Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Is America Good?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the 9-12 protesters. A couple of days ago I wrote of my possible disagreement with some of Glenn Beck's Nine Principles, the first of which is "1. America is Good."

Jacob G. Hornberger suggests A Need for Some Soul-Searching. The last few months has been for me a season of doing just that. Beck and I agree that America faces problems. It's obvious to me that the United States is not "good" today.

But when did it go bad? Bush? Clinton? Nixon? FDR? Wilson? Lincoln?

Tom Woods asks, "Who Killed the Constitution?," but his book only goes back as far as World War I.

We think of our nation as facing a "crisis" today, but it could equally be said that America in 1860 was facing a crisis. Lysander Spooner, writing after the Civil War, said the Constitution itself was the problem: It "has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it. In either case, it is unfit to exist." As Woods writes elsewhere, "A better question, in light of all this, might involve who killed the Articles of Confederation?" Some who consider these issues still have hope for the Constitution. I do not.

What causes the soul-searching is the thought that America never "went" bad. Maybe it was bad ab initio.

One of many "marketing angles" that I have been working on -- and that has prompted the soul-searching -- has been the advertised goal of helping each of my readers become:
  • an extraordinary American
  • an extraordinary Christian
  • an extraordinary Human Being
I took this tripartite goal from Sam Adams' initial letter to the Committees of Correspondence. As a political candidate, I try to align myself with America's Founding Fathers, and compare them (and myself) favorably to today's politicians -- or rather, harshly criticize today's politicians in comparison with America's Founding Fathers. But am I really all that "pro-American?" Are America's Founders really my heroes?

I am not unaware of the Founders' shortcomings. Twenty years ago Gary North wrote about the Political Polytheism of America's Founders.

I have long been critical of the willingness of America's Founders to kill British Christians over a tax rate twenty times lower than ours today, and their unBiblical violent revolution against a government that was far more libertarian and Christian than ours is today. The verses in that link, outlining a program of submission to authority, are problematic for a protestant nation like ours.

If there had been no violent mobs in colonial America, the British government might not have clamped down; it was comparatively mild in its treatment of the colonies, compared to the Bush-Obama regime's treatment of the states today. The Founders admitted they were "alarmists." What were the roots of the colonists' willingness to resort to mob violence? Is this when America went bad? (What were the roots of the British desire to forcibly restore order?*) Would Britain have eventually acquiesced to the demands of the American colonists if those demands had been patiently submitted without violence?

In a review of Gary North's Crossed Fingers, Douglas Wilson observed,

The problems of the twentieth century began in the eighteenth century.... Whenever a crisis is manifest to the world ... the temptation for many is to look back a few years to try to find the cause of the trouble. The difficulty is that the cause of the trouble is usually centuries back. A woman who suddenly finds herself in the middle of birth pangs should not start examining what she ate the night before.

We can carry Doug Wilson's diagnosis back several centuries. Gary North speaks about The Two Wings of the Enlightenment:

The French Revolution produced Napoleon and massive French bureaucracy. It led to a series of bloody revolutions in Europe, including the Russian Revolution. It led to two world wars in the 20th century, high taxes, greater bureaucracy, and the European Union.

The American Revolution led to a conspiratorial coup in Philadelphia in 1787, which centralized the government, followed by the Civil War, the New Deal, and two world wars. After 1913, it led to massive bureaucracy and taxes at levels only marginally less than Europe's taxation: over 40% of production. It also produced an American military empire.

Both systems are financed by a monopolistic central bank, but the right-wing Enlightenment invented the original model: the Bank of England (1694).

Both systems invoked the sovereignty of autonomous man as a species. Neither turned to biblical religion as the definitive standard.

But we can go back a century before 1694 and the Bank of England. Were the colonists' forefathers, who came to the New World from the Netherlands, having fled from England and a state-church which was far more doctrinally correct than the churches we attend today, poisoned by a rebellious and unsubmissive spirit? Did they -- Pilgrims and Puritans both -- get this unsubmissive spirit from the Protestant Reformers a century earlier? The Catholic Church -- as a whole, but especially in Protestant nations -- is immeasurably more Protestant today than it was 500 years ago. Could Protestants have reformed the Church without breaking out of it? Is Christendom better off with tens of thousands of different denominations? Did the Protestant Reformation harden both sides in their worst traits -- Individualism and Collectivism? Freedom vs. Uniformity? Bottom-up vs. top-down?

I don't defend the British government in 1776, the Church of England in the 16th century, or the Catholic Church in 1517. But maybe the failure to protest oppression or injustice patiently and in a Christlike manner is the root problem in America. America is clearly a Protest-ant nation in its origin, and while it's good to try to be more consistently Biblical, perhaps there's something about Protestantism that's inconsistent and unBiblical. (*Maybe this protestant problem is paralleled by a disproportionate number of Catholics and Episcopalians in government willing to use the State to impose order by force.)

No answers here; just soul-searching.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned by Beck

I've been banned on Glenn Beck's 9.12 Project website.

I never posted anything. A supporter emailed me a link to an article on the 9.12 website, but in order to read the article, I had to sign up. At first I was accepted, but I think someone named "Di herself" reported me as someone with non-conforming thought, and I was banned.


The 9-12 Project is based on 9 Principles and 12 Values. My campaign is based on similar values and principles. Here are Beck's "Twelve Values" and corresponding pages from my website which were written at least 8 years ago.

1-Honesty
http://KevinCraig.us/character/honest.htm

2-Reverence
http://KevinCraig.us/character/reverent.htm

3-Hope
http://KevinCraig.us/character/hope.htm

4-Thrift
http://KevinCraig.us/character/thrifty.htm

5-Humility
http://KevinCraig.us/character/humble.htm

6-Charity
http://KevinCraig.us/character/charity.htm

7-Sincerity
http://KevinCraig.us/character/sincere.htm

8-Moderation
I don't know if I agree with this. It might be defined in such a way that I could agree with it, but I'll never know, because I was banned.
http://KevinCraig.us/extremism.htm
http://KevinCraig.us/tug.htm

9-Hard Work
http://KevinCraig.us/character/work.htm

10-Courage
http://KevinCraig.us/character/courage.htm

11-Personal Responsibility
http://KevinCraig.us/character/responsible.htm

12-Gratitude
http://KevinCraig.us/character/grateful.htm

I think there must be a fault in Beck's process for banning someone if a person with my values could be banned from the912project.us website.

But maybe the problem is the "Nine Principles" of the 9.12Project. I think I disagree with the first one:

1. America is good.

Oklahoma State Representative Sally Kern, House District 84, recently sponsored a petition which claimed,

this nation has become a world leader in promoting abortion, pornography, same sex marriage, sex trafficking, divorce, illegitimate births, child abuse, and many other forms of debauchery;

This is "good?"

Relying on a recent report produced by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress, The New York Times reported recently that "U.S. holds huge lead in global weapons sales":

The United States signed weapons agreements valued at $37.8 billion in 2008, or 68.4 percent of all business in the global arms bazaar, up significantly from American sales of $25.4 billion the year before.

More than two-thirds of all the weapons sold in the world today come from America. This makes us safer? I don't think this is "good."

The "former" Soviet Union

was third with $3.5 billion in arms sales last year - down considerably from the $10.8 billion in weapons deals signed by Moscow in 2007.

Communist nations -- China being a good example -- are becoming more Christian than America.

Jesus said,

For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.
Luke 12:48

Given America's history, much was expected. Everyone who signed the Declaration of Independence and Constitution would say that America is now an atheistic tyranny, not a land of "Liberty Under God," and deserves to be overthrown by the great Lord and Ruler of Nations. I agree with them. Maybe that's why I was banned by Beck.

2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.
As a self-described "Theocrat," I certainly agree with this.

3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.
See "honesty" in the Twelve Values above.

4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.
I certainly defend the Family, on my campaign website and elsewhere.

5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
I think I believe in restitution, not "penalties." But I certainly agree that politicians should not be above the law.

6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.
I agree that equality of results is not guaranteed, and should not be created or ensured by government redistribution of wealth. In fact, I support inequality; my life is better thanks to people who are more talented -- and richer as a result -- than I am. But I don't believe in "rights." Maybe that's why I was banned by Beck.

7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
I agree.

8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.
Nancy Pelosi would not disagree with this, as a principle.

9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.
The mafia does not work for me. The mafia does not answer to me. The mafia does not act in my name. Same with that organized criminal syndicate known as "the government."

No important conclusions can be drawn from this. I doubt Glenn Beck himself made the call. But the 912Project website should review their process for banning people. At least if they want people reading their valuable resources.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What’s the Point of Demonstrating?

After I wrote yesterday's post, I came across Robert Higgs asking, "What’s the Point of Demonstrating?

The comments on the blog are pretty interesting. One point made by several is that the demonstrations are a big pat-on-the-back party, and encourage the demonstrators themselves, even if the media distort the message, and even if politicians don't get any message at all. That's a good point, and justifies the march only if it is a stage in political growth that results in more -- and more focused -- demonstrations. Otherwise it's not a political event, but just personal recreation: some people spend their weekend at the beach, others dress up in costumes or matching T-shirts and march on Washington with their friends.

I'm reminded of the Bush Bailout. Voters made their opinions clear, and politicians got the message. The House voted against the Bailout. Then something sinister happened. I don't know the details, but it's clear that the House was taken out to the woodshed, so to speak, and told to go back and vote the right way, which they did, reversing their previous vote, and ignoring the obvious will of their constituents.

Proving that our "representative government" is not.

Congress does not govern the Federal Reserve System. The Fed governs Congress.
Congress doesn't represent "the People," it represents the Fed.

The 9-12 marchers still assume, I believe, that government is representative of the will of the people, the will of the marchers.

It is and it isn't. It represents the People only when the People serve the interests of the Fed.

One suggestion made by several of Higgs' commenters was to boycott the Fed's fiat money. I have often thought that this would be the direction in which an answer might be found. But if the marchers represent a minority of Americans, only a small minority of the marchers are ready for this strategy. I wonder how many of the marchers themselves have gone to their local Federal Reserve franchise and asked the government to create some fiat money for them.

We have to find the pressure point, the place where politicians will finally listen. Letters and calls to Congress, and marches on Washington, don't hit this point. Kicking out of office every Congressman who will not abolish the Fed is probably much closer. But if that's the point that makes Congress squeal, we also have to have enough Americans willing to apply this pressure. If the boycotting of fiat money is that strategy, we're not even close to having enough. Most Americans, and even most of the marchers (I suspect), want something for nothing, and even if they criticize the government when it threatens to redistribute the marchers' wealth or their healthcare to others, they're not ready to give up government redistribution to themselves. As long as they want some "fiat money" for themselves or their businesses, Government is happy to "represent" their desires. And the Fed is happy to collect their interest.

And not much is going to change.

9-12: "Conservative Woodstock"

I must admit some ambivalence toward the "tea parties" and the big march on Washington. I haven't yet joined any of these assemblies.

As a "social conservative," I enjoyed the comparison/contrast between Woodstock and the 9-12 march:

There were notable differences though, in the behavior of these attendees. Although the legend of Woodstock is that there was a friendly atmosphere of camaraderie, the truth is that most people were there for the drugs, sex and rock and roll. Today in D.C. there was a true kinship amongst these people based on shared values and intellectual understanding of what America is and how its future is imperiled by big radical government.

No one was having sex in the Reflecting Pool let alone the mud, and I saw no one projectile vomiting on the steps of the Capitol. There were no warnings to avoid the bad acid which would send you on a trip to the hospital. Not just a different era, but a different level of civilized behavior and thought. Oh, and by the way, these people didn’t leave tons of garbage behind when they left. Actually they left no trash behind at all.

Conservative Woodstock Rocks the Capital • Looking at the Left

But there's something about "protests" that make me uneasy.

Maybe I'm waiting for something positive rather than negative. A march in support of something, rather than against something . . . or someone.

A march for the “Vine & Fig Tree” vision.

Michelle Malkin, who says many good things but then more than cancels them out with her defense of Bush policies, made this statement:

As you all know, I am the daughter of legal immigrants from the Philippines. They stood in line, took their citizenship tests, filed mountains of paperwork, and — speaking in English — swore allegiance to the United States. The more-than-two-century-old oath of American citizenship declares, in part:

“I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty … I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic… I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Michelle Malkin, Celebrating the 9/12 rallies; Turnout estimated at 2 million; Update: How many?; FreedomWorks in error

I'm worried that the Tea Party movement is more anti-Obama than anti-archist. If mass movements like 9-12 have to be negative, I'd like to see the protesters become naturalized anarchists:

“I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, foreign or domestic….”

Then something positive:

“I will support and defend the Bible and the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God against all enemies, foreign and domestic… I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

The people in those pictures are all good Americans.

I guess I'm not.

Monday, September 07, 2009

College for $99 a Month

Despite looming bankruptcy, states (joined by the federal govenment) continue to spend billions of dollars on archaic and inefficient methods of education.

Some States Propose Plans to Spare Higher Education From Budget Cuts - The Chronicle of Higher Education

Meanwhile, the Free Market continues to innovate, despite government subsidies for the competition:

College for $99 a Month Washington Monthly Kevin Carey

Higher Education Kevin Craig platform.

Friday, September 04, 2009

CO2 Irrelevant - MIT Scientist

Carbon Dioxide irrelevant in climate debate says MIT Scientist

Dianna Cotter at Portland Civil Rights Examiner - a summary of the data presented in the Science and Public Policy (SPPI) CO2 Report for July 2009 (PDF). Bottom line: the UN models are wrong. CO2 is rising much more slowly than they predict, and is having much less effect on temperature averages, sea level, and arctic ice. The sun drives the climate. More stories on the SPPI home page.

Quote: The global surface temperature record, which we update and publish every month, has shown no statistically-significant “global warming” for almost 15 years. Statistically-significant global cooling has now persisted for very nearly eight years. Even a strong el Nino – expected in the coming months – will be unlikely to reverse the cooling trend.

More significantly, the ARGO bathythermographs deployed throughout the world’s oceans since 2003 show that the top 400 fathoms of the oceans, where it is agreed between all parties that at least 80% of all heat caused by manmade “global warming” must accumulate, have been cooling over the past six years. That now prolonged ocean cooling is fatal to the “official” theory that “global warming” will happen on anything other than a minute scale.

There's also a chart showing that the cap-and-trade bill will have no effect on CO2 levels. It will serve only its designed purpose, income redistribution.

HT: Bill StClair

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Competition Creates Wise Consumers

John Stossel applauds competition in health care:

But Obama's so-called reforms would not create real competition and choice. They would prohibit it.

Competition is not a bunch of companies offering the same products and services in the same way. That sterile notion of competition assumes we already know all that there is to know.

But consumers often don't know what they want until it's offered, and their preferences and requirements change. Businesses don't know exactly what consumers want or the most efficient way to produce it until they are in the thick of the competitive hustle and bustle.

This is true in the field of education, as well as health care. If we created a complete separation of school and state -- that is, abolished all government education -- a.k.a. "public" schools (the "public option") -- it is true that there are many parents who don't know enough to choose the best education for their children from private options. This changes under true competition. Education System "A" comes to those parents and says "Here's what you should be looking for in education for your children," and then lists several features which, to nobody's surprise, Education System "A" provides. (Healthcare examples:
American College of Surgeons: Looking for a qualified surgeon?
ACS :: Choosing a Doctor and Hospital) Then Education System "B" comes a-knockin', and tells the parents that children should have several options which System "A" does not offer -- which, of course, System "B" does.

In this way, advertisers educate parents.

System "C" comes along and says they offer the same features as System "A" but for a lower price. "D" competes with "B" in the same way. This forces "A" and "B" to lower their prices. Quality education increases, the price goes down. Just like healthcare used to be.

A, B, C, and D, are all doing fine, they think, until their enrollment goes down. They find parents are enrolling their kids in System "E," which has features that nobody in A-D ever thought of. There's really nothing new about the features of Education System "E" -- "radical" educators thought of them years ago, but government never approved them. Parents do.

Thus, as Stossel notes:

Nobel laureate F.A. Hayek taught that competition is a "discovery procedure." In other words, the "data" of supply and demand emerge only through the market process. We need open-ended competition not merely to see which rival is better, but to learn things we didn't know before and aren't likely to learn any other way.

"Competition is valuable only because, and so far as, its results are unpredictable and on the whole different from those which anyone has, or could have, deliberately aimed at," Hayek wrote.

Well-meaning politicians have created untold misery by assuming they and their experts know enough already.

What a surprise. Millions of consumers and hundreds of competing businesses have more information and make better decisions than 535 Congressmen. Competition means rational economic planning.