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Friday, September 27, 2013

Helping a Few, Hurting Many

There is a beautiful, new metro rail line being constructed that will run within a couple blocks of my office.  I love the architecture of big construction projects like this one.  I also greatly appreciate the engineering that goes into construction of a major project like this one.  It is truly amazing.

Sadly, however, while this mass transit project is beautiful to behold, it is a nightmare to the taxpayer and to all residents who will be taxed to support it.  The projected annual operating shortfall is $170 million per year for the Silver line.  Of course, the actual shortfall will probably be in the neighborhood of $200 million, if the taxpayers are lucky.  The operating shortfall for the entire system (without the Silver line) is more than $535 million.  In other words, with the Silver line in service, the annual revenue shortfall (covered by a taxpayer subsidy) will be in excess of $700 million dollars.  This does not include substantial annual federal subsidies for capital improvements.

It is true that a few taxpayers will come out on the positive side.  Those who benefit are limited to the less than 10% of daily commuters who actually ride Metro rail.  The other 90% who drive automobiles subsidize those who ride Metro rail so that the fares charged by Metro are low enough to attract riders.  But, the cost is not limited to drivers of automobiles.  In fact, everyone in the Commonwealth of Virginia who pays taxes into the general treasury pays for the few who actually ride Metro.

But, in fairness, DC Metro rail is not an anomaly.  Economists often note that anytime any government entity gets involved in the marketplace it causes dislocations.  What does that mean? 

A simple way to explain it is this.  Whenever government (at any level) provides subsides, tax breaks, tariffs, privileges, or any other benefit or punishment to any individual or enterprise, a few benefit and many are burdened.  Even simpler, any government interference in the free market, no matter how well intentioned, helps a very few, and hurts many.  Sometimes, that interference doesn’t help anyone, but hurts everyone.

Every regulation drives up costs, every single regulation.  I am not suggesting that we should do away with all regulations, but I do believe that we should regulate with our eyes wide open.  We need regulations to protect the public from genuine public health issues.  But, even in this area, regulations are often created not to protect the public, but to protect businesses from competition.  For example, regulating taxi service is proclaimed to be in the public interest, but in reality, it limits entry into the marketplace by entrepreneurs who can provide that service better and cheaper as has been repeatedly shown.  The result is that a few benefit, and many suffer.

Some states regulate barber shops and beauty parlors in the supposed interest of the public.  In reality, the source of these regulations originates from those already in the marketplace who fear that more competition will reduce their charges.  Again, a few benefit, many suffer.

US Sugar producers (like many other industries) receive millions of dollars in subsidies from the federal government to protect them from “unfair” competition.  Without such subsidies, cheaper sources of sugar from overseas would drive down sugar prices.  A few, the sugar producers benefit, while everyone who uses sugar, suffer.

Subsidies never benefit the public, they always benefit a few at the expense of the public.  But, government interference in the marketplace doesn’t just help big businesses at the expense of the public.  Instead of letting the free market function to the benefit of many, government intervenes into affecting wages and benefits with the goal of establishing a “level playing field.”  It sets rules telling businesses that they can’t fire workers if they strike, they must hold organizing elections for unions if petitioned, they cannot hire nonunion workers if their state allows a closed union shop.  And so, by such intervention, what happens?  Because wages are artificially raised, the prices of goods and services produced are higher.  The union workers in those specific industries benefit, everyone who buys those goods and services pays more.  Again, a few benefit, many suffer.

Recently, the State of California raised the minimum wage to $10 an hour.  Sounds great, doesn’t it.  Finally, the advocates say, people will be paid a fair wage for their work.  But, does it really work that way?  Let’s see McDonald’s workers will get $10 per hour, but with that added cost, two things will happen.  First, the price of hamburgers and fries will go up.  There is no other way to stay in business.  So, a few workers will benefit, and many will suffer.  So what, you say, isn’t it better that you and I pay a few cents more for our next Quarter Pounder™ so that those workers will benefit?  That is certainly the way it looks on the surface of the matter, but it’s not reality.  The second thing that will happen is that McDonalds and other businesses that need minimum wage workers will simply shut down some stores, and they won’t build others.  The fact of the matter is that the free market always sets the minimum wage based on the free give and take of the worker, the consumer and the provider.  Politicians can convince themselves that they are bighearted by raising the minimum wage, but such artificial wage increases simply curtail business expansion and, therefore, job creation. 

Worse yet, by setting a minimum wage, government interferes in the marketplace, discouraging and preventing budding entrepreneurs with creative new ideas from starting up businesses.  In addition, it kills “first time jobs” for young people, especially the poor. 

Recently, the District of Columbia City Council passed a bill to raise the minimum wage (they called it the “living wage”) to $17 an hour.  They did this to keep Wal-Mart from building some seven stores in poor communities in DC.  Why did they try to kill off much needed jobs for poor people?  They did so because these city council members depend on union money and support for re-election.  Wal-Mart said they would have to stop construction on the stores and not enter into the District of Columbia if they have to pay a minimum wage of $17.  It almost makes one laugh.  If $10 or $17 is a good minimum wage, why not raise it to $25 or $50 an hour?  When the DC City Council tried to set a minimum wage of $17, it was punishing many to benefit a few.  By driving out Wal-Mart they would not only kill off much-needed jobs for their constituents, but also force them to pay more for the goods and services that they would otherwise purchase at Wal-Mart.  It is just another case of government benefitting a few to the detriment of many.  Fortunately, the Mayor of Washington, DC vetoed the kill Wal-Mart bill, but the City Council is threatening to override the Mayor. 

The other day the United States Postal Service (USPS) announced the intent to raise the price of a first class stamp by 3 cents.  The USPS already loses billions of dollars each year and it will always lose money as long as there is no competition and it is run by government.  The problem is that there is no fair mechanism to set wages and benefits for unionized postal workers.  Because government is doing what a private firm should be doing and has granted itself a monopoly, many suffer, a few benefit. 

The solution is to get government out of the marketplace.  It has no means whatsoever of setting fair wages, benefits, or prices for goods and services.  In every single instance, it makes matters worse for many, while benefitting a privileged few.

Today, we are strangling our economy through government interference into the marketplace.  The result is that each and every American pays above market prices for nearly every good and service we purchase.  Through government interference in the free market, we entrap the poor in poverty and remove opportunities to escape their dire situation.  Through government interference, every sector of our society suffers to benefit the ruling class. 

And, things are not going to get better.  This is not just an accident, it is by design.  Those in the ruling class realize that the more people they make dependent on their handouts, the easier it is to manipulate them.  That’s why you see government pushing food stamps on nearly 50% of Americans.  They even changed the name of the Food Stamp Program to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but manure by any other name still smells as bad.

President Obama is not worried about the number of people out of work, he wants more people to be out of work.  It is to his political benefit and his continuing goal of reducing America to the same state as European nations.  He has to be careful how he does this, but it is politically beneficial to him to destroy the American dream, and replace it with the soft tyranny of a Socialist state.  The goal is to increase the power and reach of the bureaucracy at the expense of those who fund it. 

Obamacare is not about medical care, it’s about political control.  Socialized medicine is always the crown jewel of socialists because they know that once they control your health care, there is no escape.  At that point, every single American becomes dependent upon the government.  And, if they are willing to corrupt the Internal Revenue Service for political gain, what makes you think they will not corrupt Obamacare for political gain?  Besides which, the ultimate goal is not Obamacare.  The ultimate goal is the failure of Obamacare and replacing it with total socialized medicine that gives the politicians and bureaucrats life and death power over your life.

There is nothing unique or new about the left’s goal for America.  It is to abandon the dream of a free society as created by our Founders and replace it with a top down, autocratic society that benefits the few in power at the expense of many.  The left’s goal is as old as the first sin in the Garden of Eden.  Adam and Eve weren’t satisfied with living in God’s perfect world, they wanted to be like God.  And, that is exactly what liberals want to do today, to play God and rule over everyone who they think is inferior to them.

The solution to our problems is not economic or political, it is theological.  Until and unless we witness spiritual renewal in our land, we will continue to slide toward a cold, brutal, totalitarian state.  As Americans, we inherited the greatest nation in the history of the world.  It was the most free, the most generous nation ever created. 

Can it be rescued?  Or, are we willing to let it slide into just another top-down, autocratic state such as the ones our Forefathers fled?  How much do we really care about the future of our children and grandchildren?  If we are dedicated, if we are willing to get down on our knees and plead for mercy, perhaps, just perhaps, we can rescue this once great nation. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Sordid History of the American Progressive Movement

What a great irony.  Those who originally identified themselves as Progressives and later called themselves Liberals like to think of themselves as having higher ethical standards than everyone else in society.  In fact, that’s exactly why they selected the term Progressive to describe their ideology.  Just prior to the turn of the 20th century, men like Richard T. Ely and his student and future President, Woodrow Wilson, decided that certain individuals and certain elements of society had progressed to a higher ethical plane.  These men (and women) were enlightened.  They had taken a step never before taken in the history of the world, becoming men and women with higher ethical standards.  The founders of the Progressive movement (today called the Liberal movement) concluded that they had, in the long march of mankind, finally shaken off the curse of the fallen state of man and were no longer subject to corruption of human nature as understood by the Founders.

It wasn’t that the Progressives thought the Founders were bad people.  In fact, for their time, they conceded that the Founders were quite an amazing group of men.  They might even say that they too had taken a great leap in ethics to form the first successful republic in the history of the world.  But, given the general state of the world in the 1700s, the Founders simply had not yet reached the level of ethics that had been achieved by themselves (Progressives) in the late 1800s and early 1900s. 

Professor Tiffany Jones Miller (from whom I have borrowed liberally) has written in National Review

“The vital core of the turn-of-the 20th century Progressive Movement was a group of social scientists, many of whom had studied in German universities in the post-Civil War era.  Among their most energetic reformers were a group of economists who had studied with members of the German Historical School of Economics, a school whose approach was, as historian Daniel M. Fox observes, ‘deeply influenced by Hegelian concepts of the historical process.’  Richard T. Ely was arguably the most influential member of this group.  Ely played a leading role in the founding of the reform-minded American Economic Association…” 

In fact, Ely is still honored today by the American Economic Association.  Each year an economist is selected to be a Richard T. Ely Lecturer.  The Encyclopedia of World Biography writes, “Richard Ely (1854-1943) is considered the dean of American economics…”  As you will see, this is a rather surprising designation for someone who was such a blatant racist as was Ely.

Ely frankly explained his view that he and others had attained a higher ethical perspective and standard that had others in the past.  He wrote the…

“…ethical ideal which animates the new political economy is the most perfect development of all human faculties in each individual, which can be attained…”

He further explained that this includes…

“…all the higher faculties—faculties of love, of knowledge, of aesthetic perception, and the like…”

And, keep in mind who this quote from Ely sounds like…

“When we speak of freedom as something to be highly prized, we do not mean merely freedom from restraint or compulsion.” 

“True liberty” according to Ely does not consist in “negative” freedom as the Founders’ envisioned, but it is “positive” in nature and “…means the expression of positive powers of the individual [to] make the most and best of [himself]…”

As Professor Jones Miller writes…

“The Progressives believed in ‘progress,’ in short, because they believed that history, as a process of moral growth, has an upward trajectory.”

Professor Jones Miller has correctly identified the point of divergence between progressives (liberals) and the Founders.  It is the progressive/liberal belief that man can progress morally and ethically; indeed that some men and women have in fact progressed to a higher moral and ethical level.  Such a view is a radical departure from the understanding of the Founders and from traditionally held views of the nature of man.

Recently, liberal icons like Hillary Clinton have gone back to referring to themselves as Progressives, but Hillary might want to re-consider the wisdom of such a move in light of the frankly sordid history of the early Progressives.  There is a very good reason that the name Progressive was abandoned in favor of the word Liberal.

The Progressive movement didn’t just deal exclusively with politics.  It insinuated itself into every aspect of society—education (John Dewey), religion (Harry Emerson Fosdick), economics (Richard T. Ely), social policy (Margaret Sanger), arts and entertainment.  And, one of the things that took place was the evaluation by these elitists of every segment of society, not as individuals, but as groups.

The overriding goal of the Progressive movement was power.  They wanted power in every area, in education, in religion, in economics, in social policy, in politics, and in arts and entertainment.  With this focus, they were able to change positions almost instantly, if it advanced their overall goal of achieving power.  And, this is something they have done repeatedly.  Because most liberals of today reject traditional moral values, it is not difficult to follow a practice of the ends justify the means.

In the Progressives’ view, the purpose of gaining power over the lives of other citizens was entirely benign.  After all, because they had achieved a higher ethical plane, they knew, better than the citizens themselves, what was good for them.  They could easily rationalize that what they had on their agenda was best for everyone.

But, accomplishing the Progressives’ goal wasn’t necessarily an easy task.  They wanted to seek unprecedented power in a free society.  They had to deal with the cumbersome democratic process in order to gain power and then curtail the democratic process.  But, they felt that they were up to the task.  And, they were.

After all, they were Progressives and that meant that anyone who did not agree with them was a regressive.  And, in their view, what those who opposed them had in mind was simply not good for a modern society.  They were, after all, inventing something new in the history of the world.

The Progressives’ plan, through the agency of government, was to provide security for every American.  They would provide true justice, they would usher in an era of permanent world peace, and they would cure economic inequities, while still providing a good living for all.  Under the control of the Progressives the arts would flourish, education would expand, society would improve, and the very nature of man would evolve to a higher state.  Such was the vision of the founders of the American Progressive movement.

But, of course, it didn’t work like that.  Human nature had not changed at all.  And, that became abundantly clear with the advent of the worst wars, highest crime rates, worst education, and worst depression in the history of the United States.  Each and every one of these were aided and abetted by the American Progressive movement.  And, the problems created by the American Progressive/Liberal movement continue even today.  There is no learning curve for the misguided leaders of the movement because they still today do not recognize or acknowledge the fact that they have not progressed ethically beyond any other segment of society.  They, too, are subject to the fallen state of man.  God is not dead, his precepts and standards still hold true.  Yet, those in the Progressive/Liberal movement still cling to the idea that they are somehow better people than the other members of the human race.  And, as long as they have power and cling to this falsehood, they will continue to wreak havoc on our society.

If the foundational premise of your movement is wrong, no policy or program you advocate can possibly work.  And, before the current liberals come to the conclusion that the name liberal is so sullied as to be unusable (they do believe this), I suggest to them that they consider the sordid history of the Progressives of an earlier era. 

Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia in 1856.  As a young boy living in Atlanta, Georgia, he ardently cheered for the victory of the South.  This is not, of course, unexpected in a young man whose family roots were in the deep South.  But, Wilson never outgrew the racism of his childhood.  Throughout his entire life, he considered African Americans to be inferior to white Americans.  It was not uncommon for Wilson to use harsh racist terms as President of the United States, even in public.  It was reported that Wilson’s favorite movie was D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation.”  This racist movie depicted the KKK as the noble defenders of noble white Americans, and it is said that Wilson used it to justify his reinstitution of racial segregation as official US domestic policy.

Clearly, Wilson was no friend of Frederick Douglass, the former slave and leader of the abolitionist movement prior to the Civil War.  And, although they were not contemporaries, their lives did overlap, with Douglass dying in 1895 and Wilson in 1924.  Douglass was prescient in his fear of what would happen if men like Wilson gained power.  He feared that blacks would lose the rights they gained under the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution that were passed by Republicans.  He wrote about the importance of the black man having the right to own property and compete with the white man in the marketplace, and he also wrote that if the black man lost the right to vote he would once again become…

“…the slave of society… holds his liberty as a privilege, not as a right.”

Beginning in 1890, a wave of disenfranchisement of black voters swept through the South, with the encouragement of men like Richard Ely and Woodrow Wilson.  Historian C. Vann Woodward documented that while there were 130,334 blacks registered to vote in Louisiana in 1896, this number had declined dramatically to only 1,342 by 1904.  The same pattern happened throughout the Old South.  Woodward states…

“In the South, the typical progressive reformer rode to power…on a disenfranchising or white-supremacy movement.”

The racism of the Progressives was not confined to the South.  In 1931, the Democrats pushed through the Davis-Bacon Act.  Here is the story of the Davis-Bacon Act as described by David Bernstein, in his paper, The Davis-Bacon Act:  Let's Bring Jim Crow to an End

“The story of Davis-Bacon begins, one might say, in 1927 when a contractor from Alabama won a bid to build a Veterans' Bureau hospital in Long Island, New York. He brought a crew of black construction workers from Alabama to work on the project. Appalled that blacks from the South were working on a federal project in his district, Representative Robert Bacon of Long Island submitted H.R. 17069, "A Bill to Require Contractors and Subcontractors Engaged on Public Works of the United States to Comply with State Laws Relating to Hours of Labor and Wages of Employees on State Public Works," the antecedent of the Davis- Bacon Act.”

“Over the next four years Bacon introduced thirteen more bills to establish regulation of labor on federal public works projects.[10] Finally, a bill submitted by Bacon and Senator James J. Davis, with the support of the American Federation of Labor, passed in 1931. The law provided that all federal construction contractors with contracts in excess of $5,000 or more must pay their workers the "prevailing wage," which in practice meant the wages of unionized labor.”

“The measure passed because Congressmen saw the bill as protection for local, unionized white workers' salaries in the fierce labor market of the Depression.  In particular, white union workers were angry that black workers who were barred from unions were migrating to the North in search of jobs in the building trades and undercutting "white" wages.”

“The comments of various congressmen reveal the racial animus that motivated the sponsors and supporters of the bill.  In 1930, Representative John J. Cochran of Missouri stated that he had ‘received numerous complaints in recent months about southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics getting work and bringing the employees from the South.’”

The Davis-Bacon Act is clearly a racist law designed to discriminate against African Americans in the marketplace.  Moreover, the Davis-Bacon Act is still supported by liberal Democrats, North and South.  Jim Crow lives on in the marketplace because today’s Democratic Party is more loyal to their Union allies than they are to the principles of equal treatment under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Why, because the Progressive/Liberal movement is first and foremost driven by the acquisition of power, not the interests of the citizens of our Republic.

The disdain for minorities by Progressives was not limited to African Americans.  They held a similar disdain for all minorities, as proven by the policies of the great liberal hero, Franklin D. Roosevelt.  During World War II, Roosevelt was extremely xenophobic.  While the number of German Americans far outnumbered the number of Japanese Americans, it was those of Japanese descent who became a target of President Roosevelt and fellow Progressive Republican Governor Earl Warren of California. 

Together, Roosevelt and Warren devised and executed a plan that resulted in the internment of Japanese Americans.  There was no greater reason to distrust the loyalty of Japanese American any more than German Americans, but Roosevelt did so only because they were Asians.  Today’s Liberal authors of school text books spend a great deal of time talking about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II to show how bad America is.  However, they do not properly credit this injustice to Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Worse yet, they do not credit United States Senator Robert Taft (known as Mr. Conservative) as the most outspoken and prominent opponent of this misguided policy.  Of course, to do so would be inconsistent with their message that all Conservatives are racists, and all Liberals are broad minded, compassionate individuals.

And, speaking of compassion, a study by Professor Arthur C. Brooks showed a distinct lack of compassion by Liberals when it comes to donating their time and money to charitable causes.  They love to be identified as a “bleeding heart liberal,” but the facts show something entirely different.  Liberals claim to be compassionate because they advocate spending someone else’s money to help others, but taking money forcibly from someone in the form of taxes is hardly compassion.  Compassion can only be measured by the unforced, un-coerced generosity of an individual.  And, on that score, liberals come up wanting.  Today, 65% of all charitable gifts in the United States come from Christian conservatives.  Donors to all major charities are dominated by conservatives.  Moreover, the giving that comes from the liberals is mostly for nonprofit liberal Foundations that qualify as charities, but deal primarily in promoting liberal causes; so much for the idea of a “bleeding heart Liberal.”

The Progressive Movement has had a dalliance with utopian concepts like egalitarianism, and with those who promote them.  When the Russian Revolution of 1917, led by Vladimir Lenin, toppled the corrupt régime of the Tsar, it received high praise from American Liberals (by that time they had abandoned the name Progressive due to its association with racism, Jim Crow, and eugenics). 

Indeed, Walter Duranty, who served as Moscow correspondent for the New York Times during Joseph Stalin’s  reign of terror, intentionally sent home glowing, but false, reports on Stalin.  Duranty knew of the bloodthirsty activities of Stalin, but chose to avoid reporting them because he was enamored of the new Soviet State.  Duranty actually received a Pulitzer Prize (yet unreturned by the Times) for his reporting.  But, in fairness to Duranty, he was not alone in his glowing reports on the new Soviet Society.  In fact, many liberals in the media (not all) continued to write positively of the Soviet Union up until the day it was brought down by Ronald Reagan.  And, virtually all liberals decided early on that there was a moral equivalence between the United States of America and the Soviet Union!  There was no fear among liberals of the Soviet Union.  In fact, President Franklin D. Roosevelt once bragged that…

“Some of my best friends are Communists.”

It was this naiveté that allowed the Soviet conspiracy to deeply and dangerously penetrate the Roosevelt Administration.  Several high ranking members of Roosevelt’s administration had pro-Soviet views, including his Vice President, Henry Wallace.  Others, like Harry Dexter White (first chairman of the International Monetary Fund) and Alger Hiss, (Assistant Secretary of State and the first Secretary General of the United Nations), were active Soviet spies as verified by the Verona Papers (released after the fall of the Soviet Union).

The late Walter Lippmann, who is perhaps the most highly praised journalist by liberals, also had an infatuation with the policies of Adolph Hitler when he first came on the world stage.  On at least one occasion he wrote glowingly of the new society that was being created by Hitler.  Later, to Lippmann’s credit, he became an active and vocal critic of Hitler and later of Stalin.  But, the point remains that when you believe that man can evolve his nature positively, you are an easy dupe of those who promise a new utopian order.

And, while Progressives (Liberals) were gaining political power, they were also gaining power over America’s educational establishment, from the elementary school to the graduate school.  The result is that they have demolished the greatest educational system in the world.  They have re-written history to be a distortion of reality that fits their distorted world view.  Today, thanks to the screwy ideas of men like John Dewey, American education ranks at one of the lowest levels among industrialized nations in the entire world.  Thanks to cockamamie ideas like social promotion, a relaxation of discipline, and the degradation of writing, reading, and arithmetic, our children are going uneducated and are unable to compete. 

The social engineering of the liberal movement has decimated the black community.  While early Progressives like Wilson held black Americans in low regard and promoted policies to separate them from the rest of society, liberals later decided that they could no longer maintain that position and gain power, so they reversed themselves after the Republicans had done the heavy lifting.  Well into the 1960’s, however, it was Democrats, South and North, who repeatedly blocked the passage of Civil Rights legislation. 

Professing concern and compassion, Liberals passed seemingly benevolent laws that resulted in a permanent black underclass in society.  But, this worked to their political gain as they have been able to control their votes by promising more handouts.  It is a sad situation, and both Republican and Democrat Progressives/Liberals are responsible for this patronizing approach.  It allows them to think better of themselves, but it belies their real view of African Americans as inferior to themselves. 

At its core, the current welfare state is a racist policy.  It is not a hand up, it is a hand out designed to deny to African Americans an opportunity to participate in the American dream.  Blacks in poor areas are forced to attend some of the worst public schools in our nation, even though laws could be passed to allow them to attend high quality schools funded by tax vouchers.  Through licensing, certification, and minimum wage laws, poor people are denied their opportunity to achieve economic independence.  And, by removing God from our schools, morality has declined and violence and abuse has increased.  This is another gift from American Liberals.

One of the organizations most admired by today’s liberals like Hillary Clinton is Planned Parenthood, founded by the rancid racist, Margaret Sanger.  I do not use the term rancid racist lightly.  She wrote “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population…”  She referred to poor people and immigrants as “human weeds” and “…human beings who never should have been born."  She wanted to eliminate what she called the “feeble minded [mentally ill].”

Sanger wrote in the Birth Control Review, November 1921, that her goal in promoting birth control was "…to create a race of thoroughbreds…"  She believed that for the purpose of “racial purification” the United States should pay blacks and other minorities to be sterilized.  If these policies aren’t rancid racism, I don’t know what is.  But, when you believe that you have progressed to a higher plane than others in society, you can justify almost any policy.  And, Sanger was a hero in the Progressive movement of her time.  So, Mrs. Clinton, you might want to reconsider identifying yourself as a Progressive.  There is a sordid history to contend with.

Henry Emerson Fosdick led the charge of liberalism in the American Christian community.  With the aid of John D. Rockefeller, he founded the interdenominational Riverside Church in New York City.  According to Fosdick, the Bible was less than reliable and authentic, but with Rockefeller’s millions, his influence on Christianity in America was immense.  He challenged the authority of Scripture, and he focused on a social gospel of helping the underclass, while ignoring the traditional Gospel of repentance at the foot of the cross.  Although Detrick Bonhoeffer accepted a funded scholarship position at the Union Theological Seminary, a group closely affiliated with Fosdick, he said of the institution, “The Gospel is not preached there.”  The followers of Fosdick promoted modernism that included relative morality.  Their impact on Christianity in the United States was substantial and damaging.  Today, the mainstream Christian churches, with very limited exceptions, no longer preach the law and the Gospel as taught by Jesus.  Many doubt and even deny the divinity of Christ, and promote a works righteousness theology as opposed to a salvation by grace alone theology of the traditional Christian church.  They also substitute their own moral code for that of the Bible.  As a result, the Christian church as a whole is weakened as a standard of morality and virtue that is crucial to fostering a free society.

The American Progressive/iberal movement has been a scourge on the United States.  It has promoted misguided racist policies.  It has dismissed very real threats to our nation with words like “witch hunt” and “red scare.”  It has denied opportunities to the poor, and sought to manipulate them for political gain.  It has corrupted our morals, and bankrupted our nation.  It is indeed a sordid history that keeps getting worse, not better.  What I have written in this blog is not the entire, sad story of the American Progressive/Liberal movement, it is just a brief overview.  I hope that someday, a true historian will write the ignoble tale of this movement that has worked successfully to destroy the American dream and to eradicate the values and principles of the American founding.

It is a story that needs to be told and understood if we are to reverse course and save our nation.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Political Correctness vs. Free Speech

The first amendment to the United States Constitution, the first article of the Bill of Rights, says…

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The left has a problem understanding the meaning of this first article of the Bill of Rights.  Just as it has a problem understanding the meaning of the second amendment to the Constitution, the one that says “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Actually, I doubt that they really have any problem understanding the clear meaning of these words, they just don’t like them.  And, it is, in their opinion, simply too difficult to change these protections through the prescribed amendment process.  So, they just pretend that these words mean something other than what they clearly mean.

They have re-defined the intended meaning of Article 1 to be a restraint on religion and the free expression thereof.  They prattle on endlessly about “separation of church and state,” yet those words appear nowhere in the United States Constitution.  They have made up a new meaning for what they refer to as the “establishment clause,” i.e. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” and argue that this means that there must be a total separation of church and state.  

In fact, it was Christian leaders who advocated the strongest for the so-called “establishment clause” because they did not want government to interfere with or control religion as it did in Europe.  That was their frame of reference.  The Pilgrims fled to America, as did many others, so that they could worship freely without interference by the government.  They did not want the government to tell them what church they needed to belong to. Nor did they want to be forced to support, through taxes, a state church whose doctrine and practices they did not agree with.  They sought a government that did not make any law that interfered with their open and free practice of religion as they chose to do so. 

The flimsy basis of the idea that the Constitution called for a wall to be built between church and state is a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists.  They had  expressed to him a concern that by including a protection of freedom of religion into the Constitution it was making religion a privilege granted by the state, not an inalienable freedom granted by God.  Jefferson wrote back to the Danbury Baptists, assuring them that the intent of the first amendment was to protect their right to practice their faith without any interference from government.  In his letter of January 1, 1802, he wrote…

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.  Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

Clearly, the “wall” that Jefferson is here referring to is the wall that keeps government from interfering with religion, not religion from influencing government, or prohibiting citizens from expressing their views in the public square.  Neither were Americans to be discouraged from using their faith in God and their belief in the Bible as a basis for their political and philosophical views.  Discussion of religious views in public was to be free and open as were all other forms of speech, not to be proscribed by government or in any way regulated or abridged.

But, even more than this, Jefferson did not write the Bill of Rights, nor did he participate in writing the United States Constitution.  In fact, he wrote (The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 10)…

“I was in Europe when the Constitution was planned and never saw it till after it was established.”

Moreover, when he received a copy of the Constitution, while he was residing in France, he wrote back to James Madison (The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Volume 10)…

“On receiving [the Constitution], I wrote strongly to Mr. Madison, urging the want of provision for freedom of religion…”

To have advocated a limitation on the exercise of religion in the public square would have been totally inconsistent with the previous writings and exertions of Thomas Jefferson.  He had championed the ending of discrimination against the Baptists and other dissenters in Virginia by the colonial government.  He opposed any state religion in Virginia.

The fact is, the entire idea of the so-called “establishment clause” prohibiting the exercise of religion in the public square is made up out of whole cloth.  It means exactly what it says, that citizens shall have the right to free exercise of their religion without any interference from government, nothing more and nothing less.

In fact, the idea of government secularists restricting religion in any way in the public square is simply censorship.  It’s book burning by any other name.  What we have today is a state sanctioned religion.  That religion is human secularism.  It is just as much a state religion today as was the Anglican Church in the colony of Virginia prior to the American Revolution.

It wants to control what is in school textbooks, excluding the role of religion in our society and any aspect of faith or God in our society.  It wants a total monopoly on learning and on speech in the public square.  That’s not freedom of religion, it is government sanctioned license.

The entire idea of politically correct speech is based solely on shutting up anyone who does not agree with you.  Using the pretext of banning speech that hurts someone’s feelings or that is offensive to them is a clear “abridgement” of the freedom of speech as described clearly in Article 1 of the Bill of Rights.  I am not in favor of hurting anyone’s feelings.  I believe I should be sensitive to the concerns of my fellow citizens, but this is driven by my understanding that all men are equal in God’s sight and that they should be in mine also.

Nevertheless, when government starts deciding what can be said and what cannot be said it is the beginning of government censorship.  It will grow and expand as government always grows and expands at the expense of the individual rights of its citizens.

Freedom is always messy.  In a free society, every individual is free to think, to act, and to advocate whatever they believe, providing what they do does not interfere with anyone else’s freedom of speech or other freedom. 

Freedom is messy in the public square, it is messy in the marketplace, it is simply a messy way of living.  It is imperfect, and I’m sure that’s why the Founders repeatedly talked about the importance of having a virtuous society.  They knew that freedom really would not work unless each citizen restrained his worst instincts.  And, they knew that would only happen if a consensus of citizens feared and loved God and seek to please him.

Today, the exercise of religion in the public square is under attack on all fronts.  The goal of the secularists is to silence all religion in the public square and replace it with an anti-God, humanistic approach.

Some of the examples of the suppression of the freedom of religion include suspending a young girl from a public elementary school because she silently bowed her head and prayed over her lunch.  She did not speak one word out loud, but was condemned for her actions because the “political correctness” policy of the School District proclaimed that for her to do so might offend another student.

How silly and how clearly unconstitutional. 

As Dr. Benjamin Carson said at the National Prayer Breakfast, “Political Correctness is dangerous.”

Today, we are not supposed to say Merry Christmas to anyone because they might be offended.  Merry Christmas, like Happy Easter, or Happy Hanukkah, is simply a blessing.  It is wishing a blessing upon the person. 

We need to be slow to take offense.  As it says in James 1:19…

“Remember this, my dear brothers and sisters: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and should not get angry easily.”

We need to get past political correctness.  It is simply censorship of free speech and it has no place in America.  It is dangerous, as Dr. Carson said, because it suppresses open and free discussion that can lead to the honest evaluation and analysis of real societal problems.  Political correctness does not draw us together as a nation, it divides us and encourages us to take offense at the most minor of comments.

Article 52 of the Soviet Constitution reads…

“Citizens of the USSR are guaranteed freedom of conscience, that is, the right to profess or not to profess any religion, and to conduct religious worship or atheistic propaganda.”

Yet, freedom of religion was totally and absolutely suppressed in the Soviet Union.  Those who tried to express their faith in God openly were sent to the Gulag.  How could this happen?  The wording of Article 52 seems to be clear and precise.  It even references religious worship.

The answer is simple. Lenin and Stalin, and all the dictators that followed them, ignored the Constitution of the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union was not a government of laws, it was a government of men.  If something in the law did not suit them, they ignored it or they violated it.  It happens in all top down, centralized governments.  As Lord Acton said..

“Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Yet today, Obama talks about having to bypass Congress and do what needs to be done.  He ignores the United States Constitution and so do at least four members of the United States Supreme Court, as well as our chief law enforcer, Attorney General Eric Holder.  Associate Justice Ginsburg has even used laws in other nations to base her decisions upon.  These four Court members, and the President of the United States, as well as the Attorney General, and most leaders in his party, simply have no respect for the Founders or for the intent of the United States Constitution.

Although the President, the Attorney General, and the members of the Supreme Court, and all members of Congress took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, they daily ignore that oath.  In doing so, it says much about their character and about the danger they pose to our nation.

When we start suppressing freedom of speech because we are offended, we are headed down the road to serfdom.  When there is no longer true freedom of speech, no freedom of religion, no freedom in the marketplace, there is no freedom of any kind.

But, the flame of freedom is not dead in America.  It burns in the hearts and minds of millions of Americans who cherish our Constitution, and respect the wisdom of our Founders.  There is a movement afoot in America to return this nation to the faith and freedom of the Founders, and thereby, to greatness.  The outcome will be close.  It is not guaranteed, and, in fact, the odds are against the preservation of freedom.  In the course of history, periods of freedom are rare, they are the exception, not the rule.  Individual freedom only exists when government is small and restrained, and when citizens exercise self-restraint, as well as compassion for their fellow human beings.

You and I are blessed to live in this wonderful, free society.  But, if we are to preserve it for our children and grandchildren, we will need to have the courage and the determination of the Founders, as well as their faith.  Let us resolve to give our all to this goal.