necessary to keep global emissions within this carbon budget could not be achieved solely with drastic reductions in emissions from the U.S. car and light truck vehicle fleet," said the NHTSA, adding that the only significant change can come by a "move away from the use of fossil fuels," which is "not currently technologically feasible or economically practicable."

My emphasis. The rest of the column degenerates into an apocalyptic tirade urging us to “invest in life jackets and hazmat suits” for our grandkids, coupled with the usual cry of It’s Climate Change! In response to every unpleasant weather event.

I left these comments:

The best environmental protection humans have ever invented is industrial progress. That requires plentiful reliable, economical, clean energy; i.e. fossil fuels combined with advanced anti-pollution technologies, which we now have. The real threat to future generations is the drive by the climate catastrophists to cripple industrialization and prosperity by attacking the fossil fuel industry--the very energy needed to increase prosperity for future generations.

Trump’s energy and climate policy is exactly right: First, Do No Harm! Especially to Americans. Fossil fueled industrial progress has made us safer than ever from the danger-filled climate. Climate-related deaths have declined 98% over the past century. At the same time, our standard of living has skyrocketed. To this day, fossil fuels continue to drive Third World lives up from poverty. Reliable energy is CRITICAL to continued progress. Any policy to drive up energy prices and availability by FORCIBLY reducing fossil fuels in favor of technologically and economically unreliable “renewables” would cause a human catastrophe dwarfing the alleged harms (if any) we MAY see from climate change. Thank god the Earth savers didn’t get their way 100 years ago.

“Scientists assert” is really “Government scientists speculate.” The warming may come true, or more likely be another failed apocalyptic prediction. But the positives to human life of fossil fuels--and the other “dirty” reliables, nuclear and hydro--far outweigh the climate risks. We only get one side of the story from the Earth savers. Go outside the government (political) establishment to the “skeptics” for a balance view; Alex Epstein, Ronald Bailey, [Paul] Mulshine’s [Star-Ledger] columns, etc. You’ll find a wealth of knowledge to counter the anti-humanist climate catastrophism.

Related Reading:



Are Floods More Frequent, as Climate Alarmists Claim?  by Patrick J. Michaels and Paul Knappenberger


It is widely promulgated and believed that human-caused global warming comes with increases in both the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. A survey of official weather sites and the scientific literature provides strong evidence that the first half of the 20th century had more extreme weather than the second half, when anthropogenic global warming is claimed to have been mainly responsible for observed climate change. The disconnect between real-world historical data on the 100 years’ time scale and the current predictions provides a real conundrum when any engineer tries to make a professional assessment of the real future value of any infrastructure project which aims to mitigate or adapt to climate change.


Assume 6 Feet of Sea Level Rise: Predict Catastrophe—Useful science or worst case scaremongering? by Ronald Bailey

LINKS of Interest: