The most fervent believers in a free society are those who lived behind the Iron Curtain

Case in point:

Here’s the biographical information Peterffy included with the video, which he plans to spend several million dollars running in swing states:

Thomas Peterffy grew up in socialist Hungary. Despite the fact that he could not speak English when he immigrated to the United States in 1956, Thomas fulfilled the American dream. With hard work and dedication, he started a business that today employs thousands of people. In the 1970s, Thomas bought a seat on the American Stock Exchange. He played a key role in developing the electronic trading of securities and is the founder of Interactive Brokers, an online discount brokerage firm with offices all over the world.

Will anyone care that Stanley Kurtz has proven Obama’s socialist history?

I caught exactly one minute of Rush today, during which he mentioned a commentator who had said that the only reason that critics called Obama a “socialist” was because the “L” word had lost its power to scare people.  Rush disagreed, saying something along the lines of “words have meaning,” which is why people call Obama a socialist.

Those of us who looked at Obama’s history and his actions, and concluded that his guiding political ideology is now, and has always been, socialism were vindicated today.  Stanley Kurtz has definitively established that Obama’s own history explicitly labels him a socialist:

Recently obtained evidence from the updated records of Illinois ACORN at the Wisconsin Historical Society now definitively establishes that Obama was a member of the New Party. He also signed a “contract” promising to publicly support and associate himself with the New Party while in office.

Minutes of the meeting on January 11, 1996, of the New Party’s Chicago chapter read as follows:

Barack Obama, candidate for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District, gave a statement to the membership and answered questions. He signed the New Party “Candidate Contract” and requested an endorsement from the New Party. He also joined the New Party.

Consistent with this, a roster of the Chicago chapter of the New Party from early 1997 lists Obama as a member, with January 11, 1996, indicated as the date he joined.

The New Party is and was an avowedly “socialist” political party.  Therefore, Obama, by signing onto its rolls was a socialist.

Those who already dislike Obama and his policies have long affixed that label to him based upon his acts.  In the run-up to the election, the MSM reflexively denied this claim, because people in the media understood that conservatives were using the term as a pejorative.  If we conservatives were stating something as a negative, they had to deny it.  I don’t think, though, that this denial involved any sense on the media’s part that there’s anything wrong with socialism.

Although the media always reserves for itself the role of the nomenclatura, meaning that it personally isn’t bound by the rigors of socialism, it thinks that the rest of the country, the peons and serfs, would benefit from a nomenclatura-controlled government.  Thus, I’m not sure they even denied the term to protect the public’s delicate sensibilities.  Like Groucho Marx, whatever the conservatives are for, they’re against it.  If we say “socialist,” they say “not socialist.”  It’s as simple as that.

Putting aside the MSM’s collective beliefs and motives, I wonder how the peons and serfs feel about the term “socialist.”  I’m not talking about their actual knowledge of what socialism entails or whether it’s good or bad for the citizens of the country in which it is the dominant political ideology.  I’m talking about the visceral response they have when they learn that their President, even as he was identifying himself on ballots as a Democrat, and vigorously (and dishonestly) denying every being a socialist, was in fact a socialist.

Does that newly proved knowledly send a shiver of revulsion up and down the ordinary citizen’s spine? Or, more than twenty years after the Soviet Union broke up, and more than forty years after the Leftists took over America’s educational institutions, is the word “socialist” utterly without emotional meaning?

Self-identified Democrat Progressives probably think it’s great that someone steeped in socialism got so far.  But they’re already all over Obama anyway.  It’s the other ones.  The loosey-goosey Democrats and the wishy-washy Independents — do they care?  Even if Obama’s self-identified socialism made the headlines on every evening news and in every American print publication, would it matter?

I don’t think it matters.  I think that, for conservatives, it’s vindication, insofar as we knew all along that the MSM and the Obama team were blatantly lying to us.  And to the extent politically disinterested people don’t like having people lie to them, the fact of the lie might matter.  But the lie’s subject matter — Obama’s true political orientation — doesn’t matter a damn.  Rush is right that “words have meaning.”  No one knows that better that the Left, with their constant PC Newspeak.  It’s no wonder, then, that they have spent the last 40 years draining the word “socialist” of any meaning within the American political scene.

The Administration’s focus on farmers: The bloodless version of the Soviet Ukrainian experiment? *UPDATED*

To date, I haven’t been paying that much attention to the Obama administration’s Big Government effort to keep America’s young down on the farms, now that they’ve seen TV.  Or can see TV . . . or should see TV, since the Obama administration is barring farm kids from actually working on the farm:

Last year, DOL Secretary Hilda Solis proposed rules that would restrict family farm operations by prohibiting youth under the age of 18 from being near certain age animals without adult supervision, participating in common livestock practices such as vaccinating and hoof trimming, and handling most animals more than six months old, which would severely limit participation in 4-H and FFA activities and restrict their youth farm safety classes; operating farm machinery over 20 PTO horsepower; completing tasks at elevations over six feet high; and working at stockyards and grain and feed facilities. The language of the proposed rule is so specific it would even ban youth from operating a battery powered screwdriver or a pressurized garden hose.

The internet has lit up with stories of young people who learned about responsibility on farms, who had happy hours and years working on 4H projects, and who were trained to take over the family farm.  It’s that last type of story that got my attention.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m reading (or, more specifically, listening to) Timothy Snyder’s excellent, and deeply depressing, Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.  Snyder makes clear from the beginning that one cannot understand the killing fields of central Europe (the lands between Germany and Soviet Russia) without understanding Russian Communism.  The original Bolshevik’s were fundamentalist Marxists.  Lenin and his crew believed in the truth of every word that Marx and Engel put down on paper.

These words, of course, included the theory that Marxism was the inevitable byproduct of industrialization.  For Marxism to reach its apogee, the workers of the world needed to unite — with the understanding that workers were those who worked in the factories, not those who worked on the land.  Peasants might labor, but they didn’t work.  For that reason, Marx and Engels pretty much ignored the peasants in their writings.  Who needed ‘em?

What Lenin and his crew couldn’t understand was why the first successful Marxist revolution happened, not in industrialized Germany, where they expected it to happen, but in primarily rural Russia.  The whole notion that, after the first labor pains of industrialization ended, industrialization would improve life, lessening the worker’s desire for socialism, eluded these true believers.  Instead, they concluded that theirs was an incomplete revolution, one that could reach fruition only if Russia was de-ruralized and properly industrialized. And so the Russians went after those pesky peasants.  (And do I remember Pol Pot’s minions and Mao’s crew doing precisely the same?)

Starved Ukrainian peasants 1933

In China, Cambodia, and the Soviet Union, the socialist purge of pesky peasants cost millions of lives.  People were shot, imprisoned and, in China and the Soviet Union, starved to death in the millions.  The politburos considered the cost in human lives to be a mere nothing compared to the glories of an inevitable socialist paradise on earth.  Moreover, in Mother Russia, those pathetic peasants still clung to an outdated religion that posited a paradise in the hereafter, so the politburo was just helping them towards their ultimate goal, in order to pave the way for the Soviet’s ultimate goal.

As for the fact that these irritating small farmers produced the food that fed the workers, the Soviets had the answer:  they would industrialize farming, making it just another cog in the socialist machinery.  The fact that the dead peasants took their hard-earned farming wisdom with them was irrelevant.  The collective brilliance of the state would have the answer.  Starvation was the inevitable result.  (And for a more recent example of this same thinking, take a peek into Zimbabwe, which went from lush bounty to starvation within less than a decade after Mugabe took the land from the farmers and gave it to the state’s friends, all of whom know nothing about farming.)

Remnants of Pol Pot's Killing Fields

Consistent with the Obama’s soft, loving view of socialism, it isn’t using round-ups or mandatory collectivism.  Instead, it’s simply ensuring taking steps to ensure that the current generation of small farmer is the last generation of small farmer.

Need I add that it’s time for voters to throw the bums out before the damage they inflict on this nation is irremediable?

UPDATE:  The Obama administration has dropped this proposed regulation — for now.  As reading Bloodlands reminds me, Leftists never abandon an initiative; they just retrench.  This one will return if Obama is reelected, albeit in somewhat different form.


Paul Harvey could also have entitled this “If I wanted to make the United States a socialist country.”

Paul Harvey recorded this in 1965:

Here’s the transcript (which I haven’t personally vetted):

If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.” To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”. In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington” . . .

If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine yound intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an athiest to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.

If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.

Paul Harvey, Good Day.

I’ve got smart friends and they send me interesting things

It’s a family stuff day, so blogging has been light, and will continue to be so.  Fortunately, I’ve got friends who send me interesting things which I am so happy to pass on to you.  In no particular order:

Wolf Howling has written a fascinating, scholarly dissertation examining the adversarial history of faith and socialism, and the way that history quite logically to Obama’s current fight with religious organizations over funding for abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilization.

Samuel Jackson and Barack Obama are two minds with but a single thought:  Make voting easy by examining your skin color and, if it’s dark, vote accordingly.  Samuel Jackson, in a profanity-laced interview, freely admits that he couldn’t have cared less about the type of governance Obama would bring to the White House.  The only thing that mattered was his color.  That’s just one person.  Our dear (black) leader — and, yes, his color is an important point in this post — has prepared an entire video imploring black people to vote for him because he’s black:x

As the friend who sent me this asked “I wonder what the backlash would be if Mitt Romney started a Mormons for Mitt campaign?”

Rhymes with Right suggests that the Catholic Church go medieval over ObamaCare [link fixed].  I think he’s right.  Citizens in America are free to make decisions that implicate their religion — and the religion is free to make decisions right back.  What cannot happen in America, however, is precisely what Obama is doing, which is to interject the state into the relationship between the religion and its followers.

Lastly, one of my oldest and dearest blog friends, Patrick O’Hannigan, looks at the Komen versus Planned Parenthood kerfuffle.  I say “legitimate,” because they are both private organizations, as opposed to a government organization versus a religion.  Within the context of the fight itself, of course, I think Planned Parenthood’s position and strategy are both entirely illegitimate and, as Patrick carefully explains, Komen, before it caved, was in the right.

Sleep warfare

I am really, really mad at Mr. Bookworm today.  If I’m completely honest with myself, it’s not that he did anything to me.  It’s that he has something I don’t have — namely, a good night of sleep under his belt.  I’m a fairly chronic insomniac, and he is not.  Last night was an even less good night than usual for me while he, the lucky son of a gun, not only slept through the night but managed to stay in bed an extra 2.5 hours after I’d already gotten up with the kids and gotten the household going.  He’s refreshed and perky; I’m yawning and dragging.

It’s just so unfair!!!

At this point, I have two options for handling this situation in the future.  The first is to keep him awake while I struggle to fall asleep, and then I can wake him whenever I wake up, whether it’s six times during the night, or that final wake-up at 6 in the morning.  Doing so won’t give me any more sleep, of course, but I’m sure I’ll feel better knowing that he’s suffering too.  After all, if we’re both suffering, that’s fair, right?  And really, who cares if the fall-out for penalizing him for having the temerity to sleep through the night is that, lacking that sleep, he’s unable to carry out the job that supports our family?  I’m sure his employer will just keep giving him money . . . or maybe someone else will.  I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  Under this scenario, all that’s important is that, because I can’t seem to reach Mr. Bookworm’s high level of sleep, I need to bring him down to mine.

Alternatively, I can continue my search for sleep, and leave him alone, so that he can sleep, be refreshed, and earn money to support our family.  Right now, I’m tending my garden:  I exercise, eat fairly right, take Melatonin, and do whatever else is healthy for me and consistent with sleeping well.  It might also behoove me to reconcile myself to the fact that, with the best will in the world, sleep is not going to be a part of my life in the short-term — or maybe ever.  Destroying Mr. Bookworm’s sleep isn’t going to change that unpleasant fact.

Yes, it’s unfair, but as I say to my children, life isn’t fair.

(For those wondering, the first paragraph of this post is absolutely true.  When Don Quixote called this morning and asked “How are you?” my answer was pretty much verbatim what I typed in the first paragraph.  Don Quixote laughed and said “sleep envy,” which phrase was, of course, the genesis for the rest of this post.)

Slouching into slavery

What the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protestors don’t realize (yet) is that they have been suckered into becoming the agents of their own enslavement.

Orwell had it so right in defining the Left because he was a man of the Left. The term “Orwellian” now refers to the Left’s use of terms to mean the direct opposite of the intention of an idea or act (“war is peace”, for example). Orwell also noted the need for the State to invent enemies as a means of deflecting attention away from its own actions. It’s all about deflection away from true agendas.

Let me explain. Granted that the OWS movement is defined by many grievances, one underlying theme of  the OWS protests is the onerous debt assumed by students. I have sympathy for this because, as many commentators have already pointed out, these students were sold a bill of goods. The idea was that, whether qualified or motivated or not, kids could simply participate in the university experience, supported with “generous” (i.e., taxpayer-funded) government aid, and exit with a paper degree and guaranteed, high-paying job bereft of drudgery. This is the siren song that led to the inevitable crash upon the rocks of debt slavery.

Universities, those bastions of entitlement, have made out like bandits, taking the students money in exchange for worthless promises and worthless degrees. The government financed this process using “free” taxpayers’ monies and, in the end, developed a class of dependents that will spend the rest of their lives working their way out of indentured servitude at the behest their government masters (the Golden Rule is those that own the gold, rule!). For, as these students are slowly realizing, government debt and dependency is forever…there is no escaping their obligations.

It used to be that students could tap loans from private lending institutions that assumed the risk of a student borrower’s success or failure. If the student went bankrupt, the bank suffered. That is how capitalism and free markets should work. Not so with Liberal government. When the Obama administration took over these lending services, it took away failure as an option. Today, neither students nor their parents can escape their student debt obligations and the total student debt outstanding has been estimated to approach $1.0 trillion.

Many of these OWS students are now answerable to their government masters for the foreseeable future and during their most formative years… a period when they should be free to work toward satisfying careers, saving to purchase their own homes, preparing to raise families and, eventually, achieving financial independence. Instead, as long as the government holds their debt, it can now dictate how these students will lead their lives in service to their government’s regime goals (as in, “we will forgive x-amount of your debt if you “agree” to work in only certain prescribed professions or government-approved public works programs under certain given conditions dictated by us, your master) Or, let’s try the Chicago Way: “as long as we hold your debt, you will only believe certain things, work for certain causes, and vote in certain ways” . Their indentured servitude has taken away their freedom to think, to act and to build their own futures. Even more sadly, for many of these students, their expensive college educations amounted to little more than indoctrination whereby to accept these circumstances as a good thing: witness the large number whose goal in life is simply to work for “non-profits”.

The especially egregious aspect of this is that it is poorer students that have so been hooked into government dependency. But then, that has pretty much been par for the course for Liberal government, hasn’t it? Government did this before, with poor blacks and the War on Poverty. Government programs enslave the poor through indentured dependency.  Rich or talented kids don’t have to worry about this: they have parents, scholarships or trust funds to ensure that they never become indentured government debt pawns. The especially pathetic part of these events is that these indebted students and graduates have been led to believe, through Orwellian deflection, that the agents of their servitude are banks, conservatism, political and economic liberty, and capitalism – the very agents that could yet free them – rather than the government and academia that shackled them.

I suspect that, deep down in their hearts, many of the OWS protestors are slowly coming to realize their predicament. They’ve been had. Eventually, I expect, they will come to learn the truth about their servitude. I hope that they will still have the strength to resist.

I think that it is safe to say that slavery, not democracy, has been a defining condition for the great majority of human history. This may not be a point stressed in the Orwellian halls of academia that groomed this new government slave class at these students’ own expense, but it is a historical truism, none the less. It would truly be sad if what we are observing at the various OWS rallies around the country and world is simply an age-old historical evil reasserting itself in modern drag. What we are now seeing as the product of the college experience is the emergence of two classes: a wealthy, highly educated ruling class and a subservient, dependent, servant class that got suckered into paying the Liberal/Left ruling class to deprive it of intellectual and economic choices under the Orwellian guise of “freedom”. The Liberal/Left has done a bang-up job of severely crippling a generation of our children. I would be hard-pressed to conceive of  a more gross corruption of the American ideal.

I hope that I am wrong. What do you think?


Dying certitudes

On the heels of Bookworm’s excellent, hard-hitting essay on narcissism comes a nice coda on man-made global warming that is emblematic of Bookworm’s theme.

Because of major discoveries involving the interaction of atmospheric aerosols and cosmic radiation, “climate models will have to be revised,” stated a communication from CERN that promises to completely overhaul scientific understanding of climate science. CERN is the European center for nuclear research. These discoveries are important, because they deal directly with the dynamics of the overwhelmingly dominant atmospheric greenhouse gas, water.

The complete article by Andrew Orlowski, in the U.K.’s The Register, is found here complete with supporting links:

These recent discoveries regarding cosmic ray effects on climate pretty much render obsolete all previous climate prognostications by self-proclaimed experts. To use an analogy, it is as if these experts had tried to authoritatively explain the inner workings of an automobile by studiously ignoring the engine.

“When (leading CERN physicist) Dr. Jasper Kirkby first described the theory in 1998, he suggested cosmic rays “will probably be able to account for somewhere between a half and the whole of the increase in the Earth’s temperature that we have seen in the last century,” continues The Register‘s Orlowski.

The underlying theme here, however, is not cosmic rays or global warming, it is hubris. It is the self-righteous certainty and self-proclaimed wisdom with which scientists, politicians, media ideologues and demagogues could claim sufficent knowledge and command to engineer huge changes to society on the basis of their own self-righteous objectives. Their narcissism, in other words. In their world, their view was revealed truth, all else was anathema. We ourselves discovered some of this self-proclaimed righteousness from previous commentators on this blog. This is exactly the “fatal conceit” of which Friedrich Hayek.

A qualifier is in order: I am in no way suggesting that the work by CERN is definitive. It does, however, illustrate how little we know and that, when pursuing any form of scientific inquiry, humility is a stellar virtue. No doubt, many more blockbuster revelations await us regarding  the complexities of climate dynamics, but we the main point is that we fallible humans are in no position and will never be in a position to mandate radical changes to either the globe or humanity on the basis of perceived knowledge. The believe otherwise is not just unwise, it is, forgive the term, stupid.

The CERN  announcement is emblematic of what is happening today, as we see other revealed truths such as socialism, Keynesianism, multiculturalism, peak oil, environmentalism and government central planning collapse under the repeated poundings of 2x4s called “reality”. It’s a painful process but, hopefully, it signals the birth pangs of a more practically-focused world to come, where the humility, skepticism and spirit of inquiry bequeathed by our Western philosophical traditions can once more hold sway over ignorance, dogma and ideology. Given the $-trillions of resources and human capital that have been wasted to date in pursuit of climate science and the other myths and illusions of our time, this would be a good thing.

We desperately need it.

Two random thoughts about Greece and Italy

Having done a flying visit through the Mediterranean, I’m scarcely in any position to make far reaching comments about the towns or countries I visited.  Nevertheless, I do feel competent to offer two very specific comments, one about Greece and one about Italy.

Throughout our visit to Greece, there was a nationwide taxi strike taking place.  The air in Athens was unusually clear, thanks to the decreased traffic.  Transportation was slightly more difficult than it would have been with taxis, but certainly not impossible.  Everyone on the cruise ship seemed to manage fine using Hop On Hop Off buses (in Athens), private buses, private tours, cruise tours, and public transportation.  In other words, the missing taxis were inconvenient, but not an insurmountable problem.

As best I was able to understand, the taxi drivers were protesting the fact that the Greek government, in an effort to expand employment opportunities, was making taxi licenses more readily available.  In order to show their disdain for this maneuver, the taxi drivers stopped working during peak tourist season.  Let me rephrase that:  During a total economic collapse in their country, the taxi drivers walked away from the money.

In Italy, too, people blithely walked away from money.  Let me explain:  August is the top tourist month in Rome.  If I had a store in Rome, I’d keep it open, just as I’d keep my store open here in America on December 26.  Only a fool closes shop when customers are banging at the door.  And believe me, tourists are customers.  They are desperate to spend money.  A lot of people on the cruise ship get off only to buy things.  They have no interests in the sights, traveling only to bring home foreign goodies.

Rome apparently has a lot of fools.  An enormous number of businesses were closed for all or part of August.  Nor am I talking about businesses that cater solely to the Rome community, such as law firms or insurance companies.  I’m talking about stores and restaurants, the kind of businesses that could benefit from an excitable, well-funded tourist trade.

I know that, despite acting foolish, neither the Italians nor the Greeks are actually fools.  Instead, they are citizens of welfare states.  They know that, no matter how much or how little they work, they’ll still have medical care, housing, food, education, free museum admissions, retirement care, etc.  The money earned for work is gilding-the-lily money.  It’s nice, but one can survive without it.  In theory, this freedom from want (want of health care, want of shelter, want of food, etc.) is a wonderful thing.  In fact, though, it is a disincentive to productivity which, inevitably, creates less productivity.  The downward spiral keeps on going.  Less productivity means less government revenue.  Less government revenue means the government has less ability to provide the health care, housing, food, education, free museum admissions and so on.  Suddenly, you end up like Greece or England:  no money, no benefits, and a citizenry that’s forgotten how to work.

Yes, I recognize that these are overarching generalizations, and that causation and correlation are not the same thing.  Nevertheless, it does seem to me that there’s a pattern here of walking away from economic opportunities because there’s no risk.  Oh, wait!  That’s wrong.  The risk is that the economic opportunities won’t come back.

Virtue requires constant exercise — and Big Government leaves us morally flabby

Don Quixote and I got together for lunch today, and the conversation drifted to innate human goodness.  Neither of us believes in it.  We both noted that, if people are rich and powerful enough to do so, significant numbers of them readily abandon ordinary morality, with sexual debauchery usually heading the list of their moral collapses.

Monogamy (or even four wife polygamy) is good for the “little people,” but if you’re a president or a movie star or a ridiculously rich person, why limit yourself?  Unless you’re as unlucky as Tiger Woods was, your money and power will insulate you from exposure, and you can abandon middle class virtue with impunity.  Virtue, apparently, isn’t hard wired.  Instead, not only is it learned, but it’s kept in place by constant external pressure and constant internal vigilance.

The same holds true for kindness.  Anyone who has ever raised children knows that children are innately selfish and brutal.  (Red of tooth and claw, if you will.)  Only arduous socialization, put into place using carrots and sticks, and operating both within the house and outside of it, shapes children into civilized beings who can engage in the minimal altruistic behavior that makes society function.

Don Quxiote and I both commented on the fact that even now, in our middle age, we must constantly work to be “nice.”  I mean, really, why should I stand in line or pay for things I want or be constrained by speed limits or speak politely to idiots or hold a job (which includes being pleasant and responsible), or do any of the other thousands of other things that I daily do against my instincts?

Why do I do all that?  I’ll tell you why.  Because I have to eat.  If I revert to my two year old monster self — that is, if I don’t make the effort to conform my behavior to normal societal constraints — I will lose my job, I will lose my family, I will lose my home, and I will lose my food.  In a moderate climate, one can manage marginally well without shelter, but once you start betraying your food sources, you’re really screwed.

There are rewards for good behavior other than food, of course.  Living in a society that promotes individual virtue, morality and altruism means that you’re living in a very good society indeed.  Everyone is on his best behavior, because there are fundamental survival rewards for that:  Food, shelter and, if you’ve got some free time on your hands, procreation.

What happens, though, when people in a socialist society get food, shelter and sex (but no babies) without having to make the effort?  I’d posit that these people lose their incentive to be moral, virtuous and altruistic.  On a vast scale, their sociability reverts to a toddler/lizard brain behavior level.  Look at Hollywood, look at JFK, look at Bill Clinton, look at England — absent the hardcore morality police in, say Iran or North Korea, if there is no benefit to morality and altruism, people abandon those behaviors.  They are not hardwired, they are learned, and we must practice them constantly to maintain them.

In other words, absent morality police armed with acids and the threat of concentration camp, socialism destroys morality and altruism by removing the external pressures that force people to practice these virtues.  Do you agree?  If so, speak up!  And if not, please explain why not.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land,
available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon or Smashwords.

Wrongly conflating socialism with generosity

I read someone today who said that Jesus must have been a socialist, because he didn’t seek profit, which is the hallmark of capitalism.  Instead, gave away his time, energy and skills to those who could not pay.  Since he didn’t have a profit motive, he must have been a capitalist.  QED.  It was a classic case of conflating socialism with generosity.

Socialism is, in fact, the opposite of generosity because it removes human morality and decency from the equation.  There’s a reason study after study shows that liberals donate less to charity than conservatives do.  The liberals have placed themselves entirely in government’s hands:  the problem of the poor has become someone else’s problem.  The fact that we all pay taxes, which the government uses to fund the poor, isn’t charity, it’s central planning predicated on wealth redistribution.

The Victorians, who were wellsprings of one sentence wisdom, used to say “charity begins at home.”  The giving impulse of charity must start within us, as it did within Jesus.  In a totalitarian, or even semi-totalitarian (i.e., socialist) state, nothing is allowed to come from within.  All goes to and flows from the government.

In a capitalist society, people have the wherewithal to give.  And in a healthy capitalist society, they have the moral impulse to give.  Jesus wasn’t a socialist.  When he said “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God that which is God’s,” he fully understood the separation between our spiritual and moral impulses on the one hand, and the dictates of a state on the other hand.  Ideally, the people’s adherence to both Caesar and God is a mutually beneficially system, with a humane state allowing humans to go about their business, and a social and moral structure that encourages those with the most to reach out, without state coercion, to help those with the least.

The Bookworm Turns : A Secret Conservative in Liberal Land,
available in e-format for $4.99 at Amazon or Smashwords.

Youth unemployment – where does it lead?

As we settle into the Obama Depression era, one thing that I and others have noticed is that many of the very youth that voted enthusiastically for Obama are the ones already feeling the consequence of his policies: they are unemployed. As one of my college-age kids put it, “our generation is so over Obama, today!”.

High youth unemployment is an inevitable consequence of socialism. In modern Europe, it has always been high. Here is an example of its pervasiveness in the U.K., for example:

In Europe, the problem has been exacerbated by extensive “social safety nets” that guarantee a pretty good lifestyle for the unemployed. Why work, when you can live comfortably on public assistance combined with the black market economy (dealing drugs, for example)? There are large swaths of the European population that, like people in our inner city projects, have no idea how to work. A young man in France with a finance degree recently reported to me that he was “happily unemployed”. Thanks to his government, he leads a comfortable existence. However, that, too, shall come to an end, for Europe faces the same economic collapse as the U.S.

I really do feel sorry for university students graduating today: for many, if not most, their degrees will be obsolete by the time the economy recovers (which could be a very long time). What employer would hire a student with, say, a business, philosophy, English, or whatever degree that has lain fallow for two, four or more years when they can hire a freshly minted graduate instead? These students’ parents, meanwhile, will often have drained hundreds of thousands of dollars from their retirement funds to fund such now worthless educations. I know of parents that have destroyed their retirement options in order to put their kids through university.

So, what happens when you have armies of unemployed young people with obsolete skills? I know that this has happened before, such as in the Great Depression. However, when economic recovery did come in the mid-to-late ’40s, workers with no education and technical skills could still find plenty of hands-on work opportunities. I don’t know that this holds true anymore in a modern economy. There’s only so many openings for baristas.
Any ideas?