How Greece Can Rise from the Ashes: The Kiwi Plan

By Bill Frezza

The signs of floundering entitlement democracies are everywhere these days — from poster child Greece to bankrupt Puerto Rico.

Runaway deficit spending, calamitous monetary policies, bloated public employee payrolls, incentive-killing welfare programs, confiscatory taxation, unfunded entitlements, dishonest government accounting, corporate cronyism, and job-killing regulations have mired most Western democracies in such a deep quagmire of voters’ own making that one despairs of finding a cure.

And yet, a cure has not only been found but has already been put into practice with great effect, offering practical lessons for any reformist who cares to look. New Zealand today stands as a beacon of freedom and prosperity, ranking number three in the Legatum Prosperity Index.

It wasn’t always so. In fact, few know the story of how that country transformed itself from a socialist basket case into one of the world’s most prosperous nations.

That story is updated and retold, with practical advice for activists, in my new monograph published by the Antigua Forum, New Zealand’s Far-Reaching Reforms: A Case Study on How to Save Democracy from Itself.

Two prime movers stand out, finance ministers from opposing political parties who made common cause to rescue the country they loved: Sir Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson. It was a privilege to interview these elder statesmen in depth, capturing their remembrances, recording their advice, and putting it all in the context of the voluminous legislation they championed together.

The story of how they defied their own party leaders and convinced voters to endorse a radical overhaul of New Zealand’s body politic stands as perhaps history’s greatest national transformation that didn’t first involve a country being bombed into rubble. Like life-saving surgery, it involved nothing less than cutting out the parts of democracy that had grown cancerous in order to save the whole.

Predictions that voters would rebel when special privileges, subsidies, and entitlements were taken away were all proven wrong.

 

What Douglas, Richardson, and their allies bequeathed us was a virtual how-to recipe for saving a government that had, as Margaret Thatcher so aptly put it, “run out of other people’s money.” Their accomplishments are too many to list in depth, but here is a brief rundown. While it took years of hard work, at the end of the day, they

  • privatized most state-owned enterprises, allowing competition to both stop the fiscal bleeding and raise the level of service
  • ended phony accounting practices designed to hide the truth from voters by shifting reporting of government finances to GAAP standards used in private industry
  • opened the government’s books, publishing monthly departmental income statements and balance sheets for all to see
  • repealed protective tariffs and eliminated farm subsidies, ushering in an era of free trade and a boom in agricultural productivity and export prowess
  • put the civil service bureaucracy on pay-for-performance contracts, while giving career administrators a free hand in hiring, firing, compensation, and outsourcing
  • halved top marginal income tax rates from 66 percent to 33 percent, while eliminating capital gains and estate taxes and shifting to a growth-friendly consumption tax regime
  • eliminated foreign exchange controls, allowing the New Zealand dollar — popularly known as the “kiwi” — to float
  • put the central bank under contract with the finance minister to deliver a published, targeted level of inflation
  • gave every employer and employee the right of free contract by eliminating forced-unionization labor laws and industry-wide multiemployer contracts
  • broke the public-education monopoly by shifting to an all-charter school system that allows any child to attend any school, determined only by parental choice

These changes took a decade to enact across the 1980s and early ’90s, a decade of political upheaval that nonetheless delivered results that have stood the test of time.

Most remarkably, predictions that voters would rebel when special privileges, subsidies, and entitlements were taken away were all proven wrong when New Zealanders were presented with a coherent plan boldly executed by competent leaders. The study reveals the precise political tactics used to overcome the fierce opposition from entrenched special interests.

The results remain clear for all to see. GDP increased fourfold, while the government debt-to-GDP ratio dropped to 30 percent (despite a short-term debt spike in the aftermath of the 2007–08 global recession).

Today, New Zealand operates under a system described as being designed by Hayekians, run by pragmatists, and populated by socialists. 

 

Today, New Zealand operates under a system described as being designed by Hayekians, run by pragmatists, and populated by socialists. But because the rules of the game were permanently changed, there has been little backsliding to the electoral malaise described by H.L. Mencken as “a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”

In fact, thanks to the fiscal transparency brought about by GAAP accounting and open books, most elections since the mid-1990s have seen the unusual — and pleasing — spectacle of both parties trying to outdo each other over who will be more fiscally responsible.

There is no reason why the same remedies couldn’t be applied across the bankrupt southern zone of the European Union, or even in the United States. All it takes is the will to make it happen, the courage to stand up to politicians and cronies devoted to protecting the status quo, and a little Kiwi know-how.

The Credential Is Killing the Classroom

By Isaac M. Morehouse

“I wish college were like this!”

I hear this exclamation over and over at the seminars put on by organizations like the Foundation for Economic Education and the Institute for Humane Studies.

Attendees are blown away by the excellence of the content, the professors’ willingness to engage students even in free time, and the intelligence and interest level of the other participants.

And it’s not just the students who see a difference. Faculty also talk about how these seminars are far better than typical college classes.

What causes this distinction?

One obvious explanation is self-selection. Faculty and students who choose to give up a week of their summer to discuss ideas are high caliber and highly engaged.

But college has self-selection, too. Shouldn’t it be full of professors and students who are earnest truth and knowledge seekers of the finest quality?

With the rare exception of one or two classes, college is nothing like this. Why does the self-selection only produce quality learning in these seminars?

It’s because college offers an official credential — a degree. Educational experiences outside of college do not.

That’s it. Every other difference is insignificant.

Imagine how different these summer seminars would be if they offered an official, government-approved piece of paper at the end — something without which you couldn’t get past the first screening of job applications. A summer seminar selling a magical ticket to a job that Mom and Dad would feel proud of and that society would respect would be overwhelmed with attendees. And many of them wouldn’t give a hoot about what they had to do to get the paper at the end. Demand for faculty would spike, and many instructors would do whatever it took to get the paycheck and retreat to quiet corridors where they could be with their books and the few colleagues who actually care.

It would become, in a word, college.

The evidence is everywhere that the credential is killing the classroom. I’ve guest taught entry-level college classes before. It’s pretty painful. Most of the students are half asleep, grumpy, forlorn, texting, and generally inattentive.

I like to joke that if aliens from another planet came down and observed a typical class at a typical university and were asked what they had witnessed, they would scan the cinder block and fluorescent room, ponder the pained look on student faces, and conclude it was a penal colony. Imagine their surprise when told these people are not only here of their own free will, but paying tens of thousands of dollars for their suffering.

Not every classroom is that painful, but few inspire the joy of learning. Consider this: when class is cancelled, everyone is happy — students and professors alike. What other good can you think of where you pay in advance and are excited when it’s not delivered?

What other good can you think of where you pay in advance and are excited when it’s not delivered? 

 

But what is the product that colleges are selling? The professors may not always realize it, but it’s not their lectures the students are buying. It’s nice to get a little enjoyment and knowledge out of the deal, but that’s not what tuition pays for. After all, if that’s all that students were seeking, they could simply sit in on classes without registering or paying.

They are there for the credential. The credential is the signal to the working world that they are at least slightly better, on average, than those without it. That’s it.

In some fields the credential is required, and in many others alternative ways to measure competence are illegal, so the signal of a degree retains artificially enhanced value. Even so, that value is fading.

Large institutions form because transaction costs are high, with tons of individuals exchanging goods, services, and information separately. This is why family names mattered so much in times past. Economist Ronald Coase famously explained the existence of firms using this basic logic. It works for universities, too. When it’s hard to prove your worth, you get a trusted institution to vouch for you. It’s a shortcut that reduces risk on the part of those who want to hire you.

But each passing year, the value of this institutional reputation-backer declines compared to the available alternatives. Technology has dramatically reduced information costs, so it is now easier than ever to vouch for yourself — or to get vast networks of clients and customers to vouch for you.

Whose steak is the best? Where once you had to rely on a few food critics or word of mouth among a small set of friends, now Yelp reviews let you consult a vast array of food lovers.

With reputation markets, you can build a better signal than what college is selling.

As long as legal and cultural norms make the degree the primary signal of value in the marketplace, the classroom will continue to decline in quality. When the majority of students are purchasing one good (the credential) but are made to endure another (the classroom), they will continue to see formal education as more of a cost than a benefit — and they will behave accordingly, sliding through to minimize pain and suffering.

The classroom isn’t doing the credential any favors, either. Most employers admit that a degree signals very little these days. Everyone has one. Most universities sell as many as they possibly can. Cases of professors passing bad students and universities passing bad professors are well known, and the institutions’ clout is waning.

Even employers who still require a degree ask for much more on top of it, because sitting through a bunch of classes you didn’t care about and doing the minimum amount of passionless hoop-jumping doesn’t convey much about your energy, eagerness, and ability to create value in a dynamic market.

My professor friends sometimes chastise me for what they think are unfair criticisms of college. What I’m suggesting, however — that the credential should be separated from the classroom — reflects my respect for great professors and the value of their style of education.

Classroom learning at its best — classes like those I’ve experienced in summer seminars — is so powerful and so valuable that I hate to see great education destroyed and diminished by artificial attachment to a supposedly magical credential. The subsidies, loans, restrictions, requirements, and licensure laws, as well as the parental and societal worship of college as the great economic security blanket, have filled the classroom with so much clutter that it’s a rarity for quality interaction to occur.

I’m excited to see the cleavage between the credential and the classroom happening right in front of us. It’s not the proliferation of free online university courses that will fundamentally change the college experience in countries like the United States, where access to information is already rich. The “massively open online course” is just a new delivery system for a current good — and one that most Americans aren’t buying anyway. The real shift is occurring as fewer and fewer employers look to the degree as the dominant signal, and as more and more young people build their own.

When the dust settles, we’ll see great teachers and researchers doing their thing with eager audiences of students who are actually there to purchase that unique product, not just suffering through it on their way to getting something else they really want. The host of mediocre faculty will lose, but the good ones will win big, both in economic opportunity and in quality of the craft. So will the young customers who wish to learn from them.

Baby-parts judge fears ‘violence’ – against abortionists

 

cute-baby-girlThe beleaguered abortion industry got some help Monday in its fight to prevent the release of sensational undercover videos – one of which may include evidence of infants born alive and then killed – from a California judge who ruled he was extending his order prohibiting public release of certain video evidence by the Center for Medical Progress.

The order came from Judge William H. Orrick, who was nominated to his post by President Obama and has strong financial links to him, having been both a major donor and bundler for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. Orrick raised at least $200,000 in that effort and donated $30,800 to committees supporting Obama, according to Public Citizen, the Federalist reported.

He extended his order that prevents the CMP from releasing videos it acquired by going undercover to the National Abortion Federation and recording comments and conversations there.

At Monday’s hearing, Orrick barred the group through Aug. 27 from releasing those recordings.

Orrick expressed worries about “people’s privacy” and what he called the history of “violence” against abortionists.

As Bob Egelko reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, the CMP described its work Monday as legal investigative journalism, saying the NAF videos were just part of its extended series exposing illegal activity.

Earlier videos in the series reveal Planned Parenthood executives negotiating over prices for various body parts of unborn infants. Federal law bans the sale of such body parts.

Planned Parenthood has denied that it profits from sales of baby parts, and looks only to cover costs associated with processing the “tissue.”

A lawyer for the CMP pointed out that a confidentiality pledge should not apply to recordings made in public areas “where there is no expectation of privacy,” but Orrick disagreed.

The organization has said it followed all applicable laws in making the undercover recordings of NAF and other organizations.

After the CMP started releasing its undercover work – four videos already have been made public – the National Abortion Federation was one of two abortion interests to go to court to preemptively try to suppress public airing of their own statements.

As WND reported, NAF, in its court move, claimed it was seeking to protect “the safety and security of our members.”

“That security has been compromised by the illegal activities of a group with ties to those who believe it is justifiable to murder abortion providers,” said NAF President Vicki Saporta in an announcement about the filing. “CMP went to great lengths to infiltrate our meetings as part of a campaign to intimidate and attack abortion providers.”

Saporta provided no support for her claim that CMP is tied to “those who believe it is justifiable to murder abortion providers.”

Read the tested and proven strategies to defeat the abortion cartel, in “Abortion Free: Your Manual for Building a Pro-Life America One Community at a Time.”

The other case in which statements reportedly obtained by the CMP are targeted for suppression was filed by StemExpress. There, a Los Angeles Superior Court ordered that a hearing be held in a few weeks on whether those can be released.

In response to that move, CMP said, “StemExpress, a for-profit company partnered with over 30 abortion clinics, including Planned Parenthood, to harvest and sell aborted baby parts and provide a ‘financial benefit’ to Planned Parenthood clinics, is attempting to use meritless litigation to cover-up this illegal baby parts trade, suppress free speech, and silence the citizen press reporting on issues of burning concern to the American public.”

The statement continued, “They are not succeeding – their initial petition was rejected by the court, and their second petition was eviscerated to a narrow and contingent order about an alleged recording pending CMP’s opportunity to respond. The Center for Medical Progress follows all applicable laws in the course of our investigative journalism work and will contest all attempts from Planned Parenthood and their allies to silence our First Amendment rights and suppress investigative journalism.”

StemExpress claimed unfair competition, breach of contract, interference with contractual relations, fraudulent inducement of a contract, receipt of stolen property and invasion of privacy. The complaint explains that after the meeting with undercover videographers in a public restaurant, StemExpress insisted that a confidentiality agreement would be imposed.

StemExpress also said it “offers [the] largest variety of raw material in the industry, as well as fresh (non-frozen) and cryopreserved human primary cells” and that it works with 30 “procurement sites.”

It was in an interview with CNN that CMP chief David Daleiden give his view as to why StemExpress was so concerned.

He said, in an interview during which the CNN reporter was combative, that his StemExpress, which partners with Planned Parenthood to dissect unborn babies and remove the most valuable body parts, is trying to suppress “a specific video recording of a meeting with their top leadership where their leadership admitted they sometimes get fully intact fetuses shipped to their lab from the abortion clinics.”

“That,” he said, “could be prima facie evidence of born-alive infants. That’s why they’re trying to suppress that and they’re very scared of it.”

See the interview:

“Fully intact fetuses” – who logically could not become “specimens” without somehow having first met their demise – could be protected by the Born Alive Infant Protection Act adopted in 2002.

To date, the video investigation has resulted in at least eight states beginning investigations of Planned Parenthood. Several congressional committees are doing the same, and on Monday the Senate narrowly failed to approve a ban on federal money for Planned Parenthood, which promises to keep the fight looming in Washington.

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said the videos were just too much.

“I am very troubled by the callous behavior of Planned Parenthood staff in (the) recently released videos,” he explained, “which casually discuss the sale, possibly for profit, of fetal tissue after an abortion. Until these allegations have been answered and resolved, I do not believe that taxpayer money should be used to fund this organization.”

From statements by Planned Parenthood officials that ranged from “I want a Lamborghini” to discussion about how to salvage certain saleable parts by crushing surrounding parts, the videos are self-explanatory.

No. 4:

No. 3:

No. 2:

No. 1:

An old story

WND also has reported that as horrific as the videos appear, they should surprise no one, since such practices have been documented for nearly two decades already.

One price list uncovered by a pro-life organization dated June 1998 shows that the price per specimen from a second trimester abortion is $90 fresh and $130 frozen.

Mark Crutcher, whose Life Dynamics organization was a ground-breaker in investigating the abortion behemoth that gets some $500 million annually from U.S. taxpayers, worked on that investigation.

His group reported back in February 2000 how the baby parts market works: “A baby parts ‘wholesaler’ enters into a financial agreement with an abortion clinic in which the wholesaler pays a monthly ‘site fee’ to the clinic. For this payment, the wholesaler is allowed to place a retrieval agent inside the clinic where he or she is given access to the corpses of children killed there and a workspace to harvest their parts.”

He continued: “The buyer – usually a researcher working for a medical school, pharmaceutical company, bio-tech company or government agency – supplies the wholesaler with a list of the baby parts wanted. … when such orders are received … they are faxed to the retrieval agent at the clinic who harvests the requested parts and ships them to the buyer.”

The documentation was provided at that time to Life Dynamics by a worker who left Comprehensive Health for Women, a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Overland Park, Kansas.

“Black genocide in 21st century America?” Watch incredible “MAAFA 21” documentary!

Among the documents was a “Fee-for-Services” Schedule A, effective June 1998, which outlined a charge of $220 per specimen for first-trimester aspiration abortions and $260 if the baby parts were frozen.

Crutcher’s report, citing Planned Parenthood’s own paperwork, found that one agent sold during February 1996 alone 47 livers, 11 liver fragments, seven brains, 21 eyes, eight thymuses, 23 legs, 14 pancreases, 14 lungs, six arms and one kidney-adrenal gland.

Read the tested and proven strategies to defeat the abortion cartel, in “Abortion Free: Your Manual for Building a Pro-Life America One Community at a Time.”

He also sold three orders of blood from the unborn child. The retrieval agent “harvested all of the parts,” the report said, explaining that “in order for the blood of an aborted child to be sold, the dead baby had to be brought to him intact.”

The “specimens,” the report said, would have generated up to about $25,000 in revenue for one month from one retrieval agent at one Planned Parenthood business.

Crutcher reported that the tissue logs reveal that one baby is often chopped up and sold to many buyers.

For example, babies taken from donors 113968 and 114189 were both killed late in their second trimester and cut into nine pieces. By applying the price list, buyers would have been invoiced between $3,510 and $5,070 for these parts, he said.

 

Practicing Gratitude in the Shadow of the Third Reich

By Lawrence W. Reed

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.


German-born Anne Frank is surely the most unusual best-selling teenage author of the 20th century. She penned but one volume, a diary, while hiding from the Nazis during the German occupation of the Netherlands.

“How wonderful it is,” she wrote in that tiny hideaway, “that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Imagine it. Living each day for two years crammed behind a bookcase in an office building, knowing that without notice you might be found and hauled off to near-certain death at a concentration camp. Barely a teenager, she managed to write those and many other remarkable passages before she and her family were discovered in August 1944. They were sent to the Bergen-Belsen camp, where Anne died in March 1945, just three months before her 16th birthday.

How is it possible for a youngster to see so much light in a dark world, to find within herself so much hope and optimism amid horror? What insight! What power! That’s been the magic of Anne Frank for the past seven decades.

When Anne was four, her parents fled Germany. That was in 1933, the year the Nazis came to power. The Franks sought refuge in Amsterdam but then were trapped there when Hitler occupied the Netherlands in May 1940. Two years later, with persecution of Jews escalating, they went into hiding.

Eight days into her diary, on June 20, 1942, Anne wrote this reflective note about her undertaking:

For someone like me, it is a very strange habit to write in a diary. Not only that I have never written before, but it strikes me that later neither I, nor anyone else, will care for the musings of a thirteen-year-old schoolgirl.

Little did she know that once her writings were found and published after the war as The Diary of a Young Girl, she would be immortalized as an icon of the Holocaust and beloved by millions the world over. That’s not only because of her remarkable eloquence at such a young age but also because of her undefeatable attitude. It was one of optimism, hope, service to others, and, perhaps most important of all, gratitude for the good she saw in a war-torn world.

This entry from April 5, 1944, just four months before the last thing she would ever write, will touch almost anybody’s heart:

I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met.

Her diary is full of such uplifting sentiments. One would expect to find endless tales about the privations and claustrophobia of confinement, fearing discovery at any moment. Not from this girl! Yes, there are dark moments and candid admissions of temptation, even disdain and disappointment, but just when you think she’s down and out, she bounces back with observations like, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

In a remarkable 2008 book by Robert A. Emmons titled Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, the author reveals groundbreaking research into the previously underexamined emotion we call “gratitude.” As defined by Emmons, gratitude is the acknowledgement of goodness in one’s life and the recognition that the source of this goodness lies at least partially outside oneself. I think this was the secret to Anne Frank’s character.

Years of study by Emmons and his associates show that “grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness and optimism, and that the practice of gratitude as a discipline protects a person from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed and bitterness.”

A grateful attitude enriches life. Emmons believes it elevates, energizes, inspires, and transforms. The science supports him: research shows that gratitude is an indispensable key to happiness (the more of it you can muster, the happier you’ll be) and that happiness adds up to nine years to life expectancy.

Gratitude isn’t just a knee-jerk, unthinking thank-you.

 

Gratitude isn’t just a knee-jerk, unthinking thank-you. It’s much more than a warm and fuzzy sentiment. It’s not automatic. Some people, in fact, feel and express it all too rarely. And as grateful a person as you may think you are, chances are you can develop an even more grateful attitude, a task that carries ample rewards that more than compensate for its moral and intellectual challenges. If Anne Frank could do it with all that was going on around her closeted world for two years, you and I have few excuses for failing to muster it as well.

English writer, poet, and philosopher G.K. Chesterton once said, “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

Think about that, especially Chesterton’s use of the word wonder. It means “awe” or “amazement.” The least-thankful people tend to be those who are rarely awed or amazed, in spite of the extraordinary beauty, gifts, and achievements that envelop us.

A shortage of wonder is a source of considerable error and unhappiness in the world. What should astonish us all, some take for granted or even expect as an entitlement.

We’re moved by great music. We enjoy an endless stream of labor-saving, life-enriching inventions. We’re surrounded by abundance in markets for everything from food to shoes to books. We travel in hours to distances that required a month of discomfort for our recent ancestors.

In America, life expectancy at age 60 is up by about 8 years since 1900, while life expectancy at birth has increased by an incredible 30 years. The top three causes of death in 1900 were pneumonia, tuberculosis, and diarrhea. Today, we live healthier lives and we live long enough to die mainly from illnesses (like heart disease and cancer) that are degenerative, aging-related problems.

Technology, communications, and transportation have all progressed so much in the last century that hardly a library in the world could document the stunning accomplishments. I still marvel every day that I can call a friend in China from my car or find the nearest coffee shop by using an iPhone app. I’m in awe every time I take a coast-to-coast flight, while the unhappy guy next to me complains that the flight attendant doesn’t have any ketchup for his omelet.

None of these things that should inspire wonderment were inevitable, automatic, or guaranteed. Almost all of them come our way by incentive, self-interest, and the profit motive, from people who gift their creativity to us not because they are ordered to but because of the reward and sense of accomplishment they derive when they do.

Some see this and are amazed and grateful, happy and inspired. Others see it and are envious and unappreciative, angry and demanding.

Which are you? The answer may reveal whether you’re a person who will leave the Earth a better place or a place that will regret you were ever here.

If you want to make a better world, start by making a better self; it’s the one thing you have considerable control over in almost any situation.

 

Anne Frank’s message will be remembered for many more decades to come, hopefully forever. It reminds us that, no matter the circumstances, we can brighten our lives and those of others around us. We don’t have to sink into despair. We can find good in the smallest of things that can overwhelm the biggest of evils. Our attitude, the old saying goes, determines our altitude. If you want to make a better world, start by making a better self; it’s the one thing you have considerable control over in almost any situation. 

Anne Frank didn’t live long enough to see or possess very much. But because she found within herself an undying gratitude for what she had — and an awesome ability to communicate it — we can be thankful that she inspires millions to this day. No matter how old you are, you can learn some critically important life lessons from this brave teenage heroine.

Why the Candidates Keep Giving Us Reasons to Use the "F" Word

By Steven Horwitz

“There are far too many candidates,” writes Dana Milbank at the Washington Post. “And to gain attention they are juggling, tooting horns and blowing slide whistles like so many painted performers emerging from a clown car.” The two clowns making the most noise in recent weeks are Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

At first glance, it would seem they couldn’t be more different: a Democrat and a Republican, a friend of the unions and a CEO, a man of relatively modest means by congressional standards and one of the wealthiest men in the United States. But a closer look reveals some interesting similarities and teaches us an important lesson about the history of ideas. What Sanders and Trump have in common is no laughing matter.

Recent articles by libertarians on both candidates have suggested that they are both strongly nationalist. Dan Bier tore apart Sanders for his views on immigration, and both Jeff Tucker and Jason Kuznicki have associated Trump with nationalism and perhaps even a variant of fascism. I think they are all on to something: Sanders and Trump have a lot more in common than many think. But before I get there, we need to take a detour into the history of socialism and fascism.

Sanders and Trump have a lot more in common than many think. 

 

In its original conception, Marxian socialism was strongly internationalist. Marx’s theory was based on the idea of class struggle and the disparity in power between those who owned the means of production (the capitalists) and those who did not (the proletariat).

Marxism has nothing to do with nationality. It’s all about class, defined as whether or not one owns capital. For true Marxists, a German worker has much more in common with a Russian worker or an Italian worker than he or she does with a German capitalist. Marxism did not give any importance to national borders.

For many in the early 20th century, this was a problem with Marxism, especially in the aftermath of World War I. Much like today, people were looking for a “third way” between capitalism and socialism. For many of those people, that third way was fascism.

Today we use the word fascism as an epithet, especially for bossy people. We associate it with dictatorships, and especially with Nazism. It turns out that fascism was a fairly well-worked-out theory of how to organize a society, and in its original form was not about racism or anti-Semitism directly. Fascism was an attempt to combine what people saw as the best parts of capitalism and socialism, and then to do so in the context of putting nationality before class.

The most extensive writing about how fascism would work came from the Italians in the 1920s and 1930s, and interested readers should find a copy of Luigi Villari’s The Economics of Fascism to see the details. (You can find a nice summary of those ideas in Sheldon Richman’s entry on fascism in the online Concise Encyclopedia of Economics.)

The fascists argued that the whole notion of class conflict was the problem. Instead of pitting class against class and tearing nations apart, why not bring all the parties together and give them the chance to cooperate with each other rather than struggle their way to socialism? The fascist economy was built around a series of cartels where the state, the nominal owners of the means of production, and the workers (represented by labor unions) would get together and figure out what to produce, how to produce it, what to charge, and how much profit would be “allowed.”

The fascists agreed with socialism’s desire not to leave markets to spontaneous ordering forces, but they thought the nation-state should direct the economy, not the workers. Both capitalism and socialism involved conflict, not cooperation. The same third-way thinking, and some of the same structures, were present in the first two years of the New Deal in the United States. The cartels of the National Recovery Administration were modeled after Italian fascism, and FDR and Mussolini were mutual admirers.

You can see how fascism took elements of both capitalism and socialism, then added nationalism. The idea was to look out for the welfare of the nation-state first. The Italian capitalist and the Italian worker were both Italians first and foremost, and that should be the first call on their allegiance. Lashing socialism to the glorification of the nation-state gives us fascism, and you can see why anyone who represented a threat to national identity would quickly become a problem.

Lashing socialism to the glorification of the nation-state gives us fascism.

 

This is one reason why the German version of fascism so easily linked up with a long history of German anti-Semitism. The Nazis were undoubtedly socialist (recall that Nazi is short for National Socialist German Workers Party), as even a quick glance at their 1920 platform will tell you. They were also, even at that date, fiercely nationalist. In Hitler’s hands, that national pride quickly became a desire to glorify the Aryan race.

Plus, recall that Jews were disproportionately both capitalists and supporters of the Marxist revolution in Russia — not to mention the symbol of the cosmopolitan, rootless nomad for centuries. Many of those who wanted to reject both capitalism and Marxian socialism saw the Jews as the symbol of both.

So what does this have to do with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump?

I would argue that they are both “nationalist socialists.” That is, they both embody key elements of fascism. They both think the nation comes first, and they both think the United States is an organization (not a spontaneous order) that should be under someone’s control.

The difference is that Sanders sees both the problems and the solutions from the workers’ perspective, so he’s focusing on both the exploitation by capitalists and keeping immigrants out to protect the wages of US workers. The losses to US workers matter more than the large gains to foreign-born workers coming here.

Trump sees all of this from the CEO/owner/capitalist perspective. He thinks the United States is, or should be, like a big firm where we all work together for a common goal. He envisions himself as the CEO, negotiating deals with other countries as if they, too, were just big corporate firms. But nations are not firms — they are spontaneous orders.

As I argued in an earlier column, “Socialism Is War and War Is Socialism,” this desire to turn spontaneous orders into hierarchies is characteristic of both war and socialism. It is also deeply embedded in fascism, and Sanders and Trump exemplify that tendency among the presidential candidates, though they do so with different emphases and rhetoric.

Their commonalities are also why our conventional binary left-right political spectrum makes no sense. That one candidate is perceived as far to the left and the other as (to some degree) a right-wing capitalist shows the depth of our failure to understand history. They have both rejected the spontaneous order of the market as well as the cosmopolitanism of liberalism and socialism. They are fascist brothers under the skin.

That both are getting the attention and support of so many Americans should be a matter of grave concern. After all, some clowns are far more scary than funny.

Suspect ID’d in Memphis cop killing

(USATODAY) — Police in Memphis identified a 29-year-old convicted bank robber as the man who allegedly killed a city cop during a traffic stop on Saturday.

Police director Toney Armstrong on Sunday evening told reporters that officer Sean Bolton apparently interrupted a drug deal and that after “some type of physical altercation,” Bolton was shot and killed by a passenger in the car. Armstrong said police were searching for 29-year-old Tremaine Wilbourn and had issued a warrant for his arrest.

Wilbourn had been free on supervised release by the U.S. Western District Court for a 122-month sentence for bank robbery, Armstrong said. He now faces a first-degree murder charge.

Allen West: Navy to prosecute Chattanooga hero

Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White and family

Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White and family

According to former congressman and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Allen West, the U.S. Navy has decided to bring charges against the naval officer who fired his personal weapon at Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez during the ISIS supporter’s July 16 attack on the Chattanooga U.S. Naval and Marine Reserve Center.

Abdulazeez, armed with a handgun and an assault rifle, killed four Marines and one sailor.

In the posting on his website Saturday, West wrote:

“Ladies and gents, resulting from the text message I received yesterday, I can confirm that the United States Navy is bringing charges against Lt. Cmdr. Timothy White for illegally discharging a firearm on federal property.

“The text message asked if it would be possible for Lt. Cmdr. White to reach out to me. To wit I replied, ‘Affirmative.’”

Following the attack, several military officials with knowledge of the internal investigation on the shooting reported White – the commanding officer for the Navy Operational Support Center – likely fired his personal weapon at Abdulazeez. Reports said one of the murdered Marines, armed with his own personal 9mm Glock, possibly engaged the shooter as well.

Killed were Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, Staff Sgt. David Wyatt, Sgt. Carson Holmquist and Lance Cpl. Squire Wells, as well as Navy petty officer second class Randall Smith.

Department of Defense regulations prohibit most service members from being armed on U.S. soil, including most personnel at reserves and recruiting centers like the ones in Chattanooga. Only law enforcement or service members who are acting as military police are allowed to carry weapons on such properties.

This infallible argument for armed self-defense presents real stories of Americans fighting back – and surviving because they were armed. “America Fights Back: Armed Self-Defense In A Violent Age” is a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered if concealed carry can actually save and protect.

The attacker was a naturalized American citizen, but was born in Kuwait to Jordanian parents and had traveled to Jordan for a seven-month stay last year.

Abdulazeez opened fire on the first facility, a recruiting office, from his rented, silver Mustang convertible and never got out. No one was hit. He then went to a joint Marine-Navy facility about seven miles away.

Officer White confirmed Thursday to the Knoxville Free Press that he had used his personal weapon to try to fend off Abdulazeez.

White, who has served in the Navy for 13 years, moved to Chattanooga in April with his wife and six kids — and a seventh on the way. His wife, Franicia White, said she supports her husband’s actions that day.

“He values human life enough to protect his sailors and others,” she said. “I am honored to be his wife and stand by him 100 percent.”

Whether or not the shots fired by White or the unnamed Marine struck Abdulazeez has not been reported.

“What kind of freaking idiots are in charge of our Armed Forces — pardon me, our ‘unArmed Forces’?” said West in his posting.

“What would they prefer — that Abdulazeez had been able to kill all the Marines and sailors at the Naval Support Reserve Center?

“Let me draw an interesting contrast: Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus is more concerned about lifting the ban on transgendered sailors. Mabus has a problem in that for the first time since 2007 the U.S. Navy will not have a carrier battle group operating in the Persian Gulf. But this knucklehead has no problem with the Navy seeking to destroy the career of a sailor, a commander of an installation, returning fire against an Islamic jihadist attack.

“I do not care if it was his personal weapon, he deserves a medal for facing the enemy.”

What do YOU think? Sound off on the report the Navy will prosecute Chattanooga hero.

WND revealed two days ago a new report saying the U.S. military is authorizing service members who are at remote locations – such as a recruitment center – to be armed, even if they’re not in law enforcement.

According to a report at The Hill, Defense Secretary Ash Carter has signed a new memo specifying that qualified troops can be armed, on orders from their commanders, at locations such as the off-base reserve center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Carter had cited the Chattanooga shooting as evidence of the “continuing threat to DOD personnel.”

“This incident and the ongoing threat underscore the need for DOD to review its force protection and security policies, programs and procedures, particularly for off-installation DOD facilities.”

The change in policy notwithstanding, Cmdr. White will not be spared, according to West’s sources.

“Can you imagine the message this sends to ISIS and all the enemies of America? West asked. “We are going to end his career and court-martial a man who drew his sidearm to protect his command, and the assigned sailors and Marines.

“Are they just supposed to sit and be butchered, gunned down, until local law enforcement come along? Let’s be very clear here, I can attest that there are many reserve and National Guard troops who are carrying concealed during their drill periods … why? Because they are lions, not sheep, like the imbeciles who are making the decision to punish Lt. Cmdr. White.

“Here’s what needs to happen. Flood the phone of SecNav Ray Mabus and SecDef Carter and ask them whose side they’re on. Demand the charges being brought against Lt.Cmdr White be immediately dropped. If those charges are not dropped, I will personally lead the charge to have Carter and Mabus removed from their positions.”

On Wednesday, a petition was filed at the White House website asking President Obama to “honor our brave men … who saved lives by returning fire.”

“But for the gallant actions under enemy fire of LCDR Tim White and his men, many more lives would have been lost that day,” the petition reads.

We petition the President to honor our brave men by presenting medals for bravery to LCDR White and all of the service members, including the fallen, who saved lives by returning fire.

“What he did there was a very brave thing,” Michael Seewald, a friend of White’s who signed the petition, told the Knoxville Free Press. “It would be so easy for somebody to just try to get away and escape, but he tried to defend the people there. I’m not sure that was in the protocol for what they were supposed to be doing, but I think he felt he had a responsibility to protect his people.”

The White House petition must reach at least 100,000 signatures by Aug. 28 in order to get a response from the administration.

Man kills neighbor, runs her over with mower

(Associated Press) A man who became agitated about his next-door neighbor mowing her lawn at night shot her and then ran a push mower over her body, authorities said Friday.

Linda Ciotto, 62, was shot in the face from close distance, Huron County Coroner Jeffrey Harwood said. Ciotto also had a severe wound to her left arm and hand that appeared to have been caused by a mower blade, Harwood said.

The slaying occurred Tuesday in a township outside Willard, a city about 80 miles southwest of Cleveland.

James Blair, 50, has been charged with murder and is being held in Huron County Jail on $1 million bond. His public defender declined to comment Friday.

Obama admin wants more than $18,113,000,000,000.00 debt

money_spiral

The Obama administration this week is warning Congress that it needs to raise the nation’s debt ceiling – the maximum the government can legally borrow – beyond its current $18,113,000,000,000.00 because officials already are having to juggle the books to keep the balance in the black.

The issue repeatedly has been the source of conflict in Washington, with a standoff in 2011 leading to a downgrade in the nation’s credit rating by one rating agency and another in 2013 developing into a two-week shutdown of some portions of government when Barack Obama refused to negotiate with Congress.

Now, according to CNN, Treasure Secretary Jack Lew has dispatched to leaders of the legislative bodies a letter telling them they need to raise the ceiling and soon.

Or lawmakers could, according to another plan, from the Government Accountability Office, simply eliminate the ceiling entirely.

To give the president virtually unlimited borrowing authority.

The recent GAO report said such a move would eliminate the possibility there would be no money available to pay interest on the nation’s debt when it comes due.

Reported CNN, “This scenario would also reduce the potential for disruptions to financial markets well before a deadline that approaches for defaulting on the debt.”

Tired of more borrowing by Washington? Want to do something about it? Join the No More Red Ink campaign now.

The current debt ceiling of $18,113,000,000,000.00 was reached in mid-March, but administration officials say they are operating the government on “extraordinary measures” for now – essentially transferring funds around, utilizing those accounts with balances and delaying scheduled payments for things like retirement benefit accounts.

Estimates are now that those mechanisms will expire sometime probably in October.

Lew told members of Congress, “We believe that the measures will not be exhausted before late October, and it is likely that they will last for at least a brief additional period of time.

According to AP, the current national debt stands only pocket change – $25 million – below the limit.

Lew told Congress he wants to get his way “without controversy or brinksmanship.”

And he warned that because of the the variables in the economy, “Treasury is not able to provide a specific estimate of how long the extraordinary measures will last.”

The debt ceiling already has been raised 74 times in the last five decades, including five times so far under Obama.

Congress had passed the Temporary Debt Limit Extension Act in February 2014 and that simply suspended the debt limit for Obama. But that expired in March of this year, and the new limit of $18,113,000,000,000.00 was set.

The national debt clock recently (the numbers change constantly) estimated that the debt liabilities per person totaled $57,026. But because there are many who do not pay taxes, the per taxpayer liability is $154,433.

The routine of borrowing and spending more and more is being targeted, too, by a special No More Red Ink campaign.

It points out that because of the GOP majority in the U.S. House, there are 246 members, they could simply refuse to authorize additional borrowing, and trigger one of the biggest cutbacks in federal spending ever.

It also would tell the world members of Congress are addressing the “debt time bomb” that America is facing.

Launched by WND CEO Joseph Farah, the programs notes the debt limit issue is the “greatest opportunity to return American to constitutionally limited government.”

“Do you want to stop passing on debt to our children and grandchildren – money that is frittered away on useless, wasteful and unconstitutional departments, agencies and bureaucracies that benefit no one except the power brokers in Washington?” he asks. “The only option – the only game in town – is this ‘No More Red Ink’ campaign. It’s the only way for you to reach every single member of the House Republican caucus inexpensively, securely and with an investment of about one minute of your time.”

He points out it doesn’t taken any Democratic cooperation – 218 GOP members alone can halt more borrowing.

Tired of more borrowing by Washington? Want to do something about it? Join the No More Red Ink campaign now.

 

Illegals splash into sexy model’s beach video

(BROWARDPALMBEACH) — About 6 a.m. on July 10, Ekaterina Juskowski was shooting a video of her friend, a model, near 36th Street in the heart of Miami Beach.

She noticed that a blue-green boat in the background — she thought it was a scuba boat — was coming closer to shore and thought, “They are ruining my video.”

Juskowski shut off the camera for a moment but turned it back on when all of the men on the boat — about nine of them — jumped off and dashed across the sand and into the city, leaving the boat bobbing, empty, by the beach. Juskowski’s video illuminated how brazenly migrants are entering the country along the Florida coastline.