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The Equality Act’s Attack on Religion Is Really about Private Property Rights | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on April 9, 2021

It has become clear that these laws are a fruitful and convenient vehicle—from the policymaker’s perspective—to advancing federal control over all of private life. As time goes on, expect lawmakers to turn again and again to these laws as a means of expanding government control of private organizations of every size, shape, purpose, mission, and religion.

Ryan McMaken

With the introduction of the Equality Act of 2021—and its passage in the House—the Democratic Party and its allies continue the now well-established tradition of using “antidiscrimination” and “public accommodation” laws to continue the attack on the private sector and private institutions once somewhat insulated from regime control. 

Historically these laws, acts, and court rulings—found initially in the Civil Rights Act of 1964—focused largely on regulating hiring and the provision of services at private institutions. These legislative and judicial acts regulate how private owners of restaurants and hotels—and a wide variety of other private establishments—enter into verbal or written contracts with potential employees, clients, and customers.

Initially, these mandates focused on regulating how business provide services to religious minorities and what the Canadians call “visible minorities”—i.e., non-whites. The laws began with just regulating private for-profit “public carriers” and organizations known to provide “public accommodation” of basic necessities.  The Equality Act, however, greatly expands these federal powers. First, the Act continues to expand the groups that are considered “protected” groups, most notably LGBT groups. Second, while older provisions tended to target run-of-the-mill businesses, the Act now expands federal power in order to regulate religious institutions, as well. The Act moves to ensure that fewer and fewer Americans will be able to exercise the free exercise of religion as a means of avoiding federal mandates. The Act also expands federal control over medical institutions and employees. 

It has become clear that these laws are a fruitful and convenient vehicle—from the policymaker’s perspective—to advancing federal control over all of private life. As time goes on, expect lawmakers to turn again and again to these laws as a means of expanding government control of private organizations of every size, shape, purpose, mission, and religion. 

What Is the Equality Act?

How exactly does the Equality Act expand regime control over the private sector? It redefines which organizations are subject to “public accommodation” laws, and it adds new interest groups that private sector institutions will be forced to service in a manner to the regime’s liking.  For instance, the act would make it discriminatory to deny certain medical procedures to transgender persons:

[t]he Equality Act would force hospitals and insurers to provide and pay for [sexual transition] therapies against any moral or medical objections [raised by medical personnel]. It would politicize medicine by forcing professionals to act against their best medical judgment and provide transition-affirming therapies.

The Act goes well beyond only medical institutions: 

The text of the bill explicitly includes … “any establishment that provides a good, service, or program, including a store, shopping center, online retailer or service provider, salon, bank, gas station, food bank, service or care center, shelter, travel agency, or funeral parlor, or establishment that provides health care, accounting, or legal services.”

Notable among these is the expansion to “shelters” which include domestic violence shelters. Under the Equality Act, these organizations would be required to house males self-identifying as women in shelters alongside abused women.

The inclusion of salons is also notable, since—as was exhibited by the notorious Jessica Yaniv case in Canada—public accommodation mandates would likely erase the ability of salons to limit waxing services to women only. Naturally, as in the Yaniv case, the employees at these institutions could potentially be forced into waxing men’s genitals provided those men identify as women.

The Act also could easily be interpreted as a blanket ban on refusals to perform abortions:

The Equality Act bans discrimination on the basis of “pregnancy, childbirth, or a related medical condition,” and courts and the federal government have interpreted “related medical condition” to mean “abortion.” It is, therefore, quite conceivable that courts could soon interpret the Equality Act as requiring private insurance and government health-care programs to fund abortion.

The Abolition of Religious Exemptions

But perhaps most central to the Act are its provisions to reduce exemptions for religious persons and institutions. Historically, federal law and federal court decisions have in many cases noted that religious institutions—if the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is to mean anything—must be able to behave in ways that are compatible with religious belief. Thus, in some cases, a church or other religious organization can refuse to hire persons who espouse ideology or behavior that stands contrary to a religious group’s beliefs. Similarly, in some cases, a religious doctor or nurse could have found some protections under these provisions for refusing to perform religiously objectionable medical procedures such as sex reassignment surgery or abortions.

This has always been rather weak tea in terms of limiting federal powers, since it restricts private discretion to only those acts that are religiously motivated. Moreover, government agents themselves—i.e., government judges—have also often arrogated to themselves the power to determine if a discriminatory decision fits under any known religious category. In other words, the government will tell you if your legal defense can be defined as a religious defense. Moreover, as the Masterpiece Cake Shop case and similar cases have shown, even religious objections fail to provide much in the way of protection from these legal mandates.

Nevertheless, even these few and weak loopholes are too much for backers of the Equality Act which is designed to further restrict religious freedom:

University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock has warned that the Equality Act would “crush” religious dissenters. “It goes very far to stamp out religious exemptions…. It regulates religious non-profits. And then it says that [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act] does not apply to any claim under the Equality Act. This would be the first time Congress has limited the reach of RFRA. This is not a good-faith attempt to reconcile competing interests. It is an attempt by one side to grab all the disputed territory and to crush the other side.”

If the Act passes, we should expect an avalanche of lawsuits against religious schools and similar institutions that attempt to hire only employees who reflect the organizations’ missions. 

A Doorway to Widespread Regulation of Private Life

This was to be expected. The public accommodation provisions have long served as a doorway for federal regulators to enter and manage the daily minutiae of private life and the private sector. The expansion of these powers under the Equality Act is only the next logical step. After all, this body of law has always constituted a direct assault on the private sector and the institution of private property, bringing more and more of private life under the watchful eye of government bureaucrats. It has provided an excuse for government regulators to investigate, fine, sue, and otherwise harass and destroy business owners in a wide variety of ways. For those business owners who cannot afford a legal defense, there is no recourse.

Naturally, this is all to the benefit of the regime itself. As Ludwig von Mises has noted, private property is an institution that is absolutely central and essential in limiting government power and in providing some small realm of freedom beyond the reach of the regime’s coercion. Like market institutions and the family, religious institutions are themselves within the private sector and a key part of what the early laissez-faire liberals called “society.” Society represents those noncoercive institutions that are to be contrasted with the state and its mandates, imposed under threat of fines and imprisonment. All else being equal, it’s a good thing that religious organizations have been able to exercise discretion in “discrimination” even if these same freedoms were denied to others. Some freedom—what some might call loopholes—is preferable to no freedom. 

But that was never enough for the advocates of the Equality Act, and they’re now moving faster in the wrong direction. The small bit of freedom carved out for religious institutions is being reduced further and religious institutions are likely to soon be considered more or less indistinguishable from long-beleaguered commercial organizations. 

The Answer Lies in Private Property

But what we can we do about the problem of private sector discrimination that’s truly designed to disadvantage some specific minority group? Ironically, the answer lies in protecting private property.

For those of us who are concerned about increasing access to goods and services for minority groups—ethnic and otherwise—it is most effective to combat the regime’s restrictions on private sector activities and lower barriers to entry in the marketplace. The legal public accommodation edifice is largely built on the idea that firms headed by bigots will be able to establish partial or total monopolies that can dictate to consumers who can buy what. In a reasonably free economy, however, this is extremely unlikely. As I have shown in the past, we can find many examples of much-discriminated-against Japanese Americans and Latinos—and in other groups that have built up ethnic economic enclaves—rushing to provide a responsive economic foundation of goods and services built around the needs of their group. If our goal is to broaden and expand services—and those who can count on them—the last thing we need is an ever more repressive legal regime built on the constant threat of lawsuits and fines for organizations that run afoul of the regime’s ideological preferences. 

On the other hand, it is unlikely that the backers of the Equality Act are actually motivated by securing economic prosperity for constituents. Rather, this is about settling political scores—carving out privileges for certain interest groups at the expense of other interest groups. In other words, it’s a culture war. And that means maximizing the regime’s ability to dole out favors and punishments.  Author:

Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power&Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado and was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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Why the State Won’t Tolerate Independence for Christianity | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on March 12, 2021

Rather, religion and religious institutions represent a major obstacle to the exercise of state control and the centralization of social power. In the Western context, orthodox Christianity especially poses a threat to this agenda due to its adherents’ membership in a kingdom “not of this world.”

In this context, with legislation like the Equality Act the state is not only seeking to further erode the social power of religious institutions by making religious education or adoption more difficult, but it is also advancing a rival religious doctrine at the same time by foisting progressive sexual and gender ideology on society.

Zachary Yost

On February 25, the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act, a bill that is touted as a step forward for civil rights in the United States. If enacted, the bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the federally protected classes that cannot be discriminated against and would expand where such protections are applied. While expanding such protections is not necessarily widely opposed (Mormon Republican Chris Stewart has introduced the Fairness for All Act as an alternative bill), the act explicitly says that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 cannot be invoked, and this has generated tremendous concern that both private businesses and religious institutions will be forced to toe the current cultural line regarding sexual and gender ideology, or else face discrimination suits and be sued into oblivion.

Organizations such as the Heritage Foundation and Christianity Today have argued against the bill on the basis of its effects on religious institutions, private schools, the legal rights of parents, and women’s athletics. While a discussion of such effects is important, the conversation has largely been missing the broader context of where this legislation and the numerous other proposals like it emerge from.

In his important essay “The Balance of Power in Society” sociologist Frank Tannenbaum argues that “society is possessed by a series of irreducible institutions, perennial through time, that in effect both describe man and define the basic role he plays.” These perennial institutions are the state, the church, the family, and the market. These institutions have eternally striven against each other to gain dominance and become what sociologist Robert Nisbet would call the primary reference group for its members, meaning the primary way in which they understand themselves and shape their beliefs and actions. At various times we can see one group coming to dominate the others, such as when the “trustee” form of family dominated social life in clan-based societies, or when the Roman Catholic Church exhibited tremendous power over the political affairs of Europe. Currently, we live in an epoch where the state has come to dominate social life to an extent never previously seen in human history.

It is useful to analyze the Equality Act from this perspective to truly understand its full implications. State hostility towards religion and the religious institutions through which religion is exercised is not driven solely, or in some cases even primarily, by the current secular zeitgeist. Rather, religion and religious institutions represent a major obstacle to the exercise of state control and the centralization of social power. In the Western context, orthodox Christianity especially poses a threat to this agenda due to its adherents’ membership in a kingdom “not of this world.” It is difficult for the immanent state to compete to be the primary reference for people who, by virtue of their religion, are members of a transcendent order.

However, it cannot be denied that the state has been very successful in undermining and sapping the power of religious institutions through two different means. The first is by expropriating those mundane areas of social responsibility and function that have traditionally been the purview of the church, such as charity and education. While churches are still involved in such things, the state has supplanted them as the primary social institution that provides them.

As Nisbet argues in his book The Quest for Community, a social group cannot survive for long if its chief functional purpose is lost, and unless new institutional functions are adapted, the group’s “psychological influence will be minimal.” No doubt the state has succeeded in centralizing so much power due to its success in poaching the historical functions of the church and family.

I noted above that in the Western context the emphasis of orthodox Christianity on transcendental concerns has proven to be a stumbling block to the state when it comes to becoming citizens’ primary reference group. However, the state has also attempted to muscle into that territory as well. Earlier I classified the state and the church as being two different institutions with separate functions. While this is often true, especially in the West due to the Augustinian formulation of the City of God and the Earthly City, in various times in history the functions have been unified.

In his work The Political Religions, political theorist Eric Voegelin explored this idea and traced its earliest sophisticated formulation back to Amenhotep IV/Akhenaton, a fourteenth-century BC pharaoh who temporarily upended Egyptian civilization by abolishing the old deities and introducing the monotheistic worship of the sun god Aton. By abolishing the old gods (references to traditional deities were eradicated and Amenhotep changed his name so that it no longer referenced the old god Amon), the newly named Akhenaton also abolished the old priesthood as well. What was new and innovative about Aton was that he was not just a limited god of Egypt, but in fact the god of the universe, who speaks and acts through his son, the Pharaoh. By obliterating the old gods such as Osiris, Voegelin argued that Akhenaton abolished those aspects of the Egyptian religion that were of the utmost importance to individuals, such as judgment and life after death, and replaced them only with a collective political religion of empire. This inability to fulfill the spiritual needs of the people, combined with the reaction of the defrocked priestly caste, led to backlash and restoration of the old order after the death of Akhenaton, when it was his turn to be obliterated from history.

Voegelin traces this idea of political religion through the ages and argues that Christianity, through the work of Augustine, seriously upended “the cosmos of the divinely analogous state” by subordinating the political-temporal sphere to the spiritual one. For hundreds of years this understanding dominated medieval Europe, but with the advent of the Enlightenment began to crack apart under a succession of philosophers, most notably Thomas Hobbes with his conception of the Leviathan state. However, Voegelin notes that over time, as the world has secularized, the political religions have closed themselves off to claims of being the conduit for God’s action on earth and instead have come to embody immanent forces such as “the order of history” or “the order of blood.” Metaphysics and religion have been banished in favor of a vocabulary of “science” that is “inner-worldly” and therefore closed off to what Voegelin would call the ground of being through which humans experience transcendent reality.

In the United States, our political religion takes the form of progressivism, which itself is the product of Protestant clergy who abandoned orthodoxy in the nineteenth century in favor of an immanent ideology in which the US would serve as the instrument to build God’s kingdom on earth. In his essay “The Progressive Era and the Family,” Murray Rothbard traces this movement to the rise of what he terms “evangelical pietism” and the way in which it altered traditional doctrine to require that man work for his own salvation by working for the salvation of the rest of the world through its immanent reformation.

The song “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was one product of this way of thinking and, in the words of one Voegelin scholar, its author “transforms Christ’s redemptive mission—which is not of this world—into the world immanent social activism of the Anti‑Slavery movement.” Rather than waiting for Christ to return, when he shall establish a new heaven and a new earth, the progressive creed held that it is the job of every true Christian to redeem the fallen world and to build God’s kingdom on earth right now. The Civil War was understood as one such redemptive episode (complete with a martyr in the form of Abe Lincoln), as was the First World War. In his book The War for Righteousness, historian Richard M. Gamble documents the way in which Progressive Protestant clergy led the charge to bring the US into the war with hopes of redeeming the world. Like Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson was perceived as a tragic martyr for the cause and was viewed with clearly religious veneration.

While the American political religion began by attempting to build the kingdom of God on earth, it has, in Voegelin’s term, ended up as an “inner-worldly” religion that does not even attempt to maintain a connection to the transcendent order of reality, and instead justifies itself as being the conduit through which the inexorable march of “progress” flows forth. Democracy and equality, not the return of Christ, are the new end of history.

The end result is that the state seeks to not only supplant religious institutions by usurping their mundane functions but by usurping their spiritual functions as well. Like the priests of Akhenaton’s day, American religious institutions, especially orthodox Christian ones, are both a competing pole of social power and the manifestation of a rival religion that must be subdued if the “State-God,” in the words of J.R.R. Tolkien, is to prevail.

In this context, with legislation like the Equality Act the state is not only seeking to further erode the social power of religious institutions by making religious education or adoption more difficult, but it is also advancing a rival religious doctrine at the same time by foisting progressive sexual and gender ideology on society.

It is likely that the Equality Act will not manage to pass the Senate in its current form, but the reality of the situation is that as long as the progressive political religion remains a potent force in American life, independent repositories of social power such as the family and the church will continually be under sustained attack. We can only hope that one day progressivism will meet the same fate that Aton did after the passing of Akhenaton, but until then, those who do not adhere to the cult of the “State-God” can only resist its impositions as best we can. Author:

Zachary Yost

Zachary Yost is a freelance writer and Mises U alum. You can subscribe to his newsletter here.

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Why Do Christian Groups Support Anti-Christian Legislation? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on January 7, 2020

Why do Christian groups support anti-Christian legislation? The answer is that doing so is simply the logical result of accepting the legitimacy of anti-discrimination laws in the first place. The groups that oppose the Fairness for All Act are actually being inconsistent.


The Civil Rights Act of 1964—an unconstitutional expansion of federal power that destroyed the rights of private property, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom of thought, free enterprise, and freedom of contract—currently prohibits discrimination in “public accommodations” based on race, color, religion, or national origin.

After several years of failure to pass the Equality Act in the House when it was controlled by Republicans, Democrats, who regained control of the House in the 2018 election, passed the legislation (H.R.5) in the House by a vote of 236-173 on May 17, 2019. Only eight Republicans voted in favor of it. A related bill was earlier introduced in the Republican-controlled Senate (S.788), but has no chance of passing.

The Equality Act:

Prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity in a wide variety of areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit, and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.

Expands the definition of public accommodations to include places or establishments that provide (1) exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays; (2) goods, services, or programs; and (3) transportation services.

Allows the Department of Justice to intervene in equal protection actions in federal court on account of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Prohibits an individual from being denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.

This is a horrible bill. So why would Christian groups support the equally horrendous Republican response to the Equality Act called the Fairness for All Act?

The Fairness for All Act (H.R.5331) was introduced in the House last month by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT). It has eight Republican cosponsors. This legislation is designed to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity; and to protect the free exercise of religion.” Said Rep. Stewart at a press conference about the bill’s two purposes: “They are not mutually exclusive principles. There is enough space where both of those can be accommodated and that is what we tried to do here today. Neither side has to lose in order for the other side to win.” The legislation is based on similar legislation enacted in Stewart’s home state of Utah that bans discrimination against LGBT individuals—except when it is done by “qualified” religious organizations.

The Fairness for All Act basically amends the Civil Rights Act like the Equality Act, but exempts

any building or collection of buildings that is used primarily as a denominational headquarters, church administrative office, or church conference center;

a place of worship, such as a church, synagogue, mosque, chapel, and its appurtenant properties used primarily for religious purposes;

a religious educational institution and its appurtenant properties used primarily for religious purposes;

in connection with a religious celebration or exercise: a facility that is supervised by a priest, pastor, rabbi, imam, or minister of any faith, or religious certifying body, and that is principally engaged in providing food and beverages in compliance with religious dietary requirements; or

any online operations or activities of an organization exempt under this section.

Like the Equality Act, the Fairness for All Act is anti-Christian. It is anti-Christian because it is anti-private property, anti-freedom of assembly, anti-freedom of association, anti-freedom of thought, anti-free enterprise, and anti-freedom of contract. It is anti-Christian because it uses the force of government to make people be nice.

The Fairness for All Act is supported by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the Mormon Church.

However, many secular and religious conservative groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Heritage Foundation, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, and Focus on the Family oppose the legislation. As does some liberal and LGBT organizations…

If discrimination is wrong, then it doesn’t suddenly become okay if it is based on some religious conviction.

But since discrimination in any form is not aggression, force, coercion, violence, or threat, then, as far as the law is concerned, the government should not proscribe it, seek to prevent it, or punish those who do it.

In a free society, any individual, business, or organization—religious or otherwise—would have the right to discriminate not only on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, but also because of race, color, religion, or national origin. This is because in a free society, any person, group, or entity would have the right to discriminate against any other person, group, or entity on any basis and for any reason.

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Walter E Williams - Freedom To Discriminate - YouTube

Williams on discrimination





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Democrats Unanimous As House Passes Bill Forcing Schools To Let Male Athletes Compete In Girls’ Sports | The Daily Caller

Posted by M. C. on July 24, 2019

“People need to wake up. This radical bill is going to totally eliminate women’s and girls sports,”


Women’s sports will be decimated. Particularly singles sports like tennis.

I hope this becomes law. Maybe that will wake us up to what PC is destroying – our country. Maybe even those whose only news channel is ESPN will be able to figure out who is to blame.

What about transgender girls boys (this is confusing) on male sports? SEXIST LEGISLATION!

Peter Hasson

The Democratically controlled House of Representatives voted Friday 236-173 in favor of the Equality Act, which would require schools to include male athletes who identify as transgender girls on female sports teams.

Eight Republicans crossed party lines to vote for the bill, which had unanimous Democratic support.

The bill amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make “sexual orientation and gender identity” protected characteristics under federal anti-discrimination law.

Among other things, that would force public schools to expand female athletic teams to include biological males who identify as transgender girls.

Republican Florida Rep. Greg Steube introduced a last-minute amendment to the bill that would have preserved Title IX’s protections of female athletic teams, but Democrats rejected it.

Every House Democrat but one co-sponsored the legislation. The only Democrat who wasn’t a co-sponsor, Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski, announced his support for the bill following pressure from left-wing activists.

“People need to wake up. This radical bill is going to totally eliminate women’s and girls sports,” Republican Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko warned in an op-ed Thursday…

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Democrats’ passage of “Equality Act” is the first stage in their attempts to CRIMINALIZE Christianity and throw all practicing Christians in prison (while banning their speech) –

Posted by M. C. on May 24, 2019

(Natural News) One of the first things Americans need to understand about Democrats is that virtually every piece of legislation they propose is misnamed.

For instance, Obamacare — officially called “The Affordable Care Act” — made healthcare unaffordable for millions of Americans and far more expensive than it previously was for tens of millions more.

And the recently-passed “Equality Act” is not about ‘equal rights.’ It is actually about creating inequality among Americans by conveying extra rights onto a small subset of people who are already protected under the civil rights laws…at the risk of rights of the vast majority of all other Americans.

Last week, all Democrats in the Dem-controlled House, along with eight Republicans, voted in favor of the Equity Act. By a vote of 236-173, the act, if it passes the Senate and is signed by POTUS Trump (neither of which seems likely), will “broaden the definition of protected classes to include sex, sexual orientation and gender identity,” according to a tweet from Roll Call.

As reported by TownHall, if a person only read the title of the legislation, passage would seem like a shoe-in. But once you dig deeper into the bill, as many Republicans did, you discover:

The legislation would add sexual orientation and gender identity to characteristics protected by the 1964 Civil Rights Act. To Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the bill is “a top priority because equality for the LGBTQ community is a top priority” for the party.

The GOP disagrees, however. The bill will mandate “top-down, government-led discrimination against all Americans who hold a differing view of human sexuality and gender,” Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) said at a press conference on Thursday.

Thus, a vote for the act “is a vote against parents, it’s a vote against women, it’s a vote against doctors, it’s a vote against educators, it’s a vote against children.”…

It also ensures that American taxpayers foot the bill for these abortions by effectively eliminating Hyde protections…

This bill does NOT promote ‘equality’

Not only that, but, according to The National Sentinel, the Equality Act would decimate high school sports, at least for girls, after women’s rights groups fought for decades to prohibit discrimination against female sports programs under a series of early 1970s-era civil rights laws that included Title IX.

The act would require high schools to allow biological males to compete on girl’s teams if they ‘identify’ as a female and are in the process of becoming a transgendered person.

Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) introduced an amendment at the last minute to the Equality Act that would have preserved Title IX’s protections for female sports teams, but Democrats — the ‘party of women’ — rejected it soundly.

“Democrats patently do not care about preserving all-female competition at the high school level that was hard-fought and hard-won nearly a half-century ago, choosing to toss them away for the short-term political benefit of ‘protecting’ perhaps less than one-half of one percent of the U.S. population,” notes The National Sentinel

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Go Back To Sleep - Your Government Is In Control! by scart ...




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Envy, Inc. | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on May 22, 2019

Why do intellectuals, particularly university professors, resent capitalism? Simple, Mises explains: they resent the higher incomes and prestige of the risk-taking, entrepreneurial widget makers they look down upon.

Why do working class voters resent capitalism? Capitalism provides freedom, Mises tells us, but also imposes responsibility for one’s lot in life (a suggestion for which Jordan Peterson is deeply resented on the Left).

Presidential aspirant Kamala Harris promises to compel private companies with more than 100 employees to disclose what they pay employees to the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. Companies that don’t pay women “enough” will pay fines until they demonstrate an acceptable level of gender parity. South Bend, Indiana’s “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg thinks America needs a federal “Equality Act” to make up for past racism, sexism, and homophobia. Senator Elizabeth Warren champions direct cash payments to black Americans as reparations for slavery. And all of the 2020 hopefuls take great pains to characterize income and wealth disparity as the defining issue of our time.

The ostensible thread connecting all of these public policy ideas is equality. Millions of Americans firmly believe the proper role of government is to make us more equal, and thereby make society more just. Old-fashioned liberal ideas about private property and natural rights barely register in this worldview. And it won’t be changed by an election or politician; egalitarianism as an animating political, economic, and social principle is firmly entrenched across the West today.

Are these proposals rooted in justice, or hatred and envy? Are they presented as an appeal for restitutionary justice, however far-fetched and far-removed? Or do they represent a gross display of cynical politics, an appeal meant to divide? We hate to play amateur psychologist. But after more than a century of progressive claims of good intentions, the results speak for themselves: capitalism and markets increase freedom and prosperity, while political engineering is zero-sum and antagonistic.

Ludwig von Mises explained so much of what still plagues us today in his underrated classic The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality. Written in the early 1950s, toward the end of Mises’s long career, this short book exhibits easier language and faster pace than his earlier works. Having been in the US for more than a decade at this point, one senses a change in Mises’s written English. He’s more comfortable in his diction and syntax, and utterly unconcerned with staying in his lane as an economist.

For Mises, capitalism is private property and markets. It is the engine of civilization, and the hallmark of any society with a natural and healthy “urge for economic betterment.” It is the only way to organize society that comports with human nature, promotes peace and social cohesion, and advances material well-being.

So what accounts for its constant vilification? Read the rest of this entry »

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