I'm a smart, mathematically-trained person (Princeton cum laude, Stanford Ph.D., Bell Telephone Laboratories) trying to apply that intelligence to the political positions of the Democratic Party in the Twenty-First Century.
Let's look at the pillars of the Democratic Party platform as I believe they see it. What are they trying to accomplish and what are they trying to control to achieve those goals?
|Racial equality.||Protections, quotas, and preferences for past inequities and a level playing field.|
|Economic fairness.||Taking wealth and income from those better off to help those less well off.|
|Liveable wages.||A high minimum wage so low-income people can feed their families.|
|Academic funding.||Support for basic research and appropriate science.|
|Schools and Universities.||Making sure students get education with the proper math, science, history, and values.|
|The arts.||Public promotion and funding of art, dance, music, and theater.|
|Media.||Controlling radio+TV content for the public good, more recently Internet.|
|Fact checking.||Ensuring correct coverage of political events in public media.|
|Franchise.||Ensuring all who live in our country have a political voice.|
|Science.||Promoting science with special regard to environmental concerns and public safety.|
|Travel.||Keeping travelers safe and not a threat to themselves and others.|
|Worker protection.||Ensuring safe work environments through regulation and controls.|
|Product safety.||Restricting potentially unsafe products to appropriate consumers for proper use.|
|Universal healthcare.||Doctor and hospital care and availability of prescription medicines.|
|Job security.||Using the power of law and government to keep wages higher for labor.|
|Business regulation.||Ensure companies make and sell proper products.|
|Price controls.||Prevent monopolistic gouging and consumer exploitation.|
|Public safety.||Closing businesses when they threaten people's safety.|
|Firearm sanity.||Keeping the country from becoming the OK corral.|
|National security.||Protecting national secrets from potentially-hostile countries.|
|Removing traitors.||Keeping destructive people and ideas out of the mainstream.|
This is a political platform that's easy to admire. It might represent values like Karl Marx such as fairness and respect for labor, it might represent "progressive" values such as equality of outcome and perceived justice, it might represent more-recent values such as government ensuring everybody has the same access to scarce resources, or it might not represent any values at all, just the issue of the day, the expediency of the moment. On the surface these notions seem compassionate and fair.
In 1912 the Democratic Party expanded its mission to embrace more of these "progressive" ideas with the election of President Wilson without abandoning its founding racial mission. The conservative Republican Party continued to resist both the racial and the progressive components of this mission. Let's explore why the conservative view might not be as evil as it sounds.
I have pointed out that the American progressive left historically supported this vision in other countries. The folk singer Pete Seeger sang and raised money for Stalin and Hitler through millions, maybe tens of millions, of his followers. (That support is still with us. Since 2016 November I've been in concert halls with seven folk singers actively supporting Pete Seeger's political vision.) While Stalin's Russia and Mao's China are aligned this way along with Chavez's Venezuela, Hitler's Germany was a line-for-line fit with this vision. We look back today and say, "How could anybody support Hitler?" Well, at the time, American progressive Democrats (and a few notorious Republicans like Henry Ford) did support Hitler's vision. Making sure everybody had access to healthcare and nobody had access to guns seemed to ensure a healthy and safe community. Funding colleges, universities, and "think tanks" meant they could flourish and they could explore the ideas that supported society. Strong regulations would ensure manufacturing the right things for the country as a whole while treating labor responsibly in the process. It was a glorious vision with much to feel good about.
Like the Democrats in America, Hitler's racial "equality" was limited to white people and his traitors were Jews. The National Socialists appeared to turn evil, like the cute miners in the movie "GalaxyQuest," while those of us with more vision saw the ugliness all along. All of these good-vision things got nasty in Russia, Germany, and China. Somehow the conservatives seemed to realize that beforehand.
One would figure the progressives, now called "liberals," would see the problems after they occurred, but, instead, they simply decided collectively to forget they had ever supported these regimes. The history of Democrat support for Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Chavez conveniently went down the memory hole.
|Let me tell a story. A liberal whined that Trump took away job protections for protected groups and she was glad Biden put them back. It sounds so good that people have their jobs protected. Let's call him Stan, he's a member of a protected group, and my friend John was considering him for a job working with clients. Stan was bright, attractive, and energetic but didn't have much experience. John hired him, the clients didn't like Stan, and John had to let Stan go find work elsewhere. But here's the important thing: Stan got a chance at the job. There's no way John would have taken a chance with somebody like Stan if he knew he couldn't fire him. Job protection would have been job rejection for Stan because that's the only time John would have a choice. That's the reaction to the action of job protection.|
|Racial equality.||Protections, quotas, and preferences for past inequities and a level playing field.||Protected people become pariahs in the job market. Lower standards infantilize, stigmatize, and marginalize them. This is something most of us have seen for decades.|
|Economic fairness.||Taking wealth and income from those better off to help those less well off.||Redistribution and a bureaucracy to do it takes wealth away from everybody, sends a negative message about being usefully employed, and creates a permanent non-working underclass. Businesses make decisions based on avoiding taxes rather than productive profit.|
|Liveable wages.||A high minimum wage so low-income people can feed their families.||Those worth less than that minimum wage to their employers lose their jobs through mechanization or business closure and first steps on the employment ladder go away.|
|Academic funding.||Support for basic research and appropriate science.||Funding academic institutions and paying for school drives up tuition, sends too many people to college instead of learning a trade, politicizes curricula, narrows thinking in the classroom, and sends education quality down the toilet.|
|Schools and Universities.||Making sure students get education with the proper math, science, history, and values.||Government choice of science becomes pseudoscience like eugenics, impending ice age, oil shortages, acid rain, the ozone layer, and global warming to the point where difference of opinion is ostracized. I recall how distorted government schools presentation of "progressive" politics was in my own education.|
|The arts.||Public promotion and funding of art, dance, music, and theater.||Public payment means a lot of bad art with strings attached with people who can't afford tickets or don't want to participate paying the bill so rich people don't have to pay the full price of their tickets.|
|Media.||Controlling radio/TV content for the public good, more recently Internet.||As these media are public fora for expression of opinion, having government complicit in their censorship of political ideas should scare the shit out of all of us.|
|Fact checking.||Ensuring correct coverage of political events in public media.||The fact checkers have their own agenda and their process becomes one of censorship.|
|Franchise.||Ensuring all who live in our country have a political voice.||In the stock market only those who have a stake get to vote. We have a process of citizenship, either born or earned, that defines being a stakeholder in our country for good reasons.|
|Science.||Promoting science with special regard to environmental concerns and public safety.||Environmentalism in 1970 soon became political power mongering. Public policy and political regulation claimed for saving the planet creates huge windfalls for those behind the policy at similarly-huge expense of the rest of us. Science has become religion.|
|Travel.||Keeping travelers safe and not a threat to themselves and others.||Controlling international travel has always been a government responsibility in our own country and others. Free travel within the country is essential to a free society, especially when freedom of peaceful assembly is in jeopardy.|
|Worker protection.||Ensuring safe work environments through regulation and controls.||While worker safety is wonderful and important, there are risky jobs with people willing to do them, presumably for more pay, and blanket safety limits their opportunity.|
|Product safety.||Restricting potentially unsafe products to appropriate consumers for proper use.||People have different trade-offs of safety and proper use. Having a public or private agency informing consumers can be good. At best a single set of standards cannot be good for everybody, more likely the certification process becomes corrupt. We need information and good tort law.|
|Universal healthcare.||Doctor and hospital care and availability of prescription medicines.||Health care is scarce and expensive from regulation and adding cost of bureaucracy only makes it worse. Having the public pay for it means longer waits, lower quality, and a sea of corruption. Treating health care as a right is a huge mistake.|
|Job security.||Using the power of law and government to keep wages higher for labor.||Employers choosing between paying more than an employee is worth to them or not hiring people are going to choose the latter. Otherwise they're going out of business and the job still go away. Unions transfer wealth from employers to union leaders. Higher wages come from more productivity and not from legislating higher hourly pay.|
|Business regulation.||Ensure companies make and sell proper products.||Having government control what products can be made other than consumer demand only moves the manufacturing revenue and jobs to places without those regulations. I learned "fascism" is government control of production and it has had a negative connotation then and now.|
|Price controls.||Prevent monopolistic gouging and consumer exploitation.||Companies that are successful in the marketplace do well by producing better, cheaper, more-desirable products. When they gain that monopoly through government favor it becomes a sea of corruption.|
|Public safety.||Closing businesses when they threaten people's safety.||The COVID-19 scare closed restaurants, bars, theaters, and small retailers. Crowding shoppers into big-box stores didn't help the shoppers but it sure helped the bottom line of those big-box stores and reduced consumer choice.|
|Firearm sanity.||Keeping the country from becoming the OK corral.||Intuition could go either way on gun control, the OK Corral versus "An armed society is a polite society." History is clear, however. Stateside there have been events like the Battle of Athens in Tennessee (not Greece). A German friend boasted how their gun control lowered deaths, I asked if he counted the 13 million Hitler killed, and I got not no reply.|
|National security.||Protecting national secrets from potentially-hostile countries.||I'm told that Israel is the hot-button, top-spy-threat country, not Russia, not China, not Iraq, not Iran, not Libya.|
|Removing traitors.||Keeping people who are destructive out of the mainstream.||Somehow this sentiment turns into genocide, democide, and extermination of people by their own governments totalling 262 million since 1900. It turns into violent anti-semitism just about everywhere there are Jews.|
In her sweet and wonderful book A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L'Engle has her children first see evil in a place far away from home to ease the shock of realizing how pervasive the same evil is on their home planet. We have the luxury of seeing this evil far away in the last century. Alas, today's liberal children lack the capacity of Ms. L'Engle's children to see the same evil on their home planet in their home country in our own century.
Every one of these items was an attraction of Germany's National Socialism eighty-five years ago exactly as it is in Democratic Socialism today. It's the same meal cooked the same way with the same ingredients with the same initial attractive aroma and, as I've shown above, with the same horrible aftertaste. Odysseus was smart enough not to let his sailors hear the siren song of socialism and sanctimony. (Gosh, I'm changing so many metaphors in mid-stream!)
It didn't work, it doesn't work, and it will not work in the future.
Issue by issue, plan by plan, cause by cause, we can go through and examine the platform. We can appreciate the initial attraction of each item and see why the inevitable consequences should make us reject it in favor of a political platform that has produced success.
The political platform that has produced success started with the Magna Carta on 1215 June 15. The trickle of good ideas was joined by a series of great thinkers to become a raging river of freedom in the Constitution of the United States of America in 1789 and its Bill of Rights in 1791. There is no question that the Republican idea of a republic has supported this vision more closely than the Democrat idea of democracy from our Civil War through our Progressive Era through Stalin, Hitler, Castro, Mao, and Chavez to the present day.
Today's Democrats are like ungrateful, petulant children enjoying the creature comforts provided by their parents' labor while condemning the attitudes and effort that got them there. While America followed its Constitutional path it has flourished at both ends of the economic spectrum and everywhere in between. The first three Trump years before COVID-19 gave America's lowest economic sector opportunity and wealth and so many of these people have used that wealth to undermine Trump and his policies that gave them those things.
My Jewish liberal family and friends are the most shocking to me. The alignment of National Socialism and Democratic Socialism, issue by issue, plan by plan, cause by cause, including anti-semitism newly formed during the Obama years. We have the Mod Squad, BLM, ANTIFA, and BDS, all openly against Jews and Israel. President Trump was instrumental in forming new treaties between Israel and her neighbors that we have waited 19½ centuries to see and all of that, even Israel itself, it is in peril. (We were thrown out of Israel in the year 70, fought a war to form our country in 1948, and have dealt with universally hostile neighbors since then until the 2020 agreements. I thought about going to Tel Aviv just to take a flight from there to Dubai over Saudi Arabia in an atmosphere of peace.)
Eighty-five years ago there was a holocaust in central Europe. It was more than just Jews, but Jews were the main target and the Jewish population still hasn't recovered from this event. The political and social attitudes that brought about this horror are aligning perfectly between the National and Democratic Socialists then and now, issue by issue, plan by plan, cause by cause. In 2009 three things protected America's Jews from another holocaust: anti-semitism was unpopular, Israel was strong, and we had a strong Second Amendment. All three of these are in peril under the Democrats in 2021. I'm not a fearful person, I've gone where angels tread lightly, I've been stuck in the back-country fifty miles from the nearest cell service, and I haven't been afraid. This fear keeps me awake at night. This fear should keep every American Jew awake at night.
My liberal friends reject the lessons of history and science. They can make history and science be whatever they want history and science to be. "`For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?'" So if we reject history and science as fundamental source of a political platform, then can we get there with logic?
Issue by issue, plan by plan, cause by cause, we can see that it doesn't require cunning conspiracy to get these bad results, only sentiment without reason and passion without understanding.
There are choices in values. Having values at all is itself a choice. The American-founding values are not the only values we can have. Forty years ago I had a conversation with a fellow who was not American on the issue of fairness versus prosperity and he preferred an even-steven outcome over one where some got more and nobody got less. I was shocked! This was a bright person, a Stanford-Ph.D. classmate, who felt this way. He was comfortable hurting somebody's prosperity for the value of being fair. In American values his attitude is considered jealous envy, but apparently not elsewhere.
There are different values and those with different values have plenty of places to share them. Ninety-five percent of the world population isn't America. Ninety-five percent of the world population didn't face the flag and put their hands on their hearts every morning in school. Ninety-five percent of the world population didn't pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all like I did.
So it's important to understand that America is about American values and we should judge a political platform by those values. I believe it's clear that those values are thwarted by every one of the reactions in the rightmost column of the above table. Morality and values should be enough of a case for a cause.
There is a more mathematical defense of having consistent values. If I have a bunch of processes, political or industrial, whatever objectives I might have are best served by having all optimized by the same criteria. Mathematically, if I have choices X1, X2, X3,..., Xn and I want to optimize their sum ΣXk by some criteria, then the optimum typically will be the sum of the individual optima by the same criteria. (I make my living doing this kind of mathematics for large retail enterprises.)
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," they tell me, but the consistency of constant values reflecting a moral compass is anything but foolish.
I elaborate on political and social goals in another essay. Goals like safety, freedom, bed and board, choice of what to buy, the financial resources to buy those things, being able to work, being able to keep the fruits of my labor, having promises kept, healthcare, education, and freedom from discrimination are thwarted by the reaction parts of the initially-attractive action-goals we started with. As we become older and wiser, we reject the initial impulse to work toward those liberal-progressive things and, instead, to work for conservative values and goals described in the previous sentence. Churchill is said to have said a young person not a liberal has no heart while an older person not a conservative has no brain.
In that vein I'd like to explore those reactions in more detail. Even if your political preferences include the goals above, having government try to do these things doesn't work. Below we'll explore that in more detail.
Racial bias is as old as the hills, and the hills are pretty old. It is a part of who we are to like people like ourselves, perhaps for no other reason than natural selection to create more people like ourselves. We can learn socially to embrace a wider collection of ethnicity and skin color. The foundation of American conservatism in general and the Republican Party in particular is that we owe every man equal opportunity for success. (Republican President Theodore Roosevelt extended this to include women with little resistance from the Democrat side of the political aisle.) This is a noble goal.
There is a push to right previous wrongs using "reverse discrimination" using government force, beyond equal opportunity to equal outcome. It sounds noble, but it's not. The primary effect is to employ and to promote less-qualified blacks. The secondary effects are to generate resentment from those more qualified and to generate a community of blacks who feel entitled to better treatment. Fifty years of Affirmative Action have left us more divided than before with black faces in high places presumed less qualified than their white colleagues. That's not fair to anybody, not no-way, not no-how.
There has been a torrent of blame on racism and white privilege for black Americans failure to thrive. As much as we conservatives and a lot of liberals are working to remove the racist elements of American culture, those are not between black Americans and their success. Other ethnic groups have faces similar discrimination and succeeded, some white, some not. Let's stop the "blame game."
While the foundation of the Democratic Party in 1854 was racism, it expanded its role in 1912 to include "progressive regulation." Today's liberals take for granted that it is an essential role of government to take from the haves to give to the have nots. This is neither a good thing nor something that works.
As much more wealth that Elon Musk and Bill Gates actually consume, dividing that up won't put even a tiny dent in widespread poverty. We have to produce more wealth to have less poverty. That means more people have to spend more time making stuff, doing stuff, and somehow adding value. For people to have nice places to sleep and good food to eat somebody must build those nice places and grow that nice food. Redistribution programs take people out of productive jobs.
The wealth that liberals transfer from rich to poor takes an awfully long detour. I remember reading figures from fifty years ago where welfare programs took enough money per recipient that those recipients would be living at upper-middle-class standard if they actually got what was taken on their behalf. China apparently does the more-logical thing of putting subsidized people people to work, but the best thing is to make it easy for people to work for a living and, of course, to get paid for it.
There is far more that needs to be done and there are far more people willing to pay than there are people to do the work.
Picture a person of limited mobility climbing a ladder rung by rung from the bottom to the top. For whatever motivational reason we take out the bottom rungs. How does this make it easier to climb the ladder?
Picture it from the employer's point of view. I have jobs worth $13 per hour and not more. People work for that wage, either just long enough to get a better job or longer because they don't have skills for a better job. Somebody passes a law that says I can't hire those people. Maybe I automate their jobs, maybe I hire fewer people, or maybe I go out of business. It help neither me nor the people who used to work for me.
Given my earlier assertion that there's more work to be done, more to be produced, more service to be provided, than all the people can do, our standard of living is limited by how many people can work and how much they can do. Enter Walmart (whatever else you may think of them), they hire a million people a year who otherwise can't get a job, they train those people to do basic job skills, those people use those acquired skills to get better jobs than Walmart, and Walmart hires another million otherwise-unemployable people. Not only do those people get training, they get a wage. It's a lousy wage with lousy benefits, but it's the first rung. (My first job was cleaning tables for $1.50/hour at a small delicatessen restaurant in a business building. We gotta start somewhere.)
We picture the guy making $14.50/hour going up to $15/hour with a fifteen-dollar minimum hourly wage, but there are all those people making zero to $14 going out of work.
Scientific research is important. We're told this by politicians in every generation and what could be more noble than having the public pay for that basic research? We all benefit from knowing more about the cosmos, sub-microscopic particles, earth science, psychology, sociology, et cetera. The premise is that private industry isn't going to make the long-term commitment to that kind of research.
First of all, if we're complaining about short-term versus long-term vision in corporate America, that one is easy. Get rid of taxes on corporate profits. If you believe in taxing the rich, then those who own those corporations and get those profits are already taxed on that income. Taxes on income and profit shorten vision. Our government did a cute end-run around that shorter vision by allowing Bell Telephone to re-invest and to keep their long-term profits with a guaranteed monopoly and we got a lot of cool basic research as a result.
The first negative consequence is that the research has no moral compass at all towards being useful. Mathematicians should be free to investigate things of little practical use, but there should be at least a slight pressure towards being useful. I remember practical mathematics like numerical computation and combinatorics were denigrated as "toy mathematics" at Princeton when I was there. A faculty of algebraic topologists was hiring yet more algebraic topologists. I remember meeting astronomer working on comets lamenting that all the new hires were cosmologists. (I have friends who are cosmotologists, not the same thing.) There is a lot of cool, useful, basic research to be done and no guarantee that government funding will support it. There is no accountability.
War is one notable exception to the wayward nature of government funded science. In this case, the government isn't really funding basic research but is a direct customer of that research with specific deliverables needed on a specific timetable. We need our weapons to work on them before their weapons work on us. There is a clear sense of direction in military research. What was so cool to me about the space program is it had all the imperative, urgency, and accoutability of war without mass killing. Imagine fighting a war where nobody dies and getting a lot of basic-science research along the way.
Second, amoral research with a compass soon becomes immoral research with specifically bad objectives. Look at the fluff from political causes masquerading as science in eugenics, impending ice age, mercury in the tuna fish, running out of oil by 2020, acid rain, the ozone layer, global warming, climate change, and now COVID-19. Any professor speaking even a hint of a politically-incorrect viewpoint finds himself out of job. His important questions change from "What is the next trend in climate?" to "Would you like fries with that?"
I went to a nominally-public school K-12 (and nominally-private schools for college and graduate school). We pledged allegiance to the flag We were taught the right progressive and liberal viewpoints. In my day, conservative views were mocked in the classroom. In our day science class had neither eugenics nor environmental politics, but I believe that is quite different today. The gospel of global warming and climate change is universal with doubt severely punished.
The argument has been made that education is some kind of right. Somehow that makes it okay to violate other rights of other people to pay for that education. This argument seems to pervade public funding of healthcare, also.
There is a better argument, still false and still wrong, that we all benefit from an educated community enmired in public values like courtesy and respect for others. From 1997 through 2000 I was reminded of the fallacy of this when I drove by a high school on my way to work and certainly did not see at attitude of courtesy and respect in the young drivers going to and from school.
Look, the primary beneficiary of good education is the student and that student should be able to pay for education. Like paying a mortgage for a house that benefits its occupants, there are legal ways to have students pay later for school now. If education doesn't return several times its cost (with time value of money (interest) figured in), then why are we investing in that education? Social attitudes have pushed aside vocational schools that make young people happy, productive, and prosperous in favor of schools teaching things they don't want and will never use.
In my world we pay for theater, music, dance, opera, and visual art through ticket prices. When those ticket revenues fall short we have patronage. I give money to a host of organizations for my name in the back of the program and occasional wine-and-cheese dinners where I get to meet the artists, or at least other donors. Patrons support excellence and push for it in various ways. I believe patrons seldom use their influence for political ends or social messages in the programs they support.
Government funding is the opposite. I have stories from 60 Minutes to my own experience running a concert series in New Jersey where government funding pushed art in wrong or pointless directions. We filled out applications for grant money where we had to show what we were doing that was new and innovative, no room in there for just doing four good concerts a year, and then they just divided the money among the groups the same way as the year before. The 60 Minutes story I recall was about warehouses full of government-funded paintings that were so awful nobody wanted them, not even for free.
Unlike patrons, government expects political positions from artists it funds. Russian composers had to be careful what Stalin would like and all the government-funded arts organizations jumped on the racism-sanctimony bandwagon in 2020 May when racism has been just as bad and important throughout American history. (I believe 2019 and 2020 have been the best time in American history for the least racial hate.) Government funding encourages bad artists with political preference, not true to their craft.
I have to admit life was simple in the land of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) controlling the radio and television airwaves. Mary Ann's naval and Ginger's cleavage were and beautiful women on "Star Trek" from alien planets where cloth was apparently scarce were the censorship issues of the day. "When we wanted pornography in my day we had to shoplift it." Bias on television was totally taboo, Walter Cronkite's personal political positions were well hidden, and election-year commercials were carefully balanced. Comedian Pat Paulson ran for President in 1968 on the "Smothers Brothers" show, but took no actual sides on hot issues. From what I can tell, government censorship was effective and even-handed. I'm not a fan of censorship, only that it didn't promote any political position that I noticed fifty years ago.
Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Instagram had the same duty because they, like earlier radio and television, were public facing institutions. (Some conservatives believe the primary reason Facebook should not censor is its government-supported position as a common carrier, like the older telephone company. Some believe it's a matter of anti-trust and monopolies. While both of these have legal merit, I'm less comfortable with these arguments than my own notion of "public facing.") We should be equally comfortable with a restaurant refusing to serve black people as Facebook refusing to allow conservative content that meets its standard of decorum. (Of course, more recently, there have been cases of restaurants refusing to serve conservatives who meet their standard of decorum because of their viewpoints. I notice my liberal friends are comfortable with that just as they are with Facebook.)
We now live in an age where a single community controls not only their own media and content but the media and content available to the rest of us. Scarier still is their comfort with using that control and our comfort in accepting it.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "You are entitled to your own opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts." The New York Times was "All The News That's Fit To Print." Somewhere along the way that changed. When visiting family I looked at a front page and, where news used to be, it was mostly spewing anti-Trump hate. Then they published their famous 100,000-DEATHS front page with no mention of corona virus or COVID-19 that I recall, with names of people that died for all kinds of other reasons. One has to bend the notion of "fact" pretty far backwards to make these front pages anything like news or truth.
Other than capitalizing on the reputation of a once-venerable newspaper to promote liberal lies, there is no breach of basic communication rights here. It becomes a breach of rights when a public-facing social medium uses its big footprint to stamp out those pointing out those breaches of trust. Facebook stamped out reporting of what people actually heard and saw as false facts along with their accompanying opinions.
When Facebook make its liberal policy and its intent to wield its power toward that policy clear, alternatives to Facebook found access to the Internet cut off by the suppliers like Google and Amazon.
Is this really the world we want to live in?
A company has a community of stockholders where those who buy more stock get a greater voice in what that company does. That company may choose to listen to other voices including its consumers or public opinion, but the ultimate decision makers are those financially vested in ownership.
Our country was set up the same way. Article 1 says every citizen gets equal vote and pays equal tax. Those who aren't citizens don't pay tax, no taxation without representation. Now that we have the Sixteenth Amendment I suppose a fair interpretation would have those who pay more tax get more votes, but we don't do it that way. The circle of United States citizens rightfully expanded from free man to include all races and sexes. Unlike other countries, children born of those legitimately living in the United States are automatically granted citizenship as are immigrants who come to this country and apply for citizenship. Those applying have to demonstrate knowledge of our heritage and language that one born here would reasonably have. (I presume those who count votes of dead people and non-citizens recognize they're doing something wrong when they do it. We're counting living, mentally-competent citizens here, at least competent enough to produce photo-ID at the polls.)
When we have a movement to include those who haven't invested the effort to belong to this country or, worse yet, those who don't even legally live here, it dilutes the franchise of legitimate stakeholders in our nation. It's obviously an effort to stack the votes for the next election and creates a game of recruiting the right future voters rather than having those who invest in our country determine its future.
What could be a better-sounding cause than Science? And what could be a better-sounding cause than protecting our own future through Science? It doesn't take long before promoting science becomes promoting political causes and it doesn't take much longer after that for those political causes to become nasty and corrupt.
From 1980 through 1969 the progressive science cause was eugenics, genetic engineering to improve the human race. (This was before Watson published The Double Helix and DNA was known, but Mendel's genetics work was known.) Never mind what happened in Germany in the cause of eugenics, there was some really nasty stuff here in the United States with Margaret Sanger's genocide through abortion and sterilization. 1970 April 22 was Earth Day and a legitimate and important environmental movement soon became political and destructive. Funny that Al Gore made a fortune in corn futures after ethanol became the wonder additive for automobile fuel to prevent CO2 emissions in the global-warming cause. Whether mismanagement of energy for climate change will take more lives in lost food and water than the holocausts for eugenics remains to be seen, but science in politics hasn't been a good thing.
Our U.S. borders are controlled by Constitutional decree and our federal government takes that responsibility seriously. (I was detained for a little while coming back from Libya and felt no personal invasion about it.) Driving on Interstate 10 through El Paso, Texas, (near Mexico) I was stopped by a border patrol. When travel within the country is similarly controlled I have more of a problem with it. Driving into California my car was inspected for fruits and vegetables to prevent infestations, but nobody asked my identity. I don't know how much these prerogatives are abused.
Government control over the roads is often exercised through so-called "random" traffic stops for people often profiled as "looking suspicious" or just the wrong skin color. Ask your black friends how often they have been pulled over by police for DWB (Driving While Black). It's more common than we white folks like to believe.
While I understand fear of a pandemic, real or imagined, I'm a lot more afraid when government says we can't travel or peaceably assemble. The Internet mitigates some of that control at the expense of privacy as Internet is easily watched. Controls for our safety usually end up with us less safe.
While nobody should be hurt doing his job, the reality is that some jobs are dangerous. Law enforcement officers often find themselves dealing with far-greater peril than walking elementary-school students across the street. Construction jobs deal with big scary tools that sometimes do serious damage to those using them. Many sports expose their participants to potential injury.
We can mitigate those risks, maybe even elimited them sometimes, but sometimes at a cost that eliminates the opportunity to do a job. Sometimes I'm appalled how little an employer is willing to do for the comfort and safety of workers, but often the opportunity of employment is worth a risk whose elimination cost would make the job opportunity go away. Arbitrary government regulation works two ways, one to require high expenses for little safety improvement and the other to create an atmosphere of comfort with low safety, "We're complying with all the government requirements."
I recall one example where safety requirements were rightly evaded simply by finding people not at risk. The jobs in the painfully-noisy presses at the newspaper were filled by deaf people whose hearing wouldn't be damaged. Blanket restrictions about on-the-job noise levels would cost those people their jobs.
If some organization like Consumers Union evaluates products for safety, then I'm delighted to have them do that. Having government warn us of safety issues with some products may not be bad either. When government starts banning products because they're not safe, then I have some concerns.
Government approval soon becomes an opportunity for corruption. They approved mine and not yours, so I win and you lose.
Even without corruption, the market distortions of government safety regulation are costly and often harmful. Avon's Skin-So-Soft product is a mosquito repellent, "everybody" knows it, but they don't put it on the label. I figure it's because putting something out as bug spray creates far higher product liability through government regulation than selling it as skin cream and letting people use it as bug spray.
On a more-serious note, consider Vioxx. My casual understanding is that Vioxx is a fantastic pain-killer for those with arthritis and that it has longer-term risk of heart attacks, so it was taken off the market. So a twenty-five year old with joint pain shouldn't use it, but taking it off the market so an eighty-five-year-old arthritis patient has to live in pain because he might get a heart attack in fifteen years seems terrible.
It goes a step further. Sometimes the regulation comes in the form of product liability. As I recall, sometime in the 1980s a pilot flew an older Cessna airplane into the side of a mountain and Cessna paid millions in a lawsuit that the airplane was not "crashworthy" enough. The notion that a tried-and-true airplane decades old can expose its manufacturer to liability claims seems absurd. If a weld joint fails on my 1965 Piper Cherokee (after fifty-six years of use), then is it really fair to hold Piper financially responsible? Where does it end? Product liability insurance decimated the lower-cost family airplane business. Since I'm a private pilot, this is the case I know about, but I have to figure there are oodles of other products reduced or eliminated from their markets by ridiculous tort litigation.
Health care is expensive in the United States. It isn't fair that rich people have access to better care. Everybody should get the best care. Let's deal with these one at a time.
Health care is expensive because of regulation reducing participation from the American Medical Association (AMA) restricting medical licenses, hospitals facing difficult certification and expensive tort liability, and drug companies having to spend hundreds of millions on testing, All of these are nice to have, but there are people who could have access to health care that would make me happy with slightly higher risk and inconvenience at hugely lower cost. Having most doctor, hospital, and pharmacy bills paid by third parties also drives up healthcare costs. There's more than a little corruption in there, too. Low cost clinics can become a greater reality if we reduce restrictive regulation, help consumers become more knowledgeable, and let them choose their care.
It isn't fair that Bill Gates drives a better car than I do and gets better health care. I hope somebody with that kind of wealth can get super-high-end health care for a variety of reasons. First, should I find myself financially better off I would enjoy better medical care as a perk. Second, the stuff they do for rich people at a high price later becomes the stuff we regular folks get a lot cheaper. Not that much later, that same once-fancy stuff becomes a stable in veterinary care for our kittens and puppies. Rather than being jealous that somebody's doing better, wouldn't it make more sense and be more compassionate to look for ways that people of limited means can get better care?
I have a friend who has a Rolls Royce and a Bentley. He was even nice enough to let me drive them. I drive a Volkswagon. I owned a Volkswagon in 1978, replaced it with another Volkswagon in 1987, and again in 2015. All of those cars were reasonably priced and within the budgets of median-income people. The cost of high-end health care for everybody would bankrupt our country as quickly as buying everybody a Bentley, and that's before the factor-of-two overhead of having the government managing it all. Just as each new Volkswagon was a much-better car, making cheap health care better is the ticket to making everybody able to get good medicine. Sure, there will be charity cases at the bottom-income end and there are private-charity ways to help those people, but decent, less-regulated care can be available to anybody who can afford a low-end Volkwagon (or apartment rent in the cities where owning a car is impractical).
When wage laborers were exploited unions were formed for collective bargaining. That sounds like a good idea because it is a good idea. A community of workers presenting themselves as a single negotiating entity will do better than wage earners negotiating one at a time. Then the government got involved and gave unions some special privileges like forced membership to work and the legal entity of a strike where the workers can claim their jobs so nobody else can have them.
Union members get paid more and get better benefits, but they also pay significant dues to the union. There's clearly a transfer of wealth through the workers from companies whose owners invested in their future to union management who haven't produced anything for anybody. I wonder if the workers getting more wages and paying union dues do better than without the union.
Union members get paid more and get better benefits, at least for a while. Creating artificially-high wages puts dues-paying union members at a disadvantage, maybe against their United States coworkers and definitely against their foreign competitors.
I believe there are unions that train their workers and ensure employers high quality employees. I would like to see unions bargain collectively for their members and help their members find the best jobs. They don't need government favors and corruption to do those things.
A store or online vendor can choose what products to sell. That may be based on quality, price, or personal preference. I can always shop elsewhere. If Amazon or Walmart exercises that privilege, then it becomes more difficult, but there are alternatives. An auction site like eBay should be obligated to sell what their customers want to sell so long as it's legal unless they stipulate restrictions up front. An example of that stipulation might be drugs or pornography. When that stipulation extends to books liberals don't want them to sell, then I get concerned.
Government control of production should scare all of us. We have the Second Amendment protecting bearing of arms and I believe there's a clear coverage of manufacturing arms. The argument against child pornography is that children are harmed in the production. (I'll leave it to legal scholars whether using computer-generated images or adults who look like children should be prohibited from making pedophile pornography.)
In case anybody has confidence these restrictions are being used appropriately, Mein Kampf is available on media that have banned books by Theodor Geisel (Dr. Suess). Both authors have had periods promoting racism at some point.
There are all kinds of emotional liberal responses to monopoly. They're charging too much and "gouging" us or they're charging too little and preventing entry into the market. My own bias is to try to find a product in an actual "brick-and-mortar" store before buying it online and to try to support "Mom and Pop" retail when I can. It's not always clear what is big-company and what is local business. For example, I found out 90% of Holiday Inn hotels are locally-owned franchise hotels paying for the name and accountable to Holiday Inn for their quality, so I'm supporting a local enterprise when I stay there.
Just to make it more interesting, there are natural monopolies where concentrated business is cheaper, regulatory monopolies where government gives one company a market through preferential treatment (fascism), government monopolies where the government just takes over (socialism), and forced monopolies where the big guys lie, cheat, and steal their way to market control. I'm okay with natural monopolies because their prices can't get higher than the price a second provider would charge if they want to keep their monopoly. The others can be fixed by not having government meddle in markets and by having government enforce laws against lying, cheating, and stealing. When the mob burns down their competitor's warehouse, then we have police and courts to make it right. Anti-trust laws don't seem to have reduced organized-crime corruption.
In fact, it has gone the other way. Government prohibits something like drugs or prostitution, and the Mafia bribes the police and courts so they can still provide it at a higher price. It's a sweet deal for them, not so much for the rest of us. My understanding is that much of America's organized crime came from Prohibition, when alcoholic beverages were banned.
This one is mostly about COVID-19, but it extends to other areas as well. Think what a windfall this virus scare has been for the big boys of retail, Walmart and Amazon. All the little guys get closed down while they stay open. Are we really in less peril going to Walmart and Best Buy than we were going to smaller stores to buy stuff? Shouldn't we be making our own choices where to shop?
This goes back a lot further. I grew up in Pennsylvania where liquor was sold only in "State Stores." When I started shopping in supermarkets that had wine and convenience stores that had beer, I realized there was no good reason to sequester alcoholic beverages.
The damage done by government over COVID-19 is far greater than a millions of small retailers. Restaurants were closed down all over and the arts are still in a world of hurt. At the times these regulations appeared the disease was virtually non-existent and there are large populations for which it is only a minor threat, not enough to shut down business and freedom to choose.
I grew up back east where people were afraid of guns. They didn't seem especially afraid of being shot, just being around guns. One person I know posted that she was traumatized by a paper advertisement for pistols she received in the mail. Really.
Going to the shooting range and putting holes in paper targets is fun. It's also fun going out in the middle of nowhere, lining up a bunch of soda-pop cans, and shooting holes in them. We play with weapons from the javelin in track and field to simulated violence in video games.
Neither of these strikes me as the issue around guns. The issue is the threat of being shot, is it good or bad? Counties with aggressive gun restrictions have been fraught with tyranny and holocausts (do we really need examples?) and states and cities in the United States with the strictest gun laws have had the highest violent crime rates. The argument that gun laws are a reaction to high crime is negated by the long-term relationship over decades between gun restrictions and high crime.
So while we sit at the bridge table drinking tea with our pinkies pointed at the ceiling, we keep guns in our bedrooms at night and we sleep better for it. An old lady is pulled over for running a STOP sign and she tells the office she has a 357 in the glove compartment, a 44-magnum under the seat, and a Walther in her purse. The officer asks what she's afraid of and she answers, "Not a damned thing." They say an armed society is a safe and polite society, I believe it, and history supports it.
I don't know how this election fraud is going to end, maybe in a reversal to reflect how people actually voted, maybe in another holocaust from three new, violent, anti-Jewish action groups in the Democratic Party, but a lot of that depends on what 100 million American gun owners are willing to do to protect and to preserve our freedom.
Criminals can get guns whether or not the law permits it. At the local level, like it or not, the only way to maintain a high ratio of good-people guns to bad-people guns is to let the good people get guns.
Protecting national secrets from potentially-hostile countries.
Here's one where I have sympathy for government intervention, but it needs some supervision. There are countries out there who don't like us very much and Randy Newman's parody-song advice of "drop the big one" probably isn't the best way to deal with them. Keeping a watchful eye is important.
But here's the thing. Government creates enemies to gain power over its citizens. A friend who knew the date 1945 August 6 for dropping "the big one" on Hiroshima found himself seeing the same faces on the subway when he was on leave. After the war was over, he asked whom the were afraid of. It wasn't Japan or Germany, it was Russia. I realize Stalin was big and scary, but without fear-mongering support from the United States, Russia was not a major threat. While the newsreels we saw in the movie theaters were scary, Andy Rooney pointed out that anybody who had been there, anybody who had stayed in a Moscow hotel and seen how things work, wasn't going to be as afraid of Russian attack as the scary images from our own government suggested. (Hiding under our desks at school wasn't going to protect us from Stalin's attack.
More recently it seems Israel has become the target of fear mongering, consistent with the rising tide of anti-semitism in the United States and in western Europe.
It never seems to take long before fear of military traitors becomes fear of political enemies. It also never seems to take long before the reaction to military and political threat becomes hate for Jewish people. In the last US-Democrat era 2007-2014 four new anti-semitic groups emerged in their party, ANTIFA, BDS, BLM, and the "Mod Squad." The first three are openly violent. Jews are not be the only victims, but they have been victims of hate in most of the political world for most of its political history. The Jewish population still hasn't regained its losses, there were more Jews in 1935 than there are today.
Judgment is scarce, hard to find, and difficult to maintain. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. We have oodles of clichés reminding us, but it still seems to happen. It's not clear what the answer to national security is and, often, it's not even clear what the question is, but I'm sure genocidal hate isn't a good way to go.
So here we are. Even for those who embrace these amoral principles of the American progressive, liberal, Democrat left wing the consequences of government carrying them out are negative and scary.
You came here and pledged allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Is it so terrible to follow those principles and to keep government out of these issues? We can deal with everything on this list privately through free enterprise informed choice. If free enterprise isn't doing something, then we can start business to do it. If people are not informed, then we can inform them.
I'm going to end with an example I see from time to time on Facebook. Liberals are whining that the high cost of insulin isn't fair to diabetics who need it. It has been eighteen years since I had a diabetic in my household and I don't remember insulin being expensive in 2003, but, apparently it's expensive now. I ask my liberal friends why they don't organize a business to sell insulin for a lower, fairer price. There are two reasonable answers: First, it really is expensive to make insulin so nobody can produce insulin for a low price. My answer to that is either to have insurance to spread the cost or private donations to help low-income diabetics pay for insulin. Second, the one I actually believe, is that regulation is keeping the price high and may answer is, duh!, to remove that regulation. The answer I actually got was silence, the sound of crickets chirping on my web browser. It seems those complaining are more interested in whining then in actually solving a problem.
As I write this our government is passing a $1.9 trillion relief package to give $1400 per person to Americans. Assuming all 330 million Americans are eligible (they're not), that means we're each paying $5758 in taxes to get $1400 back. Liberals claim that's a good thing and that conservatives are mean and nasty not to want that to happen. How crazy does it have to get before people realize government isn't going to fix the problem?
So let's wake up and solve our problems by ourselves. What made the first three Trump years so satisfying (before the COVID-19 mess with the lockdowns) was we were seeing just that. I wish President Trump had some some other things like make the government smaller and put the Democrat crooks in prison where they belonged, but we started making stuff again, including energy. A path to peace in the Middle East and multiple stories of a lot less racial profiling were nice bonuses.
The progressive, liberal, Democrat vision didn't work in Russia, Germany, Cuba, China, Cambodia, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Vietnam, North Korea, et cetera, it didn't work here with the New Deal and the Great Society, and it didn't work during the Carter and Obama presidencies. My point here is that it never was going to work, not no-way, not no-how.
My liberal friends reject the history. Fine, then just look at the science. Look at how failure is built into government programs. It's all right here and all you have to do is look.
Today is 2021 April 14, Wednesday,
21:27:38 Mountain Standard Time (MST).
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