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This Month's Scripture Verse:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
2 Timothy 3:1-5


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For March 21, 2018

March 8

To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost's citing of a Carl Trueman on the psychologized self and identity politics. In that article, Trueman claims that the root of all oppresion is economic. Ts appeared in heidelblog.net

The problem with this portion of Trueman's article is that his claim about oppression is false. The root of oppression is not always economic. Blacks have suffered, and still do,  much psychological harm from various forms of white supremacy.  That has been as true for middle class and upper class Black as it has for lower class Blacks. Even today, racial profiling practiced by the police affects Blacks of all classes. White privilege affects Blacks of all classes. But it is not just Blacks who suffer oppression. Kids who are targets of verbal and online bullying suffer psychological oppression.

Trueman,  in how he reduces the root of oppression to that which is objectively measured, takes a similar approach to understanding oppression as some, especially some liberal theologians, take to understanding reality. That is they believe that only that which is physical is real. In the end, it seems that Trueman, as a theologian, is not only fighting a turf battle with Pscyhology. he might be trying to excuse or even deny some of the abuse that has been directed from the conservative Church toward certain non-mainstream groups. That abuse includes the conservative Church's efforts to marginalize the LGBT community in society. Here we should remember those Christians who used their religious beliefs to justify and promote the racism that was part of the Jim Crow era. In addition, we should remember the efforts of Martin Luther in trying to get German society to marginalize Jews becaue of their persistent unbelief.

Unless the conservative Church only wants to evangelize political conservatives, it should study the history of oppression in the West in order to remove any current support for or participation in that oppression by its clergy or members of the congregation


March 17

To Rev Ben Johnson and his blogpost that compares Romania under Communist rule with today’s Romania and with what it hopes to become. This appeared in the Acton blog.

It seems like from the above description of Romania that not much changed from the overthrow of Communism back in 1989 in terms of structure. Many of the leaders are still the same. You had authoritarianism in Romania under Communism and you have it today. Only corruption today has gone wild while it was seemingly contained under Communism. And you have Romania growing closer to closer to authoritarian Russia--btw, calling Russia authoritarian just might be an understatement. So is Romania on the 'long road back from Communism?

We might want to answer that question from a Socialist perspective--noting that there is more than one such perspective. Socialist and contemporary of Vlad Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, offers some interesting insights. Her critique of Lenin's regime was that by relying on just a handful of people (Lenin and his Central Committee) to rule over the rest, Lenin was employing the same kind of leadership that the bourgeoisie employ in the private sector. So it seems that Romania hasn't really changed from its days under Communism except that the Socialist leaders from the past became today's bourgeoisie leaders  through their acquisition choice private property. What was Luxemburg's alternative to Lenin's regime? It was a proletariat dictatorship that Luxemburg described in the following way (see  https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1918/russian-revolution/ch08.htm  ):

but a dictatorship of the class, not of a party or of a clique – dictatorship of the class, that means in the broadest possible form on the basis of the most active, unlimited participation of the mass of the people, of unlimited democracy.

According to Luxemburg's description of Socialism, Socialism was never employed by Romania. Instead, what we saw in the pre-1989 Romania was the employment of a bourgeoisie model. And can we say the same for Romania today? That Romania is still employing a bourgeoisie model only it is a different model than what Romania employed when it was a "Communist" nation only the older model obviously provided checks that then prevented today's abuses.
Though the Socialism that Luxemburg proposed could be legitimately criticized for creating only a partial democracy, a classocracy where the proletariat replace the bourgeoisie as the ruling class, she provides some useful distinctions between Socialism and bourgeoisie rule which counter the Conservative mantra definition of Socialism/Communism or, for short, Marxism.


To R. Scott Clark and his blogpost that quotes Machen on how attempts at rescuing Christianity from scientific criticism actual serve to hurt Christianity because it attempts to change the definition of Christianity. This appeared in Heidelblog

The kind of rescuing that evangelicalism/fundamentalism needs now is not scientific, it is political in terms of party and ideological alliances. The association between evangelicalism/fundamentalism with the Republican Party and political conservatism is so strong for individual evangelicals/fundamentalists that it both politically blinds its own members from the real world and continually serves stumbling block after stumbling block to those outside the Republican and conservative political ideological circles.

In addition, because so many have been blinded, evangelicals/fundamentalists are paying moral values to the Republican Party and conservative political ideologies for a promised protection against an encroaching secularism. These moral values would otherwise be used to protect workers and others as well as the environment from exploitation by those with wealth. The Republican Party reduces being pro-life to the abortion issue in order to manipulate the votes of a vast number of evangelicals/fundamentalists. By reducing being pro-life to the abortion issue, the Republican Party has succeeded in persuading evangelicals/fundamentalists that it is the pro-life party while the Democrats are not; though, in reality, both parties have a mixed-bag record on being pro-life--that is if we count the concerns of those who have been born as part of being pro-life.


March 18

To Joe Carter and his blogpost  on tariffs and trade balance. this appeared in the Acton blog.

The weakness of the above post is the assumption that  tariffs and other such protectionist measures are practiced only for the sake of supporting mercantilism. America's history shows that is not the case. America employed protectionist measures, such as using tariffs, from its beginning as a nation through the FDR's Administration. Those measures were not used for the benefit of merchants who could charge highest price for their protects as tariffs eliminated foreign competition--even though that was an immediate result. Rather, as Ha-Joon Chang points out, protectionism was employed to give American industries a chance to become competitive (see http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/ha-joon-chang-protectionism-the-truth-is-on-a-10-bill-5334137.html ).
In addition, I believe that Griswold's claim about trade policies and deficits is wrong. First, we should note that both have required the importing of certain goods over using domestic products. , And at least NAFTA has contributed to the offshoring of jobs which contributes to the increase of imports (see https://www.frbsf.org/education/publications/doctor-econ/1999/october/trade-deficit-import-export-imbalance-currency/  ).

In addition, there seems to be a conservative inconsistency in allowing trade deficits to soar. After all, when the Federal government spends more money than it takes in, the Republicans sound the fiscal responsibility alarm indicating that we are building an insurmountable debt for our descendants to overcome. But when it comes to the trade deficit, it seems that the more the deficit, the merrier the Republicans become. To offset the trade deficit, investors from other nations buy American properties and businesses in order to finance the deficit. And another things that happens is that the American dollar eventually becomes weaker and it could possibly lose it position in the world economy as the default or reserve currency. Also, as more American businesses are owned by foreigners, then the more foreign investors will be able to buy the ear of our elected representatives. And the more those investors can buy, the less our officials will listen to us.

Though there are things to learn from Adam Smith's war against mercantilism, protectionism, when rightly employed for specific reasons, can benefit others than merchants who wish to corner a given market by eliminating competition.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

What A Real Anti-Fascist Group Should Do

Antifa had a coming out party last year especially during the Charlottesville protests and counter-protests. The image they portrayed came pretty much from their ancestors from Germany of the past during its 1920s and early 1930s street conflicts with the Nazis. Thus, many of their activities involve a similar approach to  street violence seen back then. And while members of the group might feel that they are fighting fascism when they throw punches at fringe groups or destroy property, they accomplish nothing on a good day. I am saying this as someone who has seen them in person before they gained notoriety.

The forces of fascism do not exist on the street. Instead, they exist in the seemingly honorable corner offices and majestic buildings that house the private sector pillars of our financial system and corporate Goliaths. The forces of fascism reside where the fuel for power accumulates. The fuel for fascism's power is wealth. That is because, in Capitalist economic systems, power follows wealh.

Thus, none of Antifa's destruction of property or street fighting contributes anything to the efforts to stop fascism. In fact, to the extent that such tactics harm the public image of the other opponents of fascism, Antifa's tactics amount to self-sabotage.

What we see in fascism is the consolidation of power. And as, previously mentioned, power follows wealth in Capitalist economic systems. Thus, where we see the potential for fascism is where wealth is accumulated. And where accumulated wealth is used to exercise power of over politicians, we have the beginnings of fascism. And we should note here that under our current form of Capitalism, which is called neoliberalism, wealth disparity has continually increased. Thus, as wealth disparity increases, the potential for fascism increases because power follows wealth.

So what we need to look for now is whether that potential for fascism is becoming realized. And, apparently, that potential has been in the process of being realized  even before Trump became President (click here).

When we look at the 3 main examples of fascism in Europe's history, which are Germany, Italy, and Spain, we find the following shared traits. They oppose democracy and liberalism while promoting a 'militaristic nationalism' and the rule of elites (click here). But another interesting tidbit about those 3 examples of Fascism is that those nations' respective leaders were supported by economic elites who saw in fascism either economic opportunities or protection from losses that could be incurred from rebellions (click here and there). At the same time, the governments gained supervision over both the economy and those elites. And while we saw a mutual support between the Obama Administration and different business elites such as evidenced by his attempts to fast track the TPP or his DOJ's failure to criminally penalize main players in the financial sector who were significantly responsible for the economic collapse of 2008, the mutual support between the Trump Administration and economic elites has spiked as shown by the Trump Administration's cutting back on environmental regulations (for examples, click here and there) as well as the DOJ dismissing the 'deferred prosecution' of HSBC for laundering money for groups like Mexican drug cartels and a Saudi Bank that has dealt with Al-Qaeda (click here and there). We should note from Mussolini's reign that some protectionism measures were enacted with the support of industry leaders (click here). We should also note that Donald Trump has spoken fondly of America following China's example of allowing their leader to serve as President for life.

At this point, we should include some disclaimers. First,  that protectionism and some government supervision of the economy does not imply a coming fascism. We should also note that government control of the economy does not imply socialism, at least from the Marxist tradition. While many became suspicious of Marxism with the Communist Manifesto's call for the abolition of private property (click here), few realized what Marx meant by that (click here to find Marx's definition of the abolition of property). Neither do more than a few realize that there were socialists who opposed Lenin's regime because it was structured after a bourgeoisie dictatorship rather than a proletariat run democracy (click here). Thus, according to Luxemburg, any government that relied on a top-down organization or did the bidding of economic elites could not be called a socialist government in any way, shape, or form. And not all authoritarian regimes that receive support from business elites can be called fascist. Finally, we should also note that because many of my fellow religiously conservative Christians fall prey to authoritarian personality types, we should expect the conservative Church to support various regimes that employ elite-centered rule provided that the right elites are in charge.

If Antifa wants to fight against fascism and other authoritarian type rule, it needs to do the following:
  1. Oppose all calls to a 'militaristic nationalism.'
  2. Oppose all calls for the consolidation of power for the President.
  3. Stop the further consolidation of wealth.
  4. Work to give all legal groups an equal voice in our political system. Here Antifa should eliminate the power that certain  groups have over our politicians without silencing them.
  5. Work to distribute power to workers in the workplace. One way to accomplish this is to help with the creation of democratically run worker co-ops. In addition, Antifa should support codetermination laws that are at least somewhat similar to the codetermination laws employed in Germany.

 Yes, there are other measures to take, but the ones listed above provide an adequate hedge against fascism or any other authoritarian regime. And we should note that if the above is what's needed to fight fascism, then we should judge Antifa's motives by the above criteria.


Monday, March 19, 2018

ONIM For March 19, 2018

10 Best Fact Checking Sites Found Here.

If you are not sure about the validity of a news story linked to below, you can use  mediabiasfactcheck.com to check out the credibility of the source of most of the stories linked to here.

Christian News

World News

Israel-Palestine News

Donald Trump News

Pick(s) Of The Litter

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Lesson From The Past: We Can't Afford To Be Silent

George Weigel (click here for a bio) has just written an article on the White Rose for the First Things website. The White Rose was a small group of German university students in Munich who wrote some of the truths about WW II for the German people during the days when Hitler was in power. They wrote what they realized about Hitler in 6 leaflets that were distributed by the group to many parts of Germany. Weigel wrote this article because of the time proximity of now with the 75th anniversary of the execution of the White Rose's 3 most famous members: Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl and Christopher Probst. He also wrote the article to emphasize the role that religious influence had on some of the members of the White Rose and the role of conscience in one's life (click here for the article and click there for a fuller history of the White Rose).

The influences on the members of the White Rose, which Weigel believes are not given due attention, are the teachings of Archbishop Clemons von Galen and John Henry Newman. From Archbishop von Galen, members of the White Rose learned that actions must come after reflection. From Newman comes the White Rose's claim to be the 'bad consciences' of the Third Reich which appeared in the 4th leaflet. According to Weigel, Sophie Scholl  passed along Newman's works onto her boyfriend who was fighting on the Russian Front. He responded by writing to her about how one's conscience enables us to distinguish between right and wrong. And during her trial, she, in part, attributed her decision to participate in the writing and spreading of the leaflets to her conscience.

What else did the White Rose learn from the conscience? According Weigel, they learned that consciences can neither be 'ignored' nor 'manipulated.' In addition, God uses our consciences to give a choice between life and death. And they learned that submission to one's conscience allows us to experience the 'deepest meaning of human freedom.'  Thus, for the most part, Weigel focused on the effects that Newman's writings on the conscience had on the members of the White Rose and, possibly on us if we follow his lead.

This article by Weigel is important because of the combination of the subject and today's news. The subject, being the White Rose, is about students trying to lead a nonviolent resistance against a brutal and insane dictator who was spreading death and destruction throughout all Europe. From the White Rose, we saw a courageous group of students who resisted that dictator by speaking out because their other choice was to be complicit in what their government and nation were doing. 

From today's news, we see an even younger set of students who are speaking out imploring our government to change the gun laws so that there are fewer mass shootings. And the reaction to that speaking out by conservative authoritarians, note that there are authoritarians among liberals and leftists as well, is to try to discredit kids' message. They don't want to see the gun laws become more restrictive because such violates the traditional conservative approach to the individual's access to guns. Thus, they pass along messages telling the kids that there are bigger fish to fry in the sea than gun violence or that gun violence is not due to guns but to people misusing guns. In the end, what they are telling today's students is that, unlike the members of the White Rose, they should be silent despite the carnage that either they or their peers have witnessed. It would be one thing to disagree with these students but encourage them to speak out anyway. But that isn't the response from many conservative authoritarians to the protests against today's gun laws.

So I am thankful to Weigel for writing this article and reminding us of the story of the White Rose. But a note of caution should be added. Our consciences are not infallible. For some, their consciences are too lax while for others, their consciences are overbearing. At the same time, even when our consciences are not correctly aligned, they can still sometimes help us distinguish between right and wrong at times. And we should note that the fallibility of the conscience is due its multiple influences. Our consciences are influenced by the people around us, by how we have responded to consciences before, by what we have witnessed in life, and by God speaking to us. For us Christians, the Scriptures are the guide to our consciences.


Friday, March 9, 2018

When Morals Become The Currency For Protection Money

This time, the subject of the review is not the views of some Christian leader. Rather it is a news story about Christians in Egypt  that bears some similarities to what many Christians in Syria and most Evangelicals in the U.S. are experiencing.  The Religion News Service carried just published a story on how Christians are supporting el-Sisi in the upcoming Egyptian elections. According to the story, despite his government's suppression of free speech and the committing of  human rights violations, Christians are supporting el-Sisi in Egypt's upcoming elections and it seems to be because el-Sisi is promising Christians equality in Egypt and, unlike Egypt's previous President, protection from attacks from certain groups of Muslims, especially the Muslim Brotherhood (click here for the story).

What about el-Sisi's Administration? At least 4  men who announced their interest in becoming candidates for the office of President have been either arrested or pressured into not running (click here). His only opponent, Mousa Moustafa Mousa, created a group to support el-Sisi's nomination for the upcoming election. In the meantime, Egypt's prosecutor-general is investigating some who are calling for a boycott. They might face charges of trying to "overthrow the regime" (click here). 

Protesters have been arrested (click here) and there are reports of 'arbitrary arrests' and the 'widespread' use of torture with impunity by Egypt's police and security forces (click here and there). Many freedoms that we take for granted here are being significantly reduced and there are reports of human rights abuses (click here). Even the US State Department has noticed at least some of the abuses taking place in Egypt even though the President has publicly praised el-Sisi (click here).

So on one hand, Egyptian Christians gain protection by supporting el-Sisi. On the other hand, by supporting his government, they are support a wide range of abuses and the suppression of freedom for others.

The Christians in Syria face a similar problem. Assad is a brutal dictator who has offered protection for Syrian Christians from Muslim extremists. But by supporting Assad, they support a tyrant whose savage reaction to the Arab Spring started the Civil War in Syria. And that war has not only cost the lives of many, it has contributed to a great refugee crisis in Europe and elsewhere. Why did the Syrian Civil War start such a massive refugee crisis? It is due not just to Syrian refugees themselves, but from the fact that the Syrians took in many Iraqi refugees who fled their country because of the US invasion of Iraq.

There is mixed evidence as to whether Christians back Assad or not (click here and there). However, it is clear that Christian leaders support him.

We now go to our third example of how many Evangelicals are using their morals as protection money. That example is here in the US. Only it is unclear to many outsiders as from whom religiously conservative American Christians are seeking protection. Here, the enemy that these Christians fear does not physically threaten them. Rather the threat these Christians sense is the loss of what was perceived as a Christian nation where Christian values, especially regarding sex, had a more dominant influence over society. These Christians are afraid of the influence of secularism that comes from the Church having a diminishing voice in society while the government's influence is growing. And why an increase in government influence in society is threatening is because these Christians correctly perceive that government represents at least a mixture of unbelievers and believers if not representing a society that is becoming dominated by secularism.

It is secularism's rising influence in government and society that many religiously conservative Christian Americans are seeking protection from.  But to do that, they must support a Republican Party that generally opposes equality for the LGBT community and sometimes for minorities, social safety nets, necessary gun control laws, and regulations that protect the environment and workers. In addition, the Republican Party strongly supports an ever growing size and use of the military in order to prove its patriotism. Though both major political parties are owned by those with wealth, the Republican Party seems to have followed Ayn Rand and her philosophy of selfishness.

The examples of the compromises in integrity that Syrian Christian leaders and many religiously conservative Christian Americans have made are to show that the exchanging of morals for protection by the Egyptian Christians is not unique. The article shows that the choice for Egyptian Christians seems to have only two choices: their past persecution under a government controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood or the present protection by the current government while knowing that others are suffering from tremendous oppression and abuses because from the government of their choice. In essence, what the article on Egyptian Christians shows, which is replicated in varying degrees in Syria and the US,  is that Christians are willing to throw others under the bus so that they can be protected from real and imaginary enemies. This exchange of morals for protection is the easy way out of a difficult situation. But we Christians need to realize that we are often called to persevere those difficult situations. And though the decision that these Egyptian Christians have made is wrong, we have all made similar choices.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Comments Which Conservatives Block From Their Blogs For March 7, 2018

March 5

To John Horvat and his blogpost that blames liberalism for all of our nation’s problems. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative blog.

I can only speak to the above review and not the book, but it seems the diagnosis of liberalism is another call to some form of authoritarianism. In particular, it is a call Christendom.

The problem is that we never had Christendom here in America. We have had varying levels of Christian paternalism, but not Christendom. So one has to ask if the above analysis of liberalism applies to the US or to the West. Here we should note that, unlike how the book is portrayed as describing it, there are several differing forms of liberalism. From what was written in the review, the liberalism referred to seems to a combination of Cultural Liberalism, which frees people from cultural norms, and a Social Liberalism that ties freedom with health, education, and escape from poverty. Social liberalism looks to government to take the lead in protecting people's rights to health, education, and an adequate income. Here we should note that Social liberalism stands in stark contrast with Classical liberalism regarding the role of the state in providing that protection (see https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_liberalism.html ). That is because that government provision relies on the state making claims on the economic freedoms of those who are more prosperous from the middle class on up. And we should note that political conservatives very much tend to support Classical Liberalism and its derivatives such as Neo-Liberalism.

The real question is this: Are our nation's conflicts and problems due to liberalism's internal contradictions or is there a civil war between liberalism and conservatism. The polarization of ideologies and political affiliations suggest the the latter though the former could play a minor or even cameo role in the conflict. However, we should consider other factors as playing a role in our nation's troubles such as corruption and bribery.

We should note that the kind of conservatism that gave way to liberalism seems to be a Paleo-Conservatism. We could then add a Fiscal Conservatism to the mix from the expressed concern with our nation's debt. We should note that the former conservatism emphasizes the tight binding of a given religious tradition with set traditions and even identity of a given nation or civilization while the latter emphasizes fiscal responsibility in government spending (see https://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_conservatism.html ).
The reason why I believe that the current societal turmoil is due more to a civil war than the internal contradictions of liberalism is found in the scapegoating of liberalism for the turmoil we see before us and for our nation's debt. In addition, a significant number of our problems are due to corruption. Regarding the civil war as a cause for turmoil, it is Paleo-Conservatives who strongly object to the current changes from the legalization of same-sex marriage to the existence of illegal, and, for a few political conservatives all, immigrants in our nation. And that resistance to immigration is high especially when the immigrants they find most offensive are not White Europeans.
Likewise, Social Liberalism is being scapegoated for our nation's debt problems despite the fact that much of that debt is due to policies favored by a combination of Neo-Conservatism, which is supported by a coalition of some political liberals and conservatives, and Classical Liberalism, which is supported by and tied to Fiscal Conservatism. We should note that the 2003 invasion of Iraq as well as the approaching 1,000 US military bases spread around the world stems significantly from Neo-Conservatism and its pre-existing tenets and have greatly contributed to our nation's debt. But Classical Liberalism and Neo-Liberalism alone, which receives its strongest support from political conservatives, along with a corporate welfare system, which, again, receives its strongest support from political conservatives, has also added significantly to our nation's debt.

We should note here that when business is the primary beneficiary of policies, then the culprit is neither liberalism nor conservatism. It is corruption. And that corruption has a bipartisan participation.
And yet, there is still another reason why I believe that nation's current turmoil is due more to a civil war than an implosion of Liberalism has to do with how our successes  are solely attributed to Christendom. Here we should note that all of liberalism's early success was attributed to Christendom. And yet, there is no mention of the problems that came with Christendom's era with its emphasis on faith and family. Those problems included religious wars, colonialism, anti-Semitism, ethnic cleansing, slavery, persecution of scientists, and segregation. See, Christendom was about more than just faith and family; it was about the Church having more control over the people than the government And we should note that, all too often, those who ascribed to a different faith met persecution and even death from leaders in the dominant religion. But I guess we should be consoled by the fact that, during those times, society was more homogeneous.

The above does not provide a nuanced criticism of liberalism, something that is needed. That is indicated by how liberalism is regarded as a monolith that has does not have differing groups. Rather, liberalism's weakness is described in the absolute freedom it gives to people even though it is some forms of Anarchism, not liberalism, that tries to deliver such absolute freedom. And thus there exists yet another reason why our turmoil should be attributed more to a civil war than liberalism's implosion; liberalism is not accurately defined. And instead of providing such a criticism of liberalism, by demonizing liberalism and calling, by implication, people back to Christendom, what is advocated by the above article is what is really tearing our nation apart.


To Joe Carter and his blogpost hat poses a mock debate between Donald Trump and Milton Friedman over Trump’s protectionism vs Freidman’s Free Trade. This appeared in the Acton Blog.
One problem with the whole protectionism vs free trade debate is that at least one option is presented as the tower of babel was: A way of reaching heaven and making a name for oneself.  Free Trade is presented as providing a relative utopia. However, history has produced many positive results for protectionism. After all, our nation used protectionism to build many of its industries from our nation's beginning to FDR's Presidency. And while what is called 'Free Trade' (a.k.a., 'neoliberalism') has supposedly reduced the number of people living in abject poverty around the world, it has also increased wealth disparity both within nations and between them. And it wasn't until recently that the IMF discovered that wealth disparity hurts economic development.

We should note that  Free Trade does not exist as a discrete point on a line, it exists as a continuum on a couple of lines. Yes, there is a continuum that accommodates both protectionism and Free Trade. But there is another line where Free Trade is at one end and government control of the economy is at the other. We should note that not all government control has to do with protectionism. Government control can have to do with taxes and protective regulations. And when government control is exercised by a working democracy, then what we have is a contest between today's Free Trade or neoliberalism and Democracy. Here we should note that one of the first nations to employ neoliberalism was Chilé. And in order to install neoliberalism there, the US helped first to destabilize the nation and then support a coup where the democratically elected leader of the nation was overthrown by a military dictator in 1973. Neoliberalism was introduced to Chilé during the next decade and eventually Pinochet was democratically removed from office. However, Chilé has been operating under the same constitution was passed during Pinochet's reign and Chilé suffers from a growing wealth disparity.

What seems to be consistent with many of the defenses given for Free Trade is that they revolve around the short-term returns enjoyed by a limited number of stakeholders. For examples, when it is said that Free Trade decreases consumer prices, it is true that that occurred in Great Britain during Mercantilism. But today's Free Trade has resulted in the offshoring of jobs. A significant number of those jobs that were offshored resulted in sweatshop labor conditions for many people in other countries. Meanwhile, the offshoring of jobs has reduced the consumer power of many of the victims of offshoring. Or when Freidman states that when those from other nations who have become enriched by Free Trade buy properties and other assets here, there is no discussion about the ramifications of those purchases. But those foreign investors who are able to grab a larger financial piece of the pie here, also have the opportunity to buy political influence in our government. Why? Because in Capitalism, power follows wealth.

It's not that all forms of Free Trade have come in the form of neoliberalism. Nor is it the case that either Protectionism or Free Trade have spotless records. It is the case that today's version of Free Trade or neoliberalism has weakened democracies, especially in the US, and has not only increased wealth disparity, as already noted, it has transferred political power of many given participant nations to wealthy foreign investors. Thus neoliberalism shifts political power from the hands a given nation's people to the hands of wealthy foreign investors.

Will Trump's version of protectionism work? Who knows? But what we do know are the current trends of neoliberalism some of which have been listed in this comment.


March 6

To Shannon Holzer and his blogpost about how liberals abuse languages especially when talking about rights. This appeared in the Imaginative Conservative website.

If definitions mean anything, then Holtzer should know that he should not describe liberals as belonging to the Left. There is a pretty clear demarcation between liberals and the Left. While the former believes in Capitalism, the latter does not. That doesn't mean that the two groups do not agree on some issues. It is that the liberal elites do not represent the Left.

Now let's take a look at rights. What is a right? A right describes what a person ought to have. And the Declaration Of Independence declares that all men have the inalienable right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Now note that the Declaration states that only men have these rights, and here we are sticking to the essence of what it means to be a man. The problem becomes about the rights of women and children. Do men have rights that women and children do not have? Or, do only men have natural rights while women and children do not? According to Jefferson and his colleagues, such was the case. So if Holtzer is going to fault nonconservatives with not recognizing what are natural rights, will he do the same with Jefferson et. al.? Or are we going to attribute Jefferson's shortsightedness to then cultural values? And we might ask Holtzer if Jefferson implied that only white men deserved the natural rights he specified since, though not mentioned in the Declaration Of Independence, only white men were the de facto recipients of the rights Jefferson listed. Again, are nonconservatives the only ones who struggle with recognizing the natural rights of people?

We could talk about another important definition. That is the logical definition of the word 'imply.' The logical definitions says that one statement implies another if the second statement must be true when the first statement is true. So when nonconservatives talk about the right to a job or a living wage, is that implied by the right to life spelled out by Jefferson? For if a sufficient wage is necessary to live and we get wages from working, how is it that living wages or gov't assistance programs are not implied by the right to life? If adequate healthcare is necessary for life, how is it that affordable access to healthcare are not implied by the right to life?

And why do women chant, 'my body, my choice'? Doesn't the right to liberty imply that they have a right to control what happens with their bodies? Please note that I object to the right to an elective abortion. But challenging a women's right to control what happens with her body because it isn't a natural right ignores what is implied by the right to liberty.

And as for the right of same-sex couples to marry, before using to using natural law to argue against it, we should note that animals from around 1,500 species engage in homosexual actions with beneficiary effects to the species. Who is to say that natural law should be determined solely by a view of design that revolves around reproduction? Christians and people from certain other faiths do. But the Bill of Rights says we have the freedom of religion. So how is it that the people from one set of faiths can deny marriage to same-sex couples because of how the religious people understand natural law? And who says that sex organs are designed for one purpose only? And if marriage is common practice in the pursuit of happiness, how is it that same-sex marriage is not implied by that right?

Though the Declaration of Independence is not a legally binding document, it does describe the rights, natural rights according to Holtzer, that belong to people. And we've already noted with Jefferson how some natural rights might not be easily perceived.

What Holtzer is at least suggesting with tying rights to God is that only those who truly understand what God says can accurately identify the rights we have. But such an approach contradicts the freedom of religion in the 1st Amendment. And noting the definition of the word 'imply' and how that helps us read our founding documents and noting that what is a natural right  is not always recognized even by those who were our nation's founders, it seems that Holtzer is too eager to spell out for all others what our rights are and are not let alone to use his discussion on rights as an opportunity to demonize nonconservatives.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Growing Authoritarianism Of Some Of Today's Republicans

What seems to be counterintuitive to those who listen to Republicans while they denounce centralized power and a strong Federal government is the notion that Republicans tend to favor authoritarianism. Why is that the case? It has to do with their conservatism and its defense of tradition. An unbridled approach to defending traditions leads to authoritarian personality types (click here for a description). And noting the 'blind allegiance to convention,' the showing of hostility and aggression to those challenge tradition, and the belief in very 'strong leadership' exhibited by those who suffer from such a personality type, it seems natural that such people would embrace authoritarianism (click here for signs of authoritarianism) to either maintain a favored status quo or call for a new preferred one. But we should also note that political conservatives have no monopoly on either people with authoritarian personality types or authoritarianism.

There are at least three examples of current Republican leaders who show that a penchant for authoritarianism is growing among today's Republicans. Here we could note how jokes made about Devin Nunes, a Republican Representative from California, and some of his colleagues from The Late Show's host, Stephen Colbert has prompted Nunes to call those jokes a 'danger' to our nation (click here for source). In his statement, Nunes feels that the "left" has been criticizing those, presumably his fellow Republicans, 'who are trying to get to the truth.' Calling Colbert's jokes a danger and demonizing the left provides the motivation and personal justification for calls for more power for people like Nunes and his Republican colleagues.

Georgia's Lieutenant Governor, Casey Cagle, has threatened to punish Delta Airlines after the airlines withdrew a special discount for NRA members. Cagle threatened to oppose a fuel tax break for the airlines that has been in the pipeline for  a while. Other Republican lawmakers followed Cagle's lead and at least the dispute between those lawmakers and Delta has been criticized by the Governor of Georgia (click here and there). Here we should note that despite Cagle's words and actions, the job of government is not to threaten political retribution for political stands taken by private citizens or businesses; it is the responsibility of government to protect the right of individuals or businesses to take political stands.

Finally, we come to Donald Trump. Not only do we have his past admiration and friendliness for authoritarian leaders like Putin, Erodogan, and Duterte, he recently stated fondly that some day the US could follow China's lead in allowing its leader to become President for life. Of course, other signs of authoritarianism demonstrated by President Trump can be found by checking his words and actions with traits from previously linked article on authoritarianism. Some of those traits as literally described in the article include:

  • efforts to intimidate the media
  • using state power to reward corporate backers
  • fearmongering
  • demonizing the opposition

Also consider the actions of the Florida State House following the latest mass shooting that took place in a public high school. After tabling a motion to discuss gun control, instead the House passed a resolution declaring that 'porn was dangerous' (click here for the source). At this point, we should remember the last listed sign of the authoritarian personality type: 'A preoccupation with violence and sex.'