Rush Limbaugh: Conservative Icon and Giant

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Rush Limbaugh’s passing this week triggered sadness on the Right and glee on the Left. The Left’s grave dancers exulted in his death, believing that they had just rid themselves of one of America’s greatest and most persuasive opponents of their twisted views favoring an Orwellian future for our nation.

With Rush no longer available to counsel and guide us, conservatives should take the opportunity afforded by his passing to reflect on one of the most basic questions of all — what is it to be a conservative? What differentiates us from the Left?

Conservatism is founded on two core concepts: (1) personal responsibility and (2) the critical importance of liberty in our lives. In an important way, these two concepts are opposite sides of the same coin. We should have the liberty to govern our own lives but in having that right must be prepared to take personal responsibility for outcomes resulting from the exercise of those liberty rights.

The Left, on the other hand, despises both of these concepts. This hatred is not merely peripheral to the Left’s worldview but rather is at the very core of it. The Left has created a cult of victimhood.  To prosper under the Left, you have to prove yourself a victim. (But, as we shall see in a moment, you have to be the right kind of victim). If you are a “person of color,” all of your woes have nothing to do with the choices you have voluntarily made in your life but instead are the result of a racist society. There is a racist under every rock and behind every bush. How America could be a racist society when 350,000 white Union soldiers gave their lives in a great civil war to free black Americans is never explained by the Left and is studiously ignored.

The term “person of color” was carefully chosen by the Left to enlarge its potential base from blacks to Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians. The only group clearly excluded from the party is whites. In the Left’s racist worldview (and here really is something that is truly racist), whites are responsible for all  woes of “people of color.” And thus we see the proliferation of the racist terms “white privilege,” “white fragility,” etc. We see the Left’s preoccupation with “reparations,” where people who never owned slaves will have their taxes raised to make payments of free money to people who never were slaves (but happen to be of the right skin color).

Now, it’s true that some people truly are victims:  a policeman who is shot in the spine by a criminal and spends the rest of his life in a wheelchair; an American soldier who fought in Vietnam, was exposed to Agent Orange and prematurely contracts a fatal form of cancer; a young boy or girl whose parents are both killed in an automobile accident after being hit by a drunk driver. But these are hardly the kind of victims whose cause is ever championed by the Left. For the most part, these individuals and their fates are largely ignored because they do not advance the Left’s identity politics. White high school seniors who are discriminated against by Harvard University when they apply for admission are also “victims” (victims of truly racist admission policies), but they are not victims either as the Left sees it. Why? Because although they are members of a group, they are not members of a group the Left favors, they are members of a group the Left despises.

What is written above undoubtedly would be termed “hate speech” by many on the Left, and this brings us to the second point: the critical importance of liberty in our lives. As a core value, it is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

By and large, today’s Left despises liberty. For the Left, the only kind of speech that is protected by the First Amendment is speech the Left agrees with.  Anything the Left disagrees with is “hate speech” and must be suppressed. The Left’s organs in the Tech World – Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Twitter, are only too happy to comply. Hence the savage attack on Parler, an alternative to Twitter that declined to censor conservative postings and therefore had to be crushed. Hence the Left’s efforts to get advertisers to boycott the Tucker Carlson show on Fox News and to get him kicked off the air. The world has changed dramatically from the days when the American Civil Liberties Union battled in favor of the right of Nazis to march in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood in the suburbs of Chicago. 

Obviously, the Left would also like to see the Second Amendment go and the ownership of firearms be prohibited. The latest schemes are focused on the imposition of draconian taxes and registration requirements. “Liberty be damned!  We’re the Left and we know what’s good for you! Shut up and obey!”

In summary, the Right can best honor the memory of the great Rush Limbaugh by continuing to campaign as vigorously as it can for the core values of personal responsibility and liberty that Rush devoted his life to.

Will France Save Us Again?

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

After saving us in the Revolutionary War, will it save us from wokeness?

France deserves our gratitude, at least from those of us who believe that America is worth saving in spite of its imperfections.

First, France helped us in winning the Revolutionary War. That would be the war that is claimed by today’s poorly educated racial revolutionaries to have been started for the expressed purpose of continuing slavery.

Now French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that American wokeness is a threat to the classical liberal foundation of France. By extension, then, it’s also a threat to the United States, because America has the same liberal foundation.

We should thank him for the warning, although it might be too late for the U.S.

Specifically, Macron was referring to the illiberal virus masquerading as social justice and racial equality that has emanated from American universities and spread throughout American government, media, public schools, and corporations. He and his ministers don’t want it to spread to France.

This follows Macron’s criticism in October of “certain social-science theories entirely imported from the United States.”

France’s Minister for Higher Education Frédérique Vidal was more direct when she recently pledged to conduct an investigation into academics who look “at everything through the prism of wanting to fracture and divide.” She was referring to academics seeing all social issues through the prism of race, which is a foundational tenet of American wokeness.

Another foundational tenet is that the way to address the legacy of past prejudices against non-whites is to replace the former prejudices with new prejudices against whites. This is similar to the psychological condition of abused children becoming abusive parents.

Such pathological thinking is reinforced by the removal of science from the social sciences and the removal of impartiality from history, in a process that began decades ago as political correctness and has since morphed into cancel culture and speech codes.

As a result, races that used to be stereotyped negatively are now stereotyped positively, and vice versa. Non-whites now get a positive spin while whites get a negative one.

Forgotten in this wild swing of the pendulum is the fact that many white ethnocultural groups had also been stereotyped negatively in American history and treated accordingly. For example, the founding white Anglo-Saxon Protestants didn’t look kindly on the Irish in the 19th century, on southern Europeans in the 20th century, on Catholics (papists) in general, and on Jews in general.

On a personal note, as this Italian writer knows, Italians were known as swarts or worse and seen as a half-step up from blacks. Some were even lynched.

For sure, my Italian grandparents who emigrated as poor and poorly educated peasants from Italy in the early 20th century were not responsible for slavery or Jim Crow.

That responsibility lies with Anglo-Saxon Protestants, but even that is an unfair generalization. Puritans of New England, along with the admirers of Cromwell known as Roundheads, tended to be anti-slavery.  Conversely, Southern Cavaliers and admirers of Charles I tended to be pro-slavery.

In spite of such historic facts and important distinctions between the many white ethnocultural groups, all whites are now stereotyped as homogenous and equally responsible for the nation’s original sins.  They’re all tarred as racist and privileged. At the same time, those wielding the tar brushes can’t figure out why this has triggered resentment and a political backlash.

Naturally, progressives among the brush wielders deny their role in causing the social pathologies in so-called minority communities, especially African-American communities. Due to their condescending and paternalistic belief that blacks couldn’t make it without the help of whites like them, they put blacks on the new plantation of welfare dependency, which made men unnecessary in the financial support of children and caused the incidence of families headed by single moms to more than double in short order.

The condescension and paternalism continue today with racial quotas masquerading as diversity and inclusion, with the push to do away with test scores that have a disparate impact on certain races, with formulaic “news” stories that incessantly point out how these same races don’t fare well and need special help because they can’t help themselves, and most noticeably, with advertisers who make sure that the same races are represented in commercials and ads way out of proportion to their population, either because of racial pandering by the advertisers or out of fear of being labeled as racially insensitive by interest groups.

No wonder the French are afraid of importing such racial pandering and divisiveness.

France’s fear is heightened by its problems with the assimilation of Muslim immigrants, especially those from its former colonial outposts. 

The fear isn’t due to racism towards Muslims but to the fact that a large number of them are Islamic fundamentalists who don’t hold Western values about equality, democracy, and women’s rights.

Macron and his education minister have warned that the fundamentalists and their leftist enablers are trying to distract the public from the facts with diatribes about colonialism.

On a related note, the newly published book, Prey:  Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Harper, 322 pages) details the dire facts about the treatment of women by fundamentalist immigrants in France, Germany, and Sweden.

The author is a Somalian immigrant with firsthand experience on the subject. Unlike whites in the West who commit cultural suicide by making excuses for aberrant behavior and sanitizing statistics of incriminating evidence, Ali includes pages of statistics on the staggering increase in rapes and other violence towards women at the hands of migrants from societies marked by polygamy, patriarchy, and illiberalism.

She goes on to lambast politicians and authorities for being quick to document discrimination against the migrants and other minorities but reticent to document their violence against women and other crimes, for fear of being called racist. She has special scorn for feminists who vilify white men while excusing immigrant men of crimes against women because they believe the perpetrators to be “victims of racism and colonialism.”

The worst case of sexual assault by migrants happened on Dec. 31, 2015, when 661 women claimed to have been assaulted in downtown Cologne by hundreds of men, most of whom were asylum-seekers of Arab and North African origin. Only three of the alleged perpetrators were convicted.

It’s understandable that Macron doesn’t want to import American wokeness on top of France’s existing racial troubles.  The question is, will Americans heed his warning?

Probably not. After all, the U.S. didn’t learn from the French experience in Indochina and the Middle East. Ignoring the warning signs of history, it went ahead and lost lives and treasure in both locales, just as the French did.

President Biden Has Promised to Pass the Equality Act—Here’s How That Threatens Your Freedoms

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Today [2/18/21], the “Equality Act” was introduced in Congress.

With a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, the passage of this legislation is more likely than ever before. And President Joe Biden campaigned on the promise that he would sign the Act into law within his first 100 days if passed.

But the “Equality Act” should be concerning to anyone who values religious freedom and true equality.

It is a deliberate attempt to force people of faith—good people who serve everyone—to promote messages and celebrate events that conflict with their sincere beliefs. The “Equality Act” would also threaten the equal treatment of women and upend the bedrock understanding of male and female in our law and culture.

To understand how, let’s take a more in-depth look at this legislation and its ramifications.

What is the “Equality Act”?

The essence of the “Equality Act” is its addition of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes to already existing federal nondiscrimination laws. This would prohibit employers, preschools, and even religious schools and organizations from making choices based on basic biology, bodily privacy, and their beliefs about the nature of marriage. It would apply to every single recipient of federal financial assistance (including every public school and almost all colleges and universities.)

And though “nondiscrimination” sounds good in the abstract, that is not what this bill is truly about. The bill actually poses a devastating and unprecedented threat to free speech, religious freedom, and the progress that women have made toward true equal treatment in law and culture.

The good news is that God has equipped Alliance Defending Freedom for such a time as this.

With 11 Supreme Court victories since 2011, ADF will stand up to the Biden administration, all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary, to protect the First Amendment rights of Americans.

How would the “Equality Act” threaten religious freedom and free speech?

ADF has seen the impact that laws similar to the “Equality Act” have had across the country. And we stand ready to provide a strong defense for religious freedom and free speech.

  • The “Equality Act” could forbid churches and religious nonprofits from requiring their employees to live out their religious beliefs about marriage, sexual morality, and the distinction between the sexes. They could be required to open their sex-specific facilities to members of the opposite sex. ADF successfully represented one Massachusetts church after the government threatened to force it to open its women’s shelter for victims of domestic violence to males.
  • The “Equality Act” would threaten religious foster care and adoption agencies with closure if they operate according to their deeply held belief that the best place for a child is a home with a married mother and father. In New York, for example, the state is using a sexual orientation, gender identity regulation—similar to the “Equality Act”—to shutter the adoption services of New Hope Family Services, which has been placing children in loving homes for over 50 years. ADF is representing New Hope in court.
  • It would threaten creative professionals and other business owners who simply want to live and work according to their beliefs. ADF successfully represented promotional printer Blaine Adamson after he respectfully declined an organization’s request to print shirts with a message promoting an LGBT pride festival because the message violated his religious beliefs. But Blaine offered to connect the organization to another printer who would create the requested shirts. Even so, the organization filed a discrimination complaint against Blaine, and a local human rights commission ordered him to undergo diversity training.
  • The “Equality Act” would also force individuals to speak messages that violate their beliefs under the threat of punishment. ADF is representing Dr. Nicholas Meriwether, who was disciplined by Shawnee State University for declining to refer to a male student as a woman. He offered to refer to the student by first or last name only, in order to respect both the student and his own beliefs, but this did not satisfy the university, which still punished him.

How would the “Equality Act” threaten women?

  • The “Equality Act” would force women to share private spaces with men.

This is a threat to women who need critical services, such as those provided by Downtown Hope Center in Anchorage, Alaska. ADF successfully defended Downtown Hope Center after the city government tried to force the shelter to allow biological men who identify as female to sleep mere feet from women, many of whom have suffered rape, sex trafficking, and domestic violence. For these women, having a biological man in the room where they sleep or undress triggers severe anxiety and trauma—so much so that one woman said she would have to leave the shelter and sleep in the woods in the Alaskan winter, because she could not sleep in the same room as a biological male.

  • The “Equality Act” would also undermine the purpose of Title IX.

Title IX was created to ensure equal opportunities for women in education. The “Equality Act” could destroy many of those opportunities. Among other consequences, the “Equality Act” could allow male athletes who identify as female to compete in women’s sports.

ADF represents four girls in Connecticut, where a state high school athletic policy does just that. These four female athletes have already lost races, state championships, and opportunities to compete at the highest level. Our laws should recognize the biological differences between the sexes; by ignoring those differences, the “Equality Act” could make Connecticut’s disastrous policy a nationwide reality.

What about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—doesn’t that provide some protection for these groups?

If you’re not already concerned about the scope and reach of the “Equality Act,” here’s another issue.

In the past, similar proposals have claimed to respect the concerns of the religious community, offering a few narrow protections for religious freedom. But the “Equality Act” offers no protections for religious freedom . In addition, the bill would forbid religious individuals and organizations even to invoke the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That would make it harder for the faithful to defend themselves against a bill designed to punish them for living out their beliefs.

Does that sound like equal treatment to you?

Essentially, the “Equality Act” gives people of faith an ultimatum: Change your faith-based practices or face government punishment.

The Bottom Line

Laws must respect freedom and promote justice for every citizen, no matter who they are. But that is not what the “Equality Act” does. Instead, it threatens Americans’ fundamental liberties. And that is something no American should stand for.

That’s where you come in.

Will you commit to standing for the freedoms upon which this nation was founded?

Every generation faces a unique moment when it is called on to protect the guarantee of liberty enshrined in our Constitution. This is our moment. Today, you can help defend the American promises of life and liberty.

If you believe these promises are worth defending, please sign the statement.

  • I stand for America’s founding principles: that all men are created equal with inalienable, God-given rights.
  • I stand against any unlawful effort by the Biden administration to restrict my constitutional liberties.
  • I stand for freedom and will join Alliance Defending Freedom to preserve free speech, religious freedom, the sanctity of life, parental rights, and marriage and family

*****

This article was published on February  18, 2021 by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) and is hereby republished with permission. To sign the statement immediately above, please go to the ADF website to sign and submit at the bottom of the homepage.

The Golden Rule

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Even for those not religiously inclined, the wisdom of the Golden Rule is widely acknowledged. As a civilizing instinct, treating others as you wish to be treated is an admonition of considerable heft.

It is abundantly clear, that at the present time living in the United States could readily benefit from its application.

In the current era of the “cancel culture”, let us all remember that if you cause other people to be shamed and to lose their jobs simply for taking a position on public policy different from your own or even expressing a thought different from that of the approved sacred media texts, this malevolent power can come around and be applied to yourself.

There is a general rule about revolutions, to wit; they always reach the stage when the revolution eats its own children.

Let’s take the New York Times (NYT.) Having unleashed the mass of lies and sheer misrepresentation of events surrounding the 1619 Project, it is entirely fair to treat the NYT by the standards it treats others. Besides the irony of Progressives constantly howling about the benefits of being non-judgmental, we witness judgementalism on steroids.

They contend every fiber of America is racist and must be rooted out by the scolds that prowl the news and opinion pages.

OK, let’s treat them as they have treated others. Fair enough?

Not only has it been determined that the Ochs family who founded the NYT  included slave owners and Confederates, but that their very name, New York, is derived from the Duke of York, a monumental slave trader. Should not the Times be forced to change its name and pay reparations? And while we are at it, should not the NYT gift their building and property back to the Manhattan Indian Tribe of the area, the rightful original owners?

This is, after all, how they treat others.

Moreover, there is the Golden Rule of philosophy – apply the same arguments to yourself as you apply them to others.

For example: although the NYT is not alone in this, it has been a standard argument for years by Progressives that people lack moral agency or the power to really know right from wrong, acting in accordance with their existing knowledge. They argue further that there is no objective standard of behavior. We can’t be guided by the Bible, the scribblings of ancient desert nomads. We are guided by the views of society at the current time, shaped mostly by public intellectuals, i.e., people like themselves.

Thus, criminals are shaped by their environment mostly and the institutions and zeitgeist of their time. We cannot really hold them responsible for their actions. By this logic, criminals should not be punished.

But racists and slave owners were a product of their times. They had intellectuals of their era as well, such as George Fitzhugh who argued slavery was “the Southern beau of communism.” Fitzhugh had no use for Adam Smith and John Locke. Few realized that Fitzhugh wrote, “how much truth, justice, and good sense there is in the notion of the Communists as to the community of property.” After all, socialism “is simply the new fashionable word for slavery.”

And since there are no objective standards of right behavior, we cannot blame slave owners for being what they were. It was the intellectual and social environment they grew up in and hence no one is really to blame.

They believed that human behavior and achievement was a matter of skin color, similar to the fashionable arguments today about “white privilege”.

Not only do Progressives leap out of their own skin of moral relativity to accuse people of the past of not upholding the standards of today, but they also go even a step further into the ether. They accuse an entire society of the actions of their great, great, great grandparents.

Hardly anyone today believes children owe either the monetary or moral debt of their parents or even great, great grandparents. But the NYT apparently does.

It is worth noting that it was a distinct minority of ancestors that owned slaves while most did not. Only about 25% of the Southern population owned slaves, which ironically included Black slaveholders and Indian tribes as among those owning slaves. Most of the country did not own slaves and much of the country opposed the institution. Many immigrants that came to America before and after the Civil War had no ancestral ties to the horrid practice but some did have political affiliation with the Democratic Party that ran much of the North and the South, both under a slave regime and Jim Crow.

Having said that, how can one believe that distant ancestors are responsible for bad actions, especially if there are no objective standards and it is all caused by the environment anyway?

And while we are exposing contradictions, why does the NYT so fervently support Democrats since that political party had more to do with the racial injustices of the past than any other party in America?

Not only that, they ignore all the important steps to limit slavery taken in America from the three-fifths compromise to the Northwest Ordinance, the suppression of the international slave trade, the Missouri Compromise, the Civil War, the new Amendments to the Constitution, the desegregation of schools, the military and of sports and the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s and 1970s.

Most of the 1619 Project is the dubious product of college-educated Black women. How could they get educated and recruited to the nation’s leading newspaper if there is such bigotry in America?

Not only does the NYT deny the same arguments about moral agency to the South that they apply to criminals, but they also seem to have no inkling of the century and a half of historically unique progress, blocked ineffectively by Democrats. They have become judgmental fanatics with historic amnesia.

And few at the NYT seem to realize their solutions to today’s racial tension are far closer to Fitzhugh’s rather than Locke, Franklin, Jefferson, and Madison.

If we were to treat the NYT as they treat others, they should be forced to take a knee in front of the slavery-hating Republicans. The New York Times corporation should be liquidated and the proceeds paid to those they have wronged. Their writers and employees should be banned (aka “canceled) from journalism for sure and more importantly, from Twitter.

The Bankruptcy of Conservative Political Paternalism

Estimated Reading Time: 13 minutes

Political paternalism – the belief that those in government possess more knowledge, wisdom, and ability to plan, guide, and direct various aspects of people’s lives better than those people themselves – comes in many forms. The American “progressive” movement is euphoric with being, once again, close to power with the new Biden Administration in the hope of intensifying and extending their version of political paternalism on the country.

But there are “conservative” brands of political paternalism, as well. Now in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s defeat in the presidential election, visions of a new conservative paternalism are being offered to “save” the conservative movement from both the collectivism of the progressives and from the free market libertarians who are accused of ignoring that there is more to life than liberty and material wealth. An example of such a call for a new conservative political paternalism may be found in an article by Oren Cass, “A New Conservatism: Freeing the Right from Free Market Orthodoxy” (Foreign Affairs, March/April 2021).

Mr. Cass served as a domestic policy director for Mitt Romney’s presidential bid in 2012, and in 2020 founded “American Compass,” a think-tank focused on post-Trump conservative politics, after having worked for a time as a research fellow with the Manhattan Institute. He never uses the term “political paternalism” in this article; it nonetheless remains a fact that what he advocates is a “conservative” agenda for activist government that can bring about a coalition of social and economic interest groups in ways different from that of the progressives in the Democratic Party to assure Republican successes in future elections.

It is not that Mr. Cass is against free market ideas and policies, per se; indeed he thinks they were useful and even necessary back in the 1980s, when social conservatives, foreign policy interventionists, and free market libertarians needed to help win the Cold War being fought with the Soviet Union, and defeat a variety of misguided domestic policies. But that was then, and this is now.

Rejecting Free Markets and Libertarianism

Times have changed, as they always do. Mr. Cass says that in the post-Cold War world “conservative economic thinking atrophied,” and “libertarian ideas ossified into market fundamentalism” in the controlling hands of an unnamed “clique of market fundamentalists” who have become wrongly identified with “conservatism.” Then came along Donald Trump who “lacked any discernible ideology or capacity for governing.” Trumpism simply has been a cult of personality, which now that he is off the presidential stage of history, leaves the future direction of a conservatism reborn up for grabs.

So, what are the sins of those who advocate this “market fundamentalism,” Mr. Cass’s opposition to which is not much different from its rejection by the broad coalition of those on the political “left?” It seems that libertarians, which is just another name for “market fundamentalists” in his political lexicon, “are obsessed with liberty to the exclusion of other values.” We are told:

“Markets reduce people to their material interests, and reduce relationships to transactions. They prioritize efficiency to the exclusion of resilience, sentiment, and tradition. Shorn of constraints, they often reward the most socially corrosive behaviors and can quickly undermine the foundations of a stable community – for instance, pushing families to commit both parents to full-time market labor or to strip-mining talent from across the nation and consolidating it in a narrow set of cosmopolitan hubs.”

Alas, Mr. Cass declares, “Libertarians have no time for such nuance.” Being “unable to distinguish between what markets can and cannot do and unwilling to acknowledge the harm that they can cause,” they, instead, blindly pursue “the unquestioned priorities of personal freedom and consumption.”

Cass’s Conservatism is Just More Collectivist Planning

What markets, free and uncontrolled by political constraints, tend to do, he warns, is undermine traditions and morals, weaken communities, and leave no sense of the common tasks for national betterment. In a list of concerns not much different from those of the “progressives,” Mr. Cass insists that libertarian market fundamentalists give no consideration to the deleterious effects of income inequality, concentration of community-impacting decision-making in large corporate hands, and place seemingly no importance on the cultivating and fostering of the “right values” in society as a whole and the educational system in particular.

So, what does he propose as his activist political agenda for a new conservatism? Well, it really comes down to pretty much the same conservative paternalism of times in the past. The national interest comes before the individual’s own interest, as reflected in his calling for more of the same Mercantilist directing of economic affairs to assure that America does not “lose out” to a rising China. Industries, clearly, need to be protected, sectors of the economy must be supported, as well as directed as to where businesses are to be located, especially since Mr. Cass wants to “decentralize” where people live and work in a more balanced pattern away from large metropolitan areas.

In other words, this would be his own form of central planning of foreign trade and domestic industry, along with some type of national zoning designed to create the population distributions between town and country that he considers to be better than at present. No doubt, Mr. Cass would loudly object that he is not a “socialist” wanting to plan the economy. But, in fact, this would simply be a form of government direction of economic affairs that in the France of the 1950s was called “indicative planning.” The government does not directly control and command the country’s economic affairs; instead, it uses fiscal and regulatory tools to “nudge” private enterprises into those directions and activities the government social engineers want, while seeming to leave it all up to private sector businessmen within a “tamed” market economy. Nevertheless, a planning mindset and mechanism by any other name still remains political paternalism and social engineering.

Blaming Markets for Government-Caused Problems

How does Mr. Cass propose to deal with economic inequality and the imbalances between workers and employers? First, it might be pointed out that his despair that “market fundamentalism” has forced both parents in a household to earn a living in the labor market has a lot to do with the tax burdens on the average American family that create the necessity for there to be more than one breadwinner. Or perhaps he has not noticed the various amounts of income the government siphons off out of people’s paychecks, particularly, in places like California and New York and many other states, before there is any money left to bring home to cover household expenses. The fiscal follies of the federal and state governments in funding the interventionist-welfare state cannot be placed at the door of the free market. This has more to do with government-knows-best “fundamentalism.”

Furthermore, he seems to have an implied image of the “little woman” (which in our transgender world can be a “him” or a “her” depending upon how they feel that day when they wake up) should be staying at home cooking away at the hearth. Well, as Mr. Cass says himself, times change, and many women, besides any needed family income, would prefer to work outside of the home pursuing a career and having multiple sides to a meaning to their life. Many of them might not appreciate a conservative “nudger” trying to manipulate how they live and for what “values” in mind through household-focused indicative planning.

Conservative Labor Unionism, Not Free Markets

He clearly feels that the degree to which government directly redistributes income undermines a variety of the traditional virtues that he values. But he is uncomfortable with the tried and true “market fundamentalist” methods of low taxes and deregulated competitive capitalism to foster the physical and human capital investment that over time raises the productivity and wages of those employed to bring about rising incomes across groups and individuals in society as well as reducing government-induced inequalities in income.

Instead, Mr. Cass wants a “conservative” government to support labor unions. He sees the path to a better America for the average worker through collective bargaining and required labor union participation on the corporate boards of private enterprises. Well, that certainly is more like an older conservative traditionalism; medieval guild memberships and closed shops to assure that the union bosses – or excuse me, “worker representatives” – on corporate boards can strong arm – excuse me once more, “recommend” – higher wages to their co-managers on how those businesses are operated. (See my article, “Free Labor Markets vs. Biden’s Push for Compulsory Unionism”.)

Perhaps, Mr. Cass should be less quick to castigate the free market economist’s insights that he pooh-poohs as “outdated claims” to “eternal and universal truth,” and turn to the fact that minimum wage laws oftentimes leave out permanently unemployed segments of the unskilled and public school poorly educated young and minority members of society. Time and place do not change the fact that no employer will voluntarily hire and pay someone more than they think to be the value of an individual’s work in their enterprise, regardless of what government commands to be the legal minimum wage rate at which employment may be given. (See my articles, “Freedom and the Minimum Wage” and “Price Controls Attack the Freedom of Speech”.)

He should also be less impatient with how government regulations and interventions prevent or inhibit the ability to open and expand small businesses that, otherwise, enable greater self-employment and hiring of more people in local communities that suffer from higher degrees of low income and lack of job opportunities. Or how such interventions and regulations limit business competition and protect established and larger firms that Mr. Cass feels too frequently dominate markets. (See my article, “Don’t Confuse Free Markets with the Interventionist State”.)

Conservative Rather Than Progressive Schooling Mandates

Mr. Cass’s mindset is no different in the arena of education. He does not see a path to better schooling and the knowledge and skills that students require through either the “conservative” emphasis on competitive school choice or the libertarian proposal for simply privatizing schooling altogether and taking the education business completely out of government hands. No, he shows himself to be an educational central planner here just as much as his progressive “opponents.”

He simply wants government schools to do the teaching and training with a focus that he considers the right ones for the country as a whole, rather than how the “social justice” warriors see it. High schools would emphasize practical skills and partner with local businesses for on-the-job training before they enter the workplace. As for college and university degrees, they would be focused on preparing graduates for a “real world” where they could cover the costs of the higher education they had earned. One wonders what has happened to the older conservative appreciation for a liberal arts education, and how it fits into this mix. But what a “traditional” education means is, obviously, all in the eyes of the “conservative” central planner holding the reins of political power. After all, as Mr. Cass says, times change. (See my article, “Educational Socialism versus the Free Market”.)

Conservative “Social Corporate Responsibility”

He says that much of his frustration with and rejection of libertarians and free markets has to do with his presumption that their proponents show neither understanding nor sensitivity to the “conservative” values of custom, tradition, ordered society, community, and family.” Again, like those in the “progressive” political camp, Mr. Cass criticizes Milton Friedman’s argument that the purpose of private corporations is to maximize profits and ignore “stakeholders” in the surrounding community and society. Instead, they should show a “social corporate responsibility,” regardless of the financial bottom line.

He totally misses, just like the recent host of “progressive” critics of Friedman’s argument, that his point was not that such societal concerns were irrelevant or unimportant. Rather, expecting corporations to take on this role, independent of and possibly in contraction to the wishes of the firm’s shareholders, threatens not merely the financial health of the enterprise but politicizes business activities in a way that can easily undermine the smooth functioning of the social order and the market economy that is part of it. The funding and the facilitating of solutions to these “social problems” were best left to the individual and voluntary associative choices of income earners and dividend recipients, who then decide the practical and ethical best ways of spending their own money. (See my articles, “Milton Friedman and the New Attack on the Freedom to Choose” and “Stakeholder Fascism Means More Loss of Liberty”.)

Misreading Edmund Burke and the Role of Civil Society

Mr. Cass draws upon the ideas of the 18th century British conservative philosopher, Edmund Burke (1729-1797), who placed great value on the historical importance and continuity of institutions and traditions that provide security and stability to people within and across generations. But his reading of Burke leads him to think that if such institutions and traditions are important, it is the duty of governments to preserve them, cultivate them, and reform society in cautiously better directions.

Other Burkean conservatives, while seeing a larger role for government in society than classical liberals and libertarians usually do, have emphasized that these “intermediary institutions” of civil society – family, organized religions, community associations and charities, among others – need to be kept particularly separate from the government and its controls precisely due to the fact that they serve also as the important “buffers” and protectors standing between the lone individual and the potentially unlimited power of the State that can absorb and crush the single person.

For instance, the conservative sociologist, Robert Nisbet (1913-1996), highlighted these aspects to his Burkean understanding of society and its institutions, and made it a central element in his exposition of the ideas and principles of his book, Conservatism: Dream and Reality (1986). Nisbet insisted that “Laissez-faire and decentralization are sovereign to Burke.” In his earlier work, Twilight of Authority (1975), Nisbet explained the importance of the autonomy of such voluntary associative and market-based institutions, and the pressure they were under from the usurping and centralizing powers of government:

“Of all the consequences of the steady politicization of our social order, of the unending centralization of political power…the greatest in many ways is the weakening and disappearance of traditions in which [non-political] authority and liberty alike are anchored…

“Of all the needs in this age the greatest is, I think, a recovery of the social, with its implication of social membership, that in fact exists in human behavior, and the liberation of the idea of the social from the political…Crucial are the voluntary groups and associations. It is the element of the spontaneous, of untrammeled, unforced volition, that is undoubtedly vital to creative relationships among individuals…

“Voluntary associations have an importance well beyond what they do directly for the individual members. Most of the functions which are today lodged either in the state or in great formal organizations came into existence in the first place in the context of larger voluntary associations. This is true of mutual aid in all its forms – education, socialization, social security, recreation, and the like…It is in the context of such [voluntary] association, in short, that most steps in social progress have taken place.”

The importance of this is significant enough for me to tax the reader’s patience with referencing a complementary emphasis on the same point by the noted University of Chicago sociologist, Edward Shils (1910-1995) in “The Virtue of Civil Society” (Government and Opposition, January 1991). Vital to a free, prosperous, and humane social order, Shils insisted, was a large swath of society that is independent of and separate from political control and domination. Or as he put it:

“The idea of civil society is the idea of a part of society which has a life of its own, which is distinctly different from the state, and which is largely in autonomy from it…A market economy is the appropriate pattern of economic life of a civil society. There is, however, much more to civil society than the market. The hallmark of a civil society is the autonomy of private associations and institutions, as well as private business firms…

“The civil society…must possess the institutions that protect it from encroachment of the state and keep it a civil society…These are the institutions by which the state is kept within substantive and procedural confinement. The confinement, which might be thought to be negative, is sustained on belief of a positive ideal, the ideal of individual and collective freedom.”

Yet, this type of a conservatism reborn seems to hold no place in Oren Cass’s vision of a new “conservatism.” His is really just “progressivism” and its confidence and belief in the possibility and power of political paternalism to remake and move society in “better” directions, only in the context of what Cass conceives as the “good,” and the “right” and conservatively “desirable.” A softer governmental nudge here, a firmer political push there to get society into the collective pattern and shape wanted; just as the “social justice” warriors wish to do. It is the same political train, with the only difference being the ideological and paternalistic destination to which the government-determined ride takes us all.

Individual Rights and Liberty for a Good Society

Classical liberalism and libertarianism and the principles and practice of a free market system are all compatible with and complementary to much of the idea of conservatism and civil society that both Robert Nisbet and Edward Shils focused upon. But the difference is that for classical liberals and libertarians, there are no institutions of civil society, there are no protections for the autonomy of the individual and his voluntary associations from threatening infringements by the State unless the philosophical foundations of the social order start with the idea and ideal of those unalienable rights of each and every person to their respective life, liberty, and honestly acquired property, without which there can be no meaningful pursuit of happiness.

Traditions, customs, and noncoercive “authorities” to which people give recognition and respect and deference only can sustainably emerge and intergenerationally survive when they arise out of the free actions and chosen forms of personal and societal interactive conduct of the human actors themselves. It is what Adam Smith called “the system of natural liberty” with its evolved institutions of free exchange that generates the workings of the market’s “invisible hand” of mutual gains from trade in all their varied forms inside and outside of the marketplace. (See my article, “Adam Smith on Moral Sentiments, Division of Labor, and the Invisible Hand”.)

If “liberty” is given foremost importance by classical liberals and libertarians, it is not due to an ossified dogmatism, as Oren Cass tries to suggest. It is because liberty is and should be considered a good in itself, something that recognizes and tells an individual that their life is their own to live and enjoy and use as they peacefully and honestly find to be best so as to give that life meaning and happiness to them.

What greater sense of respect and recognized dignity in the individual human being, what greater due regard for the uniqueness of each and every person alive than to tell them and assure them that they may not be made the coerced tool in the hands of others, whether they be private agents or government officials. It is classical liberalism that raised this as a universal and moral ideal, and it is the institutions and acceptance of free markets that separated earning a living from the control of political power that made it possible to practice the individual freedom that Mr. Cass sneers at and too easily shunts aside. The libertarian’s emphasis on consumer choice is not from a crass worship of materialism, but from an appreciation and understanding that such freedom to choose in a market economy enables the individual to express all the “higher” values that the availability and use of market-provided means make possible in a way that no other economic system has ever allowed. (See my article, “The Rise of Capitalism and the Dignity of Labor”.)

It is also the only basis and means for humanity to live in peace and cooperative harmony through the competition of the marketplace, which successfully reconciles many, indeed most, of the conflicts and discontinuities in the actions of multitudes of people in a world of limited means that can be used to advance the numerous competing ends that people follow.

At the same time, it cultivates the social attitudes and activities that increase the opportunities of life and improves not only the material but the cultural and intellectual conditions of all. What we need is for the political paternalists and ideological busybodies of every stripe to just leave all of us alone. We can take care of ourselves, thank you very much, even if as imperfect people in an imperfect world we make missteps along the way. We need neither “progressives” nor “conservatives” of Oren Cass’s ilk to manage the world. What we need is for the likes of all of them to mind their own business. (See my articles, “Mr. President: Please Mind Your Own Business” and “Hazony’s Tradition-Based Society is a Form of Social Engineering” and “Conservative Nationalism is Not About Liberty” and “The Plague of Meddling Political Busybodies” and my book, For a New Liberalism.)

But this is neither a classical liberalism nor a form of conservatism that appeals to Oren Cass when what he really is after is figuring how to outwit the progressives in the game of political plunderhood by devising coalitions in society that will put “his side” in elected office next time around through a “conservative” version of handouts of favors, privileges and subsidies. His “new” conservatism, therefore, is really only the same old political paternalism, just in different rhetorical clothing.

*****

This article first appeared on February 15, 2021 and is reprinted with permission from the American Institute of Economic Research, AIER.

Minimum Wages Had a Eugenic Intent

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

All this talk of a $15 national minimum wage prompted me to revisit the standard textbook on economics of the US Progressive Era. Principles of Economics, by Frank W. Taussig (1917) is a pretty interesting book overall and it does hold up in general as an elucidation of then-existing knowledge and pedagogy.

There is one section, however, where the author really goes off the rails. He is discussing labor policy and a “compulsory minimum wage rate.” There was no such national law at the time (that didn’t arrive until 1933) but Professor Taussig made the case for one.

For him, this was not about lifting up the poor or increasing wages for everyone. He saw it as a tool for including and excluding workers based on whether and to what extent the people in question should even be part of the labor pool.

As he plainly says, the purpose of the law is to “regulate the plane of competition” so that “one could undersell the others by cutting below the established rate.” Workers whose productivity fell below the minimum would simply be excluded from the workforce: “It would be impossible to compel employers to pay the minimum to those whose services were not worth it.”

To him, this is a feature, not a bug.

Why would anyone want such exclusion? Here is where Taussig gets brutal. Some people are simply unemployable, he says, for example “those who are helpless from cases irremediable” due to “old age, infirmity, disabling accident” and also those suffering from “congenital feebleness of body and charters, alcoholism, dissolute living…irretrievable criminals and tramps.”

This class, he opines, “must be stamped out” and should not “be allowed to breed.” Ideally, he says, we should “proceed to chloroform them once for all” but that might have a bad look. Instead, “at least they can be segregated, shut up in refuges and asylums, and prevented from propagating their kind.”

What does this have to do with minimum wages? They are one tool to use to achieve that goal. However, in order to enforce this, “the power of laws must be very strong indeed, and very rigidly exercised, to order to prevent the making of bargains which are welcome to both bargainers.”

Pretty chilling? Indeed. Welcome to the world of Progressive-Era economics as informed by eugenic concerns in which the law is deployed for purposes of stamping out undesirables. Taussig’s view was not considered scandalous because it was fully mainstream opinion at the time. As grim and immoral as his aspirations, at least he gets the economics right: the minimum wage does indeed lock people without privilege out of the labor force.

He was hardly alone in this view, which is why no one of that generation found it particularly shocking.

Princeton University’s Royal Meeker, Woodrow Wilson’s commissioner of labor, held the same position. “It is much better to enact a minimum-wage law even if it deprives these unfortunates of work,” Meeker argued in 1910. “Better that the state should support the inefficient wholly and prevent the multiplication of the breed than subsidize incompetence and unthrift, enabling them to bring forth more of their kind.”

Henry Rogers Seager of Columbia University, and president of the American Association of Labor Legislation, laid it all out in “The Theory of the Minimum Wage” as published in the American Labor Legislation Review in 1913: “The operation of the minimum wage requirement would merely extend the definition of defectives to embrace all individuals, who even after having received special training, remain incapable of adequate self-support.”

“If we are to maintain a race that is to be made up of capable, efficient and independent individuals and family groups,” Seager continued, “we must courageously cut off lines of heredity that have been proved to be undesirable by isolation or sterilization.”

Fabian socialist Sidney Webb summed up the consensus of the time in his 1912 article “The Economic Theory of the Minimum Wage:” “Legal Minimum Wage positively increases the productivity of the nation’s industry, by ensuring that the surplus of unemployed workmen shall be exclusively the least efficient workmen; or, to put it in another way, by ensuring that all the situations shall be filled by the most efficient operatives who are available.”

And so on it goes. The whole generation was frank about their intentions: the point of the minimum wage law was to reserve jobs in society only for those who are deemed worthy of civic inclusion. The wage rate was to be used as a test. If your earning power falls below a specified floor, this must be because you are unfit. At that point, the mandatory minimum had eugenic intent. Its purpose was to “stamp out” those who couldn’t make the cut.

For more on this, have a look at Thomas Leonard’s eye-opening account Illiberal Reformers.

You could of course say that none of this matters. That generation was filled with moral monsters who believed that culling the population of non-normative people was a function of the state. These days, however, the purpose of the minimum wage is to uplift everyone. The problem with this excuse is that the previous generation at least had the economics correct. Price control on wages creates serious market dislocations.

Let’s say that instead of a $15 an hour minimum, Congress pushed a $15 maximum wage/salary. The rich would simply stop working, while everyone else would likely lose professional aspiration. This is not complicated to understand. So too with a wage floor: it cuts the poor out of the market just as the eugenicists said it would.

*****

This article was first published on February 15, 2021, and was reproduced with permission from the American Institute of Economic Research, AIER

Married Americans Are Different

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Polling shows a strong relationship between marriage status and political outlook.

As political scientists, pundits, and historians try to make sense of the November 2020 election, a marriage divide in the electorate has emerged. Married Americans were appreciably more likely to vote for Trump than those who were either unmarried and cohabiting or single. As reported last week in TAC, Peyton Roth and W. Bradford Wilcox recently found that marriage was one of the strongest predictors of Republican voting in 2020. But such a discovery does not mean that married Americans are solely extreme Trump supporters, are ideologically monolithic, or have negative Trumpian views about the nation’s future whatsoever.

Specifically, Roth and Wilcox found that “states with a higher share of married adults cast a greater share of their vote for President Trump in 2020 compared to states with a lower share of married adults.” This trend is confirmed in new national data from over 1,400 Americans surveyed in the Los Angeles Times/Reality Check Insights poll (LAT/RCI), which also uncovered a divide in Trump support based on marital status. A support rate not matched by other groups, 45 percent of married Americans voted for Donald Trump. For those who are unmarried and living with a partner, only 20 percent voted for Trump, and just 18 percent of single Americans voted for Trump. Without question, there was a strong relationship between marriage and voting in 2020.

However, the LAT/RCI poll provides more detail as to how marriage appears to impact political outlook. For instance, Americans were asked, regardless of how they voted, if they believed that the new Biden administration will govern for all Americans. While just over half (53 percent) of those who are married think that President Biden will govern for all, the figure jumps to 73 percent for single Americans and 63 percent for unmarried, cohabiting partners. Marriage has clearly influenced views about polarization and partisanship.

When ideology is considered, the new data demonstrate that married Americans are not a monolithic conservative bloc. About a third (32 percent) of married Americans identify as conservative, while almost a quarter (23 percent) identify as liberal, with the plurality (45 percent) moderate or leaners. This is a slight lean to the right, but hardly a lopsided distribution of Americans. Single Americans lean to the left, but this is also not extreme. Only 16 percent of singles are conservative and 32 percent are liberal, but the majority (52 percent) are in the middle. Those who are unmarried but living with a partner look similar to singles, with close to two-fifths on the left (38 percent) and a tenth identifying as conservative (10 percent). But the bulk are again in the middle (52 percent). None of these groups is ideologically homogeneous, or dominated by one side or the other.

Marriage affects other views about American society in very positive ways. Consider “the American Dream”: 87 percent of married Americans believe that they are either living (46 percent) or are on the way to achieving the American Dream (41 percent). These numbers are appreciably higher than their unmarried counterparts. Just 24 percent of singles say they are living the American Dream, and only 19 percent of unmarried, partnered Americans think that they are living the American Dream. Even including respondents who describe themselves as on the way to achieving the American Dream, the numbers are still notably lower for unmarried Americans. Additionally and unsurprisingly, 81 percent of married Americans believe that having a good family life is an essential component of the American Dream compared to 67 percent of single Americans.

One surprising finding in the data is that married Americans are far less concerned with the politics of their neighbors, which seems to cut against the idea that Americans sort into like-minded communities. When asked if it was essential to the community they would most like to live in whether most members shared their political views, just 8 percent of married Americans answered in the affirmative. In contrast, 17 percent of single Americans stated it was essential to be around others who share their views. The figure is essentially the same for unmarried cohabiting couples as well. There are real differences in tolerance of others cut along marriage lines, and marriage appears to have a potent connection to openness toward others.

Finally, while the marriage difference was strong in terms of Trump support, the effect on attitudes toward compromise with others was minor. When respondents were asked if compromise is possible in politics, two-thirds of married Americans (65 percent) said they believe it is, compared to 72 percent of single Americans and 71 percent of the unmarried, living with a partner. These are not huge differences and suggest that while vote choices were different, pragmatism is extremely important to married couples. After all, they should already understand the importance of give and take.

In short, marriage is generally a higher priority for people with a more conservative worldview. Married Americans were appreciably more likely to vote for Donald Trump in 2020 compared to single Americans, but married Americans are not a single bloc of conservatives. Before they attack the institution of marriage or vilify married couples for being supporters of the GOP, progressives should note that the married are open to compromise and are generally very optimistic about the country’s future. If the Biden administration and liberals in power want to truly unify the nation, they must understand the views of married Americans and work with them to implement family-friendly policy.

*****

Samuel J. Abrams is professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

This article first appeared in The American Conservative on February 16, 2021 and is reproduced with permission.

More New York Times Bias Exposed: Is Anyone Surprised Though?

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

As time rolls by, the obvious bias of the mainstream media becomes more and more apparent. “Fake news” has become common jargon when discussing the hypocrisy of organizations like the New York Times.

Those who highlight this bias and the double standard of the Times organization are likely to be ridiculed for their bluntness and lack of political correctness. Yet, in a recent interview with Megyn Kelly, a former NYT op-ed writer pulled the curtain back on the publication’s left-wing culture.

Bari Weiss left the New York Times in July 2020 after becoming deeply disturbed by the company’s practice of viewpoint discrimination against conservative employees. Weiss told Kelly that the New York Times is “becoming a place where people are fired for running” stories that counter the organization’s liberal agenda. As we are seeing in all facets of business, wokeism is flooding into management and decision-making, and this is just another example of that reality.

Highlighting the trend of leftism at the New York Times and other institutions in recent years, Weiss explained, “I think the thing to emphasize for people, what I like to say to people is like, The New York Times is not The New York Times,” Weiss told Kelly. “Harvard is not Harvard. Go down the list. Harvard still has the same slogan and same crest. The New York Times still has the font and the claim to be the paper of record, but what it actually is has changed.”

Weiss asked readers to see through the assertion that the NYT’s is “mainstream” or “normal,” when in actuality it has become increasingly left-wing. Weiss also emphasized that while people are fired for running conservative pieces at the NYT, “pieces that are out-and-out propaganda from the Chinese Communist Party are acceptable.”

Back in June, Weiss tweeted about the ideological divide between the young wokeists employees and the older, traditional liberals at the New York Times. In describing the work dynamic and “civil war” between the two, Weiss declared that the conflict had arisen from a lack of a shared set of principles.

The traditional liberals, although leaning ideologically left, still believe in civil libertarianism and the publication of differing ideas. In contrast, the new generation of workers demands publications that appeal to their criteria of emotional safety, or “safetyism,” a term which Weiss describes thus:

“The right of the people to feel emotionally and psychologically safe trumps what were previously considered core liberal values, like free speech.”

The term “safetyism” is being used by the woke to help justify their undermining of conservative publications and ideas. They love to act as the moral compass of society, as if they have a godly sense of what should be deemed as safe or threatening.

However, the appeal to this notion undermines liberties. Freedom isn’t always safe, especially to feelings, but freedom is essential. Freedom hurts sometimes, but it is necessary for a thriving society – and, in the long run, it hurts a lot less than the loss of freedom. When we begin to give in to the view that disagreements are “unsafe” and can therefore be banned, the result is a never-ending whirlwind of woke policy and a loss of liberty for all on the other side of the aisle.

The young employees who preach “safetyism” are actually acting contradictory to this idea, says Weiss. She told Megyn Kelly, “It was strange, because this is the kind of environment where inclusion and diversity are the watchwords and bullying is wrong. But bullying the right people, it’s not just okay there, it’s kind of like a virtue.”

This is a perfect example of why propositions for “safety” are counterproductive and only lead to satisfying one like-minded group of individuals. It highlights how vitally important it is to remain true to our freedoms, especially free speech, which at times may lead to feeling uncomfortable because turning against them for “safety” is a slippery slope. Once people believe they can be handed “safety” through eliminating someone else’s freedoms, this trend will never end. There will always be the next individual who claims something is threatening and that they deserve a remedy to stop the threat.

The infiltration of bias and wokeism at the NYT is a small example of the overall trend in corporate America. Bari Weiss should be applauded for pointing out the bias and hypocrisy within the NYT’s walls. This wokeism must be stopped in its tracks before it is too late.

*****

This article first appeared on January 29, 2021, at National Center for Public Policy Research.

Six Principles for State Legislators Seeking to Protect Free Speech on Social Media Platforms

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Political free speech in the United States is under attack. Tech media giants who own and control virtually all social media platforms available to Americans are working together to silence groups with whom they do not agree.

In just the past year, large, multi-billion-dollar, multinational corporations—including Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter—prevented a sitting president from communicating directly with the American people. Members of Congress have been banned from communicating with their constituents. Newspapers were stopped from providing important reports about election topics. And perhaps worst of all, everyday Americans have regularly been blocked from sharing their own political views with friends and family on popular social media platforms.

Confronted with these assaults on speech, the founders of Parler listened to big-tech apologists who endlessly told conservatives, “If you don’t like it, you can go build your own platform,” and built their own social media business. But after experiencing monumental growth by promising to be a bastion for free speech, big-tech companies crushed Parler, shutting the entire platform down. As of this writing, it remains unclear whether Parler will return.

When Congress passed the Communications Decency Act (CDA) in 1996, which created the now-infamous Section 230 statute that big-tech companies use as a justification to silence speech, America’s powerful big-tech cartel did not exist. The internet was much more democratized than it is today.

At the time Congress passed CDA, it explicitly found that the internet played a crucial role in empowering people to share their views without censorship, including political views. Congress also made clear that it believed users should control for themselves the information they do and do not wish to receive and share. In fact, Congress explicitly stated that Section 230 was designed to preserve open political discourse and to encourage internet platforms to continue providing uncensored political speech—not to suppress it.

However, the rise of the present big-tech cartel has destroyed the internet as it existed in 1996. Even those who have long been defenders of giving companies great leeway in determining how they control their businesses and property, including libertarian icon Ron Paul, are now warning against, in Paul’s words, the “social media purges” conducted by large technology corporations.

Paul has rightfully said these “purges” are “shocking and chilling,” and that a nefarious marriage between massive tech companies and the government has formed that regularly restricts political speech and suppresses dissent.

“Those who continue to argue that the social media companies are purely private ventures acting independently of U.S. government interests are ignoring reality,” Paul said.

Free speech is the central tenet of any representative form of government, and it is far too important to allow a cartel of multinational corporations to attack and restrict it while intellectuals discuss and debate how market forces might somehow, someday, someway find a strategy to penetrate the government-protected tech cartel that now operates in a system that is anything but a free market. The situation has been made even more difficult because government works hand-in-hand with the tech cartel, grants market-inhibiting advantages and protections through corporate law, and provides additional market-inhibiting protections through the misapplication of Section 230.

Currently, the internet is a ubiquitous and extremely powerful means of shaping and potentially repressing free speech, political discourse, individual rights, the outcomes of elections, and a host of other important political activities. Multinational tech giants currently block Americans from utilizing the internet to discuss many important topics, including irregularities in election vote-counting, COVID-19 medications that could save thousands of lives, and self-contradictory statements issued by the World Health Organization.

The Heartland Institute believes in finding and promoting free-market solutions to social and economic problems. That means that in the vast majority of cases, we believe the fewer regulations and restraints on businesses, the better. Everyone prospers in a truly free-market system. However, tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, and Google are not the products of a free market. They arose in large part because of market-corrupting government favoritism and legal protections, and they have exploited those advantages to suppress political free speech. When such a cartel of multinational corporations works in concert to suppress individual rights, champions of free speech and human rights must avail themselves of all means advisable and necessary to protect Americans’ most basic liberties.

To read the rest of this article click here.

*****

This article first appeared at Heartland Institute on February 5, 2021 and is republished by permission.

Protecting Women

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

The cascades of high-mindedness keep rolling over us from the new kids in Washington. Backed by the sycophants who used to be our proud journalists, we hear how civility is once again reigning over our nation’s capital as the autocratic lecher has finally departed after four years of pain and suffering. All of that rang false with one disgusting act by our new autocrat.

Somewhere in the 468 executive orders (I lost count as our new President mutters something behind his mask despite no one being within ten feet of him), there was one signed that tells you how pathetic our new leadership is as it is driven totally by identity politics. In doing so, most of our citizens were tossed over the side for an obscure group. We are made to believe half the country is of like attributes to the obscure group.

President Biden signed another one of his many diktats (who is the autocrat here?) that attacked women. This is not some obscure issue. There has been a defining dispute at the collegiate level of women’s sports as the enforcement of Title IX rules has elevated the quest for equality in sports. This fight goes back five decades. Some Men’s team sports (which appear in the Olympics) have been canceled to accommodate equal opportunity for women.

That was all tossed aside by Biden in the name of gender equality. Or is that equity? It gets so confusing when you are dividing everyone by subclass and raising the value of one characteristic over another to the detriment of supporters from a non-preferred class.

“Executive Order on Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation” requires an application of last year’s Supreme Court ruling Bostock v. Clayton County, which mandated that LGBTQ people are protected from sex discrimination in the workplace.

I was among the minority of Republicans who endorsed the Bostock ruling. In my column, I stated that it was despite the fact there was a fear that liberals were going to extend aspects of the ruling to other areas. That did not take long. The workplace is not the same as participating in sports. It does not and should not carry over. Workplace means workplace. Somehow transgenders have reached the pinnacle of the liberal’s sub-classes such that it became imperative to crush the entirety of women’s sports on their behalf.

The man President Biden picked to run the Education Department, Miguel Cardona, spewed the current mantra at a recent Senate hearing. He stated, “I think that it is critically important that education systems and educators respect the rights of all students, including students who are transgender, and that they are afforded the opportunities that every other student has to participate in extracurricular activities.”

The party of science once again proves that they only heed science when it is convenient for the political argument they create. Everyone knows that males after puberty develop in a certain manner that makes them bigger and stronger than females. Thus, these individuals who transgender from male to female have a distinct physical advantage over their female competitors in sports.

Take women’s softball at the college level, of which I have been a loyal and longtime fan. It is a great sport which men do not play. The women are extremely skilled at this sport and they don’t get compared to men. Women’s college basketball used to be atrocious. The players have vastly improved, but the best player on the women’s college team would not even ride the bench on her school’s men’s team. The men are bigger, faster, and stronger. But transgenders should be able to compete with women?

A case in point is in track and field with transgender males competing against females and cruising by them in the races. A (not so) small fact has defined the atrociousness of this idea. The best woman sprinter in the world can be bested by 30 male high school runners in America. So much for equality.

The hypocrisy runs deepest with the so-called women’s rights groups. The litany of groups remains silent on this issue. The websites for the annual Women’s March have chapters that operate throughout the year but ignore this issue. They will march for unfettered abortions up to and at the time of birth, but protecting young women from being overwhelmed by male bodies in the sports they have chosen to compete? There is not a hint of disgust.

I remember back 40 years ago when we would make jokes about the East Germans sending women literally reconfigured by steroids and other drugs to compete in the Olympics against our women athletes. It now seems as if our government has endorsed that position wholesale.

Transgenders have the right to be treated equally in the workplace. That was ruled by our Supreme Court. That does not mean they should have the right to do whatever they want. Science says they remain in male bodies making their competition in women’s sports totally out of order. Only blind ideologues would accept the Executive Order put in place by a thoughtless president.

When will the women of America stand up for what is right and good for their daughters? PC culture can be defeated if a mass movement evolves. They cannot come after everybody. It is time to draw a line. This line is indelible.

*****

This article first ran on February 14, 2021, in Flash Report, and is reproduced with the permission of the author.