Corporate Leaders Cozy up to Costly Biden Climate Agenda

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

In simpler times, environmentalists and Big Business were on opposite poles. While Greens blamed capitalism for destroying the planet, industry leaders credited the free market system with providing jobs and prosperity. It seems those days are gone.

Shortly after President Biden was elected, more than 150 world leaders signed an open letter to Biden, pledging their support to his administration’s goals to combat climate change. Included among them were Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Salesforce’s Marc Benioff, and Ford Motor’s Bill Ford.

“While the climate crisis presents incredible challenges, it is also the greatest economic opportunity for innovation, job creation, new businesses, and investment in our communities,” the letter states. “We will work alongside you to realize this ambitious pursuit.”

These industry leaders were not alone in their support of the new administration’s efforts to slay the purported global warming beast.

“We believe there is much common ground on which all sides of this discussion could come together to address climate change with policies that are practical, flexible, predictable, and durable,” reads a new statement on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s website.

General Motors probably went the furthest when it said it intends to end the sale of all gasoline and diesel-powered passenger cars and light sports utility vehicles by 2035. Chief Executive Mary Barra beamed, “We hope to set an example of responsible leadership in a world that is faced with climate change.”

While to some it might seem like wonderful news that Big Business and Big Green have finally become “BFFs,” there are reasons to be concerned. Neither has fundamentally changed its character. They have just found ways to work together to accomplish what each of them wants: pushing an extreme agenda while earning profits.

Prominent in Biden’s $1.7 trillion “Climate Action Plan” are numerous tax credits, subsidies, and other profitable goodies that would make any corporate CEO blush.

His executive order, for instance, that mandates the federal government convert its entire fleet of 645,000 vehicles to “clean and zero-emission” vehicles is good news for certain auto manufacturers struggling to peddle them to an unwilling public. This is likely why GM decided to go “carbon neutral” within 24 hours of Biden’s announcement.

Upgrading 4 million buildings, weatherizing 2 million homes, and spurring “the construction of 1.5 million sustainable homes and housing units,” also contained in Biden’s plan, will mean a lot of money to those well-connected businesses that can grab on to the federal dollars flowing to these projects.

And, of course, there will also be plenty of money doled out to other companies pushing politically correct renewable energies such as solar and wind, those making biofuels, and those involved in the construction of public mass transit.

Ironically, the losers in this newfound relationship are consumers and the environment.

As seen in Europe, where many of Biden’s programs draw their inspiration, energy prices have skyrocketed. Countries such as Germany and Denmark, according to the Institute for Energy Research, now pay over three times more for electricity than the United States, on average. Ditto for European Union gasoline prices, which can be as high as $5 to $6 a gallon.

Even worse, if man-made climate change is your big concern, despite enduring these massive expenses, the U.S. is still on par with (and actually outpaces) its European counterparts in lowering its greenhouse gases. According to the International Energy Agency, “the USA had the most significant CO2 reduction in the world on a country basis” in 2019 (the last year with complete data). By achieving this, which it did via fracking and natural gas, the U.S. avoided massive price hikes and protests such as the yellow jackets in France.

In short, the Biden “Climate Action Plan” appears to be growing in popularity in a number of corporate boardrooms. That’s a shame. Perhaps it’s time for shareholders, ratepayers, and consumers to weigh in and let them know any merger with Big Green interests is likely a bad long-term decision.

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This article first appeared on February 23, 2021 and is reproduced with permission by CFact.

The Danger of the Administrative State

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

Lockdowns should have shown every American just how tyrannical and unreasonable our leaders can be. There are elected leaders like Governor Cuomo who have acted as outright tyrants, alienating everyone, even those in his own party. Then there are the unelected bureaucrats who wave away our liberties with the stroke of a pen from the secrecy of their massive offices with technocratic efficiency. This is all of course a sudden and dramatic curtailing of our freedoms. I would not be surprised that with this much public attention, some sort of effort will be made to roll back much of what has been done. Although lockdowns are certainly an existential threat to our long-term freedoms and system of liberal democracy, there has been another specter out there that many experts have been sounding the alarm on for decades. The growth of the administrative state.

The chilling narrative about the growth of the administrative state, which is essentially the regulatory apparatus of the executive branch, is usually confined to specialist professions. The ever-present danger of a slowly expanding and unaccountable apparatus of bureaucrats that threatens to sap the life out of American society and drown it in a sea of paperwork is typically a concern that only keeps policy wonks and lawyers up at night. Although many lawyers probably celebrate this dystopian vision because they benefit from the compliance fees. The regulatory state not only threatens to make a society that much slower and dreary with its excessive onslaught of regulation but it also makes us poorer. Robert Samuelson writes for the Washington Post that

“No one really knows by how much, but “there is ample evidence that regulation has expanded and that this expansion has limited economic growth,” as Ted Gayer and Philip Wallach of the Brookings Institution recently wrote. One study estimates that regulation has shaved 0.8 percent off the U.S. annual growth rate, which — if confirmed by other studies — would be huge.”

The regulatory state refers to organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Education, the Department of Justice, the Internal Revenue Service, and all the other three-letter agencies in Washington, DC. If you would like to see how long the list of agencies is, take a look at the Federal Register, to which there are 455. That number is absolutely mind-boggling and you don’t need a fancy degree in political science like I have to say that society can function without their oversight. A paper by Peter Strauss at Columbia Law School notes that there are currently over 2 million civilians employed in the federal government alone. He notes that for context,

“The first Congress to meet once the Constitution was ratified created a Post Office and Departments of War, Navy, Foreign Affairs, and Treasury, each in unique ways suited to its responsibilities; this new government employed few civil servants to manage all its affairs. The first serious count of federal civilian employees, in 1816, reported that they numbered 4,837.”

The drastic expansion of the administrative state has come at a cost to not only our liberty, which is slowly being eroded by a sea of paperwork and regulations, but it also undermines our democracy. According to Article 1 of the Constitution, the legislative branch or Congress is supposed to be the primary law-making body of our government. That is because if there are bad laws or laws society doesn’t like, we can hold people accountable. However, more and more power has been shifted to the executive branch because of the growth of the administrative state. Even the judicial system is losing power to the administrative state after the establishment of a legal doctrine known as Chevron Deference, which binds the court system to defer to the administrative agency’s interpretation of a rule, not the Constitutional interpretation of a sitting judge. It shouldn’t be too hard to assume that the interpretation will probably favor the ambitions of the agency, not the integrity of the Constitution. These issues and more form the basis of legal scholar Richard Epstein’s assertion that the administrative state is not congruent with rule of law in this country.

The worst part about all of this is that society continues to tell itself that those in the administrative state are simply humble public servants. Although I’m sure many of them are, the hard reality is that at the end of the day it’s a source of income and advancement for bureaucrats just like jobs in the private sector are for everyone else. This is the basic insight of Public Choice Theory, which is the common-sense realization that government agents are not angels, they are humans and follow human nature. That means that although many government agents may think they are serving the country, they are also limited by their own capabilities as humans as well as their desires. This is demonstrated by a phenomenon known as the Washington Monument Syndrome, which refers to how when a government agency is threatened with a budget cut or hiring freeze, they shun fiscal restraint in order to protect their own self-interests. The Washington Monument Syndrome gets its name because when the National Park Service was faced with budget cuts, instead of streamlining its finances like a normal private company they protested by shutting down the Washington Monument rather than taking sensible steps to cut costs. In the private sector, there is a natural check on how much workers can demand, such as the threat of going out of business. In the public sector there are no such restraints. This is part of the reason why the bureaucracy simply grows and grows and grows, taking our freedom as well as our treasure as it does.

Finally, there is the dark fact that there are ambitious people in the administrative state who want to make a name for themselves at the expense of their fellow countrymen. If there aren’t any problems to solve, hotshot regulators are trying to move up the food chain by creating problems to solve by either targeting innocent private actors or trying to pump up their resumes with unnecessary sanctions. This problem is well known when it comes to the criminal justice system, as prosecutors leverage plea bargains to increase their incarceration statistics regardless of the guilt of the defendant and without ever having to take a case to trial, which is a constitutional right. However, this system of perverse incentives to simply rack up wins at the expense of society is present in the regulatory state as well as agencies bringing the government’s boot down on businesses just trying to provide a good service.

I had a personal experience with this dynamic when I interned at a law firm providing pro bono services to private entities that were being pursued by trigger-happy regulators. The case I worked on was FTC vs D-Link Systems, which was settled finding no liability for any violations. The FTC in this case levied a claim that D-Link Systems was engaging in deceptive practices. However, upon investigation there were no rules that they violated, nor were there any widespread complaints from consumers to be found. The FTC was essentially going out of its way and leveraging vague rules to pursue a responsible corporation likely in the name of career advancement. That is because there are no rewards for doing nothing, even though that’s what the government should be doing when its citizens are being responsible. Sadly, not every private business has the resources to fight back against overzealous government regulators. Even worse, there is little being done to check the powers of the administrative state. In fact, many elected politicians simply see it as a way to shift blame away from themselves.

Key Takeaway

If lockdowns were a sudden and brutal assault on our liberties, the rise of the administrative state would be the silent killer. It keeps itself away from the public spotlight, only raising alarms for the communities it directly affects and policy wonks who enjoy ranting about taxes and federal codes all day. To the average person, the administrative state is not a problem until it is. Every year it grows and grows with little incentive to care for the trouble it has caused for the rest of American society. It is the true embodiment of the leviathan illustrated by Hobbes. Although there is certainly a time and place for regulatory agencies, today they have so greatly outgrown their bounds to the point they are becoming an unelected judge, jury, and executioner. What was a handful of executive agencies at the beginning of the republic has now become an expansive list of alphabet soup abbreviations, some with their own SWAT teams and court systems. The administrative state not only saps our treasure and stifles our creativity but it drains our spirit. If left unchecked it will surely turn this country of ambitious innovators and entrepreneurs into one of paper pushers and clerks.

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This article was first published on February 27, 2021 and is reproduced with permission from the American Institute for Economic Research, AIER.

Rand Paul Blasts Transgender Biden Nominee For Endorsing Sex Changes For Young Children

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, during a Senate confirmation hearing, railed against President Joe Biden’s nominee for assistant Health and Human Services secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender health official in Pennsylvania, over Levine’s support for gender reassignment surgery.

“According to the WHO, gender mutilation is recognized internationally as a violation of human rights,” Paul said. “American culture is now normalizing the idea that minors can be given hormones to prevent the biological development of their secondary sexual characteristics. … Do you believe that minors are capable of making such a life-changing decision as changing one’s sex?”

Levine gave a non-answer.

Thank you for your interest in this question. Transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field,” Levine said. “If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed as the assistant secretary of health, I will look forward to working with you and your office.”

Paul pressed further. “The specific question was about minors, let’s be a little more specific since you evaded the question,” Paul said. “Do you support the government intervening to override the parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and/or amputation surgery of breasts and genetalia? You have said that you’re willing to accelerate the protocols for street kids.”

Paul highlighted the story of Keira Bell, a 23-year-old woman who read online at a young age about transsexuals and thought that’s what she might be before pursuing gender reassignment medicine she now deeply regrets.

“She ended up getting these puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, she had her breasts amputated,” Paul said, going on to cite Bell’s present anguish over her teenage decision: “‘The rest of my life will be negatively affected,’ she said.”

“What I am alarmed at is that you’re not willing to say absolutely minors shouldn’t be making decisions to amputate their breasts or to amputate their genitalia,” Paul said.

Levine offered the same non-answer, saying, “Senator, transgender medicine is a very complex and nuanced field.”

Paul wrapped up his time outlining the double-standards wielded by Democrats who raised hysteria over the malaria medication hydroxychloroquine used for the novel Wuhan coronavirus but now actively promote scientifically dubious treatments for minors with gender dysphoria.

“We wouldn’t let you have a cut sewn up in the ER, but you’re willing to let a minor take things that prevent their puberty and you think they get that back? You give a woman testosterone enough that she grows a beard. You think she’s going to go back looking like a woman when you stop the testosterone?” Paul said. “None of these drugs have been approved for this. They’re all being used off-label. I find it ironic that the left that went nuts over hydroxychloroquine being used possibly for COVID are not alarmed that these hormones are being used off-label. There’s no long-term studies. We don’t know what happens to them.”

Dozens of people, however, Paul noted, regret the permanent changes they went through at a young age.

Left-wing activists in the corporate board rooms of Silicon Valley wielding unprecedented influence in the modern American public square have suppressed dissent on widespread acceptance of transgender medicine targeting children. Last weekend, billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Amazon pulled conservative scholar Ryan T. Anderson’s 2018 book “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment” from its online store after a three-year stint. Now when online shoppers search for the book on the mega-retailer website, the second book to come up is “Let Harry Become Sally.”

Anderson’s book was also pulled from the Apple Books app but has since been restored.

Levine’s nomination to a top public health role runs at odds with the administration’s unofficial slogan to “Believe in Science.”

Levine botched the coronavirus response in Pennsylvania and promoted the idea that Americans ought to be wearing masks through the end of 2021, an anti-science statement in line with remarks from Anthony Fauci, teeing up the idea that Americans ought to wear face masks forever.

Levine’s appointment to the senior post, however, marks another progressive win for the identity politics-obsessed Democratic administration choosing a transgender person for the role.

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This article first appeared February 25, 2021 at The Federalist and is reproduced with permission.

Xavier Becerra Would Destroy the First Amendment

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

If Xavier Becerra wins confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services, he will make history, because Becerra would likely become the first Cabinet secretary to believe the First Amendment does not grant churches the freedom of religion. Such an extreme view, endowed with the full power of the federal government, would vitiate the religious liberty of all Americans.

For those tempted to dismiss this as a caricature of Becerra’s position, allow him to dispel that notion – under oath. When California Assemblyman James Gallagher raised Becerra’s views of religious liberty during his confirmation hearing to succeed Kamala Harris as attorney general of California, Becerra hastened to clarify: “The protection for religion is for the individual, and so I think it’s important to distinguish between protections that you are affording to the individual to exercise his or her religion freely, versus protections you are giving to some institution or entity who’s essentially bootstrapping the First Amendment protections on behalf of somebody else.”

“Bootstrapping,” of course, means to substitute an entity that does not belong in place of one that does. Becerra accuses churches of pulling off a sort of constitutional Three-card Monte trick, slipping themselves into the constitutional liberties promised only to individual Americans. In Becerra’s blinkered view, you and I each have an individual right to the free exercise of religion, but if we join forces to exercise that right more effectively, it suddenly evaporates. The whole is far less than the sum of its parts. His view betrays an ignorance of both the Church and the Constitution.

First and foremost, a church is people. The Greek word translated as “church” in the New Testament, ἐκκλησία (ekklesia), in classical Greek meant any “gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place,” or “an assembly.” In a specifically Christian context, it came to mean those who had been called out of the world by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The same word is substituted in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, known as the Septuagint, for the Hebrew word describing a gathering of Jewish people (קָהָל or qahal).

Although the Bible reveals the Church to be a theanthropic institution, no congregation can be separated from the people who make it up. A modern-day church or synagogue could define itself as a collection of individuals who exercise their First Amendment rights in collective acts of worship, consecration, and service. Those people do not shed their rights at the door of the church, the nonprofit, or the corporation.

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Continue reading this article published February 24, 2021 at the Acton Institute.

Yes, This Time We’ll Have Inflation, and Here’s Why

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

After several decades of relatively low rates of inflation, it is easy to think that we will continue to see little change in prices. But the seeds of inflation have been planted.

Purchases of financial assets, primarily Treasury securities, are the primary tool the Fed uses to control the money supply. When the Fed purchases Treasury securities, it provides the federal government with spendable funds. When these funds are spent, the money supply increases. Essentially, money is created out of nothing.

Since 2008, the Fed has expanded these purchases far more rapidly than in the past. Fed holdings of financial assets quadrupled during 2008-2019, expanding from $900 billion to $4.1 trillion. During the past 12 months, these purchases have surged another 80 percent, soaring to $7.47 trillion In February 2021.

Until now, however, the inflation rate has remained relatively low. Two factors have combined to keep inflation in check. Starting in October 2008, the Fed began paying banks interest on their deposits held with the Fed. These interest payments encourage banks to hold larger Fed deposits, rather than undertake investments and extend loans. During 2008-2019, the Fed used these interest payments to induce banks to hold a larger share of their assets as reserves, dampening the money growth and inflationary effects of the Fed’s huge expanded purchases of financial assets.

In addition, worldwide interest rates declined to historic low levels during the decade following the Great Recession. A variety of factors caused this. One that has been largely ignored was a dramatic demographic shift in high-income countries, as the number of people in the lending phase of life (roughly age 50 to 75) increased relative to those in the borrowing phase (under age 50). The resulting low and declining interest rates reduced the opportunity cost of holding money, causing the velocity or turnover rate of money to plummet. As the result of this combination of factors, the Fed’s huge increase in purchases of financial assets and money creation has, to this point, exerted only a minimal impact on inflation.

However, this favorable scenario is about to reverse course. Three major factors underlie the reversal.

First, the Fed’s current money creation dwarfs those of recent decades. Propelled by the $3.6 trillion Covid-19 spending financed by borrowing from the Fed, the narrow measure of the money supply known as M1 has expanded from $4.0 trillion to $6.8 trillion during the past 12 months, a 70 percent increase. By way of comparison, the 12-month increases in M1 during the inflationary 1970s never exceeded 10 percent. The largest previous single-year M1 increase in recent decades was a 21 percent figure in the aftermath of the Great Recession. The story is the same for the broader M2 measure of money, which has increased by 25 percent during the past year. The next largest 12-month expansions in M2 during the past 75 years were the 1975-1976 increase of 13.8 percent during the double-digit inflation of the 1970s and the 10.3 percent increase during 2011.

One has to go all the way back to World War II to find anything comparable to the money supply increases of the past 12 months. Moreover, even these gigantic figures understate the current monetary surge. The Treasury is currently holding more than a trillion dollars of committed funds in its bank account, which will be added to the money supply when they are spent in the next few months. Congress is expected to add additional fuel to the fire with the $1.9 trillion spending package currently under consideration.

Second, the inflation triggered by the huge monetary expansion will increase the expected rate of inflation and nominal interest rates. In turn, the higher nominal interest rates will cause the velocity of money to increase, unleashing additional inflationary pressures from the rapid money growth of 2008–2019. Rising inflation rates and higher nominal interest rates are two peas in the same pod. When the former occurs the latter will follow. As inflation pushes nominal interest rates upward, the recent reductions in velocity will reverse, adding to the inflationary pressure.

Third, the mandated shutdowns have resulted in a huge pent-up demand. Once a sizable share of the population has received the vaccine and the virus is brought under control, spending will increase substantially, providing an additional boost to both demand and the general level of prices. While the shutdown imposed large costs on small businesses and employees who lost their jobs as the result of business closures, the income of another sizable share of Americans continued as usual. In fact, the incomes of many in this group received an additional boost from the government’s direct payments to households in the Covid relief packages. Restrictions on travel, tourism, sporting events, and other entertainment curtailed spending and the personal savings rate more than doubled, jumping from 8 to 17 percent during 2020. Now, many people who have money have been cooped up for too long, and when they can, they are going to spend “big time.”

The current situation is similar to that of World War II and its aftermath. As during the pandemic, the surge in government spending during the war was financed mostly by debt and money creation.  Similarly, spending options were severely limited during both of these events. The performance of the economy after the war provides insight on our likely future. Propelled by pent-up demand and wartime savings, the post-war recovery was stronger than expected. But it was also characterized by inflation. The CPI and GDP deflator (two measures of inflation) both increased at double-digit rates during 1946 and 1947.

The next two or three years are likely to be similar. It is a virtual certainty that inflation will rise, perhaps to double-digit levels. Demand will be strong and real GDP is likely to grow, albeit at a sluggish rate. Currently, the political forces supportive of anti-growth policies such as trade restrictions, higher minimum wages, perverse energy regulations, and cronyism appear to be on the rise, and they will dampen future growth. These policies, along with the uncertainties accompanying inflation and the burden of financing the larger outstanding debt will slow real growth. But inflation is going to be the big story of the post-pandemic economy. Get ready for an inflationary ride.

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James D. Gwartney is Professor of Economics and Policy Sciences at Florida State University. He is an expert on such economic issues as taxation, labor policy, and the economic analysis of government.

His research has focused on the measurement and determination of factors that influence cross-country differences in income levels and growth rates. Dr. Gwartney is the co-author of the annual report, Economic Freedom of the World, which provides information on the consistency of institutions and policies with economic freedom for more than 150 countries.

This article was first published on February 25, 2021 and is reproduced with permission by the American Institute of Economic Research, AIER.

A New Form Of Government

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

We have a new form of government.  One we did not consciously select.

This is just one of the bizarre elements of the ongoing Wuhan virus crisis and subsequent lockdown. What is remarkable is the fundamental abuse of power we have endured.

In reality, the government has on a very basic level, ignored structural protections of our constitutional system. It has curtailed rights to assemble, to worship, to engage in free enterprise. It has participated in unconstitutional takings, restricted the movement of individuals, and inflated the currency. Each one of these factors is important to liberty and the future of the country.

It happened so quickly, amidst such fear, it is astounding to see how easily this crisis has been allowed to slip through the institutional protections of liberty. With hardly a notice, we now have a new form of government. Without much prodding, many people gave up their liberty and then resented those who were not willing to give up their liberty.

The unelected bureaucrats acted swiftly but the courts acted slowly, if at all, to protect our liberties.

The Founders of this nation were greatly concerned about controlling power since the abuse of power is the hallmark of a tyrannical government. They were great students of history and philosophy. As such, they set up legal and institutional procedures to both limit power and to see that those who exercised power would be accountable for their actions.

They gave us an intricate separation of powers, keeping legislative, executive, and judicial powers separated and distinct. The various loci of power were to compete with each other, to check and balance one another in order to limit the exercise of power. The many sublevels of the federal government were to compete with each other, or so we believed, creating internal separations. Uniquely, we began with a written Constitution and a specific Bill of Rights, limiting the government’s reach.

All of this structural protection rests on the notion that government only exists to protect the inherent rights of individuals granted by God, and that government operates legitimately only upon the informed consent of those being governed. No class of people was born to rule others. And no class of people was born to be ruled either—the only system the world had previously known.

The government would protect the natural rights of the people, and for the most part, to otherwise leave them alone. The people could, and would organize many private voluntary organizations to undertake tasks that required large social cooperation. It was a good plan and it worked pretty well for a long time.

How did this system work in the current crisis?  It didn’t.  Our liberties were largely suspended in the name of safety.

An unelected administrative agency, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control, a medical apparatus founded in 1946 as an extension of post-WW II malaria control), took actions and assumed powers beyond anything ever imagined. The CDC is not subject to consent by those governed, subject to little in the way of internal checks and balances, and it determined the degree to which a novel mysterious virus from communist China was an imminent health hazard—and what to do about it.

These problematic agencies often flex executive, legislative and judicial powers all under the same roof. A very narrow sliver of the medical community made controversial, sometimes unsupportable, and arbitrary decisions with huge consequences for everyone. A single bureaucrat, Dr. Anthony Fauci, known mainly for his work in the early 1980s with HIV/AIDS, became a policy czar, or even dictator, promulgating regulations and edicts, without scientific consensus, let alone checks and balances.

That’s it? All that’s needed is their opinion and you must comply?

Every other societal factor from the economy’s health, preservation of private wealth, personal freedom, to adherence to our Constitution gave way on the basis of fear—with thanks to a compliant mass media and administrative pronouncements. As the governor of New Jersey so breezily put it, “The Bill of Rights is above my paygrade.” Such hubris. Such audacity.

Using the skeletal form, but not the spirit of federalism, governors, and mayors across the country violated—in the name of public health and safety—most of the cherished freedoms of this country. Almost all these “laws” were in fact mere proclamations. Based loosely on statutes granting emergency powers (sometimes), usually for civil unrest (or nothing), the public obeyed. Mass media failed to question or challenge the usurpations, in mass dereliction of their ethical codes. The one Supreme Court case with any bearing got little attention, Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905).

Asking citizens to “stay off the street” or even quarantine, is different than shutting down someone’s business, a “taking” without compensation for “public health and safety,” a phrase that seems to have no limit. It is as Chinese communist as the virus itself. We have quarantined the healthy, instead of just the sick.

Our leaders destroyed the wealth and economic lives of countless individuals, leaving the nation deeper in debt than its already deep dark pit. We will be lucky to avoid depression, hyperinflation, or both. In addition, they have set a dangerous precedent: the government will send out checks to people it has harmed with money created with no corresponding production.  In fact, by forcing people not to work, they forced people not to produce.  Further, they have acculturated millions to accept and expect support from the government.

Many governors took their instructions from an unelected malaria-derived agency and proceeded to enforce rules while ignoring their respective legislatures or state judiciaries, which remained inert. Light lockdowns, heavy lockdowns, long and short terms, arbitrary lists of what got locked down—food stores vs. gyms vs. churches a bewildering variety of choices, with no self-limiting characteristics. The rules clearly need to be re-written. Even for short-term emergencies, this kind of discretionary power should not belong to anyone—and resistance to arbitrary rule was quickly squelched by a press that screamed “believe the scientists,” whose actions were undelegated, beyond belief and self-contradictory.

What it really meant was “believe some scientists”, while banning the view of other scientists.

Where are the limits to their power? Apparently, there are none. What will be the next “crisis” that science says must be handled by depriving us of our liberty?  Will it be another pandemic, environmental concerns, social inequality?  Heretofore, only in the case of war, were our liberties curtailed.  Where in the Constitution was such power granted to white-frocked health experts?

You would think that like a declaration of war that suspends liberties, the state legislators should at least vote on granting extraordinary powers to a governor, or the city council, or to a mayor. We learned no consent was needed. No check, no balance, no limitation on their arbitrary and capricious use of power. Just a recommendation from the unelected folks at the CDC, whose knowledge was lacking and policy proclamations contradictory.  They get to decide when we can have some of our rights back and we willingly comply, against our best self-interest, from abject fear they have instilled in us.

What we have is a new form of government. One that has infected us with greater risk than viral infection. It is ugly, and it is dangerous to our liberty. It is a government without checks and balances and without a Constitution.

We are not a nation to be ruled by proclamation. We need to be inoculated against this novel abuse of power.  What, in the end, is the difference between wielding the power that comes from the barrel of a gun from the power of the pen?  No difference really because if you don’t obey the power of the pen, you wind up complying with the power of the gun.  The gun, or the use of coercive force, in the hands of the government, is what the whole American experiment was set up to resist.

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.

Mass Murder Cover Up

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

A storm covers the skies of New York as a scandal has broken surrounding its Governor. Charges have come forth asserting a cover-up of the number of deaths occurring in New York nursing homes that were hidden from the public. That may be true, but that is not the real cover-up. There is another group of people whose hands are drenched in blood and we could have seen this coming.

There are two ways to stifle a free press. There is the way tyrants have done it like Erdogan in Turkey or Chavez in Venezuela. They gradually restrict the rights of a free press until the rights were obliterated. Then there is what has happened in the United States where the press has become overwhelmingly ideologically aligned with a political viewpoint such that they self-stifle their own rights.

What went on in New York was not unknown; rather it was just not convenient to the narrative necessary to destroy the political fortunes of Donald Trump. Anything that conflicted with that narrative was buried — even if that cost thousands of senior citizens their lives.

On April 25, 2020, Michael Goodwin of the New York Post disclosed the truth about what took place. Yes, he is a columnist for the very same paper that five months later broke the story regarding the financial mishaps of Hunter Biden, the son of Donald Trump’s opponent. That story was spiked by mass media and Big Tech hoping to vanquish that evil man in the White House.

Goodwin’s column (his second on the subject) clearly placed blame for the tragedy at the hands of the Governor’s March 25th memo regarding how to handle nursing home patients. “This directive is being issued to clarify expectations for nursing homes receiving residents returning from hospitalization and for nursing homes accepting new patients.” In “an urgent need to expand hospital capacity,” Cuomo dictated that all residents be returned to nursing homes. This ordered propelled the explosion of deaths in the homes. Goodwin went on to cover the disaster in multiple columns and point the finger directly at Cuomo. His protestations fell on the deaf ears of fellow journalists.

The same hearing-impaired journalists went on to lionize Cuomo for his leadership on the COVID issue. His daily press briefings became catnip for them as they praised Cuomo and demonized that dunderhead in the White House. Then-candidate Biden chimed in on numerous occasions praising Cuomo for his leadership while his errant policy piled up bodies in funeral homes.

The guy in the WH pointed out that he sent a hospital ship to New York City and built a makeshift hospital facility at the Javits Center that went barely used while shipping the elderly back to nursing homes to die in mass numbers. Cuomo held more news conferences and the Trump-hating press cooed. By the time Cuomo reversed his disastrous decision, the bodies had been stacked to the sky. But he was oh so brilliant.

So brilliant he received a special Emmy award. It should have been for performance in a drama series because his musings were near-complete fiction and, as it turns out, a lie.

It was predictable that a press that has abandoned any hint of independence would lead to a story like this where mass death would be hidden from the public in the name of their righteous cause.

Who needs Pravda when the entire press is Pravda?

This is not the only story our once free press buried to conquer the evil Orange Man. A group of political hacks claiming to be Republicans formed The Lincoln Project. Their biggest claim to fame is engineering massive defeats for Republican candidates and they too hated that villain in the White House.

The Lincoln Project soaked $90 million out of people telling them that they would turn Republicans against Trump. Three things happened. The first was a higher percentage of Republicans voted for Trump in 2020 than in 2016. They also lined their own pockets to the extent of $50 million or more.

The third and the bigger story was they hid another scandal. The kowtowing press helped to cover up that one of the leaders of the group was harassing young males. John Weaver harassed at least 21 men. This was known within the Lincoln Project since at least June and once again the press was willing to sacrifice another group of people as long as Trump was under attack. The issue has come forward now that the Left-wing media no longer needs the Lincoln Project to destroy Trump. How many young men could have been saved if the press was doing its job?

The Weaver affair pales in comparison to what happened in New York. In New York, the horrible policy was ignored with the cost of thousands of lives. The only reason it is being focused on now is because of the fact an official working for Cuomo admitted they lied about the numbers. They lied about the numbers because they feared their negligence would have made the Trump Administration look good. The people of New York don’t care why they lied, they just care about their dead family members.

Cuomo has blood on his hands, and it has been known for 10 months if you cared to really look. The press has known for 10 months and ignored it and blood also is on their hands. Their ideological bent is responsible and until our press assumes once again its rightful position of protecting free speech and an evenhanded position more tragedies like this will be left uncovered.

*****
This article first appeared February 21, 2021 in the Flash Report and is reproduced with permission from the author.

Biden: China’s Genocide Of Uighurs Just Different ‘Norms’

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Over a million Uighurs and other minorities have been detained in camps in China; but to Biden, that’s just different ‘norms.’

During President Joe Biden’s CNN town hall Tuesday evening, he dismissed the forcible internment, systematic rape, torture, and genocide of the Uighur population in China, labelling what China is committing against the majority Muslim population a “different norm.”

Over a million Uighurs and other minorities have been detained in camps in China, according to estimates. The U.S. declared China’s actions “genocide” last month.

Biden said he is “not going to speak out against” the Chinese Communist Party’s actions in Hong Kong, in Taiwan, or their actions against the Uighurs.

“If you know anything about Chinese history, it has always been, the time when China has been victimized by the outer world is when they haven’t been unified at home,” said Biden. “So the central, well, vastly overstated, the central principle of [China’s President] Xi Jinping is that there must be a united, tightly controlled China. And he uses his rationale for the things he does based on that.”

“I point out to [Chinese President Xi] no American president can be sustained as a president, if he doesn’t reflect the values of the United States,” said Biden. “And so the idea that I am not going to speak out against what he’s doing in Hong Kong, what he’s doing with the Uighurs in western mountains of China and Taiwan, trying to end the one China policy by making it forceful … [Xi] gets it.”

“Culturally there are different norms that each country and their leaders are expected to follow,” Biden said.

Biden has a point; “norms” in China are very different from the United States. For instance, the BBC was banned in China last week for reporting on the systemic torture and rape occurring in Uighur concentration camps.

Asked at the CNN townhall if China will face consequences for the genocide, Biden responded that the U.S. will “reassert our role as spokespersons for human rights at the UN and other agencies.”

“China is trying very hard to become the world leader. And to get that moniker and be able to do that, they have to gain the confidence of other countries. And as long as they are engaged in activity that is contrary to basic human rights, it’s going to be hard for them to do that,” he said.  “But it’s much more complicated than that, I shouldn’t try to talk China policy in 10 minutes on television here.”

In February, the State Department issued a statement that called China’s actions against the Uighurs “atrocities” that “shock the conscience and must be met with serious consequences.”

The Trump administration designated them a genocide and Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said he agrees with that determination.

*****

This article first appeared in The American Conservative on February 18, 2021 and is reproduced with permission.

 

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.