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Imagine No Taxes

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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On Tax Day, I dared to wonder what happiness I might pursue with the money I earn but never see. I asked readers to join me in the exercise and imagine what they might do with the money they lost to taxes last year. Reader Mike Mahoney added this insightful comment:

I would probably wind up spending it on protection, roads, litigation services. If one looks at tax receipts and the portion of the budget that is enumerated as a power to do things in the constitution you’ll note a similarity. The rest is all done on borrowed money. So, if I didn’t pay taxes I would still pay.

Mike lands a fair point. Government certainly provides a value. In the absence of particular government services, we would need to pursue alternatives, thus incurring expense.

Of course, in that case, we could choose to pay as we saw fit, and would benefit from the cost and quality controls of the market. Whether we would pay as much for the same services under a private model is an open question. (I think it safe to bet we’d pay significantly less.) However, we know the percentage of our income spent on such services would decrease as we earned more, instead of increasing as it does today. Market-driven prices are rarely progressive.

You don’t pay more for groceries or fuel just because you earn more. So why should you pay more for the services provided by government, particularly if you prove less likely to use them?

An unspoken assumption which may inform Mike’s comment is that a world without taxes means anarchy. But that’s not necessarily the case. Dr. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute here briefly explains how government could raise revenue without coercive taxation:

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Imagine the effect such an arrangement would have upon our incentives to produce and improve the lives of ourselves and others through trade. The sky would be the limit.

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Do Homeschoolers ‘Rob’ Public Schools of Tax Dollars?

Monday, April 14th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

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Marcia Clemmitt recently published an extensive report on homeschooling at CQ Researcher. In “Homeschooling: Do Parents Give Their Children a Good Education?,” Clemmitt, a “social policy researcher” and former high school teacher attempts to explain the economic impact of homeschooling in the United States:

Since public schools are allotted government dollars based on the number of pupils they enroll, districts where home schooling’s growth is greatest inevitably lose cash. Arizona’s Maricopa County school district, for example, had lost $34 million by the year 2000 because 7,526 students were being home-schooled.

While I do not doubt for a minute the propensity of government schools to “lose cash,” homeschooling is not to blame.

A report from The Heritage Foundation in 2009 found that just the opposite is true — homeschooling eases the burden on local public schools, saving them billions:

An additional benefit of homeschooling comes in the form of savings to taxpayers and school systems. Analysts have estimated that homeschooled students save American taxpayers and public schools between $4.4 billion and $9.9 billion annually. Other estimates are as high as $16 billion.

The argument that homeschoolers deprive public schools of tax money is based on the premise that each child represents a sum of money to which the school has an inherent right. When parents choose to educate their children outside the public school system, opponents of homeschooling say, those students are “robbing” districts of money to which they are entitled by virtue of the fact that the child happens to live in their district.

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The Rise of the Robot Employee

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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President Obama’s new initiative is a higher minimum wage, and if he is successful the result will not be higher-paid employees heading off to work every day. Instead their jobs will be filled by an entirely new sort of worker: Robots.

Robots, unlike humans, don’t require pay or sick time or vacations. If they break they’re thrown out and recycled. Robots are expensive, but the threat of a higher minimum wage is now making a robotic worker more cost-effective than hiring a real person.

Across Japan the noodle-making chefs are now made of metal, and when you order a Big Mac at a MacDonald’s in Europe you do it by touch screen. A company called Momentum Machines in southern California has developed a robot that cranks out 400 perfectly-prepared burgers every hour. (Note: Robots do not sneeze. Ever. Think about that for a bit.)

Where is this going? Are we heading for a future where slinky femme fatale robots plot the destruction of mankind while wearing the perfect red dress?

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Altruism in Religion’s Free Market

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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My colleague Walter Hudson recently concluded that altruism has no place in Christian life:

Christian giving promotes life and health. Altruism promotes starvation and death. Altruism redistributes. Christian giving transacts. Christ’s own words assure us of greater blessing in giving than receiving. Christian giving leaves us better off, not worse. Altruism therefore proves atheistic, as Piper declares. We will never give more to others than God will give to us.

Walter’s basic conclusion is capitalist in nature: A Christian should be rewarded in kind (or over and above) for giving of their money, their time, or their talent. On the face of it, his argument makes sense, especially in light of congregational membership. My Christian friends often complain about the concept of “tithing,” a Torah teaching that is grossly abused by the religious establishment. Far too often, “tithing” translates into religious leadership putting pressure on church members to “donate” up to 10% of their annual income to their church. Synagogue membership, on the other hand, is rather simple: The same flat fee is charged to everyone on a yearly basis. No weekly passing of plates, no feeling ashamed; most synagogues have provision to assist members who may not be able to meet the annual sum. Programming fees are charged for additional events, like holiday services and Hebrew school. This model best fits Walter’s description of being rewarded in kind for monies given.

In the era where religious establishments have become places to fulfill business networking and social needs, it makes sense that you’d pay a fee for the religious service as you would any other mode through which these things would be accomplished. You pay for drinks at bars, JDate and Christian Mingle memberships, and head hunters; someone’s got to pay the electric bill so the lights are on when you’re shaking hands. The only question is, where is God in all of this? If the Bible is right, and we were put on earth to walk with Him in a personal relationship, what is He getting for His services rendered? That is, besides a corrupt priesthood on both sides of the aisle, pressuring congregants for cash and willing to let God take the back seat to a business deal?

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Is Income Inequality a Problem?

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Here, Ayn Rand Institute executive director Yaron Brook addresses the campaign against income inequality. What are the philosophical roots of this concern?

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Bill Gates Thinks ‘Pro-Capitalistic, Market-Driven People’ Should Embrace Common Core

Monday, March 17th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

On Thursday AEI’s Philanthropic Freedom Project hosted Bill Gates for a conversation with AEI President Arthur Brooks focusing on the role of philanthropy in addressing poverty. During the Q & A time Michael McShane, research fellow in education policy studies at AEI, asked Gates about the controversial Common Core standards. Gates, whose foundation has donated $150 million to facilitate the promotion and implementation of Common Core — including $1 million to AEI — ran through the usual list of talking points given by proponents of the new standards, which have been adopted by 46 states.

Gates thinks that, given the prospects for driving innovation, “pro-capitalistic, market-driven people” should embrace Common Core.

“If they have two [sets of standards] they’re comparing they oughta probably pick something in common because to some degree this is an area where, if you do have commonality, it’s like an electric plug,” Gates said. “You get more free market competition. Scale is good for free market competition. Individual state regulatory capture is not good for competition.”

Economies of scale refers to reductions in a producer’s unit costs as scale of output is increased. For a variety of reasons, it’s cheaper per unit to make a million electric plugs than it is to make one hundred — raw materials can be purchased in bulk for a lower price,  a larger company can afford sophisticated automation equipment, etc.  Gates thinks that this economic theory can be applied to the education of children. While it’s true that curriculum, tests, and even standards can be reproduced on a mass scale for a lower price than can the same items produced on a lower scale, the same cannot be said about the minds of children.

Human beings are not electric plugs. Schools are not molding soulless plastic objects, they are touching hearts and minds. Though Gates brushes off criticism of the standards by saying they’re merely a “written explanation of what kids should achieve at various milestones in their educational career,” the evidence shows that, whatever their original intentions, the standards have evolved into something that is not rigorous (by traditional American standards) and worse, will lead to continued cultural and moral degradation in our schools. Terrence O. Moore, professor of history at Hillsdale College has said that the new standards, as they are currently being implemented in schools across the country, will destroy minds and souls and lead students down “a depressing path of a prematurely jaded, post-modern, anti-heroic view of life.”

Plenty of industries can benefit from the economy of scale and even from shared services across states, but the idea of mass-producing education across the diverse landscape of the United States will ultimately lead to a Henry Ford-style education for all: You can have any kind of education you want as long as it’s of the approved, federal-centric, progressive variety.

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Our Bodies, Our Only Sense of Self

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The MSM’s latest fetish, college girls-turned-porn stars for tuition money, smacks of the rotten legacy of second-wave feminism’s “our bodies, our selves” mantra. Take the story of Belle Knox, a Duke University fresh-girl forced to do porn for the tuition money. While her sleaze-bag of an agent attempts to milk her 15 minutes with stories of a poor girl turned out by multimillionaire parents (a story she later changed when chatting with Piers Morgan), Belle Knox views herself as anything but a victim.

The 18-year-old appeared on front pages across the globe and sat down with Piers Morgan for a CNN interview using only her stage name and claiming that she was not ashamed of what she was doing and, in fact, felt ‘empowered’ by her career.

I’m not being exploited. I love what I’m doing and I’m safe,’ insists the women’s studies major.

Women’s studies major. Good thing she’s in porn, considering her future career choices at this point don’t rise far above McDonald’s worker (and we all know how poorly they’re paid). Seriously, though, paying for your women’s studies degree by doing porn? Has anyone stopped being sucked in by the rich-girl lifestyle to consider that glaring irony? Or the fact that her women’s studies major has justified her career choice?

She told her student newspaper in an interview last week: ‘My entire life, I have, along with millions of other girls, been told that sex is a degrading and shameful act. When I was five-years-old and beginning to discover the wonders of my body, my mother, completely horrified, told me that if I masturbated, my vagina would fall off.

‘The most striking view I was indoctrinated with was that sex is something women “have,” but that they shouldn’t “give it away” too soon -– as though there’s only so much sex in any one woman, and sex is something she does for a man that necessarily requires losing something of herself, and so she should be really careful who she “gives” it to.’

The vapid meanderings of Belle Knox illustrate the very scary impact of the second-wave feminist notion that our bodies really are our selves. Beyond our physicality, we have nothing left, no brain, no feeling, to “lose” or invest in a sexual encounter.

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Should Atlas Shrug Off Apple?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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What would you do, as the owner of a company, if the manager you hired to run it rebuked your desire for the highest return on investment? Imagine that you approach your manager with concerns about his performance, and he tells you to stop worrying so much about profit.

Apple CEO Tim Cook did precisely that in a meeting with stockholders at the company’s Cupertino headquarters. Mashable reports on the confrontation with a group of stockholders objecting to Cook’s wasteful spending on environmental initiatives:

“We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive,” the CEO said:

We do things because they are right and just and that is who we are. That’s who we are as a company. I don’t…when I think about human rights, I don’t think about an ROI. When I think about making our products accessible for the people that can’t see or to help a kid with autism, I don’t think about a bloody ROI, and by the same token, I don’t think about helping our environment from an ROI point of view.

Anyone who had a problem with that approach? They should sell their Apple shares. “If you only want me to make things, make decisions that have a clear ROI, then you should get out of the stock,” Cook said to applause.

Emphasis should be placed on that applause. Stockholders went on to vote down a proposal to halt environmental efforts which hurt the company’s bottom line. In other words, stockholders voted against making money.

The episode evokes comparisons to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and the character of James Taggart, heir to a railroad company who squanders his inherited wealth on altruistic efforts which ruin both his company and the national economy. Like Cook, Taggart believes business should be motivated by more than profit. Like Cook, Taggart believes business holds some responsibility to help people.

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Crispin Glover’s Gripe with Back to the Future

Friday, February 28th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Back to the Future actor Crispin Glover sat down with IGN recently to talk about his experience filming the classic time-travel adventure. Glover only worked on the first film in the franchise, though his likeness and select footage from the first film was used in the second.

In his interview with IGN, posted above, Glover explained some of the creative differences which contributed to his leaving the franchise. He objected to what he called “propaganda” in the film promoting “corporate interests.” Specifically, Glover felt that the ending of the first film, portraying the McFly family as happier and notably wealthier than when it began, sent the wrong message.

The happier was fine to me. And the idea of the characters being in love, I thought was excellent. But I thought – I saw that if there was a kind of a financial reward, where the son character cheers because he has a truck in the garage – I thought that the moral aspect ends up being that money equals happiness. And I questioned that, and that was met with a lot of hostility and upset.

Glover recalls watching old movies in revival houses as a teenager in Los Angeles, films which he felt “were questioning things.” He apparently did not want to be complicit in a film which takes for granted that “money equals happiness,” a message he felt deceived moviegoers into sacrificing their interests to that of corporations.

Propaganda is essentially fooling people into believing that there’s something good for them, but it’s actually in the interests of the corporations. I mean, you can call anything propaganda. You can say what I’m saying right now is propaganda. I mean, you’re saying – it’s propagating an idea. But the kind of propaganda that I’m speaking of, that I think is very damaging, is the propaganda that is making people at large feel that what’s being put forth to them is good for their own interests. But in fact, it’s actually best for the corporate interests and it ends up hurting the people at large.

And unfortunately, I think – even though there are very positive things about Back to the Future – there’s very good story structure. There was good writing within it. My argument was, if we just take out the element of wealth as a reward – and it was only that the characters were in love, I would like the film altogether wholly.

The philosophical notion fueling Glover’s objection was that money should not matter if you pursue those things which you love.

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The New Morality: Crying Over Served Cake

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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In this day and age, why would you be stupid enough to use your religious beliefs as an excuse to deny someone services?

There are plenty of ways to avoid entering into a business transaction without having to appear discriminatory at all. When I worked for a private repair shop and encountered a client who seemed to be more trouble than they were worth for whatever reason, we used to simply say, “I am sorry, but we cannot provide service.” If people questioned why (which they did, very often and with plenty of attitude), we just kept repeating the same phrase: “I’m sorry, we cannot provide the service.” No one interpreted us as being discriminatory, or went as far as attempting legal action. We were simply annoying, so they moved onto a business that was willing to enter into the transaction. No harm, no foul.

That is the beauty of the free market: You have choices. If a bakery simply said “I am sorry, we can’t provide that service,” and left it at that, a gay couple denied service might interpret the owner’s choice as being discriminatory, but they wouldn’t have a leg to stand on in court. You can’t sue based on an inference. Progressives, however, rely on the courts to push their agenda because Big Government is their god. So the minute you breathe a hint of something that could be misconstrued as an opportunity for a lawsuit, they gain home-court advantage.

By simply saying, “I am sorry, we can’t provide that service,” you may be opening yourself up to some annoying picketing and internet memes, but what’s the worst that will do? Throw you in the same court as Chick fil-A? We all know how well that protest worked out. The bottom line is, you’re letting the free market decide your fate, not the courts.

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Minnesota Lawmakers Mock Poor with ‘Minimum Wage Challenge’

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Recently, I wrote of a Harvard/CUNY study, conducted by advocates of a single-payer healthcare system, which claims that over 17,000 people will die unless states expand Medicaid. The study rests upon a deeply cynical and inaccurate view of humanity inherent to the Left which regards people as helpless as houseplants.

Now, a group of state lawmakers in Minnesota have announced a political stunt demonstrating that same insulting view of humanity. ThinkProgress reports:

Five state lawmakers in Minnesota have decided to take on the “Minimum Wage Challenge” and live off of a typical budget for a worker who makes the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

The state has one of the lowest minimum wages in the country at $6.15 an hour, which means it gets trumped by the federal wage. A worker who puts in 40 hours a week at that level will earn just $290 before taxes. The challenge limits the lawmakers to $5 a day for food and $9 for transportation.

I am reminded of my high school health class, where it was expected students would learn the hardships of parenthood by carting around a bag of sugar taped to a Cabbage Patch Kids doll. This seems no less puerile.

Rep. Frank Hornstein (D) told CBS Minnesota that it made him take more notice of his costs. “An orange juice was $1.79. That’s not something that I would normally notice,” he said after getting breakfast from McDonald’s Dollar Menu. “Making the decision to take the bus today versus taking the car will save me a little money for dinner. For food,” he added.

Hornstein ought to recognize that the same process of rational judgment which prompts him to consider the price of orange juice while on his restricted budget would also apply when considering obligations like rent, marriage, and parenthood.

Gee, if I make minimum wage, maybe I shouldn’t rent a two-bedroom apartment. Maybe I should aspire to better means before taking on new costs.

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HBO’s Girls Get a Much-Needed Dose of Reality

Thursday, February 13th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg
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Hannah Horvath has a “What am I doing with my life?” moment common in corporate bathrooms the world-over.

It took 3.5 seasons, but finally I found something culturally relevant in Girls.

The latest episode, Free Snacks raised barely a blip in the world of Girls criticism, most likely because it played more like a Woody Allen movie than your typical Girls episode rife with awkward sex and lunatic meltdowns. In fact, for the first time ever the few sex scenes featured in this episode were actually relevant to character exposition and development. I’ve thoroughly criticized Dunham for being a sacrificial goddess on the altar of pop culture, but this episode has left me hoping that perhaps Lena Dunham isn’t that kind of girl after all.

The episode opens with Hannah quitting her job at Ray’s coffee shop to become an advertorial writer at GQ. Thrilled after her first day’s success, she arrives home to find that Adam walked out of another audition because he didn’t like the direction he was given. The moment foreshadows the following day, when Hannah is confronted by the fact that her co-workers, who are more accomplished writers than she, turned their backs on their “spiritually fulfilling” writing for corporate jobs with steady salaries, health benefits and perks. Hannah’s nervous breakdown moment is priceless: Dunking her head under the bathroom sink, she walks her wet head into her boss’s office, responding to the compliment “you remind me a lot of myself,” with “I quit.”

When her boss doesn’t fight for her to stay on, Hannah rethinks her decision and asks to stay on. By this point, her boss brushes her off: “Email me when you make a decision.” Later that evening Hannah arrives home to find out that Adam, who stuck to his guns, crushed an audition and is one step closer to fulfilling his career dreams. Now it’s Hannah who has compromised herself for her dreams. “I’m going to write for 3 hours every night, no matter what,” she explains to Adam before passing out on the couch, exhausted.

No meltdowns. No emotional crises. No meandering self-obsession. And Hannah managed to convey a range of emotion without once getting naked. She also confronted a totally relevant issue that every 20-something college graduate is forced to face: The earth-shattering compromise of career dreams with economic realities. This theme resonates with Hannah, who realizes that the joy in paying her bills may come at the price of her personal writing aspirations. Yet, it is also relevant to Shoshanna in an emotional sense when she begins to believe that her ideal mate is a whim to be sacrificed at the altar of “relationship”.

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Jobs Come from Executive Orders? Why Didn’t You Say So?

Friday, February 7th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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Since he first took office in 2009, President Barack Obama has consistently invited comparisons between his vision for America and the world of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. In particular, the president has frequently attracted references to Directive 10-289, a government edict in the novel which forbids hiring and firing, mandates production, and seizes patents.

The explicit realization of that directive approaches with each new abuse and usurpation committed by the administration. Now, after the president brazenly declared his intention to defy the rule of law and craft legislation from the Oval Office via executive order, Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee conspires with fellow members of a “Full Employment Caucus” to tee up the tyranny. This from the Washington Times:

She said at a recent press conference reported by The Daily Mail that the caucus members will work hard to “give President Obama a number of executive orders that he can sign with pride and strength. In fact, I think that should be our number one agenda. Let’s write up these executive orders – draft them, of course – and ask the president to stand with us on full employment.”

It’s about time. The only real question is why it has taken so long for the president to come to our aid with the stoke of his magic pen.

That might have been sarcasm, which might have been funny were its object not so deadly serious. We have a sitting president and a caucus of congresspeople who believe jobs may be royally decreed.

True, this does not represent an ideological shift from the past. The Left has always asserted that government can create jobs. However, this new tact of stripping the process down to an executive order leaves the folly more naked than before.

Indeed, if jobs come from executive orders, what have we been waiting for? How bad was the president going to let things get before rescuing the economy with a piece of paper?

After Sheila Jackson Lee secures full employment, perhaps she can ask the Wizard for a brain.

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Death or Exile: Will Immigration Reform End the GOP?

Friday, January 31st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

Ann Coulter has published a scathing critique of House Republicans who plan to move forward on immigration reform. She previews a forthcoming report from Phyllis Schlafly which seems to indicate that any increase in immigration will redound to the benefit of Democrats. Coulter delivers a convincing argument, leading our own Leslie Loftis to herald a return to Tammany Hall.

Taking each woman’s conclusions for granted, a question of political strategy arises. What inspiring plan should be offered as an alternative? We need an answer, because opposing immigration reform solely on the basis of its political effect will convince no one. What exactly does Coulter expect House Republicans to do? Are they to stand up on the floor and say they oppose a policy which will foster votes for Democrats? Even if that somehow proved successful in the short term, this issue will not go away. Republicans need a serious proposal with marketable merit.

The first step involves dropping rhetoric about native unemployment and cheap labor. It’s divisive and offputting in a time when the Republican Party needs to build its coalition amid plainly shifting demographics. More importantly, it ignores key economic realities and the moral principle of individual rights.

The unemployment in America owes far more to government intrusion in the market than to any number of immigrants. Our market’s producers operate with one hand clasped behind their backs by regulation, and the other chopped off through taxation. The rules by which the market plays shift constantly, increasing risk and thus uncertainty and doubt. Such a climate chills innovation and enterprise, slowing the growth which creates jobs.

In a free market, immigration causes unemployment no more than native births do. Adding people to an economy does not take anything from anyone when individual rights stand protected. Under liberty, new people must become their own producers. If they want to survive and thrive, then they will work to that end. Indeed, the freedom to pursue happiness through merit has remained the lure of the New World since its discovery.

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Are Obama’s Economic Policy Failures Part of a Strategy?

Monday, January 27th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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We on the Right may find ourselves tempted at times to look at the failures of Obama’s presidency and think that we’ve won. We may think that we’ve proven, once and for all, that stifling statism and stealth socialism cannot prevail in America.

Have you stopped to think that what we think of as failures may instead be part of a grand radical strategy? Former Florida Congressman Allen West has, and he shared his thoughts on Fox News:

West, a Republican, said he recently reread the Cloward-Piven strategy, proposed by two sociologists and political activists in 1966. The purpose of the strategy, offered to Democrats at the time, was to overload the welfare system so that people could be given “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty.”

Obama’s economic policies may be intended to do something similar, West hinted during a Wednesday appearance on Fox News Channel’s ”On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”

“We’re seeing an incredible growth of the welfare nanny state; we’re seeing the poverty rolls explode; we’re seeing the food stamp rolls explode; we’re seeing more dependency on government largesse and programs,” he said. “We’re seeing a desperation and a despondency out there that’s being created by this administration.”

Authors Richard Andrew Cloward and Frances Fox Piven proposed a plan to end capitalism quickly by overloading bureaucracy with dependents so that the system would collapse under its own weight.

They proposed a “massive drive to recruit the poor onto the welfare rolls.”  Cloward and Piven calculated that persuading even a fraction of potential welfare recipients to demand their entitlements would bankrupt the system. The result, they predicted, would be “a profound financial and political crisis” that would unleash “powerful forces for major economic reform at the national level.”

Their strategy involved a radical tactic known as community organizing (sound familiar?) to whip the poor into a frenzy and drive them on to welfare rolls. Voting-rights drives and a push for a “living wage” factored in to the Cloward-Piven strategy as well. Cloward and Piven were also reportedly behind the controversy in the 2000 presidential election.

Does all of this sound far fetched? Bear in mind that, like President Obama, Cloward and Piven were disciples of Saul Alinsky.

I sure hope I’m wrong, but if Obama’s policies thus far are part of a Cloward-Piven styled strategy, 2014 is more crucial than ever in terms of stemming the tide of stealth socialism.

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10 Reasons Why Camille Paglia Is the Champion of the Feminist Right

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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She is an unabashed liberal. In a culture increasingly governed by Marxist Nomenklatura masking itself as “liberal”, conservatives should be bold enough to reclaim that much maligned political descriptor as one of our own. We are, after all, the ideological descendants of classical liberals, making the outspoken once Liberal Democrat, now Libertarian Camille Paglia the perfect match for contemporary politically conservative feminists.

Can’t possibly imagine the lady who, even when she smiles, gives you a look that says, “I know you’re full of s**t,” could possibly fit in the ranks of the right wing? Here are 10 reasons why you need to throw out the stereotypical baby with your lukewarm bathwater thinking and get hot for the fast-talking, heavy thinking, pop culture-loving Camille Paglia.

10. Paglia embraces the idea of electing public leaders with military experience.

“The entire elite class now, in finance, in politics and so on, none of them have military service—hardly anyone, there are a few. But there is no prestige attached to it anymore. That is a recipe for disaster,” she says. “These people don’t think in military ways, so there’s this illusion out there that people are basically nice, people are basically kind, if we’re just nice and benevolent to everyone they’ll be nice too. They literally don’t have any sense of evil or criminality.”

9. Paglia is Pro-Individual, Pro-Manual Trade, Pro-Free Market.

“We need a revalorization of the trades that would allow students to enter [manual trades] without social prejudice (which often emanates from parents eager for the false cachet of an Ivy League sticker on the car). Among my students at art schools, for example, have been virtuoso woodworkers who were already earning income as craft furniture-makers. Artists should learn to see themselves as entrepreneurs.”

8. Paglia is Pro-Capitalist and Anti-Socialist.

“…it is capitalism that ended the stranglehold of the hereditary aristocracies, raised the standard of living for most of the world and enabled the emancipation of women. The routine defamation of capitalism by armchair leftists in academe and the mainstream media has cut young artists and thinkers off from the authentic cultural energies of our time.”

“In my view, comparing the evidence of the 20th century, that socialism in a nation ultimately does lead to economic stagnation and eventually of the creative impulse, in terms of new technology and other things.”

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We Shouldn’t Fear a Robotic Future

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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There’s an old anecdote which tells that Milton Friedman visited a foreign country where workers were digging a canal with shovels. He asked an official why they weren’t using heavy machines, bulldozers or other earth movers. The official said the project was part of a jobs program. Friedman quipped that, if jobs were the goal, they ought to be digging with spoons.

The story has been retold many times, and the details vary. But the underlying principle remains the same. The object of production is value, not jobs.

As we contemplate the imminent advancement of robotics, and the capacity of machines to produce more of the value in our lives, the Friedman anecdote applies anew. MailOnline reports:

Experts are predicting a ‘jobocalypse’ as robots take over manual jobs, while scientists at Cambridge warn that machines should have their intelligence limited to stop them outsmarting us.

A new version of the movie RoboCop (out February 12) shows us a future where technology [revolutionizes] law enforcement, but that is just the tip of the iceberg for robotics.

‘I believe we are the inflection point where robotics are going to change everything you know and do,’ says Ben Way, author of Jobocalypse, a book about about the rise of the robots, told MailOnline.

He says everyone from bartenders to drivers are at risk.

‘They will have the impact to take away 70% of all traditional jobs in the next 30 years,’ he said.

That prospect seems less shocking when you place it into historical context, as I’ll explain on the next page.

For instance, if you went back in time to the dawn of the automobile and heard someone say 70% of jobs related to the care and distribution of horses would be gone in 30 years, would you freak? Of course not. Being from the future and such, you would understand that the loss of those jobs would pale in comparison to the increase in quality of life made possible by the new technology. You would also understand that the proliferation of automobiles would lead to the development of new jobs which those around you could scarcely imagine. If someone suggested that automobiles ought to be banned or that their development ought to be throttled in some way in order to preserve the horse industry, you would understand them to be a fool.

The same applies to robotics today. The only difference between scenarios is that we cannot see into the future. We cannot see what life will actually look like when robots dig our ditches, pour our drinks, and change our infants’ diapers. All we see are the “lost jobs.” We must imagine the higher quality of life and as of yet inconceivable jobs which will emerge in a society where so much can be done so cheaply.

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Men: Act Like a Lady if You Want to Get a Job

Sunday, January 12th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

menwork

It’s the economy, stupid.

So says Rachel Burger, who believes that the current economy is to blame for the demise of masculinity, not those darned feminists:

The reality is that the economy–that men themselves created–is far more to blame for the sorry state of American men. The Internet Age, along with global trade and the mass outsourcing of low-skill labor has brought forth in the West a people-based and knowledge-based economy which emphasizes social intelligence. Young women are now outpacing men across the board, from education to employment, and men should take a hint. If men want to pursue their roles as providers and achievers, they’re going to have to woman up.

It’s not the girls’ fault. “After all, it was men who invented the Internet, who created and sold mass-produced computers, who shipped jobs overseas and who even fashioned social media.” Thanks, Mark Zuckerberg.

Burger’s is a thinly veiled response to Camille Paglia’s praise of the “modern economy as a male epic” published last month in Time. Unlike Paglia, Burger comes to the table lacking an understanding of the relationship between economy and gender. With a millennial’s narrow perspective on American history, Burger manages great insight into the post-dot-com world of social intelligence-based tech companies while completely skipping over the debacle of NAFTA with the grossly prejudicial term “low-skill labor.”

In that primordial decade known as the ’90s, America’s manual labor industry was eviscerated by the North American Free Trade Agreement. Seventeen years after the agreement was signed, studies showed a loss of 682,900 American jobs, 60% of which were lost in the manufacturing industry. That doesn’t include the jobs that would be necessary without the imports from NAFTA — a whopping 1.47 million. Those jobs, and the financial boost that would’ve come with them, sure would’ve come in handy in 2008 when, as a result of the recession, the U.S. lost 2.6 million jobs. Mexico, the nation that continues to profit from NAFTA, does not defame nor downplay the benefits of so-called “low-skill labor.”

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Rolling Stone, Privately Traded Company, Advocates Millennials Share the Wealth

Thursday, January 9th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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My  colleague Walter Hudson recently ripped into the ignorance of Jesse A. Meyerson’s  Occupy-hipster treatise, “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For.” The article was published in Rolling Stone magazine, the flagship publication of Wenner Media, a privately owned company. To clarify: ”Privately held companies are not required to file financial disclosure documents with government regulators such as the SEC, so detailed financials usually are not readily available to the public.”

In other words, the publisher of the magazine that prints articles informing readers they should advocate for:

  • “Job guarantees” through the non-profit (i.e. taxpayer funded) sector
  • A “universal basic income” funded through (taxpayer-based) Social Security
  • The creation of a “simple land-value tax”
  • A taxpayer-funded “sovereign wealth fund”
  • Taxpayer-funded state-owned public banks

doesn’t need to tell you one darn thing about the amount of taxes they do (or don’t) pay. Who knows? Wenner Media might just qualify as one of Meyerson’s despised “megacorporations”. The fact that the company’s co-founder, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, is worth a cool $700 million makes you think twice, unless you’re some twentysomething hack who has a proclivity for overusing the word “blow.” Did the editors have to cut out his Beavis and Butthead-like chuckles from the text? No wonder the guy is advocating for a government-funded job watering that fern in his Williamsburg apartment (or, as he prefers to call it, “urban farming”); the only reason he managed to swing a writing gig is because he’s a glorified mouthpiece for the same yuppie political hucksters he claims to be fighting against. That’s right, Meyerson’s a Tool for the Machine. Huh-huh-huh, I said tool.

Forget the fact that the guy who thinks we have an unemployment problem because available jobs are “menial” and “boring” is also the same guy who believes putting every adult on an auto-pay system will actually improve individual well-being, stimulate the economy, and spark a cultural renaissance in “painting murals.” You can’t reason with stupid. You can only laugh at the irony of a Marxist hippie ideology being parroted in a magazine created by a Marxist hippie that has become a pathetic homage to ideas so dense and ridiculous that their owners, like Jann Wenner, long ago left them in the dustbin to pursue successful truths, like capitalism, the free market, and the ability to own private corporations.

Congratulations, kid, you’ve been duped. But at least Mr. Wenner and the 30% of Rolling Stone readers whose income exceeds $100,000 a year were kind enough to redistribute some of their money your way.

Working sure feels good, doesn’t it?

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6 Lies Millennials Must Reject

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

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At nearly five years old, my firstborn routinely disputes rules with his mother and me. Cookies shall be served for dinner, he declares. Though he must ultimately yield to our authority, we cannot claim to have actually changed his mind. As far as he is concerned, cookies remain the first and best option.

This tendency among youth to reject the thinking of their elders continues even into adulthood and leaves them vulnerable to manipulation by those who would use that trait to fulfill ulterior motives. “Do you always do what your parents say?” more than one tempter has asked.

It’s that age-old desire to break free of generations past which Rolling Stone contributor Jesse A. Myerson appeals to in his recent piece “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For.” A brief list of the political left’s most radical policy proposals, the piece launches from the suggestion of youth superiority. Myerson writes:

Here are a few things we might want to start fighting for, pronto, if we want to grow old in a just, fair society, rather than the economic hellhole our parents have handed us.

Silly elder, reform is for kids. The list includes guaranteed jobs, which you won’t necessarily need because there’s also a guaranteed income and public ownership of everything. It’s basically Gotham under the revolution of Bane.

It’s not what Myerson presents so much as what he takes for granted which deserves rebuttal. His proposals proceed from unspoken assumptions which have been promoted in the popular culture by an organized Left, manipulating the nation’s youth into sacrificing their future. Here are 6 lies millennials must reject to live free.

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The Ancient World Was Not What We Think

Saturday, December 28th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
Yes, he's a monkey.  But at least he won't grow up to write awful graffiti.

Yes, he’s a monkey. But at least he won’t grow up to write awful graffiti.

As we get ready to say goodbye to another year (and I don’t know about you, but though I’m not triskaidekaphobic, I’m about ready to bid 2013 goodbye) it is important to remember that the world has been going downhill for a looooong time.

If you need proof, here are some colorful phrases from Roman graffiti (with to a link to others, less safe for work.)

Among my favorites:

4. “Oppi, emboliari, fur, furuncle.”

“Oppius, you’re a clown, a thief, and a cheap crook.”

A clarivoyant graffiti writer would have added “And two thousand years from now, in a land yet to be discovered, you could become immensely wealthy by taking public office.”

5. “Miximus in lecto. Faetor, peccavimus, hospes. Si dices: quare? Nulla matella fuit.”

“We have wet the bed. I admit, we were wrong, my host. If you ask ‘why?’ There was no chamber pot.” Found inside an inn.

So long as they had a good reason…

9. “Vatuan aediles furunculi rog.”

“The petty thieves request the election of Vatia as adele.” In ancient Pompeii, an “adele” was an elected official who supervised markets and local police, among other things.

Well, okay, so they would have understood American politics — at least in Chicago.

10. “Suspirium puellam Celadus thraex.”

“Celadus makes the girls moan.”

And you should totally believe him, because he’s not self-interested at all in posting this publicity!

So, as the new year approaches, take heart.  The world is not going to heck any faster than it was in ancient Rome, and there’s hope for humanity yet. I mean, look on the bright side — in most of the civilized world you don’t need chamberpots in hotel rooms!

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock Copyright: khd

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Hercules Slams California Tax Proposal

Friday, December 27th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson
You're gonna tax what now?

You’re gonna tax what now?

Kevin Sorbo, the actor best known for his role as television’s Hercules, apparently likes to rage against government on Facebook. Who knew?

In one of his latest posts, the Californian takes umbrage with a decree from self-styled Olympians governing from Sacramento:

Oh, did I mention that the State of California, where I reside, has a bill on the table to tax/fine anyone who decides to leave California for another state or country. True story. Fine you for moving to another state!! WTF!! Maybe I can sneak out on a boat to Mexico.

In a cursory search, I was not able to find anything to substantiate this claim, though I have no trouble believing it. Such a proposal has been made before, and the Left has demonstrated on more than one occasion their willingness to punish or ban interstate relocation. Recall the National Labor Relations Board strong-arming Boeing when the aircraft manufacturer sought respite from Washington state’s smothering labor climate in right-to-work South Carolina? That ended only after Boeing capitulated to the NLRB’s extortion and threw a bone to the unions.

Fundamentally, only one difference exists between such actions and the Soviet Union’s construction of the Berlin Wall. That difference is a matter of degree. A tax on relocated wealth or an NLRB fine acts to deter escape from progressive utopia. The Berlin Wall merely dropped the pretense and made imprisonment within political borders obvious.

Those who propose such taxes, or otherwise seek to keep individuals and companies from voting with their feet, ought to be aggressively challenged utilizing the Berlin Wall comparison. Why did the free world oppose the Berlin Wall? What made that wall immoral? How does that differ from any government action to punish expatriation? Modern tyrants must be thus exposed.

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40 Hours and a Mule

Thursday, December 26th, 2013 - by Walter Hudson
Indolent by the hour.

Indolent by the hour.

As a movement to raise the minimum wage continues both nationally and in the several states, the Left’s media organs pump fresh rhetoric in support of old ideas. Their message appeals to the all-American virtue of hard work. In essence, they assert that working hard ought to guarantee a certain lifestyle. From the Huffington Post:

By one estimate, one in four private-sector jobs in the U.S. now pays less than $10 per hour, well below a living wage in many areas of the country. Compared to better-paying positions, these jobs are also more likely to come without regular schedules or benefits, like health care coverage, paid vacation time or sick leave — the basic trappings of middle-class work. In other words, employment doesn’t guarantee a life above the poverty line; according to census data, more than one in 10 Americans who work full-time are still poor.

Employment doesn’t guarantee a life above the poverty line. The unspoken assertion is that it should — that life should include “the basic trappings of middle-class work” regardless of the job in question.

Such rhetoric proves convincing. It resonates with a popular notion advanced by opinion-makers across the political spectrum. If you work hard and follow the rules, you should expect a comfortable living. So we have been told.

But is that true? Is working hard all it takes to earn a living which includes all the trappings of the middle-class?

I could go out this week and spend 40 hours digging a hole in my front yard. It would be harder work than the vast majority of people do at their jobs. At the end of the week, after all that work, no one would owe me a dime.

Hard work carries no value in and of itself. It must serve a purpose which creates value in someone’s life. If my 40 hours of digging is the first step toward installing a swimming pool, then I have something for my effort. If I am hired by someone else to dig the hole for their pool, the agreed upon pay acknowledges the value of the job.

To understand the effect of the movement to guarantee a certain lifestyle for full-time employment, we need only look to the effect Obamacare has had upon the kind of work employers offer. The market finds a way to adjust to intervention. If we continue to insist that full-time employees earn a certain kind of living, we will only limit the kind of work which can be offered full-time. You can mandate what people pay. But you can’t arbitrarily alter the economic value of a particular job.

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Back in the U.S.S.R.

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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This past Sunday a group of Ukranian activists knocked down a statue of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin and smashed it to pieces in Kiev’s Bessarabska Square. While no one can be sure who started the protest, CNN reports:

Ukraine’s government news agency said a lawmaker with the nationalist Svoboda party claimed responsibility for the incident.

“This is the end of Soviet occupation,” the party’s Twitter account said. “End of (the) regime of shame and humiliation.”

…”Destroying the Lenin monument in Kiev is not just an act of vandalism,” [Communist] party leader Petro Symonenko said, according to a post on the party’s official website. “It is a sign that organizers of the protests are not for the European values, but rather for hate, fear and destruction of the state of Ukraine.”

Ironically, “European values” are exactly what drove the protesters to destroy the statue and encamp in Kiev’s Independence Square. In the face of rising debt and sinking bond prices, Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych turned down a trade agreement with the E.U. that “would have opened borders to trade and set the stage for modernization and inclusion” in favor of cultivating a deeper relationship with Moscow.

One hundred thousand protesters lined the streets of the nation’s capital over the weekend. Two thousand are there now, huddled around fires in a makeshift tent city in Independence Square, holding firm in their demand that failed Ukranian President Viktor Yanukovych dissolve the government and answer their demand for immediate elections.

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