Monthly Archives: November 2017

Growing Assault on Free Speech

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government examines the growing rejecting of free speech.

 

In the hyper-ventilating world of modern journalism, describing almost every issue as a “crises” has lost its impact.  That’s troubling, because there are several challenges facing the United States that truly are existential threats.  Arguably, the most serious is the rapidly declining support for free speech.

Several recent reports and articles illustrate the dramatic drop in devotion to the First Amendment, which, more than any other characteristic, has been the defining characteristic of American law, culture and government.

The seriousness of the threat can be seen in the multiple avenues of attack those favoring limiting freedom of speech have taken.  They include:

  • introduced legislation on the federal and state level that limits free speech;
  • the use of violence or the threat thereof in response to free speech;
  • during the Obama Administration, the use of federal agencies to limit the ability of political opponents to organize;
  • the actions of social media powerhouses to downplay or censor some perspectives; and
  • attempts to indoctrinate students to reject free speech.

It is disturbing that some in the media who, because of their profession, should be among the most ardent supporters of free speech, are among those favoring its limitation.  Richard L. Hasen, writing in the Los Angeles Times stated that “…some shifts in 1st Amendment doctrine seem desirable to assist citizens in ascertaining the truth.”

James Bovard, writing in The Hill points out that “Commentators in the Washington Post and New York Times have called for selective censorship of ideas and doctrines they abhor.

A generation of American youth are being taught on campuses that reject free speech. John Villasenor, writing for Brookings notes: “what happens on campuses often foreshadows broader societal trends…A surprisingly large fraction of students believe it is acceptable to act—including resorting to violence—to shut down expression they consider offensive…Freedom of expression is deeply imperiled on U.S. campuses. In fact, despite protestations to the contrary (often with statements like “we fully support the First Amendment, but…), freedom of expression is clearly not, in practice, available on many campuses, including many public campuses that have First Amendment obligations… among many current college students there is a significant divergence between the actual and perceived scope of First Amendment freedoms. More specifically, with respect to the questions explored above, many students have an overly narrow view of the extent of freedom of expression… a surprisingly large fraction of students believe it is acceptable to act—including resorting to violence—to shut down expression they consider offensive. And a majority of students appear to want an environment that shields them from being exposed to views they might find offensive.”

The problem extends beyond biased journalists and the leftist, pro-censorship environment on college campuses. During the Obama Administration, federal attacks on organizations that spoke in opposition to President Obama’s policies occurred, and the perpetrators have not been subjected to punishment. Robert Wood, writing in Forbes, reported “[IRS official] Lois Lerner and Justice Department officials met in 2010 about going after conservative organizations…In August 2010, the IRS distributed a ‘be on the lookout’ list for Tea Party organizations… On May 7, 2014, the House of Representatives held Ms. Lerner in contempt of Congress…”

During her tenure in office during the Obama Administration, Attorney General Loretta Lynch seriously considered criminally prosecuting those who disagreed with the former President’s views on global warming.  A number of state attorneys general engaged in legal harassment of think tanks that question Obama’s environmental policies.

The problem reaches beyond agency actions. Senator Charles Schumer, (D-NY)  who is the U.S. Senate’s minority leader, proposed a measure that would limit free speech protections as they pertain to campaign donations. The proposed legislation, thankfully defeated, gained 43 Senate supporters—all Democrats. At a Senate Rules Committee  Schumer stated that “The First Amendment is sacred, but the First Amendment is not absolute. By making it absolute, you make it less sacred to most Americans.”

The Report Concludes Tomorrow

Communism and Starvation in Early America

–A Guest article by Alex Bugaeff–

 On June 12, 1987, at the Brandenburg Gate, President Reagan demanded that Mikhail Gorbachev “tear down this wall!” And, Reagan proceeded to disable the Soviet Union when he forced Soviet Communism to fall of its own weight. Few realize, however, that Reagan was beaten to the punch by our first colonial settlements some 380 years earlier.

After landing on a Virginia beach in 1607, the first Jamestown settlers made plans for organizing themselves for self-preservation. Among their plans was a communist system of production and distribution.

Each settler was to put his tools and whatever he produced (there were no women at first) into a central warehouse. Then, each was free to take from the warehouse whatever he needed to live. In went fruit, game, lumber, pelts, axes, saws, hammers, cloth, and out went…everything. Even their Powhatan Indian neighbors walked in and took things, once they discovered that they wouldn’t be stopped.

The settlers had chosen Thomas Studley to run the warehouse. He proved able to talk his way out of blame, but not prevent the outflow. And, he could do nothing about the settlers who stopped working once they learned that they didn’t have to. Then, the starving began.

It wasn’t until Studley died in 1608 (probably of malnutrition), that the settlement came to its senses. Capt. John Smith (yes, that Capt. John Smith) was appointed to replace him and what he found when he entered the warehouse shocked him. The supplies were gone, the tools had been traded by the indolent to the Powhatans for food and the warehouse was in total disarray. What was left had become infested with rats.

Capt. Smith wasted no time in setting things right. In the short run, he made rules for taking things from the warehouse and enforced them with armed guards, but he knew that that system alone would not last. After his election as Jamestown’s Governor, he did away with the communist system altogether.

Smith issued a proclamation: “…he that will not worke shall not eate (except by sicknesse he be disabled), for the labours of thirtie or fortie honest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintaine an hundred and fiftie idle loyterers…There are now no more counsellors to protect you…”

It worked. Those who had not worked either started voluntarily or responded to necessity. In less than six months, twenty houses were built, a freshwater well was constructed and forty acres of fields were put under cultivation. The settlement no longer starved, as each settler fended for himself. In addition, they created a simple free market in which each bought and sold or bartered what he couldn’t or hadn’t provided for himself.

The same thing happened in the Plymouth settlement, thirteen years later. Shortly after landing at Plymouth in 1620, the Pilgrims set up a storehouse of supplies in which all were to share. Although the supplies were meager in that first winter, each person was free to take from the storehouse at will. The food ran out within weeks and nearly half of the settlement died of sickness and starvation.

The following spring, the survivors were shown by Squanto, their Indian interpreter, how to plant and grow corn and how to fish and hunt game. In the words of their Governor, William Bradford, “All the summer there was no want;” as they “took good store, of which every family had their portion…Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England…”

But, as the year before, it was not to last. By winter, the settlers had taken freely from the supplies until the storehouse was empty…and they starved for a second time.

In the spring of 1622, Governor Bradford returned to the village from a trip only to see a group of able-bodied young men playing a game in the square when they should have been working in the fields. He had seen enough. He chased them off and called for a meeting with the other leaders.

Their solution was to abandon communism and to make each family responsible for themselves. Again, in the Governor’s words, “…and so assigned to every family a parcel of land, …that they should set corn every man for his own particular…This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted.”

He concluded, “The experience … may well evince the vanity… that taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing, as if they were wiser than God. For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.”

It has been said that socialism or communism only works until the money runs out. Our earliest settlers proved that even that isn’t true. The productive people will resent the unproductive takers long before the money runs out. That resentment will build until their incentive to produce is weakened and production goes down, while the unearned taking runs amok. It happened in our earliest settlements, it happened to the Soviet Union and it happens every time such a scheme is resurrected.

Must every such scheme run until it falls of its own weight, or might we learn to reject it in the first place? Governor Bradford thought it was part of the human condition: “Let none object this is men’s corruption, and…seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.” Let us take heed and follow the course fitter for us, before we, too, as a nation fall of our own weight.

All rights reserved by Alex Bugaeff, author of Pilgrims to Patriots, A Grandfather Tells The Story.

The Bureaucrat’s Revolt

Democrats have made it clear that they were bitterly disappointed by the results of the 2016 election.  They have taken that disappointment to a level unprecedented in American politics, through antics including street violence, unsubstantiated charges of wrongdoing, extreme criticism propagated by a biased media, and investigations led by Clinton partisans.

In July, former CIA Director John Brennan, as noted by Zero Hedge  urged federal officials to refuse to obey President Trump’s orders.  In November, Leandra English, an Obama-era appointee appointee at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued the White House to block it from placing its choice for an interim director for that agency. She is represented by Deepak Gupta, who has previously sued the Trump Administration.

In July 2010, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB consolidates most Federal consumer financial protection authority in one place. It has been resoundingly criticized for being unconstitutionally structured.  In 2016, a federal court ruled that its structure was, indeed, unconstitutional.

Leandra English, was questionably appointed to fill the role by former director Richard Cordray, a former assistant to radical Senator Elizabeth Warren. According to some sources, he chose to leave the Consumer Bureau early in order to run for governor of Ohio.  On the other hand, President Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, an attorney, former Congressman, and Director of the United States Office of Management and Budget to the position.

Warren was instrumental in creating the CFBP.

A Justice Department analysis confirms that the President has the authority to appoint an Acting Director until such time as the president nominates and the Senate confirms a new permanent director. Despite that, Leanadra English has filed a lawsuit at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asserting that she is the “rightful director” because Cordray appointed her.  The Consumer Financial Protection Agency is particularly worried that the Mulvaney will shake up the deeply partisan environment at the CFPB. According to Ronald Rubin writing in the  National Reviewmanagement at the CFPB were completely devoted to the Democrat Party, more so than fulfilling the mission of their agency.

A Fox News  report revealed that “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the most partisan agency in the federal government in terms of donations to candidates, according to campaign finance data. Employees at the CFPB, which was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, contributed nearly $50,000 during the 2016 campaign with all of that money going to aid Hillary Clinton or her rival, the insurgent socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders. Agency employees made more than 300 donations during the campaign. Not one went to a Republican candidate.”

This whole dispute concerns more than just one questionably structured agency rife with partisanship. As noted by Reuters, “Rogue Twitter feeds voicing employee concerns at more than a dozen U.S. government agencies have been launched.”

Shortly after President Trump took office, the Washington Post reported that “The signs of popular dissent from President Trump’s opening volley of actions have been plain to see on the nation’s streets, at airports in the aftermath of his refugee and visa ban, and in the blizzard of outrage on social media. But there’s another level of resistance to the new president that is less visible and potentially more troublesome to the administration: a growing wave of opposition from the federal workers charged with implementing any new president’s agenda. Less than two weeks into Trump’s administration, federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives. Some federal employees have set up social media accounts to anonymously leak word of changes that Trump appointees are trying to make. And a few government workers are pushing back more openly.”

America is entering a strange new world, in which bureaucrats feel free to disregard the will of the electorate and run the nation as they see fit and for their own interest, and not for the taxpayers who pay their salaries.

Will Turkey Leave NATO? Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its review of the growing alienation between the U.S. and Turkey

Leonid Bershidsky, in a Bloomberg report, described Turkey’s strained relations with Europe:

“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan… has created a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and some of its key North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies. Relations with the Netherlands are all but broken off, Germany is struggling to remain civil under a barrage of Erdogan insults, and Denmark is siding with its north European neighbors. Add to this Turkey’s differences with the U.S. and the perennial tension between Turkey and Greece, and it’s no longer clear how much of a NATO member Erdogan’s country really is. Despite its considerable military strength, Turkey’s participation in alliance activities isn’t extensive, and its interests don’t necessarily align with those of NATO.”  During the Obama Administration, Bershidsky reports, “Secretary of State John Kerry came close to threatening Turkey with the loss of its NATO membership…In Syria, the world’s biggest war theater today, Turkey acts as an independent player and sometime rival to the U.S…Cyprus is another tension point within NATO. Turkey is refusing to withdraw its troops from occupied Northern Cyprus and thus hindering the latest talks on unifying the island. … All in all, Turkey appears to have more disputes than friendships with its NATO allies. And its engagement with the alliance itself, which it joined in 1952, isn’t particularly strong… Turkey only took part in four of the 18 key NATO exercises held last year…”

Retired US Army military intelligence and former Soviet analyst Paul Davis, in a Rudaw review, wonders whether Turkey belongs in NATO at all, particularly since President Erdogan has moved away from democracy.

“There was a time that it made sense for Turkey to be a part of this alliance, when during the cold war it was the southern anchor and the only NATO country with a common border to the Soviet Union. This was also a time when the Turkish government was run by secularist. This did not mean that Turkey was a democracy in the western tradition but it was somewhat unique in the region and could talk to the west. Today however we see an implosion of both secular and democratic principles in Turkey…There is very little likelihood that NATO will make any move to remove Turkey. With a revanchist Russia on the rise and a confused situation in the Middle East the west is paralyzed into inaction. [But with Turkey’s]…military engaged killing its own citizens it is in no position to help NATO militarily should the need arise. With it actions against the press and its move to have a rubber stamp Parliament it is in no way a democratic country on par with the other member states. It long ago lost the Kemalist principle of its founding and its time it lost its place in NATO.”

The U.S. State Department has noted a significant change in climate for Americans in Turkey, warning that “Delays or denial of consular access to U.S. citizens detained or arrested by security forces have become more common, and U.S. Mission Turkey does not have consular access to arrested U.S. citizens who also possess Turkish citizenship. U.S. citizen employees of some non-governmental organizations in Turkey have also recently experienced increased scrutiny and denials of their residence permit applications.”

The Trump administration has sought to repair the strained relationship, but the complications, which also involve Erdogan’s increasing affronts to human rights within his own nation, are significant.

The unfortunate reality is that in terms of the incessant maneuvering and fighting that characterize the Middle East, the U.S. and Turkey have considerable differences in their goals, especially regarding the fate of the Kurdish people, both those within Turkey’s borders and elsewhere in the region. One recent flashpoint: The U.S. refused to sell small weapons to Erdogan’s security detail, which has been involved in assaults on peaceful protestors in Washington.

Scott Peterson reported in the Christian Science Monitor  that “Erdogan groused that the US was refusing to sell weapons to a fellow NATO ally, while giving even more lethal arms for free – 3,000 truckloads worth, he said – to ‘terrorists.’ He meant US-backed Kurdish forces in northern Syria fighting the so-called Islamic State.”

In the broader sense, Turkey’s relationship with the U.S. and NATO continues to serve its purpose.  Both sides gain from their mutual need to deter the expansionist tendencies of Iran and Russia.  But the reality is that Erdogan’s authoritarian tendency, and his drift towards Islamic fundamentalism, makes working with his government unpleasant.  His nations’ goals in the region will continue to place him at odds with the western powers.  It remains to be seen whether both side can continue to maneuver the tightrope they are treading.

Will Turkey Leave NATO?

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government reviews the growing alienation between the U.S. and Turkey

Turkey’s recent decision to purchase a significant air defense system from Russia was an important and revealing development for a NATO member and American ally.

Defense Analyst Can Kasapoglu, speaking at a Carnegie Europe conference held this past September, reported “The S-400 deal remains a detrimental factor for NATO’s allied cohesion. What we are talking about is a strategic weapons system procurement. So, by nature, the deal would go well beyond a relatively simpler arms transfer of, say, armored personnel carriers or artillery. Such a deal would inevitably bring about further military cooperation projects. Hundreds of Turkish military personnel will need to be trained by Russian experts, and probably, some will be sent to Russia. Besides, the S-400 deal could pave the ground for further opportunities, especially those related to the planned SAM configuration. And finally, the S-400 is not a “buy and forget” system. Thus, once procured, it would twist the Turkish and Russian defense industries together. More importantly, the project was finalized right before [Moscow’s military]  Zapad-17 drills. The timing was not the best at all.”

Turkey’s growing closeness to Russia isn’t the only problem. The Ankara regime is also deepening relations with Iran. A Middle East Monitor analysis  notes: “…among the salient examples of… rapprochement is the historical visit of Iranian Chief of the General Staff , Major General Mohammad Bagheri, to Ankara in August, was the first visit since the Iranian revolution of 1979. Moreover the recent meeting of Presidents Rouhani and Erdogan, during the Astana Peace Talks on 9 September, and the multilateral agreement that the two countries reached with Russia on de-escalation areas in Idlib Governorate and the scheduled visit of Erdogan to Iran in October, are all signs of closer ties between Turkey and Iran… Additionally, in the field of economics, Turkey, Iran and Russia have signed a tripartite deal on gas and oil prospecting in Iran, which particularly significant for Turkey as it has no important energy resources in its territory… Turkey and Iran have found themselves on the same side as Qatar and helped it to cope with the repercussions of the embargo that was imposed on it. Turkey considers that its alliance with Qatar is one of its few stable relations these last few years. Ankara’s decision to establish a military base in Qatar and the quick implementation of the resolution is clear evidence of the strong relationship between the two countries. According to the study, the Turkish-Iranian rapprochement coincides also with a parallel rapprochement between Turkey and Russia. These relations were reinforced by President Erdogan’s declaration that Turkey had paid Russia to purchase the S-400 missile system, a deal that have caused the relations between Turkey and the United States to shrink, in addition to the issue that is still not resolved concerning Ankara’s support for Tehran to overcome US sanctions.”

Can the NATO–Turkey relationship survive?

There is little question that the partnership is important to U.S. interests. In 2009, Forbes  contributor Melik Kaylan discussed the practical benefits of Turkey’s participation in NATO: “Turkish troops in Afghanistan. Freer NATO naval access to the Black Sea to bolster Ukrainian and Georgian morale. Turkish help for Georgia. A pro-U.S. Turkish flanking threat to distract Iran. Ditto Syria. The continued flow of non-Arab, non-Russian oil from Azerbaijan to the world. Increased U.S.-friendly Turkish influence in Central Asia’s Turkic states to counteract Russian and Iranian influence (remember those U.S. bases?). A secular Muslim buffer in the region against Islamization.” At the recent Carnegie Europe conference, Julian Lindley-French, former vice president of the Atlantic Treaty Association in Brussels, now a senior fellow at the Institute for Statecraft in London stated: “Look at a map. Now, look at where Turkey sits on it. Turkey is strategically important; the pivot between the EU, NATO, Russia, and the Middle East, and a fault-line between Europe and Asia.”

In turn, Turkey’s membership in NATO provides it with urgently needed protection in its dangerous neighborhood, in which the expansionist interests of Russia and Iran play a key role.

The usefulness of the alliance is obvious. However, events over the past decade have strained the relationship both with America and Europe to a substantial degree, particularly in the aftermath of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s worrisome ongoing amassing of dictatorial powers, and his growing flirtation with a more fundamentalist brand of Islam, which reject the democratic and secular legacy that made Turkey one of the most stable societies in its’ region throughout the past century. Add to that his growing closeness to Vladimir Putin, and the alienation from the West becomes significant.

The Report Concludes Monday

Socialism Gains Popularity in U.S., Despite Century of Failure, Part 4

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government concludes its examination of the growing popularity of socialism in America, despite a century of failure.

The deprivations of socialist economics can be seen in today’s Venezuela. Loranzo Montanari, writing in Forbes  reports: “Once Venezuela was one of the most stable countries in the region. Then, in  1998 it became a laboratory for “socialism of the 21st  century” policies. After almost 20 years of this Chavismo, the results are the same as Communism of the 20th century, those in poverty increased (between 2014 and 2016 the poverty rate increased from 48.4 % to 82% while extreme poverty rose from the 27% to 52%.), the middle class has almost disappeared and the economy is completely imploded…Venezuela was one of the richest countries in South America, and now is on the brink of the economic and humanitarian collapse…Venezuela, a country with one of largest oil reserves in the world, is suffering from a hunger crisis; 12% of children experience acute malnutrition.”

Juan Carlos Hidalgo, writing for The Cato Institute  points out: “Venezuela was once South America’s richest country, taking in immigrants from all over the world. For many years, it was also a remarkable democracy in a region where most nations were ruled by military dictatorships. Today, socialism has turned Venezuela into an authoritarian basket case that thousands try to escape every year.”

While the likelihood of terrible consequences has become readily apparent in socialist nations, many still point to a socialist-style government that is comparatively prosperous and benign. Kevin Williamson, author of the “Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism,” digs deeper into that example. “To understand the apparent success of Scandinavian socialism, it is first necessary to understand the cultural and economic conditions that gave rise to this system…Even if…Americans wanted to reproduce the social conditions underpinning Swedish socialism, it would be impossible for them to do so, just as it would be impossible for them to become a nation of 10 million rather… than… 300 million.”

Williamson particularly notes how Swedish Socialism has failed immigrants. “While immigrants constitute nearly 15% of the working age population, they make up for a far higher proportion of the unemployed.  In fact, Sweden has one of the highest disparities between immigrants unemployment and native-born unemployment in the developed world…unemployment problems in turn result in de facto segregation. Despite little history of racial conflict, the labor market is more segregated than in America, Britain, Germany, France or Denmark…If Sweden were a state in the United States, it would be one of the poorest.  The poorest demographic cohort in the United States…enjoy an average household income slightly higher than the Swedish average…Sweden does not seem poor, but it is relatively poor, and it is getting relatively poorer; in 1970, Sweden had the fourth-highest average income in the world, but by 2000 it had fallen to fourteenth place, and it appears likely to head further downward…It looks increasingly likely that Sweden’s socialist system will end up undermining the country’s historically egalitarian, trusting and hard-working ethos—leaving Swedes with the high taxes, expense and dysfunctional public sector familiar to students of the European welfare state…the irony is that all of this socialism has left Sweden with  a society that is, in many important ways, less egalitarian and less generous that created by the allegedly pitiless capitalism of the United States…”

Across the span of the planet, in every region of geography, in every type of national model, and across the diversity of different races and ethnicities, in a time span of 100 years, socialism has universally failed to produce economic, political, or human rights results equal to what could have been achieved with a free enterprise approach. Instead,  it has, in large measure, produced the most horrible instances of tyranny, human rights violations, and armed conflicts the globe has ever endured.

Socialism Gains Popularity in U.S., Despite Century of Failure, Part 3

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its examination of the growing popularity of socialism in America, despite a century of failure.

While oppressive regimes aren’t restricted to those that proclaim themselves to be socialists, the ability of a government presiding over a centrally-controlled economy to avoid the checks and balances that deter tyrannical acts is clearly enhanced. It can, by design or intentional negligence, deny food, medical care, or other necessities to those not considered friendly.  The History Place  describes Stalin’s use of this tactic against Ukraine.

“Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union, set in motion events designed to cause a famine in the Ukraine to destroy the people there seeking independence from his rule. As a result, an estimated 7,000,000 persons perished in this farming area, known as the breadbasket of Europe, with the people deprived of the food they had grown with their own hands…Stalin also imposed the Soviet system of land management known as collectivization. This resulted in the seizure of all privately owned farmlands and livestock, in a country where 80 percent of the people were traditional village farmers. Among those farmers, were a class of people called Kulaks by the Communists. They were formerly wealthy farmers that had owned 24 or more acres, or had employed farm workers. Stalin believed any future insurrection would be led by the Kulaks, thus he proclaimed a policy aimed at ‘liquidating the Kulaks as a class.’…Declared ‘enemies of the people,’ the Kulaks were left homeless and without a single possession as everything was taken from them, even their pots and pans. It was also forbidden by law for anyone to aid dispossessed Kulak families. Some researchers estimate that ten million persons were thrown out of their homes, put on railroad box cars and deported to ‘special settlements’ in the wilderness of Siberia during this era, with up to a third of them perishing amid the frigid living conditions. Men and older boys, along with childless women and unmarried girls, also became slave-workers in Soviet-run mines and big industrial projects. Back in the Ukraine, once-proud village farmers were by now reduced to the level of rural factory workers on large collective farms. Anyone refusing to participate in the compulsory collectivization system was simply denounced as a Kulak and deported.”

The Russian example is not unique. Vaclav Smil, writing for the National Institute of Health  explains:

“…between the spring of 1959 and the end of 1961 some 30 million Chinese starved to death and about the same number of births were lost or postponed. The famine had overwhelmingly ideological causes, rating alongside the two world wars as a prime example of what Richard Rhodes labelled public manmade death, perhaps the most overlooked cause of 20th century mortality…The origins of the famine can be traced to Mao Zedong’s decision, supported by the leadership of China’s communist party, to launch the Great Leap Forward. This mass mobilisation of the country’s huge population was to achieve in just a few years economic advances that took other nations many decades to accomplish. Mao, beholden to Stalinist ideology that stressed the key role of heavy industry, made steel production the centrepiece of this deluded effort. Instead of working in the fields, tens of millions of peasants were ordered to mine local deposits of iron ore and limestone, to cut trees for charcoal, to build simple clay furnaces, and to smelt metal. This frenzied enterprise did not produce steel but mostly lumps of brittle cast iron unfit for even simple tools. Peasants were forced to abandon all private food production, and newly formed agricultural communes planted less land to grain, which at that time was the source of more than 80% of China’s food energy.

“At the same time, fabricated reports of record grain harvests were issued to demonstrate the superiority of communal farming. These gross exaggerations were then used to justify the expropriation of higher shares of grain for cities and the establishment of wasteful communal mess halls serving free meals. As an essentially social catastrophe, the famine showed clear marks of omission, commission, and provision. These three attributes recur in all modern manmade famines…Taking away all means of private food production (in some places even cooking utensils), forcing peasants into mismanaged communes, and continuing food exports were the worst acts of commission. Preferential supply of food to cities and to the ruling elite was the deliberate act of selective provision…The true extent of the famine was not revealed to the world until the publication of single year age distributions from the country’s first highly reliable population census in 1982. These data made it possible to estimate the total number of excess deaths between 1959 and 1961, and the first calculations by American demographers put the toll at between 16.5 and 23 million. More detailed later studies came up with 23 to 30 million excess deaths, and unpublished Chinese materials hint at totals closer to 40 million.”

The Report Concludes Tomorrow

Socialism Gains Popularity in U.S., Despite Century of Failure, Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government continues its examination of the growing popularity of socialism in America, despite a century of failure.

Socialist governments have been established in virtually every inhabited continent and in every type of nation,  ten decades provides an adequate time frame for an accurate analysis.  Almost every variant of the philosophy has been emplaced at one time or another.

George Reisman of the Mises Institute makes a point that many university history and political science departments consider utterly taboo: the reality that one variant of socialism was Germany’s National Socialism. Few even bother noting that the full name of the Nazi Party was “der Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiters Partei — in English translation: the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.” The nightmarish actions of that regime—unfettered by checks and balances– continue to haunt humanity.

The Third Reich was indeed a socialist government. Reisman points out that “private ownership of the means of production existed in name only under the Nazis and that the actual substance of ownership of the means of production resided in the German government. For it was the German government and not the nominal private owners that exercised all of the substantive powers of ownership: it, not the nominal private owners, decided what was to be produced, in what quantity, by what methods, and to whom it was to be distributed, as well as what prices would be charged and what wages would be paid, and what dividends or other income the nominal private owners would be permitted to receive. The position of the alleged private owners, Mises showed, was reduced essentially to that of government pensioners. De facto government ownership of the means of production, as Mises termed it, was logically implied by such fundamental collectivist principles embraced by the Nazis as that the common good comes before the private good and the individual exists as a means to the ends of the State. If the individual is a means to the ends of the State, so too, of course, is his property. Just as he is owned by the State, his property is also owned by the State.”

In its most innocent and idealistic concept, socialism places the key sectors of a nations’ economy and essential services under the control of a central government, theoretically for the benefit of all. The question that innocent-sounding concept raises are profound. Who can be trusted with that much power? Even if they could be trusted, can knowledge of the vast range of economic and essential service activity ever be mastered by a limited number of bureaucrats? Who determines what is in “the greater good?”  (that concept alone has resulted in millions of deaths.) What checks and balances can be successfully developed that decisions will be fair, or even reasonable? History shows that whenever great power is amassed by a few, abuses surely follow. Can centralized control ever be flexible enough to change course when a mistake has been made, even with the best of intentions, or a better idea has arisen? Can human nature be adopted, despite extraordinary evidence to the contrary, to work as diligently, intelligently, or enthusiastically for a group rather than individual gain?

Evidence across the globe and over a century clearly indicates that the answer to these questions has not been favorable to the proponents of socialism.

Socialist nations as diverse as Russia, Cambodia, and Venezuela have endured exceptional damage to the well-being of their citizenry and the health of their economies. Some had hoped that China’s experiment in promoting consumerism within a socialist state would produce more salutary results.  However, as President Xi consolidates and enhances his power and steers his government back to the more repressive environment of Maoist days, that hope has been dashed. Even at its best, China’s government was always a harsh oppressor of human rights. It should also not be forgotten that China’s economic progress depends heavily on selling goods made by cheap labor to more capitalist-governed nations.

The Report Continues Tomorrow

Socialism Gains Popularity in U.S., Despite Century of Failure

The New York Analysis of Policy and Government examines the growing popularity of socialism in America, despite a century of failure.

The popularity of Senator Bernie Sanders’ economic policies, and the rise of anti-capitalist organizations such as Antifa, indicate the growing popularity of socialism in the U.S.

A Bloomberg review noted that according to Asher Kaplan, who organized a well-attended event debating the merits and problems of capitalism, “These days, among young people, socialism is both a political identity and a culture…Young Americans have soured on capitalism. In a Harvard University poll conducted last year, 51 percent of 18-to-29 year-olds in the U.S. said they opposed capitalism; only 42 percent expressed support. Among Americans of all ages, by contrast, a Gallup survey last year found that 60 percent held positive views of capitalism. A poll released last month found American millennials closely split on the question of what type of society they would prefer to live in: 44 percent picked a socialist country, 42 percent a capitalist one. The poll, conducted by YouGov and the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, found that [only] 59 percent of Americans across all age groups preferred to live under capitalism.”

A similar result was published in The Week: “Things are looking up for the Democratic Socialists of America. With a membership of 25,000, it is now the largest socialist group in America since the Second World War… Membership has more than tripled in a year, gaining a large boost from the candidacy of Bernie Sanders…”

The increasing support comes also from cultural figures. Despite the dictatorial and despotic depredations of Venezuela’s late Hugo Chavez, who played the key role in destroying his nation’s economy, well-known U.S. citizens praised him. Throughout Chavez’s life Penn was an outspoken supporter of the dictator, and at his candlelight vigil in Bolivia Penn showed up wearing a Venezuelan flag jacket and told a group of mourners: He’s one of the most important forces we’ve had on this planet, and I’ll wish him nothing but that great strength he has shown over and over again. I do it in love, and I do it in gratitude. He was joined by Oliver Stone, who established a solid friendship with the Venezuelan strongman. Award-winning actor Danny Glover, in an interview with La Nacion stated: Glover told La Nación: “He was not only my friend, he was my brother… It’s difficult for a leader like him to exist in these times. His vision for humanity and the world can only be compared to that of leaders like Nelson Mandela. He was a great man and I cried when he died.”

The rise of support comes in a year marking the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, which heralded the start of socialism’s rise.  Some have observed that the aftermath of that event has been forgotten or intentionally ignored.  National Reviews’ Douglas Murray writes that the results are “barely remembered at all.  And where it is, it is not remembered in a negative light…what are the consequences of societies with so little memory of 20 million deaths in the USSR? Or the 65 million deaths caused by efforts to instill Communism in China?…the 2 million deaths in Cambodia? The million in Eastern Europe?…The 2 million (and counting in North Korea? The nearly 2 million across Africa? The 1.5 million in Afghanistan? The 150,000 in Latin America? Not to mention the thousands of murders committed by Communist movements not in power…Who could survey this wreckage…and not recoil? Who could stand on top of these 100 million tragedies and think, ‘Once more, comrades, though this time with subtly different emphases?…and so we see revealed the persistence not just of this ideological worldview but of the edifice  its modern adherents have been hoping to reconstruct all these decades.  Not [just] in Venezuela, or in Cuba, but in developed modern Western democracy.”

The Report Continues Tomorrow

California Crazy: Politics vs. Public Safety

Over the past several years, Americans received a glimpse of the outcome of “Progressive” economic policies by observing the devastation in Venezuela.

An experiment in leftist policies is taking place in California, where some of the extremism currently in vogue among leftist circles and on college campuses has become official state policy.  While the issues involved are varied, they are interconnected both in terms of their philosophy of placing pressure group interests over the public good,  and how these new laws and regulations ultimately harm the majority and the innocent.

These topics highlight the ascension of radical ideology over the good of the state’s citizenry.

  1. Bagging Common Sense

A Hepatitis A outbreak, originating in San Diego, is reaching epidemic proportions. The cause can be traced to two Progressive actions: a failure to screen illegal aliens for contagious diseases, and an an extremist environmental measure banning the use of plastic bags.

According to a Breitbart report,  “California health officials have reported that at least 569 people have been infected with the hepatitis A liver disease and 17 have died since a San Diego County outbreak was first identified in November. Cases have migrated north to homeless populations in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, San Francisco and Sacramento over the last 11 months.”

It is not surprising that diseases, some of which had long been near totally eradicated within the United States, are an inherent danger of unchecked illegal immigration. What has surprised the environmental extremists is the unexpected result of banning plastic bags in San Diego.  Homeless individuals had used those bags as an alternative means of bodily waste disposal when bathrooms were unavailable.  In their absence, the increased presence of those wastes has had greater exposure, resulting in a spreading hepatitis outbreak.

A minimal amount of research, and an application of common sense, would have at least brought the issue to the table for discussion.  But in the passionate views of environmental extremists, any application of actual human considerations is inappropriate.

  1. Political Correctness vs. Health

Prioritization of political correctness over public health can also be seen in a new law which reduces penalties for knowingly exposing sex partners to HIV, and from knowingly donating HIV-positive blood to a blood bank.

According to the new law, SB 239,  Existing law makes it a felony punishable by imprisonment for 3, 5, or 8 years in the state prison to expose another person to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) by engaging in unprotected sexual activity when the infected person knows at the time of the unprotected sex that he or she is infected with HIV, has not disclosed his or her HIV-positive status, and acts with the specific intent to infect the other person with HIV. Existing law makes it a felony punishable by imprisonment for 2, 4, or 6 years for any person to donate blood, tissue, or, under specified circumstances, semen or breast milk, if the person knows that he or she has acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), or that he or she has tested reactive to HIV. Existing law provides that a person who is afflicted with a contagious, infectious, or communicable disease who willfully exposes himself or herself to another person, or any person who willfully exposes another person afflicted with the disease to someone else, is guilty of a misdemeanor. This bill would repeal those provisions. The bill would instead make the intentional transmission of an infectious or communicable disease, as defined, a misdemeanor…”

There should be no constituency for minimizing the penalties for knowingly spreading any contagious disease, especially when it can be avoided.  What are the priorities of those who voted for and approved this measure?

  1. Choosing Illegal Immigrants Over Public Safety

California’s SB 54  notes that that “Existing law provides that when there is reason to believe that a person arrested for a violation of specified controlled substance provisions may not be a citizen of the United States, the arresting agency shall notify the appropriate agency of the United States having charge of deportation matters. This bill would repeal those provisions.”

The salient question in analyzing SB 54, which has been condemned by the U.S. Justice Department and some California law enforcement leaders, is why are steps being taken to protect criminals?  The bill is not geared towards illegals who are otherwise law abiding—its sole purpose is to protect criminals.