Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mamet: When People Stop Arguing

“of course, all people argue. That’s what a democracy is. When you stop arguing, that’s when you have a dictatorship.”
David Mamet (HT: Barry Ickes).  (Be sure to link to David Mamet for video)

How Unelected Bureaucrats Became ‘Liberty’s Nemesis’ - By Allen Mendenhall

Federal employees micromanage every aspect of our lives, and yet, they have no constitutional authority to make the rules. We can't allow them to remake America.

Whether they realize it or not, Americans are subject to the soft despotism of administrative law. The common-law system of ordered liberty and evolutionary correction that the United States inherited from England is hardly recognizable in our current legal system. Bureaucratic administrative agencies that are unaccountable to voters now determine many of the rules and regulations that have palpable effects on the everyday lives of ordinary citizens.

In many important respects, we no longer live in a constitutional republic—we’re subject to the rule of an unaccountable administrative state. This the problem confronted in Liberty’s Nemesis: The Unchecked Expansion of the State, edited by Dean Reuter and John Yoo.

Although the U.S. Constitution does not expressly endow them with legislative prerogative, or even contemplate their current form and function, administrative agencies issue and enforce binding rules. They arrogate to themselves powers nowhere authorized by the Constitution or validated by historical Anglo-American experience. These agencies, moreover, govern quotidian activities once left to local communities and small businesses—everything from managing hospital beds to issuing permits to liquefied petroleum gas dealers. On both the state and federal level, administrative agencies have intruded upon local customs and practices and have imposed burdensome regulations on resistant groups, trades, neighborhoods, and civic associations……

Friday, April 29, 2016

CAP – Study 8 – Institutions – Family – Family Hierarchy

CAP – Study 8 – Institutions – Family – Family Hierarchy

As we become more familiar with the idea that we are here for the purpose of advancing the Kingdom of God – right now and right here on earth – how exactly do we do that? This study begins the process of addressing that question.
·         The family was the first institution for carrying out God’s purpose.
·         The family as an institution is temporary.
·         The family operates through a hierarchy designed by God.
·         The family is the chief agency of God’s dominion.
The following is from Gary North’s “Unconditional Surrender”


The family was the first institution.  It was based on an oath, but one announced by God.  “And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.  And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28).  That was a covenant oath between God and mankind.  It was an oath because it was God’s vow regarding what men and women would do in history. 

As an institution, the family is temporary.  It does not extend into eternity.  “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).  Its purpose has to do with history, which is cursed (Genesis 3:17-19).  It is supposed to be a blessed institution, established for the glory of God.

It is common in every society.  Conservative political philosophy in the West has always said that the family is the central institution of society.  Jesus taught otherwise.  “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:  I came not to send peace, but a sword.  For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.  He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me:  and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthey 10:34-37).  The church, as the bride of Christ, is the central institution.  It will extend into eternity. (Rev.21:22)  The family will not.

This fact does not affirm the central tenet of liberal political philosophy: The state as the central institution.  The state also will not extend into eternity, for its only biblically valid function is to suppress certain forms of public evil.  “For he is the minister of God to you for good.  But if you do that which is evil, be afraid, for he bears not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil” (Romans 13:4).

Man and woman were created as a functioning team. Their task was, and is, to subdue the earth to the glory of God (Genesis 1:26-28; 9:1-7). This is the task of dominion. It is basic to the very being of man to fulfill this assignment. As punishment for man's rebellion, God does not allow man to completely fulfill this command. An eternal longing, a feeling of impotence, will gnaw at every rebel's mind forever. Adam was created first. He was assigned the preliminary task of naming (classifying) the animals before he was given his wife (Genesis 2:19-20). Man completed this assignment, and then God gave him a wife. This indicates that a woman is given to man to help him fulfill his calling before God. Paul put it this way: "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man" (I Corinthians 11:8-9). At the same time, they are now a functioning unit under God: "Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God" (I Corinthians 11:11-12). Originally, the woman was made for the man, but all children emanate from both man and woman. All are under God. There was, and is, a hierarchy. God is absolutely sovereign over both men and women, but He establishes His chain of command through the husband. Peter wrote: "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands" (I Peter 3:la). Again, "Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement [terror]" (I Peter 3:6). Husbands owe their wives righteous judgment and support. "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered" (I Peter 3:7). Paul's lengthy statement concerning the mutual duties of husbands and wives compares this relationship with Christ's love for His church and the church's responsibility to the one who loves her. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself.”(Ephesians 5:22-28). Given the perceived necessity of Paul and the other writers of commanding wives to submit to their husbands, and telling the husbands to love their wives we should expect to find the opposite in life: Disobedient wives and unloving husbands. God gave strict orders to Adam to refrain from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tempter approached Eve first, in his successful attempt to foment a revolution. Adam, in turn, carried his revolution to God. He also ate. Satan knew what he was doing when he began his revolution by undermining the family hierarchy. He cut the chain of command at its weakest link, the woman. Peter spoke of the wife as "the weaker vessel" (I Peter 3:7). Paul said the woman was deceived by the serpent, but the man was not deceived (I Timothy 2:14). Adam was the stronger link. The family hierarchy extends downward to the children. Paul repeats the familiar refrain: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: For this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged" (Colossians 3:18-21). This chain of command is designed to reflect God's relationship to the creation a hierarchy of functions, but without any superiority or inferiority of being which means that the Christian view of marriage upholds both sexes without confusing the two.  Functional subordination does not imply ethical inferiority. It simply means that mankind as a collective unit is composed of different sorts of people, and there can never be functional equality between men and women. Their tasks are different, and for mankind to fulfill the terms of God's dominion assignment, men must respect the differences God has built into the sexes. Men are functionally superior to their wives in a way analogous to Christ's functional superiority over the church. The church will never be functionally superior to Christ.
 The family is God's specially designed unit. It is designed to extend God's visible sovereignty over the face of the earth. The family is the chief agency of dominion. Dominion is its task.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Whether the establishment likes it or not, and it evidently does not, there is a revolution going on in America.
The old order in this capital city is on the way out. America is crossing a great divide, and there is no going back.
Donald Trump’s triumphant march to the nomination in Cleveland, virtually assured by his five-state sweep Tuesday, confirms it, as does his foreign policy address of Wednesday.
Two minutes into his speech before the Center for the National Interest, Trump declared that the “major and overriding theme” of his administration will be – “America first.” Right down the smokestack!
Gutsy and brazen it was to use that phrase, considering the demonization of the great anti-war movement of 1940-41, which was backed by the young patriots John F. Kennedy and his brother Joe, Gerald Ford and Sargent Shriver, and President Hoover and Alice Roosevelt.
Whether the issue is trade, immigration or foreign policy, says Trump, “we are putting the American people first again.” U.S. policy will be dictated by U.S. national interests.
By what he castigated, and what he promised, Trump is repudiating both the fruits of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy and the legacy of Bush Republicanism and neoconservatism.
When Ronald Reagan went home, says Trump, “our foreign policy began to make less and less sense. Logic was replaced with foolishness and arrogance, which ended in one foreign policy disaster after another.”
He lists the results of 15 years of Bush-Obama wars in the Middle East: civil war, religious fanaticism, thousands of Americans killed, trillions of dollars lost, a vacuum created that ISIS has filled.
Is he wrong here? How have all of these wars availed us? Where is the “New World Order” of which Bush I rhapsodized at the U.N.?
Can anyone argue that our interventions to overthrow regimes and erect democratic states in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen have succeeded and been worth the price we have paid in blood and treasure, and the devastation we have left in our wake?
George W. Bush declared that America’s goal would become “to end tyranny in our world.” An utterly utopian delusion, to which Trump retorts by recalling John Quincy Adams’ views on America: “She goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”
To the neocons’ worldwide crusade for democracy, Trump’s retort is that it was always a “dangerous idea” to think “we could make Western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interest in becoming Western democracies.”
We are “overextended,” he declared, “We must rebuild our military.” Our NATO allies have been freeloading for half a century. NAFTA was a lousy deal. In running up $4 trillion in trade surpluses since Bush I, the Chinese have been eating our lunch.
This may be rankest heresy to America’s elites, but Trump outlines a foreign policy past generations would have recognized as common sense: Look out for your own country and your own people first.
Instead of calling President Putin names, Trump says he would talk to the Russians to “end the cycle of hostility,” if he can.
“Ronald Reagan must be rolling over in his grave,” sputtered Sen. Lindsey Graham, who quit the race to avoid a thrashing by the Donald in his home state of South Carolina.
But this writer served in Reagan’s White House, and the Gipper was always seeking a way to get the Russians to negotiate. He leaped at the chance for a summit with Mikhail Gorbachev in Geneva and Reykjavik.
“Our goal is peace and prosperity, not war,” says Trump, “unlike other candidates, war and aggression will not be my first instinct.”
Is that not an old and good Republican tradition?
Dwight Eisenhower ended the war in Korea and kept us out of any other. Richard Nixon ended the war in Vietnam, negotiated arms agreements with Moscow and made an historic journey to open up Mao’s China.
Reagan used force three times in eight years. He put Marines in Lebanon, liberated Grenada and sent FB-111s over Tripoli to pay Col. Gadhafi back for bombing a Berlin discotheque full of U.S. troops.
Reagan later believed putting those Marines in Lebanon, where 241 were massacred, to be the worst mistake of his presidency.
Military intervention for reasons of ideology or nation building is not an Eisenhower or Nixon or Reagan tradition. It is not a Republican tradition. It is a Bush II-neocon deformity, an aberration that proved disastrous for the United States and the Middle East.
The New York Times headline declared that Trump’s speech was full of “Paradoxes,” adding, “Calls to Fortify Military and to Use It Less.”
But isn’t that what Reagan did? Conduct the greatest military buildup since Ike, then, from a position of strength, negotiate with Moscow a radical reduction in nuclear arms?
“We’re getting out of the nation-building business,” says Trump.
“The nation-state remains the true foundation for happiness and harmony.” No more surrenders of sovereignty on the altars of “globalism.”
Is that not a definition of a patriotism that too many among our arrogant elites believe belongs to yesterday?

Public university admits to burying study finding no damage to water quality from fracking because funders ‘disappointed’ - By Thomas Lifson

A three-year study undertaken by the state-funded University of Cincinnati will not be released to the public, because it found no damage at all.  This direct contradiction of the goals of many environmentalist groups had to be suppressed.  As the lead researcher said:

I am really sad to say this, but some of our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results. They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping this data could to a reason to ban it[.]

This is a scandal that goes to the heart of the relationship between science and public policy and the reliability of global warming doomsayers.  The scandal was broken in a small town newspaper, the Free Press-Standard of Carroll County, Ohio and only gradually made its way to the national media via Jeff Stier of the National Center for Public Policy ResearchNewsweek, and Jazz Shaw of Hot Air.

As Stier wrote at Newsweek:
 Geologists at the University of Cincinnati just wrapped up a three-year investigation of hydraulic fracturing and its impact on local water supplies.

As Russell Cook, a citizen-journalist, has detailed, the global warming fraudsters inevitably revert to the charge that scientists who question their theory are in the pocket of the “fossil fuel industry,” a charge based on no substance at all and is actually 180 degrees different from reality.  With billions of dollars annually spent of “global warming research” that hands to governments enormous power to tax and regulate all economic activity (that depends on energy), the gravy train is on the warmist side.  Develop a computer program to explain away the embarrassing failure of data to conform to theiry, and you will be lavished research funds, invited to conferences in exotic locales, and put up at five-star hotels.

We have in Ohio a smoking gun on the repression of one side of the controversy.  I hope that the Ohio State Legislature will conduct an investigation:

Rep. Andy Thompson, R-Marrietta, whose district includes Carroll, Harrison and Belmont counties, is calling for the university to release its findings. Thompson noted the study received state funding in the form of an $85,714 grant from the Ohio Board or Regents and federal funding from the national Science Foundation for an isotope ratio mass spectrometer.

“It is unacceptable that taxpayers have funded this important groundwater study and the findings are being kept from the public,” said Thompson. “UC still has not produced a full report of their findings, nor has the university issued a press release of their results. Yet, during the course of the past few years, the university has released countless advisories on the multi-year Groundwater Research of Ohio study. I am calling on the University of Cincinnati Department of Geology to release their full findings surrounding this study immediately. The people of Ohio have funded and deserve to know that private water wells in shale counties have not been impacted.”
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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

“Some thoughts on Thomas Jefferson Education for homeschooling”

(The following commentary was provided by my daughter-in-law in response to a question to me from someone on the internet. As she emphasizes, she hasn't personally taught the TJEd program, but is familiar with some of the specific methods and results that she has seen as an observer - the lack of developing reading skills seems particularly evident.
In any case, I trust this piece will be helpful for anyone interested. You may email me through my website home. - CL)

I don't know much about it, and there aren't any people that I know of that have used this approach, so my opinions are more from generalized knowledge of it rather than the practical application of the method.  As always, I would say that homeschooling in general, with at least a modest amount of attention by the parent or parents will result in a decent education, so this methodology will have as much success as the time and effort put into any other home school program.

Having said that, here are my thoughts:

  • The program uses a semi-classical approach to teaching.  There is no doubt that this approach has some amazing benefits.  Mainly, I feel that it teaches a child to think as opposed to just spouting back information.  Though it doesn't force reading at an early age, it does expect that the classics will be read to the child, which is meant to increase love for books and increase vocabulary and comprehension skills.
  • The program's mentoring approach is is the apprenticeship of old, only ideally with as many professionals as possible.  The purpose is not just to sit in a classroom listening to a "professional," but to go out in the field and work with one to attain knowledge and skills.  Perfect!
  • The early years (until age 8 approximately) are a time to instill biblical principles, while also encouraging individualism.  To me, this means - let them play games (ideally educational games, but that is not forced) and "creative" play.  One can never find objection to instilling biblical principles!
  • The approach tends to have a happy, non-confrontational home, because the child is not forced to learn.
  • The expectation is that the child will WANT to start reading beginning around age 8, and often say that boys will WANT to do that later.  I believe that this is too late.  I believe that those early educational years are formative regarding learning habits and developing the foundations for future learning.  Though obedience has in theory been attained by that time, it doesn't mean desire for learning has.  If my children were given the opportunity to go fishing every day until they were 8, they would still be doing it now!  It is a bit like the one of the families here who said the same thing about boys, and their children are the only ones that can't read the hunter safety test that they needed to take when they turned 10.  Not only is their reading still behind, but that puts them behind in other areas of learning, because they don't have the ability to read for math, science, history, etc.    This is the case with one family I know, but that doesn't mean this approach is not successful with other families.  Additionally, I do not believe that boys learn at a later age, as I am sure my children and their cousins can attest to that fact.  I think that discipline is harder to achieve in boys, but that is why I tell my children that I pray that they will be wise, disciplined, God-fearing, productive members of society.  It is a quality they must learn and, in my opinion, is best instilled at a young age.
  • Mentoring sounds wonderful, but is sometimes impractical to achieve in today's society.  During Jefferson's time, this approach would have been easier and in certain societies today it is attainable, but rare.  I can see this approach working in Mormon communities or some religious communities like Seventh Day Adventists, etc., because there is a community that would be more apt to agree with the approach.  It is a bit like my son working at the maintenance shop.  Eventually, there was more concern about possible lawsuits or injuries, rather than the carrying on of a trade to our youth, and he was told he couldn't return.  Part of that problem is probably centralized around trade unions as well, but I'm only guessing at that--it would be harder to control your workers when you don't know who they are, and it would also be harder to control the trade when those outside the union would already know the skills of the trade.
  • There isn't a real studying/learning approach until the child reaches puberty, when there is the expectation that the child will desire to learn 10-12 hours a day.  I have never had any of my children wanting to learn 10-12 hours a day, but then again I have not used this approach :)!  And, the things they may want to learn about are not areas of study that I want them to carry on for the rest of their lives (i.e., air soft gun repair, metal detecting, ipod games, etc.).  I hope that I am giving my children an education that will help them feel like they have had an advantage over public school students, rather than a disadvantage having been home schooled.  Their approach would mean that someone like my middle son would just be beginning to gain certain learning habits, instead of his having just completed his college-level Pre-calculus test on Thursday.  
  • There is something to be said about the approach claiming that the student DESIRES to learn, but I am not convinced of that personally.  I feel that it is a bit like the First Law of Thermodynamics--a child who is at play desires to remain at play; a child who is learning will remain learning.  I pulled back this year on Calculus with my two older boys because I felt I was expecting too much as they were taking their CLEP tests, but I have had both of them ask me on numerous occasions to start back up with them.  I've had the oldest ask for me to continue helping him with Advanced Chemistry as well as his other sciences when I thought he might have too much on his plate right now.  They both started early, but they both want to learn.  Part of that desire, I think, is because they see success in what they already know, rather than feeling like their catching up to what others their age have learned.
Education is very important to me--not for the sake of knowledge, but for the sake of being a good Christian example in all areas of society.  As I say all the time to the teens here and to my children, you can't expect to have Christian leaders, unless you plan on becoming the Christian leaders yourself.  We need to infiltrate our society again, and we can't do that without being educated on so many different levels.  

Like unschooling, this approach can definitely be successful, but it takes the right child, the right parent, and the right community.  Like any home schooling endeavor, there are going to be parents/children that will not succeed, but the majority, whether using this approach or not, will be better off than the public school system--even if it only means that they have retained so many values that are lost or stolen from our youth that are indoctrinated in the public school system today.

Left-Secularism Is Taking Over the West - by Patrick J. Buchanan

In a recent column Dennis Prager made an acute observation.
“The vast majority of leading conservative writers … have a secular outlook on life. … They are unaware of the disaster that godlessness in the West has led to.”
These secular conservatives may think that “America can survive the death of God and religion,” writes Prager, but they are wrong.
And, indeed, the last half-century seems to bear him out.
A people’s religion, their faith, creates their culture, and their culture creates their civilization. And when faith dies, the culture dies, the civilization dies, and the people begin to die.
Is this not the recent history of the West?......

Monday, April 25, 2016

What is a conservative and what is conservatism? - By Michael Finch

What lies at the heart of the Trump movement and those who are critical of it is the very basic question:  What is a conservative and what is conservatism?

In reading Derek Hunter’s anger filled invective at, I had to wonder, where is the intensity of the anger coming from?

Trump’s campaign themes are very simple, perhaps too simple, but you can sum them up in a few points:  He is for protecting American industry and manufacturing; he is against foreign intervention unless Americans national security is threatened; he is for closing the borders to all illegal immigration; and he has taken a very un-nuanced position on Islam, from a temporary moratorium on Muslim immigration to statements that Islam hates us.  Unsophisticated, but still, a very different take from the rest of the candidates, from either party.  He has been running on those themes since last August, with very little variation. 

One can certainly disagree with one or all of those positions.  But why the chalkboard screeching hatred?  For Trump as a personality, the screeching, at times, could be understandable, but why the hatred for what Trump represents?  After all, these positions are all, or at least, once were, common “conservative” positions, represented by, if not a majority, certainly a sizable minority of the movement.

And therein is the problem, which is easy to define.  The current conservative movement is in a crisis and those who have been running the movement for the past 30 years seem to feel threatened that their reign in running it might be over.  And thus the long knives are coming out.

The leaders of the movement, the same who run the major think tanks, the conservative foundations and influential journals, have been able to define conservatism, unchecked, for over three decades.  There are many themes in that movement that almost any conservative would agree with, but there are some that have caused great ruptures.  I will focus on those issues.

In his article, Hunter asks of Sean Hannity and others, “Did They Ever Believe?”(in being conservative) and then answers the question by giving two options, either they didn’t believe or they are lying.

But lying about what?  What if, in 1980, I was for an American First foreign policy, reluctant to send our young men to fight in wars unless our vital national security was threatened, for closing our borders to illegal immigration and the repeal of 1965 Immigration Law, for higher tariffs to protect American manufacturing and industry, took a position in the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution and a decade of terror, that Islam is simply incompatible with Western Civilization.  You can disagree with every one of these, but you simply cannot deny that they are “conservative” positions and had been well within the conservative and some even Republican Party, tradition since the Party’s founding.

For instance, one needs to remind the free traders and free marketers that the Republican Party was founded on high tariffs and protection of American industry and that remained a bedrock principle of the Party from 1854 through the 1920’s.

There is a strong tradition in both the Republican Party and the conservative movement for a non interventionist “realist” view of foreign policy. That tradition has been part of our nation since the Founding; it has been the liberal, Democratic view that we are compelled to travel the world to slay dragons.  That was the view of Republicans or conservatives until late in the 20th Century. Our sieve that serves as a border, the movement that pushed through the 1965 Ted Kennedy disastrous law, which turned a century of immigration policy on its head and then the subsequent flooding into our country of millions of illegal aliens?  These are not conservative achievements.

The conservative movement shifted in the decades from the 70’s to the 90’s so that the movement came to be dominated by a free trade, loose borders and democracy building, interventionist foreign policy. We can argue the points, we should argue the points, but let’s have the debate.  You can be all of these things represented by this new brand of conservatism and still be a conservative, though a very strong argument can be made that you can also believe in the opposite and still rightly and proudly call yourself a conservative.

What we are seeing in the Trump phenomena, as oafish or politically incorrect (depending on your point of view) as he is, is the revolt of Middle America that is tired of seeing their country torn from under them.  That its middle class values and standard of living have taken a beating for over three decades is not arguable.  This is Christopher Lasch’s “Revolt of the Elites” in spades.  You might not agree with any of this, you might not like it, it might even threaten your place in the “movement” and you surely are not happy that Trump is the one who is riding this wave.  But don’t say it is not conservative.

Michael Finch is the President of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The views expressed here are his own, not necessarily those of the Center.

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How much does the average state employee cost taxpayers? - By Thomas Lifson

Thanks to lavish medical and retirement benefits that kick in at a young age (often permitting a second career, resulting in two paychecks), a vast economic gulf is opening up between average taxpayers and average government employees.  America is slipping into a nation with a governing class enjoying a far better life than those they govern.

Michigan Capitol Confidential has done a very useful calculation that I would like to see performed for every state.  James M. Hohman writes:

The average state employee now costs taxpayers $117,000 per year, according to data from the state Department of Civil Service. This includes both salaries and benefits.

Note that the average household income in Michigan (which includes multiple earners in some families) was $48,273 in 2013.  But when it comes to what is now a laughably obsolete term, “civil servants,” those average household taxpayers are paying more and getting less:

The total cost of benefits has exploded, even though there are fewer state employees. Annual retirement costs increased from $431.8 million in 2001 to $1.6 billion in 2015. (snip)

The rise in employment costs has occurred even though the number of administrators, corrections officers, conservation officers and others on the state payroll has fallen drastically over the past 15 years.

The state hasn’t cut back on its functions much, but the number of people performing those functions fell from 62,057 full-time equivalent workers in 2001 to 46,588 FTEs in 2015. Despite the smaller workforce, their annual cost has increased from $3.9 billion to $5.4 billion.

The growing average costs of employment have spread the government workforce thin while also requiring more cash. As a former House Appropriations Chair Chuck Moss once quipped, “At this rate, eventually the entire budget will go to employ just one person.”

The growth in total compensation cost for what should now be called “civil masters” instead of “servants” is nearly accounted for by health care, retirement, and other benefits.

In the new class structure of America, the majority of the population lives with uncertainty and anxiety over health care and funding retirement, while the class of masters can spend everything they earn, instead of scrimping and saving like the common folk, free from worry over the ability to pay for medical care, or living out the senior years in dire poverty.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Point-and-Shriek, or Why SJWs are SJWs - posted by Vox Day

This is a guest post from a well-respected writer who must remain nameless for the time being.

This started out as an essay on fallacies believed by Social Justice Warriors. Somewhere along the lines, it split into two parts.

One of the problems with Vox Day’s recent, and highly recommended, book SJWs Always Lie, is that it doesn't really define the average Social Justice Warrior. This is not, in fact, an easy task. Unlike fascists, communists or even radical Islamists, the SJWs are a collection of attitudes, rather than a genuine conspiracy.  The average SJW may appear to be a decent person - he or she may even be a decent person - yet sharing the SJW attitudes or fallacies, as I call them,  makes them a potential danger to human civilisation. These attitudes act as triggers. When pulled, they convert a decent person into an SJW, or, as I think of them, Social Justice Bully.

Some of my readers will say that the above statement is absurd.  Bear with me a little.

The sheer irrationality of the SJWs is hard to comprehend, which works in their favour; it’s hard to get a grip on an opponent who thinks so differently from yourself. Indeed, many people view SJW ‘point-and-shriek’ assaults as being unique, even though we have seen dozens in the past few years alone. They seem to be a brand of craziness that has no explanation.  But it does.

The average human being has what we may as well define as two minds, the rational and the emotional.  When one of these minds is strongly involved, the other goes out the window.  For example, a man might discover that one of his children is not actually his own - his wife cheated on him.  He will often attack the child even though the child is the sole innocent in the affair.  Or, upon discovering that her husband had a previous relationship, a wife will often go mad with rage, even though the relationship started and ended before she and her husband ever met and her husband is guilty of nothing more than keeping the relationship from her.

These are both emotional reactions, governed by the emotional mind.  It matters not that a rational man is perfectly capable of adopting a child and treating him/her as his own child, it matters not that the wife is perfectly capable of understanding that her husband had no obligations towards her before they met.

As long as the emotional mind is engaged, rational thought is impossible.
This explains some of the odder political theories that still remain in the political mindset, even though they have failed spectacularly time and time again.  ‘Tax the rich’ sounds good, particularly to someone who isn't rich or doesn't consider themselves to be rich; it does not, however, account for the rich moving away, evading the taxes or simply not producing as much the following year because they have to pay taxes rather than reinvesting in their businesses.  Emotionally, socialism and communism sound good, so good that the emotional brain fails to grasp their flaws.  No politician has ever been elected by warning people that they would have to tighten their belts and do more with less.

We see this on a personal level too.  Everyone wants to be good - and be thought of as good - without giving much thought as to what ‘good’ actually is.  The charge of ‘racism,’ therefore, can be used to silence debate because no one wants to be thought of as a racist, as racists are evil.  Indeed, this is so pervasive in our society that the mere mention of the word ‘racist’ forces the accused to prove his innocence (and you can't prove a negative) rather than the accusers his guilt.  People, therefore, will bend over backwards to avoid the charge, thus turning a blind eye to anything that remotely smacks of ‘racism’.

Or, on another level, let us suppose you are in line for a promotion.  You know you have all the qualifications for the post, but your pointy-haired idiot of a boss promotes one of your co-workers instead.  Rationally, you may realise that the co-worker had additional qualifications you didn't have, but emotionally you’ll be looking for a reason the boss favoured your rival over you.  She’s a woman, he’s black, she’s a lesbian ... you will cling to these feelings even though they have no basis in reality, because that’s easier than admitting you simply didn’t come up to scratch.

When a SJW is triggered, his/her emotional brain takes over.  Rational consideration and debate - even the ability to accept that someone may honestly disagree without being a bad person - becomes impossible.  Instead, the SJW horde - as Vox Day points out - attacks its victim relentlessly, seeking to completely obliterate the target and wipe him or her out of social existence.  Think of every school story you’ve ever read where someone is singled out as the sole target for the bullies and you get the idea.  No one wants to be associated with a target for fear the horde will turn on them next.

The weird thing about this is that it isn't entirely an unjustified reaction.  Triggers that push the emotional brain to the fore can cause a wave of strongly negative emotions.  Trying to escape the cause isn't actually a bad reaction, on the face of it.  But the reaction is so strong that it overwhelms any consideration one might have for the rights or feelings of others.  If someone happens to be so scared of dogs that they have panic attacks every time they see one, they may push for a complete ban on dogs even though hundreds of thousands of their fellows not only love dogs, they have dogs as pets.

However, there’s a nasty catch.  The average individual cannot sustain a blatant emotional reaction for very long.  At some point, the person will stop emoting in panic, which will allow the logical brain to take over once again.  If, however, more than one person is involved, the emotional reaction from one triggers an emotional reaction from the other, which in turn spurs the first person into a bigger reaction.  This leads, eventually, to mob thinking - “a person is smart,” as Tommy Lee Jones told us in Men in Black, “but people are dumb panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”

Imagine that something bad happens to you - you get fired, perhaps.  Your first reaction will be the ‘fight or flight’ response; you’ll want to tell your former boss what you think of him, you’ll want to get down on your knees and beg for mercy or you’ll want to put as much distance between yourself and your former co-workers as possible.  You may not be able to think straight for hours afterwards, but once you do start thinking straight you’ll realise that things are not as bad as they seem.  You are still alive and you can find a new job.

If, however, you go home before you calm down and tell your partner, or your parents, or your children, you’ll only prolong the emotional response because they will be emoting too.  It will take you much longer to calm down and start thinking rationally once again.

The SJW ‘point-and-shriek’ attack pattern is designed to keep that emotional reaction going as long as possible.  Ordinary people, as I noted above, cannot sustain an emotional reaction for long without outside prompting.  The more people who join the attack, the longer the attack lasts; the herd stampedes its victim into the ground before enough of its members manage to assess if the victim truly deserves it.

Vox Day’s three laws of SJWs - SJWs Always Lie, SJWs Always Double Down, SJWs Always Project - fit neatly into place.  SJWs lie - or, in some cases, build a mountain of untruth out of a kernel of truth - in order to galvanise the emotional reaction.  They double down because they cannot risk allowing the emotional reaction to abate before its target has been destroyed (i.e. pushed into resigning, which to them is an admission of guilt.)  And they project because they know, at some level, that they do not regard people as individuals ... and fear their enemies feel the same way too.

The only way to handle such an assault is to remain calm, do nothing and understand that it will eventually come to an end.  However, as the target’s emotional brain is also being pushed into a ‘fight or flight’ reaction, this isn't the easiest of tasks.

Capitalism and the Minimum Wage: “I Got Mine, Screw You.” - by Fred Reed

To understand the arguments of capitalists against the minimum wage, follow the money. In all the thickets of pious reasoning about the merits of capitalism and the market, and of freedom of contract, and of allowing this marvelous mechanism to work its magic, and of what Adam Smith said, the key is the dollar. The rest is fraud. Carefully ignored is the question that will be crucial in coming decades: What to do about an ever-increasing number of people for whom there is no work…….
(Full text at link below)
……People of IQ 130 and up tend to assume unconsciously–important word: “unconsciously”–that you can do anything just by doing it. If they wanted to learn Sanskrit, they would get a textbook and go for it. It would take time and effort but the outcome would never be in doubt. Yes, of course they understand that some people are smarter than others, but they often seem not to grasp how much smarter, or what the consequences are. A large part of the population can’t learn-much of anything. Not won’t. Can’t. Displaced auto workers cannot be retrained as IT professionals.
Few of the very bright have have ever had to make the unhappy calculation: Forty times a low minimum wage minus bus fare to work, rent, food, medical care, and cable. They have never had to choose between a winter coat and cable, their only entertainment. They don’t really know that many people do. Out of sight, out of mind.
Cognitive stratification has political consequences. It leads liberals to think that their client groups can go to college. It leads conservatives to think that with hard work and determination…..
It ain’t so. An economic system that works reasonably well when there are lots of simple jobs doesn’t when there aren’t. In particular, the large number of people at IQ 90 and below will increasingly be simply unnecessary. If you are, say, a decent, honest young woman of IQ 85, you probably read poorly, learn slowly and only simple things,. Being promoted, or even hired, requires abilities that you do not have. This, plus high (and federally concealed) unemployment allows employers to pay you barely enough to stay alive. Here is the wondrous working of the market.
As the stock market reaches new highs and the nation’s wealth concentrates in fewer and fewer hands, we hear that a rising tide floats all boats. This is fine if you have a boat. Maybe it only looks as though capitalists flourish while the middle class sinks and the welfare rolls grow and kids have to live at home and they will have no retirement. Well, some boats leak, I guess.
When the theorists of free enterprise imagine that our dim-witted young lady should be permitted the freedom to sell her labor for what it is worth, they do not worry that her labor isn’t worth enough to feed her. Some who say this simply do not understand what her life is going to be if she is paid what her labor is worth. Others, with the lack of empathy that characterizes conservatives, don’t care. If you look at the godawful conditions of their employees in the sweatshops of, say, Bangladesh, you will see that not caring is common. Let them eat cake.
The question arises: What does the country do with the large and growing number of people whose labor is worth nothing? Or, perhaps more accurately, whose labor isn’t needed? We see this in the cities today. An illiterate kid in Detroit has no value at all in the market for labor. Assuming that he wants to work, a questionable assumption, what then? Endlessly expanding welfare? What about the literate, averagely intelligent kid for whom there are no jobs? If people working in McDonald’s can barely live on their wages, and strike, or the state institutes a higher minimum wage, McDonald’s will automate their jobs, is automating their jobs, and conservatives will exult—the commie bastards got what they asked for.
This is capitalism in its perfection.
Full text at:  Capitalism and the Minimum Wage: “I Got Mine, Screw You.” - The Unz Review

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Moral Foundations of the Modern Social Order - By Bionic Mosquito

I have taken the title from a line in When Money Fails, by Gary North:
Wilhelm Röpke was not the most technically competent free market economist of our time, but he was the most accurate one. He was the one economist in the free market tradition who has forthrightly acknowledged that social theory is broader than economic theory. Economics is a subset of social theory, not the other way around. Röpke spent a great deal of time thinking about the moral foundations of the modern social order.
The issue being addressed is economic, the division of labor society:
This is not a technical issue; it is a moral issue. The division of labor did not increase in the West apart from the West’s social and moral order.
North’s piece is focused on the moral and legal framework that makes the division of labor possible.  I intend to move in a slightly different direction.
North cites Röpke; the subject work is Röpke’s International Economic Disintegration. Röpke wrote the book in the late 1930s, published in 1942.  I will focus on Chapter V, beginning page 67 in the embedded PDF:
THE problem to be discussed here is deemed so important, that it should be used as the starting point of any causal analysis of the present disintegration of world economy worthy of the name.
In reading both North and Röpke, it seems to me the discussion could also be applied to the social order much more broadly defined.  Chapter V is entitled “THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EXTRA-ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK FOR THE WORKING OF THE ECONOMIC PROCESS.”  I will propose considering it in the following context:
As has been remarked earlier, no one will seriously dispute that this traditional spirit of economic science was, and still is, largely coloured by belief in not only the sociological autonomy, but also the sociologically regulating influence of the market economy.
Röpke suggests that a robust market economy cannot survive or thrive absent a framework that is found outside of pure economic science – a market economy cannot function in just any social environment.  One might consider: can the NAP properly function autonomously, without consideration of the broader social framework?
If the answer is yes, then anything goes – the libertines and the dreamers are right.  If the answer is no, one might decide to take Hoppe more seriously when considering the NAP.
Implicitly and explicitly, it was and still is held that a market economy based on competition and essentially unhampered by any agency outside the competitive market is an ordre naturel which, once freed from all impediments, is able to stand indefinitely on its own feet…
Thus the competitive market appeared to be a “philosopher’s stone,” which turned the base metal of callous business sentiments into the pure gold of common welfare and solidarity…
With government (as we know it today) out of the way, is it reasonable to expect that a libertarian order would blossom out of the remains – without any other changes or requirements?  Could the libertarian order stand “on its own feet”…“once freed from all impediments”?
If yes, score one for the libertines and dreamers; if no, Hoppe gets a shout.
So far the competitive market economy was considered sociologically autonomous: it needed no special laws, no special state or special society, required neither a special morality nor any other irrational and extra-economic forces and sentiments.
Can a libertarian society survive and thrive under any conditions, without a “special society” or a “special morality” or any other “forces and sentiments” outside of the NAP? If it can, the libertines and dreamers are correct.  If it cannot…well, you know.
Rarely or never was this belief stated so crudely, but surely few will to-day deny that the general tendency of the liberal philosophy ran—and in some quarters still runs—in this direction.
This is also the general tendency of those who believe a libertarian society can survive and thrive under any social or moral framework.  Maybe they are right, maybe not.
Far from consuming and being dependent on socio-political integration from outside the economic sphere, the competitive market economy produces it—or so runs the argument.
Does the NAP produce an orderly society, or are certain conditions within society necessary pre-conditions for the NAP?  As to economics, Röpke suggests that certain conditions are necessary pre-conditions:
If views like these were ever held at all, it has become obviously impossible to continue to hold them to-day. …we are forced emphatically to deny that this order is anything like an ordre naturel independent of the extra-economic framework of moral, political, legal and institutional conditions…
The world around us tells us that achieving a society grounded in the NAP is far more difficult and far more complicated than achieving a relatively sophisticated division-of-labor economy.  To open one’s eyes is to see this reality.  If extra-economic moral and institutional conditions are necessary for the proper functioning of the relatively simple division-of-labor economy, how much more true must it be for achieving a society that respects the non-aggression principle?
…it is highly doubtful…that economic integration can be sufficiently relied upon to produce automatically the degree of socio-political integration it requires.
The chicken or the egg?  Does this question apply also to consideration of the NAP in a broader social context?
Röpke offers his view:
…it would be a great mistake to think that that would make the market system an ethically neutral sphere. On the contrary, it is a highly sensitive artefact of occidental civilization, with all the latter’s ingredients of Christian and pre-Christian morality and its secularized forms…
Before jumping on me or Röpke, note that he includes “its secularized forms.”
It is difficult to imagine how the leading thinkers of former generations could have been more or less blind to this fundamental truth, which seems so obvious and even trivial to us to-day.
Are Röpke’s thoughts regarding the division-of-labor economy equally applicable to the libertarian political order and to some of the “leading [and not-so-leading] thinkers” of this school?
I just wonder….
Reprinted with permission from Bionic Mosquito.