MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Progressivism’

The New Right Is All about the Left | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on February 9, 2021

The clear religious nature of progressivism that emerges is clear. Replacing God with “the saving grace of progressivism,” the Left has found that racism is the default setting of man, and a person “is able to escape that fallen state” only through their leftish repentance. Another key element of progressive beliefs is to feel good rather than do good:

https://mises.org/wire/new-right-all-about-leftJoakim Book

Joakim Book

The ironic thing about Michael Malice’s book The New Right: A Journey to the Fringe of American Politics is that it mostly deals with the Left. What unites the Right, argues Malice, is that they all hate the Left. His definition of the New Right reads:

a loosely connected group of individuals united by their opposition to progressivism, which they perceive to be a thinly veiled fundamentalist religion dedicated to egalitarian principles and intent on totalitarian world domination via globalist hegemony.

Everyone from radical conservatives to Murray Rothbard–following anarchists to those whom the press sloppily calls “alt-right,” all get lumped into the same category—hence the label. While almost everyone in those groups would strongly object to the affiliation, Malice has found the common denominator among them: they all hate the evangelical left. The New Right, as he sees it, is formed and fueled by this opposition, and so Malice spends page after page describing the progressive power that rules the social, intellectual, and political world.

It works remarkably well, partly, I suspect, because Malice is extraordinarily well versed in the hidden world of internet trolls and the intellectual dark web, as well as more conventional conservative and libertarian ideas. He tells of secret meetings, of invites-only events for trolls and white nationalists, of conversations he’s had, online and offline, with prominent figures of the movement he describes. Skillfully, too, he manages to dissect what it means to be a progressive in America today—a necessary step to even begin to understand this right-wing contramovement.

Malice captures the progressives’ extreme attachment to equity: the dissecting of and the overturning of hierarchies, power, privilege, and, above all, fairness. Elitism and natural hierarchies are inevitable, but the Left won’t have it. Even in the mundane, say, jokes in the locker room or jokes on a stand-up scene, “for the evangelical left, with humor as with everything else, if it’s not for everyone then it’s not for anyone.” This idea, institutionalized and universalized, is the core of what it means to be left-wing in America today.

The distinguishing feature of a left-leaning ideologue, as shown in the Jonathan Haidt research that Malice discusses, is a strong focus on fairness and harm to the exclusion of everything else. Malice eloquently shows that fairness isn’t well defined, and that it is mostly devoid of meaning; it “simply means “what I approve of.'” A discussion over fairness is therefore useless.

A person on the left in the late 2010s, and increasingly so in the 2020s, tries to “impose meaning rather than to understand.” Picking illustrative examples from Hillary Clinton and those more extreme than her, Malice shows that progressives usually ascribe ideas and values to their opponents, dismiss their words as “hate speech,” and then “end the conversation before it has even begun.”

The clear religious nature of progressivism that emerges is clear. Replacing God with “the saving grace of progressivism,” the Left has found that racism is the default setting of man, and a person “is able to escape that fallen state” only through their leftish repentance. Another key element of progressive beliefs is to feel good rather than do good:

Since the progressive religion is based on salvation through faith and not via works, there are often no positive achievements to demonstrate one’s salvation—either to others or even to oneself. Progressives are thereby forced to “do something” without actually doing anything.

Think pins on your jacket, various in-group messages on bags, or the piercing red X taped across the Apple logo of your computer—since, as a good person, you obviously don’t support Apple but still happily use their products. Jeff Deist’s review of Malice’s book is spot-on:

The Left’s religiosity, complete with canonical texts and an ever-narrowing range of faith based opinions, is a key point of Malice’s argument: debate is passé on the Left, if not verboten. The science is settled, and to hell with those outside the faith. Convert or be cast out.

Echoing Orwell’s classic Politics and the English Language, progressive language use is tremendously important. Not only regarding the sensitivity of those who hear it, but as a measure of signaling that the speaker is on board with the Party program. Malice argues that replacing “black” with “African American” or “people of color” isn’t so much a sign of respect or a more accurate description of the group one is discussing, but an in-group signal that the speaker “is on the correct team.”

While clever, it’s easy for outsiders to just say the words: “it costs nothing,” writes Malice, “for someone to adopt the correct term in their speech.” Instead, it becomes an arms race between those who invent new politically correct terms to signal their progressive goodness and those who merely want to get by without vitriol and accusations of being a “white supremacist” (or want to avoid detection).

The ingenuity of the system is that while it costs an outsider almost nothing to co-opt the latest correct word, to avoid tripping any of the many progressive wires, one must internalize a full language. In time, one supposes, a full ideology.

The Members of the New Right

What sits most odd for someone not involved in the world Malice depicts is how normal it is; filled with internal quibbles and breaks along sectarian lines, with regular people doing regular things up until they reveal some of their controversial opinions. What most stood out to me were Malice’s personal stories, and how utterly polite many New Righters are: at an event with big-time pundit Ann Coulter attending, everyone was mesmerized by her but too shy to approach.

That’s not the kind of aura that New Right events conjure up in your mind. Another time Malice describes how attendees to an “NRx gathering” were tentatively “eyeing one another to see what was safe to say. As thought-criminals, we were used to biting our tongues.” This is familiar territory for all of us who hold opinions that diverge even a tiny bit from otherwise allowable opinion.

What emerges is a display of and some in-depth interviews with commonly held crazies—Gavin McInnes, Milo Yiannopoulos, Jim Goad, Alex Jones—that make them seem surprisingly humane. Indeed, that’s the point of Malice’s book: “to present logical, rational explanations for the New Right’s foundational beliefs. They’re not crazy. They’re not suicidal. They’re as American as apple pie.”

Most progressives mistakenly think that with the end of Trump, it’ll be the end of the nefarious factions he spawned and justified. With the evil leaders goes the evil tribe and now America is finally back on its divine, progressive track. That couldn’t be further from the truth. To the New Right, politics is downstream from culture, and whoever rules Washington at any given time is unimportant; all that matters is the larger battle, the long-term fight, the wars over culture. Cutting the head of the snake does nothing, as the New Right is more akin to a scattered hydra, growing new heads in new places whenever an old one is severed.

While a delight to read, some chapters of the book are thoroughly odd. You wouldn’t think that Milo, the effective media provocateur and now forgotten New Right troll, has much to do with the founding of the American Economic Association in 1885, or the moral supremacy (“degeneration”) of the universities. The connection, Malice asserts briskly before ending the chapter, is Christian social gospel.

No explanation; full confusion. And Malice is often all over the place: Pat Buchanan’s and Murray Rothbard’s political campaigns in the 1990s, the pickup artists of Neil Strauss’s The Game, and human nature as explored by Thomas Sowell’s great A Conflict of Visions. On the same page he then briefly mentions the Silk Road operator Ross Ulbricht and calls bitcoin “magic internet money.”

Still, captivating and hard to put down.

Drawing to a close, the book ends with a somber reflection that “nation after nation in Europe is finding it impossible to form consensus on virtually anything.” The unstated implication is that if we can’t agree with one another, perhaps we shouldn’t have to…?

The Hoppe-inspired meme to “physically remove” socialists and democrats from a free society might be upside down: perhaps we must not remove deviants, but merely disassociate and self-segregate away from those we cannot stand. After the mad political and cultural fights of 2020, does anyone think that’s such a bad idea? Author:

Joakim Book

Joakim Book is an economics graduate of the University of Glasgow, and is currently a graduate student at the University of Oxford. He writes regularly at Life of an Econ Student

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Essence Of Progressivism Is Refusal To Deal With Reality — Manhattan Contrarian

Posted by M. C. on December 11, 2020

To be a woke progressive the first requirement is that you must refuse to acknowledge the real world as it exists. You must pretend that the world is something else, something immediately transformable into a fantasy of perfection through coercive collective action. You also must firmly close your eyes to any facts or evidence that might contradict such progressive fantasy, and indeed you must demand that any such facts or evidence be suppressed and never mentioned.

https://www.manhattancontrarian.com/blog/2020-12-9-the-essence-of-progressivism-is-refusal-to-deal-with-reality

Francis Menton

Reality is harsh. Let’s face it, our world is imperfect, often even deadly. Not only that, it’s always going to be imperfect. So let’s get to work on enjoying our brief lives as best we can amidst the imperfection, while striving for such incremental improvements to the world as are within our modest capabilities.

If you think that way, you definitely are not “woke.” To be a woke progressive the first requirement is that you must refuse to acknowledge the real world as it exists. You must pretend that the world is something else, something immediately transformable into a fantasy of perfection through coercive collective action. You also must firmly close your eyes to any facts or evidence that might contradict such progressive fantasy, and indeed you must demand that any such facts or evidence be suppressed and never mentioned.

Among numerous illustrations of this point, perhaps the most striking is the current hysteria sometimes going by the name “anti-racism.” Here, the official progressive fantasy is that any under-representation of blacks (or other minority group of your choice) at designated heights of society can only be the result of “systemic racism.” Therefore all must commit to the coerced program of “anti-racism,” whereupon, I presume, perfection will promptly be achieved.

Over the past several months, you cannot have missed the parade of major societal institutions — large corporations, banks, law firms, universities, and so on — caught with insufficient numbers of minorities in their ranks and pledging to rectify the situation immediately if not sooner. As a handful of examples, here is a list from Ongig.com from July of the “awesome” “diversity” commitments of 25 major companies; or here, from Glassdoor.com from August, a list of diversity commitments from another 12 major companies; or here, from the American Bar Association, a list of hundreds of signatories, including dozens of major law firms, to the ABA’s “Pledge for Change” to increase diversity. You can easily find many, many more examples with simple internet searches.

In a post back in August, I predicted that the latest round of affirmative action commitments would be no more successful than prior rounds that have been going on for the past fifty years or more. The main basis for my prediction was my personal experience of involvement in affirmative action efforts of a major law firm over several decades, and awareness from that experience of the difficulty of moving metrics in any significant way. In simple terms, there is a very limited pool of qualified candidates. You can make job offers to all of them, but all of your dozens of competitors will also make offers to all of them, and in the end you will actually employ very few. You can also try making job offers to obviously unqualified candidates. Many of these will accept your offer, but in nearly every case they will fail quickly in a rather cruel process.

In the past I have put some effort into trying to find publicly-available data illustrating the difficulty of finding minority candidates for top jobs in sufficient numbers to meet “diversity” demands; but I have had limited success. In the current City Journal, Heather Mac Donald weighs in with a piece titled “The Bias Fallacy,” making the case that bias against minorities explains little if any of their under-representation in certain positions and professions. To her credit, Ms. Mac Donald has managed to find considerable data illustrative of the limitations of the minority talent pool relative to some of the top positions at major corporations and law firms. I give a good deal of credit to Ms. Mac Donald for finding these data, which exist only for certain categories and certain years. Here are some examples:

  • From a Survey of Earned Doctorates, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, for 2017: The percentage of doctorates awarded to blacks was 2.0% in chemistry, 1.7% in “engineering disciplines,” 1.2% in physics, 1.0% in computer science, and 0.9% in mathematics and statistics. So then, how exactly are companies looking to hire, say, computer science PhDs, all supposed to find 13% blacks to fill the ranks?
  • From my own legal profession, here are some statistics on scores earned by blacks on LSAT and bar examinations: “In 2004, only 29 blacks, representing 0.3 percent of all black LSAT takers, scored 170 or above on the LSAT, according to the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. The average entrance score was 170 for the top-ranked law schools. There were 1,900 whites who scored at least a 170, representing 3.1 percent of all white test takers. Of black test takers, 1 percent—or 108 blacks nationwide—scored at least 165 in 2004, 165 being the average for the top ten law schools. Over 10 percent of white test takers—or 6,689 whites nationwide—scored at least 165. That gap has only grown, and it affects law school outcomes. Of black law school graduates, 22 percent never pass the bar exam after five tries, compared with 3 percent of white test takers, according to a study by the Law School Admissions Council.”

Ms. Mac Donald goes through similar data taken from results of admissions tests for business schools (GMAT) and medical schools (MCAT), both of which show equally dramatic divisions. She concludes:

There simply are not enough competitively qualified black candidates to go around. Moreover, one-third of all black males have a felony conviction.

Of course the information that Ms. Mac Donald presents here constitutes a piece of the real world that is inconvenient to the current narrative. So what is the response? Increasing numbers of schools are going in a direction of no longer requiring the entrance exams as part of the admission process. If you had noticed that trend, and were wondering the reason for it, here is Ms. Mac Donald’s take:

As long as data on the skills and behavior gap remain available, it is possible to challenge the myth of bias, at least in theory. So those facts must themselves be canceled, as well as anyone who publicizes them. That is the ultimate motivation for the movement to end the use of standardized tests in admissions. . . . The reason to eliminate standardized assessments is rather to put the College Board and the Educational Testing Service out of business entirely—and with them, any possibility of an objective measure of intellectual skills.

The idea is that if you just refuse to deal with reality, it will go away, and perfection will then dawn. But unfortunately, you can only ignore reality for just so long. In the law firm business, at some point within the first year or two, a young associate will be tasked with writing a fully-researched legal brief on a complex subject with a very short deadline (say, 24 hours), where the brief needs to be right on the first try. If an associate can’t do it, that will be immediately apparent. If you have been denied the ability to screen for ability by criteria like LSAT scores or law school grades, you are just setting large numbers of young people up for failure. In the real world, this is not a nice thing to do.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

How Decades of Media and Faculty Bias Have Pushed America to the Left | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 24, 2020

A third example comes from the editors at Merriam-Webster(continually updated online). After US Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett used the phrase “sexual preference,” she was denounced for using “offensive” language by US senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. This was confusing to many observers, since the term has long been used as a nonpejorative term and has even been used in recent years by both Joe Biden and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

https://mises.org/wire/how-decades-media-and-faculty-bias-have-pushed-america-left?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=74bfb9f742-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-74bfb9f742-228343965

Ryan McMaken

It’s been clear for decades that national news organizations such as CNN and the New York Times tend to be biased in favor of social democracy (i.e., “progressivism”) and what we would generally call a “left-wing” ideology. Journalists, for instance, identify as Democrats in far higher numbers than any other partisan group. And political donations by members of the media overwhelmingly go to Democratic candidates.

This is why even as far back as the 1940s, libertarian and conservative groups felt the need to found their own news sources, publishing houses, and other outlets for the distribution of information.

Similarly, in recent decades, higher education faculty have been shown to be overwhelmingly in favor of the Democratic Party, both in affiliation and in donations. In addition to providing instruction at colleges and universities, these people are the ones who write textbooks, history books, and the scholarly publications that influence other faculty members, secondary school teachers, and current students.

It would be shocking if the net effect of this clear bias were not to push the public—at least those members of the public who view news media broadcasts, read textbooks, and attend college classes—in the direction of the ideology favored by the journalists and professors.

But the means for manufacturing an ideological bias don’t end there. In recent years we have increasingly been seeing other institutions—outside newsrooms and universities—that are taking an active role in shaping the public’s ideology. These include social media firms, and even online sources of information once considered relatively outside the reach of political controversies.

This is what is to be expected when a single ideological group controls educational institutions and major media outlets over a period of several decades. Under these conditions—and unless other institutions provide an effective alternative—the ideology that is dominant within schools and newsrooms will spread to become the ideology of the larger general public. Thus, we should expect to see more and more doctrinaire ideological activism in the larger society, in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Controlling the Message outside the Media and Academia

We’ve seen a few examples of this over the past week. The first example is Twitter’s concerted and admitted effort to hide the NY Post’s exposé on potentially damaging emails from Joe Biden’s son. Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, first claimed that the company’s efforts to prevent Twitter users from sharing the story were a “mistake” and offered some rather implausible explanations. After the Post and a variety of right-leaning groups expressed outrage over the affair, the company backed down. This is just the latest of many cases of media companies making efforts to edit, curate, and control the information being communicated on their websites.

Another example comes from Wikipedia, where—in spite of the apparent veracity of the Post’s story on Hunter Biden—the claims against Hunter Biden are casually dismissed as “debunked.” No evidence has been presented to support this claim, and the Biden campaign has not denied the claims made in the Post’s story.

A third example comes from the editors at Merriam-Webster(continually updated online). After US Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett used the phrase “sexual preference,” she was denounced for using “offensive” language by US senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii. This was confusing to many observers, since the term has long been used as a nonpejorative term and has even been used in recent years by both Joe Biden and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

However, by a startling “coincidence,” editors at Merriam-Webster apparently modified the definition of the phrase “sexual preference,” adding the word “offensive” in reference to use of the term following the spat between Barrett and Hirono. Use of the Wayback Machine shows that two weeks earlier the word “offensive” had not been included in the definition.

These examples likely illustrate a growing role for left-wing ideologues outside official news media in shaping and manipulating public opinion for purposes of promoting one political faction over another.

These examples are certainly not the only evidence that companies that deal in internet-delivered data have very clear political preferences. Studies have shown that political donations coming out of Silicon Valley overwhelmingly favor Democrats. At Twitter, from the company’s founding to 2012, 100 percent of political donations made by company employees were to Democrats. In 2016, 90 percent of political donations coming out of Google went to Democrats.

The Natural Outcome of Years of Educational Bias

None of this should surprise us. For decades, the public’s predominant source of information about the nation’s history and political institutions has been the establishment “mainstream” media, public schools, and America’s higher education system.

This has a sizable effect on the public’s views and ideology. Staffers at tech companies, dictionary editors, and managers at Google are all part of this public.

Moreover, the sorts of people who work at Silicon Valley companies, and who work as editors and website designers, tend to have degrees obtained from colleges and universities. These are the same colleges and universities that today’s journalists and pundits attended. They’re the same colleges and universities that public school teachers attended, and which today’s attorneys, corporate CEOs, and high-level managers attended.

Moreover, over time, the share of the public attending these colleges and universities has grown. Fifty years ago, only around 10 percent of Americans completed college. Today, the total is around one-third.

Also not surprising: more schooling apparently tends to translate into more left-wing political views. Data from a wide variety of sources has shown that Americans with more schooling tend to self-identify as “liberal” more often. According to the Pew Research Center, from 1994 to 2015, the percentage of college graduates who were “mostly liberal” or “consistently liberal” increased from 25 percent to 44 percent. At the same time, those who were “mostly conservative” or “consistently conservative” remained almost unmoved, from 30 percent to 29 percent. In other words, the number of college graduates with ”mixed” views has shifted overwhelmingly to the left. This trend is even stronger among Americans who have attended graduate school.

This would seem to be only natural. After all, the faculty has shifted to the left in recent decades. In 1990, according to survey data by the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA, 42 percent of professors identified as ”liberal” or ”far-left.” By 2014, that number had jumped to 60 percent. Journalists have moved in the same direction.

So if it seems to you that corporate employees, college grads, and the media-consuming public is moving to the left, you’re probably not imagining things.

Why It’s So Important to Build Institutions That Offer an Alternative

More astute observers of the current scene have long recognized that ”politics is downstream from culture.” In other words, if we want to change politics, we have to change the worldviews of political actors first. For example, if we want a world which reflects a Christian worldview, we need a large portion of the population to actually believe in that worldview. If we want a world where voters and legislators support private property rights, we need a world where a sizable portion of the population was raised and educated to believe private property is a good thing. There are no shortcuts around this.

Unfortunately, the activists who often get the most traction are those who take exactly the opposite position. They offer a ”solution” that involves nothing more than closing the barn door long after the horse has escaped. Yet this position is nonetheless often popular because it offers a quick fix. This position takes this basic form: ”If we can get the right people into political office for the next couple of elections, then everything will be fixed.” Never mind the fact that the ”wrong” people got into office precisely because the voting public had been educated in such a way that they find those politicians’ ideas and positions attractive.

Perhaps the most recent purveyor of this futile and shortsighted view is one-time Trump advisor Steve Bannon. Bannon embraced the idea that ”culture is downstream from politics,” insisting he could deliver a ”permanent majority” in political institutions in opposition to the Left-controlled zeitgeist. All that was necessary, we were told, was to vote for Bannon’s favorite politicians for a few years. Then the public would magically start adopting Bannon’s preferred conservative views. Bannon, however, never offered a strategy any more sophisticated than buying off voters with even bigger welfare programs and crushing government debt. Bannon apparently missed the fact that the votes he needed for this vision had to come from millions of Americans who have already imbibed decades’ worth of major media content and left-wing faculty lectures.

It’s easy to see how Bannon might have thought the message could resonate. After all, we live in a country where millions of self-described ”conservatives” willingly send their children to sixteen years of public schooling and then are mystified when little Johnny comes home and announces he’s a Marxist. Apparently these people are very slow learners.

But Bannon’s more insightful colleague Andrew Breitbart knew better. As noted in a profile of Breitbart for TIME magazine in 2010:

As [Breitbart] sees it, the left exercises its power not via mastery of the issues but through control of the entertainment industry, print and television journalism and government agencies that set social policy. “Politics,” he often says, “is downstream from culture. I want to change the cultural narrative.” Thus the Big sites devote their energy less to trying to influence the legislative process in Washington than to attacking the institutions and people Breitbart believes dictate the American conversation.

Although I often disagreed with Breitbart’s editorial and ideological positions, he was certainly right about how political institutions are changed.

But to accomplish this goal, it is necessary to create organizations and institutions that can offer an alternative to the ”entertainment industry, print and television journalism and government agencies that set social policy.” This requires research, writing, podcasts, and videos. It requires educational institutions (like the Mises Institute’s graduate school) that offer views that go against what is usually taught in universities. It requires revisionist historians and scholars who can write books that counter the views pushed in the endless stream of books and articles churned out by professional academics at state-supported institutions. It requires cultural institutions like churches that provide a compelling intellectual vision that can compete with what’s taught in the colleges.

Until that happens, expect institutions like social media, Wikipedia, the mainstream media, and even corporate America to keep moving left and doing it at an increasingly fast pace. And expect the people who control those institutions to be increasingly hostile to those who disagree with them. 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 The Austrian, 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.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Progressivism of the Future Is Really Just the Socialism of the Past | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 20, 2020

Beyond that, other demands and programs put forth and realized by the progressive movement have included eugenics, population and birth control, family planning, prohibition, antitrust legislation, public education, central banking, and an income tax.

https://mises.org/wire/progressivism-future-really-just-socialism-past?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=6eca8feaf2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-6eca8feaf2-228343965

Antony P. Mueller

The world is currently in the midst of a newly aggressive drive to bring about a new socialist order through a powerful and “efficient” technocratic state. This new order has been labeled as “progressive,” but it is merely the latest version of the socialist impulse which we have seen before in the form of socialism and communism. 

A War on Private Property

Summed up in a single sentence, the plans of the communists aim at the abolition of private property. From there, the other major demands follow, such as abolishing the family, nation, and countries, and finally, as Marx noted, “communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality.” In as much as the program of liberalism “if condensed into a single word….is private ownership of the means of production” (as described by Ludwig von Mises), the program of the communists is the abolition of private property.

A Promise of Efficiency and Expertise

Yet Marxian socialism—i.e., communism—has not found many followers in the United States. The communist appeal to justice and equality found more resonance in the old world. To have an appeal to the Americans, socialism had to be packaged differently. In the United States, the gospel of socialism appeared under the name of “progressivism” and was preached as bringing society to the highest degree of efficiency.

Under President Woodrow Wilson, progressivism attained its first peak as the dominant philosophy of the state. Society was to these socialists a single organization. The bureaucrats as public administrators found a vivid expression in the political novel Philip Dru: Administrator: A Story of Tomorrow by Edward Mandell House, who was a very close friend of Wilson and who served as the president’s most important political and diplomatic advisor.

This vision of progressivism requires:

  • Government and labor representation on the board of every corporation
  • Sharing the profits of public service companies
  • Government ownership of the means of communication
  • Government ownership of the means of transportation
  • A comprehensive system of old age pension
  • Government ownership of all healthcare
  • Full labor protection and governmental arbitration of industrial disputes

Beyond that, other demands and programs put forth and realized by the progressive movement have included eugenics, population and birth control, family planning, prohibition, antitrust legislation, public education, central banking, and an income tax.

These echo of the planks of the Communist Manifesto, which included demands to

  • Centralize the means of communications and to put the means of transport in the hand of the state
  • Extend the control of the state across the factories and over all land
  • Implement a heavy progressive income tax and abolish the rights of inheritance
  • Centralize credit in the hands of the state and establish a central bank of an exclusive monetary monopoly

Unlike the Communist Manifesto, the progressives did not preach a proletarian revolution but spoke out in the name of efficiency and demanded the bureaucratic rule of expert public administrators. In a specific way, the progressive movement presents an even worse program than Marxism. As Murray Rothbard summarized it, the progressive movement brought about a profound transformation of the American society:

from a roughly free and laissez-faire society of the 19th century, when the economy was free, taxes were low, persons were free in their daily lives, and the government was noninterventionist at home and abroad, the new coalition managed in a short time to transform America into a welfare-warfare imperial State, where people’s daily lives were controlled and regulated to a massive degree.

Socialism in Disguise

Guiding mankind to heaven on earth by transforming society is the quintessential message of socialism, beginning with the “utopian socialism” of the nineteenth century and leading up to our time with the demand for a “concrete utopia.” Yet different from the Marxist mythology that socialism would be the unstoppable successor of capitalism, history shows that the “socialist phenomenon” has appeared time and again throughout history. Instead of being the model of the future, socialism is, de facto, a failed idea of the past.

Socialism is the attempt to create a new social order at will. Yet one cannot construct “order” to one’s wishes. The volitional realization of a socioeconomic system results in establishing society as a single state-dominated organization and as such, it is necessarily hierarchical and must be based on command and obedience instead of the free association of the people as it happens in a spontaneous order.

President Wilson failed in his plan to bring the United States into the League of Nations and establish an organization to promote a new world order in tune with the visions of the progressives. For some time, the Americans resumed the tradition of individualism and isolationism. Yet with the Great Depression and World War II the chance of transforming the society and putting bureaucratic experts at the top came back with a vengeance under the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With the end of the world war returned the chance to establish a network of international organizations with the mission of organizing society and the economy under the auspices of bureaucratic experts. This happened with the founding of the United Nations and its several subgroups and sister organizations to become active in finance, education, development, and health.

The International Push

With the launch of the United Nations, progressivism as a program of what James Ostrowski calls “destroying America” has attained a global platform. The main seat of this philosophy has moved into the headquarters of the United Nations Organizations. From its start, the United Nations has been the light bearer of global progressivism.

The protection of the environment and “global health” proved to be the ideal pretexts to move forward the agenda of progressivism. In June 1994, the UN Agenda 2021 was initiated by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro and called for the imposition of “sustainable development” on a global scale. While Agenda 2021 was still relatively modest in its demands and nonbinding as to its full execution, the later Agenda 2030 let the cat out of the bag. The new agenda was adopted when the heads of state and government and high representatives met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in September 2015. At this meeting, they approved the adoption of “Global Sustainable Development Goals” about comprehensive and far-reaching universal and transformative goals and targets.

The new agenda describes a program of comprehensive government takeover of almost all aspects of personal life. With no nods to human freedom and market coordination, the document lists seventeen goals that should be met through a bureaucratic takeover of society on a worldwide scale. Behind popular promises such as the end of poverty and hunger, healthy lives, equitable education, and gender equality lurks the agenda to impose global socialism. Demands such as the reduction of income inequality within and among countries, sustainable consumption and production patterns, and building inclusive societies for sustainable development, are parts of an overriding plan to do away with the market economy and to impose comprehensive state planning.

Claiming the “perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill-health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being” (chapter 1, preamble), the conference calls of a “global partnership for sustainable development.”

Under the heading of “program areas” the agenda stresses “the links between demographic trends and factors and sustainable development.” The growth of the world population combined with “unsustainable consumption patterns” endangers the planet, as they “affect the use of land, water, air, energy and other resources.” Under point 5.17 of its objective, the conference demands: “Full integration of population concerns into national planning, policy and decision-making processes.” Protecting the environment requires the comprehensive regulation of the world population which in turn makes it necessary to control personal behavior.

In short, the adoption of this “new world order” would mean the abolition of private property, or what Mises regarded as the liberal program—a world based on private property. If enacted, this project will fail in the end, but it will bring immense suffering in the meantime. Author:

Antony P. Mueller

Dr. Antony P. Mueller is a German professor of economics who currently teaches in Brazil. Write an email. See his website and blog.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

#23 – “The Balance of Trade Deficit Requires Government Action” – Foundation for Economic Education

Posted by M. C. on October 7, 2020

Neither the mercantilists of yesteryear nor those who fuss about the trade deficit today have ever satisfactorily answered this fundamental question: Since each and every trade is “favorable” to the individual traders, how is it possible that these transactions can be totaled up to produce something “unfavorable”?

https://fee.org/articles/23-the-balance-of-trade-deficit-requires-government-action/

Lawrence W. Reed
Lawrence W. Reed

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) is proud to partner with Young America’s Foundation (YAF) to produce “Clichés of Progressivism,” a series of insightful commentaries covering topics of free enterprise, income inequality, and limited government.

Our society is inundated with half-truths and misconceptions about the economy in general and free enterprise in particular. The “Clichés of Progressivism” series is meant to equip students with the arguments necessary to inform debate and correct the record where bias and errors abound.

The antecedents to this collection are two classic FEE publications that YAF helped distribute in the past: Clichés of Politics, published in 1994, and the more influential Clichés of Socialism, which made its first appearance in 1962. Indeed, this new collection will contain a number of essays from those two earlier works, updated for the present day where necessary. Other entries first appeared in some version in FEE’s journal, The Freeman. Still others are brand new, never having appeared in print anywhere. They will be published weekly on the websites of both YAF and FEE: www.yaf.org and www.FEE.org until the series runs its course. A book will then be released in 2015 featuring the best of the essays, and will be widely distributed in schools and on college campuses.

See the index of the published chapters here.

#23 – “The Balance of Trade Deficit Requires Government Action”

(Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this essay was published in The Freeman in December 1998.)

I have a dirty little secret. It’s about a nagging problem I have had for a long time. It just never seems to go away. Heretofore, I have not wanted to admit to this problem in public because the newspaper headlines remind me monthly that this sort of thing is bad and embarrassing.  But I’m going to come clean, hoping that maybe someone out there can help me.

My problem is this: I have a trade deficit with J.C. Penney. That’s right. Year after year, I buy more from J.C. Penney than J.C. Penney buys from me.

In fact, J.C. Penney has never yet bought anything at all from me. It’s been a one-way street right from the day I got my credit card in the mail. And I don’t expect that this is going to change any time soon because the retail chain shows no interest in buying my chief export, which is columns like this one. It just doesn’t seem fair.

I’ve actually considered several options. Each one would probably reduce or eliminate my trade deficit with J.C. Penney, but some wise guy always points out new problems that each of these scenarios might create:

1. I could get Congress to force the company to buy enough of my articles to offset what I spend in its stores. But the more J.C. Penney buys from me, the less it will be able to buy from others, which will only increase their trade deficits.

2. I could get Congress to force J.C. Penney to cut its prices so that I won’t have to spend as much to get what I want. I thought that might at least reduce my deficit, but at lower prices I might actually be tempted to buy more. Or J.C. Penney might come under fire from the antitrust people for dumping its goods below cost.

3. I could simply quit buying from J.C. Penney. That would really teach them a lesson. But then, doggone it, I like what I’ve been buying from them. If I boycott them, wouldn’t that be like cutting off my nose to spite my face?

d12e9117613a1599144490-donate-thankyou-landscape.png

Join us in preserving the principles of economic freedom and individual liberty for the rising generation

Of course, I don’t really mean any of this. As an economist, I know that there’s a fourth option here and it’s the only one that makes any sense: I should ignore this “problem” and never pay any attention again to whatever the trade situation is between J.C. Penney and me, except to pay my bills on time. America as a whole should do essentially the same thing. If we fired the people in Washington, D.C., who compile the balance of trade numbers, the so-called problem will go away.

Every month, the U.S. Commerce Department releases the official “balance of trade” figures showing the difference between the value of merchandise that enters the country and the value of merchandise that leaves the country. If imports exceed exports, America has a trade deficit, which sets off alarm bells in Washington. If exports are greater than imports, we’re all supposed to celebrate because that’s a trade surplus.

By this logic, draining the country of all goods and accepting none from abroad would be the best possible trade news. We wouldn’t be able to celebrate, however, because we’d all starve. But at least the government’s books would register one heck of a trade surplus.

The balance of trade numbers, by the way, represent a very incomplete picture of trade. They attempt to measure merchandise only, but traders exchange many other things, too. If a Canadian businessman sells Americans lumber, he earns dollars but he doesn’t have to buy merchandise with them. He might instead invest in real estate, purchase securities (government or private), or contract for certain services. Those things don’t get counted in the “balance of trade.”

Progressives aren’t the only ones who get hung up on this trade-deficit thing and then favor pseudo-solutions to a non-problem. It’s a throwback to the less enlightened times of sixteenth-century mercantilists. They argued that a nation must never buy more from foreigners than it sells to them because that would produce an “unfavorable balance of trade” that would have to be settled by an outflow of gold or silver. The mercantilists wrongly assumed that gold and silver were the real wealth of a nation, not goods and services. They were also wrong to render value judgments about other people’s trading activities. The fact is that there can be nothing “unfavorable” about voluntary trade from the point of view of the individuals actually doing the trading, otherwise they would not have engaged in it in the first place.

The principle that both sides benefit from trade is readily visible when it involves two parties within a country; it somehow becomes confused when an invisible political barrier separates the parties. Neither the mercantilists of yesteryear nor those who fuss about the trade deficit today have ever satisfactorily answered this fundamental question: Since each and every trade is “favorable” to the individual traders, how is it possible that these transactions can be totaled up to produce something “unfavorable”?

Scottish economist Adam Smith was among the first to at­tack the notion that exports are good and imports are bad. He pos­tulated a “harmony of interests” in trade, by which both parties to an exchange benefit. With the excep­tion of obvious fraudulent prac­tices, which are minimal in number and a responsibility of the courts, there can be nothing “unfavorable” about voluntary trade from the point of view of the individuals do­ing the trading, otherwise those in­dividuals would not have engaged in it.

To return to my initial example, I benefit when I buy from J.C. Penney or I wouldn’t keep doing it. The folks at J.C. Penney benefit as well because they would rather have my money than the stuff they sell me. We’re both better off because we have a trade relationship, which is why neither party ever complains about it. This would be no less true if J.C. Penney happened to be a company from Japan or Uganda.

Ultimately, the dollars that go abroad to pay for imports will come back to buy American exports. But even if they didn’t—in other words, even if goods come here and dollars go there to simply stuff foreign mattresses—Americans with their supposedly harmful trade deficit would have the better end of the deal. We would get goods like electronics and automobiles, and foreigners would be stuck with slips of paper decorated by pictures of dead American politicians.

Forget the trade deficit. We should occupy ourselves with more important things, like the next sale at J.C. Penney.Lawrence W. ReedPresidentFoundation for Economic Education

Summary

  • Each of us as individuals has a “balance of trade” with other individuals, but none of us cares about the numbers; we care about the goods and services we’re trading for.
  • Balance of trade figures count only merchandise. They leave out a huge chunk of world trade involving other things, from real estate to securities to services.
  • No trades are deemed as anything but “favorable” by those engaged in the trading, so how can anyone add all those trades up and arrive at something “unfavorable”?
  • For further information, see:

“The Balance-of-Payments Deficit: Not to Worry” by David R. Henderson: http://tinyurl.com/k998d3s

“The Trade Deficit Is Debt? It Just Ain’t So!” by Donald J. Boudreaux: http://tinyurl.com/qg2hp4w

“A Deficit of Understanding” by Donald J. Boudreaux: http://tinyurl.com/mb8lnlg

“Tax Cuts Cause Trade Deficits and Currency Depreciation?” by Joseph Salerno: http://tinyurl.com/owq9qlg

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Is Kamala Harris a 21st-Century Woodrow Wilson? | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on September 6, 2020

To pander to the socialists, Harris supports the profligate Green New Deal and a universal basic income, funded by new taxes that will “only” be levied on the wealthy. Harris exerts enormous influence over the extremely malleable (and increasingly senile) Biden, jubilantly telling Trevor Noah on The Daily Show that “as soon as we get him in the White House, and even before with these task forces that we had, we were able to significantly push Joe Biden to do things that he hadn’t signed on to before.”

Clearly, Harris plans to run the show.

https://mises.org/wire/kamala-harris-21st-century-woodrow-wilson?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=078d03d63e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_09_04_06_24&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-078d03d63e-228343965

Although the draconian lockdowns punished the economy, a partial recovery occurred after governments allowed businesses to reopen. However, continued economic growth depends on the outcome of the presidential election. The crisis opened the door for a surge in regulations, subsidies, and other special interest privileges under the guise of promoting the “public health.”

This progressivism—a code word for cronyism—presents a serious threat to America.

As Murray Rothbard explains, the original Progressive Era witnessed corporate and safety regulations, environmental laws, welfare and labor compensation, and new taxes that benefited favored corporations, bureaucrats, academics, and labor activists at the expense of the taxpayer. If trends continue, modern politicians will pass similar policies to benefit themselves and favored supporters, crippling economic activity. To properly understand this progressivist threat, one must recognize the motives, background, and ideological orientation of the original progressives. They were mostly Yankees, the descendants of the Puritans who stayed in New England or emigrated to New York and the Midwest. They grew up in evangelical households that urged a remaking of society by coercively stamping out sin, particularly alcohol consumption. After earning PhDs in Germany, progressives preached their interventionism under the secularized guise of science and the public welfare. Furthermore, these social engineers supported eugenics, the science of controlling the labor supply to improve its overall quality. Lastly, progressives strove to revolutionize the world through foreign policy adventures.

In their struggle for economic privileges, progressives split into two groups. The corporatists championed protecting trusts and cartels from the vicissitudes of the free market. These big business advocates wanted to create trade commissions and other regulatory agencies to cripple competition and impose onerous compliance costs on small businesses. On the other hand, the socialists desired an overhaul of the capitalist system, blaring the trumpets for stringent antitrust regulation, radical labor laws, and redistributive taxes. President Woodrow Wilson embodied both strands, working with the two groups to enact the income tax, the Federal Reserve System, and the Federal Trade Commission.

In many ways, modern progressives are carbon copies. They congregate in New England and live in coastal New York City, Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. While eschewing traditional religion, modern progressives are zealots for egalitarianism and social justice. They attended the Ivy League and other elite American universities, empowering them with government-funded research. Although modern progressives disregard eugenics, they still advocate social engineering, championing egalitarianism for everybody except themselves while dictating what is morally acceptable. Finally, they are thoroughgoing foreign interventionists. Neoconservatism is actually a variant of progressivism, for as Angelo Codevilla explains, George W. Bush’s wars were “but an extrapolation of the sentiments of America’s progressive class, first articulated by people such as Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson.”

The progressive movement still splits along corporatist and socialist lines. The former support a cozy relationship with Wall Street and “Big Tech,” welcoming various internet and safety regulations that would hurt smaller businesses without the appropriate ecommerce infrastructure. The latter advocate radically anticapitalist measures, particularly the dismantling of Big Tech, the Green New Deal, a universal basic income, and wealth taxes. With the exception of hostile antitrust lawsuits, big business corporatists are not against these measures per se, provided they can acquire environmental subsidies and offload the cost of new entitlements and taxes onto the less wealthy (accomplished with the progressivist income tax and Social Security).

If Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden embody the corporatist mindset and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren the socialist mentality, then surely Kamala Harris is the modern Wilsonian.

Big Tech has funded Harris in various California elections in exchange for favorable regulatory oversight. Many former personnel now work for the large companies: a senior counsel left in 2018 to lobby on behalf of Amazon, Harris’s first campaign manager works for Google, and her brother-in-law is the chief legal officer for Uber.

To pander to the socialists, Harris supports the profligate Green New Deal and a universal basic income, funded by new taxes that will “only” be levied on the wealthy. Harris exerts enormous influence over the extremely malleable (and increasingly senile) Biden, jubilantly telling Trevor Noah on The Daily Show that “as soon as we get him in the White House, and even before with these task forces that we had, we were able to significantly push Joe Biden to do things that he hadn’t signed on to before.”

Clearly, Harris plans to run the show.

Similar to the legislation of one hundred years ago, the new progressive juggernaut presents an incredible threat to the United States. Its policies will impoverish the public to enrich elite businesses, politicians, intellectuals, and unions. This future looks bleak, and it must be stopped.

[Adapted from “America 2021: The Threat of Progressivism,” a talk delivered on August 29 in Orlando, FL.]

Author:

Contact Patrick Newman

Patrick is Assistant Professor of Economics at Florida Southern College. He completed his PhD in the Department of Economics at George Mason University. He is a 2018 Mises Institute Research Fellow.

Be seeing you

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Foreign Policy We Need | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on August 7, 2020

Trump has shown that conservatives aren’t necessarily eager to go to war, even if they remain entirely too trusting of Republican presidents who want to take them there—including the current occupant of the Oval Office under the wrong set of circumstances. That is a good first step, but it is far from sufficient. Conservative restrainers must stop being passive observers in a foreign policy debate Trump and their libertarian allies have already joined. It’s well past time for a conservative foreign policy of peace. 

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/time-for-all-conservatives-to-make-peace-with-the-antiwar-mission/

Restrainers on the right must stop being passive observers in a debate Trump and their libertarian allies have already joined.

Sen. Rand Paul (Gage Skidmore), President Trump (U.S. Coast Guard) and Rep. Matt Gaetz (Gage Skidmore)

Four years after the once unthinkable election of a Republican president who called the Iraq war a “mistake,” America still needs a genuinely conservative foreign policy of realism and restraint.

Hegemonists and hyper-interventionists are being challenged for the first time in two decades, perhaps as never before in the post-Cold War era. The folly of their never-ending, no-win wars is evident to voters, prime-time cable news hosts, diplomats, academics, even the veterans and active-duty soldiers who have fought in them. A new generation of conservative thought leaders is coming of age that turns the thinking that prevailed under George W. Bush on its head, yet the Right is still underrepresented in the fight against the hawkish dead consensus and the GOP’s governing class lags well behind.

There is a progressive critique of U.S. foreign policy that is gaining adherents, even if the Democratic Party nominated a conventional liberal hawk to challenge Donald Trump for president of the United States. Joe Biden represents the death rattle of the fading New Democrat politics of the 1990s, with its ever-present fear of being seen as less ready to go to war than the Republicans, a cry of electoral desperation and a reluctance to go into a competitive general election with an overtly socialist standard-bearer. Biden is himself responsive to trends within his party, including on matters of war and peace, even if he is too likely to appoint to critical national security positions the same set of officials who ruined Barack Obama’s foreign policy. Bernie Sanders’s team of relative realists is more likely to be the party’s future.

But there are millions of Americans for whom the progressivism of 2020 does not even claim to speak. Tulsi Gabbard’s fate—she won some delegates in American Samoa, and was kept off the debate stage as voting drew closer—shows that the modern Democratic Party prioritizes wokeness over war. Left-Right “transpartisan” coalitions can accomplish important things together, as the congressional resolution demanding an end to the war in Yemen shows. They have also become inherently unstable under Trump, who is an asset to making antiwar arguments to conservatives but anathema to liberals.

There has also been considerable resistance to the neoconservative hegemony that dominates Republican foreign policy thinking, making it possible once again to vote in good conscience for a GOP presidential candidate without the reservation that the installation of a center-right commander-in-chief will inevitably lead to a repeat of the Iraq war or worse. But much of this pushback, welcome as it is, comes from libertarians. The American political coalition that is more skeptical of statism, and has been since at least Ronald Reagan if not Barry Goldwater, needs to be reminded that war is as likely to end in failure or produce unintended consequences as any other government program. Too often, Republicans treat the Pentagon as an honorary member of the private sector and exempt its endeavors from the scrutiny they would apply to bureaucrats of any other stripe. But federal employees actually do a better job of delivering the mail than delivering democracy to the Middle East.

Libertarians have done yeoman’s work in turning the neocon foreign policy monologue of the 2000s into a real dialogue. Especially invaluable has been the contributions of two families, the Pauls and the Koch brothers. When the history of early 21st century conservatism is written, their names will be at least as important as the Kristols and Podhoretzs. But at the present time, libertarianism does not appear to be a governing philosophy that can win a national election and therefore seriously contest for control of U.S. foreign policy. The younger generation of conservatives who reject interventionism run amok should not be forced to choose between prudence in immigraton policy or foreign affairs, an endless repetition of a Reagan economic program better suited to the 1980s than 2021, or going abroad in search of monsters to destroy in pursuit of imaginary WMD and equally fictitious democratist fantasies, based on ideas that were terrible then and now, this time covered in a veneer of focus-grouped populism.

Yet the new national conservatism has produced exactly one reliable populist Republican politician who has shown a willingness to vote according to Trump’s foreign policy campaign promises when the going gets tough: Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida. The foreign policy of Sen. Josh Hawley remains a work in progress, though a potentially promising one; Sens. Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio remain as hawkish as ever, however Trumpian they have become on other issues. Rep. Walter Jones, who arrived at antiwar conservatism from a non-libertarian starting point, is dead. Rep. Jimmy Duncan is retired. This is a smaller group than the handful of libertarian Republicans standing athwart the neocon war machine yelling stop.

♦♦♦

Trump himself bears a great deal of responsibility for this unmet challenge. He has largely delivered the foreign policy of second-term George W. Bush, an improvement only over the first-term variety, though he seems a great deal less pleased about it. He has cycled through defense secretaries and national security advisors, but the endless wars have not yet come to an end. The most important former Trump official and ally who has moved in the right direction on foreign policy is Jeff Sessions; the president is actively campaigning against his return to the Senate. He has not started any new wars, but he has risked escalating some old ones—and, most dangerously, fanned the flames of tension with Iran.

That doesn’t mean Trump’s better instincts on foreign policy have been meaningless. Without them, the Qasem Soleimani killing earlier this year could have easily metastasized into a full-fledged Iraq-style war with Iran. He would not have sacked John Bolton, whom he should never have hired in the first place. He has kept the debate over the U.S. presence in Afghanistan and Syria from fading into the background as falling bombs become ambient noise. He has eroded ISIS’s gains without massive new deployments to the Middle East and has stopped short of fighting every side of the Syrian civil war. Trump has also laid bare many of the leftist assumptions that undergird contemporary neoconservatism and sent prominent neocons, whose muggings by reality had apparently worn off, back to their ancestral homes in the Democratic Party.

What Trump hasn’t done is implement a new foreign policy that differs sufficiently from that which gave us the tragedies of Iraq and Libya or create a new talent pool of qualified federal officials who could help a future Republican president do so. With the possible exception of Gaetz, he has not even put the Republicans most aligned with his preferred foreign policy in the best position to succeed him. What does it profit us to move some troops around in northern Syria only to wind up at war in Iran, or to lose Jennifer Rubin as an intermittently conservative blogger at the Washington Post only to gain a President Nikki Haley?

Trump’s biggest positive contribution, like that of TAC founding editor Pat Buchanan before him, is to demonstrate that there is a real constituency for a different policy within the Republican electorate. To be sure, some of it had to do with their credibility with grassroots conservatives and GOP-aligned demographics. It was difficult to caricature Trump or Buchanan, like Jim Webb across the aisle, as uninterested in American national security or interests. They were not, hysteria about Russia or Iraq notwithstanding, “unpatriotic conservatives” in the eyes of rank-and-file Republicans. They were seen as unimpeachably pro-American.

As antiwar conservative Fox News host Tucker Carlson explained it in another context, the American people do care if the president keeps them safe. “You can regularly say embarrassing things on television,” he said. “You can hire Omarosa to work at the White House. All of that will be forgiven if you protect your people. But if you don’t protect them—or, worse, if you seem like you can’t be bothered to protect them—then you’re done. It’s over. People will not forgive weakness.” Trump in 2016, like Buchanan in 1996, passed that test in Republicans’ eyes in a way that a liberal George McGovern and most libertarians never could. Ergo Trump sits in the Oval Office while McGovern lost 49 states and the Libertarian Party has never won more than 3.3 percent of the national popular vote.

But it wasn’t just the messenger. The message was a fundamentally conservative one, even if not the stereotypical saber-rattling Republican argumentation. The United States is a great country, but not an embryonic United Nations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why Media Coverage of COVID-19 Has Been So Bad | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on May 15, 2020

For example, when Neil Ferguson of Imperial College in London more than two months ago reported his model that predicted up to 2.2 million coronavirus deaths in the United States, the New York Times accepted the predictions as near reported fact, both in its news and editorial coverage.

I have found that most journalists work according to what one might call narratives. We see them in spades whenever we watch network news. On Fox News, Democrats in power always are weak in national defense. On MSNBC, you will hear that anyone who espouses free markets really wants black people to be thrown back into slavery and poor people to starve to death. Narratives are sets of beliefs that one holds that explain how things work in the world. Journalists forever are shaping their coverage to fit those narratives, and often they turn into just plain caricatures.

https://mises.org/wire/why-media-coverage-covid-19-has-been-so-bad?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=0f39d537c2-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-0f39d537c2-228343965

In my lifetime, I never have seen anything dominate news coverage like the COVID-19 virus and how federal, state, and local governments have dealt with the death, illness, and uncertainty it has created. That is a lifetime that has included the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, the moon landing, Watergate, and the 9/11 attacks.

Suffice it to say that these were big events, yet I cannot say that I have seen anything quite like it, even in this modern media age. But although news coverage clearly has been extensive, I cannot say much for it except that with just a few exceptions, the coverage has been uniformly bad. When I mean bad, I mean that I as a reader, and especially as a reader who also is an academic economist and economic journalist, cannot trust it to be accurate.

For example, when Neil Ferguson of Imperial College in London more than two months ago reported his model that predicted up to 2.2 million coronavirus deaths in the United States, the New York Times accepted the predictions as near reported fact, both in its news and editorial coverage. Despite the fact that Ferguson has a long record of making wild exaggerations in his death-from-disease models, the media treated his dire predictions as Oracles from the Gods and demanded radical measures to counter this alleged threat.

Those of us who are skeptical of many apocalyptic claims from progressives—from Paul Ehrlich’s false predictions in The Population Bomb to Al Gore’s fabricated claims that sea ice was supposed to disappear from the Arctic fifteen years ago—wondered aloud if we really were to see a reprise of the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic and concluded that we were not. However, whenever so-called experts predict doom, members of the press eagerly await the next oracles. What always follows is the demand that government, with its stable of experts, step in and save us.

This is not just the mainstream media such as the New York Times or the network news stations running the gamut from CBS News to CNN to Fox News. This also includes the more ideological publications such as The Nation or the American Conservative. For example, if one were to read both the news and editorial sections of the New York Times on any day, one would find the coverage to be one sided and slanted toward what is a progressive view of society and governance, a viewpoint that is highly critical of the legal and social tradition of limitations upon state power. At the same time, one can read on the pages of TAC that the government should not only regulate consumer prices during the pandemic, but that the government should arrest anyone accused of “price gouging.”

A broad-brush view of progressivism, which today really is the dominant governing philosophy in the United States, is that constitutional limits upon government power are inadequate in a complex society like ours and that we should not be governed by bumbling politicians, but rather by experts. For example, a progressive would tout the difference between Anthony Fauci and Donald Trump; one is a public health expert, and the other is, well, Donald Trump, which goes without saying.

Given that most American journalists, both print and electronic, would proudly call themselves progressives, we should not be surprised when news coverage follows progressive narratives that hold to the view that expansion of state power is also the expansion of civilization itself. When I was in journalism school nearly a half century ago, my professors drilled into all of us that it was the press—the free press—that protected the rights of Americans from predatory government. Of course, the professors also happened to teach that maybe corporations might be more dangerous than government and that, well, you know, progressive government is really a good thing and should be encouraged, since progressive government is not the same as predatory government.

If one wished to probe my professors’ thinking even more, they really believed that the media really should be in the business of promoting “good government,” which was, in their minds, government by “experts.” What they meant by “good government” was not government that operated within strict constitutional limits, but rather progressive government, a government that could do things well, from providing medical care to building homes for the poor and providing food for hungry people. They wanted a competent government, the kind of government that to the generation that gave us the Progressive Era dreamed of occupying Washington, DC, and the rest of the country, the kind of government that they fervently believed that FDR had created with the New Deal.

Although my journalism professors didn’t teach me The Narratives in the classroom, over the years while I worked as a newspaper reporter and in my years as an academic economist, I have found that most journalists work according to what one might call narratives. We see them in spades whenever we watch network news. On Fox News, Democrats in power always are weak in national defense. On MSNBC, you will hear that anyone who espouses free markets really wants black people to be thrown back into slavery and poor people to starve to death. Narratives are sets of beliefs that one holds that explain how things work in the world. Journalists forever are shaping their coverage to fit those narratives, and often they turn into just plain caricatures.

Perhaps the strongest narrative of all is informed by the belief that experts hold everything we need to know and that when there are emergencies we need experts to tell us what to do. As Ryan McMaken recently wrote, so-called progressive governance is what one would call a technocracy, a government by the Competent Ones:

Over the past several decades—and especially since the New Deal—official experts in government have gradually replaced elected representatives as the primary decision-makers in government. Public debate has been abandoned in favor of meetings among small handfuls of unelected technocrats. Politics has been replaced by “science,” whether social science or physical science. These powerful and largely unaccountable decision-makers are today most noticeable in federal courts, in “intelligence” agencies, at the Federal Reserve, and—long ignored until now—in government public health agencies.

One can see the endorsement such a regime clearly by visiting the editorial page of the New York Times, which is not only the standard bearer for progressive America, but also is called “the Newspaper of Record” and a media mecca for most American journalists, print and electronic. What the NYT chooses to put on its editorial and news pages matters, because whatever the paper’s leadership selects ultimately is what is covered by the rest of the mainstream media. Yes, there are independent journalists, and once in a while something from outside progressive political circles that the NYT would rather ignore becomes so public that the paper cannot ignore it. Not surprisingly, it is the NYT and like media outlets that have turned Anthony Fauci’s every word into fulfilled prophecy (even if what he said actually was not true), and if Fauci is cautious about allowing people to reopen their businesses and go back to work, then we should all remain self-quarantined.

But why Fauci? For that matter, why would the “Newspaper of Record” take Neil Ferguson seriously when none of his vaunted models have been even near-accurate? Why do mainstream journalists still believe that Paul Ehrlich is an authority on population?

There are two reasons. First—and this is standard for any news outlet—bad news and especially sensational bad news always will get the headlines as long as it fits within the narratives of that particular outlet’s leaders. For example, the NYT and mainstream media reported every sensational accusation of sexual assault against Supreme Court then nominee Brett Kavanagh, because it fit the liberal left’s narrative that Republicans don’t care about women being sexually assaulted.

Likewise, when Tara Reade recently said that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993, Fox News reported it in part because its reporters live by the narrative that Democrats are hypocrites. (True to form, the NYT refused to report on the accusations for nearly three weeks, giving fuel to the conservatives’ beliefs about that paper.)

Second, although bad news sells, how journalists define bad news is even more important. Most journalists fall into the category of being progressives and have worldviews in line with such an ideology. As noted earlier, progressives are far more likely to defer to so-called experts, and experts have found that people are far more likely to listen to them when they predict doom than when they say all is (nearly) well. For most of their formal education, journalists have been taught that we are running out of resources, that overpopulation of the planet is a dire threat, and that environmental catastrophe (this time with climate change) is always around the corner. Most journalists I know have not even developed the intellectual capacity to believe otherwise, even when time and again the dire predictions that they have come to religiously believe don’t actually occur. Thus, in 1989, the New York Times editorialized that acid rain was destroying the forests of New York State even when extensive scientific research at that same time demonstrated otherwise. The editors had come to believe that the environmentalist narrative was true and were not about to be confused by facts, even if legitimate scientific inquiry pointed in another direction.

Something like the COVID-19 saga fits into nearly every narrative from progressive journalists that one can imagine.

First, it is easy to blame Donald Trump given that it seems that journalists employed by the NYT, CNN, and other media outlets have made it their collective mission in life to have him ousted from the White House—and Trump’s “leadership style” in something like a pandemic makes him an easy target.

Second, given that progressives are more likely to believe in all things apocalyptic when it comes to the environment and health issues, they are less likely to be skeptical when the Neil Fergusons of the scientific world predict millions of deaths.

Third, because of their reflexive belief that experts have all of the answers, they are more likely to frame the story as one of the experts versus the uneducated (who want to go back to work or open their shuttered businesses). Anyone who contradicts such wisdom is treated as an ignorant pariah, even if that person is a scientist with an elite background in higher education.

Last, journalists can clearly see that politicians are much more likely to act on what seems to be certain catastrophe, and in return journalists heap praise on those politicians that take the most extreme measures. Take Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, for example. Despite the fact that Cuomo ordered nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients—despite the vulnerability of elderly people to the coronavirus—with his directive leading to numerous deaths, the media coverage is largely positive precisely because he is seen as “doing something.”

Conversely, South Dakota governor Kristi Noem has received scathing national news coverage, because she refused to force businesses and individuals to lock down and “shelter in place.” Much of the coverage insinuated that the death toll there was likely to skyrocket as a result, yet at this date South Dakota has suffered thirty-four COVID-19 deaths, hardly a hot spot.

It would be nice if we could count on the mainstream news outlets to give reliable news on the coronavirus, but that will remain unlikely. Most journalists are wedded to the progressive narratives, and even if for a moment they are swatted by a reasonable interpretation of the facts at hand, they quickly recover and go on preaching doom and more doom.

Be seeing you

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Government Won’t Save Us From “Woke” Corporations | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on September 7, 2019

Many of those who avail themselves of Zuckerberg’s invention hold the same political and cultural beliefs… Perhaps most users of these internet conveniences welcome P.C. intolerance.

https://mises.org/wire/government-wont-save-us-woke-corporations

From the shoes you wear to the ice cream you eat, politics has found a way to sneak into some of the most mundane aspects of our lives. The new trend of “Woke Capital,” where firms are actively promoting social justice causes, has had many free-marketers scratching their heads at how corporate America has hopped on board this wave of Progressivism.

Take for example the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s. Ben & Jerry’s has made it a point to virtue signal about the latest leftist hobby horses. It made sure to showcase its progressive credentials through its launch of a resistance-themed ice cream flavor and even went as far as to endorse the Green New Deal.

Woke Capital was also on full display when Nike decided to pull its Betsy Ross flag line of shoes thanks to pressure from former NFL player Colin Kaepernick. Now an activist, Kaepernick viewed the Betsy Ross flag as an image of racism due to its creation during the American Revolution when slavery was still present.

A similar trend of political activism gone corporate has popped up when dealing with wedge issues such as gun rights. Companies such as Salesforce recently stopped doing business with organizations that sell semi-automatic rifles and firearms accessories. This decision is part of a larger wave off corporate gun control taking place since the 2018 Parkland shooting.

Corporations are Following in the State’s Footsteps

The threat of state action has hamstrung many forms of private associations and has seeped into the culture as well. The “therapeutic managerial state” we see today functions as a public-private partnership where political correctness culture is pushed as a means of re-socializing the public. Corporate actors are now well aware of this and work to one-up their PC overlords in the entrenched DC bureaucracy by trying to be “woke” in the boardroom.

Big Tech is a great example. Last year’s social media purges of political personalities such as Alex Jones demonstrated this new form of corporate policing. However, the blunt force of the state still lurked in the background as the late Justin Raimondo previously noted during the Jones deplatforming saga:

All this wasn’t good enough for Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), who demanded to know if the plan was to only take down “one web site.” No doubt he has a whole list of sites he’d like to take down. Even more ominously, it was revealed that a direct threat had been made to these companies by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), who sent out a memo listing all the ways the government could crack down on Big Data if they refuse to go along with cleansing the internet of “divisive” material.

Even though no direct legislative action came out of Senator Murphy’s threats, many companies are well aware of the state’s power to modify private behavior. The administrative state’s willingness to put the clamps on allegedly discriminatory activities is well-documented. So, these companies have every incentive to be on their best behavior, and in some cases go the extra mile by being “woke” to avoid bureaucratic persecution.

Changing Corporate Culture?

It is intriguing that there hasn’t been much pushback against corporate virtue signaling from consumers. This indicates some degree of cultural tolerance from a large portion of the population. Just think about it, when’s the last time a mass conservative boycott of a company enacting “woke” policies led to its bankruptcy?

Bill Anderson’s point about how “the fundamentals of private property, prices, and profits and losses” cannot be ignored in any business operation is valid, but it overlooks one trend that has taken place during the last few decades — how much the American consumer base has been re-socialized by the managerial state and its many indoctrination mechanisms.

Paul Gottfried makes an interesting observation about both corporate titans and consumers in the twenty-first century when it relates to deplatforming:

Many of those who avail themselves of Zuckerberg’s invention hold the same political and cultural beliefs. I’m not even sure that the decisions made by Facebook and Google here and in Western Europe to kick political conservatives off their sites is a bad business practice. Perhaps most users of these internet conveniences welcome P.C. intolerance.

Gottfried also explains how entrepreneurs during the Gilded Age like Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, and Andrew Carnegie generally held more traditional views and “were devout Protestants, and they lived in societies in which both rich and poor were expected to conform to certain bourgeois proprieties that hardly exist anymore.” In sum, there is not enough collective opposition to match the “woke” Corporate America of the twenty-first century nor the activist groups constantly pressing for more diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace.

What we see now is both corporate leadership that is either culturally receptive to social justice culture and a more apathetic consumer base that does not care about the politics of these companies enough to actually revolt against them via the pocketbook.

Some rightwing politicians have suggested additional government regulation in retaliation against these firms. But for those more inclined toward laissez-faire, consumer action and robust civil society are more important than ever. Instead of exclusively focusing on elections, free-marketers should shift their energy toward business and cultural endeavors. In these areas, there are more level playing fields. The silver lining of this new Woke Capital trend is that these kinds of battles will incentivize free-market advocates to put more skin in the game and actually build viable alternatives to current corporate structures.

For example, Amazon shareholders nixed several employee-led proposals which included a plan to tackle climate change. Similarly, Google shareholders rejected a plan to link executive compensation to diversity goals. Through shareholder pressure, those of free-market inclinations can make their voices heard. More boardroom, less ballot box.

The last thing we should do in these situations is to bring the government in to “normalize” business conduct. If anything, the last century has demonstrated that government stepping into private affairs has thrown everything out of whack. As American society becomes more polarized and the government maintains its automated growth, alternative strategies that promote political decentralization are crucial.

 

Be seeing you

Should the New York Times sack Sarah Jeong over her racist ...

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Social Justice Warriors – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 16, 2019

If you think that the “tax the rich”rhetoric from the left-wing of the Democratic Party is primarily about economics you would be sadly mistaken.

Indeed, the long-run objective of the new socialists and the gang of social justice warriors (SJW) is to gradually delegitimize the very foundations of modern capitalism by obliterating conventional notions of property rights, fairness and justice.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/02/dom-armentano/the-social-justice-warriors-its-not-just-about-economics/

By

If you think that the “tax the rich”rhetoric from the left-wing of the Democratic Party is primarily about economics you would be sadly mistaken. After all, there isn’t enough tax revenue in the highest income bracket, even with a 90% marginal rate, to fund anyone’s pet social program for more than 48 hours. Do progressives know this? Of course they do…

No, the current wave of extreme progressivism has a far more nefarious goal than simply higher taxes on the super-rich or carbon taxes to scrub down the environment.  Indeed, the long-run objective of the new socialists and the gang of social justice warriors (SJW) is to gradually delegitimize the very foundations of modern capitalism by obliterating conventional notions of property rights, fairness and justice.  If this sounds far-fetched you have not really been paying attention.

It is often assumed that capitalism is founded rock solid on economics.  Not necessarily.  Strictly speaking, economic considerations, though important, are secondary.  Instead,  it’s the relatively unique system of individual property rights that primarily legitimizes all capitalist institutions.

Take, for example, the most obvious and essential capitalist institution:  the private stock corporation.   It is solidly rooted in the notion that individuals have rights; that these rights include the right to incorporate;  the right to instruct managers of corporations to maximize profits; and the right of owners to sell their shares.  These individual rights (entitlements) are the “moral” foundation for the existence and operation of all modern business organizations.

This particular theory of property rights was made explicit in the 18th and 19th centuries by philosophers such as Adam Smith, John Locke and John Stuart Mill.  It holds generally that it is morally appropriate for individuals to own property including, of course, their own labor; to exclusively determine its use; and to enjoy the benefits (income or otherwise) earned from production or exchange.  Adam Smith, who taught “moral philosophy” (not economics) at Glasgow University in Scotland termed these rights “natural” and once famously observed that free markets and voluntary exchange were morally appropriate because they were “consistent with liberty and justice. ”

Modern progressives and socialists reject this classical approach to rights theory.  They hold, instead, that rights to property (and capitalist institutions such as the corporation) are arbitrary constructs of an elite and conservative legal system; that there is nothing “natural” or legitimate about them; and that, therefore, they have no special moral status. But if they have no special moral status, then neither does the income and privileges that these “rights” currently generate for owners. Indeed, government may now alter these arbitrary property arrangements and redistribute income and privileges to, say, anyone in the name of fairness and social justice…

Be seeing you

PluginWallet

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »