Tuesday, April 30, 2019

New NJ Beekeeper Regs Show Why Government Should Focus on Punishing the Guilty, Not Regulating the Innocent

New state regulations on beekeeping last year created a big pushback in New Jersey. As Mark Di Ionno reported for NJ.com (Bad buzz on new beekeeping regulations), the NJ regulations were sparked by a single irresponsible beekeeper.

Our View opined against the regulations, and offered a fair solution:

The buzz among beekeepers is that the proposed rules reflect one or two recent incidents of badly behaved beekeepers, including one who had 33 hives on a 97-by-100-foot property.

The solution, however, is not a heavy-handed regime treating all beekeepers like the worst practitioners, but guidance to new and hobbyist beekeepers about proper practices and a formal complaint and review process for the few occasions where problems arise.

I left these comments on the Di Ionno article:

I’ve have lived in the Three Bridges area right up the street from Bob Kloss [quoted in the article] for 40 years. We’ve known the Klosses for at least the last 25 years. In all this time, we’ve never heard of any complaints in our town about Kloss’s beekeeping—not directly from neighbors nor indirectly through hearsay. I know of no complaints filed with the township government.

So why punish them with added costs and regulations? Because a beekeeper operation in Peapack-Gladstone created a nuisance for neighbors? Certainly, everyone has a right not to be harmed (or their property) by neighboring operations, based on the principal of property rights. But neither should a person be interfered with by government for engaging in legal activities on his own property that harms no one else. Why punish the innocent?

And that’s the dirty little secret of government regulation; the punishing of the innocent for the wrongdoing of the guilty. A good poster child for this premise is Sarbanes-Oxley, the giant financial regulatory bill passed after the 1999-2000 Enron accounting scandals. Enron, Worldcom, and a few other companies defrauded investors—and were prosecuted under pre-existing laws. Yet Congress and President Bush passed Sarbanes-Oxley, allegedly to “prevent” future fraud but which in reality burdened the thousands of companies that didn’t cook the books with new regulations—in effect, punishing the innocent many for the wrongdoing of the few.

We see this pattern time and again. Somebody does something wrong, and regulations reign down on an entire industry or sector. These new beekeeper regulations seem to fit that pattern. Which begs the question: Why not deal with actual instances of actual harm done to neighbors by beekeepers as they arise, leaving the innocent alone? What ever happened to the principle “innocent until proven guilty”?

We need to rethink the entire nature of government regulation. Here in New Jersey as well as at the federal level, we’ve created a swarm of basically unproductive government bureaucrats whose job it is to regulate the productive without any apparent guiding principles. The result is a growing burden of regulatory penalties dumped on the innocent and responsible who have done nothing wrong and have violated no one’s rights. Law should protect the innocent and the responsible, while punishing the guilty and providing for the restitution to victims of unscrupulous or careless operators. If the governments’ regulatory apparatus were forced to adhere to the principle of innocent until proven guilty, the regulatory burden would be greatly reduced while providing much greater resources for legitimate law enforcement. Preventive law—a law that presumes guilt before evidence of guilt arises—is not legitimate law. It’s time our government stuck to punishing the guilty and stopped regulating the innocent.

Related Reading:

Where Does Valid Law End and Regulation Begin? by me, for The Objective Standard

Don’t Regulate the Innocent, Punish the Guilty
by me, for The Objective Standard

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Separation of Empathy and Force

A guest editorial, Offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ is not real empathy, appeared in the New Jersey Star-Ledger on Sunday, October 22, 2017. It was submitted by Brian Regal, a teacher of world history at Kean University.

Regal’s theme is that empathy must be backed up with positive action. My problem is not with the theme. There’s some truth to that. My problem is with some of the types of actions Regal thinks qualifies as “real empathy.” Without his kind of action, one can not claim empathy, regal asserts. He writes:

They say suffering builds character. It does more than that, it helps build empathy. It helps us understand the suffering of others and makes us want to help them rather than mock them. I had a sergeant major who once told me, “Never trust anyone who hasn’t had their ass kicked in a fight.” That was because they couldn’t feel empathy for someone who had. It seems many current political leaders and pundits have never really suffered. I come to this position based upon the behavior.

Empathy is an emotional reaction to the suffering of others, which prompts us to help them in some way. Empathy is seeing someone fall on the street unable to get up, and you go over and help them. Not having empathy is when you go over to the person who has fallen and you steal their wallet and then laugh about it.

In what way does he mean “help them in some way?” Certainly, the empathetic ends don’t justify any means, right? Not according to Regal. Here’s a hint:

Too many of our leaders are behaving as if they are devoid of empathy for the citizens they are supposed to be helping.

Which leaders are “devoid of empathy”? Apparently, leaders who believe that government is supposed to protect individual rights, including the right of each person to decide for ourselves who, when, and in what capacity to help others. The type of leader Regal believes is not “devoid of empathy” is the kind that passes laws forcing all of us to pay for help for people he decides need help, whether the taxpayer agrees or not. Force, in other words, over voluntarism. It all becomes clear with this paragraph:

Having no empathy allows you to do certain things. It allows you to vote to take away people’s health care. It allows you to give more rights to guns than the people they kill. It allows you to steal people’s homes and call it good business. It allows you to say that mass murder is “the price of freedom.” It allows you to go golfing while people are drowning. It allows you to be handed everything in life, then ridicule poor people for not working hard enough. It allows you to mock the disabled or the obese or the mentally challenged.

Let me give my “take” on each charge, in turn.

“It allows you to vote to take away people’s health care.”

What he really means is to vote to reduce subsidies that involve legalized government theft—taking the earnings and property of some people for the unearned benefit of others’ healthcare. No one has ever proposed to “take away people’s health care” that has been earned and paid for and agreed to by insurer and customer, or by patient and doctor, except for those who want to force people into government-approved plans (e.g., ObamaCare, which outlawed millions of policies). No one’s healthcare should be at the mercy of other people’s votes. But that’s what the “empathetic” socialists of the Left have forced on us. Nor should anyone be denied the freedom to decide when, who, and in what capacity to back up empathy with action. Empathy begins with respect for the rights of others to live by their own judgement.

Regal says that “Not having empathy is when you go over to the person who has fallen and you steal their wallet.” Fair enough. But then, neither is it empathetic to steal the wallet of someone who has not fallen, right? Not according to Regal. Apparently, stealing that person’s wallet after he has fallen is a lack of empathy. But stealing a person’s wallet to pay for Regal’s “empathy” for people who have fallen and is unable to get up is empathetic. In other words, Regal won’t lower himself to actually “go over and help them.” He wants to force others to do that dirty work.

“It allows you to give more rights to guns than the people they kill.”

This is nonsensical on its face, and a complete misrepresentation of the position of advocates of the right to bear arms. Rights don’t belong to guns; i.e., inanimate objects. No one I know of has ever said that. Rights belong to individuals, and the right of law-abiding adults of sound mind and no criminal record to own a gun is really what Regal is after. Notice the moral inversion: Regal would deny you the right to own a gun for self-defense, but has no problem using law—the government’s guns—for aggression against you in the form of legally forcing you to pay for someone else’s healthcare regardless of your own choice and judgement. He replaces the right of armed self-defense with the “right” of armed aggression (the starting point of all welfare state programs).

“It allows you to steal people’s homes and call it good business.”

If Regal is referring only to eminent domain to take people’s homes for the sake of a developer, then I’m with him. But somehow I think he has more in mind—a smear of the mortgage lenders who foreclose on homes in which the borrower has reneged on his loan commitment. It’s a moral inversion that blames the victim. Imagine the homeless problem we’d have if lenders, including banks who have a fiduciary and moral, not to mention legal, responsibility to their depositors and investors, had no recourse to justice in the event of a loan default, and thus stopped making mortgage loans!

“It allows you to say that mass murder is ‘the price of freedom.’”

This is an attack on civilized countries defending themselves against barbarians who would destroy them (e.g., Imperial Japan, Nazi Germany, and Jihadist Islam). Regal essentially claims that civilian casualties resulting from military action designed to defeat the barbarians is the moral responsibility of the defender--e.g., the U.S. and its allies--not the aggressor--e.g., Nazi Germany, the Empire of Japan. Another moral inversion.

“It allows you to go golfing while people are drowning.”

The evil premise behind a statement of this kind is that no one has a right to pursue happiness and flourish as long as someone, somewhere, has needs. It’s not about empathy for the genuine needy. It’s an attack on the achievement of any kind of good life—to anchor people down to the most suffering and unhappy state of life, intended to make people feel unearned guilt for every pleasure they may enjoy. Since no one would actually continue with his golf game while callously ignoring a person who is literally drowning in a nearby pond, anti-happiness is the only sentiment this metaphor can be intended to convey.

“It allows you to be handed everything in life, then ridicule poor people for not working hard enough.”

It’s hard to make any kind of sense out of this. Is he railing against inheritance? Is it a Rawlsian premise that, whatever your achievement, it’s all a matter of luck? In other words, if you learned a trade or profession or leadership skill and then applied it to a successful lifelong career or built that successful business, and managed to achieve a non-poor lifestyle, you didn’t build that? Is he attacking idea that poor people are incapable of working their way up from poverty in an economically free society, and cannot take care of themselves without government handouts?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Now, I know that, superficially, Regal is attacking one man, Donald Trump, as indicated by his “It allows you to mock the disabled or the obese or the mentally challenged.” But there is a deeper psychology behind his diatribe—a disrespect for people’s capableness and right to live by their own individual judgments and make their own independent choices, and a hatred of self-responsibility, achievement, and happiness. In other words, you, the “average” person, the “little guy”, is incapable of building that—so you must be made a ward of the all-powerful state. Even if you are capable of “building that”-and you do “build that”--you should feel guilty about it.

You cannot be left free to pursue your own happiness under a government that protects your inalienable rights to live and act according to your own capacities and judgement. That’s Regal’s message. Now, maybe Regal’s position is not that extreme. Maybe he allows for some freedom. But his message is clear: If you reject aggressive government force, you lack empathy. But if our political leaders’ empathy is enough for them to override your rights, then you are not actually free. After all, empathy begins with respect for the rights of others. Where’s the empathy in Regal’s stance?

No, the job of our leaders is not supposed to be helping some citizens at the unwilling expense of others. Helping others in the way Regal means it is the job of voluntary charity (the only genuine kind). Our leaders should be protecting individual rights equally and at all times, including for people who have not fallen as well as people who have fallen. Yes, government officials can feel empathy, like everyone else. But, like the private citizens they serve, they do not have the moral right to force their empathy on others—that is, by law. Our leaders and government should be governed by the principle, the Separation of Empathy and Force. Empathy and force are really mutually exclusive.

Related reading:

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

CATO's Alan Reynolds Calls Out Roger McNamee for His Anti-Facebook Tirade

About a year and a half ago, I posted a piece on  Roger McNamee’s Attack on Intellectual Freedom. McNamee is a regular guest on the business and stock market channel CNBC, and a constant agitator for government regulation and censorship of the internet through controls on media giants.

There are other guests who, like McNamee, see a problem with the free-wheeling openness of free speech platforms like Facebook and call for regulation as a "solution." But CNBC has been woefully absent of anyone able to point out the dangers to free speech, or even to defend free speech.

I have been highlighting the politically-motivated, broad attack on a free and open internet--See related links below. So it is with pleasure that I highlight an article by CATO Institute scholar Alan Reynolds, Roger McNamee’s Facebook Critique, which was posted by The Atlas Society. Reynolds focusses in large part on McNamee's criticism of Facebook's consumer friendly, commercially successful business model, but also recognizes the threat to free speech:
McNamee’s proposed regulation of “harmful behavior” would invite political censorship and propaganda. So too would his proposed subsidies and protection from competition for new firms deemed “civically responsible” by politicians and bureaucrats. “In exchange for adopting a benign business model, perhaps based on subscriptions, startups would receive protection from the giants. Given that social media is practically a public utility,” he claims, “I think it is worth considering more aggressive strategies, including government subsidies … [because] civically responsible social media may be essential to the future of the country. The subsidies might come in the form of research funding, capital for startups, tax breaks and the like.” 
McNamee’s scheme for inviting ambitious political operatives to force Facebook to submit to being micro-managed as a regulated public utility is because he is confident that most common folk (unlike himself) are easily duped. It is his noblesse oblige to launch a political movement to protect the lumpenproletariat from their childish foolishness.
Citing unhappiness with voting results like Brexit and the 2016 U.S. election, Reynolds concludes:
An author’s political agenda often drives the arguments, which explains why extreme rhetoric about hypothetical “crises” in the future are typically abused to excuse extreme proposals for government meddling in the present. McNamee turns out to be just another missionary for paternalistic big government to throttle successful big tech firms, subsidize less-promising firms, and protect the gullible masses from being persuaded by Facebook posts to make what he regards as politically undesirable choices.
While free speech is still with us, it is under increasing attack. The attack is not overt. It comes under catchphrases such as "Dark Money", "New Neutrality", "Fake News", "Hate Speech", "Campaign Finance Reform." It comes in the form of regulatory extortion: "Either you do something about [the "misuse" of your platforms], or we will," Senator Dianne Feinstein told social media. Government censorship by proxie is still government censorship. It comes under cover of legitimate concerns, such as privacy or live streaming of violence. It comes in the form of calls to regulate internet companies as "public utilities." It comes under cover of "addiction" that requires regulation on "public health" reasons.

The threat to internet freedom and thus free speech is real, with many rationalizations, and it is growing. We need to fight back against the anti-free speech coalition.

Related Reading:

Roger McNamee’s Attack on Intellectual Freedom

George Soros; a Leading Point Man in the anti-free speech ‘broad anti-Facebook movement’

The Internet is Not a ‘Surveillance State’

NJ Star-Ledger Repudiates the First Amendment, Calls for Censorship

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

Facebook/Cambridge Analytica Data Breach Should Not Be a Pretext for Government Controls

Corporate ‘Censorship’ and Fredrik DeBoer’s Evil ‘Solution’

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Earth Day: The Anti-Industrial Revolution

The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow”. - Ayn Rand

One such uncontested (except by Rand) absurdity was inaugurated on April 22, 1970…the first Earth Day. The inability or unwillingness of Americans to understand and appreciate the actual meaning behind that concept has allowed Earth Day to evolve into a powerful symbol of an ideology that is anti-human life.

Ayn Rand coined the term “anti-industrial revolution” to describe the “ecology” movement of the 1960s and 1970s. That movement was the precursor to the modern Environmentalist movement* [I use an upper case 'E' to highlight its ideological nature].

The basic premise of Environmentalism is that “nature” in its raw state—which means unaltered by human intervention—has intrinsic value. But the concept "value" cannot be divorced from the concept valuer. Nothing can have intrinsic value ... i.e., value in and of itself. But that is exactly how Environmentalism sees nature. The consequences to human freedom and well-being by the acceptance of that doctrine are horrendous. Mark Levine puts it thus:

  If nature has "intrinsic value" then nature exists for its own sake. Consequently, man is not to be preferred over any aspect of his natural surroundings. He is no better than any other organism and much worse because of his destructive existence.
  Is not man, therefore, expendable? And if he is, is not the suppression of his liberty, the confiscation of his property, and the blunting of his progress at all times warranted where the purpose is to save the planet - or any part of it - from man himself? After all, it would seem that there can be no end to man's offenses against nature if he is not checked at every turn. (Liberty and Tyranny, pages 121-122)

Alex Epstein, author of The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, puts it another way—in terms of a moral standard of value. The environmentalists' standard of moral value is unaltered nature, not human flourishing. Since man's means of survival is to apply productive—i.e., reason-guided—work to the task of transforming the Earth nature gives us into an environment suitable to human living, everything man does above the level of the higher animals is immoral. Man is not to improve his natural surroundings; not to maximize his well-being while minimizing the negative consequences of his industrial development. He is to minimize his impact on the Earth, regardless of the consequences to his life. This is the underlying meaning of Earth Day, of "going green"—deindustrialization, not as a means to a better environment for humans, but for deindustrialization’s sake. Earth Day stands for anti-humanism.

Think of what it means if unaltered nature is the moral standard; if nature has intrinsic value. It means that whatever nature "does"—raw nature—is valuable and not to be altered. A volcano erupting and destroying Mount St. Helens, taking with it millions of trees and wild animals, is raw nature, and thus good. Man clearing a forest and “destroying” an ecosystem to build a housing development is not "natural," and thus bad. Animals devouring one another to survive is raw nature. Man using animals for the purpose of testing (human) life-saving medicines is not. Crop-destroying insects or plant diseases is raw nature. Insecticides and bio-engineered pest- and disease-resistant crops is not. A black primordial goo lying underground is raw nature. Refined protroleum products like gasoline and heating oil and plastics are not. Natural climate change is acceptable. Human-caused climate change is not. A natural 400 foot rise in sea levels is not bad. Let human activity contribute a couple of inches in the last century to the 20,000 year trend, and its a catastrophe. Modern agriculture, transportation, health care, buildings, amusement parks, even household appliances—everything manmade—results from altering raw nature in some way, which destroys intrinsic value and is thus immoral and needs to be minimized and ultimately stopped and reversed.

The common denominator of that which is not “raw” nature is that it represents the application of human intelligence to the advance of man’s well-being and survival. Life is a process of self-sustaining and self-generated action. Every living species, from the lowest bacteria to the most advanced mammals, must act according to its nature to sustain its life. In other words, every living species is provided by nature with some means of survival, which it must rely on and exercise.

There is one crucial fact of nature that sets man apart from every other living species. Every other species must essentially adapt itself to its natural environmental background. It has no choice in the matter, since it basically has no way of altering that environment. It is thus equipped with the basic means of survival determined by its nature to survive in that manner. Any species that lacks or loses the means to adapt perishes. Man, however, is not equipped to adapt to raw nature. He must, if he is to survive and thrive, adapt his environmental background to his own needs ... by building homes, inventing medical treatments, developing advanced agriculture, producing fuel for transportation and heating ... all produced from exploiting the materials found in raw nature.

Environmentalism’s elevating of nature to the absurd and logically indefensible status of having intrinsic value is a direct assault on, and denial of, man’s method of survival; his need to transform raw nature as dictated by his very nature. That man is himself a product of nature does not daunt the environmentalist mindset. They champion nature, except the one creation of nature that sets man apart. Since man’s primary, basic means of achieving this is his rational mind, the anti-science of Environmentalism is thus anti-mind, which means anti-man.

Environmentalism should not be confused with the idea of developing cleaner methods of producing and consuming that which we need to survive and thrive. Pollution--ingredients around us that is harmful to humans above a certain scientifically validated threshhold--can and should be cleaned up. That is not what the leaders of the environmental movement have in mind. It is human production and technology itself that is the enemy. That's why, for example, Environmentalists oppose nuclear power as a sollution to what they call the "climate crisis" induced by human emissions of carbon dioxide.

Following are some quotes from some of those leaders:

The collective needs of non-human species must take precedence over the needs and desires of humans.

—Dr. Reed F. Noss, The Wildlands Project

Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, is not as important as a wild and healthy planet ... Some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.

—David Graber, biologist, National Park Service

The extinction of the human species may not only be inevitable but a good thing....This is not to say that the rise of human civilization is insignificant, but there is no way of showing that it will be much help to the world in the long run.

—Economist editorial

I suspect that eradicating smallpox was wrong. It played an important part in balancing ecosystems.

—John Davis, editor of Earth First! Journal

We, in the green movement, aspire to a cultural model in which killing a forest will be considered more contemptible and more criminal than the sale of 6-year-old children to Asian brothels.

—Carl Amery

We have wished, we ecofreaks, for a disaster or for a social change to come and bomb us into Stone Age, where we might live like Indians in our valley, with our localism, our appropriate technology, our gardens, our homemade religion—guilt-free at last!

—Stewart Brand (writing in the Whole Earth Catalogue).

This last is the ideal that drives environmentalism…the return of mankind to a pre-industrial age--a new Stone Age, essentially--when man lived “in harmony” with nature. A time when nature was worshipped, rather than exploited for human gain. Rather than a warm winter home, they long for an existence of savages cowering in fear of natural forces. The name itself, “Environmentalism”, captures the very essence of its meaning, just as Communism or Theocracy captures the essence of those systems. In fact, statists of every stripe have latched on to the environmental movement to further their anti-capitalist agendas.

But make no mistake. The agenda of Environmentalism is to thwart, roll back, and destroy the life-giving technology and industrialization of the modern age. This is not to say that I believe that they will succeed (although the seeming popularity of the Green New Deal questions that assumption). Most people don’t equate Environmentalism with an anti-man’s-life agenda. There is a real danger, though, that they will succeed at advancing a statist (socialist) agenda under cover of Environmentalism, leading to a deteriorating economy, rising impoverishment, and possible dictatorship. I submit in evidence the two news items cited in my 2010 Earth Day post.

By celebrating “Earth Day”, we should be aware of the enemies of man that we are helping to bring to power in America and around the world.

Rather than celebrate raw nature, as embodied in “Earth Day”, we should instead look around at all of the life-giving benefits we enjoy as a result of industrialization.

Earth Day is the “holiday” of the anti-industrial revolution. Instead, we should celebrate the wonderful job humans have done in improving the planet through science, technology, industry, entrepreneurship, and hard work. We should celebrate the holiday of the Industrial Revolution, Exploit The Earth Day!

Related Viewing:

Related Listening:

The Anti-Industrial Revolution—Ayn Rand Lecture
“The environmental movement is often seen as a campaign to clean up man’s environment so that we can lead healthy and happy lives. But in early 1971, less than a year after the movement kicked off its first Earth Day celebration, Ayn Rand argued that this was a façade to cover the actual ideology animating the movement.”—ARI

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Merit vs. ‘Affirmative’ Action

The college admission bribery scandal brought out the anti-capitalistic mentality of the New Jersey Star-Ledger. Its March 2019 editorial is titled College admissions scandal exposes a corrupt and broken system. The “system” does not refer to college admissions. The Star-Ledger wrote:

It is not news that the dullard scions of the wealthy are afforded the same educational benefits enjoyed by real scholars, who earned their way into prestigious colleges.

But the admissions scandal not only exposes how far parents will go to get their kids into elite schools. It reminds us that the correlation between merit and the just apportionment of rewards isn’t the bedrock American precept we claim it to be.

Still, who knew the new definition of affirmative action involved millionaire parents greasing the volleyball coach?

Apparently missing the extreme irony, the Star-Ledger then writes with a straight face:

Meanwhile, more qualified students who followed the rules were squeezed out.

For those who thought that giving special consideration to a deserving minority is a threat to the integrity of the admissions process, we’ll pause here for cognitive dissonance.

Apparently, it’s ok for more qualified students to be shut out for the sake of some other less qualified student labeled “deserving minority.” Apparently, it’s “far worse [that] Parents were paying to break the rules” by bribery versus by racism. What about these rules, which shut out “more qualified students” because of race or ethnicity? No answer. It’s just assumed that there is some fundamental difference between cheating by Affirmative Action and cheating by bribery. There is not. Both forms of affirmative action are wrong. I left these comments, edited for clarity:

This scandal is a case of the wrongdoing of the few, not the workings of some “master class” of “the rich.” To say it is is bigotry. Such language is the premise of racism applied to economics. Any kind of admission policy that results in “more qualified students who followed the rules [being] squeezed out,” whether based on racial “qualifications” or bribery, is corrupt.

We didn’t get to our material prosperity through cheating, but through the workings of a social system—capitalism, to the extent it is free to function—that, over time, allows rewards to follow value creation through individual merit and voluntary exchange. It’s ridiculous to say otherwise.

This scandal is not a result of “savage inequities”--not in the way it is meant in this editorial. The rush to condemn “the rich” for the college scandal is a primal appeal to ignorance, envy, resentment, hatred of achievement, and to anyone who wants to blame others for their own failures. Justice, not bigotry, should be our standard. Punish the guilty. It is immoral to condemn an entire group, whether by race or by level of wealth, for the wrongdoing of the guilty.

Related Reading:

Monday, April 15, 2019

America’s Greatness: Not the Progress, but the Liberty Rights Behind the Progress

In a Reason article, U.S.A, U.S.A., U.S.A: Trump can't take away America's greatness, Shikha Dalmia lamented America’s slippage in its reputation in global polls under Donald Trump’s presidency. Nonetheless, she writes:

But fear not. America will overcome this loss of respect. American greatness doesn't stem from its politics or its political leaders so they can't tarnish it much either, not even Trump. What has made America great is that it has set the standards of excellence in literally every human endeavor for the last 150 years.

While immodest, it is not an overstatement to suggest that when it comes to the sciences, arts, technology, and business, America dominates the world. And it does so not by imposing its will on others, but by excelling so much that it forces other countries to compete on a higher plane. Quite simply, America has made the world a better place to live.

America pioneered nearly every transformational technology of the industrial age, beginning with Thomas Edison's invention of the light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture camera, and followed by Henry Ford's mass production of automobiles.

Shikha goes on to list a myriad of “America’s” achievements in all kinds of fields. Then:

But all of this is dwarfed by America's economic footprint on the world. This country is quite literally the economic engine of the Earth.

Shikha also highlights America’s military might, by far the greatest the world has ever seen, then concluding:

The American brand's reputation has been generated through vast, far-reaching, and all-encompassing contributions to the advancement of humanity. And it is profoundly at odds with Trump's empty braggadocio. Even though America is stuck with Trump as its face for now, there is every reason to believe that it'll regain its former glory once he passes from the scene. The unseemly antics of an impetuous man, even one so visible and powerful, can't make America small forever, after all.

Is her Optimism warranted? It depends.

There’s something missing from this article. An answer to the question, “What lies behind all of this progress and greatness?” Something not mentioned in the article--freedom based on individual rights—specifically the inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property put in service to the pursuit of personal happiness.

America, in fact, did not create anything. Free American’s did. It is in the area of liberty rights and limited rights-protecting government that underpins America’s “all-encompassing contributions to the advancement of humanity.” This freedom--this engine of progress, the free individual pursuing her own self-interest--is threatened. Not by global polls, or anyone’s opinion of us. It is threatened from within, by a  collectivist movement, Progressivism, and its dominant political expression, the Democratic Party, that repudiates the core principles that America stands for, and that actually made America great. We should worry about the real threats.

Related Reading:

Also see my review of Levin’s book for The Objective Standard