How Martin Luther has shaped Germany for half a millennium
The 500th anniversary of the 95 theses finds a country as moralistic as ever
The Economist | Print edition | Europe | Jan 7th 2017
SET foot in Germany this year and you are likely to encounter the jowly, dour portrait of Martin Luther. With more than 1,000 events in 100 locations, the whole nation is celebrating the 500th anniversary of the monk issuing his 95 theses and (perhaps apocryphally) pinning them to the church door at Wittenberg. He set in motion a split in Christianity that would forever change not just Germany, but the world.
At home, Luther’s significance is no longer primarily theological. After generations of secularisation, not to mention decades of official atheism in the formerly communist east (which includes Wittenberg), Germans are not particularly religious. But the Reformation was not just about God. It shaped the German language, mentality and way of life. For centuries the country was riven by bloody confessional strife; today Protestants and Catholics are each about 30% of the population. But after German unification in the 19th century, Lutheranism won the culture wars. “Much of what used to be typically Protestant we today perceive as typically German,” says Christine Eichel, author of “Deutschland, Lutherland”, a book about Luther’s influence. (more…)
Bigotry in America
White guilt gave us a mock politics based on the pretense of moral authority.
The recent flurry of marches, demonstrations and even riots, along with the Democratic Party’s spiteful reaction to the Trump presidency, exposes what modern liberalism has become: a politics shrouded in pathos. Unlike the civil-rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, when protesters wore their Sunday best and carried themselves with heroic dignity, today’s liberal marches are marked by incoherence and downright lunacy—hats designed to evoke sexual organs, poems that scream in anger yet have no point to make, and a hysterical anti-Americanism.
All this suggests lostness, the end of something rather than the beginning. What is ending? (more…)
Sexism largely manifests itself in people acting rationally
By Cathy Reisenwitz
PATRIARCHY IS ACTUALLY A REALLY IMPORTANT CONCEPT FOR ANYONE INTERESTED IN ECONOMICS
Patriarchy describes the way ideas around gender, specifically performance and expectations inhibit economic, educational, and personal growth. In other words, patriarchy is the word for systemic sexism.
Okay, but sexism works both ways. Actually, it works many ways. Men, women, and genderqueer individuals all experience sexism. Male oppression, such as higher instances of suicide, gender discrimination in child custody cases, and overrepresentation in dangerous jobs, are results of sexism, specifically from gendered expectations. So why gender a term for systemic sexism?
Because patriarchy describes a system wherein it’s assumed that the average man has more power than the average woman.
Power is a big term. But for my purposes, I’m going to talk about power in terms of choices. The more capital you have, the more choices you have. The same is true of rights and opportunities. Until about the 1970s, men held significantly more power than women on average. . .
Why Did Men Hold More Power?
One reason men held more power until fairly recently is that men were more valuable in the market economy. In the 1800s, 80% of the US labor force worked on farms. In the 1960s, a quarter of the US labor force worked in manufacturing. Trade, transportation, and utilities also made up a good fifth of the workforce. These are jobs that reward physical strength and endurance, something men have more of than women, on average.
The Big Misconception
The biggest myth about patriarchy is that it’s a conspiracy wherein men have banded together to exclude and hurt women. In reality, no conspiracy is necessary. It makes more sense to assume that banks didn’t give women credit cards because most women didn’t earn the money they’d need to pay off their debts than because they hated women. . .
In a market economy wherein demand for the man’s labor is higher than for the woman, the couple that wants to be wealthier will task the woman with the bulk of the domestic duties.
That’s not a conspiracy. It’s individuals maximizing their personal advantage in the system they happen to inhabit. But when that system favors men, the result is patriarchy. . .
The US is moving from an economy where most people work in agriculture and manufacturing, to one in which most of the jobs are in information and services.
Women are, in many ways, better suited to these jobs than men are. Women are socialized to sit still and listen, making them better at school than men on average. They are taught to defer to others and to show empathy, making them better in service roles. Women have the comparative advantages that are highly valued in the new economy.
That’s part of why women’s labor force participation has risen dramatically at the same time manufacturing and agriculture have declined.
And this increase has had a positive impact on the economy.
While patriarchy might have made sense in the previous economy, it simply doesn’t in the new one.
Most people still marry, and most couples prefer for one partner to take on the bulk of the domestic responsibilities, as opposed to outsourcing all of those tasks or splitting them evenly.
In a market economy wherein demand for the woman’s labor is higher than for the man, the couple that wants to be wealthier will task the man with the bulk of the domestic duties.
That day is coming soon. Today, childless women in cities out earn their male counterparts. In many parts of the country, there is no gender pay gap for childless women. It’s estimated that by 2025, the average woman will out earn the average man. . .
Cathy Reisenwitz is a D.C.-based writer. She is Editor-in-Chief of Sex and the State and her writing has appeared in The Week, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, VICE Motherboard, Reason magazine, Talking Points Memo and other publications. Read her other articles
Read the entire article in FEE, the Foundation for Economic Education . . .
We are seeing the same economic effect in the practice of medicine. Now that women make up about one-third of the medical school graduating classes we are seeing sexism in their choosing of their specialty. Because of their socializing skill, showing more empathy, they may seem to be better suited in some specialties than others. These graduates seem to gravitate to specialties where such are better rewarded such as family practice, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology. In some of these specialties women are already earning more than men.
When professional women marry nonskilled men, we may be seeing a matriarchy already. I have a female colleague whose husband does all of the domestic duties, chores, and manages the home. They have five children and he is also fulling the functions which sometimes are referred to as “husband” mom. He does the grocery shopping, makes most of the meals, sees the children off to school, takes them to their music lessons, to their soccer practice, and takes them to buy their school supplies and clothes. The wife works the usual professional 60 hour week including the occasional evenings or weekends “on call.”
On the other hand we may still see evidence of patriarchy in terms of physical demand and endurance. I personally know a young lady who wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and became an orthopedist. She completed the usual 4 years of college by age 22, 4 years of medical school by the usual age of 26, and then did her 6 years of orthopedics residency by age 32 working on call twice a week and every third weekend. She joined a very prestigious orthopedic group. The work did not become lighter. She took the same call as all the partners, every third night, and every third weekend. She was unable to vary or lighten the heavy work of the specialty and didn’t want favoritism shown to her because of her gender. She was essentially in a patriarchy.
She then observed that all of her girlfriends were having babies and becoming very involved in family life. She began to wonder how this would fit in with her practice and not ask for special favors because she was a woman. She then explored specialties where she could have more defined hours. She noted that none of the medical specialties or the surgical specialties or subspecialties of medicine and surgery could be turned off at 6 PM or weekends. She considered allergy, dermatology, psychiatry, and anesthesiology. As an orthopedist she had worked with anesthesiologist in the operating rooms of the hospitals where she did her surgery. She opted to take a four year anesthesia residency. She then joined an anesthesiology group. She now works three days a week and has a four day weekend to be a mother, manage her house and family. She felt this was more compatible with her desire to be a wife, mother, and raise a family and still be a doctor.
We are fortunate to be living in a time where we can utilize these comparative advantages that are highly valued in our new economy. It also appears that patriarchy or systemic sexism still exists. Since men and women are different, it will continue to exist—but in a more complementary fashion.
Trump May Herald a New Political Order
Seldom does a presidential election mark a permanent shift. The last time it happened was 1932.
By JOHN STEELE GORDON | The WSJ | Jan 15, 2017
For all their noise and news dominance, presidential elections typically don’t change the country all that much. That isn’t a bad thing but a sign of how strong American democracy is. It rarely veers far from the center, where successful policy usually lies. But on rare occasions, deep historical currents and extraordinary political talents produce an entirely new order. It happened in the presidential elections of 1828, 1860, 1896, 1932—and, quite probably, 2016.
Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice
By Wayne Grudem, Posted: Jul 28, 2016
I offer the following article, “Why Voting for Donald Trump Is a Morally Good Choice” by Wayne Grudem, without comment other than it is a perspective that ought to be considered in the 2016 presidential election and has not been adequately treated in the establishment press. It is well worth the read and can be found at www.LibertyUnderFire.org.
Liberty Articles | Sep 5, 2016
Some of my Christian friends tell me they can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump because, when faced with a choice between “the lesser of two evils,” the morally right thing is to choose neither one. They recommend voting for a third-party or write-in candidate.
As a professor who has taught Christian ethics for 39 years, I think their analysis is incorrect. Now that Trump has won the GOP nomination, I think voting for Trump is a morally good choice.
American citizens need patience with each other in this difficult political season. Close friends are inevitably going to make different decisions about the election. We still need to respect each other and thank God that we live in a democracy with freedom to differ about politics. And we need to keep talking with each other – because democracies function best when thoughtful citizens can calmly and patiently dialog about the reasons for their differences. This is my contribution to that discussion.
A good candidate with flaws
The Public Square by R. R. Reno, Editor
First Things: America’s Most Influential Journal Of Religion And Public Life
I can’t imagine a policy more irrelevant to the problems facing our society than bathroom privileges for transgender students. The bottom half of American society is collapsing. Voters are revolting against establishment candidates, casting doubt on the economic and cultural consensus that has predominated over the last generation. And the Obama administration presses for transgender rights? This is amazing, but not surprising given the history of post-sixties liberalism. (more…)
Donald Trump, Man Of Faith
The Back Page by Matthew Schmitz
Donald Trump is a man of faith. It’s true that during his presidential campaign he has demeaned women, mocked the disabled, and praised the abortionists of Planned Parenthood; that his early exploits include repeated adulterous affairs, about which he boasts, and a failed attempt to evict a widow from her home; that, unlike King David, to whom his more shameless supporters compare him, he has never asked God for forgiveness. Trump is nonetheless a man of strong and very American faith. His career throws a light on the spirit of the age, as Lytton Strachey once said of Cardinal Manning. The light is not very flattering.
Trump was baptized and confirmed at the First Presbyterian Church in Jamaica, Queens, in New York City. His parents raised him in the austerities typical of devout low-church Protestants. As a result, he does not gamble, smoke, or imbibe—even when the stimulant is caffeine. “I’ve never had a cigarette. I’ve never had a glass of alcohol. I won’t even drink a cup of coffee,” he told Esquire last year. (It is hard to forget when noting Trump’s abstemious habits that Hitler and Mussolini neither smoke nor drank.)
In his late twenties, Trump began attending Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue. Founded in 1628 in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, Marble Collegiate is one of the few institutions that survives from the city’s founding. Peter Minuit, the governor of New Amsterdam, was the first church elder, and Peter Stuyvesant, the colony’s director general, led worshipers to service every Sunday. The high steeple of its current home, erected in 1854, rises two hundred feet above the pavement, a symbol of uprightness set in stone. Here Trump walked down the aisle after exchanging vows with Ivana and heard the sermons of Norman Vincent Peale, a man whose philosophy would become Trump’s own.
When Trump met him, Peale was already famous as the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, a book that would go on to sell some five million copies. Peale occupied a position at the center of the establishment, though this standing was endangered in 1960, when he joined a group of 150 Protestant pastors, including Billy Graham, that wanted to keep Kennedy out of the White House. The group issued a manifesto asking whether a Catholic could be trusted as president when Rome had shown such “determined efforts . . . to breach the wall of separation of church and state.” Peale led the public presentation of the document and faced an immediate backlash from Union Theological Seminary’s Reinhold Niebuhr and John Bennett, who accused him of “blind prejudice.” The embarrassed Peale apologized and from then on sought to distance his teaching from the harsh realities of politics.
Before Trump made his own foray into politics, he read Peale’s book and adopted its program of “positive thinking.” The two men began to trade public compliments. Peale, always generous in his assessments of human nature, said that Trump had a “profound streak of honest humility.” Trump, not exactly showing that humble streak, said that Peale “thought I was his greatest student of all time.” In a certain sense, Trump was right. Peale has had no more perfect disciple.
Peale distilled the optimism and self-sufficiency of the American character into a simple creed. The first article of his faith was a warm patriotism. He called the U.S. “the greatest country in the world” and addressed his writing to “everyday people of this land” who “are my own kind whom I know and love and believe in with great faith.” These were the people he met in masonic halls, resort hotels, and cruise-ship conference rooms. In them he sensed innate decency and ability. Any one of them could become efficient and successful—if only he would believe in himself, harnessing the power of positive thinking.
Peale promised his readers “constant energy” if they thought positively. Optimistic thoughts opened one up to a vital force coming directly from God. Negative thoughts, especially a tendency to dwell on one’s faults, could interfere with the divine charge. He warned those with active consciences that “the quantity of vital force required to give the personality relief from either guilt or fear” was so great that it left “only a fraction of energy” for going about one’s tasks. Productivity and cheeriness became for him the signs of eternal election. (In attacking Jeb Bush for being “low-energy,” Trump effectively accused him of having forfeited the Holy Ghost.)
For Peale, “attitudes are more important than facts.” The man who displays “a confident and optimistic thought pattern can modify or overcome the fact altogether.” The first fact that Peale’s positive thinking had to overcome was the fact of human frailty. Peale knew about the difficulties some encounter in alcohol, in troubled marriages, and in economic hardship, but he never could accept the inevitability of misfortune or that all must pay the wages of sin. Like one of Job’s comforters, he told the suffering that they simply needed to look on the bright side. Where the Bible urges man to search his heart and know his faults, Peale encourages him to “make a true estimate of your own ability, then raise it ten percent.” For Jeremiah the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, but for Peale its dark recesses are bathed in California sunshine.
Thus the necessity of repentance recedes. It is important to think positively, and a negative thought, such as Domine, non sum dignus, can be injurious to spiritual health. Yet the gloomy aspect of traditional Christian practice is also the wellspring of Christian compassion. At the moment a Christian asks for forgiveness, he must acknowledge his own weakness and look mercifully on the weakness of others. In the Our Father, the Christian asks that he be forgiven, just as he in turn forgives. From the holy terror that Peale called “fear thoughts” comes the light of Christian love.
At a campaign event in Iowa, Trump shocked the audience by saying that he had never asked God for forgiveness. All his other disturbing statements—his attacks on every vulnerable group—are made intelligible by this one. The self-sufficient faith Trump absorbed from Peale has no place for human weakness. Human frailty, dependency, and sinfulness cannot be acknowledged; they must be overcome. This opens up the possibility of great cruelty toward those who cannot wish themselves into being winners. A man who need not ask forgiveness need never forgive others. He does not realize his own weakness, and so he mocks and reviles every sign of weakness in his fellow men.
Because Peale was a decent man of sincere if not quite orthodox Christian faith, he never drew out the harsh implications of his views. Trump feels no such restraint, and so has taken Peale’s teaching to its logical conclusion. . . .
Peale is now largely forgotten, and his bestseller languishes in used book stores. This is a shame, for it has led us to underestimate the influence and power of the self-sufficient faith that he promoted, and that he imparted to his greatest student. Peale meant to preach a gentle creed, one that made hellfire and terror into mere afterthoughts. In Trump it has curdled into pagan disdain. Both forms of this philosophy have captured the public imagination, and both stand at odds with the faith taught by Christ.
Christianity is a religion of losers. To the weak and humble, it offers a stripped and humiliated Lord. To those without reason for optimism, it holds up the cross as a sign of hope. To anyone who does not win at life, it promises that whoever loses his life for Christ’s sake shall find it. At its center stands a truth that we are prone to forget. There are people who cannot be made into winners, no matter how positive their thinking. They need something more paradoxical and cruciform. . .
Matthew Schmitz is literary editor of First Things.
Practice Fusion, #1 In EMR With 25M Electronic Medical Records, Debuts IPad App
With great power comes great responsibility, and in few places is that more true than the healthtech industry. Practice Fusion is the leading provider of electronic medical records, now helping 130,000 doctors to track records for 25 million patients, CEO Ryan Howard told me today. That’s over 3x the EMRs hosted by Kaiser Permanente or the VA. Practice Fusion is free for doctors and patients. It monetizes through a marketplace for labs, pharmacies, and drug companies who pay for preferred placement in front of doctors who direct a staggering $40 billion in spend a year through the platform. Its new iPad app, debuted today at Practice Fusion’s annual conference, will let these doctors access records while out of the office.
In addition to saving lives, the average doctor in California directs about $2.3 million a year in spend. Just imagine how much decision and recommendation power doctors have: “take this pill not that one”, “pick it up from this pharmacy”, “your test is being analyzed by this lab”. By next year, Howard tells me that figure will have grown well past the $60 billion a year spent through eBay. These medical service providers buy expensive banner ads in the Practice Fusion platform to ensure doctors choose them, and it’s making the company a lot of money.
Practice Fusion’s doctor and record uptake rate is growing exponentially. It counted 70,000 clients in April when it raised a $23 million series B, and by September when it took $6 million more in funding it had 100,000 health care providers on board. Now Practice Fusion is at 130,000, and with each new doctor comes roughly 2,000 new patients who can access their own medical records from anywhere. Doctors can begin using the product in minutes, and can pay to have all their existing paper records scanned in over a few days. Practice Fusion’s competitors can take 6 months or longer to get doctors set up.
Howard tells me “We’re effectively the Salesforce for doctors, and the Facebook for health.” He explains that through its APIs, Practice Fusion will become the hub for personal medical data from consumer devices and services such as FitBit and wireless weight scales. This includes 100Plus, the personalized health prediction platform Howard co-founded with funding from Peter Thiel and Founders Fund to let people see how healthy decisions can expand their lifespan. That hub could become another lucrative medical advertising magnet. More altruistically, Practice Fusion is working with Palantir and the CDC to power disease outbreak detection with its data.
At its core, though, Practice Fusion’s goal is to make medical record access instant and efficient. That’s why it debuted an iPad app for doctors on the go, designed by Cooper, the firm headed by Alan Cooper, the father of Visual Basic. It securely provides access to records so if a doctor gets an after-hours call about a patient, they have all their necessary medical data at hand so they can make informed decisions.
Prioritizing usability, doctors can see their day’s appointments and instantly dive into each patient’s chief complaint, allergies, problems, medications, family history, hospitalizations, and more. Doctors can record patient dictations of their symptoms, and combine their own assessment and treatment plan with pre-defined treatment plans for common ailments to minimize typing. They can also view lists of tasks, and receive push notifications of updates from their office . . .
It’s A Good Day For BABIES
Or so says Rep Bette Grande, who introduced the bills.
North Dakota has all but enacted what would be two of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. .
Even those in North Dakota who normally balk at government spending don’t seem concerned about spending money on a fight over the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
“We have a lot of important things to spend money on,” said Sen. Dwight Cook, a Republican from Mandan who chairs the Senate Finance and Taxation Committee and calls himself a fiscal conservative. “But I didn’t give any consideration to the cost (of abortion litigation).”
Lawmakers on Friday sent Gov. Jack Dalrymple two anti-abortion bills, one banning the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy and another prohibiting women from having the procedure based on the fetus’ gender or because it has a genetic defect, such as Down syndrome. Abortion-rights activists have vowed to fight the measures in court. The battle is likely to be closely-watched by abortion foes and supporters of legal abortion across the U.S.
Dalrymple hasn’t offered any hints as to where he stands on the abortion bills. . . “I think plenty of people in the party would love to push this to the Supreme Court and they would love to be the state that overturns Roe v. Wade,” said Mark Jendrysik, a University of North Dakota political science professor who expects Dalrymple to sign the abortion measures into law. . .
Cook, who has served in the Legislature for 17 years, said he expects Dalrymple to sign the legislation.
“He’s as pro-life as I am, and to what degree he looks at cost, I don’t know,” Cook said. “If I had to bet, I’d bet he signs them.”
North Dakota is one of several states with Republican-controlled Legislatures and GOP governors that is looking at abortion restrictions. Arkansas passed a 12-week ban earlier this month that prohibits most abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected using an abdominal ultrasound. . .
A fetal heartbeat can generally be detected earlier in a pregnancy using a vaginal ultrasound, but Arkansas lawmakers balked at requiring women seeking abortions to have the more invasive imaging technique. North Dakota’s measure doesn’t specify how a fetal heartbeat would be detected.
North Dakota is uniquely positioned to undertake an expensive legal fight. Fueled by the unprecedented oil bonanza in the western part of the state, North Dakota now leads the nation in population growth, boasts a nearly $2 billion budget surplus and has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. . .
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another person, and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide (such as manslaughter). As the loss of a human being inflicts enormous grief upon the individuals close to the victim, and the commission of a murder is highly detrimental to the good order within society, most societies both present and in antiquity have considered it a most serious crime worthy of the harshest of punishment. In most countries, a person convicted of murder is typically given a long prison sentence, possibly a life sentence where permitted, and in some countries, the death penalty may be imposed for such an act – though this practice is becoming less common. In most countries, there is no statute of limitations for murder (no time limit for prosecuting someone for murder). A person who commits murder is called a murderer.
States have adopted several different schemes for classifying murders by degree. The most common separates murder into two degrees, and treats voluntary and involuntary manslaughter as separate crimes that do not constitute murder.
· Second degree murder is a murder that is not premeditated or planned in advance.
· Third degree murder is a catch all for all other murders in some states.
· Voluntary manslaughter (often referred to as Third degree murder) sometimes called a “Heat of Passion” murder, is any intentional killing that involved no prior intent to kill, and which was committed under such circumstances that would “cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed.” Both this and second degree murder are committed on the spot, but the two differ in the magnitude of the circumstances surrounding the crime. For example, a bar fight that results in death would ordinarily constitute second degree murder. If that same bar fight stemmed from a discovery of infidelity, however, it may be mitigated to voluntary manslaughter.
· Involuntary manslaughter stems from a lack of intention to cause death but involving an intentional, or negligent, act leading to death. A drunk driving-related death is typically involuntary manslaughter. Note that the “unintentional” element here refers to the lack of intent to bring about the death. All three crimes above feature an intent to kill, whereas involuntary manslaughter is “unintentional,” because the killer did not intend for a death to result from their intentional actions. If there is a presence of intention it relates only to the intent to cause a violent act which brings about the death, but not an intention to bring about the death itself. 
· The Model Penal Code classifies homicides differently, without degrees. Under it, murder is any killing committed purposefully and knowingly, manslaughter is any killing committed as a result of recklessness, and negligent homicide is any killing resulting from negligence.
· Fetal Homicide in the United States
Under the common law, an assault on a pregnant woman resulting in a stillbirth was not considered murder; the child had to have breathed at least once to be a human being. Remedies were limited to criminal penalties for the assault on the mother and tort action for loss of the anticipated economic services of the lost child and/or for emotional pain and suffering. With the widespread adoption of laws against abortion, the assailant could be charged with that offense, but the penalty was often only a fine and a few days in jail.
· When the Supreme Court greatly reduced laws prohibiting abortions in Roe v. Wade (1973) those sanctions became harder to use. This meant that an assault which ensured that the baby never breathed would result in a lesser charge. Various states passed “fetal homicide” laws, making killing of an unborn child murder; the laws differ about the stage of development at which the child is protected.
· After several well-publicized cases, Congress passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which specifically criminalizes harming a fetus, with the same penalties as for a similar attack upon a person, when the attack would be a federal offense. Most such attacks fall under state laws; for instance, Scott Peterson was convicted of killing his unborn son as well as his wife under California’s pre-existing fetal homicide law.
The Ludwig Von Mises Institute
A Special Message from Lew Rockwell
April 15th is a horrible day, because it sums up all the wealth destruction called taxation that we are subjected to all year long.
As Murray Rothbard pointed out, taxation is the worst method of looting us. Inflation is destructive, of course, and it might make a loaf of bread cost $10. But at least you get a loaf of bread. With taxation, you get nothing—except theft and other violations of our civil liberties.
Society, as Mises noted, is divided into two competing classes by interventionist government: the taxpayers and the tax consumers. If you are a payer, you are automatically demonized as greedy. On the other hand, those who want the fruits of your labor involuntarily transferred to themselves and their favored pressure groups are the compassionate.
At the Mises Institute, we have a different view. You have a right to what you earn, and those who use the threat and reality of government violence to take it from you are muggers in expensive suits. As Murray said, the State is just a Gang of Thieves writ large.
The politicians blab about spending cuts, but it is all lying propaganda. They plan to increase spending, but use the specter of alleged spending cuts as another excuse to pick your pocket with more taxes. (Spending cuts? Please throw us in that briar patch, Br’er Government.)
Then there are the attacks on tax “loopholes,” when you are allowed to keep some of your own money. As Mises said, it is through these loopholes that capitalism breathes.
But centuries of pro-tax indoctrination has had its effect. Eighty percent of people, according to a Pew study, think it’s immoral to “underreport” one’s income. It’s as if the politicians own us, but generously let us keep some of our own earnings.
That Pew survey does provide one ray of hope: more and more young people dissent from the morality of coercive taxation. We saw the anti-tax passion of the Ron Paul movement, and we see it at the Mises Institute.
It’s true, more and more young people reject the notion of taxation. They want lower taxes. Most of all, they want no taxes. They think they should be able to keep their own earnings.
With our publications, classes, website, and conferences, we are reaching these young people about taxes and the rest of government.
The young don’t want to be sheared. And they are looking for the freedom answers, for example that private property should be inviolate, for moral and economic reasons. They understand, as did 16th-century economist Juan de Mariana, that the only free country is one where no one is afraid of the tax collector.
The Mises Institute is rallying the young to our ideas on taxes and everything else. Please help us, in the shadow of April 15th, continue to do so, and to step it up.
PS: Needless to say, the Mises Institute does not accept one zinc penny of government funding. We depend on generous supporters like you to make our ideas widely available. Won’t you help?
There Oughta Be A Law
by Adam Allouba
|You may not hear that precise expression every day, but you recognize the sentiment. It’s one that you probably feel yourself now and then: The government should do something to fix some problem or another. It may be something gravely serious or nothing more than a minor nuisance; it may be something that oughta be mandatory or oughta be illegal. But whatever it is, it needs to change and using the law is the way to change it.
“There oughta be a law” is not something you’re likely to hear coming out of the mouth of a libertarian, however, except as sarcasm. Most libertarians believe that government legislation leads to bad outcomes for all kinds of reasons, from warped incentives to unintended consequences. More fundamentally, libertarians are against government legislation because we believe that it is inherently wrong to initiate coercion against other human beings. Now, that is a decidedly minority view; most people believe the state should adopt rules that govern our conduct in order to (presumably) make the world a better place. So why the disagreement on such a basic question?
In my view, the reason that non-libertarians are so comfortable with government action is that they have not thought through what exactly it means to say, “There oughta be a law.” Of course, they know that it means that something should be mandatory or illegal—but they haven’t taken a step back to think about what exactly that means in practice.
So what does it mean to assert that government should do something? Let’s start at the beginning. The textbook definition of the state is an entity with a monopoly on the legitimate use of force (within its borders). It’s vital to understand that this is not some eccentric libertarian viewpoint—any introductory political science textbook will tell you the same thing. In practice, that means that if you violate the state’s rules, you get punished through force. Drive too fast? Get fined. Flunk a health inspection? Get shut down. Sell drugs? Get arrested.
Wait a minute, you might say. I see how being thrown in jail for selling drugs is using force, but shutting down a restaurant? That doesn’t seem like force. And a speeding ticket? Getting pulled over is inconvenient and no one likes paying up, but where’s the force there? In fact, having your property seized or your business shut down is a use of force. This can be made clear by thinking about what happens to people who don’t comply.
Imagine a simple scenario: You’re a business owner who buys and sells second-hand goods. One day someone enters your store with an old baby walker that’s been sitting in their basement for the past decade. Figuring someone might be interested, you take it off their hands. Unbeknownst to either of you, however, that walker has been banned since last it was used. And because it’s your unlucky day, later that afternoon, in walks an employee of Health Canada’s product safety division. “That’s illegal!” he says, pointing to the offending device. Thinking he should mind his own business, you ignore him and, when he insists, politely ask him to leave. Unfortunately for you, our hypothetical do-gooder is fully seized of his mission to protect the public. The next day, he informs his supervisor of your contraband. When the inspector comes through the door, you tell him that your mother used a walker with you, you used one with your kids, that he’s out of his mind and that he has until the count of 10 to get out before you get him out. Undeterred, our friend returns—this time, with police backup. At this point, your choice becomes clear: Either let the man onto your property to carry out his task, or risk finding yourself staring down the barrel of a gun. Kicking out a man with a clipboard is one thing, but trying to kick out a police officer is liable to get you shot dead.
To read the entire opinion, go to http://www.quebecoislibre.org/14/140115-10.html
America’s Privileged Class
We’re No. 1 — In Public Employee Pay
Andrew G. Biggs National Review, August 12, 2013
Pay for state and local government employees has gotten a great deal of publicity. Lost in the press attention, however, is that federal employee compensation remains a problem, too, and new data again indicate that Washington, D.C., may be overpaying for the 2 million workers it employs, says Andrew G. Biggs, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.
In a 2011 paper with Jason Richwine, Biggs concluded that federal workers receive salaries and benefits around 37 percent higher than do private sector workers with similar levels of education and experience. A study by the Congressional Budget Office, using slightly different methods, showed a smaller wage premium for federal workers, but still reached a qualitatively similar conclusion: Federal workers receive pay and benefits 16 percent above private-sector levels.
Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) allows Biggs to compare how U.S. federal government employees are paid relative to central government employees in 18 other countries.
The OECD analyzed the salaries, benefits and paid leave for government employees; the combined value of these three categories equals total compensation. The OECD looked at four main categories of public employees:
- Senior management.
- Middle management.
- Professionals. The OECD examined two specific professional positions, statisticians and economists/policy analysts.
- Secretarial staff. This category is made up of two groups, senior/executive secretaries and office secretaries/general office clerks.
The key factor is benefits:
- U.S. federal employees don’t merely receive more generous benefits than do private-sector workers; they receive much more generous benefits than do public employees in most other developed countries.
- The OECD data show that U.S. federal employees’ total benefits add up to 37 percent of their wages, compared with 16 percent for central government employees in Australia, 25 percent in the Netherlands and Belgium, 27 percent in Great Britain, and 23 percent across the OECD as a whole.
Source: Andrew G. Biggs, “We’re No. 1 — In Public-Employee Pay,” National Review, August 12, 2013.
Was the White House involved in the IRS’s targeting of conservatives? No investigation needed to answer that one. Of course it was.
President Obama and Co. are in full deniability mode, noting that the IRS is an “independent” agency and that they knew nothing about its abuse. The media and Congress are sleuthing for some hint that Mr. Obama picked up the phone and sicced the tax dogs on his enemies.
But that’s not how things work in post-Watergate Washington. Mr. Obama didn’t need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he’d like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.
Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do. “He put a target on our backs, and he’s now going to blame the people who are shooting at us?” asks Idaho businessman and longtime Republican donor Frank VanderSloot.
Mr. VanderSloot is the Obama target who in 2011 made a sizable donation to a group supporting Mitt Romney. In April 2012, an Obama campaign website named and slurred eight Romney donors. It tarred Mr. VanderSloot as a “wealthy individual” with a “less-than-reputable record.” Other donors were described as having been “on the wrong side of the law.”
This was the Obama version of the phone call—put out to every government investigator (and liberal activist) in the land.
Twelve days later, a man working for a political opposition-research firm called an Idaho courthouse for Mr. VanderSloot’s divorce records. In June, the IRS informed Mr. VanderSloot and his wife of an audit of two years of their taxes. In July, the Department of Labor informed him of an audit of the guest workers on his Idaho cattle ranch. In September, the IRS informed him of a second audit, of one of his businesses. Mr. VanderSloot, who had never been audited before, was subject to three in the four months after Mr. Obama teed him up for such scrutiny.
The last of these audits was only concluded in recent weeks. Not one resulted in a fine or penalty. But Mr. VanderSloot has been waiting more than 20 months for a sizable refund and estimates his legal bills are $80,000. That figure doesn’t account for what the president’s vilification has done to his business and reputation.
The Obama call for scrutiny wasn’t a mistake; it was the president’s strategy—one pursued throughout 2012. The way to limit Romney money was to intimidate donors from giving. Donate, and the president would at best tie you to Big Oil or Wall Street, at worst put your name in bold, and flag you as “less than reputable” to everyone who worked for him: the IRS, the SEC, the Justice Department. The president didn’t need a telephone; he had a megaphone.
The same threat was made to conservative groups that might dare play in the election. As early as January 2010, Mr. Obama would, in his state of the union address, cast aspersions on the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, claiming that it “reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests” (read conservative groups).
The president derided “tea baggers.” Vice President Joe Biden compared them to “terrorists.” In more than a dozen speeches Mr. Obama raised the specter that these groups represented nefarious interests that were perverting elections. “Nobody knows who’s paying for these ads,” he warned. “We don’t know where this money is coming from,” he intoned. . .
The IRS is easy to demonize, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It got its heading from a president, and his party, who did in fact send it orders—openly, for the world to see. In his Tuesday press grilling, no question agitated White House Press Secretary Jay Carney more than the one that got to the heart of the matter: Given the president’s “animosity” toward Citizens United, might he have “appreciated or wanted the IRS to be looking and scrutinizing those . . .” Mr. Carney cut off the reporter with “That’s a preposterous assertion.”
Preposterous because, according to Mr. Obama, he is “outraged” and “angry” that the IRS looked into the very groups and individuals that he spent years claiming were shady, undemocratic, even law breaking. After all, he expects the IRS to “operate with absolute integrity.” Even when he does not.
A version of this article appeared May 17, 2013, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The IRS Scandal Started at the Top.
Life Lessons From Navy SEAL Training
Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, gave a commencement address . . . that graduates, and their parents, won’t soon forget.
The University of Texas slogan is “What starts here changes the world.”
I have to admit—I kinda like it.
“What starts here changes the world.”
Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT.
That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com, says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their lifetime.
That’s a lot of folks. But if every one of you changed the lives of just 10 people, and each one of those folks changed the lives of another 10 people—just 10—then in five generations, 125 years, the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.
Eight-hundred million people—think of it: over twice the population of the United States. Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—eight billion people.
If you think it’s hard to change the lives of 10 people, change their lives forever, you’re wrong.
I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the 10 soldiers with him are saved from close-in ambush.
In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a noncommissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500-pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.
But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn were also saved. And their children’s children were saved.
Generations were saved by one decision, by one person.
But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.
So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is: What will the world look like after you change it?
Well, I am confident that it will look much, much better, but if you will humor this old sailor for just a moment, I have a few suggestions that may help you on your way to a better a world.
And while these lessons were learned during my time in the military, I can assure you that it matters not whether you ever served a day in uniform. It matters not your gender, your ethnic or religious background, your orientation, or your social status. Our struggles in this world are similar and the lessons to overcome those struggles and to move forward—changing ourselves and the world around us—will apply equally to all.
I have been a Navy SEAL for 36 years. But it all began when I left UT for Basic SEAL training in Coronado, Calif.
Basic SEAL training is six months of long, torturous runs in the soft sand, midnight swims in the cold water off San Diego, obstacle courses, unending calisthenics, days without sleep and always being cold, wet and miserable.
It is six months of being constantly harassed by professionally trained warriors who seek to find the weak of mind and body and eliminate them from ever becoming a Navy SEAL.
But, the training also seeks to find those students who can lead in an environment of constant stress, chaos, failure and hardships. To me basic SEAL training was a lifetime of challenges crammed into six months.
So, here are lessons I learned from basic SEAL training that hopefully will be of value to you as you move forward in life.
1. Every morning in basic SEAL training, my instructors, who at the time were all Vietnam veterans, would show up in my barracks room and the first thing they would inspect was your bed. If you did it right, the corners would be square, the covers pulled tight, the pillow centered just under the headboard and the extra blanket folded neatly at the foot of the rack—that’s Navy talk for bed.
It was a simple task, mundane at best. But every morning we were required to make our bed to perfection. It seemed a little ridiculous at the time, particularly in light of the fact that we’re aspiring to be real warriors, tough battle hardened SEALs, but the wisdom of this simple act has been proven to me many times over.
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.
If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.
And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.
2. During SEAL training the students are broken down into boat crews. Each crew is seven students—three on each side of a small rubber boat and one coxswain to help guide the dingy. Every day, your boat crew forms up on the beach and is instructed to get through the surfzone and paddle several miles down the coast.
In the winter, the surf off San Diego can get to be 8 to 10 feet high and it is exceedingly difficult to paddle through the plunging surf unless everyone digs in. Every paddle must be synchronized to the stroke count of the coxswain. Everyone must exert equal effort or the boat will turn against the wave and be unceremoniously tossed back on the beach.
For the boat to make it to its destination, everyone must paddle.
You can’t change the world alone—you will need some help—and to truly get from your starting point to your destination takes friends, colleagues, the goodwill of strangers and a strong coxswain to guide them.
If you want to change the world, find someone to help you paddle.
3. Over a few weeks of difficult training my SEAL class, which started with 150 men, was down to just 42. There were now six boat crews of seven men each . . . Read more . . .
Life And Death In Russia
Russia’s human capital is in steep decline.
A 15-year-old boy there won’t even live as long as one in Afghanistan.
By Nicholas Eberstadt, WSJ
History is full of instances where a rising power, aggrieved and dissatisfied, acts aggressively to obtain new borders or other international concessions. In Russia today we see a much more unusual case: This increasingly menacing and ambitious geopolitical actor is a state in decline.
Notwithstanding Russia’s nuclear arsenal and its vast territories, the distinguishing feature of the country today is its striking economic underdevelopment and weakness. For all Russia’s oil and gas, the country’s international sales of goods and services last year only barely edged out Belgium’s—and were positively dwarfed by the Netherlands’. Remember, there has never been an “energy superpower”—anywhere, ever. In the modern era, the ultimate source of national wealth and power is not natural resources: It is human resources. And unfortunately for Russia, its human-resource situation is almost unrelievedly dismal—with worse likely in the years to come.
Let’s start with the “good” demographic news for Moscow: Russia’s post-Soviet population decline has halted. Thanks to immigration chiefly from the “near abroad” of former Soviet states, a rebound in births from their 1999 nadir and a drift downward of the death rate, Russia’s total population today is officially estimated to be nearly a million higher than five years ago. For the first time in the post-Soviet era, Russia saw more births than deaths last year.
Yet even this seemingly bright news isn’t as promising as it seems. First: Russia’s present modest surfeit of births over deaths comes entirely from historically Muslim areas like Chechnya and Dagestan, and from heavily tribal regions like the Tuva Republic. Take the North Caucasus Federal District out of the picture—Chechnya, Dagestan, etc.—and the rest of Russia today remains a net-mortality society.
Second: Despite its baby surge, which takes Russia’s fertility level from below the average to just above the average for the rest of Europe, the 1.7 births per Russian woman in 2012 was still 20% below replacement level. According to the most recent official Russian calculations, on current trajectories the country’s population, absent immigration, is still set to shrink by almost 20% from one generation to the next.
But while Russia’s childbearing patterns today look entirely European, its mortality patterns look Third World—and in some ways worse. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, life expectancy in 2012 for a 15-year-old male was three years lower in Russia than in Haiti. By WHO’s reckoning, a 15-year-old youth has worse survival chances today in Russia than in 33 of the 48 places the United Nations designates as “least developed countries,” including such impoverished locales as Mali, Yemen and even Afghanistan. Though health levels are distinctly better for women than men in Russia, even the life expectancy of 61 years for a 15-year-old Russian female in 2012 was an estimated three years lower than for her counterpart in Cambodia, another of the U.N.’s least-developed countries.
How is this possible in an urbanized and educated society? In least-developed countries, life is foreshortened by such killers as malnutrition and communicable “diseases of poverty” such as tuberculosis, malaria and cholera. Data from WHO in 2010 show that in Russia the major threats are cardiovascular disease (resulting in heart attacks, strokes and the like) and injuries (homicides, suicides, traffic fatalities, deadly accidents).
For decades, Russia’s death rates from cardiovascular disease have been higher than the highest levels ever recorded in any Western country. For Russian women in 2010, the rate was over five times higher than for Western European women. In 2008—the latest such global figures available from the World Health Organization—working-age Russian men had the worst cardiovascular-disease death levels in the world. . .
Russia’s “high education, low human capital” paradox also shows up in Russia’s extreme “knowledge production” deficit. Long-term economic progress depends on improving productivity through new knowledge—but this is something Russia appears mysteriously unable to do.
Patent awards and applications provide a crude but telling picture. Consider trends in international patent awards by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, the world economy’s most important national patent office. Of the 1.3 million overseas patents awarded since 2000, applicants from Russia have taken home about 3,200—a mere 0.2% of the overseas total. In this tally Russia is behind Austria and Norway, barely ahead of Ireland. The Russian Federation’s total annual awards from the Patent Office regularly lag behind the state of Alabama’s. . .
If all this were not bad enough for Moscow, Russia’s geopolitical potential is being squeezed further by the rapid world-wide growth of skilled manpower pools. According to the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, in 1990 Russia accounted for nearly 9% of the world’s working-age college graduates; that share is declining and by 2030 will have dropped to 3%. On this front, as on many others, Russia is simply being left behind by the rest of the world.
Despite Vladimir Putin‘s posturing, he is leading a country in serious decline. If his dangerous new brinkmanship is a response to that bad news, then we should expect more of it in the future, possibly much more.
Mr. Eberstadt is a political economist at the American Enterprise Institute. His books include “Russia’s Peacetime Demographic Crisis” (National Bureau of Asian Research, 2010).
Is Disability Contributing To Women’s Declining Employment?
Women’s labor force participation rate (LFPR) – the percentage of individuals employed or looking for work – reached an all-time high of 60 percent in 1999, but since then has steadily declined to 57.2 percent in 2012.
Men’s labor force participation has been dropping for decades, yet still remains higher than women’s. Some analysts note that an increasing number of married women have decided a career is not worth it and are opting to stay at home. Others point to the much lower participation rate of younger women (under age 24) than older women. Still others attribute the overall decline among both men and women to baby boomers entering retirement.
Though the labor force participation of women is now the lowest in more than 10 years, record numbers are receiving Social Security disability benefits. Could these two trends be related?
Disability Rolls for Women versus Men. Increases in disability rates were expected as the share of the workforce comprised of women grew and more women worked long enough to obtain the minimum three years of credits required to qualify for Social Security disability. In fact:
· In 1970, women comprised about 28 percent of workers receiving Social Security disability benefits.
· By 2000, when women’s labor force participation started falling, the portion of women receiving disability had increased to 43 percent.
· In 2012, almost half (48 percent) of the 8.8 million workers receiving benefits were women.
· By 2000, when women’s labor force participation started falling, the portion of women receiving disability had increased to 43 percent.
· In 2012, almost half (48 percent) of the 8.8 million workers receiving benefits were women.
The recent growth in female disability beneficiaries has been comparable to men’s. . .
Younger Women Are Receiving Disability. A growing trend is that an increasing number of younger women are receiving disability awards. From 2000 to 2012, men outnumbered women in benefits awarded overall. However:
· In six of the last 12 years, more women ages 35 to 39 were awarded benefits than men.
· In eight of the last 12 years, more women ages 30 to 34 were awarded benefits than men.
The majority of disability claims growth has been among men and women over the age of 50. But the growth of younger females beneficiaries is a concern. Most individuals receiving disability benefits do not work, though recipients can earn up to $770 a month without losing benefits. However, the chances of recipients ever leaving the disability program and returning to full-time work are less than 1 percent. For women in their 30s, this means their careers are short-lived.
The Leading Causes of Disability. In 2000, the leading cause of disability among male and female workers of all ages was musculoskeletal disease [see Figure I]. It remains the leading cause today. Musculoskeletal diseases are conditions that affect muscles, bones, ligaments and tendons. They include but are not limited to rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and fibromyalgia. Some musculoskeletal disorders are directly linked to work-related injuries. Consider [see the figure]:
· About 13.2 percent of women and 11 percent of men under age 35 awarded disability benefits were diagnosed with a musculoskeletal condition; in 2012, women under 35 still outpaced men in this category.
· For disability recipients ages 35 to 49, one-fourth of the women were diagnosed with a musculoskeletal condition in 2000 compared to one-third of the men; but the percentage of women with these disorders jumped to more than 30 percent by 2012.
· The largest increase in awards was in the 50 and older age group. Nearly 34 percent of women were diagnosed with musculoskeletal disorders in 2000 compared to 29.9 percent of men and, by 2012, the percentage of recipients of both sexes with these conditions had increased 10 percentage points.
In 2000, mental disorders (excluding mental retardation), were the second leading cause of disability for women and men, comprising 23.5 percent of awards. For women 50 and over, disability due to mental disorder diagnoses increased from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 14.2 percent in 2012, but fell about 3 percentage points for men.
The Affordable Care Act and Mental Health. A major requirement of Obamacare is to treat mental disorders on par with physical illnesses:
· Insurers can no longer cancel or deny coverage to individuals based on pre-existing mental or emotional disorders, such as depression.
· There are no lifetime limits on benefits for mental disorders or limits on the number of treatments. . .
If these trends continue, disability that prevents work may become a greater issue for young women than the social and economic factors that apparently inhibit their advancement in the work force.
Pamela Villarreal is a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.
Read the entire analysis at http://www.ncpa.org/pub/ba797
HIPAA – The Grand Deception
HIPAA does not protect health privacy
State Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) have been created to share your medical records statewide and in the National Health Information Network, now called eHealth Exchange.
2.2 million entities (600,000 health care providers and 1.5 million business associates) can access your private medical records without your consent.
The government has broad access to your medical records unless a stronger state law exists. HIPAA allows state laws to limit sharing and require consent.
Interoperable computerized medical records allow your data to be shared by health insurers, government officials, the data industry and others.
NOTE: Signing the HIPAA form does not provide you with any privacy or consent rights, but your signature could be used against you if you ever declare that your privacy rights have been violated. Clinics and hospitals could use your signature to argue that you knew your information could be shared.
Take action to protect your health privacy:
Refuse to sign HIPAA acknowledgment forms.
Ask your state lawmakers to pass legislation that protects you from HIPAA and protects your private medical records from being accessed by the government and others without your voluntary informed written consent.
* Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), the federal HIPAA Privacy Rule, and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH, 2009)
© Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom 2013 651-646-8935 www.cchfreedom.org
How Social Security Reform Could Benefit Workers
by Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier and Thomas R. Saving
NCPA |Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Congress is once again considering changes to Social Security in an attempt to “save” the program. Social Security benefit payments have exceeded tax revenues since 2010; the funding deficit is growing and, barring reform, will continue to grow indefinitely. Higher tax revenues are necessary to fund benefits as they are currently calculated.
When workers consider the retirement benefits they expect from Social Security they must also consider the taxes paid during their working years. Average-wage workers retiring today have paid more Social Security taxes than they will receive in retirement benefits, so their net benefits are negative. For future workers, who will have to pay higher taxes to finance the program’s growing expenditures, net benefits will dip even lower.
The system is financed on a pay-as-you-go basis where current tax payments are transferred to current retirees. Changing demographics have resulted in a reduction in the number of workers supporting each retiree and a corresponding need for higher tax rates. The Social Security system cannot escape the ongoing demographic shift, but its share of the economy can be reduced and workers can escape the higher taxes necessary to fund the current program if they are willing to take lower Social Security benefits when they retire.
Balancing Benefits and Taxes. How do current and future workers’ lifetime Social Security benefits and taxes compare under the current benefit structure, with the necessary tax increase to pay for those benefits, and an alternative that scales back benefits such that they can be paid in the long run at the current tax rate?
There is a way to provide a common ground to explore the exchange between accepting lower benefits or paying higher taxes. Retaining the current benefit structure will require an immediate and permanent increase in the Social Security payroll tax of 3.3 percent. In contrast, a long-run balanced budget for Social Security could also be achieved by retaining the current tax rate, but making two benefit reforms: gradually raising the retirement age for workers who become eligible for benefits in 2023 and after, and making the benefit formula less generous for higher earning workers through progressive price indexing. Both political parties have proposed reforms with these attributes.
Comparing the Current Program to a Reformed Social Security. Our estimate illustrates that both the current program with the taxes necessary to close its financing gap (the baseline) and the reformed program produce comparable net results for workers across birth years and across income classes. [See the table.] For example,
· With the baseline program, average-earning men born in 1985 will have to pay 13.5 percent of their lifetime income in taxes and receive benefits equal to 9.6 percent of their income, resulting in a lifetime net tax of 3.8 percent (13.5 – 9.6).
· However, the same workers in the reformed program would pay a lower tax rate of 10.2 percent to receive reformed benefits of 8.2 percent, resulting in a lower net lifetime tax of 2.0 percent (10.2 – 8.2).
For very low-earning men, the reforms retain the current program’s progressivity. Specifically:
· In the baseline program, a very low-earning man born in 1985 will pay taxes equal to 13.5 percent of his lifetime income and receive benefits equal to 15.8 percent of income, resulting in positive net lifetime benefits equal to 2.4 percent of his lifetime earnings.
· In the reformed program, this worker would pay a lower tax rate of 10.2 percent of his income to receive reformed benefits of 14.5 percent, producing net lifetime benefits equal to 4.3 percent of his lifetime earnings.
The reformed and baseline programs produce similar lifetime progressivity due to the combination of policies necessary for each to achieve solvency. Under the reformed program, the gradual rise in the retirement age affects all workers regardless of income. However, most of the reform’s savings come through reduced benefits for higher earning workers.
In contrast, the baseline program retains the current benefit formula, but requires a substantial payroll tax increase to achieve solvency. For lower earning workers, these higher payroll taxes outweigh the lower benefits that are due to the higher retirement age component of the reformed program.
Why Reformed Social Security Is Preferable to the Baseline Program. Finally, if the baseline and reformed programs are comparable in terms of net lifetime tax rates within income classes and birth years, is there a reason to prefer one to the other? The current retirement benefit structure could be fully funded with higher taxes to close the $19.3 trillion shortfall (in present value). The funding gap could also be closed with the alternative. The reformed Old-Age and Survivors portion of the Social Security program would be about 25 percent smaller than projections under the program as currently structured (baseline). We suggest that the smaller reformed program is preferable, primarily for the following reasons:
· Given current debt levels along with ongoing and forecast budget challenges, reducing the size of the federal budget is critical in the long run.
· Collecting the higher tax revenues necessary to retain the current benefit formula inevitably produces welfare losses.
· Reducing the scope of a pay-as-you-go financed retirement program will result in the real prepayment of retirement benefits, leading to greater investment and higher national income.
· The reformed program can be complemented with voluntary, individually directed personal retirement accounts.
Liqun Liu is a research scientist, Andrew J. Rettenmaier is executive associate director and Thomas R. Saving is director at the Private Enterprise Research Center at Texas A&M University.
Read the entire report . . .
A Tale Of Two Bridges
The SF Oakland Bay Bridge open in 2013 and is showing water damage and rust its first year.
The old rusty bridge it replaces was built in 1936 and has survived earthquakes.
The End Result Of Medicare And Medicaid Is Happening NOW
Taking the Government Out of Health Care
By Avik Roy | September 8, 2014
The government takeover of our health care system didn’t happen with the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, says Avik Roy, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. It happened in 1965, he writes, with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid.
Even without the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the federal government would be spending trillions of taxpayer dollars on single-payer health care entitlements:
· Even before the passage of the ACA, per-capita spending on health care by the U.S. government (at $3,967) was higher than per- public spending in all but three countries in the world.
· In 2022, federal spending on health entitlements, not including Obamacare, are set to reach $1.5 trillion.
· The ACA will increase that spending by 16 percent.
Countries like Switzerland and Singapore, on the other hand, have the lowest per-capita public health spending, with Switzerland spending $1,628 per person and Singapore $813. How do they keep costs so low? According to Roy:
· Both countries use the power of private markets.
· Switzerland has no government-run insurers, though 20 percent of its population receives government premium subsidies.
· Singapore uses health savings accounts and high-deductible insurance plans to keep costs low.
The systems are hardly perfect, writes Roy, but they are superior to United States’ government health care programs. Using Singapore and Switzerland as a model, Roy developed his own plan to replace Obamacare — as well as Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Health Administration. The plan would:
· Replace government-run health care programs with a system of tax credits, allowing individuals to purchase high-deductible health plans with health savings accounts in the private market.
· Reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over three decades.
· Reduce the cost of individual health insurance policies by 17 percent.
· Repeal the Obamacare tax hikes as well as the individual mandate.
According to Roy, his model would increase the number of insured Americans by 12 million. However, his plan has also received criticism, with many labeling it a refinement of Obamacare rather than a repeal.
Source: Avik Roy, “Don’t Just Replace Obamacare-Replace the Great Society,” Weekly Standard, September 4, 2014.
A Campus Crusade Against The Constitution
Limiting First Amendment rights for Christians undercuts rights for everyone else.
By Harvey A. Silverglate | WSJ | Houses of Worship | Sept. 18, 2014
In my lifetime I have been fortunate to see private associations within civil society promote astonishing social and political advancements in civil rights for African-Americans, women and gays. The voices of a like-minded minority, when allowed to associate and present a unified message, can be powerful. Yet we cannot pick and choose which groups have rights. Thus the current controversy surrounding evangelical Christian organizations on college campuses is a test of our commitment to liberal and constitutional ideals.
Earlier this month the California State University System “de-recognized” 23 campus chapters of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF). This decision stems from a December 2011 chancellor’s executive order stating that “No campus shall recognize any . . . student organization unless its membership and leadership are open to all currently enrolled students.”
The new policy has insidious implications. Any student may attend IVCF meetings or participate in its activities regardless of belief. But because IVCF asks its leaders to affirm their adherence to evangelical Christian doctrine—a “belief” requirement—California state-university administrators have deemed the group discriminatory. IVCF chapters will no longer have use of certain campus facilities and benefits available to other groups. This policy guts the free association right that was enshrined in the First Amendment precisely to protect minority or unpopular views.
It is obvious why IVCF would want to restrict leadership to true believers. It would be anomalous for a conventional religious group of any kind to open its top leadership to, say, atheists who would want to change the group’s beliefs and activities. The pope has to be Catholic, after all.
Yet this concept of associational rights is apparently foreign to college administrators, especially regarding religious students who hold out-of-favor views about marriage and abortion rights. As contentious as these issues are—especially within the ideological rigidity of the college campus—it is the constitutional right of students to hold unpopular beliefs and collectively espouse them.
The battle over the status of evangelical and other orthodox religious groups was long resolved in favor of the rights of such students to organize and enjoy equal access to colleges’—especially public colleges’—facilities. But this changed in 2010 when a narrowly divided Supreme Court decided Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.
In a confused 5-4 decision, the justices held that a public university did not violate the Christian Legal Society’s First Amendment rights in depriving equal access to campus funds and facilities—as long as the university adopted an “all comers” policy that required all student organizations to accept all students as voting members and leaders, regardless of belief. Martinez was decided in the same muddled spirit as the California state-university policy, with all the same pitfalls. . .
Given the heat that surrounds discussion of gay marriage and abortion, out-of-the-ordinary disruptive tactics—by either side against the other’s organizations—are a realistic concern. This is one reason why in an earlier era beleaguered minority groups like the NAACP and gay-rights groups were most in need of, and usually received, official protection from those who would undermine them.
In more recent years on college campuses the tables have turned, and religious groups that were once conventional now find themselves in need of protection. The Martinez ruling inadvertently compromised, rather than protected, the rights of minority groups.
The Martinez case and the plight of IVCF on campuses calls to mind an incident in 1995, some months after a wiser Supreme Court decided Hurley v. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Group of Boston. The Hurley court held that a socially conservative organization that for decades had sponsored Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade had the right to exclude a gay-liberation group from marching while displaying its own gay-rights banners and placards.
Writing for the unanimous court, Justice David Souter declared that “a speaker has the autonomy to choose the content of his own message” and that the conservative Boston group didn’t have to include marchers who would “alter the expressive content of their parade.” The parade was a form of expression, and organizers didn’t have to include off-message contingents.
One of the lawyers who lost in Hurley told me that he came to have a better understanding, and even an appreciation, of the ruling: He told me he had cited the Hurley opinion as precedent while representing a gay-rights group that went to court to prevent neo-Nazi brownshirts from marching in full regalia in the gay group’s parade. Only when the First Amendment is applied equally to everyone can it fulfill its crucial role.
Mr. Silverglate, a Boston criminal-defense and civil-liberties lawyer, participated in the filing of a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the Christian Legal Society by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, of which he is chairman.
Anglicanism And Women Bishops
Hello ladies, goodbye Communion?
The Economist | Print Edition | Nov 19th 2014 | by B.C
AMID loud sighs of relief in many quarters, and muffled moans from a traditionalist minority, the Church of England has cleared the last procedural obstacle to the appointment of women bishops. At a meeting on Monday of the church’s General Synod, only around 30 of the 480 people present raised their hands against the necessary change in canon law. This means that a woman could be wearing episcopal purple by the end of the year, and a lady could join the ranks of the “lords spiritual”—Anglican prelates who sit in the upper chamber of Parliament—by next spring.
This was a big but expected landmark; a Synod vote two years ago, in which the measure narrowly failed to gain the approval of lay delegates, looks in retrospect like a rather weird anomaly. The change was overwhelmingly favoured by the leadership of the church, the clergy (one-third of which is female), and by public opinion—which matters for a church which aspires to be the spiritual voice of a whole nation, however diverse or secular. The feelings of low-church evangelicals who oppose women bishops have to some degree been assuaged by a promise that one of their number will be appointed to high office; among high-church opponents, quite a few have taken up an offer to join the Roman Catholic church. So hard-line opposition to ladies in purple has gradually faded. . .
Nobody can deny that Justin Welby, who is leader both of England’s established church and worldwide Anglicanism, has tried his best keep the family intact. As he told the Synod, he has visited 36 fellow “primates” of Anglican provinces in the past 18 months, covering virtually the entirety of an institution that functions in every corner of the world, especially places where the British flag once flew. And although he was well received almost everywhere, he had to acknowledge that:
There are enormous problems. We have deep divisions in many areas, not only sexuality…Our divisions may be too much to manage. In many parts of the Communion…there is a belief that opponents are either faithless to the tradition, or by contrast that they are cruel, judgemental, inhuman. I have to say that we are in a state so delicate that without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures.
In even plainer language, the division between (roughly speaking) northern and especially North American liberals, and traditionalists whose biggest stronghold is Africa, has become or is about to become unmanageable. As the archbishop implied, the split is mainly but not purely over same-sex relations. At one end of the spectrum, the Episcopal Church of the United States has consecrated an openly lesbian bishop; at the other end, African bishops have supported harsh anti-gay laws. By comparison with same-sex relations, the issue of female clergy and bishops is not especially divisive, though Nigeria stands out as a large Anglican province where women are not ordained to any clerical rank. But developing-world conservatives are also dismayed when their northern colleagues make liberal theological noises—by suggesting, for example, that Jesus Christ might not offer the only path to salvation.
In his latest speech, Archbishop Welby acknowledged for the first time that the Lambeth conference—a once-in-a-decade gathering of Anglican bishops—might never happen again. Nor, he made clear, was it even certain whether the basis existed for convening another “primates’ meeting”—a global gathering of slightly lesser status which would normally take place every couple of years. In any case, he was no longer prepared to take sole responsibility for deciding such matters; instead there should be a “collegial model of leadership” with Anglican leaders from around the world deciding which meetings were worthwhile.
Despite all this, the archbishop gallantly insisted, reports of the global club’s death were exaggerated. “The Anglican Communion exists and is flourishing in roughly 165 countries.” That may be sort-of true as far as it goes, but it is rather like the Queen saying that the Commonwealth exists. Of course it does, in the sense that nobody has abolished it, and not many people have left it. But post-imperial arrangements can lose salience very gradually, to the point where the boundary between existence and non-existence becomes almost imperceptible.
How Bad Is Censorship Getting?
Liberals Are Killing the Liberal Arts
This is how bad censorship is getting:
Discussions of what can’t be said come with a ‘trigger warning.’
By Harvey Silverglate, WSJ Nov. 9, 2014 5:59 p.m. ET
On campuses across the country, hostility toward unpopular ideas has become so irrational that many students, and some faculty members, now openly oppose freedom of speech. The hypersensitive consider the mere discussion of the topic of censorship to be potentially traumatic. Those who try to protect academic freedom and the ability of the academy to discuss the world as it is are swimming against the current. In such an atmosphere, liberal-arts education can’t survive.
Consider what happened after Smith College held a panel for alumnae titled “Challenging the Ideological Echo Chamber: Free Speech, Civil Discourse and the Liberal Arts.” Moderated by Smith President Kathleen McCartney in late September, the panel was an apparent effort to address the intolerance of diverse opinions that prevails on many campuses.
One panelist was Smith alumna Wendy Kaminer—an author, lawyer, social critic, feminist, First Amendment near-absolutist and former board member of the American Civil Liberties Union. She delivered precisely the spirited challenge to the echo chamber that the panel’s title seemed to invite. But Ms. Kaminer emerged from the discussion of free speech labeled a racist—for defending free speech.
The panel started innocuously enough with Ms. Kaminer criticizing the proliferation of campus speech codes that restrict supposedly offensive language. She urged the audience to defend the free exchange of ideas over parochial notions of “civility.” In response to a question about teaching materials that contain “hate speech,” she raised the example of Mark Twain’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” arguing that students should take it as a whole. The student member of the panel, Jaime Estrada, resisted that notion, saying, “But it has the n-word, and some people are sensitive to that.”
Ms. Kaminer responded: “Well let’s talk about n-words. Let’s talk about the growing lexicon of words that can only be known by their initials. I mean, when I say, ‘n-word’ or when Jaime says ‘n-word,’ what word do you all hear in your head? You hear the word . . .”
And then Ms. Kaminer crossed the Rubicon of political correctness and uttered the forbidden word, observing that having uttered it, “nothing horrible happened.” She then compared the trend of replacing potentially offensive words with an initial to being “characters in a Harry Potter book who are afraid to say the word ‘Voldemort.’ ” There’s an important difference, she pointed out, between hurling an epithet and uttering a forbidden word during an academic discussion of our attitudes toward language and law.
The event—and Ms. Kaminer’s words—prompted blowback from Smith undergraduates, recent alumnae and some faculty members. One member of the audience posted an audio recording and transcript of the discussion, preceded by what has come to be known in the academic world as a “trigger warning”:
“Trigger/Content Warnings: Racism/racial slurs, abelist slurs, anti-Semitic language, anti-Muslim/Islamophobic language, anti-immigrant language, sexist/misogynistic slurs, references to race-based violence.”
One has to have imbibed this culture of hyper-victimization in order even to understand the lingo. “Ableism,” for example, is described at ableism.org as “the practices and dominant attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of persons with disabilities” and that “assign inferior value (worth) to persons who have developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities.”
The contretemps prompted articles in the newspapers of Smith College and neighboring Mount Holyoke College, condemning Ms. Kaminer’s remarks as examples of institutionalized racism. Smith president Ms. McCartney was criticized for not immediately denouncing Ms. Kaminer. In a Sept. 29 letter responding to the Smith community, she apologized to students and faculty who were “hurt” and made to feel “unsafe” by Ms. Kaminer’s comments in defense of free speech.
A rare academic counter-current to the vast censorial wave came from professor of politics Christopher Pyle at Mount Holyoke. He wrote in the Mount Holyoke News that readers of the paper were misled by a report that “a Smith alumna made racist remarks when speaking at an alumnae panel.” He criticized the condemnation of Ms. Kaminer for her willingness to challenge the tyranny of “sanitary euphemisms.”
Smith is not the epicenter of hostility to free speech. On university campuses nationwide we are witnessing an increasing tide of trigger warnings. They are popping up on syllabi, in discussions of public art, and even finding their way into official school policies.
On Oct. 27, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology circulated a survey questionnaire to its entire student body on the issue of sexual assault—a so-called “climate survey” to try to determine and expose the extent of the problem at the school. Remarkably enough, the survey itself came accompanied by, guess what:
“TRIGGER WARNING: Some of the questions in this survey use explicit language, including anatomical names of body parts and specific behaviors to ask about sexual situations. This survey also asks about sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence which may be upsetting. Resources for support will be available on every page of the survey, should you need them.”
Hypersensitivity to the trauma allegedly inflicted by listening to controversial ideas approaches a strange form of derangement—a disorder whose lethal spread in academia grows by the day. What should be the object of derision, a focus for satire, is instead the subject of serious faux academic discussion and precautionary warnings. For this disorder there is no effective quarantine. A whole generation of students soon will have imbibed the warped notions of justice and entitlement now handed down as dogma in the universities.
Mr. Silverglate, a lawyer and writer, is the co-founder and current chairman of the board of directors of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. Wendy Kaminer is a member of FIRE’s board of advisers.
America And The Barbary Pirates
An International Battle Against an Unconventional Foe
by Gerard W. Gawalt
Ruthless, unconventional foes are not new to the United States of America. More than two hundred years ago the newly established United States made its first attempt to fight an overseas battle to protect its private citizens by building an international coalition against an unconventional enemy. Then the enemies were pirates and piracy. The focus of the United States and a proposed international coalition was the Barbary Pirates of North Africa.
Pirate ships and crews from the North African states of Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers (the Barbary Coast) were the scourge of the Mediterranean. Capturing merchant ships and holding their crews for ransom provided the rulers of these nations with wealth and naval power. In fact, the Roman Catholic Religious Order of Mathurins had operated from France for centuries with the special mission of collecting and disbursing funds for the relief and ransom of prisoners of Mediterranean pirates.
Before the United States obtained its independence in the American Revolution, 1775-83, American merchant ships and sailors had been protected from the ravages of the North African pirates by the naval and diplomatic power of Great Britain. British naval power and the tribute or subsidies Britain paid to the piratical states protected American vessels and crews. During the Revolution, the ships of the United States were protected by the 1778 alliance with France, which required the French nation to protect “American vessels and effects against all violence, insults, attacks, or depredations, on the part of the said Princes and States of Barbary or their subjects.”
After the United States won its independence in the treaty of 1783, it had to protect its own commerce against dangers such as the Barbary pirates. As early as 1784 Congress followed the tradition of the European shipping powers and appropriated $80,000 as tribute to the Barbary states, directing its ministers in Europe, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, to begin negotiations with them. Trouble began the next year, in July 1785, when Algerians captured two American ships and the dey of Algiers held their crews of twenty-one people for a ransom of nearly $60,000.
Thomas Jefferson, United States minister to France, opposed the payment of tribute, as he later testified in words that have a particular resonance today. In his autobiography Jefferson wrote that in 1785 and 1786 he unsuccessfully “endeavored to form an association of the powers subject to habitual depredation from them. I accordingly prepared, and proposed to their ministers at Paris, for consultation with their governments, articles of a special confederation.” Jefferson argued that “The object of the convention shall be to compel the piratical States to perpetual peace.” Jefferson prepared a detailed plan for the interested states. “Portugal, Naples, the two Sicily’s, Venice, Malta, Denmark and Sweden were favorably disposed to such an association,” Jefferson remembered, but there were “apprehensions” that England and France would follow their own paths, “and so it fell through.”
Paying the ransom would only lead to further demands, Jefferson argued in letters to future presidents John Adams, then America’s minister to Great Britain, and James Monroe, then a member of Congress. As Jefferson wrote to Adams in a July 11, 1786, letter, “I acknolege [sic] I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace thro’ the medium of war.” Paying tribute will merely invite more demands, and even if a coalition proves workable, the only solution is a strong navy that can reach the pirates, Jefferson argued in an August 18, 1786, letter to James Monroe: “The states must see the rod; perhaps it must be felt by some one of them. . . . Every national citizen must wish to see an effective instrument of coercion, and should fear to see it on any other element than the water. A naval force can never endanger our liberties, nor occasion bloodshed; a land force would do both.” “From what I learn from the temper of my countrymen and their tenaciousness of their money,” Jefferson added in a December 26, 1786, letter to the president of Yale College, Ezra Stiles, “it will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason, than money to bribe them.”
Jefferson’s plan for an international coalition foundered on the shoals of indifference and a belief that it was cheaper to pay the tribute than fight a war. The United States’s relations with the Barbary states continued to revolve around negotiations for ransom of American ships and sailors and the payment of annual tributes or gifts. Even though Secretary of State Jefferson declared to Thomas Barclay, American consul to Morocco, in a May 13, 1791, letter of instructions for a new treaty with Morocco that it is “lastly our determination to prefer war in all cases to tribute under any form, and to any people whatever,” the United States continued to negotiate for cash settlements. In 1795 alone the United States was forced to pay nearly a million dollars in cash, naval stores, and a frigate to ransom 115 sailors from the dey of Algiers. Annual gifts were settled by treaty on Algiers, Morocco, Tunis, and Tripoli.
When Jefferson became president in 1801 he refused to accede to Tripoli’s demands for an immediate payment of $225,000 and an annual payment of $25,000. The pasha of Tripoli then declared war on the United States. Although as secretary of state and vice president he had opposed developing an American navy capable of anything more than coastal defense, President Jefferson dispatched a squadron of naval vessels to the Mediterranean. As he declared in his first annual message to Congress: “To this state of general peace with which we have been blessed, one only exception exists. Tripoli, the least considerable of the Barbary States, had come forward with demands unfounded either in right or in compact, and had permitted itself to denounce war, on our failure to comply before a given day. The style of the demand admitted but one answer. I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean. . . .”
The American show of force quickly awed Tunis and Algiers into breaking their alliance with Tripoli. The humiliating loss of the frigate Philadelphia and the capture of her captain and crew in Tripoli in 1803, criticism from his political opponents, and even opposition within his own cabinet did not deter Jefferson from his chosen course during four years of war. The aggressive action of Commodore Edward Preble (1803-4) forced Morocco out of the fight and his five bombardments of Tripoli restored some order to the Mediterranean. However, it was not until 1805, when an American fleet under Commodore John Rogers and a land force raised by an American naval agent to the Barbary powers, Captain William Eaton, threatened to capture Tripoli and install the brother of Tripoli’s pasha on the throne, that a treaty brought an end to the hostilities. Negotiated by Tobias Lear, former secretary to President Washington and now consul general in Algiers, the treaty of 1805 still required the United States to pay a ransom of $60,000 for each of the sailors held by the dey of Algiers, and so it went without Senatorial consent until April 1806. Nevertheless, Jefferson was able to report in his sixth annual message to Congress in December 1806 that in addition to the successful completion of the Lewis and Clark expedition, “The states on the coast of Barbary seem generally disposed at present to respect our peace and friendship.”
In fact, it was not until the second war with Algiers, in 1815, that naval victories by Commodores William Bainbridge and Stephen Decatur led to treaties ending all tribute payments by the United States. European nations continued annual payments until the 1830s. However, international piracy in Atlantic and Mediterranean waters declined during this time under pressure from the Euro-American nations, who no longer viewed pirate states as mere annoyances during peacetime and potential allies during war.
Gerard W. Gawalt is the manuscript specialist for early American history in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.
The Thomas Jefferson Papers
Explore the entire manuscript and others athttp://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/jefferson_papers/mtjprece.html#page_content
Why Do We Pay Our Administrators So Much Money?
Hospital administrators are being paid two to ten times as much money as they pay their physicians in the groups they are purchasing and managing. Perhaps it is time that physicians read Malcolm Gladwell’s piece in the New Yorker: Why do we pay our stars so much money?
There was a time, not so long ago, when people at the very top of their profession—the “talent”—did not make a lot of money. In the postwar years, corporate lawyers, Wall Street investment bankers, Fortune 500 executives, all-star professional athletes, and the like made a fraction of what they earn today. In baseball, between the mid-nineteen-forties and the mid-nineteen-sixties, the game’s minimum and highest salaries both fell by more than a third, in constant dollars. In 1935, lawyers in the United States made, on average, four times the country’s per-capita income. By 1958, that number was 2.4. The president of DuPont, Crawford Greenewalt, testified before Congress in 1955 that he took home half what his predecessor had made thirty years earlier. (“Being an honest man,” Greenewalt added wryly, “I think I should say that when I pointed the discrepancy out to him he replied merely that he was easily twice as good as I and hence deserved it.”) That era was an upside-down version of our own: when society gazed upon captains of industry and commerce, it marveled at how ordinary their lives were. . .
The truly rich in the nineteen-fifties and sixties were people who had inherited money—the heirs of the great fortunes of the Gilded Age. Entrepreneurs who sold their own businesses could also become wealthy, because capital-gains taxes were relatively low. But the marketplace chose not to pay salaried professionals and managers a lot of money, and society chose not to let them keep much of what they made. On income above two hundred thousand dollars a year, the marginal tax rate was as high as ninety-one per cent. Formerly exclusive occupations, meanwhile, were opening themselves to new talent, as a result of the expansion of the public university system. Economists of the era were convinced, as one analysis put it, that there was a “connection between economic growth and the advance of democracy on the one hand and the worsening economic status of the intellectual and professional classes on the other.” In 1956, Roswell Magill, a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, spoke for a generation of professionals when he wrote that law firms “can no longer honestly assure promising young men that if they become partners they can save money in substantial amounts, build country homes and gardens for themselves like their fathers and grandfathers did, and plan extensive European holidays.”
And then, suddenly, the world changed. Taxes began to fall. The salaries paid to high-level professionals—“talent”—started to rise. Baseball players became multimillionaires. C.E.O.s got private jets. The lawyers at Cravath, Swaine & Moore who once despaired of their economic future began saving money in substantial amounts, building country homes and gardens for themselves like their fathers and grandfathers did, and planning extensive European holidays. In the nineteen-seventies, against all expectations, the salaryman rose from the dead.
The story of how this transformation happened has been told in many different ways. Economists have pointed to the globalization of the world economy and the rise of what Robert Frank and Philip Cook call the “winner-take-all” economy. Political scientists speak of how the social consensus changed in favor of privilege: taxes came down, and the commitment to economic equality eroded. But there is one more crucial piece to the puzzle. As Roger Martin, the dean of the Rotman School of Management, at the University of Toronto, argued in the Harvard Business Review a few years ago, people who fell into the category of “Talent” came to realize that what they possessed was relatively scarce compared with what the class of owners, “Capital,” had at their disposal. People like O’Rourke and Mr. C and Roswell Magill “woke up”—in Martin’s phrase—to what they were really worth. And who woke them up? The Marvin Millers of the world. . . .
To read who the Marvin Millers of the world are, go to Malcolm Gladwell’s treatise: The Talent Grab http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/10/11/talent-grab
Physicians: Wake up to the fact that the knowledge we possess is also far more scarce and thus far more valuable compared with what the class of hospital owners, administrators, HMOs, are really worth. Let MedicalTuesday wake you up!
Doctors And Nurses Vs. Administrators On Patient Satisfaction. Who’s Right?
| PATIENT | MAY 30, 2015
I’ve been volunteering in an emergency department of a Southern Californian community hospital for five years. I clean gurneys, stock shelves, provide support for RNs and EMTs and translate for Spanish-speaking patients. Since my job requires minimal intellectual effort, I’ve had considerable time to observe the staff and contemplate the inspiring work they do.
I’ve watched them perform heroically with sick babies, agitated psychiatric patients, full cardiac arrests, and everything else from stroke to strep. I love what they do and who they are.
Over time, I’ve also became acutely aware of frustration among ER practitioners with increasing pressure to boost patient satisfaction scores. I began to share their skepticism about the validity, reliability and consequences of satisfaction surveys.
Wasn’t it self-evident that the surveys were bogus? We all knew that a patient might be happier if we order up that MRI his brother-in-law recommended for his backache, if we hand out antibiotics for likely viruses, or write a narcotics prescriptions for malingering addicts, or decline to tell obese problem drinkers that they need to quit the vodka and eat fewer Big Macs. Giving patients exactly what they want will score satisfaction points, but it’s often costly to the system and detrimental to individual and public health.
Then about a year ago, I was asked by our hospital’s quality department to be a patient advisor on the medical-surgery floors. My task was to administer a survey on hospitalist physicians and inquire in general about the quality of the patient and family experience. When I saw questions on the survey like, “Did the doctor sit down when visiting you?” I knew I had entered an alternate universe with values skewed in a way folks in the ER wouldn’t readily comprehend.
I found that although everyone’s priority is quality care for our patients, ER docs and nurses spoke a different language than the quality geeks. Sometimes they talked right past each other. “A hospital isn’t a hotel; patients shouldn’t expect to be pampered,” said the ER nurse. “We should learn from the hospitality industry, and patients should be treated like guests at a four-star hotel,” said the quality administrators.
The disconnect was profound. Even the peer-reviewed studies on outcomes seemed to arrive at contrasting conclusions. One study suggested a negative correlation between patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes. Others claimed the opposite.
Quality experts argue that honing in on tiny measures for improvement bump overall satisfaction scores and cumulatively transform hospital culture to one of overall patient-centered excellence. But nurses’ advocates warn, “Patients can be very satisfied and dead an hour later.” Or they cite the case of an RN who had been disciplined because a patient complained the hospital didn’t have Splenda sweetener.
So who is right? The docs and nurses who practice tough love on recalcitrant patients or the warm and fuzzy hospitality administrators who emulate business class flight attendants and remind us that Medicare reimbursement is inextricably tied to patient satisfaction?
What I’ve learned from both working in the ER and visiting patients on the floors is that real quality is not a zero-sum game. Quality is multidimensional and nuanced; we can’t sacrifice or neglect one dimension for another. Splenda fixation is a surface symptom that alludes to a deeper discontent. When patients are dissatisfied with the minutiae of care, their real message is that their emotional needs are not being met. They may feel disrespected, confined, vulnerable, fearful and lonely. These are all 10s on the scale of painful emotions. Not treating them interferes with healing.
To improve clinical outcomes, we have to pay attention to everything. We can’t supply Splenda on demand, but we can engage in honest conversation about the details of care so that patient and family understand we take them seriously and that the emotional quality of their experience matters. Such conversations foster intimacy; they are empowering for the patient and inspiring for the practitioner; they lead to genuine improvements.
The Key For Patient Satisfaction Is Physician Satisfaction
In these early days of pay for performance (P4P) reimbursement, as the size of your paycheck begins to reflect your patient satisfaction scores, let’s have a frank discussion about three important topics all healthcare providers and organizations must understand going forward.
1. How your performance will be measured
2. How to get the highest patient satisfaction scores and be a happier doctor at the same time
3. The first step to improving performance (in a healthy way) for you and your organization
How your performance will be measured
A large component of your performance ratings will be based on patient satisfaction surveys very much like the HCAHPS inpatient or Press Ganey out patient satisfaction surveys currently in use. Here is a link to the HCAHPS patient satisfaction questions where you can see the three doctor specific patient satisfaction measures that are already publicly reported on the Medicare Hospital Compare website.
It is important that we get granular here so that you understand exactly how your own personal patient satisfaction is both scored and reported.
The satisfaction surveys ask several questions the patient answers on a 4 or 5 point Lickert scale where the top score represents the word/phrase “always”, “strongly agree” or “outstanding”.
You may naturally assume that your personal physician rating is an average of the scores from individual patients. You would be completely wrong in that assumption.
Here’s how your satisfaction ratings are actually scored — it is not an average.
Your scores are reported as a “percentage of top”. This means the percentage of patients who gave you the top score. In other words, only the top scores count. Anything less than 5 out of 5 is thrown out. “Good” or “Above Average” is meaningless to these scoring systems.
Now that you understand how your performance will be rated and reported in the near future, I invite you to take just a moment to recall your last personal experience with a customer satisfaction survey of any kind.
– Are you a person who gives a 5 out of 5 under any circumstances? (most doctors are not!)
– When did you last give a retail transaction or online customer service top marks?
– What did they have to do to earn that rating from you?
Imagine the experience your patients will expect and you will have to consistently provide to receive the all-important “5”. This is exactly how you will be rated by your patients more and more frequently in the years ahead. Soon these patient ratings will determine a portion of your pay as well.
How to get the highest patient satisfaction score and be a happier, healthier doctor at the same time
First you must understand what most healthcare administrators do not. Physician satisfaction is the only lasting foundation for patient satisfaction. It takes happy doctors and staff to have happy patients — in that order.
To understand this fundamental fact, let me ask you the following question.
How can we reasonably expect a patient to give a doctor a 5 out of 5 score on satisfaction when if we asked that doctor to rank their personal satisfaction with their workplace on that same day, they would score it a 3 out of 5?
Your administration might be able to goose patient satisfaction numbers temporarily by cracking the whip and teaching some communication tricks to you and your staff. It won’t last.
As P4P and the closely related “value based purchasing” become more common in your marketplace, organizations that create a healthier, happier, less stressful workplace environment for their staff and doctors will establish a strong competitive advantage.
– Patients will want to be seen there.
– Quality doctors will want to work there.
– Your patient satisfaction scores will reflect the efforts to keep physicians and staff healthy and get systems out of the way of patient interactions.
Your first step to higher physician and patient satisfaction
Here is a question to get you and your leadership team going.
Start by looking back on the last 3 months in your own practice. What average score would you give your personal satisfaction level with your day-to-day practice experience on that same 5 point scale? Take a moment to actually give it a number.
1=very low | 2=low | 3=OK | 4=Good | 5=Excellent
What is your physician satisfaction number? Keeping your score in mind:
– What is the first thing you would change at work to improve your personal satisfaction score? Even if you have given up on this change being possible, what is the one thing that would make all the difference for you?
– What is the first step in making that change – the smallest step to making progress in the direction of a better work day?
Now grab your medical director (or your team if you are the medical director) and get on it.
This simple process identifies a piece of low hanging fruit for you and your organization to improve three things all at once:
– Your personal satisfaction
– Your patient satisfaction scores
– Ultimately, the size of your paycheck down the road
Dike Drummond is a family physician and provides burnout prevention and treatment services for healthcare professionals at his site, The Happy MD.
Business Schools Now Have An Anti-Business Curriculum
My Antibusiness Business Education
Liberal politicians might say the economy is ‘rigged.’ But a business school?
MATTHEW T. TICE | WSJ | Feb 19, 2016
Since the 2008 financial crisis, the business world has come under fire, with public attacks on Wall Street greed, big banks and wealthy Americans. With the 2016 election just nine months away, there is a growing chorus that the entire U.S. economic system is “rigged.” While you might expect such antibusiness rhetoric from left-leaning politicians, it is now part of the curriculum at many business schools.
I am a recent graduate of Bentley University, a small business-oriented college located in Waltham, Mass., just outside Boston. The school typically ranks among the top 25 undergraduate business programs in the country. Like many other business schools, Bentley prides itself on an advanced business curriculum infused with “the richness of a liberal arts education.” Yet rather than providing a solid grounding in the classical humanities—which would be very useful in the business world—many of the nonbusiness courses I took espoused an illiberal attitude toward American capitalism and business in general.
In sociology, we were lectured on how the richest 1% of Americans control more than 50% of the wealth in the country but don’t pay their “fair share” of taxes. We were also informed that the average pay for the CEO of a Fortune 500 company is more than 344 times the average salary for workers in their firms. In expository writing, for our final paper in the class, we had to compose a persuasive essay on why the American dream is dead in the 21st century.
In biology, rather than dissecting fetal pigs or frogs, we watched “documentaries” such as “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Gasland” to learn about global warming, climate change and the environmental dangers posed by hydraulic fracturing and fossil-fuel companies. Almost every one of my elective history and literature courses seemed to dwell on some low point of capitalism, including the trustbusting era of the late 1800s, the decadent Roaring 1920s, the Great Depression and, of course, the 2008 financial crisis and the ensuing “Great Recession.”
Many of these themes were reinforced in my general business classes. In my introductory accounting and finance course, we learned the basics by studying all of the major corporate frauds of the past two decades, including Enron, Sunbeam, WorldCom and Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. In business law and ethics, rather than specific statutes and individual integrity, we focused on whether the goals of corporate sustainability and social responsibility were compatible with profit maximization, along with another review of the rogues’ gallery of Jeff Skilling, Al Dunlap and the Bernies—Ebbers and Madoff. In human behavior and organizations, instead of organizational theory, we discussed social justice issues such as the glass ceiling, equal pay and racism in the workplace.
I majored in Finance, and it was only in these more quantitative core courses that I was able to find a safe space from the ideological indoctrination. Bentley has a first-rate trading room supported by cutting-edge technology and real-time market data feeds. This provided the perfect learning environment for dissecting corporate 10-K filings, building discounted cash-flow models, analyzing technical trends and studying the global economy and financial markets.
Unfortunately, only 20% of the 122 credits that I needed to graduate went toward satisfying the requirements for my Finance major, while more than half of the courses that I took seemed designed to turn me into a self-loathing Finance major. . .
For some business students, like me, the antibusiness bias of some courses serves as a distraction but doesn’t derail one’s career focus. For others, particularly undecided undergraduates, such messaging will become internalized and transmitted over time from the college campus to the working world, which is probably the long-term goal.
For all students, though, it waters down their business degree and raises the overall cost of a college education by tacking on superfluous and superficial courses that displace valuable technical learning. This is particularly troubling given today’s weak job market for graduating seniors and the fact that most college educations are financed with student debt. One would think that a business college would be run more like a business, focused on creating the best value-added, cost-effective product for its targeted consumer market. . .
Mr. Tice is an investment research analyst and a 2015 graduate of Bentley University. WSJ Feb 19, 2016
The Woman Who Could Be Our Next President
No woman in America’s political history has had more scandals attributed to her than Hillary Rodham Clinton. WND TV lists the number at 22 and that was in May 2015. They follow her like fleas on a dog, often two or three simultaneously.
Right now, Hillary Clinton is dodging four: The death of four Democratic colleagues in Benghazi over whom she had protective responsibilities as Secretary of State; her use of a private home server as Secretary of State, passing classified intelligence messages abroad in violation of the Federal Records Act; the Clinton Foundation scandal of raising money by offering State Department favors to nations providing high dollar contributions to it; and, the most recent, the Democratic National Convention emails (presumably authorized by Hillary) designed to derail Bernie Sanders in his race for the presidency.
But these are only a few of many.
What is most amazing with respect to these scandals is that she always gets a pass even when the evidence seems bulletproof as, for example, in Whitewater in the 1990s and the FBI’s summary of her guilt in the email scandal.
Instead of jail time, as would be the case for you or I doing the same thing, Clinton is elevated to even higher positions of power. Today, her party and the establishment media is working vigorously to make her the nation’s first female president.
Returning to the Bill and Hillary Clinton Administration of the 1990s may give us our best measure for their return to power. After Bill’s election, he announced that America had gotten two for the price of one, indicating that Hillary would be a key advisor. Hillary has already announced that Bill will serve as her economic advisor should they return to the White House.
Absent from the political dialogue in this presidential election are the scandals so present the last time this couple served. Space only allows detail for Whitewater. Although the intrigue was of a different issue, time and place it had all the drama of today’s Benghazi or the email scandal. There is death and everyone associated goes to jail except the Clinton’s.
The Clintons, while governor and first lady of Arkansas, joined with Jim and Susan McDougal to form the Whitewater Development Corporation. The four purchased 230 acres of undeveloped land on the White River, intending to create vacation home lots for retirees. It is alleged that Bill Clinton used his influence as governor to pressure David Hale to lend $300,000 to Susan McDougal in the land deal.
At the time, Jim McDougal was Gov. Clinton’s economic adviser and later created his own bank, the Madison Guaranty, to fund the project, hiring attorney Hillary Clinton of the Rose Law Firm to make everything legal.
The four equal partners were intricately connected. The scheme collapsed in 1989. Ultimately, 15 people associated with this fraudulent land deal, which ended costing many retirees their life savings and the taxpayers some $73 million, went to jail. Everyone except the Clintons. Even Jim Guy Tucker, the governor succeeding Bill, served time, so extensive did Whitewater become.
By the time everything came to a head, the Clintons were in the White House and had legions of defenders and records were strangely hidden or misplaced.
Independent Counsel Robert Fiske ordered the Clintons to surrender documents relating to the corrupt Madison Guaranty. The Clintons reported them as missing. But, two years later, they mysteriously reappeared, found on the desk of Hillary’s personal secretary.
By this time, much of the heat was off and the story was largely undermined by a sympathetic Clinton press. Besides, the special prosecutor for Whitewater, Robert Fiske, was chosen by President Clinton to be his new attorney general.
Kenneth Starr continued the Whitewater investigation, but leading witnesses Susan McDougal, Jim Guy Tucker and Clinton’s former AG Webster Hubbell, a Rose Law Firm friend of Hillary Clinton, refused to cooperate as key witnesses against the Clintons, with the latter pleading the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination.
President Bill Clinton later pardoned Susan McDougal and Jim Guy Tucker. The story later faded away, replaced largely by the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.
The mysterious death of the Clinton Deputy White House counsel, Vince Foster, added much intrigue to the story. He had been the special friend of Hillary and a Rose Law Firm associate, and was charged with defending the Clintons on Whitewater charges. He was murdered or committed suicide, at Fort Marcy Park, Virginia.
But Whitewater is only one of a good number of scandals in which Hillary is a leading participant. Perhaps another column will be necessary outlining her involvement in File Gate, Cattle Futures Gate, Travel Gate, and half dozen more.
She and her devoted followers would say that it is just the “vast right conspiracy,” but there are far too many of these to feel comfortable with that explanation.
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution who lives in Cedar City. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying his knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science for more than 25 years at Taft College in California. On the web: www.LibertyUnderFire.org.
Britain’s Independence Follows 240 Years After Our Independence
Posted On Jun 27 2016
By : Sheri Sharp
On June 23, 2016, the citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) voted for independence from the European Union (EU). This vote represents a historic change in the direction of sovereignty and self-governance for the UK.
This is refreshing news that has left many “stunned” at the decision made by the British people. Many media-types are breathless in their worries about currency and markets. But many people are elated at this show of independence. Brexit, as this effort was called, has proven to be the outlet for the voice of the British people in 2016.
In an ironic twist, 240 years ago, the United Stated overcame the tyranny of a British king and fought for freedom, sovereignty, representation, and self-governance. In less dramatic fashion, the British have found it in themselves to break away from a government they did not elect; a government that has dictated immigration policy and economics to the people of the UK.
Perhaps most ironic, however, is that, in 2016, the British may ultimately have a hand in teaching America to again seek independence from its own big government chains and the ideologically-driven march by the American Left towards open borders.
As we wade through the last of Obama’s eight years and a tumultuous election season in the United States, this showing of support for independence in the UK is a bright light! It will inevitably have a ripple effect throughout the world. The British people have spoken and what they are saying is they are tired of being ruled by the elites in the EU where they are not well-represented. They want change away from open borders, threats to their national identity, stifled trade, and increased payments to the EU that supposedly “level the playing field” for other EU countries.
Despite the positive example this vote sets for freedom and national sovereignty, Barack Obama, of course, does not support the UK leaving the EU. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has not offered support for it either. Clinton and Obama adhere to a Leftist view that believes in “the world” with less concern for what is best for the United States or other individual countries. But Obama and Hillary are on the losing side of this movement along with the other elitists in the world. According to Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party: “An opinion poll in the Netherlands said that a majority there now want to leave, so we may well be close perhaps to Nexit … Similarly in Denmark a majority there are in favour of leaving so we could be quite close to Dexit….And I’m told the same may apply to Sweden and perhaps Austria and perhaps even Italy too…The EU is failing, the EU is dying, I hope that we’ve got the first brick out of the wall.” This historic vote will have a domino effect in Europe. . .
The effect that the Obama administration has had on America is analogous to the effect the European Union has had on the UK and, arguably, other EU members. The forces of Obama’s anti-American policies have created open borders, fading sovereignty, additional taxation, and socialist spending policies.
Obama’s arrogance toward the rule of law and respect for American citizens also adds to the negative effect this administration has had on our county. . . After a ruling by the Supreme Court that shut down Obama’s executive amnesty, we witnessed an angry President who vowed that this ruling will not force him to deport those in America illegally. Obama has chosen to buck the rule of law, the American people, and the Supreme Court after losing. PM Cameron actually arranged for Brexit and took a gamble that the people would choose to remain in the EU. Cameron lost on June 23, quickly conceded defeat while respectfully acknowledging the will of the people, and then he announced his planned resignation. The contrast is striking! Prime Minister Cameron and the citizens of the UK have set a great example for America.
As one of our biggest allies, Obama should be embracing this choice made by the UK. The Obama administration should extend its hand proactively on free trade and support for the UK as a sovereign entity. Such a move would represent a bold and much-needed statement for freedom and national identity. The fact that Obama has already said he would push the UK to the “back of the queue” on trade with the US tells you everything you need to know about Obama’s continued indifference, if not disdain, for the affairs of the UK.
Perhaps we can take a page out of the British book in 2016. Let’s vote for positive change. Let’s take America back to freedom, sovereignty, borders, and smaller government. Ironically, let’s follow the British lead on independence this time around!
The West And Islam
Mark E. Mishanie and Michael S. Swisher – Editorial
The following is an exchange is between Mark E. Mishanie, a subscriber to The St. Croix Review, and Michael S. Swisher, the Chairman of the Board of Religion and Society, the foundation that publishes The St. Croix Review.
Islamic ideology must be ultimately defeated. ISIS, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, etc., are only outgrowths of it. Sad to say, most people are still ignorant about this.
They talk about radical Islam as being the problem. That is wrong. The problem is with Islamic culture. The way Westerners view it, there is a problem with a minority of Muslims, the terrorists. The rest are good and peace loving. Look at Islamic countries. Look how they treat women: Women have no voice. They are forced to wear veils, forced to have children, raped, beaten, not given any political voice. They can stone to death a woman for adultery. They can jail and kill a person for being gay. They can chop a person’s hand off for stealing. Beheadings are normal. Jews and Christians are viewed as enemies in their midst with ties to infidel Europe, America, and Israel.
What to do? Condemn them for the way they live and think and don’t stop. End the tolerance of their barbaric practices. It is time to call out their ideology and bring them into the modern world. We cannot be afraid to speak the truth.
I am not saying that there should be no Islam. We need to destroy its archaic belief system and bring them into our world. Until that is done, we will have problems, America will have problems, Europe will have problems, Israel will have problems. If this is not done, destroying ISIS will have few consequences in the long run.
—Mark E. Mishanie
There is truth in what Mr. Mishanie says but the solution he advances is easier said than done.
Religions aren’t just the words of their sacred scriptures or liturgies (whatever those may be) but also the experience and traditions that have been accumulated by their followers over centuries and millennia.
Judaism has survived Pharaonic Egypt, the Babylonian captivity, the empire of Alexander the Great, and the Roman Empire, complete with Titus’s punitive expedition and Hadrian’s destruction of Jerusalem. This in turn led to Jewish Diaspora and many subsequent persecutions. Christianity suffered initial persecution by the Romans, much schism and conflict even after it became an established religion under Constantine; it underwent a Reformation, followed by wars of religion culminating in the terrible Thirty Years’ War, and an Enlightenment that challenged its philosophical bases. These experiences have made Judaism and Christianity what they are today.
Islam has never had a Reformation, and it never had to meet the challenges of an Enlightenment. It is still very much as it was in the seventh century, when it first swept out of the Arabian peninsula to conquer the ancient civilizations of Egypt, the Levant, Asia Minor, and Persia. Its reverses have mainly been military defeats, as when its forces were repulsed at Tours, Granada, Lepanto, and Vienna. It has learned nothing by these events, but rather retains its desire for conquest. It’s revealing that Islamic terrorists like Osama bin Laden and the leadership of ISIS have referred to Spain as “al-Andalus” – they still regret its loss (in 1492!) and dream of recovering it.
I don’t know how we “destroy its archaic belief system and bring them into our world.” It seems to me that Islam is at a point in its historic development that parallels where Christianity was in the sixteenth century, if that. It took more than a century of warfare after the Reformation to arrive at the agreement sealed by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) – providing that the nations of Europe would no longer go to war over religious differences. And that, of course, did not stop European rulers from engaging in internal persecutions. Just as one example, the Spanish Inquisition was not abolished until the early nineteenth century.
Is Mr. Mishanie prepared to accept the centuries of warfare that may be necessary to achieve his goal?
Hilaire Belloc devoted the fourth chapter of his book The Great Heresies (1938) to Islam, which he viewed as an offshoot of the Arian heresy. He predicted that Islam would be an enemy to Western civilization long after Bolshevism had vanished. Considering that he wrote that book when Bolshevism was riding high – just as Stalin was about to conspire with Hitler to carve up Poland – it seems well-nigh prophetic.
The Cold War lasted fifty years, occasionally breaking out into hot warfare in places ranging from Korea to Vietnam to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Grenada, before the Soviet Union collapsed. My feeling is that our conflict with Islam will last much longer, even if we do not actively seek a fight, as Mr. Mishanie proposes. This is a situation in which, as Lenin is supposed to have observed, “you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”
My own preference, for whatever it is worth, is for a policy of exclusion and containment. We should not accept any more Muslim immigrants; we should search out and deport all those who entered the country illegally, as well as any obvious troublemakers. We should have as little as possible to do with Muslim countries. The only worthwhile thing they have to offer us is their oil. They have to sell it to someone. Our contact should be limited to this commercial purpose, with only short-term visas issued to their nationals as may be necessary to facilitate trade. These visas should be restricted to certain areas, with most of the country being off-limits to them. We should at the same time strive to reduce our dependence on oil imported from the Islamic world by a vigorous program of domestic energy development.
Perhaps we can protect ourselves by such steps without inviting the terrible loss of American blood and treasure that now seems to have been wasted to no lasting effect.
—Micheal S. Swisher
The St Croix Review
Our mission is to reawaken American pride: of being a joyous part of the vast adventure of living in a great, good, and growing nation as free-born individuals.
The St. Croix Review acquaints readers with a wide spectrum of conservative thought. We hope to sharpen our readers’ perception of passing events, so that they can discern the just cause. The Review is a specific voice in the conservative medley, a voice wide ranging in its outlook, having something cogent to say about economics, the countryside, about high culture, and about the life of ideas. By showing varieties of conservative thought, we make the Review a foremost magazine of conservative opinion.
We promote a broad-based American culture, with a rich history and precious traditions that point to a future full of promise. We emphasize American resilience, independence, creativity, and compassion.
We explain free enterprise, showing how millions of intelligent Americans create prosperity for themselves. We show how honesty, honor, kindness, and generosity are essential virtues infusing each American institution with the spark of life.
Our format is simple and direct; we emphasize clarity of expression. We are not bound to the news cycle, not caught up in media feeding frenzies. We explore basic principles. We cover events as they are: moments in the course of a slow, deep, winding river—the true stream of life.
Founder — Angus MacDonald came to the U.S. in 1946 from Australia with a degree from the College of the Bible (Victoria, Australia). He obtained a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Columbia University in New York City, and served as a Congregational Minister for twenty-five years, finally settling in Minnesota in the 1960s.
It was during the turbulent 1960s (1968 to be exact) that Angus MacDonald thought the nation needed another conservative journal, as the national newspapers, radio, and television were dominated by a left-leaning point of view. Alternative voices were ridiculed, and the country had only a couple of alternative publications so he launched The St. Croix Review.
From the earliest issues the editorial board has included a who’s-who list of prominent conservatives: Henry Hazlitt, economist and journalist; Russell Kirk, author of the Conservative Mind; Thomas Molnar, Catholic philosopher and historian; Henry Regnery, Publisher of conservative books; William F. Rickenbacker, prominent writer for the National Review; and Peter Stanlis, Professor Emeritus of English at Rockford College and author of Edmund Burke and the Natural Law; and Yale Brozan, economist and advocate of free markets.
Angus MacDonald was an early publisher of Milton Friedman, economist at the University of Chicago, and recipient of Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. The following are some of Milton Friedman quotes:
If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.
History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition.
Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.
Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.
The 45-year history of The St. Croix Review resembles that of a self-sufficient farmer on the edge of the American frontier. All the various tasks involved in publishing the journal were done by Angus: to cut expenses he bought a printing press and printed the next issue, even though he had never printed before. He typeset the articles, kept track of subscribers on index cards, typed addresses on each label and sent them out (computers didn’t exist in 1968). Each issue of the journal for 25 years was printed, folded, collated, stitched and cut, sorted and addressed by hand in house. And of course Angus wrote editorials the whole time.
It has taken tenacity to survive, and the coming of the computer age has been a blessing, allowing much greater ease and efficiency in publishing. But the perspective of the review has remained the same: common sense, enterprise, and honesty.
The following is a summary of the December/January 2015/6 issue of The St. Croix Review:
In “The West and Islam,” Mark E. Mishanie remarks on the nature of Islamic ideology and Michael S. Swisher responds.
Don Lee, in “I Will Discriminate,” distinguishes between politically correct notions and common sense judgment.
Thomas Martin, in “Who is in Charge Here?” offers Platonic wisdom.
Paul Kengor in , “Paris, Brussels, and Twenty-first Century Europe,” sees post-Christian Europe as extremely vulnerable to Islamic conversion; in “Cherry-Picking Pope Francis,” he makes the point the Pope is neither liberal nor conservative, but he is a dedicated proponent of the traditional family; in “Pope Francis vs. the ‘Demon’ of Gender Theory,” he shows the Pope’s passionate reinforcement of traditional views on gender; in “Surviving Hitler’s ‘Hell-Hole’ . . . Remembering Frank Kravetz,” he retells the story of how an airman kept his spirits up while he was a POW.
Mark Hendrickson, in “Feeling Good About America on a Chilly Autumn Evening,” reminds us of the ties that bind us together; in “Thoughts on Jeb Bush’s Tax Plan,” he considers the pros and cons of the plan and looks beyond just the economic factors; in “Hillary Clinton’s ‘New College Compact’ Raises an Important Question: Did She Ever Take Econ 101?” he sees layer upon layer of error; in “The ‘Not Enough Jobs’ Scenario: An Economic Fallacy,” he contests the recurring arguments for more government interference by showing that economic freedom is the source of our prosperity.
Herbert London in, “The Iran Deal Is a Turning Point,” he considers strategic consequences and ends with an intriguing question; in “Why Government Has Grown,” he sees weakness in the mediating institutions that used to infuse vitality into society: the family, the schools, the churches, and the civil associations; in “Russian Attacks on U.S. Backed Rebels,” he compares Russian goals and actions and President Obama’s embarrassing ineffectiveness; in “Israel Defending Itself,” he considers the perils Israel is facing due to President Obama’s deal with Iran and Russia’s aggressive posture in the region; in “Blindness in the Rationalist Tradition,” he describes the mindset of President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry who refuse to recognize evil and who downplay the words “Death to America.”
Allan C. Brownfeld, in “‘White Privilege’: Not a Term Generations of Hardworking Immigrants Would Understand,” points to the difficulties Irish, Italian, and Jewish immigrants had upon their arrival in America, and he highlights the historical ethos of America – through hard work anyone can succeed; in “The Sin of Contemporaneity: Cleansing History by Applying Today’s Standards to Our Ancestors,” he cites the world-wide prevalence of slavery throughout history and at the Founding of America; in “Remembering a Time When Our Leaders Risked Their Lives and Fortunes for What They Believed,” he compares the wisdom and courage of our Founders with the cravenness of modern politicians.
We have learned that John A. Howard, the former President of Rockford College and veteran of W.W. II, passed away this August at the age of ninety-three. John Howard was a long-time supporter of and a greatly appreciated author for The St. Croix Review. We are publishing “Some Reflections on Choosing a College,” as tribute to him: he writes about the need to transmit the virtues necessary for self-governance to the young, and he explains how well our universities are doing (not well).
In “Obama’s College ‘Scorecard’ Doesn’t Measure Up,” Paul J. McNulty, the current President of Grove City College, in Grove City Pennsylvania, shows how Grove City College is truly a school a cut above the rest.
Philip Vander Elst, in “Resisting Socialism in Early 20th Century Britain,” shares the history of the Anti-Socialist Union, formed in 1908, as a pioneering organization promoting classical liberalism.
Alvin Shane, in “Political Outlaw,” assesses Hillary Clinton’s character.
Jo Ann Gardner, in “Reading Genesis from the Ground Up,” presents a reading of the bible including the symbolic importance of shepherds.
Jigs Gardner, in “Letters from a Conservative Farmer: My Days as a Hedge Vet,” tells delightful stories about a neighbor and caring for farm animals.
Jigs Gardner, in “The Scarlet Letter,” considers Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great novel.
Hillsdale College was founded in 1844 by men and women who proclaimed themselves “grateful to God for the inestimable blessings resulting from the prevalence of civil and religious liberty and intelligent piety in the land,” and who believed that “the diffusion of sound learning is essential to the perpetuity of these blessings.”
Hillsdale was the first American college to prohibit in its charter any discrimination based on race, sex, or national origin. Associated with the anti-slavery movement from its earliest days, it attracted to its campus anti-slavery leaders such as Frederick Douglass and Edward Everett, who preceded Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. Several of the College’s leading men were instrumental in founding the new Republican party up the road in Jackson, Michigan, in 1854. And Hillsdale sent a larger percentage of its students to fight for the Union in the Civil War than any other American college or university except West Point. Two of those Hillsdale veterans helped carry Lincoln’s casket to the slain president’s final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.
Hillsdale’s modern rise to national prominence began in the 1970s, when the federal government attempted to impose a host of regulations on the College—including racial quota requirements that violated Hillsdale’s principled policy of nondiscrimination. When the Supreme Court upheld these regulations in the 1980s on the basis that Hillsdale students received federally funded grants and loans, the College decided to refuse even this indirect form of federal aid, replacing all federal student aid with privately funded grants, loans, and scholarships.
Hillsdale’s Board of Trustees pledged first that the College would continue its long-standing policy of nondiscrimination, and second that it would not accept any encroachments on its independence. It is a pledge that has been renewed several times in subsequent years and stands to date.
Today an independent, coeducational, residential liberal arts college with a student body of some 1,450 undergraduates, the College continues to carry out its original mission. With a core curriculum that comprises about one-half of courses a student needs to graduate, Hillsdale maintains its strong fidelity to the liberal arts.
In its outreach, too, the College teaches those same ideas that advance “civil and religious liberty.” Its many programs include the Center for Constructive Alternatives, one of the largest college lecture series in America; the Hoagland Center for Teacher Excellence, which holds seminars for high school teachers of civics and history; the National Leadership Seminars; the Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship, in Washington, D.C.; and Imprimis, a monthly newsletter that reaches over two million people.
Opened in the fall of 2012, the Hillsdale College Van Andel Graduate School of Statesmanship offers an M.A. and a Ph.D. in politics.
For more information about Hillsdale College, please visit www.Hillsdale.edu.