Saturday, September 28, 2019

The Anti-human Tyrade of an Ungrateful 16-Year-old

The recent United Nations gathering focussed, among other things, on climate. And look who it put up as the face of the climate crusade, a 16-year-old “climate activist.” In World leaders promise to do more at the U.N. climate summit after Greta Thunberg’s appeal, Seth Borenstein reported for the Associated Press:

Leader after leader told the United Nations on Monday that they will do more to prevent a warming world from reaching even more dangerous levels. But as they made their pledges at the Climate Action Summit after an emotional appeal from 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, they and others conceded it was not enough.

“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here,” said Greta, who began a lone protest outside the Swedish parliament more than a year ago that culminated in Friday’s global climate strikes. “I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you have come to us young people for hope. How dare you. You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”

“People are suffering, people are dying,” Greta said as she sat on the dais with panelists who included a young clean-energy entrepreneur from India and a Brazilian lawyer representing youth climate activists. “Entire ecosystem are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?” 

“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear,” Greta added. “How dare you continue to look away and come here and say you’re doing enough when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight?” [sic]

In the last 30 years, life expectancies have risen, world poverty has plummeted, and by 2018 the middle class has soared to encompass more than half the world’s population. People’s lives are getting better around the globe. This is no fairy tale. That is called economic growth. Money is the miracle lubricant that enables that growth. Money makes possible the division of labor by facilitating the ability of people to get better together through the shared prosperity of trade, thus enhancing the liberty of the individual to use his reason to advance his own life.

That economic growth means people are suffering less. Fewer and fewer people are dying prematurely from climate-related danger as steady economic growth dramatically improves climate and environmental safety. Still, many of the world’s people are still living in deprivation, lacking even electricity. There’s much more to do. “Eternal economic growth” is a vital necessity; vital, that is, if improving human well-being is your goal. 

Yet, Greta Thunberg wants to roll back the clock to a time when the climate really was a crisis for humans--a chronic crisis, a constant battle for bare survival against famine and disease and pestilence and weather. For what? She wants to save the ecosystems from “collapsing”—which means, to save the planet from human alteration. Life without technology and industry, the energy and freedom that powers it, and the economic growth that results, is wholesale suffering and shorter lives. She damns money and economic growth outright, thus regressing mankind back to the hellhole of life in raw nature, in the process stealing the dreams and destroying the futures of the very young people she arrogantly claims to speak for. 

And what kind of life do today’s young people have to look forward to? 300 years ago, at the dawn of the Enlightenment, the odds were that a youngster like Thunberg wouldn’t have lived to 16 years old. And if she did, she could count on a brutish life of extreme poverty and drudgery in a hostile natural environment--the same stagnant life of her parents, grandparents, and generations past. Instead, a young person today faces a long, prosperous, much safer life full of opportunity. What brought that magnificent progress? Freedom, money, and economic growth. That’s the future that her elders bequeathed to today’s young people. And for that gift, all she has to say to her elders is, “how dare you?” How ungrateful.

But that’s not the worst of it. What of her claim that “the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight?” Nonsense. We’ve had decades full of hundreds of $billions in subsidies and regulations to encourage “clean energy” imposed by governments. It hasn’t worked. People want their reliable fossil fuels because economic growth needs reliable, cheap, plentiful energy, and economic growth is the only means of improving human life. But political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. To date, not enough political power has been brought to bear. The limited political solutions of subsidies and regulations have not made the impossible possible. Some controls have been tried, and have failed. So Thunberg demands what every utopian who thinks she has a right to force her values on everyone else. Though she doesn’t come right out and say it, she demands the total politics of socialist totalitarianism, plainly laid out by Leftists politicians. She’s addressing a government body. She demands that they force aside economic well-being. That means freedom must go.

How dare her! Hers is the voice of a monstrous evil. Thunberg’s message goes beyond the fairy tale of some prosperous “clean energy” future. It goes beyond windmills and solar panels. She proclaims the true heart and soul of Environmentalism, the moral supremacy of nature over human life. Give her credit for honesty. She doesn’t cloak her agenda in promises of jobs and economic growth, the way climate fear mongers do in pushing to outlaw fossil fuels and nuclear in the name of renewable energy. She flat out attacks freedom, money, and economic growth. “Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth, ” Thunberg bellows. We need “politics” (force) to impose “solutions” like: “Everyone and everything has to change so why waste precious time arguing about what and who needs to change first?” Sounds a lot like “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society,” as the UN puts it, that only totalitarian powers can bring about, as every utopian thug who ever sought to shape society to his liking has shown. She demands we “make the best available science the heart of politics and democracy.” That’s not a new sentiment. Karl Marx’s “scientific socialism” resulted in 100 million deaths by government trying to implement just that. The science of eugenics justified the German National Socialists’ examination policies. That’s what you get when you make science rather than protecting individual rights “the heart of politics.”

I don’t know how much of the 16 year old Thunberg’s vision is indoctrinated ignorance and how much is her actual conviction. Perhaps she is an innocent child victim of extreme exploitation “to advance a political agenda” or “vicariously living out her parents’ own dreams of global fame via their daughter,” as Emma Freire argues. Perhaps Thunberg is a victim of “betrayal,” having “been misled by the hysterics of doomsayers to spend their formative years trembling with dread” in order to make her a mouthpiece for those who aim to “massively increase government power” and “go from capitalism to socialism,” as Jon Hersey argues. Or perhaps she’s not so innocent. I do know one thing. Her utopian vision would be disastrous for human life on Earth. Such utopian disasters are never innocent. Whatever the case with Thunberg, that is the vision that the United Nations, the institution whose members claim to represent all the people of the planet, gave its platform to. How dare they!

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The sustainability myth—Alex Epstein









Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Weather Treason @ The NJ Star-Ledger

On 9/4/2019, as Hurricane Dorian churned along the U.S. East Coast, the New Jersey Star-Ledger's Tom Moran asserted that The Bahamas is paying for our sins. His opening remarks:


The people of the Bahamas have a moral right, if not a legal one, to demand damages from the United States for our leading role in the ruination of the planet’s weather systems. They are paying a steep price today for our sins as Hurricane Dorian pounds them, leaving death and ruin in its wake.

I posted these comments:

There is as much bad as good from the Trump Administration. Trump’s energy policies top the good. His approach to climate is to integrate the vital role of energy to human well-being into his calculations, and to “first do no harm” in addressing environmental and climate issues.

What do we get from the opposition? A utopian agenda to transform American society from the top down, based on hysterical claims of imminent catastrophe from climate witch doctors intended to panic Americans into voting for a huge step toward tyranny. The new utopians demand huge new powers for government to seize our wealth and clamp vast new controls on economic activity. Climate change is a political tactic which the utopians openly tell us is, as Bernie Sanders said recently, really just the foundation for a socialist America.

America’s “sin” is to be a bastion of enough economic freedom to produce prosperity based on production of huge volumes of plentiful, reliable energy. Prosperity gives humans much better capabilities to cope with and recover from the inevitable extremes of Earth’s weather systems. America is a leader in forging that prosperity. And for that “sin”, the new socialists, on the altar of the witch doctors of climate doom, want to sacrifice Americans’ remaining freedom and wealth.

The Democrats competing to outdo each other in forging totalitarian utopian schemes to impose on America, in the name of “climate crisis.” The latest—Booker’s proposal to ban all fracking, the miraculous new technology that has unleashed vast new supplies of lifegiving cheap energy. Democrats are truly a sociopathic party. There is only one word for Moran’s opening paragraph--betrayal, if not outright treason. On balance, Trump is giving us a more sane U.S. energy policy. 

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

Moran’s column is not what’s really shocking. What’s shocking is how many Americans are succumbing to the hysteria.

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

Why Free Speech and Spending on Speech are Inextricably Linked


In my September 3, 2019 post N.J. AG Confirms: State’s Disclosure Law is about Stifling Political Accountability, I covered my comments in support of two lawsuits, one filed by Americans for Prosperity and another reportedly being prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union, challenging New Jersey’s new law (S1500) banning so-called “dark money” donations to political activist groups. These donations are kept confidential by the groups, but the new law makes public disclosure mandatory. For now only donations totalling $10,000 or more must be disclosed. But the precedent puts all private donations at risk.

Ayn Rand identified a crippling idea that mystical thought leaders have foisted on us—a phenomena she labeled the Soul-Body Dichotomy. She identified the nature and various manifestations of this dichotomy; that a person’s “body and his consciousness are two enemies engaged in deadly conflict, two antagonists of opposite natures, contradictory claims, incompatible needs.” She urged the people she called the New Intellectuals “discard its irrational conflicts and contradictions, such as: mind versus heart, thought versus action, reality versus desire, the practical versus the moral.”

The ongoing war against unobstructed political campaign financing is a perfect illustration of how the soul-body dichotomy, particularly its “thought versus action” manifestation, is employed to abridge free speech by people who then simultaneously claim to be supporters of free speech. In N.J. has new law to unmask secret campaign donors. A lawsuit aims to kill it, I replied to two comments in support of the law. Rand’s identification of the soul-body dichotomy is invaluable in framing my replies. Following are the comments and my replies. 

DRS wrote:

I am confused. How is identifying the speaker an impingement on the right of free speech? That is the right to stand up and speak your mind freely, not the right to hide and take pot shots from behind a secure wall.

You mean like you’re doing from behind the “secure wall” of the pseudonym “DRS”? Legally forcing the Star-Ledger to disclose DRS’s indentity would be no different from forcing PACs to disclose their donors. 

Good question, though. Spending is integral to speech (See my reply to Curious 11 above). Anonymous spending equals anonymous speech. Anonymous speech has been sanctioned by Supreme Court justices John Harlin II, Hugo Black, John Paul Stevens, and Clarence Thomas. As SCOTUS ruled in NAACP vs. Alabama, “compelled disclosure” impairs individuals’ “collective effort to foster beliefs” by exposing them to “manifestations of public hostility,” violating fundamental rights to free association and privacy thereof, free speech, and due process. David Keating (Institute for Free Speech) and Amol Sinha (ACLU) elaborated in their joint 3/12/19 S-L op-ed:

[S]ignificant social movements of the last century – for civil rights, racial equality, and LGBTQ rights, to name just a few – were powered by the ability of like-minded people to join and support groups, and to do so privately. Our society would not be where it is today without this fundamental right.

Founding era intellectual advocates of independence used anonymity to shield themselves from British reprisals. The “right to . . . a secure wall”—the right to speak with privacy and safety—is most certainly inalienable. You have no right to know who’s financing free speech, if that person wants to remain anonymous. Neither does the government, unless it’s part of a CRIMINAL investigation. The rights to privacy and safety are moral rights legally protected under the 9th and 4th Amendments. If one is inhibited from spending to finance his speech to protect his privacy, one’s free speech rights have been violated.

Curious11 wrote:

We have the right to free speech... but you have to pay to be heard. The legislation that passed that seeks to shed light on the “dark money” should be welcomed as good governance and not scorned as an assault on free speech. If one donates directly to a candidate then there are limits to the amount of the donation and there are requirements for disclosure of the name of the donor. Political Action Committees (the main vehicle for dark money used to finance election outcomes) are nothing more than a method to circumvent legitimate and transparent election finance rules. Therefore that creates an environment where a few wealthy donors can easily drown out the majority opinion on an issue and coerce politicians to do their bidding (lest the politicians face a well financed primary challenge in the next election cycle by a more pliable candidate). 

I replied:

“You have to pay to be heard.” Precisely. Opinions are formed inside your head, but get expressed in the physical world. To separate the two is to cut you in half--pitting the spiritual against the physical parts of your being. Freedom to think and freedom to act are inseparable. Opinion is thought. Spending is action. Intellectual freedom and economic freedom are corollaries. If the government controls spending, it controls your ability to “be heard”. If privacy concerns inhibit you from financing the expression of your ideas, your free speech rights have been abridged. That’s why courts have long protected anonymous speech. (See my reply to DRS below). 

Terms like “dark money” and “wealthy donors . . . drown out the majority” are nonsensical terms designed to hide the real intention, which is to stifle free speech and protect politicians from accountability. “Dark” means private, and that money is the individual’s private business, no one else's. The right to privacy is a moral right and is legally protected under the Ninth Amendment. If you fear being “drowned out”, it is government you should fear, not other donors, however large. PACS do not “finance election outcomes.” Voters determine outcomes. Nor can PACs “coerce” politicians. Politicians hold the power of the gun, not private individuals. PACs merely finance expression of ideas and opinions and persuasion. Compulsory disclosure laws violate free speech rights. 

Curious 11 has it exactly backwards. It is absurd to claim that abridging the MEANS to free speech does not abridge free speech. The very fact that we have to pay to exercise our free speech is the best argument AGAINST S1500. Compulsory disclosure laws violate the First Amendment’s prohibition on “abridging the freedom of speech.”

Related Reading:







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



Thursday, September 19, 2019

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


Big Media has officially dropped all pretense at objectivity in reporting. It's the "Covering Climate Now" initiative. The NJ Star-Ledger, my newspaper, has not surprisingly joined the project, so I’m getting a daily dose of Leftist climate change “news”. Here’s the New Jersey Star-Ledger announcing its participation in the project:

On September 23, world leaders will gather at the United Nations in New York to decide how global society will deal with one of the most far-reaching problems we face today: Climate Change.

That meeting is the United Nations Climate Action Summit, and it is set to be a landmark event in which the nations of the world will submit their plans to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

NJ Advance Media, the journalistic engine behind NJ.com and The Star-Ledger, is joining more than 170 other media outlets across the globe for an initiative called Covering Climate Now

The goal of the project — which is led by The Guardian, The Nation and Columbia Journalism Review — is to have a week’s worth of climate coverage leading up to the international summit. Stories will run online, in newspapers, on television and on radio. 

At least the Star-Ledger managed to avoid the term “climate crisis” and its ilk in its report, even though such apocalyptic phraseology is common on its editorial pages. It does, however, blame every perceived squiggle on climate change, such as “climate change threatens our lungs and raises wildfire risk in the Garden State, how hotter summers threaten New Jersey’s lakes and how changing oceans affect the sharks off the Jersey Shore. 

CNN/Business is more in keeping with the catastrophist agenda. It reported:

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

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

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

Propaganda? You Bet.  Here's more proof, from the horse's mouth, the Columbia Journalism Review:

MORE THAN 170 NEWS OUTLETS from around the world with a combined audience of hundreds of millions of people have now signed up for Covering Climate Now, a project co-founded by CJR and The Nation aimed at strengthening the media’s focus on the climate crisis. [emphasis added]

How do I know it's a propaganda campaign? The tip-off is the term "climate crisis"--which is not a fact but a power-seeking political tactic of statist interests from Environmentalists to socialists. The climate crisis scenario is dishonestly being run as news, not editorial opinion, and will likely continue with increasing intensity and panic-mongering hysteria up to the 2020 United States presidential election.

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Monday, September 16, 2019

On This Constitution Day, Remember the Declaration of Independence

232 years ago, on September 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention ended and the Constitution of the United States of America was signed. This day is officially known as Constitution Day.


It was also an occasion for one columnist to declare that the US Constitution is "broken." The New Jersey Star-Ledger's Tom Moran wrote five years ago:


Kids in America are taught to venerate the Constitution, almost as if it were the word of God.


And that’s exactly what Thomas Jefferson feared. He believed it was flawed, that experience would teach each generation new lessons and that it should be redone every 19 years.


But Jefferson lost the argument. And so the Founders signed a Constitution 225 [230] years ago tomorrow that is an impregnable fortress, firmly set against the forces of change that Jefferson welcomed and almost impossible to amend.


Does that make sense? Haven’t we learned valuable lessons over the past few centuries about how democracies thrive, and how they stagnate? In a day when our federal government is so dysfunctional, shouldn't we at least consider fundamental changes?


University of Texas Professor Sanford Levinson is advocating a series of such fundamental changes to the US Constitution, which Moran discusses in his column. Levinson's proposals include instituting a direct popular vote for president and measures to greatly weaken the checks and balances that limit the power of any one branch of government. In essence, Levinson's purpose, according to Moran, is to expand the power of majority rule and break Washington's political "gridlock," which has made our federal government "dysfunctional."


Moran approvingly cites Thomas Jefferson who, as Moran strongly implies, would welcome these constitutional changes, or any changes suited to any generation.


Before we discuss ways to expand the power of electoral majority rule so as to enable the government to get more "done", we need to have a conversation about what the government's proper job it is to do.


The American constitution's basic function is to limit government's power to the protection of individual rights. This is spelled out in the Declaration of Independence, the philosophical blueprint for the constitution. Any discussion about the constitution has to begin with the Declaration--which, incidentally, was written by Thomas Jefferson:


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. . .


In its essentials, this 55 word statement of proper government says:

  • Rights are held equally and at all times by all people.
  • Rights belong inextricably to the individual by virtue of his nature as a human being.
  • Rights are guarantees to freedom of action; to the pursuit of happiness, not to happiness guaranteed by the labor or wealth of others.
  • Rights precede government.
  • Government is created exclusively to “secure”—i.e., protect—rights.
  • Government’s “just powers” being authorized by the people, through a popular vote.
  • “Just powers” being only those powers required for government to fulfill the purpose for which it was created to begin with—to legally protect the people’s unalienable individual rights to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.


Of course, this is not the "Word of God," to be accepted uncritically. Each of these points requires extensive philosophical backup. None of these "truths" are in fact "self-evident." They must be learned and validated scientifically; i.e., morally and philosophically, as determined by the observable facts of reality concerning man and his requirements for survival and flourishing. But these are the essentials, as I see it.


The Founders did not intend to create a democracy, despite Moran's devious attempt to smuggle in that premise. They created a constitutionally limited republic protective of the liberty and rights of the individual, under which the constitution "carefully limits the power of the majority by drawing a legal boundry around it" (P. 113)—a boundry that stops majority and elected officials' power where individual rights begin. The Founders understood that government presupposes individual rights. So the constitutional discussion must begin with the questions: What are rights, and what is the proper function of government?


As the Declaration states, every individual is "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Since productive work is the only means of sustaining one's life and achieving happiness, it's obvious that the Founders understood--including in Jefferson's own words--that property rights are among those rights. The Declaration then states "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men." Rights—which in fact are not endowments by either nature or God but moral principles derived from observations and facts about human nature—are sanctions to freedom of action in a social context, not a claim on the lives and property of others or a government guarantee of material well-being and happiness. Notice that the constitution does not authorize government to redistribute private wealth.


Moran is wrong. America hasn't stagnated. It has "progressed" from what was a largely free country a century ago to a burgeoning regulatory welfare state—a dangerous regressionary trend unsupported by constitutional authority. Why? Because the fundamental principles upon which the constitution rests have been largely abandoned, opening the door to the piecemeal progression toward unlimited majoritarian rule, a manifestation of totalitarianism. Consequently, our best short-term protection against further encroachments on individual rights--and it's a weak protection--is political gridlock. I can't think of anything more dangerous to America's future than to begin tampering with the basics of the constitution in today's cultural environment. Before we consider unshackling majority rule, we must rediscover our Founding principles, roll back the regulatory welfare state, and provide ironclad guarantees that no one's rights be alienated by majority vote; i.e., respect the original intent of the constitution.

The Founders did not intend to replace absolute monarchy with absolute majority rule unconstrained by the principle of individual rights. As Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) asked during a debate over the propriety of the Revolutionary War in the movie "The Patriot", "Why should I trade one tyrant 3000 miles away for 3000 tyrants one mile away? An elected legislature can trample a man's rights as easily as a king can."

The answer: We shouldn't. As Jefferson said, "the majority, oppressing an individual, is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength, and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society." The Founders were not primarily concerned with giving the people the right to vote. They intended to liberate the people from predatory government, whether monarchistic, theocratic, socialist, or democratic.

There are those who would invert the original concept of Americanism—that the individual is sovereign and his life belongs to him—and replace it with the idea that the collective—i.e., the state—is sovereign over the individual. It is an attempted transition from republican constitutionalism to democracy; from individualism to collectivism. We cannot let the counter-revolutionary reactionaries succeed. The fight to defeat the reactionaries and restore and renew Americanism can start with this: As we celebrate Constitution Day, remember what I call the Constitution’s philosophic blueprint, or what has also been called the Conscience of the Constitution—the Declaration of Independence.


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