Sunday, March 29, 2015

Discouragement of Debate

As appeared in the Wall Street Journal on March 27th, The Campus Climate Crusade, by Kimberly Strassel, colleges are actively suppressing speech that does not hold with their views – climate is but one example.  Strassel reports that a “collation of liberal organizations have been using “disclosure” to sully the names of conservative professors and to try to shut down their programs.” 

Strassel continues to highlight the liberal American Association of University Professors, Kansas Chapter, demanded the records of Art Hall who runs the Center for Applied Economics at the University of Kansas School of Business.  Hall filed a law suit to stop students from demanding Hall turn over his personal emails over the past 10 years.  Why target Hall?  Apparently because he received a grant from the conservative Fred and Mary Koch Foundation and that Hall testified against green energy quotas.  The irony here is that the AAUP defended climate change proponent, Michael Mann, against a conservative group’s demand for his records.

The concept of a university as a bastion of free thought and debate, where the learned and learning can intellectually experiment has largely faded into institutions that force a political line of thought.  Today, students are told “truths” that are absolute and any deviation from the accepted thought is intolerable. 

As we write in Vigilance The Price of Liberty, Herbert Marcuse was a political theorist and he was considered a Father of the “New Left” that originated in the campus protests in the 1960s. His essay Repressive Tolerance, argues that tolerance does not apply to right-wing political movements and writes of his term “liberating tolerance”:

Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left [emphasis added]. . .

They would include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc.

If schools and other government institutions cannot program the thought Marcuse deems acceptable, then he demands that the rights of freedom of speech and assembly, protected by the First Amendment, be withdrawn for those thinkers that contradict his social policies.

Democracy demands tolerance of ALL thought, for if some thought can be banned then all thought can be banned.  When debate is reduced to name calling of “science denier”, “raciest” or “sexist” then there is no debate.  The foundation of freedom is freedom of speech, even speech that for some may be reprehensible.  If there is a position noble and worthy then it can and must be intellectually defended.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Freedom . . . The Greatest Weapon of Mass Prosperity

The greatest weapon on the planet is freedom.  Freedom of an individual to choose his future without being coerced.  This freedom has, for over 200 years, been expressed and embodied in the American Dream that produced a nation with the greatest prosperity in all of history.  This freedom has led to the liberation of the conquered and lifted the economic and social structure of the entire world. 

America is exceptional because it has sought to unleash the capability of every American.  Its revolution of independence was not about land or food, it was about freedom from burdensome taxation and regulation so that a man could work as hard as he sought fit and retain the earnings from his labor. 

To secure the God given right of liberty, our founders created the greatest political experiment ever undertaken.  In America the national government would be limited and the people would enact legislation through representatives of their choice.  A republican-style government was formed with a set of checks and balances on power so that one man or group of men could not consolidate power and rule despotically.

WE must be vigilant against the devices of men and government which, as history has demonstrated seeks absolute power.  The Constitution has been the bulwark of the separation of power but it has been under assault for the past 80 years to which the limits of government power have been terribly broken.  We now face a government who claims authority over the climate, individual income, healthcare and now the Internet.  All in the name of “protecting” the people.  Dictators do not start with gulags…they start softly to take care of us.   As power becomes consolidated it turns from being benevolent to malevolent.  Freedom falls and with it so does prosperity.

WE must be vigilant to secure the blessings of liberty.  George Washington said “The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”  

Sunday, March 22, 2015


The book Vigilance: The Price of Liberty was launched by the thought that “Government has become too large to sustain and too opaque to be accountable, which diminishes its ability to do the public good.”  As government has grown in size and complexity, politicians have become comfortable to conceal their actions from the public and, therefore, become less and less accountable.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a recent press conference claimed that it was convenience that lead her to establish an email server separate and apart from the government to conduct all her official business when Secretary of State.  We are asked to believe that the inconvenience of carrying two cell phones was more than she could bear.  We are asked to believe that establishing a separate server and infrastructure of an email account was easier to create than simply adding another email address to her smart phone.  We are asked to ignore and disregard an earlier interview where she professed to routinely carrying two phones.

The issue here is not convenience but concealment.  The answer – and the only answer – Mrs. Clinton established a separate email server is to conceal from the public those activities she did not want to be held into account.  Imagine if you set-up a separate email account to conduct all your communications at work how that would go over – it would not.  You use your private email to conduct private activities, like looking for a new job.

Even if we disregard concealment as an anathema to public service and accept Mrs. Clinton at her word that her action was done for the purpose of convenience, then she must be disqualified from service by the mere fact that she does not understand the fundamentals of a Democratic Republic.  This form of government requires time and deliberation.  It is difficult, inefficient and – inconvenient. 

If a politician is actively concealing or is under the impression that business done as a public official can be hidden for convenience-sake, then that politician is disqualified and not fit for public office.

Convenience in public office by any other name is concealment.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A New Type of Political Discussion

Political discussions of today’s youth, when they occur, are largely populated with social issues such as gay rights, women’s rights and socialized healthcare.  Rare, is the conversation of foreign or financial affairs.  However, even rarer is a competent conversation based on securing fact and reasoned debate.  We stand at the tipping-point of the American Dream and their failure to understand the relation between government and liberty will lead to the overthrow of prosperity and freedom.
The younger generation too often constructs its conversations based on opinion and personal beliefs.  Face, constitutional basis and projected outcomes are of little concern.  If quantitative analysis does not reenter political debate we will be left without effective change in policy.  Personal beliefs and social issues are part of political conversations concerning the well-being of the nation, but everything in moderation and balance.

So let the conversation continue, but let fact, not feeling, dominate the debate.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Broadcast Media Is Bias – But is it Poisonous?

Most people would agree that the major television networks of ABC, NBC and CBS are bias.  But do they know what the bias is and do they consider it poisonous to informed political debate?  Some would respond the bias as liberal and others that there is bias but could not place a political label. In our book, Vigilance The Price of Liberty, we discuss media bias and refer to Bernard Goldberg, a former CBS newsman, who wrote the book, Bias, which describes the broadcast news media as generally tilted toward Democratic candidates and a liberal agenda. As we cover in Vigilance, “Goldberg raised the specter that when political bias filters into journalism, the public is not being fairly served. For example, his book describes that during the term of Republican President George H. W. Bush homelessness was widely covered, but with the election of Democratic challenger Bill Clinton, the coverage of homelessness essentially stopped. As Goldberg says, homelessness was “cured” upon the inauguration of Clinton.”

But even if the major TV networks are bias, is their coverage damaging to political discussion?  No, for those that are vigilant.  But the vigilant are few and for the rest the story becomes the propaganda of political partisans.  All media outlets control their agenda as to what they will cover and how they cover it.  But far too many people assume the coverage is fair and complete – and it is not. 

Our conclusion is that, for the vigilant the media is bias but not poisonous, and for those that are not vigilant the major TV networks are both bias and poisonous to political debate.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

If It Isn't Broken...Regulate It

Ronald Reagan famously said that government’s view of the economy can be encapsulated as “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”  The FCC has now taken the reins to regulate the Internet – that thing that moves – without authorization from Congress.  Brow-beaten by President Obama, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, says the government needs to intervene for the benefit of the public.  So we can look forward to the Internet finally achieving its potential to operate at the heights of the U.S. Post Office, Amtrak, VA Hospitals and through that most modern statute, the telecommunications act of 1934 – are they kidding?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Change in Perception

Can a generation truly yearn for liberty when it has not experienced it?  Just from the prior generation to that of today’s youth, the perception of liberty has changed.  The older generation views liberty as the individual freedom to choice.  While today’s youth sees liberty as freedom from necessity; i.e. youth wants healthcare, food, education (including college) and a job provided by the government if they are unwilling or unable to do so themselves.  It is this dependency on government vs. one’s ability that is the death and difference of liberty as compared to past generations.

In the test of life, liberty provides each individual with questions that they may answer however they choose.  But today, we have let government administer the test and change the format – answers are now a multiple choice from limited options preselected by the government.  The genesis of this transformation has been our collective lack of vigilance that has enabled the government to interpose itself in all matters of our lives.  Without a check by the people on the power of government, its influence spreads and eventually will consume our liberty until all want of necessity is gone – and so too the American Dream to choose one’s tomorrow.