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An Ideology Demoted

Rachel Clark : July 19, 2016 10:15 pm : Columns, Rachel

 

If realizing how little one knows is part of growing up, then I am on the threshold of bona fide adulthood.

Over the past year, I have seen and done many things for the first time. And instead of reassuring me of my inexhaustible teenage knowledge, calmly meshing into my calculated and comfortable worldview, these experiences have dethroned my knowledge, demoted my pet ideologies.

Everything from the 2016 presidential race to my nerve-wracking driving test to some clear-eyed Bible study has drawn me ever closer to the simple conclusion that life offers few simple conclusions. It offers even fewer simple solutions.

One of the earth-shattering implications of this truth, one whose consequences were difficult for me to embrace, is that economic and political freedoms are no solution for the human condition—they can guarantee neither order nor morality. While some systems are more just and potentially moral than others, no political system makes humans any better than they are now. Libertarianism cannot counteract inborn human depravity. Only the Gospel can do that.

In an idyllic free society or Misesian economy, people would likely be more prosperous and things might be more peaceful. But on their own, these systems still present innumerable human flaws and reflect mankind’s all-encompassing sin problem.

In my subconscious I wanted to believe that if only man was given a chance, if only people were given freedom and modern technology and trade, they would do something good and worthwhile and wholly amazing. As soon as I acknowledged this thought, I also noticed its danger. It denies the unique power of God to change people, it diminishes the true value of freedom by introducing absurd impossibilities, and it forces freedom and free markets into a league of other failed ideas that have promised to “change” humans.

Scripture is clear that, whether free or oppressed, people keep on doing just what they have always done: building towers, trying to make names for themselves, and trying to reach heaven on their own accord in an open rebellion against God.

Freedom is good—for many reasons, both practical and Biblical—but not because it makes man good; it does not, cannot, and will never change human nature.

Even if Misesian minarchy were the best system of government ever devised, it and its components would still be surrounded by and capable of great evil. The same goes for every other governmental and economic system in the history of the world; some are better than others, but all are nevertheless bad by reason of their human elements.

So far as solutions go, there is only One for changing people. So far as governments go, well, there’s a lot of debate about which is the most conducive to justice and goodness. In that regard my view of freedom still stands, as strongly as ever and as radically as ever. And although it stands, it stands demoted—its value has not diminished, but a foggy, faulty understanding of it has been put to rest.

I will continue to call myself a freedom-lover, but only after I have been sure to call myself a follower of Christ.

(And maybe, one of these days, I’ll also be able to say that I’m a grown-up.)

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The Mahler Universe

Rachel Clark : January 16, 2016 10:45 pm : Columns, Music, Rachel

The title page of an 1808 edition of Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

The title page of an 1808 edition of Des Knaben Wunderhorn. Photo credit: Wikipedia.

Gustav Mahler is one of my favorite composers. His music is imaginative. Glorious. Intense. Unprecedentedly large-scale. Sometimes dark, and other times angelic—always reminiscent of a vague adventure described in bits and pieces over an entire lifetime of creativity. In this regard Mahler’s music resembles a collection of folk tales or fairy stories—which were, not surprisingly, his greatest source of inspiration.

Seen from a broader perspective, though, his works are more than an assortment of thematically linked old lieder: it would be better explained as a story, in music, that takes place in a continuous universe.

Marvel and DC’s universes are two decent illustrations of this analogy. Both of these fictional settings in question are worlds similar to our own, featuring a regular cast of distinctive characters. Marvel has well-known figures like Captain America, the Fantastic Four, and Daredevil, for instance; DC has Batman, Superman, and the Joker. In many ways, though, Mahler’s musical universe is like the Pixar universe formulated and explained in fan theories: through a series of works, most connected and a few not, a thread can be traced. Familiar themes can be detected from piece to piece. And there’s a fascinating reason for it.

Mahler’s universe is based on the romanticized, dark, sometimes grotesque early Germany of the real world—the Germany of a generation or two before he was born. Instead of mutant superheroes and mastermind villains, his music features the familiar characters, ideas, and themes found in Des Knaben Wunderhorn (the Young Boy’s Magic Horn), a collection of German lieder and poetry from a colorful, centuries-old culture.

While it would be presumptuous to say that the man’s music solely reflected Wunderhorn poetry, all of his symphonies were in some way or another influenced by the collection. His life experiences, his philosophies, and his feelings for individuals around him were woven directly into his music; but one might say that Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano’s 1805 poetry collection was his music.

Many 19th century Germans and Austrians would have been familiar with the book. Perhaps as a result of its widespread popularity, several composers, including Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and Schoenberg, wrote works based on selections. None of them impacted the musical scene quite as deeply as Mahler’s, the near entirety of whose creative output was set in the musical universe he created from (and for) Des Knaben Wunderhorn. 

The term “musical universe” is imperfect for a number of reasons, one of them being that it obscures the difference between actual storytelling and actual characters in poems set to music and the recurring musical themes, cadences, and instrumentations that Mahler uses again and again in his symphonies and songs. However, the term’s ambiguity is simultaneously useful—thanks to the intriguing connections between his song sets, symphonies, and Wunderhorn.

The Mahler universe began with his early Songs of a Wayfarer and Lieder and Gesänge, his first settings of Wunderhorn verse and Wunderhorn-inspired poetry; in 1892, he began the best-known set of Wunderhorn songs. From these sets of songs emerged, directly and indirectly, nine symphonies. His First Symphony blatantly references Songs of a Wayfarer; in the Resurrection Symphony, he quotes “Antonius von Padua Fischpredigt” almost measure for measure for a great deal of the second movement—and the fourth movement of the same symphony is a Wunderhorn setting in its entirety, the poignant “Urlicht”. “Ablösung im Sommer” and “Es sungen drei Engel” similarly found their way into the Third Symphony. My favorite of all, the Fourth Symphony, features the beautiful “Das Himmlische Leben”.

With the last chord of the Fourth Symphony ends the Wunderhorn influence, or so it is said. But I disagree: the first motif of Mahler’s Fifth, the famed trumpet call, is a quote from the Fourth. Although it has not been concluded (and it has rarely been discussed) whether or not the quote was intentional, the fact remains that Wunderhorn’s impact was scarcely over. For instance, in the Fifth he hints at two Wunderhorn songs he was working on at the time, “Der Tamboursg’sell” and “Revelge,” two militaristic pieces with dark subjects. Mahler continued to quote and imitate his earlier works until the end.

Mahler’s works are placed into categories: Early, Wunderhorn, Middle, and Late. But  I would argue that “the Wunderhorn years” never properly ended—just as Pixar fans argue that Cars, Toy Story, and Monsters Inc. exist in the same chronology. The connection may be harder to trace, but it persists—and you can find it simply by listening to Mahler’s universe.

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Secession: More Than a Texas Tall Tale

Rachel Clark : November 30, 2015 8:17 pm : Columns, Rachel

texas

Unlike the jokes that claim Texas is populated solely by oil millionaires and lone tumbleweeds, the Texas independence movement is no tall tale. Supporters of secession are real and their numbers are growing.

That Texans exaggerate things, and that the rest of the world stretches the truth about Texas itself, is undeniable: as the stereotype would have it, everyone in Texas is an oil millionaire or a cattleman (or both), rattlesnakes and cactus are ubiquitous, and the weather is universally hot, dry, and dusty, with a sprinkling of tumbleweeds.

Texas’ nearly thirty million inhabitants can quickly confirm, of course, that oil tycoons are rare, that the weather is a great deal more than its reputation permits, and that, thankfully, tumbleweeds refuse to grow most places south of Abilene. Yet this amusing but inaccurate stereotype remains, as if it were a statewide inside joke or a reference to a Hollywood comedy that refuses to die.

However, there is one aspect of the Texas reputation that is verifiably true: Texas pride and Texas’ very real, very active independence movement.

The Texas Nationalist Movement has over 200,000 supporters, with approximately 20,000 joining those ranks since June 1, 2015.

For those who have not thoroughly examined the facts and explored their implications, Texas standing as its own nation does indeed seem like farcical folklore, originating in the joking pride and boundless imagination of a self-obsessed culture.

Although many are tempted to downplay the existence of a serious independence movement and dismiss it as another Texas joke, its ideology, its “boots on the ground,” its logic, and the hope it offers Texans cannot be ignored—just as the glaring problems with the current federal system cannot be imagined out of existence.

Supporters of Texas independence are real, they are multiplying, and they are no local legend or stereotype. Furthermore, they have a good chance of succeeding in their mission, a chance that gets even better if you help them.

Look to the future.

The United States’ past, although riddled with bullet holes and strewn with unfulfilled promises, is often shown through an idyllic lens: memories of mom and pop stores, fond recollections of prosperous times and simple pleasures, stories of America’s greatest individuals and their victories for freedom and justice. But this is a one-sided view to take, one that not only neglects to show the tragedies and pitfalls of past eras but also covers up the inconvenient reality that America is not what it once was.

For the past 150 years, and the past 60 years in particular, government intrusion and spending have risen exponentially. States rights have all but vanished, destroying the Founders’ vision of a federation of independent nations; government debt has risen to wholly unsustainable levels; federal intervention in energy, healthcare, and transportation industries has resulted in an unstable system that constantly requires “reform,” stifles progress, is unable to meet demand, and consumes a massive—and unprecedented—percentage of the United States’ GDP. The United States has become an economic, political, and social quagmire that threatens to destroy Texas entirely.

Nostalgic memories of the past are usually inaccurate, but they are also not repeatable: they cannot be relived, and they especially cannot be relived in Washington’s shadow. Clinging to a perishing system, waving an American flag on a sinking ship, is no longer the answer.

The only chance for a bright future comes in creating it, and right now Texans have the opportunity to choose independence.

Originally published here. 

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The Logically Deficient Basis of Pure Conservatism

Rachel Clark : November 30, 2015 7:50 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

This Tory poster, made for the 1951 general election, called for change and the end of "war socialism." But Tories (British conservatives) would change themselves entirely over the next sixty years.

This Tory poster, made for the 1951 general election, called for change and the end of “war socialism.” But Tories (British conservatives) would themselves change entirely over the next sixty years.

There was once a time when I was an unyielding, self-proclaimed conservative.

Conservatism—by the dictionary—means “belief in the value of established and traditional practices in politics and society,” or “dislike of change or new ideas in a particular area.”

After three years of reflection, I reached the conclusion that neither of these two pillars of conservatism is invariably desirable—and that this vague ideological construct that millions of Americans cling to is one of the most meaningless political philosophies of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Pure Conservatism

While the specific policies and proposals of conservatives in a given society should be evaluated on their own merits, the logical basis for many of these stances often amounts to little less than the masked fallacy that “it worked before, so it ought to work now.” Strict preservation of the existing system is the only apparent rationale for pure conservatism—in fact, it is conservatism. Perpetuating what came before, untouched and with no questions asked, is rarely what people think of when they hear the word conservatism, however. The term is frequently associated with far-right political movements or policy positions. While modern conservatives may seem “far-right” compared to more modern ideologies, this is not what conservatism means. Far from it.

In the United States, most conservatives oppose gun control; in Britain, most conservatives support gun control. Neither form of conservatism is internally inconsistent, because both are in favor of preserving the status quo, the governmental inheritance their flawed forefathers left behind. Both are forms of pure conservatism in this regard.

At one point, part of American conservatism was “conserving” prohibition; most modern conservatives, a few generations separated, have flipped this policy on its head and now wish to loosen regulations on alcohol production and lower taxes on alcohol’s sale.

From its founding until the Civil War, the United States was construed to be a confederation of independent nation-states, not unlike the modern European Union. Conservatives immediately after the Civil War wanted to return to said system; after a generation, conservatism had changed—just as the Union had changed.

The face of conservatism changes as often as the status quo changes; there is but a brief generational delay. Neither static nor coherent, conservatism changes with the traditions it attempts in vain to preserve, rendering it incapable of functioning as a standalone philosophy of government.

What’s Worth Conserving?

Conservatism is merely concerned with maintaining a tradition; the moral or practical quality of that tradition is an altogether extraneous question. In the United States today, conservatism exists as a force that supports a “safety net” of welfare agencies, favors the continued ban on recreational drugs, and proposes a closed border policy—whether or not these policies are worth keeping and whether or not they are traditionally “American” are two different questions.

Trade protectionism, frequent military interventions in foreign affairs, the death penalty, the government’s protected monopoly on letter delivery, public education, the bureaucratic phenomenon known as the FDA, and government construction and maintenance of roads are only a few things that conservatives take for granted that conflict with their bitter opposition to new incarnations of similar policies.

Public education and federally constructed curriculum are acceptable; Common Core is not. Background checks on gun purchasers are sensible, but licensing gun owners or restricting ammunition sales is “nonsense.” Jailing nonviolent drug users or traders is the only right answer to an uncomfortable 21st century issue; but alcohol consumption is somehow a different matter altogether.

Just how far a conservative is willing to go is decided not by logic, nor by pragmatism, nor even by morals: it is decided by tradition. Slavery was once an American “tradition.” Not very long ago, women were denied voting rights—this was also a “tradition.” In the near future, abortion will also be a “tradition” that conservatives will fight to preserve.

As it is now, the United States government and its many faulty traditions are not worth conserving; they required changes twenty years ago, and fifty years ago, and a hundred years ago. Conserving a governmental system haunted by inefficiencies, problems, and injustices that continue to compound yearly is hardly the answer to the threatening circumstances—foreign and domestic—that have the potential to rip apart this nation at the seams.

Not All Traditions Are Bad

Like all ideas and practices, traditions should be morally and logically evaluated. Compared to most other countries’ records in human rights and economic freedom, the United States’ history is relatively clean; but that does not change that some of its still-practiced “traditions,” including government monopolies in mail delivery and education, are not acceptable.

Nevertheless, the United States has plenty of ideological traditions to be proud of—due process, free speech, and limited government, to name only an important few. Americans should seek to protect and advance these traditions, rather than the norm in government, which frequently infringe upon the handful of worthwhile “established and traditional practices in politics and society.”

Not all traditions are bad; not all traditions are good. Traditions change. Traditions are unstable. And traditions vary drastically depending on the region, culture, and nation that formed them. Ideological progress, and mankind’s progress as a whole, depends not on “conserving” lock, stock, and barrel what came before, but rather on culling the bad and adopting the good. Conservatism means nothing beneficial if the system it seeks to conserve is a tyrannical one—as is increasingly the case.

Despite sharing a number of political leanings with the modern American conservatives, I no longer label myself as one of them, and the conclusions I share with them I have reached for wholly different reasons than they have: they wish but to preserve a tradition, rather than promoting what is best for mankind, what is best in God’s eyes, and what functions best in this very real world in which we live.

True, pure conservatism—the sort that follows tradition only for tradition’s sake—ignores that established practices can be crimes against humanity, and new ideas can serve as an infusion of life to a nation. Given uninhibited liberty and a minimalist government constrained by the rule of law, humankind can make the greatest advances and pave the way to the brightest future. It is time to create national “traditions” that acknowledge this.

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Tasty and Squishable Shelob Candy

Rachel Clark : October 2, 2015 1:24 pm : Columns, Debbie, Guest Author, Rachel, The Chaotic Kitchen

Tasty, squishable, and very, very sticksy, yesssss Precious, sticksy like Shelob’s webs. Everyone’s always hungry for Shelob candy, yesssss. And Smeagol knows the way; good Smeagol shows Master the way to make Shelob candises. Smeagol gives you the recipe.

First, you need these foodses:

  • 4 cups marshmallows
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Next, microwave the marshmallowses and the butter until they are melted. Stir them well.

1

Add the vanilla.

2

Microwave again if the marshmallowses are too stiff, and then mix in 1 1/4 cups flaked coconutses. Should be about the stickiness of giant spider’s web, yesssss, precious:

4

Now add the tasty and crunchable pecanses.

5

Watch out for nasty tricksy hobbitses, who come to steal your juicy sweet candises:

8Keep close watch for nasty hobbitses while you lay out parchment paperses on a plate and spray it with slippery grease:

9

Use two spoons to roll the sticky juicy sweet into a ball. Once that is done, keep the preciousssss in a cold dark cave, or in a nasty refrigerator (your choice) until they are holdable and chewable:

10.

And listen to good Smeagol, don’t let nasty tricksy hobbitses take your Shelob candy. Because nasty tricksy hobbitses will steal it from you. 

13

Nasty hobbit stole our preciousssss. 

14

We must go look for the preciousssss.

gollum tree

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Big Government and Teenagers

Rachel Clark : July 28, 2015 9:25 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Big jobs usually go to the men who prove their ability to outgrow small ones.” Thanks to government meddling, however, many teenagers haven’t had the chance to prove themselves in even the smallest jobs.

Despite claims that youngsters of the 21st century are lacking in work ethic and self-motivation, that they are inferior to their predecessors is thus far highly debatable; what is certain, however, is that federal restrictions (child labor laws, the minimum wage, and twelve-year compulsory school attendance) make it exceedingly difficult for teenagers to launch a career, get a starter job, or become an entrepreneur. The effects of Washington’s arbitrary redistribution and intervention fall disproportionately on young adults—allegedly for whose sake many of these harmful regulations were put in place.

Child Labor Laws

Perhaps the most blatantly age-discriminatory interventionist contrivances are “child” labor laws. A teen’s primetime for an after-school job might be in his freshman or sophomore years, when school load is lighter yet he is mature enough to function well and gain practical experience in workplace situations. Yet until age eighteen work hours, schedules, breaks, fields, occupations, roles, and more are micromanaged. A great deal of teenagers anticipate their sixteenth or seventeenth birthdays, when some of the restrictions are relaxed, only to realize when they reach those milestones that they no longer have time for part-time work.

An unnecessary fixture in a developed economy and a harmful one in an undeveloped counterpart, child labor laws limit modern teenagers’ ability to test the flavors and atmospheres of occupations, assess their potential performance in a given field, gain important workplace experience, and earn extra money.

Minimum Wage Laws

Combine this with the minimum wage, the price-fixing of labor that unskilled workers either love or hate, and teenagers have a real problem.

Teens are almost always unskilled and inexperienced, sometimes lack maturity, typically have little practical knowledge, and no matter what job they can get, they probably need training. Employing teenagers is costly. Coercive government-mandated increases in the price of a good or service always result in surpluses of the aforementioned goods or services, and wage rates are no exception. Price-fixing negates or damages the mutually beneficial status of an exchange, and in this scenario it makes teenagers (and other low-skill laborers) very unattractive employees for their legally required per-hour prices.

The Twelve-Year Sentence

If by some miracle or black magic a school-age teenager trumps child labor laws and minimum wage price-fixing and worms his way into a meaningful job he enjoys (i.e., likely not fast food), he has another problem: compulsory school attendance. Schedules are not flexible, hours are long, and there are few alternatives.

The one-size-fits-all, federal-driven public schools require credits for all students that may or may not have anything to do with a student’s career choice or interests; these classes often include theater, music, art appreciation, P.E., or a whole slough of social sciences biased toward totalitarianism. Homeschooling and private schooling are legally permissible options: however, in the very probable case that resources are limited or prices are high (thanks to government control of education markets,) these are impossible.

Cut the Regulations.

Without federal coercion, the teen years could be more productive, enlightening, involving, and growth-centered. Instead, teenagers are viewed as problematic adolescents that cannot do much of anything for themselves; and while this is a cultural and governmental phenomenon, state intervention uses legal force to help perpetuate the myth that teenagers can be little more than internet addicts or thick-skulled sports aficionados.

Even if 21st-century teenagers are or will be “worthless bums” who refuse to start their adult lives until age 29, Washington’s overwhelming initiative-choking benevolence is making it harder and harder for teens and young adults to transcend their unflattering societal reputations and launch a successful career. In the end, the answer lies not in cutting back on these detrimental laws but in abolishing altogether the system that created them.

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Two Flavors of Tyranny

Rachel Clark : July 19, 2015 4:23 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

 

red and blueIn American politics, there are two angles on any given issue: the Republican side and the Democrat side. Any dissenting or differing opinions are bottled up and shoved into one of the above categories, because as conventional wisdom would have it, either an idea is red or it is blue; either one thinks red bad, or one thinks blue bad. Those who disagree with both factions are quickly dismissed as socialist quacks or libertarian-leaning internet trolls.

However, one need not be a collectivist crusader or an anarcho-capitalist to notice that the two major parties bear only internal relevance. When viewed away from the American political context, the parties, it becomes evident, squabble over details, yet agree on major points; and although they fall on two sides of the so-called left-right spectrum, both of them assume big government and rely on its existence for debates to endure between them. In the end, the choice between Democrat and Republican is a choice between two flavors of tyranny.

Their one discrepancy begins with the thing that very few people are aware that they possess—namely, political worldview. Republicans and Democrats use the same means (in slightly varying amounts) to achieve radically different visions of national greatness. Republicans seek military strength and material prosperity for all, and Democrats are purportedly working towards ultimate social justice and safety for the masses; this roughly sumps up the distinction between the goals of fascism and socialism. The ends are at odds, but the means are identical.

Fascist and socialist states are related by blood, and telling them apart at a glance is often a challenge: both of them sport secret police forces, enormous militaries, starving populations, central economic planning, drastic shortages and surpluses because of that economic planning, relentless propaganda, mass executions of political opponents, usually a uniting prejudice against a race or culture, programs to indoctrinate youth, a disgusting disregard for the sanctity of life, party-worship and personality cults centering around leaders, uncontrollable inflation and draconian monetary restrictions, burdensome restrictions on the populace, and the list could go on for a while yet.

Interestingly enough, nearly every disagreement between the Republicans and the Democrats is a debate on the workings and minor details of running a preexisting mammoth-sized government.

In the realm of gun control, Republicans cling to licensing and background checks, while Democrats prefer to expunge all firearms from the population, ban all pointy objects, and regulate all choking hazards. Democrats wish to socialize healthcare entirely; Republicans only want to socialize it a bit. Republicans hope to “reform” public schools by decentralizing and cutting off a smidge of funding, and Democrats want to “reform” schools by expanding and throwing extra money at school districts everywhere.

The two parties are not opposites in any of these scenarios; indeed, they are merely on discriminable points of the tyranny gradient. One kind of tyranny is not distinguishable from another, and far left and far right are simply dissimilar names for the same brand of oppression.

The United States’ two dominating parties pretend to disagree on every issue that they can find to discuss, but—in reality—they only disagree on one issue: in what areas, to which degree, and for what purpose can the government control citizens?

Truth be told, ideas are not red or blue: they are good or bad. Both parties have stunning amounts of proposals that fit into the latter classification, and both parties present a type of tyranny that we should be unwilling to accept.

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Bernie Sanders and the Quest for Sparkly Pink Unicorns

Rachel Clark : July 3, 2015 5:14 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

Democrat presidential candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders is perpetuating the myth of the free lunch with his recently introduced College for All Act, legislation with a gloriously populist title (Marx would be proud) and about as much hope for success as the never-ending search for sparkly pink unicorns.

Bernie’s audacious legislation will “eliminate undergraduate tuition at four-year public colleges and universities.” And Sanders himself alleges that it is “fully paid for by imposing a Robin Hood tax on Wall Street.”

The bill is an impressive demagogic appeal: it takes a snipe at those evil Wall Street guys, hands even more power to our benevolent and completely unbiased federal overseers, and promises free stuff to starving college students. As intriguing as the offer might sound to the uninitiated, the College for All Act is sheer economic fantasy; its failures begin with the fact that it gives colleges and universities the perfect chance to waste even more time and money on a federally funded racketeering scheme, pushing tuition costs to loftier and loftier heights in an accursed circle of perverse incentives.

“Most people now see college as an entitlement to be provided largely at ‘public’ expense. It shouldn’t be,” says George Leef, “If we hadn’t made the blunder of getting government involved in college education, it would today cost much less and deliver more value. That’s because it would be subject to the test of the market. Instead, it’s like an overweight gorilla that has been stuffing itself on taxpayer dollars for many years.”

When government begins to finance a failing corporation, or otherwise one that allegedly needs “strengthening,” the recipient corporation is freed from its obligations to run efficiently and satisfy its consumers. The federal government began subsidizing tuition and universities in 1944 and has not looked back since.

A few student loan crises and credential-based college bubbles later, the wisdom of government involvement in higher education is questionable—particularly in light of the skyrocketing costs of tuition and textbooks. Interestingly enough, college tuition has gone up 1225% since 1978; the CPI has only risen by 279%.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Sanders pays halfhearted lip service to this fact by pretending that only despicable Wall Street desperadoes will suffer in funding America’s college degrees, but in reality such a proposal would create enough perverse incentives for students to misuse and abuse college opportunities and for colleges to jack up prices (since, after all, a person who isn’t paying isn’t concerned with costs) that overall tuition costs would balloon out of proportion and affect all participants and taxpayers in the United States economy. In the end, an absurd chunk of GDP would be swallowed up by higher education’s ever-rising costs.

The pink unicorn will never be found; it does not exist, and Sanders should stop feigning that socialization of tuition would bring it into existence. Rather, government intervention and funding of higher education—at all levels—should end. The United States should return to reality and privatize its public universities and colleges, end federal student aid and federally backed student loans, and allow the price of a diploma to return to reasonable levels that match actual market utility.

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Life at the Top and the Bottom: Homeschooling Through High School

Rachel Clark : May 27, 2015 7:39 pm : Columns, Rachel, Spoofs

Homeschooling through high school means that you're on the top, on the bottom, don't have to ask to go to the bathroom, and can wear  cloaks if you feel like it.

Homeschooling through high school means that you’re on the top, on the bottom, don’t have to ask to go to the bathroom, and can wear cloaks if you feel like it.

 

Many people have questions and curiosities about life as a homeschooled high school student.

 

“Do your family’s students get a home economics credit for doing the dishes?”

“How do you teach integral calculus?”

“Where in heaven’s name did you get such a nice transmission electron microscope?”

“Is school violence a major issue—are there gangs or bullies?”

“Is that a pipe organ in your living room?” 

 

I am asked these questions and many more hundreds of times each year; usually I say “no comment” or refer the askers to my press secretary or my cat. However, at last I have taken the time to personally answer a few of them; do keep in mind, however, that no two homeschools are alike.

 

School Sports

My school football team has never lost a game. Consequently, we have never played a game, either, and none of us know how to play football. That’s beside the point—the point is that we are doing better than Lumberton High School.

 

School Music

This homeschool has a thriving music program. Currently there is a nose-flute virtuoso in middle school here; we had a banjo player until last year, when we banished him to an apartment and gifted his instrument with the ultimate banjo mute (a.k.a, the sledgehammer).

 

College Preparation

Two thirds of my school’s students have learned to like coffee by at least their sophomore years; the other third has not yet reached its—or, well, her—sophomore year.

 

School Lunches

There is no policy forbidding me from bringing, cooking, dissecting, or hunting my lunch. Usually the school lunches are quite good, unless the freshman home economics class is in charge for the week. (I failed the home economics class the first time around after catching the stove on fire.)

 

Science Experiments

My school has never had a lab safety issue or explosion, and the school’s decontamination shower has never been used. (Once some potassium permanganate stained the kitchen countertop, but it blended with the pattern anyway.) Personally, I have only eaten one science experiment; I’m still alive and maybe with superhuman powers to boot.

 

School Violence

My cat kills things, but usually just mice or Entergy workers. The facility is monitored 24/7 by sniper-archer-ninja freshmen sitting on the roof.

 

Socialization

Do not worry about it. I talked to a person once and despite that I think I’m still turning out alright.

 

Home Economics

Chores-for-grades is a simple system my homeschool has developed for making the most of the home economics experience. Target practice and science experiments are integrated to help with the first-time cake failures and carbonized animal tissues.

 

Field Trips

Personally, I am quite taken with the field just west of my house—lovely for geological expeditions. I found a baby armadillo there not too long ago.

 

Calculus? Quantum physics?

Two words: Khan Academy.

 

School Dress Code

Pajamas are acceptable, but chainmail, swim suits, lab coats, or sometimes jeans are also acceptable. The freshman prefers wearing cloaks and chainmail, but I—the junior or senior or whatever you would like to call me—am nocturnal, so it is of little consequence anyhow.

 

School Spirit

Like many high schools, my homeschool likes to show school spirit. My family mainly does this by having pep rallies around the dinner table and then watching DIVE videos* together.

 

Letter Jackets

I actually learned my alphabet long, long ago. I see no use in wearing letters at this stage of the game.

 

Competition

My sister once whacked me upside the head after I beat her at chess. Other than that, student rivalry has not been a significant factor in academics or trips to the emergency room.

 

 In conclusion,

hopefully this has answered a few of your most pressing questions. But again, remember—not all homeschools are all alike, and not many homeschools have such great football teams.

 

*For the uninitiated: DIVE is homeschool celebrity Dr. Shormann’s lifesaving curriculum. Best thing since the Pythagorean theorem.

 

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San Jacinto Day: The Eve of Battle

Rachel Clark : April 21, 2015 1:40 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

 

The battle itself lasted less than 20 minutes.

The battle itself lasted less than 20 minutes.

“We view ourselves on the eve of battle. We are nerved for the contest, and must conquer or perish. It is vain to look for present aid: none is at hand. We must now act or abandon all hope! Rally to the standard, and be no longer the scoff of mercenary tongues! Be men, be free men, that your children may bless their father’s name!” – Sam Houston, before the Battle of San Jacinto.

It is April, 1836: the fledgling government of the Republic of Texas struggles to remain in existence. In overfilled wagons, on horseback, and on foot, Texian women and children leave behind their homesteads and villages to escape Santa Anna’s approaching army. Marauders plunder the vacated homes and villages, and advancing Mexican troops burn what remains to the ground.

After losing hundreds of men and suffering five crucial defeats to their cause, Sam Houston’s untrained band of ragtag patriots is retreating eastwards. Some of them abandon, concerned about their unprotected wives and children.

The fate of nations lies with Houston’s men— men with empty stomachs, holes in their shoes, and a worrying lack of ammunition and training.

On April 21, Santa Anna’s troops and Houston’s men finally face off at San Jacinto. The Texians are again outnumbered; to make life more interesting, they have retreated so far that they are backed up to two bayous with no possibility of escape should things end badly (as is very, very possible). Yet with shouts of “Remember the Alamo!” and “Remember Goliad!” the Texians win.

179 years have passed since this unexpected and improbable victory, the triumph that won Texas its independence—an elusive prize for which many gave their lives.

Modern Texians read about, delight in, and reenact this victory. To some it may seem like washed-up high school athletes reminiscing over their “glory days,” but nothing could be further from the reality of this state’s potential for independence.

Texas’s days as a nation are not necessarily over: we can rise among the nations once more, but only if Texians decide that they want to be free and will again sacrifice something to obtain that freedom.

“We must now act or abandon all hope!” 

Throughout the 1830s, Mexico’s government steadily worsened until at last a lawless caudillaje emerged, a brutal military serving as the state. Texas was not singled out for militaristic rule; Mexico was also governed by garrisons of troops. The difference between Mexico and its northern neighbor was in the reaction to the bout of tyranny.

For the past century, the United States’ federal government has grown ever larger and more intrusive. Its absorption of private sector resources and its violations of individual rights are not prevented by the constitution designed to restrict it, neither are they halted by the efforts of freedom-loving representatives. At best, they are merely delayed or lessened.

Texas’s situation in 1836 is in many ways similar to the one it faces now: a much-changed government threatens it with new regulations, legislations, and infringements upon natural rights, and no ordinary efforts are stopping the onslaught.

Somewhat like the 1820s and 1830s Mexican government, the American system has changed and is finding new, creative ways to eliminate freedom and individual choice—in healthcare, in retirement savings, in self-defense, in education, in transportation, in communication. This time the solution to the plague of totalitarianism is to break away from the system entirely.

The eve of battle 

Many of Sam Houston’s men paid for Texas independence with their lives. The war (short as it may seem in retrospect) scattered families and ended in a great deal of physical destruction.

This time, Texians fight the battle for independence not with rifles but instead with ideas. The sacrifices for supporters in are not as life-defining or dangerous, but the stakes are just as high.

Bystanders often think that independence is an optimist’s pipe dream. A number of 1836 spectators shared that conclusion, but fortunately were not right. Counting the costs matters little and counting the odds matters less, but calculating the stakes matters a great deal: liberty is on the line.

We find ourselves on the eve of a battle that is every bit as defining as the one that took place at San Jacinto 179 years ago today. Will you rally to the standard?

Originally published on www.texnat.org

 

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The Injustice of Compulsory Attendance Laws

Rachel Clark : February 12, 2015 3:01 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

Do kids really do better when forced by law to attend a government-run "education" facility for twelve years?

Do kids really do better when forced by law to attend a government-run “education” facility for twelve years?

“When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better. So tonight, I am proposing that every state — every state — requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18,” declared President Barack Obama at the 2012 State of the Union — old news for political analysts and journalists. Yet it highlights one of the least questioned and most cruel of government restrictions: compulsory school attendance.

From around age six until eighteen or so, a school-age child is left with few alternatives but to eat government-prepared lunches, live in a government-run building, participate in government-run activities, and study material vetted and chosen by the government—why not put bars on the door and make the children wear prison uniforms with numbers on them?

Parents, students, teachers, and legislators argue and protest about class size, curriculum content, school lunches, and standardized tests, but they cannot see the forest for all the trees—while other school issues are important, the root cause of them all is the idea that the state should control a child’s physical location, what he learns, and how he learns it. Abolishing compulsory school attendance laws is a good place to start bettering Americans’ education.

Perhaps it seems that compulsory attendance laws can effectively be considered null and void, since alternative school choices (private, online, and home schooling) are available; on the contrary, government has an intentional near-monopoly on education, requires children by law to attend some form of school, and only grudgingly allows other options.

For instance, it was only in the 1970s and 1980s that homeschooling received the full legal legitimacy it deserves. Even then it was and is hampered with reservations and regulations. All other things being equal, public schools are of such dismal quality that there must be laws forcing parents to place their children in them.

As it is now, anyone who chooses alternative education choices must pay for their children’s learning twice—once for taxes, and another time for tuition elsewhere. Thus even children who manage to break away haven’t done so entirely. The state’s bloated leviathan of a public school system is designed like everything else that the state manages, meaning that any private competition has to deal with its own costs and the costs of its public counterpart.

Those who maintain that public schools ought to exist in conjunction with a strong private school system to help school choice contradict themselves; anything run by the state requires citizens to fund it. Indeed, the injustices of the public school system extend far past mere finances and the impracticability of private competition.

If an innocent adult were ordered to spend each weekday in a prison and could not leave until a bell rang, there would be an outcry. If it were revealed what he had to do and learn there, the outcry would be uncontrollable. Yet most American children are forced into that life with no way out.

Although parents squabble over particulars, most don’t care one way or another—this is due to the fact that they (correctly) assume education is important for lifelong success. It is for a vast majority of people, but that does not mean it needs to be required or provided by government; nor does it mean that the busywork government schools often force students into constitutes a good education.

In the end, compulsory school attendance is nothing more than a gross violation of liberty and basic human rights. Through a citizen’s lifespan, government steals the first twelve or thirteen years and probably thirty years after (the worker a child grows up to be, of course, must pay taxes).

If education is as important to “enable” students “to succeed in a global economy based on knowledge and innovation” as the federal government says it is, parents and children would find schools to their liking on their own, without forcing millions of taxpayers to foot the bill.

No, Mr. President: compulsory school attendance, paired with the monopolistic reign of public education, is a state intrusion into private lives. The negligible benefits it offers are outweighed by the heavy costs in dollars, time, and liberty.

 

Originally published on turningpointusa.net
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No Grounds for Arresting the Groundhog

Rachel Clark : February 11, 2015 9:58 pm : Columns, Homeschooled Timelord, Rachel, Spoofs

groundhog

“There are no grounds for arresting this groundhog.” says Phil’s lawyer.

Police in Merrimack, New Hampshire, have issued a warrant for Punxsutawney Phil, the celebrity groundhog given the annual task of either predicting an early spring or six more weeks of winter.

Police claim that “we have received several complaints from the public that this little varmint is held up in a hole, warm and toasty … He told several people that winter would last 6 more weeks, however he failed to disclose that it would consist of mountains of snow!”

In addition to this wild claim, they allege that Phil is “armed and dangerous.”

However, according to New Hampshire law, Phil has done nothing to deserve the warrant—it’s a “gross violation of free speech and personal liberty,” according to several legal experts.

“If Phil were the cause of this snow, we might have legal grounds to arrest him,” said policy analyst Rachel Clark, “However, Phil did not cause the snow, he only predicted it. This is a textbook example of the ‘post hoc ergo propter hoc’ fallacy.”

Clark continued, “Predicting an event and publicly announcing it is a form of free speech that we need to protect. Weathermen and groundhogs don’t deserve arrest for wrongly predicting weather.”

Protesters are rising up in support of the groundhog, and many of them are saying that the entire ordeal is strictly unconstitutional. Punxsutawney Phil did not sign a legal contract, but did agree to the Groundhog Ceremony several days ago, his lawyer tells us.

“He was only told to look for his shadow, nothing more,” the groundhog’s spokesman explained.

The Groundhog controversy is expected to heavily influence the upcoming Merrimack elections, and state police are closely monitoring the volatile situation.

Co-written by Joshua Swearingen. 

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The Glitch in the System

Rachel Clark : February 10, 2015 6:38 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

texas capitol at night

Texas Democrats, republicans, communists, libertarians, economists, businessmen, and taxpayers have all reached this enlightened conclusion: the federal government is corrupt.

Each of them proposes a solution to abuses of power and funds—they’re all absolutely positive that they have the one unbeatable answer to Washington’s financial turpitude, the only resolution to this centuries-old problem—and then they bombard the populace and government with mail, flyers, television spots, radio ads, lobbyists, phone calls, protests, lawsuits, party coups, and new politicians (or old ones with new promises).

Political parties think that the answer is to shift the balance of power so that their largest voter blocs are the beneficiaries, and not the victims, of government-imposed burdens, financial or otherwise.

Corporations and their mercenary lobbyists vouch not for greater freedom, but for more regulations and fees on the backs of their competitors. (Political entrepreneurship of this sort slowly gives the state a grip on all participating industries.) State governments (including that of Texas) aren’t much better.

Ordinary citizens stick to a sincere but currently ineffective tactic when it comes to combating political corruption; their method—sending another new man, “our man,” the perfect one who won’t give in to pressure—is rather futile these days.

This tactic is akin to sending a lone chipmunk into a standoff with a pack of wolves; or perhaps it’s better described as trying to repair something that is already a total loss.

Governmental power, a tool of coercion, is an invitation for corruption. Considering that the federal government has an almost unlimited scope, we shouldn’t be too surprised that it is incurably addicted to doing clever little things with earmarks and funds and bureaucracies.

Liberty-loving activists fight each trick every step of the way; sometimes they win a battle, but they are certainly not winning the long-term war for freedom. Americans have tried reforming the government and opposing its antics, but never with lasting success. Almost everyone blames political parties or individuals working in Washington for the corruption; but swapping the individual or party has no long-term effect or benefit. When the work itself isn’t meant to be done, it matters little who does it.

The glitch in the system is the system itself.

When a car is damaged so extensively that repairs cost more than the vehicle is worth, the owner scraps it and replaces it. Despite the best efforts and “progress” of voters and activists for half a century, the inexorable growth of government’s size and scope continues. “Repairs” in Washington have already cost Texans too much in cash and time.

The damage to the American republic is so extensive that the costs of repairing it are more than it’s worth. But what is there to do other than keep patching it up indefinitely?

Working within the political environment has failed us for decades; but almost all of the alternatives are clearly far worse than our current situation. Some American leaders are proposing a constitutional convention—but this is beyond foolish in a political environment where even inherent rights like the right to life, the right to bear arms, or the right to free speech are called into question by the same representatives who would be tampering with the nation’s most important set of laws.

Mercilessly cutting off politicians from their offices and replacing them with new ones has been tried. And it has failed. Power corrupts, and the leaders that voters think can limit themselves in this regard merely decide to use their privileges in the pursuit of different endeavors—and the phenomenon of unelected bureaucrats makes matters much, much worse.

The state, once it has taken hold of something, will not give it up until literal or metaphorical blood has been shed.

The solution to preventing and eliminating governmental corruption is getting rid of opportunities for it—in other words, shrinking the size of the government in the first place and vigilantly suppressing its natural tendency to balloon into a bureaucratic institution of tyranny.

For Texas, the best way to solve the problem of corruption and abused power is to pull out from the malfunctioning American government altogether. Despite what pundits are claiming, secession is a real possibility. It’s the last and best answer—and Texans are starting to realize it.

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The Pretentiousness of Central Planning

Rachel Clark : February 10, 2015 6:32 pm : Columns, Rachel

United States Capitol Building, Washington, D.C. Aerial
A free economy is incomprehensibly complex: it is a massive, entangled, incredible web of intertwined individual action, preference, choice, and value—a system willed by no one, controlled by no single person, and improving the situation of all whom it touches.

Adam Smith called the force that holds this web together (and directs its movement) the Invisible Hand: it begins when individuals work through the capitalist system for their own betterment, yet unintentionally benefit the whole of the market through their voluntary mutually beneficial exchanges.

In a display of arrogance nearly as astonishing as the marvels of the economy, advocates of big government are certain that this system can and ought to be conquered and managed via state-owned cubicles.

If “pride goes before a fall” were a law of economics, explaining central planning’s universal, consistent shortcomings would be effortless.

Advocates of big government are certain that a bureaucratic elite—operating on glorified progress reports, news bulletins, and caffeine—can arbitrate the correct balance and relationship between the trillions of variables involved in each economic transaction.

For big government and its inevitable bureaucracy to function properly, it must be staffed by godlike central planners capable of deciding whether a citizen deserves an extra pair of socks, a teenager ought to go to college, or if an industry is important enough to warrant a new facility.

Big government handcuffs Smith’s Invisible Hand and tries to lead the market where it “ought” to go with words on paper and guns to back them up.

If you count on an efficient economy under a government-run system, you count on central planners’ ability to judge the effect of every ultimatum they issue and understand each individual’s perception of value, profit, and loss. Economic calculation in a socialist or interventionist system is impossible.

In the end, the only way to forcibly control an economy and still enjoy any degree of efficiency is to become omniscient—to get inside people’s heads, to put numerical monetary value on things that can’t be quantifiably valued, to understand complex relationships between goods and services, to know everything that individuals can understand about their own situations, and to know how the sum of this information works together.

Big government’s explicit assumption that central planners have a right to micromanage your existence (and that they’d be better at it than you are) makes it easy to see one of the state’s many loathsome attributes: pretentiousness.

 

Originally published on turningpointusa.net
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Red Tape: Violent and Inefficient

Rachel Clark : February 3, 2015 7:45 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

It’s a dimly lit detention facility.

In the background a light bulb buzzes; the heavy sound of human breathing steadily reverberates down the halls. The springs of a cot squeak; rubber shoes squeal against the floor.

The conspicuously-clothed criminals pent up in this concrete-clad cage strike up a conversation.

“So, what are you in here for?” a rough-looking character says as he leans against the wall, with his clenched fist resting on his hip.

A man with a weasel face, thick-framed glasses, and greasy hair is hunched over in the corner, watching as events unfold.

Rather rebellious-looking and shifting uneasily, a young fellow towers by the locked entrance. He knows the question was addressed to him. Yet the silence prevails.

“Well, c’mon,” the demanding questioner continues, “We don’t have all day.”

“Actually we do,” he corrects, “But I ain’t a patient person.”

The young man looks down at the floor, his face turning red.

“Blogging without a license,” he gulps. The gruff individual who asked the question stares, wide-eyed. He isn’t sure he can match it.

The weasel-faced man nods, and points to the rough-looking man (his mother never told him it was rude to point) and mutters, “Ol’ Jim here planted patented pumpkins two falls ago. Big lawsuit. You probably saw it in the news.”

“What are you here for?” the young one asks the weasel-faced man.

Weasel-face scratches his head, and looks up.

“I sold organic raw-milk goat cheese to homeschool moms,” he pauses, “In New York no less.”

“You know what’s more?” Jim the rough-looking fellow adds, “’fore he was sent to solitary, I spent five weeks in thuh’ same cell as Trademark Tim.”

The young man is new to prison life. He asks, “Am I supposed to know who that is?”

“Fresh-face, eh?” weasel-face says, “He started up a package delivery company and used the color brown. You know the rest.”

They all shudder. They know they have to watch their backs—the inhabitants of this nightmarish “detainment facility” are obviously capable of anything.

 

When everybody’s a criminal, the law can’t mean anything.

d.c.

The town that paints everything red.

More and more often in the United States, ordinary people are inadvertently turning to a life of crime; and because the federal government is so determined to stifle honest work and efficient free enterprise, this sort of “crime” definitely pays.

In fact, the cost of complying with bureaucracies’ arbitrary regulation is so exceedingly burdensome that it’s enough to destroy entire markets and firms—to say nothing of millions of lost jobs and vanishing economic efficiency.

Red tape is more than just inefficient: it is violent.

A government’s one function is to protect life, liberty, and property—thus murderers, rapists, and thieves ought to be considered criminals.

But clearly those who do nothing to deprive a person of life, liberty, or property ought not be punished by the state, and when they are, the state is surpassing its bounds and is no longer legally valid. Even if the “criminal” would not have violated the non-aggression principle, the government’s henchmen would in their enforcement of their petty federal ultimatum.

Regulations that dish out thousand-dollar fines and prison time for legal “offenses” like unlicensed hair-braiding or out-of-the-home freelancing are doing precisely what the state is meant to prevent: infringing upon inherent rights.

The state-sponsored aggression that ensues when a regulation is broken is nauseatingly inconsistent and harsh, dictated by the mood of a bureaucrat. Kids selling lemonade without a license can get a criminal record before the age of ten; bakers or photographers can be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars because they turn down a customer; someone who crosses a powerful corporation with a strong D.C. presence will be cut down in the prime of life. (I mean this in a mostly figurative sense.)

Many who lean towards free markets but can’t help but think that there ought to be a set of ground rules for each industry are overlooking the fact that laws are not magically supported by words printed on paper: the law is backed up by guns, fines, pepper spray, prison time, promises of death, and life-ruining lawsuits. Are most of the federal regulations threatening these things worth those punishments?

In the end, the mass of federal regulations torturing the economy is unwarranted interference in individual choice, a brutal manifestation of state aggression against the citizenry, and an absolute breach of legal equality. These regulations present more than moral problems: practical problems (including overfilled jails, criminalization of half the population, dramatic economic slowdowns, and inconsistent enforcement of laws) also make our foolishly large collection of regulations far from worthwhile.

Little laws here and there almost always sound like they’re for the best; the contents of voluminous thousand-page laws seem to be prudent; the powers afforded to bureaucrats sound fair enough—but this is not the case, and never will be.

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Happy Birthday, Mendelssohn.

Rachel Clark : February 3, 2015 5:12 pm : Columns, Rachel

mendelssohn

Today is Felix Mendelssohn’s 206th birthday.

(Although he’s not as famous as Beethoven or Handel, you’ve almost certainly heard his wedding march.)

Known as the “happy composer” of the Romantic Era, Mendelssohn kicked off his musical career in earnest at the age of 17 with his fabulous Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture.

In 1829 he launched the Bach Revival with a performance of St. Matthew’s Passion, which had not been performed since its composer’s death in 1750.

He was a devoted Christian and wrote two extremely famous oratorios, “Elijah” and “Saint Paul,” as well as five symphonies (the Italian and Reformation Symphonies being the best known). His music was cheerful and lighthearted, but was exceptionally beautiful and well-constructed.

Immediately after Mendelssohn’s death in 1847, anti-Semitic Richard Wagner began a smear campaign against Felix — who was Jewish — and as a result Mendelssohn too came close to obscurity. In the 20th century, Hitler banned Mendelssohn’s works.

But there’s one important question to be answered: why was Mendelssohn so happy relative to contemporary composers?

Probably a great deal of this happiness hinged on the fact that he lived a somewhat affluent life and never really had financial struggles, unlike the chronically depressed and death-obsessed likes of Hector Berlioz.

However, what truly distinguished Mendelssohn from other Romantic Era composers was his faith in God and purposefulness in life. He knew what he was living for, and rather like his hero Bach, he intended his music for the glory of God.

Mendelssohn’s best-known works:

Hebrides Overture (Fingal’s Cave)

Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture

Reformation Symphony

Italian Symphony

Violin Concerto in E Minor

 

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The College Game

Rachel Clark : January 17, 2015 10:43 am : Columns, Rachel

university of texas

When you were an impressionable preschooler, your companions would ask you if you wanted to play “house” or “school” or “work.” When you are eighteen, or nearing it, your friends and others start asking if you want to play “college.”

One of these endeavors is often a waste of time with little to no practical life value; the other was your childhood game.

 

If you choose to play the college game, once more every cent means something to you. Finding a penny in the parking lot elicits as much exuberance as it did a decade and a half or so ago.

 

Just like in your preschool years, there is a huge emphasis on “sharing.” Hurting anyone’s feelings results in a strict administration of kindergarten-like social justice. Offering up an opinion and arguing your point are two cardinal academic sins: after all, we have to have a free and tolerant exchange of ideas where nobody is criticized.

 

Suddenly meaningless skills start mattering again—except instead of burping, imprisoning insects, or shooting rubber bands, it’s whether or not you can write a politically correct film evaluation for a required credit.

 

Those who were good at aiming rubber bands stole the show and ruled the roost back in the day; those who are skilled in regurgitating test material and those who sacrifice true academic pursuits for mandatory courses like Etymology of the Twinkie and Squirrel Imitation 101 get ahead in college.

 

Students interested in education probably fare well; those interested in learning do not. However, unlike in your preschool years, you do not have as much choice this time: in your early childhood you could reject a fantastical game and its irrational rules with little consequence.

 

You’re not so fortunate now.

 

If you want to enter a technical field, you have little choice but to get further training; if you want to learn about anything categorized under “Liberal Arts” your studies will oftentimes be rejected unless it comes along with a $400,000 piece of paper saying you took some classes.

 

Unless you are either an incredibly brilliant individual or fit into an arbitrary race and income bracket, you probably will get little help with scholarships. Student loans are a racket from the start, and cheap college is an oxymoron.

 

Many things about colleges are part of a game, one invented by universities, fostered by bureaucracy, and sustained by government subsidization. Whereas in a free market a profit motive encourages excellence, low prices, and innovation, in a situation where jack-booted IRS thugs are involved and the intrusive arm of the state controls all, political entrepreneurship is the only worthwhile effort.

 

Completely unrelated courses are suddenly made mandatory; fees multiply; strange research projects and building boondoggles pervade the campus; religion and free speech, as a matter of course, have to be scrubbed because of government funding and control.

 

Alternatives to traditional college accreditation are starting to pop up—things like CollegePlus, dual credit, online classes, apprenticeship-like arrangements, and CLEP testing—thanks to innovation in an area which has for decades and centuries been dominated by monopolistic state-owned, state-sponsored, or state-controlled institutions.

 

As for learning without official accreditation, thousands of websites akin to Udemy and Khan Academy teach everything from calculus to music theory. Learning isn’t as hard as it used to be.  If you can’t avoid a mandatory Slovakian Finger-Food Etiquette course, at least the free market is making it possible to avoid some of the exorbitant cost.

 

Well, do you want to play “college”? If you’re the kid with steely resolve and a sense of direction, you might be the one—just like in preschool—to say no and play a game with different rules.

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Why Authors Are Insane

Rachel Clark : January 15, 2015 7:53 pm : Columns, Rachel

u-2Aspirations to write a novel aren’t unusual. In fact, teenaged females are particularly vulnerable to such hankerings. It has yet to be determined whether or not many of these hopeful writers even begin, and it’s quite uncertain whether more than a handful ever finish.

So when I decided to take the step, a good two and a half years ago, I imagined first of all that it would be a fabulous book if only I could finish it. And all that I had to do was force myself to write.

Outlining? Outlining is for wimps. First and foremost, I wanted to get things going, to start the actual process, to meet my characters. That was my first mistake.

After due deliberation, I decided on the novel I would write: a Cold War espionage adventure/mystery based on the U-2 crash over Russian territory in 1960. I named the main character after my cat. That was my second mistake.

It just so happens that historical novels also require research. Research is hard.

I've got this figured out.

I’ve got this figured out.

I found myself searching for everything from glove etiquette to 1963 CIA budget information. My internet search history could have been either that of a murderer or an author: how long does it take for a person to bleed to death from a gunshot wound to the shoulder? How did Soviets torture people? What lethal poisons are best disguised in alcohol?

Writing a novel alters your mental state, it’s safe to say. Strange things start happening. Even when you’re working on it by yourself, you start saying things like “we’re planning on making the fifteenth chapter the showdown” or “our story is …”

As it turns out, products of your imagination blend with your mind. The story makes you a stronger person, if less of a sane one. You don’t always learn to solve problems, but you do learn how to create them.

Unfortunately, you also learn interesting ways to get rid of people. You learn how to destroy everything that is dear and good to your main character, to leave him in a situation so bleak there appears to be no way out.

The events of a good adventure novel ought to leave the main character, reader, and author with lasting emotional scars. Otherwise it probably isn’t worth reading.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how most authors become insane.

I discovered early on that if you’re totally confident in your storytelling capabilities, you most likely shouldn’t be. Approaching a novel or a story with humility is the first step in learning to identify weak spots and lousy characters. You’ll probably develop some sort of an inferiority complex when it comes to creative writing; and the worst part is, the writing is so bad at first that it isn’t a complex, it’s legitimate embarrassment.

Despite computer crashes, the loss of an important notebook, and several bouts of intense hopelessness, I finished the story. Now I hate it and never want to speak to it again. After talking to a few other writers, I learned that this too is normal.

To be a writer, you write. In a way, I was right that finishing a story would mean “fabulousness.”

Your first essay wasn’t perfect; your first sentence wasn’t either. Most first novels are the stuff of nightmares, and not because they’re horror stories. Communicating, storytelling, and writing all get better with practice.

And now: on to the second novel. Some of us are just gluttons for punishment. It probably has something to do with our brilliant insanity.

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NASA announces radical step forward, is met with opposition

Rachel Clark : January 15, 2015 7:28 pm : Rachel, Spoofs

NASA press conference revealing the agency's official and controversial switch to Starfleet uniforms.

NASA press conference revealing the agency’s official and controversial switch to Starfleet uniforms.

JOHNSON SPACE CENTER – NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Thursday afternoon that the agency is “moving forward” by officially switching to Star Trek’s Starfleet Next Generation uniforms.

 

Bolden says, “NASA has brought innovation, growth, and scientific advancement to the world—and beyond—for decades. I believe that this is one more important step to the future.”

 

Supporters cite NASA’s numerous achievements and inventions, including improvements in water filters and the moon landing, but opponents suspect that there has been an underground lobbying deal with a cosplay corporation.

 

Original Series Star Trek fans are frustrated by the decision, after many years of lobbying for their own cause; Doctor Who fans are perplexed and objected, pointing out the need for long, colorful scarves. Tea Party leaders who support NASA are calling the latter group “unpatriotic limeys.”

 

“Progress always meets its opponents,” President Obama said, affirming Bolden’s decision, “Flat-earthers are going to oppose every inch of forward progress that our administration makes, including this.”

 

Meanwhile, congressmen are splitting on the issue. Some are sticking to their promises of fiscal limitations and claiming that new uniforms on such a large scale are unnecessary, while others are whole-heartedly embracing the idea.

 

“I think it’ll meet with some stiff opposition, and it’s quite probable that some right-wing fringes in the House will oppose it because of the costs—which are quite minute really—and I’m catching wind of some heavy, heavy disagreements on the left. Reid claims that he’s a diehard fan of the Original Series and can’t stand Picard,” Political analyst and Star Trek fan Kirk LaForge explained, “But all in all, if no lawsuits are filed and no bills submitted, it could remain in place. As I hope it will.”

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Obama’s Anti-Personality Cult

Rachel Clark : January 2, 2015 6:37 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

obama face

A great deal has been said about the personality cults of famous politicians, and Obama’s is as good an example as any. Obamamania is the term coined for unquestioning, naïve support of the nation’s 44th president. And for the past seven or so years, plenty of conservatives have been decrying it.

 

They talk about Obama energy, Obamanation, and the Obama economy; they find as many terrible pictures of the man as possible*; they try to prove that he’s responsible for all the activities of the Democratic Party. They grumble about his wife’s healthy food hypocrisy; they snidely insist that leaders should never play “that much golf”; they poke fun at his history of eating dogs.

 

In other words, a disturbing portion of the right wing has taken to slamming the man himself and not his ideals, morals, religion, or policies.

 

Yes, these conservatives are right in some capacity: he fully supports big, intrusive government and is therefore a deplorable proponent of tyranny. As President, Obama has done loads of damage.  Yes, in politics such attacks are normal and within the rights of those who initiate them.

 

But focusing solely on this one man doesn’t improve the ideological situation in the United States—he’s just one man among millions. As soon as he’s gone, another will take his place.

 

These attacks and complaints, the anti-charisma and anti- magnetism, are never enough to ultimately change the scene of American politics or to do anything except foster dislike of one particular man.

 

However, killing his ideas of tyranny and government control would bring permanent change. Conservatives should be fighting an ideological battle, not a personal one. Men are mortal, ideas are eternal: fighting the former and ignoring the latter is a recipe for disaster.

 

Tearing down an individual and creating an anti-personality cult takes less short-term effort than putting together a logical argument and explaining it to millions of people, but it also has very few short-term benefits.

 

It’s essentially like a Kleenex box—if one is finally yanked out, another pops up. Using a flame-thrower on the whole box, however, might yield more positive results.

 

Obama’s popularity has suffered because of the conservatives’ attacks, but his ideology hasn’t.

 

Conservatives, find something better to rally against than Obama. Or better yet, find something to rally together for. Liberty would be a great place to start.

 

 

Note: finding unflattering pictures of your political opponents is fine. I do it all the time. But a bad picture isn’t your ultimate goal.
 
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Can Christians Oppose the Government?

Rachel Clark : December 8, 2014 9:33 pm : Columns, Rachel

At what point -- if ever -- can Christians oppose the government? Are laws directly ordering Christians to go against their faith the limit, or is defiance warranted sooner?

At what point — if ever — can Christians oppose the government? Are laws directly ordering Christians to go against their faith the limit, or is defiance warranted sooner?

“We should always be good citizens and obey our government, except when doing so goes against God.”

 

My Sunday school class members nodded in agreement at the teacher’s statement. Two or three piped up, and one mentioned how voting is important; another brought up the issue of prayer in public schools; and yet another introduced the very pressing problem of whether or not nativity scenes should be allowed on public property.

 

But there’s a gigantic flaw with this variety of good citizenship: If Christians are to obey the state under all circumstances, up until the point that it goes against God, how and when is activism for the cause of freedom justified?

 

Despite that the opposite seems true at first glance, opposing the government is not merely justified—it is necessary.

 

As it turns out, the state will rarely begin encroaching upon religious freedoms without warning (revolutions excluded).

 

Usually an unprecedented increase in the size and scope of government, excessive regulations, an explosion of new bureaucracies, intrusion into all financial sectors of the economy, gun and weapon control laws, a police state, an interventionist economy, skyrocketing taxes and a nightmarishly large welfare state crop up years (possibly decades) before direct legal persecution comes from the government.

 

In other words, before the state tells you to go against God, it will tell you to empty your wallet, drop your weapons, and register belongings. Only a large and intrusive government has the power to regulate worldviews and religion, and large and intrusive governments always begin with financially controlling and crippling the populace, disarming citizens, and keeping tabs on your life and property.

 

Being a truly good citizen is attempting to stop these phenomena in their tracks—to try and ensure that the circumstances in which the government can or would tell you to go against God would never come about in the first place.

 

It should also be noted that laws going against God are not necessarily applying to merely so-called “religious” issues, like prayer in public schools or nativity scenes at city hall: God has ordained a way for government to function, a way for financial situations to work, a way for children to be educated and raised, a way for charity to happen, a way for animals to be treated.

 

Not even individual denominations, much less the whole of Christianity or an entire nation, can decide amongst themselves what precisely these ways entail. The best option is to leave government out entirely and to fight to keep it that way.

 

Good citizenship never involves silently allowing one’s self to become a host or unfair beneficiary of a parasitical state; it never involves the doormat-like existence that some modern Christians suggest is ideal; it never involves handing over weapons, children, or freedoms.

 

The moral problems with government control of the economy and an intrusive state is a topic for another day; but excessive government intrusion makes a Christian lifestyle gradually less possible and inevitably leads to persecution and outright laws against its existence.

 

The prayer in public school issue and the debate over nativity scenes on public property are two very small facets of an ever-growing underlying problem—the expanding scope of government.

 

So, is obeying the state at all times a Christian imperative?

 

No—respect the government when respect is due, support it when it deserves support, and always keep Christ your focus in politics and in matters of the state, but realize that there is a time when you must oppose government. And remember in particular that this time comes a lot sooner than when Christian beliefs are under direct legal attack.

 

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President Obama Announces Plan for Jobs Growth

Rachel Clark : December 2, 2014 5:11 pm : Columns, Rachel, Spoofs

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest Holds Daily Briefing

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest describes the President’s new jobs growth plan.

 

WASHINGTON – President Obama’s newest lame-duck project, the American Jobs and Reinvestment Act of 2014 (AJRA) offers up a bold new plan for United States jobs growth: nuking most populated areas of the country.

 

After the planned nuclear cataclysm, labor supply will be reduced sufficiently so that those seeking work won’t find it difficult to get.

 

“And on top of this, the destruction of most of U.S. civilization will leave a lot of jobs to be done—I think we’ll see a boom in housing, development, building sectors, possibly agriculture, and so much more,” said Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

 

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained: “The President will not be satisfied until every American who wants work can find a job. That’s why he is working to grow our economy, so middle class families feel confident in their futures and their children’s futures. Well, I mean, depends on if your kids survive … but you get the idea.”

 

Among other things, the first stage of the law’s enactment incentivizes finding a friend or family member and swapping a dollar bill back and forth for fifteen minutes every day to increase economic activity. The AJRA includes a provision that checks will be sent to eligible U.S. households, for the express purpose of being thrown into the wind—hopefully to reach some wind-energy farms and subsequently boost jobs growth.

 

After that, nuclear bombs will be placed in strategically significant cities throughout the nation and then set off; as a result, key American industries will receive a much-needed boost.

 

“New houses will need to be built, all agriculture will need to relocate, and manufacturers of all sorts will find plenty of demand,” continued Furman.

 

He went on to say that while opponents in Congress are calling this plan “radical” and “dangerous,” it is not much different from the government’s response to the financial crisis of  2008 and is extremely similar to President Roosevelt’s New Deal after the Great Depression.

 

“This is common-sense economic policy that has been tried many times before,” the President said, “It’s a natural extension of the policy we’ve been pursuing since 2008.”

 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) added, “The whole purpose of this legislation is to up spending, consumer confidence, and get the money flowing back into the economy. In the second stage, we’ll self-induce a nuclear apocalypse.”

 

“Increased economic activity is what it will take for Americans to get the jobs and wages that they need and deserve. American industry and small businesses shouldn’t be shutting down—they should be growing and expanding. My new plan will do something to help get business back on its feet again,” President Obama concluded.

 

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Black Friday’s Absurdities

Rachel Clark : December 1, 2014 11:31 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

black friday fallacy

On Black Friday you were bombarded with advertisements, inconvenienced by heavy traffic, and promised by local yokels and media that all the hectic and potentially lethal mobs descending on Wal-Mart and Best Buy were doing the nation’s economy a favor.

 

On small-business Saturday you were probably informed that not “supporting local business owners” could have disastrous consequences, warned of the evils of “big corporations,” and possibly guilted into dropping a few dozen dollars at the nearest mom-and-pop diner or antique shop. For the local economy’s sake, of course.

 

On Cyber Monday you might have sat home in your Snuggie (God help us all) and watched as your inbox and newsfeed blew up with allegedly unbeatable online deals; and if you didn’t, maybe you skimmed through the morning news and saw headlines about those wounded in the Black Friday skirmishes and later a few paragraphs about the economic condition of the nation.

 

And well, today, you might feel trampled—literally or figuratively, depending on whether or not you went shopping on Friday. The feeling may stick around for another month or so.

 

Although the private sector is almost entirely responsible for the December-long mall-raiding rampage, and although consumers make the choice to spend their money in this manner, there are some seriously outdated economic theories floating around in the political sphere about how consumer spending grows the economy, particularly the seasonal variety of binge-buying.

 

The Black Friday Lie . . . one of them . . .

 

You’re going to hear it from a lot of places:

 

“Strong consumer and government spending drove UK growth in the third quarter as business investment and exports contracted against an increasingly uncertain global backdrop…” – the Telegraph

 

“A pair of Commerce Department reports this week showed that consumer spending is recovering from a weak first quarter more slowly than economists expected, and some are worrying that slowdown in a sector accounting for 70 percent of the U.S. economy could foreshadow slower economic growth on the whole.” – International Business Times

 

“…holiday spending can start a virtuous cycle of spending, profits, hiring and more spending, said Richard Feinberg, professor of retail management at PurdueUniversity.” – Columbus Dispatch

 

And the Dispatch summed it all up in one fallacious headline: “Holiday spending can lift businesses, entire economy.”

 

All that trickle-down financial well-being, job growth, and impending prosperity you’ve been told comes about from the disturbing Friday, Saturday, and Monday splurges and the month-long Christmas frenzy? Lies, all lies.

 

Going bankrupt, spending well into the red, buying unnecessary products, and paying extra at small businesses for products available more cheaply elsewhere not only harms you financially, it has no aggregate economic benefit whatsoever.

 

You’re often told that consumer spending is crucial to growth because the more money individuals spend, the more money flows through the economy—and somehow that bolsters businesses and creates jobs. Savings are practically tantamount to holding back economic “growth,” or at least that’s what Keynesians have been broadcasting to eager interventionist listeners for over half a century now.

 

The problem is that Keynes’ theory disregards the difference between economic activity and economic expansion. Economic activity could be anything from a complex private sector banking system to two castaways sitting on an island and literally exchanging the same clamshell all day long. According to Keynes, the latter example is an engine for economic growth. Growth, however, is quite different from the Keynesian vision: it is greater productivity and efficiency in the allocation of resources, impossible to achieve without capital investment and savings.

 

The Law of Markets (Say’s Law) dictates that demand is caused by supply, and therefore there cannot be a consumer-led recovery at all. And even though spending may benefit some retailers a smidgen, consider what might have been. Other, possibly better, things are available, but only when consumption is delayed for a time.

 

Bastiat’s classic example of two brothers, one who spends all of his money as quickly as possible and one who delays consumption, demonstrates what savings actually do for the economy. Behind the scenes, in bank accounts and piggy banks, savings are invested in capital goods—goods that are used in the production of other goods, like factory equipment and technology. The greater efficiency afforded by such capital investment reduces the price of consumer goods, and thus technically consumer spending.

 

When a consumer decides to save and not spend, other consumers pick up the slack by borrowing those savings and using them to finance capital investment, which in turn results in a higher standard of living, greater efficiency, lower prices, and less consumer spending. Productivity and the efficient allocation of resources, not mindless spending and consuming, are the goals of an economy.

 

In short, less consumer spending can (and almost always does) mean greater capital investment and accompanying true economic growth. While the ultimate goal of the economy is to fulfill consumer needs, it can’t be done without saving.

 

Spending and consumption are not bad; you have the option to spend until you can spend no more, but keep in mind it is not the pathway to prosperity in the aggregate or otherwise.

 

The seasonal Christmas spending frenzy is pretty bad from a lot of perspectives, but the worst part is the assumption that this consumer spending leads to long-run growth.

 

 

It doesn’t.

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Because Equality, Right?

Rachel Clark : November 22, 2014 5:31 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

The nauseating signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act -- a great example of the fallacious assumption that economic equality is a good thing and ought to be enforced by the government.

The nauseating signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Act — a great example of the fallacious assumption that economic equality is a good thing and ought to be enforced by the government.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Few fallacious catchphrases set my blood to boiling more fiercely than equal pay for equal work. A regrettable but unquestionably catching shibboleth of a misinformed women’s “rights” movement, it’s so appealing a maxim that millions of politicians and protestors have repeated it without understanding its meaning, much less its potential results.

What the phrase implies, of course, is that remuneration for labor shouldn’t be influenced by gender alone; the leftists who so often repeat these now rather meaningless four words, however, are willing to take the cause even further into the depths of state intervention. The movement has mostly been whipped up out of the misguided contention that government should break the economy of its purportedly discriminatory ways. Because equality, right?

President Obama and his gender pay gap howler monkeys fixate on apparent employer discrimination allegedly evidenced by wage differences, but the statistically flexible pay gap is demonstrative of a normal economic phenomenon: women have different life goals than men. They choose lower-risk occupations. A great deal of them prefer flexible schedules. And as a general rule, they’re more likely to state flexibility and enjoyableness as their goals rather than earning money. Basically, they make different choices. (While the occupation choices may be because of individual preference, most of it stems from the fact that women do have different roles in society, in the economy, and in the home from that of men.)

These choices translate into economic consequences; namely, slightly less pay.

Altering the economic consequences of these choices through government fiat merely because of gender is foolish, misguided, and characteristic of short-sighted statists.

Yet despite this unchangeable truth, solutions like the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Lily Ledbetter Act, and the Paycheck Fairness Act have all been offered up with great political fanfare.

There are many erroneous assumptions in the modern end-the-pay-gap movement, especially the notion that government can revise reality and alter the financial and economic outcomes of making different life choices, of different occupations, of different working hours, of different efficiency levels—the list could go on for a great while.

But the aspect of this gender-politics campaign that offends my economic conscience most isn’t a superficial annoyance like brazen party politics and activism-mongering for an issue that doesn’t exist.

It isn’t female legislators who assume that their gender allows them to transcend economic fact.

The chief irritation isn’t even totalitarian newscasters and deluded protestors who tawdrily demand a dramatic shift in the government’s stated purpose and our national economic structure.

What’s truly disturbing about the movement is that so many Americans assume that all varieties of equality and all means of obtaining it have the moral high ground: this is most certainly not the case, and the root of the equal pay for equal work nonsense economics leads back to a confusion between legal equality and government-enforced social equality,  two values that share a word but have nothing else in common.

 

Legal Equality

 

What sort of equality were these guys actually talking about?

What sort of equality were these guys actually talking about?

Legal equality is far from what most minorities and “underprivileged” or “unjustly treated” groups have been lead to believe about equality in general. Just as the Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal, a government guided by the concept of legal equality will not make laws helping one group and hurting another.

 

 

Put simply, all laws apply to everybody under legal equality.

Income, skin color, or gender, for example, will not and cannot be the deciding factor in a court battle over your innocence or guilt.

Legal equality isn’t always popular.

Pundits’ and popular demands for a state solution to the “unjust” phenomenon of income inequality are similar to the cries of activists alleging that the so-called gender pay gap is a problem warranting government intervention. Yet state action in either of those areas abolishes legal equality: any attempted government solution (other than leaving it alone in the first place) will give some groups preferential treatment over others.

There’s a good reason why legal equality should be a guiding principle in government. Without a constant citizens’ vigil seeking to preserve equal rights under the law, politicians will vote themselves favors, the political majority will seek to create laws friendly to its own, and society will create a class of those who take and those who make. Those at the bottom will have no rights and no political power.

Legal equality is also crucial in an economic sense.

While involuntary servitude may seem like an extreme, unlikely occurrence even in developed interventionist economies that aren’t governed by the principle of legal equality, such a governmental system is well attuned (if not ideal) for the exploitation of the minority.

A majority of the population enslaving another group through sheer force, thereby creating an underclass or serfdom, is no different than the same majority determining that the minority’s assets were “unjustly” large and then legally dividing the politically powerless minority’s  hard-earned income and material goods more “equally.”

In either scenario, the minority is being forced to work for someone else without reaping the benefits—and that’s the definition of involuntary servitude.

Due to a very predictable aspect of human nature, involuntary servitude of all kinds is less efficient than the mutually beneficial exchanges characteristic of a capitalist economic system. Without legal equality, there are marked moral, political, and economic consequences.

As Mises noted, the maintenance of social peace is crucial to the peaceful development of the division of labor. “But it is well nigh impossible to preserve lasting peace in a society in which the rights and duties of the respective classes are different,” he said in Liberalism.

He continues in the same chapter:

“…the socialists say, it is not enough to make man equal before the law. In order to make them really equal, one must also allot them the same income. It is not enough to abolish privileges of birth and rank. One must finish the job and do away with the greatest and most important privilege of all, namely, that which is accorded by private property.”

And that’s where government-enforced social equality comes in.

 

Government-enforced social equality

 

As it turns out, this Great Equalizer -- Mao Zedong -- killed up to 78 million people for communism. And rather worryingly, he mentioned "equal pay for equal work."

As it turns out, this Great Equalizer — Mao Zedong — killed up to 78 million people for communism. And rather worryingly, he mentioned “equal pay for equal work.”

In short, this government-enforced social “equality” is the opposite of legal equality. It is the precursor to and abstruse goal of full socialism and government micromanagement. And it must be emphasized that social equality can never exist side by side with legal equality in any one given situation. Modern-day women’s “rights” movements strive for this statist bliss, but all the while maintain a façade that they’re still campaigning for equal legal rights.

The comprehensive immigration reform that leftists keep promising pretends to call for equal legal rights, when in reality it is for exemption from the law altogether for a specific group of politically connected people. Having laws apply to some but not others invalidates legal equality. Applying laws to some and not others is the only way to achieve this social “equality” of which totalitarians speak.

Social equality that totalitarians advocate is not about governing and judging humankind by the areas in which they are equal—their created state, unalienable rights, and human nature—but about governing and judging men according to the areas in which they are unequal. It is about central planners adopting a moral code; it is about measuring up all of society to their arbitrary code and then reacting accordingly with the full coercive force of government.

It’s about making all citizens equal in substance, in possessions, in material goods, and in income (but of course, some are more equal than others).

 

Social equality means abolition of legal equality

 

If you want government-enforced social equality (i.e., socialism and redistribution) talk to the Communists.

If you want government-enforced social equality (i.e., socialism and redistribution) talk to the Communists.

While social equality in and of itself is not an evil or unacceptable state, it’s definitely impossible; and particularly in light of the method in which it has traditionally been pursued—complete government control of the economy—it is an evil thing.

Full government control of the economy is the only way to redistribute wealth and regulate the capitalists, and redistributing and regulating is the only way that social equality can even begin to be achieved. And that’s where the big problems begin.

Any governmental system that allows for the redistribution of wealth will be corrupted, quickly and badly; and any governmental system that controls the economy requires very specific, non-general action to operate at all. The presence of “social equality” negates legal equality. Combine this with inevitable insatiable greed on the part of whoever’s running the show—be it a dictator, committee, or voters under a democratic system—and you’ve got a system bred for discord, instability, political unrest, economic collapse, poverty, a police state, political oppression, and varying degrees of involuntary servitude.

The only means by which the state can pursue social equality is, in fact, redistribution and laws that apply to one group but not another. Government will hurt some, help others, and run the whole economy on the basis of central planners’ ideal of social justice (whatever that may be). It’s an ambiguous, arbitrary, and unknown goal of “justice” and material equality.

As Hayek said:

“In fact, as planning becomes more and more extensive, it becomes regularly necessary to qualify legal provisions increasingly by reference to what is ‘fair’ or ‘reasonable’; this means that it becomes necessary to leave the decision of the concrete case more and more to the discretion of the judge or authority in question.”

In other words, when government seeks social equality, it can only do so through controlling the economy; controlling the economy necessitates planning; planning means that the Rule of Law is completely absent. 

Whereas individuals in a free market decide on their own what is “fair” or “reasonable,” in a socialist economy—which is the only type of economy compatible with seeking social equality—planners must decide, and decide arbitrarily, according to their individual concepts of fairness or reason, absolutely impossible to align with the public’s diverse moral and logical codes.

If the absence of legal equality means injustice (as I certainly contend) then adopting social equality as a goal, despite its advocates’ muddleheaded claims that it’s the only way to justice, is perhaps one of the most unjust economic goals a government can formulate.

Furthermore, to produce the precise same results for women as for men means it is necessary to treat them differently; this means the abolition of both legal equality and the Rule of Law in that area.

Anything the government does to equalize the economy or financially assist certain portions of the economy destroys legal equality and disregards that all men are created equal and should be governed the same.

 

 Social Equality’s manifestations

occupy wall street

These Occupy Wall Street protestors assumed that income inequality needed to be managed by government — and oddly enough, they invoked equality to support their cause.
Other logical errors and problems with their arguments aside, income redistribution always means the abolition of legal equality.

Protective tariffs and import restrictions, welfare, food stamps, socialized healthcare, the construction of government infrastructure, graduated tax brackets, all forms of subsidization and crony capitalism, public schools, amnesty, and social security are just a few examples of government action that by nature must treat different groups of people differently. Some are helped, some are hurt—because government has no funds on its own, anything that it pays for is paid for by a certain group of taxpayers whether they enjoy the benefits or not.

If legal equality is necessary and social equality negates it, government treating all humankind equally is just; government making all humankind equal in substance is definitely not.

If legal equality is something we must strive for, then big government is entirely out of the question. Economic interference on the part of the state can only lead to the destruction of legal equality, and therefore freedom, the free market, and financial stability.

 

All men are created equal, or all men need to be made equal?

 

The implicit socioeconomic goal in the statement all men are created equal couldn’t be more different then the agenda of “equal pay for equal work” advocates, who want preferential legal treatment from the state for a group that’s somehow better than the rest.

Legal equality is the backbone of capitalist economies and free, minimally governed societies.

Social equality is government coercion in the economic sphere (and thus necessarily individual life), excessive legal plunder to accommodate a technically permissible system of looting and subsequent redistribution, and complete disregard of the actual usefulness and efficiency of workers and occupations in relation to the remuneration they receive.

Social equality and legal equality ought never to be confused, considered compatible, or thought to be one and the same. They are opposites. They cannot exist side by side. While conservatives in the United States fight the alleged gender pay gap with statistics, they ought to hit at the heart of the matter: social equality is not true equality, and working towards this government-enforced equality rips apart the fabric that holds a capitalist economy and a free society together.

 

Not all types of equality are equal.

In conclusion, the biggest ideological flaw in many arguments for and against various categories of redistribution is definitely the failure to recognize that not all forms of equality are equal—and they shouldn’t be treated like they are.

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I’m not allowed to bring a knife to a gun fight

Rachel Clark : November 13, 2014 9:41 am : Columns, Politics, Rachel

Jim Bowie and his illegal knife. (Painting by Michael Schrek.)

Jim Bowie and his illegal knife. (Painting by Michael Schrek.)

Much to my chagrin, I recently discovered I can’t carry a broadsword into Whataburger.

 

Concealed carry of daggers in the local Wal-Mart is strictly forbidden; walking down the street with a Bowie knife, concealed or not, is entirely illicit.

 

Unlike with firearms—which I won’t be able to own until age eighteen or conceal until age twenty-one—Texas law prohibits citizens from legally carrying knives anywhere except in their own homes, in their own vehicles, or in vehicles “under their control.”

 

As it turns out, the state can’t trust citizens with sharp, pointy objects. Someone might get hurt. Yet oddly enough, the state allows, to an extent, ownership and concealed carry of handguns.

 

The liberality afforded gun owners ought to be expanded and liberalized a great deal more, but it does provide a decent framework for what knife and blade laws should more closely resemble. As it is now, citizens aren’t left with many options regarding knives and blades:

 

  •  Under current law, all blades over 5.5 inches long are illegal to conceal or open carry.
  •  All throwing knives and throwing stars are illegal to conceal or open carry.
  •  All “stabbing knives,” daggers, dirks, and stilettos are illegal to conceal or open carry.
  •  All swords and spears are illegal to conceal or open carry. (I’d actually like to see this done.)
  •  And perhaps most humiliating of all to Texans, Bowie knives are illegal to conceal or open carry. (Hang your head in shame, lawmakers.)

 

In 2013, HB 1862 loosened restrictions on switchblades. It was one miniscule step in the right direction.

 

Bringing a knife to a gun fight isn’t usually an overtly wise choice, but in Texas law-abiding citizens don’t have the freedom to make that choice—and for a time and again disproved reason: the assumption that weapon-restricting laws can reduce crime. But everywhere the law’s been attempted, the exact opposite has happened.

 

As the saying goes, the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun; criminals intent on killing innocent victims are already breaking the law, and the realization that they’re wandering into a gun free zone or violating a portion of the Texas Penal Code (no criminal would ever do that, obviously) certainly isn’t going to stop them.

 

Knife and blade laws aren’t going to do a thing to stop blade-related crimes; but what they do manage is to tie the hands of citizens and give them even more by-the-inch government regulations in their lives.

 

Texas should leave the blade restrictions to the People’s Republic of New York and the muddleheaded European continent.

 

If you want to bring a knife to a gunfight, that’s your business.

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Democrats change position on minimum wage

Rachel Clark : November 12, 2014 6:15 pm : Rachel, Spoofs

Mark Udall (D-CO) got emotional when talking about his rejected application at Best Buy.

Mark Udall (D-CO) got emotional when talking about his rejected application at Best Buy.

WASHINGTON – The Democrat Party is considering changing its policy on the minimum wage in light of last week’s election results. Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) explained it as a “part of our long-term plan to adapt and overcome.”

“People see the federal minimum wage as roadblock in their path to better jobs. It prevents low-skill workers like senators and teenagers from getting their foot in the door and getting a chance to do better,” said Rep. George Miller (D-CA), who will retire in January.

“We must show that we’re flexible, that we can get over our losses,” continued Hagan, “And part of this will be to accept the will of the American people.”

Hagan and her fellow lame-duck democrat senators are concerned that once they retire from office, high minimum wages could be a problem and that even at current rates, they won’t be able to work at their choice of fast food joints.

As low-skill workers with entry-level experience in private sector jobs, the Senate’s banished democrats are now facing difficult decisions: more lucrative jobs—at Starbucks and Cracker Barrel, for instance—are more than likely not available.

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) expressed earlier this week that he wants to work in higher-end retail, but nobody in the state is willing to pay minimum wage for him.

Sen. Hagan, in the closing remarks of an interview on Saturday, suggested that she may be in favor of complete abolishment of the federal minimum wage altogether and that she hopes there’s a 7/11 somewhere in North Carolina that will accept her application.

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Of Politicians and Hobbits (spoiler warning)

Rachel Clark : October 31, 2014 8:14 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel, Spoofs

frodo23Frodo Baggins is a lot like a politician.

He inherits a problem—an evil ring of power—from his uncle, who’s become overly attached to it and doesn’t understand all the problems it can cause (just like the others who previously owned the ring).

Frodo’s given the task of destroying it.

 

Almost immediately Frodo is trailed by a completely succumbed previous ring-bearer. This creature, known as Gollum, has killed for possession of the ring before and would do it again.

 

Meanwhile, Frodo is fighting and vowing to not become like Gollum; yet it’s practically unavoidable. The enchantment is too strong.

ryan and frodo

 

The insane previous ring-bearer offers to “help” Frodo and his bodyguard, Sam. He’s going to walk them to Mordor for the sole purpose of destroying the ring. But not before carefully triggering some infighting, separating Frodo and Sam, and then leading dazed Frodo into a giant spider’s lair.

gollum and smeagol

 

At the crucial moment, as he’s about to cast the ring into the fires of Mount Doom, he decides the ring is mine. It would have remained so, but the previous ring-bearer lunges forward and gruesomely steals it—and in the fray, falls into the fire.

it's mine, bros

 

After a little drama, Frodo and Sam walk home. Frodo is left with lasting scars, Sam returns to the Shire that he originally left with the sole purpose of protecting (along with Mr. Frodo, of course), and both of them are considered strange hobbits for the rest of their days.

quayle and bush

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Gradual and Silent Encroachments: How Big Government Threatens More Than Your Pocketbooks

Rachel Clark : October 18, 2014 3:23 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

tea party protest

America was founded on freedom of expression, thought, and association; yet slowly it seems to betray its heritage.

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” – George Washington

 

Free speech is the beginning of liberty; without it, other freedoms are naught more than vain trivialities, token privileges bestowed by law on those who meekly hold their peace and utter no dissent — implicit or explicit it matters not.

 

For thousands of years, governments have attempted to control thoughts and speech, to little ultimate avail. Thoughts have no measure; words have no weight; government of the physical realm cannot halt the ever-occupied minds of men nor can it ever completely silence the minds that attempt to share their findings.

 

Limiting freedom of expression is the beginning of the end of freedom. Totalitarians know the method to be effective, just like immobilizing an army is the way to conquer a territory or neutralizing an immune system is the way for a microscopic foe to defeat the human body. The asphyxiating burden of government very seldom utilizes sheer force to subdue the population, but rather simple limits on what thoughts are acceptable for public expression and what thoughts aren’t permissible for open articulation.

 

And in the western world, one can observe the gradual dissolution of freedom of speech, in politics, in academics, in business. This is a perfectly natural result of government involvement in citizens’ everyday lives: when agriculture, healthcare, transportation, education, and business fall under the watchful eye of centralized government, commonplace glitches, inconveniences, and disagreements take on unearthly political significance.

 

Issues government previously ignored are suddenly threatening to bureaucrats. If the state is in charge of marriage, the immediate result would be that marriage is no longer a moral issue, but a political one. If government creates a controversial regulation on, say, raw milk or GMOs, the issue is instantly politicized; it won’t be a consumer’s choice or a simple matter of grocery store decision-making anymore. If government bans certain forms of home heating, even firewood and coal become a bitterly polemical dispute. Those who use wood-fueled furnaces can become enemies of the state; people who support traditional marriage for reasons of religion can be placed on the terrorist watch list.

 

This is yet another reason why the yoke of socialism grows heavy so quickly: it spreads exponentially, popping up in political factions like a weed and rearing its speciously attractive head in one affair here and another there, promising to solve the aggravating problems ailing humanity, yet instead failing and failing miserably. Covering up this failure does involve a great deal of censorship, and attempting to satisfy the delicate balance of big government most certainly includes the silencing of nonconformists.

 

Big government, no matter how innocent the regulations it is setting forth may seem, limits speech with its size. The freedom a man has to say what he will without a regulatory, legal, or literal lynching is in direct proportion to how intrusive and how large his government is. An all-powerful state is like a one-ton cow sitting on the chest of a man — there isn’t really a way for the man to say anything, much less go anywhere or make progress.

 

Socialism is an extremely convincing lie. It offers liberation to the working classes, safety, equality, rights, and convenience. Many people see through the façade when faced with full socialism, but interventionism seems like a bargain. Rather than delivering the compromised utopia it promises, interventionism creates a gigantic state paving the way for full socialism. It alters democracy’s essence and leaves it an empty shell of broken promises and hollow traditions.

 

As odious and vile as the curtailment of speech is perceived, many times it is introduced in a democratic form of government by a majority. By its very nature, the infringement of the right to expression is something that must be forced on one group by another, more powerful or larger, group.

 

Winston Churchill aptly put it: “Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.” In other words, government run by a majority with no restrictions is a formidable threat to free speech.

 

America (and many western nations slipping into socialism around the world) is making a hypocrite of herself. With its global paragons of democratic virtue, the west is the epitome of saying one thing and doing another; demanding free speech yet strong-arming citizens into silence.

 

In academics and politics particularly, two areas dominated by government and its cronies and the two areas where strong discussion is critical, speech is gradually becoming more and more stifled. The sort of “freedom” and “democracy” that silences its citizens is a far cry from what the nation’s founders hoped for, but not too inconceivably distant from the current situation. “Democracy” that censors and scrubs political, academic, and religious thought is a whitewashed tomb, a culture that has a concept of what is right, good, and beautiful and attempts to maintain the image of goodness while blatantly betraying those standards in academia and government.

 

The United States’ situation has a long way to go yet, before it goes the way of the Soviet Union regarding free speech – but the thing that should bother every American is that it goes this way in the first place. In the end, increasing government’s size and scope has direct ramifications on freedom of expression. The more intrusive a government’s jurisdiction is, the less freedom of speech there is: this fact has been proven hundreds of times even in the past century.

 

Americans must realize, and subsequently act upon the fact, that big government threatens more than just pocketbooks. It ultimately threatens freedom itself.

 

James Madison explained, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”

 

The gradual and silent encroachments Madison mentioned have been quietly progressing for over a hundred years. As mentioned previously, Americans are still quite free in most situations to say what they want; but government’s growth and looming involvement in citizens’ lives from birth to death menaces one important part of what America’s founders held dear.

 

 

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The Truth About Robber Barons

Rachel Clark : October 13, 2014 6:05 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

During the "Gilded Age," when crony capitalism was at its height, businessmen furthering their private interests through public funding became known as robber barons -- yet leftist have essentially inverted the meaning of the term in the past 150 years.

During the “Gilded Age,” when crony capitalism was at its height, businessmen furthering their private interests through public funding became known as robber barons — yet leftist have essentially inverted the meaning of the term in the past 150 years.

Robber baron: a reprehensibly misleading term, purposefully deceptive, and definitely more than a matter of semantics.

 

Such derogatory titles for entrepreneurs and businessmen apply particularly to the giants of industry that rose up in the Gilded Age, an era of unprecedented economic growth and in its own right, an extreme amount of crony capitalism.

 

Lamentably, the term has been constituent to socialistic propaganda for over a century yet is rarely recognized for that distinction – calling private sector businessmen robber barons is something that even classical liberals have done from time to time, wittingly and unwittingly; the term has been incorporated into American speech, where it remains unnoticed, unconsidered, and unevaluated.

 

What is bothersome about such an adjectival mishap is not that millions of people mislabel something so often, but that they genuinely misunderstand the very nature of capitalism.

 

Calling businessmen robber barons is the same as saying that businessmen are marauding feudal lords subjugating citizens and initiating armed conflicts on a whim. This is, in the United States at least, grossly inaccurate.

 

In an interventionist or socialist economy (somewhat similar to a feudal or mercantilist system in that favored businessmen either wield power or influence in or over the ruthless coercive force known as the state) it would be supremely appropriate to label state cronies – in charge of the collectivized or nationalized means of production – as robber barons.

 

After all, any individual who unfairly benefits from government resources is benefiting not from conjured-up state funds with which the government has a right to do as it pleases; this individual is profiting from the hard-earned property of citizens, seized under the guise of legal plunder.

 

It would be entirely accurate to call a head of a state-owned corporation or a government-funded businessman a robber baron, and here’s why: government is sheer force, coercion, rules, mandatory action. And if anything, the fact that government is most famous for taking (in excess) what doesn’t belong to it should be an indicator that it is the institution comprised of robber barons, not private sector businesses that can only operate on the basis of persuasion, supply and demand, and natural market forces.

 

Taxing and then spending the money on private interests is deplorable in the eyes of citizens, save the citizens whose private interests are benefiting. Depriving the populace of the fruits of its labor and subsequently handing over cash to the politically favored is unjust.

 

As Thomas DiLorenzo notes, there is a difference between a political entrepreneur and a market entrepreneur. One connives, manipulates, and lobbies to exclude or stifle competition or to obtain illicit government funding; the other works to build a better product or offer a more efficient service, and thus to convince consumers that his product is the one worth buying.

The former are always essentially robber barons – the go about their business through coercion – but the latter are working through mutually beneficial exchanges, with consent from all parties involved.

 

Capitalism’s beauty lies in its freedom for the individual and mutual benefits. Mises famously said that “cotton kings” or “chocolate kings” or “automobile kings” or any type of industry leader cannot satisfy the implicit definition of the term robber baron without resorting to methods strictly outside of the free market’s bounds. In a free market, businessmen cannot force anyone to do anything without breaking the law or violating the principles of the free market itself.

 

Do robber barons say things like “the customer is always right”? Certainly not – but robber barons do, in fact, attempt to limit or ban the imports of competitors’ products, establish a licensing racket, lobby lawmakers to fund or cut their business some slack, and a host of other shady interferences in the free market.

 

In a capitalist economy, it is possible – as unfortunate as it sounds – for a participant to be financially exploited, misused, or wronged; but only if the aforementioned participant agreed to it first. If he didn’t agree, then it’s violating the inherent rights of this consumer to life, liberty, and property and thus cannot fit, legally, within the capitalist system.

 

Feudal lords and socialist taskmasters, most people will intuit, did not and do not generally ask their victims’ permission before plundering, taxing, raising prices exorbitantly, stealing land, or demanding bribes.

 

In a free market, businessmen aren’t and can’t be robber barons – in crony capitalism, feudalism, socialism, interventionism, or mercantilism, there are always robber barons. In the absence of a free market, an economy will revolve around central planning and bureaucracy. Central planning and bureaucracy always mean corruption, stagnation, and (you guessed it) the likes of robber barons: individuals using public resources to further private interests.

 

Conversely, in a free market businessmen are forced not only to ask permission, but to treat customers and employees well. Wages and working conditions must be satisfactory or the employer will be bought out and left without competent workers, or any workers at all; in capitalism, there is a financial and self-benefiting incentive to “do the right thing”; in socialism, other than the shady restrictions laid out by the state, there remains no reason to maintain a pretense of niceties – there is no competition, no alternative, no way out, and no reason to do a good job or innovate.

 

In the end, the totalitarian nickname for capitalist businessmen – the robber baron – is only applicable to socialists, crony capitalists, and yes, feudal lords, operating within their own system.

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Choosing a Candidate, the Christian Way

Rachel Clark : September 29, 2014 8:31 pm : Columns, Rachel

Christians have a lot to keep in mind when considering a candidate.

Christians have a lot to keep in mind when considering a candidate.

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual–or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country,“ said Samuel Adams, signer of the Declaration of Independence and one of the most famous American founding fathers.

 

Adams’s sobering words should be a reminder that voting is not to be taken casually; it is a duty for which man will be accountable to God Himself. Yet voting remains a struggle for Christians around the world.

 

The question that faces believing voters most often is who in the world is “more” Christian? The lesser-of-the-two-evils answer is cliché at this point, and is a gross oversimplification of how and why Christ wants us to select leaders.

 

Before beginning this search with the author – and it most definitely is a search, not a series of answers – consider this carefully: Christians in politics will all too often become overtly attached to certain politicians, flawed though they might be; they will be loyal to the bitter end, even as scandals pop up or a better candidate appears. Civic duty is only one (a small) facet of the Christian life, and God is the ultimate leader of this world, no matter who is running for Congress or who controls the White House.

 

Once a voter has found his candidate, he should also be willing to give that candidate up. Admitting mistakes and repenting is the same in politics as it is in other aspects of life, and just like elsewhere, it is sometimes Biblically necessary to turn from a philosophy or a movement.

 

Despite the fact that many denominations, Christians, and church leaders debate the Biblical advisability of voting at all, once the question of whether to vote or to abstain from civic activities is decided – the correct answer is usually the former option, very rarely the latter – there is yet a more complicated question for Believers: who would Jesus vote for? Which party deserves the Christian vote? Is there a set “Biblical” political school of thought?

 

Most of all, how is the chaff separated from the wheat in politics – how is a candidate to be chosen?

 

The Wise Man vs. the Fool

The Bible lays out a clear picture of what a leader looks like, even from the very beginning – even in Genesis, the threads of a leadership theme can be traced (and should be traced).

 

Proverbs 1:7 says that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

 

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good,” says Psalm 53:1.
The distinction between God-fearing and God-mocking is an important difference to search for in a political race; it is the difference between a wise man and a fool, a strong leader and a narcissist politician.

 

A leader, most of all, should fear God and try to serve Him – a true Christian leader will not keep faith a deep, dark secret or a casual title. If he does, with very few exceptions he is either too scared to defend it or not serious enough about God to mention it to the people he truly respects – his political superiors and the voters he woos.

 

Proverbs has much to say about the attributes of a wise man, and the New Testament mentions much about the fruits of the Spirit; these are the best measures of human character at a human’s disposal and should be used as such.

 

“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christs’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” – Galatians 5:19-24

 

The Bible mentions more than once that wisdom is more than head knowledge or education, and rather it begins with the fear of the Lord.

 

“And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” — Job 28:28

 

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.” – Proverbs 3:13-14

 

“Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.” – Ecclesiastes 7:19

 

Having a wise man in office can be a better advantage to a nation than having natural resources, a growing population, a strong economy, or a powerful military – for wisdom isn’t circumstantial, or brought by luck. It has no boom and bust cycle. It is a gift from God to those who ask for it and fear Him.

 

The blatant contrasts between the wise and the foolish are mentioned throughout scripture: the fool mocks sin, but the righteous are wise and have favor before God (Pro. 14:9); the wise cease from strife, but fools stir it up again (Pro. 20:3); fools trust merely in their own abilities, but the wise seek council and search for God (Pro. 28:26); the fool despises instruction, but the wise are eager to learn and are willing to admit mistakes (Pro. 15:5); the fool gossips and slanders, while the wise cling to the truth (Pro. 10:18). Most of all, the fool says there is no God.

 

Candidates that choose to lie and slander are not candidates to be trusted nor respected; men that refuse council and believe in no higher power than themselves are likewise to be avoided.

 

Look carefully for the wise man and the fool, search diligently for evidence of the works of the flesh and the fruits of the Spirit. This is the first key to choosing a Christian candidate.

 

Biblical Leaders and Their Attributes

 

Strong, righteous leaders mentioned in the Bible share many common traits: humility, a willingness to repent, a search for wise mentors and wise council, courage to stand up for God and His principles, and a desire to learn and improve.

 

A Godly leader is brave enough to act alone, but wise enough to seek council; willing to assert power when needed, but humble enough to know his bounds.

 

Humility is an essential aspect of an effective leader, and it is seen in Moses, Gideon, and King David, for just a few examples.

 

“Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?” – Exodus 3:11

 

“And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go, in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he [Gideon] said unto Him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? Behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” – Judges 6:15

 

“And David said unto Saul, Who am I? and what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be son in law to the king?” – 1 Samuel 18:18

 

Moses had an anger problem, and David was a murderer and adulterer – it points us to another important part of leadership: repentance. Humans always make mistakes in this life, and leaders are no exception. What differentiates a righteous man and a lesser one is not whether they fail, but how they respond and repent of this failure.

 

Wise leaders seek wise council; they always look for a wise mentor. Look for pointers as to their role models, the people they trust, the people they want to become, and the people whom they ask for advice. Proverbs 27:17 speaks of how iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens the other. It’s important to identify the peers of a candidate.

 

Who has endorsed the candidate? Trusted organizations that line up with Christian ideals, or radically anti-God movements? Individuals themselves who you know either mock God or fear Him?

 

A true leader is also willing to stand up to evil, no matter if it is in high places and no matter how lowly the aforementioned leader may be.

 

Nathan reproved David for his affair with Bathsheba (2 Sam 12:7); Elijah and Micaiah fought Ahab (1 Kings 21:17-29; 22:13); Daniel opposed King Belshazzar and told him to repent (Daniel 5:22); John the Baptist correct Herod (Matthew 14:4); Peter and John stood up to the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:17-20); Stephen, even as he was about to be martyred, opposed the Council (Acts 7:51).

 

True leaders might not hold a governmental position; they may merely oppose the evil they see in rulers. Biblical leaders have shown that being courageous enough to oppose evil is the mark of a righteous man.

 

When examining a candidate, look at his record – if he has never before lifted a finger to fight the problems he claims to want to eradicate in office, it is unlikely he means a word he says. Who he is when he is a common man is who he will be in office (except he’ll have an office).

 

The Example of Church Leaders

 

While the Bible has nothing specifically addressing the proper characteristics of a governmental leader, it gives a solid picture of what church leaders must live up to.

 

1 Timothy 3 is perhaps the best example.

 

“A bishop [or any leader] then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre, but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

 

Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not guilty of filthy lucre … Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.”

 

This chapter emphasizes the importance of an upright personal life in church leaders, something that is nearly equally important in rulers.

 

The Calling

 

Leaders have a calling – maybe not a blatant summons to government leadership, with an audible voice from God or a clap of thunder, but at least a tug on their hearts that God has a plan for their life and leading is part of it.

 

Abraham (Gen. 12:1), Moses (Ex. 3:10), Gideon (Judges 6:14), Elisha (1 K. 19:19); Isaiah (Is. 6:8), and Paul (Acts 26:16) are all examples of God calling a person into a leadership role, or to do something for His kingdom.

 

Identifying the candidate with a calling seems like a foggy method, but it’s a method nonetheless, one to be used when others fail to find the difference.

 

The words and deeds, the professed motivation of a politician may be calculated and staged, but to some extent it’s possible to see through the façade.

The Application

How do wisdom, the fruits of the Spirit, excellent mentors, wise council, reliable companions, repentance, courage, and calling show up in the real world? How are they identified? In fact, what do they look like?

 

The application of Biblical principles to real-life problems like government debt, decaying roads, a terrorist attack, a drought, or gun control seems so much harder than applying them to, say, abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, or religious freedom.

 

Yet there are applications nonetheless, and wise leaders will see them and demonstrate the correct positions on these issues. They may not line up with scripture entirely, but righteous men will at least seek to do right – and when they discover they are wrong, they will repent.

 

Looking at the qualities of a good leader may make it appear as if finding a decent politician is the hardest and most impossible thing mankind has done since putting a man on the moon – yet it should be noted that the moon landing was successful, and occasionally elections can turn out right too.

 

It’s impossible to list all of the “important” issues in an article, but a few of the most widespread and prominent controversies affecting the Christian faith in the United States can be mentioned.

 

One of the most tragic issues of our day is abortion, and Christians should be firmly against it – God certainly is. (Psalm 22:10-11; 127:3; 139: 13,15; Genesis 1:27; Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17) Jeremiah 1:5 offers a glimpse of God’s view of life, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” God created man in His image – and He forbad murder because of this.

 

It’s also a delicate political issue that has hurt many people around the world, which is why calloused remarks about it do much, much more harm than good. If you’re faced with a decision to choose between a fiscally Biblical candidate and a socially Biblical candidate, choose the latter.

 

Gay marriage is possibly the most controversial issue of our time. Protests hit the streets, lawsuits are everywhere, and scarcely a day goes by without some significant news on the issue reaching the headlines – yet whether or no you believe government should ban it, God is against it. The movement is definitely not about “acceptance” or “tolerance,” it’s about demanding not even that a lifestyle should be accepted, but that it should be praised and catered to. (Jude 1:7; Romans 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:9)

 

What about fiscal issues? Social welfare? Taxes? Understanding what God wants for His creation is the way to achieve it, and reading the Bible is the best way to know that for sure.

 

Here is a short list of things to consider when you choose a candidate:

1. Where do they stand on the issues? How willing are they to defend their position?
2. What is their record? What is in their past – if it’s bad, do they justify it or have they repented of it?
3. Who are their supporters, both individuals and organizations? Do you agree with these endorsers?
4. What is their personal life like? Are they Christians themselves, and are they morally upright? How do they live up to the Biblical qualifications?
5. How are they compared to the other candidate?
6. Are they strong leaders? Have they had any experience before?

Delving into the basic requirements for a leader may have introduced more questions than answers. You know you’re supposed to find a humble man who keeps good company, wants to learn, has a teachable spirit, and respects life (among many other things) but keep in mind there is more, so much more. The only source with all the answers is God Himself (and the instructions He sent in his Word); that’s the best place to look, and always will be.

 

 

 

 

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The Blood of Patriots and Tyrants

Rachel Clark : August 22, 2014 3:40 pm : Columns, Lumberton Gazette, Politics, Rachel

"President Abraham Lincoln, signer of the Declaration of Independence and the great general who led the (unknown number) of French colonies against the tyrannical empire of Canada."

“President Abraham Lincoln, signer of the Constitution on July 4th, and the great general who led the seventeen original French colonies against the tyrannical empire of Canada.”

“Time after time mankind is driven against the rocks of the horrid reality of a fallen creation. And time after time mankind must learn the hard lessons of history – the lessons that for some dangerous and awful reason we can’t seem to keep in our collective memory.” – Hilaire Belloc

Of any age group, teenagers and young adults are the least likely to know the correct answers to basic United States history questions – a disturbing trend that threatens not only national identity, but also national well-being.

More than a fifth of American teens do not know which country the thirteen colonies declared independence from in 1776 – 14% think it was France, 5% think it was Canada.

82% of interviewed Lumberton residents do not recognize the name “Millard Fillmore.”

89% could not name the first six U.S. Presidents, in order or out of order.

48% identified Abraham Lincoln as a signer of the Declaration of Independence. (Hint: he was elected President 84 years after 1776.)

26% cannot name the sides that fought in the Civil War – some said it involved Canada, others said Mexico, and some mentioned that it was between West and East.

Evangelist Ray Comfort and political activist Mark Dice are just two examples of interviewers who have asked “the man on the street” elementary questions, like “Who was Adolf Hitler?”

In the age of information, when so much of the world’s history is at our fingertips, when the knowledge and experience of the generations before us are accessible to the masses like never before, how come we don’t know the most basic details about how our nation came to be?

Thomas Jefferson said that the “tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Millions of Americans gave their lives so that we may live free from the yoke of tyrants and oppressors. Is it even in our place as Americans, living in the freest, most privileged, most prosperous nation on earth, to forget them who gave their lives so we may live ours to the fullest — in freedom and comfort?

Around the globe, hundreds of millions have perished under the very tyrants that selfless patriots have opposed. Dare we forget the millions upon millions of victims who have died as a result of human carelessness, tyranny, and depravity, some of it evils our own ancestors died fighting?

Ultimately, the one death that will matter to the end of time is Christ’s. Our nation has most of all forgotten His undying love, His ultimate sacrifice, and the blood He shed so that we may live in spiritual freedom.

The state of affairs is less than ideal when a people refuses to remember the blood of patriots and refuses to acknowledge the reign of tyrants, but how much worse it is when that people refuses to recognize the blood of Christ.

Knowing and understanding history is essential to maintaining the freedom and prosperity of the United States, and more importantly, Christianity’s unhindered presence here.

Learning the past gives us an identity, a sense of where we have been, where we should go, where we should never go, and where we are now. America has forgotten the consequences of accepting what God hates and spurning what he loves – and yes, there are most tangible consequences.

Samuel Johnson said that “the recollection of the past is only useful by way of provision for the future.”  And as Richard Weaver said, “Those who have no concern for their ancestors will, by simple application of the same rule, have none for their descendants.”

For reasons that exceed earthly bounds and go past the grave, history is important: never forget the blood of patriots and tyrants.

 

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Patriotism: Good or Bad?

Rachel Clark : August 13, 2014 3:22 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

 

True patriotism is love of one's country. Its antithesis: love of government.

True patriotism is love of one’s country. Its antithesis: love of government.

 

In 2014, to some the word patriotism carries with it an aura of hero-worship from FDR’s days, a hint of Washington propaganda, and most of all a dangerous – and unfortunately, oftentimes effective – push for unconditional support of the central government’s policy, all in the name of national image and “American exceptionalism.”

The term “patriotism” bothers many libertarians and advocates of smaller government. The Austrian School of Economics is quick to point out the damage done in the name of “patriotism” and national pride; some have even gone so far as to say that love of country is economically detrimental and opens a door for big government.

Essentially, what has come to be known as liberalism – a better name for it is totalitarianism – is in direct conflict with traditional patriotism: a patriot loves his country, a liberal loves his government. There is a difference. One is good, the other is a statist variation.

Muddled terms and blurred lines

It is true: politicians and government-loving interventionists everywhere have hijacked the word that once signified a force holding our government to its constitution. They have used it to the advantage of the traditional patriot’s antithesis, the totalitarian. After a busy century of term-swapping and muddling borders (physical, ideological, and terminological), the left has fostered a misconception that patriotism includes unconditional support of government.

Most libertarians have no issue with national or cultural pride, but any true libertarian (or any conservative-minded citizen) will disagree with unconditional loyalty to all government policies.

For instance, an American disgruntled with Washington may say he is no longer “patriotic” or “proud of my country” when what he really means to say is that he disagrees with Washington’s power-grabbing policies. Occasionally libertarians will claim that patriotism is hurtful to the cause of freedom; quite the opposite.

True textbook-definition patriotism is very helpful, almost essential, to winning and maintaining freedom – if you didn’t love your country, do you think you would really care whether or not future generations had the benefits of liberty? Would you care if there was government oppression? Would you risk your life to tell the government that it was wrong?

Some libertarians have misjudged the importance of American patriotism: while it is not impossible for freedom to come into being without it, it is a powerful motivator that pushes passionate patriots to fight against oppression.

True patriotism, a love of one’s nation, is not love of one’s government. When a person is willing to die for the cause of liberty, that is patriotism, not blind loyalty to government.

In 1776, those in favor of secession from Britain were known as the Patriots – and most definitely not because they supported their government. They did, however, love their people and their freedom.

The Darker Side

Although patriotism is a beautiful thing, it has a darker side when the left contorts its definition. For one, the manner in which politicians will ensnare citizens with the word patriotism; for two, the way that incompatible ideologies like socialism will exploit a love of country and transform it into a sinister, cult-like mob movement; and for three, confusing citizens into accepting short-sighted policies like trade protectionism, claiming that the alternative hurts Americans and America when in reality it’s only a lobbyist-sparked initiative to allow businessmen extra profits and a near-monopoly status.

This is where patriotism can become a bad thing. It’s the side of “patriotism” that has libertarians and small-government activists worried.

Presidents plead with citizens to endorse plans for war, invoking patriotism and promising that national greatness will diminish without it. Lawmakers insist that the true patriot will do his part to support Washington’s next great scheme. Nearly every politician in America is at some time or other forced to admit or lie that they have a scrap of “patriotism” in them just to appease their voter base.

In almost all official definitions, patriotism is defined as a love of country; not a love of government, government policy, or sheep-like loyalty to Washington.

A country is so much more than its government: it is a culture (sometimes many), a way of life, a common cause. Government does not equal a country; it is merely the official political and legal representation of that country’s people (official, maybe, but as is the case in North Korea, certainly not legitimate representation).

Patriotism and support of the government are as different as supporting our troops and endorsing a war. There is a distinct difference.

Totalitarianism and Patriotism

Totalitarianism wants nothing more than to exploit patriotism for a time, to establish an unfaltering obedience and support from citizens.

To accomplish this goal, an ideology naturally opposed to true American patriotism had to appear as if it were patriotic. In the end, the left’s advocates did what they always do: change the meaning of a word and then base a decades-long propaganda campaign on it.

Modern liberalism (to clarify, we are most definitely not referencing classical liberalism) does not really want the best for America, its people, or even the world – it merely wants power. Ultimately, a government powerful enough to control everything about life is the end result of modern liberalism.

American patriotism is national pride and a desire for a people’s and a nation’s well-being, to fend off attackers, enemies, and detractors of that nation.

Liberalism is patriotism’s enemy: it is the attacker and the detractor that wants to bring down what our founding fathers built up.

Modern liberalism’s goal is for America to be defined by government only, to blur the very lines between culture, lifestyle, language, and political issues, to introduce everything into the government’s scope.

Love of Country

It is clear that patriotism is not bad – but its mutant-like variants engineered, exploited, and misconstrued by politicians have a very dark side.

The 1776 patriots weren’t acting out of loyalty for a political institution or government, they were acting for freedom, for themselves and for their people. Unlike what the left would have you believe, a patriot does not agree and accept everything that government tries to cram down his throat.

A patriot loves his country, a liberal loves his government. Love of country sometimes means opposing one’s government. Love of government always means opposing one’s country.

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The FDA: All About Fads

Rachel Clark : August 6, 2014 5:43 pm : Columns, News, Politics, Rachel

Widespread dietary issues in the United States don't need to be subjected to more federal interference, but rather, less.

Widespread dietary issues in the United States don’t need to be subjected to more federal interference, but rather, less.

Hundreds of lawsuits, thousands of fuming activists, an entire government administration, dozens of significant Congressional moves, and even proposals to cap the size of sodas have resulted from America’s supposedly offensive eating habits.

 

Advocates of government intervention are all too quick to find a problem (currently the most hyped-up issue is the obesity epidemic) and demand that Washington, D.C. address the situation by throwing money at it, assigning a few Congressional-Chief-of-Staff wannabes to a federal administration, and tossing a couple hundred tactical Barney Fifes in the mix for good measure.

 

After successfully shooting down decent education standards and methods, punishing men and women who chose to risk their lives serving our country, butting into medical matters, squeezing between manufacturers and consumers everywhere, and regulating everything from chemical elements in dish soap to the size of seat belts, it was only natural that the federal government would also insist on meddling in what Americans are and are not allowed to eat.

 

The Left despises almost everything American, and yes – that includes diet.

 

The “obesity epidemic” and the rise of weight-related health problems in the United States is definitely a problem, but Washington bureaucrats aren’t the solution and never will be. Government can only do a few things in any situation: tax, subsidize, ban, ignore, or talk about a given problem.

 

For years now, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has adopted a policy of doing each and every one of those things to different foods, manufacturers, and corporations –it isn’t a game of chance, nor is it a matter of what’s scientifically or nutritionally better for the American people. Everything is decided by lobbyists’ money.

 

Government taxing, subsidizing, or banning a product almost always has a negative effect, but it can get worse. When lobbyists introduce cash and the bureaucrats accept it, the American people end up with a corrupt stronghold of special interests dollars fighting against their best interests.

 

Limited consumer options, wealth redistribution, and high food prices are the best the federal government has to offer; the only true solution to America’s dietary woes – if they can be called woes – is to permanently do away with the middleman between consumers and food: namely, government. Allowing free market forces to prosper is the only solution to the problem.

 

Constitutional Authority: Zilch

 

First and foremost, the federal government has no constitutional authority to interfere with food: the Tenth and Ninth Amendments strictly prohibit it. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” reads the Ninth — meaning that even though there isn’t an amendment specifically regarding federal regulation of food, you still have the right.

The Tenth Amendment is fairly self-explanatory: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” The FDA has no legal right to exist in the United States.

 

Central planners, the only beings that can make adequate food choices.

 

The very concept of central planners – particularly in the area of diet, food choices, and food manufacturing – defies everything that modern liberalism claims to support. Specifically equality, diversity, and justice.

 

If the entire nation (except for the gifted minority running the FDA) is deemed incapable of making its own dietary choices, the left’s “equality” façade becomes apparent. Big government in and of itself assumes that a nation is an institution full of sheep-like citizens so dull they cannot be trusted to make a satisfactory decision about what’s for dinner. Central planners are not the only adequately equipped beings on the planet that can make food choices – although that’s a stretch, because it has yet to be decided if central planners as individuals are capable of making decent dietary choices.

 

The definition of liberty: “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.” One’s way of life most definitely does include eating habits. Even from a textbook-defined point of view, the FDA curtails freedoms and intrudes where it’s not welcome.

 

FDA: all about fads

 

Central planners are not only against equality, liberty, and property, they’re corrupt. And they’re government, meaning that they are first in line to accept politically correct standards and fads.

 

The FDA never does promote food safety; it promotes political correctness. In the 60s and 70s, Washington began promoting eating less meat, eggs, and dairy; in the 90s, it began pushing carbohydrates and low-fat options. Currently the government is attempting to promote more vegetables and whole grains.

 

If you sense a flip-flop, maybe that’s because there is one. Knowledge is constantly changing, the scientifically proven and nutritionally ideal diet is always morphing into something new.

 

When it’s considered that what may be assumed as healthy at the moment may actually be tantamount to poison, it makes even less sense to have a central planning organization that bans certain foods and promotes their “safe” and “healthy” alternatives.

 

Barney Fife, revisited

 

barney fifeWhoever thought it was a good idea to give milk regulators machine guns? The FDA is more than a nuisance, it’s a dangerous nuisance. If you start to sell raw cheese or unpasteurized milk, expect a visit from the FDA’s modern-day equivalent of Barney Fife.

 

When government micromanages citizens’ lives, it fosters a police-state mentality. Evidenced by federal sting operations on Amish farms and food co-ops, personal food preference is a crime with the FDA. Importing your food may land you in jail; eating your favorite cheese may be a federal crime; bringing your own lunch to school could be a no-no with stiff consequences.

 

Diet is one of the most personal aspects of life on earth: religion, lifestyle, health problems, preferences, allergies, and price ranges define what a person eats. When government mandates what is allowed and what isn’t, whether raw milk is bad for you or if organic food must be certified, the state eliminates possibilities and violates the inherent rights of mankind.

 

The only solution

 

In the 70s, the FDA’s pet peeve was heart disease; now it’s the obesity epidemic. No matter what the case, the problem could be solved not by more government intervention in what Americans eat, but by less. Fewer regulations means lower food prices; lower food prices means more healthy eating options (for those of us with less grocery money than Michelle Obama has at her disposal).

 

A free market allows you to eat what you want, when you want – but you have to pay, and you have to face the consequences of your decisions.

 

In the end, the lawsuits, fuming activists, and insanely unworkable proposals about banning fast food or GMOs, keeping raw milk illegal, or mandating “nutritious” school lunches is unjustifiable totalitarian baloney.

 

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We the People: the relevance of constitutions

Rachel Clark : August 5, 2014 8:52 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

The Constitution is at its strongest when "We the People" stand behind it and protect it. At this point, the nation isn't. Where does that leave the conservative movement?

The Constitution is at its strongest when “We the People” stand behind it and protect it. At this point, “We the People” most definitely aren’t. Where does that leave the conservative movement?

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties,” Abraham Lincoln once said.

 

Lincoln, perhaps the most unconstitutionally-inclined president in United States history, managed a half-truth in the above quote. While the U.S. Constitution is the best of its kind and probably always will be, it remains a mere piece of paper – an aging piece of paper, at that: signed over two hundred years ago; forgotten altogether by Washington, D.C.; and trampled on by decades of bureaucracy, scandals, corruption, and undue government intervention.

 

If the Constitution was the only safeguard of liberty, the United States would have been a dictatorship ten years into its existence.

 

Unconstitutionality is an undesirable thing in the United States, from a viewpoint favorable to life, liberty, and property, because our Constitution is a critical element in preserving freedom.

 

Disregarding one’s own constitution may be thought of as a bad thing; yet human-rights abominations such as North Korea, Cuba, and China all more or less follow their own constitutions. In every country with a constitution, there will also be constitutionalists – oftentimes individuals that will ideologically deify a document.

 

A communist or a Nazi can be a constitutionalist – it simply depends on which constitution they ideologically adhere to. Constitutions in and of themselves are nothing, in the grand scheme of things.

 

The United States constitution is meant to be a tyranny preventative, but the protection it offers is far from an automatic occurrence. Lincoln was wrong about the exclusivity of the Constitution as safeguard of our liberties:

 

“The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are the constitutional rights secure.” – Albert Einstein

 

Today’s conservatives consistently point to “unconstitutional” goings-on – government activities breaching the legal parameters the Founders left for them – but never bring up another reason why the law or action is wrong. It’s a fatal mistake for the cause of liberty.

 

If the people do not respect the Constitution, neither do the lawmakers; if the lawmakers do not respect the Constitution, it is a powerless legal boundary meaningful only to schoolchildren and tourists, peering at it through several inches of bulletproof glass and layers upon layers of excuses in the National Archives.

 

At this point, “We the People” are miserable failures when it comes to protecting and standing behind our constitution; like Einstein said, public acknowledgment and demand for Constitutional protection of freedom is necessary for the document to remain relevant.

 

Pointing to a document isn’t the worst way to prove a point about the right or wrong nature of something, but it certainly isn’t the best way either. If the Constitution is the only means by which you can define your political thought, what position would you be in if it were drastically amended – or perhaps abolished altogether?

 

ObamaCare isn’t constitutional, but if it were constitutional, does that mean it’s right? A document is a document, after all.

 

Constitutionalism in America is still an honorable thing, and should not be abandoned; but conservatives would do themselves a favor by giving more than just constitutional arguments to support their cause.

 

Documents can change, amendments can happen, and yes, sometimes constitutions can be abolished, but the cause of freedom in and of itself will never change.

 

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The Difference Between Jefferson and Obama

Rachel Clark : July 25, 2014 12:37 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

Jefferson the liberal and Obama the liberal have next to nothing in common.

Jefferson the liberal and Obama the liberal have next to nothing in common.

If you’re a libertarian, you have likely had this conversation dozens of times:

“Are you a republican?”

“No, I’m a libertarian.”

“So you’re a liberal?”

Technically, yes and no. This exchange is a case in point: advocates for the cause of freedom don’t really know what to call themselves anymore.

 

Many Americans don’t know what they’re really saying when it comes to political terms, warped, twisted, and misused for decades to fit party agendas.

 

The best example of a confused term is liberalism.

 

Thomas Jefferson was considered a liberal; Barack Obama is also considered a liberal. Yet the two presidents are opposites.

 

Jefferson:

 

“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.” — Thomas Jefferson

 

Obama:

 

“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems … They’ll warn that tyranny always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices.”

“I actually believe in redistribution.” – Barack Obama

 

If eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, as Jefferson tells us, why is Obama saying the exact opposite? Why does Jefferson so adamantly oppose gun control while Obama is chomping at the bit to stifle the right to keep and bear arms?

 

Are they different reincarnations of a specific ideology? Are the two types of liberalism one and the same, merely placed in a different political environment? Or has liberalism evolved?

 

No, no, and no.

 

Obama’s liberalism and Jefferson’s liberalism are not remotely similar. They share nothing except the name.

 

in-dependence

 

One is liberal with freedom, the other is liberal with government. In modern political speak, it’s classical liberalism vs. modern liberalism.

 

Jefferson would be considered “conservative” and “right-wing” in 2014.

 

Here’s some perspective on political terms:

 

King George III was conservative, by the classical definition of the word. However, Jefferson the “conservative” was one of the King’s most passionate and emboldened enemies.

 

Nazis were technically “right-wing,” promoting a form of fascism similar, although drastically darker and more harmful, to the variety that drove the American colonies to secede in 1776.

 

The discrepancy between the classical and modern definitions reveals a disturbing trend in political thought.

 

When voters have a guiding sense of morals and a well-defined ideology, they know which party is right or wrong, which causes they support, and which issues are really issues.

 

However, the majority of people lack these political necessities. They rely on terms including left-wing, right-wing, conservative, liberal, and progressive to know who to vote for.

 

It might work, except that parties tend to change the meaning of these words every fifty years or so.

 

This confusion over terms has made it impossible for those known as libertarians to identify themselves as liberals (and just to clarify, here we’re referring to Jeffersonian liberals, the classical liberals). Alas, it’s an unfortunate reality.

 

But next time someone tells you they’re a libertarian, don’t associate them with modern “liberalism” – much less democrats. If for anything else, it’s useful to understand the difference between classical liberalism and modern liberalism if you are studying history books published before 1850.

 

The word conservatism now refers to something akin to Locke’s ideology, not Mussolini’s; liberalism refers to a variant of Stalin’s creed, not Jefferson’s cause.

 

In the end, how can Thomas Jefferson and Barack Obama both be liberals? They can’t. The first is a liberal, the other is a statist.

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The Christian Value of Storytelling

Rachel Clark : July 7, 2014 3:33 pm : Columns, Rachel

open bookIf life has no meaning, stories have no meaning either.

However, our Creator gave our lives meaning – and He did the same with stories, too. God is the deciding factor in whether one believes there is a purpose for life and if one thinks there is a use for fiction.

Occasionally a sour internet troll will point out the apparent foolishness of fiction and the “meaninglessness” of completely fabricated worlds, lives, and struggles.

Spending hours at a time immersed in a story that never happened does seem wasteful or foolish at first sight, yet the Scripture, the life stories of Ronald Reagan and Albert Einstein, and especially the example of Christ point to a very different conclusion.

Stories shape societies, transform minds, and unleash scientifically useful creativity in ways that non-fiction and academic writing can rarely accomplish. Christians should utilize and embrace stories. The concept that stories are meaningless, if not a humanist idea, is a misguided one.

Stories can change the moral state of world. That Printer of Udell’s, by Harold Bell Wright, inspired Ronald Reagan to take a stand and become a Christian – stirring convictions that later motivated him to become involved in politics and later, to run for President. Children’s bedtime stories influence not just playtime, but their lives. Young adult fiction moves teenagers to study different subjects or even pursue different careers. Classic books have molded generation after generation of readers.

Literature shapes morality and life choices, for better or for worse.

From a moral point of view, stories are invaluable; but when it comes to practical critical thinking skills and science, fiction is usually regarded as “worthless.” That is likewise not true.

Albert Einstein disagreed: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be very intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

Nonsense stories spur creativity and critical thinking. Is it possible for a frog to turn into a prince, or vice-versa? Does it make sense for something to be bigger on the inside? Can people fly if they try hard enough?

Some nonsense technology in the 1960s television show Star Trek has actually come to pass; not because of the show, of course, but it does demonstrate an important factor in human invention: imagination. Considering the impossible and exploring the unreachable is a big part of changing the world.

In addition to shaping societal morals, encouraging imagination and invention, spurring critical thinking, and influencing lives, fiction shows us ourselves in a new light. In 2 Samuel, the Prophet Nathan does not rebuke David directly for his adultery and murder. Nathan explained the situation in an unconventional way: through a story. David became indignant at what Nathan told him about the man in the story (who, despite having many sheep, stole a poor man’s only lamb).

He said, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” After Nathan explained that it was David who had committed the act when he killed Uriah for Bathsheba, he saw the sin in an entirely new light. Stories show us ourselves and reveal the truth even when we likely don’t want to hear it.

Finally, Ephesians 5:1 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” Jesus’ parables and Nathan’s revelation to David are just a few Biblical examples of useful storytelling. They are stories with a purpose, a direct theme, that cut to the deepest corners of men’s hearts.

Storytelling is another way to imitate Christ — and change the world to boot.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Question of Copyrights

Rachel Clark : July 5, 2014 1:53 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

Copyrights and patents: the scourge of creators.

The Discussion at Hand

“Our economic freedom is founded on individual property rights; government should never be permitted to take those away.” – Ernest Istook

Property rights have been the subject of a centuries-long political struggle – who has the right to own what, how much can they own, and are others allowed to take it from them?

From the theocracy of the ancient Israelites to the tribal-centric government operating under the Code of Hammurabi, almost all societies have come to the conclusion that taking another’s property is wrong, and that those who do so should be punished.

Most ancient laws against thievery were straightforward, with easy-to-grasp consequences and implications. Theorists and thinkers, for centuries, came to the conclusion that economies rely on property.

However, not until the 1500s did another issue come up entirely: intellectual property (known as IP). IP is exactly what its name suggests: “property” that is purely intellectual and ideological – for example, an idea, book, poem, word, plan, or catch-phrase.

The fuzzy litigation surrounding IP began around five hundred years ago. In the latter half of the 1500s, Queen Elizabeth I began issuing royal grants for monopoly privileges (common in the mercantilist economies of Europe during that time). It was the beginning of a complicated legal system surrounding IP, spanning many centuries and crossing over into the United States and almost every country in the world.

Copyrights, trademarks, and patents are the three main extensions of IP.

  • Copyrights are the most well known, offering a designer, author, or creator the exclusive rights to their work. Distribution, reproduction, sales, and advertising of the work are completely controlled within the copyright.
  • Trademarks are typically an easily recognizable symbol, sign, design, expression, or phrase of a particular organization, source, individual, or corporation legally controlled in its usage by the aforementioned entity.
  • Patents grant an inventor – or perhaps a creator who manages to get to the patent office first – the chance to completely restrict other producers from manufacturing, utilizing, selling, or importing a particular invention (for a limited amount of time).

Like most bad ideas, the idea of protecting IP through copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and other government-enforced monopolistic contracts sounded like a good one at first.

 

Ideas Aren’t Scarce

IP laws offered a legal means by which to curb the vice of plagiarism (and the obvious annoyance of having an idea stolen).

But instead of helping the creative individuals in our society, IP laws stifle innovation, open a door for useless and costly litigation, and have backfired on the ones who needed their alleged benefits most. (More than one inventor can have the same idea, but only one can get a patent.)

All of these dreadful side effects have resulted from the underappreciated fact that intellectual property is not property. 

While stealing ideas is clearly a moral downfall, government cannot stop it any more than government can prevent a child from thinking about slapping his brother. Government’s involvement in IP is impractical, at best, as it ignores the gaping gulf between the physical and the mental.

Ideas are thoughts; the extensions of thoughts may or may not be physical creations, but “stealing” an idea is not something easily tracked.

When an idea is “stolen,” there is neither a physical absence nor a for-sure method of verifying that the idea was stolen. There is not a way to track which man came up with the idea first.

One definition of economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources. Cars, iPhones, timber, kittens, chocolate, paper, and homes are all physical resources that can be defined as scarce because they are tangibly limited. While the demand for the aforementioned items can be infinite, the creation and existence of said items cannot.

While cars will always have physical limits on their numbers – even if the entire universe existed to make cars, there would eventually be a shortage of the required resources – ideas have no limits. Ideas are infinitely reproducible. “Stealing” an idea does not deprive its original owner of the idea, unlike stealing a car would.

News flash: ideas are infinitely reproducible. 

Ideas are an incredibly important basis for an economy. Despite that they are hugely marketable, they are not – by definition – a physical part of any given economy. They can’t be.

In a purely ideological sense, IP laws are not valid. But in a more practical sense, IP laws are a drain and constant source of stress to innovators.

While having a patent will protect an inventor from theft, there’s nothing that can be done before the patent is obtained – and what’s even worse is when the thief is the one who gets to the patent office first. The costs outweigh the benefits.

Producers are oftentimes using patents to beat competitors upside the head, using the full force of the government in simple matters of industry competition. More of then not it’s a violation of free market principles and an interference in natural business-to-business relations.

It can backfire in a very painful, life-changing way. Historically, there are numerous examples of how IP laws have affected rightful inventors; IP laws are mainly used to punish competitors, not encourage innovation or even insure that credit is given where credit is due.

This either results in a business failure (almost always if there’s a small business involved) or it ends up in a massive lawsuit, which boils down to lawyers deciding who thought of what first.

A World Without IP Laws (a better one)

In a world without heavily enforced trademarks, copyrights, or patents, there would still be extensive innovation. Classic books in the “public domain” have no copyright, yet are even now bestsellers after a century – or maybe even more.

IP laws are not within the rightful scope of government, and IP itself is not within the bounds of a physical economy. It’s long past time that the experiment in IP laws end.

Plagiarism is morally wrong, yet its absence is impossible to enforce. “Pirating” is sometimes unethical, but creating laws to punish it does nothing but expand a rent-seeking sector.

Jeffery Tucker put it this way:

“… Ninety-nine percent of the patents issued are never used. Most patents just sit there like time bombs to blow up other attempts to enter the market. They don’t inspire people to invent; they inspire people to use parasitic methods to stop others from inventing.

What a strange system of central planning it all is! You can’t have free enterprise when the government is slicing and dicing ideas and assigning monopolistic titles to them. The purpose of property and prices is to provide for the peaceful allocation of scarce resources. Ideas, once public, are no longer scarce.

As Thomas Jefferson said in a letter from 1813: “If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea . . . He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”

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Which Example to Follow?

Rachel Clark : May 29, 2014 6:09 pm : Columns, Rachel

If politics is show biz for ugly people, the ugliness is referring to politicians’ behavior, not their appearances.

Recently I attended a political club’s regular meeting, and not to my surprise I heard platitudes regarding “the next generation.” One speaker mentioned that she hoped young people would see the group as an example, something to be continued and imitated.

The situation she hopes for is far from reality.

During the more of less three years I have been involved in elections, the people I have met—not just politicians—say one thing and do another. Moral strength and principled decisions are not what I see when I look at party politics.

They preach open-mindedness and shut out their own. They promise change, and then promptly assimilate into the business-as-usual world of cronyism on Capitol Hill. They claim to have a backbone, yet the first trial that faces them causes them to not just give up hope, but to revert to the other side altogether.

I have witnessed as grown men and women spend their days venting their disdain for humanity (and in particular candidate such-and-such) on social media; as supporters arguing for a “pro-family” and “Christian” candidate allude to vulgarities and curse words in their debates with their opponents; as members of the political club I mentioned earlier explode into ferocious animals when someone dares to criticize their “precious.”

Don't criticize their "precious."

Don’t criticize their “precious.”

Over and over again I have observed the endless locomotion within party politics, as one desperate attention-seeker after another scrambles to win a title or seat. I watch as the local yokels polarize into groups based not on principles, or on issues, but rather, on the likelihood of a candidate to win the election.

The wish to be “in” with the right crowd and the compelling desire to be on friendly footing with the next congressman, judge, mayor, or councilman makes their minds for them—the man with the lead in the polls is the man they will back.

This, simply put, is why many young people (including myself) are not interested in following the example of modern party politics. Backstabbing, hypocrisy, and half-truths are nothing to take pride in, nor are they virtues to imitate. Yet sadly, the next generation will likely become worse political monsters than their parents are now.

Mimicking establishment leaders contributed much to the national crisis we’re facing today; it’s long past time to stop following in the footsteps of policy failures and to refocus our efforts on meaningful pursuits—not just title-chasing and inwardly-focused, self-destructing party politics.

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The Lumberton Outpost Endorses Ben Streusand

Rachel Clark : May 21, 2014 8:18 pm : Columns, Rachel

outpost endorses

 

 

Dear Reader,

President Ronald Reagan said that the “most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Government “help” has resulted in a $17 trillion debt crisis, an imploding welfare state, a foreign policy meltdown, a massive failure in public education, and a shrinking—not growing—economy.

For far too long, representatives have bowed at the altar of special interests, taking away their thirty pieces of silver at the expense of our inalienable God-given rights.

We need a candidate who is willing to stand up, show up, and speak up in Washington. Agreeing with our cause is no longer enough. We need someone who is willing to fight for our cause.

For this reason, Ben Streusand is the candidate who deserves our votes on May 27th.

During his decade-long tenure as Texas chairman for Americans for Prosperity, he demonstrated a profound understanding of political matters, economic situations, and the Constitution, as well as the principles of common law and Judeo-Christian moral fundamentals that have shaped the fabric of our nation’s being.

Mr. Streusand has endorsements from reliable conservative organizations including Gun Owners of America, Tea Party Express, the Texas Home School Coalition, and Conservative Republicans of Texas, along with individuals including Peggy Venable, Tom Craddick, Robin Armstrong, and Terry Lowry.

Mr. Streusand is fiercely pro-life, and a champion of the right to keep and bear arms. If elected, he will oppose the Obama administration, House leadership, and anyone or anything else that threatens Americans’ freedoms. He is not interested in scoring political points—he will fight to restore our Constitution, for Texas, for our district, and for our liberties.

We need a candidate who is accountable, transparent, and passionate for the cause of freedom—and that candidate is Ben Streusand.

Regards,

Rachel Clark

Editor-in-Chief

 
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Too Many Ribbons, Too Little Time: No-Show Babin Strikes Again

Rachel Clark : May 10, 2014 8:31 pm : Columns, News, Politics, Rachel

Babin withdrew his scheduled presence at the Tri-County Tea Party's forum (presumably to avoid debating his opponent) for a ribbon-cutting elsewhere.

Babin withdrew his scheduled presence at the Tri-County Tea Party’s forum (presumably to avoid debating his opponent) for a ribbon-cutting elsewhere.

For the fourth time, congressional candidate Brian Babin cancelled a scheduled public appearance —a move that is frustrating Tea Party supporters who want to hear both sides of the race.

Hosted by the Tri-County Tea Party, the May 12th event has been planned for months. Babin withdrew from the event with only a few days to spare. The cancellation has disappointed many of his supporters, undecided voters planning on attending, and particularly the group’s members, who continue to point out the investments of time and money that were poured into the now-futile event.

The Tea Party’s leader, Aubrey Vaughn, noted that the spaghetti dinner and forum has been in the works for over three months; the Tea Party had contacted the campaigns in early to mid-April, when both of them confirmed their presence at the event.

Babin’s campaign contacted the Tea Party on Friday—three days before the event—and deserted the group for a ribbon cutting in less challenging territory.

“He’s a fair-weather debater,” said Lynn, a Lumberton resident, “He can’t hold his own against Streusand and he seems to know it.”

“Is this becoming of someone who wants to serve? The issue here is above politics. People attending these events are not just his opponent’s supporters, they are his very own. There are still undecided voters who have made it a point to attend events where he hasn’t shown up,” said a spokesperson for the Tri-County Tea Party.

Many of Babin’s supporters maintain that it’s a commonplace scheduling conflict, not an unusual occurrence considering the hectic lifestyles of politicians up for election. Others are suspecting a pattern.

“It’s the fourth time a public event like this one has been cancelled. Is it just me, or is Dr. Babin afraid to face his opponent?” said Elizabeth.

The four cancellations have not only earned Dr. Babin the nickname “No-Show Brian,” but have also been described as a “near dereliction of duty” inappropriate for the “real East-Texan” image that his campaign has been desperately attempting to convey.

Meanwhile, Mr. Vaughn explained that the show must go on: Mr. Streusand is intending to keep his commitment and will still make an appearance despite Dr. Babin’s last-minute decision.

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Babin vs. Streusand: on Obamacare

Rachel Clark : May 8, 2014 12:22 pm : Columns, News, Politics, Rachel

ben streusand

Streusand speaking at the Texas Tea Party Tax Day event on 4/16/14

“Obamacare is not about improved health care or cheaper insurance or better treatment or insuring the uninsured, and it never has been about that. It’s about statism. It’s about expanding the government. It’s about control over the population. It is about everything but health care,” said conservative paragon Rush Limbaugh.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has been one of the most divisive political issues of all time. Even before the 2008 presidential campaign, the PPACA began polarizing Washington and establishing an even greater precedent for redistribution in healthcare—and ultimately, in nearly every area of life.

Republican leadership has often bowed to democrats on the issue, even after regaining control of the House in 2010. Despite being in relatively early stages of enactment, Obamacare’s morally unconscionable mandates, exorbitant taxes, and crippling regulations are motivating taxpayers around the nation to reconsider their choices on the ballot and to search for bold representatives who will challenge the damaging law.

With congressional candidates Ben Streusand and Brian Babin in a May 27 runoff, voters in Texas Congressional District 36 are seeking a representative who will fight the healthcare debacle at every turn. Babin has made it evident that not only will he yield to corrupt house leadership, he also merely wants to superficially alter the democrat’s pet project.

“Redistribution and centralization are two powerful poisons, detrimental to freedom and economic progress in even small quantities,” said one Lumberton voter, “Obamacare should be weakened and diluted everywhere possible, but the only thing that will spare the United States is a complete defunding or a full repeal.” 

Babin’s constant promise to “pull the teeth out of Obamacare”—signifying that instead of repealing or defunding the law he wants to salvage a trainwreck—pales in comparison to Streusand’s fiery vow to fight Obamacare even when it means political retaliation. 

“Obamacare is having a real and lasting impact—one of totalitarianism and government control. Future generations are going to be faced with our mistakes, trapped in a quagmire of state dictates. We have precious little time left before a full repeal is possible. It doesn’t matter if a representative will vote for defunding or repeal, what matters is if they will actively seek to achieve this end and if they are willing to fight for this cause,” said Sharon Clark, a home schooling mom deeply involved in the political sphere.

As Clark pointed out, a superficial alteration in a draconian regulatory fiasco accomplishes little and demonstrates a deep weakness in the Republican Party.

“I will pull the teeth out of Obamacare,” Babin repeatedly claims, saying little else other than that he “knows” what he’s talking about because he’s a dentist.

Streusand, on the other hand, has intensely affirmed his willingness to fight for a complete repeal, no matter the political or personal consequences.

“America needs a full repeal,” Streusand said, unafraid to back up his words and oppose the House establishment.

“The first vote I’ll make in the House will be against Speaker John Boehner,” he added, in contrast with Babin’s weak statement claiming he will not “attack fellow Republicans.”

Overall, a promise to “pull the teeth out of Obamacare” and a refusal to “attack fellow Republicans” sends a signal that Babin is hesitant to fight for what his campaign ads say he believes in.

“I truly decided to support Streusand when I heard him say that when or if he goes to Washington, he intends to step on a lot of toes and irritate a lot of people. A few minutes later, Babin spoke and explained how he wouldn’t ‘attack fellow Republicans,’” said Jill, who lives in Lumberton.

Obamacare is still very much an issue with southeast Texans—Houston’s impressively numerous medical facilities lead the nation in technology and research, yet Obamacare threatens to suppress the innovation that makes up a large portion of CD 36’s economy. Working families, young entry-level workers, and the elderly alike have a personal stake in supporting Streusand, who fiercely opposes PPACA and its principles.

Ronald Reagan proclaimed that socialism would be left on the ash heap of history—while Babin is apparently reluctant to cross House leadership and discard one of socialism’s primary introductory laws, Streusand is not only willing to do so, but fighting for full repeal. Voters are more than likely going to make the distinction on May 27.

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District 36: Texas Needs a Champion

Rachel Clark : May 4, 2014 4:18 pm : Columns, News, Politics, Rachel

Texas Congressional District 36Congressional District 36’s runoff between Ben Streusand and Brian Babin is the subject of controversial and acrimonious debate. Whilst Babin supporters decry Streusand as a furtive finagler and “Washington insider” set on “buying” a House seat, Babin is lauded as a honest East Texan who has spent most of his life within the arbitrarily drawn district lines which allegedly bear cultural and ideological significance. (Or so say Babin’s supporters, who impute these qualities to the administrative borders.)

Meanwhile, Streusand—who has spent two decades studying political figures, honing his debate skills, probing into laissez-faire economics, and working with the conservative organization Americans for Prosperity—is not only underestimated, but attacked for qualities and experience worthy only of praise.

Supporters attempt to portray Babin as a working man’s hero and a conservative steady. Babin is an honorable man, and as far as ideology and policy goes, a fairly faithful conservative. However, there does seem to be more to the story.

While it’s clear that Babin isn’t comparable to Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, or Eric Cantor (any such comparisons or attacks are merely speculation), research makes evident that Streusand is the more dependable and strategic of the two—and as a plus, Streusand’s economic knowledge makes him a firm favorite from a Misesian standpoint.

True to the last

Babin and Streusand hold many things in common; in the past both of them have had governmental leadership positions, but the similarity ends there—these men responded to their roles in dramatically varied manners.

Appointed in 2002, Streusand served on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and in 2011 became a member of the Texas Pre-Paid Higher Tuition Fund’s board of directors. Raising taxes a total of six times—and on one occasion by as much as 187%—Babin apparently betrayed his conservative principles during his time as Woodville’s mayor, city councilman, and later as a member of the Lower Neches Valley Authority.

As far as policy, positions, political actions, and votes go, the Babin camp can find nothing substantial with which to attack Streusand—who can best be described as “true to the last.”

Only a pea shooter?

In matters of economic knowledge and ideological thought, Streusand holds a strong advantage over Babin. Economic arguments will be at least one crucial factor in these candidates’ effectiveness in Congress, equipping them with the ideological strength they need to oppose Washington’s debacles. Sending a man with little or no economic knowledge to Congress is like sending a soldier armed with a pea shooter into enemy territory.

Streusand, as his volunteers are quick to add, places a high priority on explaining why he believes what he believes. Well-versed in 20th and 21st-century free enterprise economists, he is familiar with not only Misesian theory but the Austrian School of Economics, Adam Smith’s theories of capitalism, and likely the most relevant Washington issue, the ins and outs of the Federal Reserve. He is well-equipped for the hostile environment in the House.

Principles should not be whimsically accepted, but carefully considered and adopted when reason and morality point that direction. Streusand is the one candidate who appears to have a tangible, logical reason for everything that he supports and additionally, an argument to defend his logic. In campaign speeches and elsewhere, he points to economic concepts, principles of Common Law, and God-given rights that define his standpoints.

image

The Constitution is not the reason for conservatism, nor should it be treated like one: it’s the supporting evidence for the real reason, and a restraining order for those who would ignore it.

Meanwhile, Babin points to “constitutional” rights and constitutional rights alone. If a piece of paper (albeit an important one) is the one thing that defines Brian Babin’s arguments and political views, it does not bode well for his potential constituents. Constitutional arguments have severe limits: chronological, practical, and logical. Men are fallible and don’t last forever. The same goes for their documents—it’s one reason why conservatives cannot live on Constitutional arguments alone. As a result, Babin would likely be short work in a House floor debate.

The Law of Association

Finally, the political “Law of Association” gives one last contrast between Babin and Streusand: endorsements, supporters, and issues. Who endorses a candidate, who supports a candidate, what issues the campaign brings up, and how the candidates attack the other reveals a plenitude of between-the-lines political knowledge.

The Beaumont Enterprise is head over heels in love with this man's ideology. If Babin is what he claims to be, what does the Enterprise see in him that's worthy of an endorsement?

The Beaumont Enterprise is head over heels in love with this man’s ideology. If Babin is what he claims to be, what does the Enterprise see in him that’s worthy of an endorsement?

For instance, in 2008 the Beaumont Enterprise endorsed Barack Obama, the most left-leaning U.S. President of all time. In 2012, they endorsed democrat Max Martin for Congressional District 36, the same seat in question on May 27. It should raise a red flag—or perhaps several—that in 2014, the publication has endorsed Brian Babin and is willing to show shameless bias in his favor.

Babin has an impressively lengthy list of endorsements, but there’s nothing impressive about the content.

On the other hand, faithful conservative organizations with prestigious endorsements have shown sincere support for Streusand: Gun Owners of America, Texas Alliance for Life, Pro-Life Nation, and the Texas Home School Coalition are only a few of the reliable nationally operative organizations that have stood behind Streusand and his liberty-oriented positions on gun rights, abortion, and education (to name a few).

Babin attacks Streusand for the location of his residence; Streusand attacks Babin for tax increases and ideological flaws. Babin plays to partisan emotions when he calls Streusand an “outsider” for living outside district lines and an “insider” for having economic and political experience; Streusand appeals to those interested in real and relevant issues. What a candidate attacks is the inverse of what he will defend. Going by what his campaign attacks, Babin seems to have adopted a formula for increasing political tension and strengthening establishment cliques. Streusand, however, should be commended for refraining from personal attacks and focusing on only Babin’s policy blunders.

Good, Better, Best

With even allegedly “conservative” legislators bowing at the altar of cronyism, with lawmakers yielding to the forces of government oppression, and with even the people’s advocates surrendering to corruption and despair, Texas needs a champion to represent the people of District 36. On May 27th, it’s important that you vote not only for a good man, but for the better man—vote for Ben Streusand.

 

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“Good” is the Enemy of the Constitution

Rachel Clark : April 29, 2014 4:16 pm : Politics, Rachel

An open door is accessible from both directions: that's why legislators shouldn't venture into unconstitutional jurisdictions, not even for "good" legislation.

An open door is accessible from both directions: that’s why lawmakers shouldn’t venture into unconstitutional jurisdictions, not even for “good” legislation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a momentous difference between a good bill and a constitutional bill; when legislators cannot distinguish which is which, the situation quickly morphs into something like our own.

In the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate, there are truckloads of technically “good” bills vying for attention: many are ideologically correct, display excellent policy choices, and may offer solid plans to lessen or eliminate problems state and local governments face.

However, these “good” bills have a fatal problem: their unconstitutionality. The fact that they accomplish nationwide education reforms or that they realign the states’ spending priorities is never enough to justify the fact that they are wandering into unconstitutional jurisdictions, creating an even more centralized government.

No matter if the proposed legislation proposes to accomplish a worthy goal, a centralized flaw defeats the very purpose of this “good” legislation.

When states bow down to agreeable federal laws, like nullifying all state gun control laws, banishing all varieties of dysfunctional state bureaucracies, or even amending home schooling rules, the enacted federal laws will eventually change—perhaps even to the polar opposite—but the jurisdiction Washington secured for itself will never change hands.

If the federal government forces a new policy on the states once, it can change it twice. The only difference may be that for the first time, the states agreed and that for the second, they had no choice. If the federal government declared that all states must abolish, for instance, laws prohibiting open carry, it can just as well use its newly acquired jurisdiction to declare that all states must prohibit open carry.

Federal interference in state laws opens a door that can be approached from either direction.

Even if California’s pesky “Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment” was wiped off the face of the earth through a federal law, the jurisdiction goes both ways—the federal government thereby sets a precedent that central jurisdiction supersedes local powers in such-and-such area.

This does not bode well for states or local governments. If originally the federal government did something appropriate policy-wise, the jurisdiction it obtained by interfering in state matters is jurisdiction that it can just as easily abuse for the worst.

Even if you agree with the policy behind a federal law—for instance, maybe one that nullifies all state gun control laws—the means by which this policy is achieved is unconstitutional and inherently unpredictable.

The flipside to federal legislation is that once the federal government accumulates a power, it will never let it go, like a sinking boat taking on water. (Like a sinking boat, a central government with too much power will sink.)

Conservatives, even if they are voting for “good” legislation, should be wary of anything that hijacks jurisdiction from the states. Jurisdiction that the states sacrificed for “good” federal legislation will be altered, abused, twisted, and contorted to benefit the legislators and lobbyists, leaving the states with neither the jurisdiction or the policy for which they abjured their authority.

Nationwide laws can be “good.” But more often than not, they are still proponents of centralization and an enormous threat to states’ rights and the people’s power. Those who give up states’ rights for a “good” piece of legislation not only deserve neither, but in the end, they will have neither. 

 

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The Right to Work: Reserved for Adults?

Rachel Clark : April 15, 2014 7:26 pm : Columns, Laissez-Faire Extraordinaire, Politics, Rachel

All legislation sends a message. American child labor laws send a clear one: everyone under the age of 18 needs to be protected from the capitalist exploitation known as “work.”

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt during the Great Depression; it restricts working hours, occupations, and employers for all children under 12, almost all teens from ages 13-16, and most teens from 16-18. Only industries that had strong lobbying institutions in the 1930s were spared: some branches of agriculture, congressional pages, newspaper deliverers, and a few other minor employment opportunities.

great depression lines

One reason why child labor was suddenly demonized in the 30s was so adults would have a better chance at getting work. Washington’s solution was the FLSA, and as a result children and adults suffered.

As with most left-leaning restrictions, regulations, and redistribution schemes, child labor laws seem morally justified, sound in principle, and even an escape for youngsters trapped in what at first glance appears to be an eternal cycle of low-level education and subsequent low wages.

Legislation like the FLSA, however, is an example of symbolism over substance, a law chasing a trend, and an attention-seeking Washington attempting to take credit for a pre-existing societal shift. By 1930 only 6.4% of males and a diminutive 2.9% of females under the age of eighteen worked, indicating something that economists have been trying to explain to labor regulators for decades: parents and children usually make the best economic decisions for themselves. One-size-fits-all legislation like the FLSA usually fits no one and inhibits the very progress that makes it possible for a child or teen to support himself or herself and achieve success.

Still a divisive issue in 2014, child labors laws have elicited much argument in the past, including Rep. Fritz G. Lanham’s satirical 1924 argument against the FLSA:

Consider the Federal agent in the field; he toils not, nor does he spin; and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his populous household was not arrayed with powers like one of these.

Children, obey your agents from Washington, for this is right.

Honor thy father and thy mother, for the Government has created them but a little lower than the Federal agent. Love, honor, and disobey them.

Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, tell it to thy father and mother and let them do it.

Six days shalt thou do all thy rest, and on the seventh day thy parents shall rest with thee.

Go to the bureau officer, thou sluggard; consider his ways and be idle.

Toil, thou farmer’s wife; thou shalt have no servant in thy house, nor let thy children help thee.

And all thy children shall be taught of the Federal agent, and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Thy children shall rise up and call the Federal agent blessed.

Lanham’s opposition to child labor laws was well-founded.

 

Good, Better, and Best

“Child labor laws sound great when you hear the talking points and look into the harsh reality of teens and children left with no other decision but to work, in historical context or even in today’s world,” said Steven, a young Lumberton resident, “But it’s a question of good, better, and best: if your alternatives were either to starve, to work at a farm for very low wages, or to work in a factory for sufficient (albeit still low) wages, which would you pick? If going to school meant starvation, would you still want to ban child labor?”

Situations vary drastically. Child labor laws cannot accommodate the millions of unique children, thousands of industries, hundreds of education levels, and the inimitable factors that combine to create a child’s or teen’s lifestyle. While a teen may have poor discernment, they understand that survival trumps education. (Not to mention that in third world countries, education is expensive, rare, and typically of low quality in the first place).

David Roodman explains:

We are all descendants of children who survived to adulthood only by laboring, whether as farmers or herders or gatherers. Only with their labor could the family subsist. I look forward to the day when there is no child on earth for whom this is the best choice. But we are not there yet. And we are not as close as you might think. Going by the numbers, the world has made great progress getting kids into school … how quick should we be to tell parents struggling under circumstances far different from our own what the right choice is?…

Self-interest is a crucial factor that makes child labor laws unnecessary and little more than a symbolic burden on the American teenage population. Getting a job before age 12 in a third world country usually signifies unfortunate circumstances; here it would almost always merely demonstrate a desire to earn a few extra bucks in the summer months. If the situation was genuinely bad enough, would it not be better anyway for a young adult to get a job than to lose everything?

Maybe a teen wants to learn more about his future career, practice a skill, or even just make some money from expertise he already has. In the United States, there is almost never a case where a child needs to support himself: but there are plenty of “underage” folks who want to save up for college and build up an impressive resume before age 20. Every situation is drastically different, and child labor laws are testimonies to the refusal of left-leaning regulators to realize that fact.

When a child or teen decides to start working a job—including in a third world country or developing nation—it may or may not be a good move to make, but it may be the best choice that this child has: child labor laws can limit or destroy these options and make it impossible for young people to get a firm footing on life.

 

Detrimental Symbolism Over Substance

Child labor laws limit options because they work on the assumption that all career choices require the same amount of training and experience. The trade-off might be worth it if the laws actually did something positive; however, they were not responsible for the drop in American child labor nor do they accomplish anything beneficial in today’s economy.

In other words, child labor laws are a complete flop and little more than a symbolic attempt to show that Washington “cares” about children in desperate situations. Oddly enough, Congress and FDR saw fit to eliminate some children’s best option during the Great Depression to show that they “cared.” Adopting child labor laws denies the fact that there are situations wherein a job before the age of 16-18 is the best option, and ignoring such circumstances exist is a demonstration of either callous disregard or deliberate ignorance.

From 1820 to 1930 child labor became prevalent, peaked, and then plummeted to almost nothing—all before the FLSA and without restrictions on labor. United States child labor laws were nothing but symbolic.

In “State Child Labor Laws and the Decline of Child Labor” (Explorations in Economic History) Carolyn Moehling explains that the employment rate of 13-year olds around the beginning of the twentieth century did decline in states that enacted age minimums of 14, but so did the rates for 13-year olds not covered by the restrictions. Overall, laws are linked to only a small fraction of the decline in child labor.

1930s family at home

A sample of what leftists are fond of calling “the masses,” circa 1930.

Curiously, the children “of the masses”—the commoners, the general public—had more money, more luxuries, more food, longer lifespans, more access to medical care, more clothing, and more education than any generation preceding them. The aristocracy has generally had the most access to education in almost all given historical settings, but in America, things were changing. The increased economic activity and burgeoning scientific discoveries of the late 19th century and early 20th century were giving children and teens not only a chance to survive, but a place to work and time to study. Somehow it happened without child labor laws.

The FLSA was scarcely a contributing reason for the drastic reduction and practical elimination of child labor between 1880 and 1940. Economists attribute the drop in child labor to economic growth (which brought rising incomes, shorter hours, and larger schools) and industrialization. It allowed parents the financial luxury of keeping their children and teens out of the workforce, away from the farm, and instead in school.

The statistics prove that capitalism, not child labor laws, ended the fifty-year reign of child labor in the United States. Apparently these laws offer no benefits and nothing but detriment.

 

Child Labor Around the World: the Left’s Hypocrisy

Is communism the answer to the alleged problem of child labor? Judging by North Korea, it's about as far as you can get from a solution.

Is communism the answer to the alleged problem of child labor? Judging by North Korea, it’s about as far as you can get from a solution.

While the Socialist Labor Party of America is adamant that “Child Labor [is] Still America’s Shame,” the fact is that the United States has one of the lowest child labor rates in the world. It was heading towards that ranking even before the FLSA was made law. This can be attributed to American free markets (currently our economic system most resembles interventionism, not laissez-faire capitalism) and technological innovation.

Daniel De Leon, an American socialist, said that “Socialism alone is the remedy for child labor.” Not to burst his bubble, but the worst child labor offenders in the world are socialist states, communist regimes, or outright dictatorships, where children are not banned from jobs but are instead required to work: North Korea, China, Cuba, Somalia, Ethiopia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan have the largest child workforces, for example.

Communists, socialists, and most left-leaning political parties have stolen the moral high ground, claiming that they oppose child labor and will pass laws to stop it. In reality they mean that they do not oppose child labor, but rather children working for the private sector. They will stifle or abolish private property, employment, and salaries to prevent this “atrocity”.

While banning child labor can actually place children in even worse situations than they were already in, forcing a teen or child to work—as communists are fond of doing—is much more devastating. Families split up, teens are abandoned altogether, and children are left to fend for themselves. Mandating labor requirements always has terrible aggregate results.

In the United States, children are not allowed to make the choice to work. In North Korea, however, the situation is inverted: work is required by law. State control over this delicate and formative life decision is a violation of inherent rights either way.

 

Quality Education?

One excuse for the lobbyist-motivated child labor ban is so that “our youth can receive a quality education.” This is no reason to restrict nearly all young adults under age 18 from working. Some children graduate early—maybe even by age 14—and are left with a few years of nothing before they head to college. Others have plans for occupations like leather-working, carpentry, or plumbing, and while a “quality education” is important to finish, there’s not a reason they cannot practice their craft for pay.

building workshop

Child labor laws make it well nigh impossible for young adults to practice or learn new crafts.

While Washington may not be creative enough to think of situations wherein it is possible to both work a part-time job and attend school at the same time, students are. Despite the fact, it’s still illegal.

A summer job can be better education than schooling, and in some cases manual labor is very convincing to pre-teens and teens who don’t feel motivated to do well in school or get a college degree. Child labor laws ignore this, making it impossible for students who are ahead, graduated early, need experience in their future field, or a slight motivation to study harder to avoid a lifetime of drudgery.

A “quality education” sometimes needs to include hands-on opportunities and the responsibilities that come with a job. Child labor laws are there to ensure that no such thing happens.

 

A Question of Morals

Many people support child labor laws for understandable moral reasons—perhaps out of concern for the teen or child (probably the biggest worry) and concern for the situations that might have driven them to employment.

If there was a situation so dire that a person under the age of 18 was seeking employment, consider this: if the situation is so bad that they are needing to support themselves, what good would it do to ban the employment option?

It is not the question of morals so much as it is the question itself. Allowing each individual and family a choice is infinitely better than guessing the majority’s decision and making other options criminal.

Young adults deserve the option of getting an after-school or summer job, working through an internship or apprenticeship, and even getting a part-time job to test career and industry options.

Young adults deserve the option of getting an after-school or summer job, working through an internship or apprenticeship, and even getting a part-time job to test career and industry options.

In desperate settings, child labor laws only tie the hands of young adults. In other circumstances—like a summer or after-school job—the law only serves to prevent good things from happening, which leads to an important issue: the work ethic.

 

 

The Work Ethic

“What lesson do we impart with child-labor laws? We establish early on who is in charge: not individuals, not parents, but the state. We tell the youth that they are better off being mall rats than fruitful workers. We tell them that they have nothing to offer society until they are 18 or so. We convey the impression that work is a form of exploitation from which they must be protected … We rob them of what might otherwise be the most valuable early experiences of their young adulthood,” said Jeffery Tucker.

Work is not exploitation, but child labor laws assume that it is: it engenders an entitlement mindset, and as Tucker mentioned, it does send a message that young people are worthless until they “are 18 or so.”

Responsibilities, schedules, deadlines, etiquette, and customs of the business world are only a few things that a part-time job could teach a young adult. Junior high or high school students searching for career options, wondering where they would do well, or questioning their prospective degree choices can benefit much from interning, getting a part-time job, or even just working at a fast food joint. Any and all work experience contributes to influence another employer that a worker is worth hiring.

Empty resumes are rarely noticed, and when it’s illegal to add anything until you’re past 16 years of age it can be difficult to accumulate enough experience to know where to go with life in time to make a decision about college.

 

Economic Loss

You're wrong, Mr. President.

You’re wrong, Mr. President.

President Obama refers to child labor laws as an example of “common sense rules of the road that strengthen our country without unduly interfering with the pursuit of progress and the growth of our economy.” Interference in the right to work and the right to hire is far from a “common sense” economic policy that strengthens the nation.

“Neither 16 or 18 are magic numbers—they are arbitrary limits thought up by regulators. ‘Child’ labor laws exclude vast portions of our population from the labor market, preventing young adults from being paid for their services and thus entirely eliminating the profit motive, meaning that most work is off-limits and the jobs available are voluntary. It should be no surprise to us that teens stay at home all summer and play video games,” said an anonymous Texas policy analyst, “The innovation and competition that young adults could bring to the workforce is lost to Mario Brothers because of ‘child’ labor laws.”

 

The Last Word

Child labor laws allegedly protect young people from ruthless employers. Reality, however, is a different matter.

On one end of the spectrum, youngsters who might face difficult financial situations or other circumstances are left with few options. Eliminating employment or limiting hours when a job is likely the only way out is hardly a good way to help them out.

On the other hand is a young adult maybe not dealing with extenuating circumstances but merely trying to earn money, find experience, or decide what to do with life, and “child” labor laws bring out the worst in all of these situations.

It may seem that the FLSA and other labor regulations brought an end to an era of child labor, but again, it was the state chasing a trend to sway popular opinion and bolster public support, not society bowing to the state. Laissez-faire capitalism did not create child labor on its own, but the free market ultimately ended the practice—not the state.

The largely symbolic child labor laws in the United States limit economic progress and innovation, harm the work ethic, and on top of that send a message of worthlessness to young adults—it’s long past time to do away with the FLSA and its kind.

Washington tells “worthless” young adults to wait for employment and refuse legal payment for services. Young adults should tell Washington to either cut it out or get out.

 

 

 

 

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Totalitarianism: the New American Disease

Rachel Clark : April 10, 2014 7:38 am : Laissez-Faire Extraordinaire, Politics, Rachel

Americans conquered this creature; can they defeat totalitarianism?

Americans conquered this creature; can they defeat totalitarianism?

“From colonial times until the 1940s, malaria was the American disease,” said the late Dr. Robert Desowitz, an expert in medical parasitology. From prehistoric days to the baby boomer generation, malaria (also known as yellow fever) claimed more victims than any other infectious disease. The medieval and colonial eras—replete with bogus science little more than old wives’ tales, abominable sanitary and hygienic precautions, and hazardously overcrowded cities—were conducive to outbreaks like the infamous 1793 Philadelphia epidemic.

Virtually eliminating the threat that malaria once posed, many crucial medical and scientific advancements would have never existed had the 18th-century United States government imposed requirements for malaria treatment—the untimely intrusion would have swamped healthcare progress and scientific efforts. Whether from malicious motivations or the commendable desire to keep citizens healthy, regulation means more malaria and no progress, universal detriment to humanity and the consistent result of government attempting to make health mandatory.

Arch_Street_FerryIn the space of four months in 1793, malaria killed over 5,000 Philadelphians. The scientific consensus prompted diagnoses of the imbalanced humors phlegm, choler, bile, and blood. Revolutionary War hero Dr. Benjamin Rush hypothesized that street stenches disequilibrated the humors and sparked the outbreak; city government attempted to lessen the odoriferousness of the rudimentary sewage systems. Not surprisingly, the city’s misinformed efforts left malaria unchecked.

This raises an important question: what if an equally misinformed 1793 equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had become involved in ending the epidemic?

At the time, most doctors employed ineffective herbal tea to treat yellow fever; others found more jeopardizing medicines. Known as the “prince of bleeders”, politically connected Dr. Rush staunchly advocated a mercury and jalap poison purge for curing the rampant disease.

Assuming that a 1793 FDA was possible, and that the likes of Dr. Rush would not overthrow the tyrannical institution, the administration would likely approve a poison purge and a few herbal teas.  Other treatments and medicines would wait years for testing before their market debut. Pouring into approved projects aligned with government goals, funding would for centuries crush and “disprove” alternatives.

Locked in interventionist cronies’ stagnant spell, medical science would be forced into stalemate.  If existent at all, progress would inch along at the will and in the shape of government agenda. Government is an unauthorized and incompetent failure when it limits individuals’ health decisions—evidence is ample in Canadian healthcare, capable of working miracles but otherwise smothered in thousands of pages of regulations.

For over 70 years, science has had malaria under its thumb. Clearly state intrusion would have rendered this victory, the easily manufactured pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, unlikely or impossible.

Whether levying taxes on fatty foods, capping the size of sugary drinks, or rejecting new cancer drugs, government has no incentive whatsoever, other than lobbyists’ well-lined wallets, to accept change or innovation. Dr. Joseph Mercola, a popular but controversial proponent of alternative medicine, commented, “The FDA will not protect your health, nor will any other government agency … the government is interested in promoting drug company profits, not promoting your health.” (Mercola)

As John Stossel explains in his recent book, No, They Can’t, “If government ran health care, those advances would slow to a crawl, because governments don’t innovate. They just keep doing what did last year.” (Stossel) Burgeoning medical and scientific knowledge alone considered, a cure for cancer is more likely in 2014 than ever before. The FDA’s tainted scrutinizing, however, is lowering the chances of such a breakthrough.

William Faloon remarked, “A major reason so many cancer patients die today is an antiquated regulatory system that causes effective therapies to be delayed (or suppressed altogether).”  (Faloon) Stossel illustrates why the dawdling regulatory system forms in the first place: caution. Natural hesitance “makes it easy for government to leap in and play the role of protector,” he explains (Stossel). The FDA takes, on average, 12 years to approve a new and potentially life-saving drug. With an average cost of bringing a new drug to market at $1.3 billion, major pharmaceutical companies sometimes pay up to $11 billion in the never-ending quest to appease FDA employees. In twelve years, cancer kills about 91.2 million patients worldwide.

That the dismissive gesture of a bureaucrat’s annoyance and the insidious corruption of a slow-witted agency could be directly responsible for millions of deaths is not only preposterous, but unacceptable. Brenna Liepold, a teenaged cancer victim who died in 2003 at eighteen, lamented: “Modern science cannot offer me a cure …” (Painter). Tragically, Liepold’s death is largely attributable to the FDA’s sluggish approval system. Government involvement in medical science and an individual’s healthcare choice is an intrusion threatening life itself: FDA agents are mere human beings in superhuman positions that entail third-party life-and-death decisions.

yellow_fever1793One can only ponder our national condition had the FDA, with its present jurisdiction and imperium, come into existence 221 years ago. Presupposing that another country’s doctors would not intervene, life expectancy would still be 35 years; disease would be attributed to imbalanced humors; and Philadelphians would still chew garlic and burn gunpowder to ward off yellow fever. All things considered, legislators’ good intentions usually precipitate catastrophic debacles like the FDA. When the state invites itself into one of the most personal matters of life—the health of citizens—the state has adopted compulsory death, disease, and stagnation as official policy.

Ultimately, government overstepping its bounds and taking on the role of supreme health authority is more destructive than all the infected mosquitoes on the planet. Perhaps totalitarianism should be known as the American disease, now that malaria is obsolete in this role. One thing is certain about this ideological affliction resulting in inconceivable physical tragedy: the American people should, with the determination of the dauntless individuals who forced the downfall of malaria’s empire, focus their attention on eradicating and conquering this strain of liberalism forevermore.

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The School Bus to Cuba: Far From Magic

Rachel Clark : April 5, 2014 8:19 pm : News, Politics, Rachel, The Crab Institute

The school bus to Cuba?

The school bus to Cuba?

A dictatorship’s existence hinges on one thing: controlling the people. The most obvious means is through capturing the attention and support of children and teenagers; advocates of big government have been eager to embrace the younger generation, and the chief method by which they can obtain support is through the public education system.

“The plain fact is that education is itself a form of propaganda – a deliberate scheme to outfit the pupil, not with the capacity to weigh ideas, but with a simple appetite for gulping ideas ready-made. The aim is to make ‘good’ citizens, which is to say, docile and uninquisitive citizens,” H.L. Mencken described.

“It may seem conspiratorial to assume that the American education system is involved in a concerted effort to indoctrinate students,” said Jill, a Texas homeschooler, “But every new education ‘reform’ makes it seem less and less like an attempt at political correctness or open-mindedness and more like a deliberate measure to mold the next generation into something only a totalitarian would want.”

With the advent of Common Core and the Department of Education’s centralized debacle, schooling in the United States is going through a metamorphosis which can hardly be described as freedom-friendly.

Creating a compulsory education law is the first step; then comes eliminating alternatives to public education. On a global level, what does a totalitarian education system have in common with the Department of Education?

One of the Nazis’ first moves was to outlaw most youth groups; they replaced them with the mandatory Hitler Youth, an organization that existed for over twenty years and replaced social activity, religion, and sports for many young Germans. The compulsory program claimed an entire generation for its own.

When the Soviets took over East Germany after World War II, “right away, the Soviet occupation force banned private kindergartens …” as Anne Applebaum described in her book, Iron Curtain. Rewriting history textbooks was the next move (after snagging all of the toddlers and sending a great deal of “fascist” teachers, who refused to teach Marxism-Leninism, to the Gulag or leftover concentration camps).

The Soviets, quite literally, hijacked any and all youth gatherings within its territory. When the Hungarian Catholic youth group Kalot, a popular alternative to Madisz, (its state-run counterpart) refused to yield control to the communists, its leaders were arrested and sentenced to labor camp.

Chinese education is described as having “no distinction” between propaganda and indoctrination—and the state keeps a tight grip on children and teenagers, giving them a carefully thought-out diet of propaganda and political rallies from their first day in school.

In Cuba, one of the first moves after the Revolution was to nationalize all schools. The Communist Party of Cuba created the Unión de Pioneros de Cuba” (Union of Pioneers of Cuba). Without joining the Pioneros, Cuban children cannot attend school—furthermore, schools encourage students to turn in their parents if they overheard a conversation about government or other “illegal” activity.

The list of seized education systems could go on.

“The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education,” said Albert Einstein. Especially in light of Common Core, most schooling, particularly social studies and liberal arts, is little more than rote drill, regurgitated speculation, and reformulated history. If anything can get in the way of learning, it would be forcing students to memorize nonessential information—and particularly since academic success and the student’s career are contingent on doing well on said standardized test.

Texas would do well to back out of the entirety of the federal education system, although that is well nigh politically impossible.

Leftists know well that few forces can eliminate the resistance like a dictator-friendly mandatory education system. President Barack Obama can be justifiably classified as a leftist, but he still does not qualify as a dictator; the federal government’s education system may be sympathetic to communism and nauseatingly politically correct, but it is not comparable to the “Union of Pioneers” just yet, though it must be noted that there are plenty of similarities between the two systems.

However, that does not mean that parents, students, and citizens should not keep an eye out (government thrives on neglect), nor does it mean that the federal education system does not have the potential to follow Cuba’s example.

While D.C.’s attempt at education is a miserable failure in an academic sense, it is far from conspiratorial to say that bureaucrats and left-leaning special interests groups have been successful. The school bus to Cuba may take a while to get there (it isn’t magic, after all) but for sure it’s on its way.

If Texas is to remain free, public education must be kept under close watch. At this stage in the game, the best thing for children and their freedoms might be to abolish the current system altogether.

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Federal Jurisdiction: Not Everything Should Be Bigger in Texas

Rachel Clark : April 1, 2014 8:02 am : Columns, Laissez-Faire Extraordinaire, Politics, Rachel

Motiva, also known as the Port Arthur Refinery, is the largest on the continent and is the seventh-largest refinery in the world. (Photo credit Beaumont Enterprise.)

Motiva, also known as the Port Arthur Refinery, is the largest on the continent and is the seventh-largest refinery in the world. (Photo credit Beaumont Enterprise.)

It’s a commonly quoted fact that Texas, if it were a sovereign nation, would have the 14th largest economy in the world, coming in immediately behind Russia, Canada, Australia, and India. Listed as one of the top four industries in the state, the energy industry’s activity has contributed a great deal of the crucial jobs, capital, and innovation required for the state to achieve such a ranking.

However, energy success is in spite of Washington: federal regulators are waging war against Texas energy and the higher standard of living, lower prices, and greater efficiency it brings about. Put simply, many environmental regulations are a bureaucratic tip of the hat to the free market’s enemies.

With a friendly business climate and moderate taxation, Texas has experienced surprising prosperity—even through the recession in 2008—and continues to grow despite federal interference. Like the Keystone Pipeline, job-creating energy projects are numerous in Texas (the oil and gas capital of the United States) but the federal government halts, stifles, over-regulates, and heavily taxes such efforts.

In 2012, the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) reported that the oil and gas industry employed 379,800 people in 2012; Texas added the most new jobs in the oil and gas industry in the first half of 2012, rising by 34,600. Two of the world’s ten biggest refineries are in Southeast Texas, and the state leads the nation in crude oil production and refining.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a grossly unconstitutional bureaucracy influenced not by reality but by far-flung special interests groups, leads the assault on Texas energy. For instance, the EPA forced the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule on Texas because of a hypothetical connection between the state’s emissions and a pollution monitor in Granite City, Illinois. The costs of complying add up to $2.4 billion every year—for that rule alone. Commentators were of the opinion that the EPA was “picking on Texas.”

Greenhouse gas regulations influenced many manufacturers to scale back expansion projects because of the compliance costs. Recent ozone standards will likely kill 7.3 million jobs by 2020 and on top of that will add over $1 trillion in regulatory costs per year. Estimates put the costs at hundreds of thousands of jobs.

The Las Brisas Energy Center in Corpus Christi, a project of Chase Power, closed because of the “insurmountable regulatory framework erected by the EPA,” as the Washington Times reports Chase Power CEO Dave Freysinger saying. The regulation destroyed around 3,900 prospective Texas jobs. The ditched project is not an isolated incident.

“The Las Brisas Energy Center is a victim of EPA’s concerted effort to stifle solid-fuel energy facilities in the U.S., including EPA’s carbon-permitting requirements and EPA’s New Source Performance Standards for new power plants,” he continued, “These costly rules exceeded the bounds of EPA authority, incur tremendous costs, and produce no real benefits related to climate change.”

The damage done by the EPA on Texas jobs and state prosperity is incalculable; it has little foundation in science; and even assuming that the science was correct, the harmful regulations would do little to stop pollution or “climate change.”

Enemies of the free market may not be concerned about the environment, but they are interested in crippling the remnants of free nation and backhanding American energy prices. The question at hand is not one of clean air, but of freedom: does government control really help anything? Look to Chernobyl.

The EPA may be well-intentioned, but more than likely not. Controlling the energy sector is the easiest way to get a grip on the economy; extreme leftists are aware of that. It’s a handy foot-in-the-door trick that makes it possible, nay, likely that more controls can be placed on other industries. Texas cannot stand for this. While legislation like the REINS Act and the American Energy Renaissance Act (introduced by Texas Senator Ted Cruz) will definitely relieve the energy sector’s regulatory nightmare, in the end the answer lies in abolishing the agency itself.

Nearly everything is bigger in Texas, but unemployment lines, electricity bills, gas prices, and federal jurisdiction should have an exemption.

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Alter or Abolish: the Right of the People

Rachel Clark : March 29, 2014 3:13 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

Most Americans take for granted that there should be government, but few ever wonder why government exists in the first place: to protect rights.

The current size and scope of our highly centralized federal government does not fit within the justification for its existence. Washington is involved in nearly every aspect of the private sector, from regulating projects like the Keystone Pipeline to subsidizing 2% organic milk to educating children. Entire agencies have been formed to promote scientific advances and artistic endeavors, to increase the efficiency of engines, and even to force dietary standards on the public.

While eventually these functions are deemed as the government’s duty and even declared necessary, irreplaceable state tasks, the medicine of interventionism is a useless placebo, offering nothing but ills and more ills: rampant cronyism, unabashed corruption, and an unnecessary regulatory system, to name a few.

Washington's intrusions have gone too far. It's time to alter or abolish the governmental institutions that are no longer in existence to protect rights, but to deny them.

Washington’s intrusions have gone too far. It’s time to alter or abolish the governmental institutions that are no longer in existence to protect rights, but to deny them.

The federal government has long refused to recognize the right to life. It has altogether disregarded the right to liberty, as it enforces petty standards and bows at the altar of special interests. With its oppressive and exorbitant taxes (Frederic Bastiat described taxes funding an interventionist state as legal plunder), it denies the right to property—earnings are the physical representation of a man or woman’s work, and the theft of which is a theft of life itself.

In the fray, legislators have lost sight of the ultimate reason for government’s existence: to protect rights. When the state varies its mission statement from this basic message, that is the moment when it ceases to be a legitimate government.

The Declaration of Independence puts it this way, “… whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it …”

For years, citizens have—to no avail—tried to alter the federal government, as did the original thirteen colonies before they severed their ties with Britain in 1776. Not only is Washington no longer involved in protecting rights, it has reversed its proper role.

In the course of human events, there is a time when it becomes necessary for men to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to one another.

For Texas, this time has come. We have every right to proceed.

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Marcus Agrippa and John Valastro

Rachel Clark : March 25, 2014 10:09 am : Columns, News, Politics, Rachel

pantheon

There’s no difference between Marcus Agrippa using slave labor to build the Pantheon and Lumberton officials forcing citizens to pay for a recreation center — except, no offense, Agrippa’s building looks way better.

“There are two ways to conquer and enslave a country. One is by the sword. The other is by debt,” said John Adams, our nation’s second President.

Wallowing in profligate excess, the federal government has done its part to shackle the next dozen generations of Americans to elephantine financial obligations accumulated from decades, almost a century, of politically-motivated interventionist detritus (i.e., Wall Street bailout, the stimulus façade, poverty reduction programs, social security).

Government officials are quick to approve pork-barrel projects—for instance, a recreation of the Pantheon in Lumberton, the sidewalk to nowhere in Kountze, and the Ford Park debacle in Beaumont, all of which are taxpayer-funded, multi-million dollar whims. Legislative bodies from Congress to City Council are hasty to approve lavish budgets that rob Peter to pay Paul, and as the saying goes, these demagogues can count on Paul’s vote.

Put simply, government, no matter how local, has no authority to construct domes, theaters, towers, or contrived projects like bike trails in rural Southeast Texas, because as John Locke explained and as Thomas Jefferson believed, life, liberty, and property are intertwined rights. When one of them is absent or curtailed, the others are also threatened.

Property rights are in mangled condition, considering the federal government is run by Keynesians—but this means more than just citizens are losing money.

Earning money takes time: when money is taken, time itself has been stolen. Property is an extension of the earner’s being. When government decides to take such-and-such percentage (all taxes added up, this could mean a nearly 75% rate), a citizen has lost jurisdiction of days, weeks, months of his time—and if anything, this is an encroachment on the right to life and liberty itself.

Using tax dollars to construct a Performing Theater Arts Center is no different from Marcus Agrippa using slave labor to build the Pantheon—a legal theft of a man or woman’s time.

Municipal, county, and federal governments tossing around a million here and a billion there seems normal these days, but government is entirely incapable of generating revenue on its own. The money so carelessly squandered on special interest grants and insane building projects is not “government” money in any capacity, but private sector funds.

“Government funds” seems official, authoritative, and legitimate, but in reality, “government funds” are nothing more than the product of what French economist Frederic Bastiat called legal plunder: the legally required and protected taking—theft, plunder, pilfering, purloining—of a man’s time and money.

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Recreating the Pantheon

Rachel Clark : March 24, 2014 3:36 pm : Columns, Lumberton Gazette, Politics, Rachel

Lumberton officials want to recreate the Pantheon, but they're so terrible at math that they've started something they cannot possibly finish (without punishing the taxpayers, that is).

Lumberton officials want to recreate the Pantheon, but they’re so terrible at math that they’ve started something they cannot possibly finish (without punishing the taxpayers, that is).

“I call it the Pantheon,” said one Lumberton middle school student, “Its function and design are close enough to the original’s looks and purpose to justify the nomenclature.”

While passers-by and students make quips about the Performing Arts Center and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Dome near Lumberton High School, city officials are faced with a puzzling problem: how to bail out the school’s pet project and extract more funds from financially hard-pressed taxpayers, who are struggling under the burden of exorbitant federal taxes, excessive state taxes, and skyrocketing local rates.

Members of the school board apparently stretched the boundaries of mathematics whenever they accepted the offer of a $3 million grant from FEMA, knowing full well that the project had insufficient funds to even get off the ground.

The Beaumont Enterprise quotes Lumberton ISD Superintendent John Valastro as saying, “When people say, ‘Why did you start something you can’t finish,’ well, I can give you three million reasons.” Taxpayers are fairly sure that none of those three million reasons include private property, future generations, or fiscal responsibility.

The school board decided to proceed without heeding common sense or crunching numbers, and Valastro reasoned that “$3 million from a grant is something we weren’t going to get again.”

While the $3 million covers around 75% (or less) of the dome, it covers only a measly 33% of the total project. Previously city officials and the school board assured citizens that funds were plentiful enough to cover the project.

Lumberton’s botched attempt at recreating the Pantheon is a prime example of first-stage thinking, a theory only thought out to the immediate future; furthermore, it is a pitiful theory relying on ideal conditions and the total absence of setbacks.

The grossly inaccurate initial estimates for the dome were either altered to ease public opinion or were entirely wrong in the first place, and perhaps a combination of both, since it should not be put past the city officials who are proud of the project (and even claim full responsibility for its existence) to downplay the costs of the dome.

If anything, the situation is ironic since it has finally been proven that not even the School Board can understand math.

 

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Non-Essential Information: State-Mandated Liberal Arts

Rachel Clark : March 17, 2014 2:26 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

Van Gogh or George Mitchell?

Van Gogh or George Mitchell?

“Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us,” Martin Luther said.

Indeed, music is a God-given gift for which some among us are specially suited and others are not. Liberal arts are comparable to educational dessert—wonderful but not necessary; living on dessert alone is detrimental to health, just as studying solely art would cripple a nation’s economy, lifestyle, and ironically, its culture.

While music is an educational benefit and aids in spatial, logical, and mathematical thinking processes, and while it can be a beneficial pastime, it can also be a burden on education when it is made a mandatory high school course. Public education currently forces students into studying subjects like pottery, Gregorian chants, impressionist paintings, sculpting materials, and the impact of Pythagorean tonal studies.

Education is training for the remainder of one’s life, and primarily one’s career. Liberal arts may or may not fit into that purpose (the student or parent is the one who decides what the purpose is, and later if “the arts” fit into the purpose) and if a student is unsure of goals, music may be an excellent addition to his or her education—providing for a well-rounded, systematic learning.

However, if a student is not set on getting a liberal arts degree or becoming an artist, musical education could be a massive waste of time, not to mention that in most states, music appreciation and other liberal arts classes are mandatory in high school.

Many students enjoy theater, art classes, and music courses—but just as many struggle, dragging down a grade average with trivialities and mandatory exercises in futility that sometimes have nothing to do with their future.

This isn’t necessarily the bad part. Grade averages are not the measure of a good education, nor is struggling an indication that the course is a poor subject.

Education is not merely about “career” training or attempting to predict what a student should or should not learn for the sake of efficiency—after all, even in Star Trek efficiency-obsessed Spock plays an instrument, even when it offers no benefit for his position as First Officer on the Enterprise. Education is about acquiring knowledge applicable, useful, helpful, or enjoyable in real life.

For many students, school is rarely enjoyable: this is to be expected. Arithmetic, writing, history, and science may be less than entertainment, but usually have much influence on a student’s success in later life. At least in this era, math at a pre-algebra level in particular is necessary (to a degree) in most occupations.

The same cannot be said of liberal arts, subjects that are generally for enjoyment only. But what if you don’t enjoy Van Gogh, Mendelssohn, or liberal arts in general?

Music is wonderful; theater is stunning; art is intriguing; poetry is lovely. While liberal arts are marvelous—and many students intend to make a career of them—many students do not. In a free nation, government cannot dictate requirements for education nor can the state mandate how students should spend their time.

Requiring an art class is much like requiring that students play video games or read comic books: perhaps enjoyable to some and beautiful to others. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but math is math. While tastes in music, paintings, video games, and comic books vary, arithmetic is a constant: math is a skill that some need more than others, but that all need nonetheless.

The millions of jobs in the world today are all mostly necessary, and almost all of them are beneficial; why are liberal arts courses elevated and made mandatory over the thousands of other important skills?

For one, public education is vulnerable to lobbying, and liberal arts lobbyists have well-lined wallets. For two, knowledge of liberal arts is the mark of a well-educated individual. Art galleries and concerts are showy indicators—sometimes false positives—of academic success.

When the state forces all 9th grade students to display a sign of high education, it can draw away from some students’ basic education.

Principles of the specialization of labor also apply to learning. When a student intends to specialize, or already specializes, in a particular skill or activity, spending time on what will likely be irrelevant subjects, like three years of “physical ed” or two years of ceramics, (the subjects in themselves are not bad) becomes a waste of time.

Currently public education requires numerous credits and courses in liberal arts, a gross violation of individual liberty. [Note: the entire public education system is currently set to discourage individual liberty.] The problem is neither in requirements in general or liberal arts: both are fine.

The problem lies with requiring liberal arts, which is borderline insane; mandating that all students take an art course fits in this category. Hours of homework accumulate to form a pill too large to swallow, making it impossible for students to properly prepare for their life goals or work toward thorough learning in a particular area. Sometimes it makes it impossible for them to stay afloat academically, as they become discouraged and give up hope.

State Boards of Education would do well to make liberal arts—subjects like music education, art classes, or theater—optional and allow students more freedom in choosing how they spend high school, since more often than not this is a direct reflection of what and how students will do in college and later in their career. A potential engineering major would likely rather study physics than the polyphonic nature of early Baroque music.

As William Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education, put it,  “The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic…music, dance, painting, and theater are all keys that unlock profound human understanding and accomplishment.”

Mandating culture may mold the next generation into halfway-decent liberal art buffs, but it can and will take a toll on math, science, and technical fields: as it is, students fight to keep up with art history class and a host of other unnecessary politically correct rubbish while scraping by with the bare minimum in chemistry.

Liberal arts are not essential, as Bennett said, but they do unlock aspects of education previously left untouched. The keys should be handed to students and parents, and if they want to venture into liberal arts, allow them—but do not force them.

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Slap Totalitarianism in the Face

Rachel Clark : March 3, 2014 7:38 pm : Politics, Rachel

flag compressed “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors,” said Plato.

Elections are a tricky business—a reoccurring chance for politicians to toss mud at each other after having thrown mud and taxes at the citizens for two, four, or six years. Whilst claiming that entire voter blocs are “knuckleheads,” “racists,” or even “pigs,” politicians suppose that anything inoffensive to the supposed majority ought to be fine, in word, deed, and even legislation.

In word, politicians stir the pot with statements stabbing opponents and even comparing the opposition’s support to “cockroaches” to be “swept away” on election day (a genuine show of Hardin County’s political ideals, for sure).

In deed, they deny basic courtesy—refusing to shake hands, resolutely glaring at “the enemy.” And in Orange County, candidates even resort to physical violence.

In legislation, politicians-turned-rulers even tend to deny vast percentages of the population their humanity—until the 20th century, skin color or race was reason for indescribable tyranny and persecution. In modern times, unborn people are portrayed as worthless, lifeless masses of cells.

“They’re so rude that I’ve decided not to vote.” 

It’s a common verdict, and it does have its reasons. The intense emotions and hurtful insults are detrimental factors that negatively affect voter turnout. However, it just proves to politicians that you care nothing for the debate and that you intend to do nothing to stop them.

Refusing to vote—although it may not be your motive, and surely not what you wish for—is something that indicates an apathetic surrender. When candidates call you a “knucklehead” or a “cockroach”, it hurts; but flying a white flag is anything but a well thought-out response.

Refusing to vote squanders a portion of your ballot in a partial endorsement of the very man or woman who insisted you were meaningless.

Refusing to vote aids the individual who has vowed to harm you and your ideological fellows.

Refusing to vote is refusing to question societal ultimatums and government-backed ideological attacks.

Refusing to vote is a signal that you won’t refuse anything else in the future.

Voting is defiance. It proves that you care enough to slap evil in the face. Go ahead, give it a try. Punching totalitarianism in the gut feels good—and one of the best ways to do it is to start with your ballot.

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The Bonanza Era: Southeast Texas Sawmill Heritage

Rachel Clark : March 3, 2014 4:48 pm : Lumberton Gazette, News, Rachel

An early sawmill in Texas

A logging operation for an early east Texas sawmill

Winding through rows of grayish, unpainted clapboard houses, miles upon miles of alternately dusty and muddy streets buzz with activity: ragged, mop-headed children—coming to or from playtime on the railroad cars and mill ponds—trot in flocks to their collective destination; lanky, grim-faced loggers, who make an honest living but live a tough life, rush away from a screeching whistle signaling that work is over; and housewives watch the chaos as they attempt household chores, despite the airborne sawdust forcing itself into “every nook and cranny.” The sweetish smell of pine logs paired with the natural Texas humidity and the steamy sawmill fog made for a trademark industry odor.

Just 100 years ago, this was the face of southeast Texas.

Logging was an unbelievably large facet of both the United States economy and the southeast Texas economy.

Before the Spindletop oil boom from 1901 to the late 1920s, logging constituted the primary economic pursuit of southeast Texas. Eager entrepreneurs in search of financial success transformed the entire economic outlook for Hardin, Newton, Jasper, and even Jefferson counties.

Recognized mostly for their proximity to major local cities Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Houston, small towns including Kirbyville, Evadale, Silsbee, and even Lumberton owe their existence to the Bonanza Era of Texas sawmills—a period of unprecedented Texas dominance and involvement in the lumber industry, from 1876 to 1917.

Texas is and has been predominantly successful in raising livestock. In modern times, pumping oil and gas has also been an economic forte in the Lone Star state; but for the past 150 years, the lumber industry has also fared remarkably well.

One of the top three logging and lumber-exporting states during the Bonanza Era, Texas has remained among the top ten lumber producing states. The Piney Woods region and the Big Thicket near the eastern border of the state have contributed much to Texas’ excellent lumber statistics, more so than any other area of the state.

Many Texas sawmill towns (corporately-owned communities usually sponsored by the mill’s owners) have disappeared entirely, becoming ghost towns inhabited by surprising numbers of tourists, curious locals, and historians. However, a number of them are still existent and thriving today.

While many sawmill towns have vanished or dwindled to nothing, in some instances the centrally located mills, which once comprised town centers, have survived despite the absence of a surrounding village.

The Voth sawmill can still be seen today, on the banks of the Pine Island Bayou.

The Voth sawmill can still be seen today, on the banks of the Pine Island Bayou.

J. Frank Keith’s 1902 sawmill located in Voth, on the banks of Pine Island Bayou and mere yards within the Jefferson County border, is visible from Highway 96 going from Lumberton to Beaumont. Because of the 2,000,000 acres of dense virgin forest that once covered what is now known as southeast Texas, over six hundred sawmills were in existence simultaneously at one point during the Bonanza Era.

Hardin, Tyler, Polk, Newton, and Jasper Counties were covered in highly profitable stumpage (log measure of uncut trees or logs), to which landowners interested in farming gladly sold the logging rights to nearby sawmills. Jefferson County, however, was a far cry from its heavily-forested northern counterparts.

W.T. Block explains in his book, East Texas Mill Towns and Ghost Towns, “Jefferson County has a most unusual sawmill history, not because of any great forest which stand within its boundaries, but due to its proximity to the Neches River and its tributaries, Sabine Lake, and the Gulf of Mexico.”

The sawmill building on the banks of the Bayou was a relatively large one, a 50,000-foot operation provided with logs from Saratoga. A newspaper later reported in November 1904 that:

…The mill is logged from Stutts on the Warren, Corsicana, and Pacific Railroad in TylerCounty. The logs are hauled from Stutts to Warren, 22 miles, and thence to Voth, 32 miles distant, a total distance of 54 miles…A new dry shed with a capacity of 1,000,000 feet of lumber has just been put up. The logs at Voth are dumped into Pine Island Bayou and are used when needed… 

The Kirby Lumber Corporation, the founder of which is responsible for the construction, existence, and names of many local sawmill towns (including Kirbyville), purchased the Voth sawmill in 1924. In 1948, the mill was still operating at a 75,000 feet capacity and continued until 1952, when the Kirby Corporation consolidated much of its milling operations.

The sawmill, which many residents still drive past on a daily basis, was the last significant sawmill in Jefferson County to shut down—and with it died many of the tight-knit but easily unraveled industrial communities accompanying the era.

Detailing sawmill towns of the Bonanza years, Thad Sitton and James Conrad described in Nameless Towns, “Mill-town children grew up using their heavy-industry surroundings as a playscape. They walked the rails, visited the depot to meet passenger trains, clambered about on the elevated dollyways after quitting time, rode the big draft horses in the corral, tobogganed down sawdust piles, chased each other leaping from stack to stack of lumber air-drying in the yard, walked logs floating in the millpond, stole handcars from the shop and pumped them about on the rails, went on moonlit courting walks down the railroad tracks and across the lumberyards, and otherwise enjoyed the mill town and its environs. For children and adults alike, the millpond did double duty as a center of recreational life, which included fishing, swimming, frog-gigging, and even dancing.”

The Bonanza Era was a time in which thousands of Texans spent their childhoods in such communities; in fact, many elderly southeast Texans can remember—although not necessarily having lived in them—the sawmill towns once abundant in Hardin County. The cultural impact of sawmill towns and the highly influential lumber industry has shaped the local identity.

While the lumber industry remains an enormous force in the Texas economy, it bears little resemblance to the miniature empires established by men like John Henry Kirby. Even as recently as the early 1990s, lumber was a leading industry in Texas. The Bonanza Era is over—but the impact it made on southeast Texas life can never be forgotten.

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Charlie Henson’s Story

Rachel Clark : February 27, 2014 7:34 am : Lumberton Gazette, News, Rachel

Times have changed since the 1940s.

Times have changed since the 1940s.

The year was 1938. Times were hard, and President Franklin Roosevelt was just beginning his second term, presiding over the worst depression in U.S. history. Trouble was brewing in Europe and around the world. War was on the horizon for many countries. Hitler’s regime was gaining strength, and his shadow of tyranny was soon to stretch across the globe. As many can tell you, things weren’t looking up.

Fifteen-year-old Charles Henson and his family were struggling; he could not find a job. There simply were not any to be had. At that point, any work that could be offered would be accepted, but he stubbornly clung to his dream.

Henson explained, “I had always had a hunger to go to sea. But you had to be sixteen years of age to get a seaman’s certificate from the U.S. Coast Guard.  So, my mother swore an affidavit that I was sixteen and the kind Coast Guard commandant issued me my seaman’s certificate.”

Soon he had an official, paying job at the Magnolia Refinery. As a utility man aboard the S.S. Aurora (a tanker), Henson received $60.00 a month.

“This I sent home to mom. It saved our family.” he said.

From 1938 until 1941, the seafaring teen visited countries all over the world. He “made” every deep water port on the planet.   Africa, China, Russia, and Burma were only a few of the exotic places that Henson visited – at such a young age.

“I could hear all the noises you heard in the old Tarzan movies,” he said, “It was an experience I’ll never forget.”

Henson soon got himself a promotion to ship’s steward.

“My job was to peel potatoes and clean the officers’ state rooms and other odd jobs. It was out of the weather, rain, and cold, so I was happy,” he explained.

On December 7th, 1941, everything changed.

“Well, time went on, Pearl Harbor took place, and the first thing you know this little ol’ seaman got himself drafted into the Army along with God knows how many thousands of others. So, I was sent to Fort Sam Houston.” Henson recounted.

“In the meantime, prior to this, while I was still sailing in the Merchant Marines, the Germans were sinking our ships at a rate of 2 and 3 a day, from Corpus Christi all the way up the coast to Portland, Maine. That’s were they operated. There was one occasion where they sunk a ship in the channel of the Mississippi River. That’s how close they came.” Needless to say, the United States was hurting badly.

The Armed Forces were getting into gear, but unfortunately the Navy was lacking.

“Been there just a couple of months when a Colonel came in one day and they gathered up all the guys that had Seaman certificates, which included me, about forty-five of us if I remember right. He said “We’re taking you to CampEdwards, Massachusetts.” Where they were going to form a brand new organization, called the Engineering, Boat, and Shore Regiment. You’ve seen pictures of the invasion at Normandy of the little boats coming in? Well, those little boats, as Germans used to refer to them as, were the Higgins Boats. They carried the troops from the ship to the shore. That’s what we first got started in at CampEdwards, Massachusetts, called the Engineer, Boat, and Shore regiment. So, we trained with those little boats for four or five months. And first thing off the bat they promoted me to Sergeant because of my experience on ships and made me a coxswain.”

By this time, trouble was really brewing. Millions of men were headed off to war, thousands to never return. Germany remained defiant; it continued its mission to conquer the world.

Henson continued, “Anyway, about four or five months after we created the Engineer, Boat, and Shore regiment, they had a notice on the bulletin board one day for everybody that held a seaman certificate to report for a big meeting they were going to have. So we did. And what happened – most people aren’t aware of what I’m fixing to tell you – out in California, there was a shipbuilder by the name of Henry Kaiser. Anyways, he taught us how to build ships. The transport ships called Liberty ships. Henry Kaiser, that was his name. And Mr. Kaiser taught us like Mr. Ford taught us to build the Model T. On an assembly line. Consequently, we were turning out two or three ships a day in our shipyards from California to the East Coast. All of a sudden we had plenty of ships, but no crews for them. Where were the crews?”

They had been drafted into the Army!

“Like I say, not many people are aware of this. Immediately after Pearl Harbor, all merchant shipping – ships, crews, and officers –  were placed in direct jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard. That automatically made us members of the Coast Guard. Anyway, they called this big meeting, it gave us – everyone who held a Seaman’s certificate – a choice. We could go back to sea and man these ships, or stay in the army, whichever. They could use us in either place. So a lot of us we knew ships, so we chose to go back to sea. Now we weren’t getting out of anything because they were still sinking ships up and down the coast! So we went back to sea, and that put me in the Coast Guard. Consequently I hold two Army discharges, and one from the Coast Guard.”

Henson ended up on a refueling tanker. When battle groups operated, they contained “carriers, battleships, light cruisers, destroyers, destroyer escorts, and even submarines, that’s what you call a battle group.”

“Every time a group sailed out to combat, they always had either two to three, maybe more, tankers for fuel. If they ran low on fuel, they couldn’t turn around and go into someplace, you know, to somewhere else for their fuel. So that’s what I was doing there on the refueling tanker. I did that for a number of months all over the South Pacific,” Henson said. “Well, I got the urge to go back into the Army in 1945. I got interested in law enforcement. And I don’t remember now at this point why I decided I wanted to go into the military police, but that’s what I wanted to do. So I put in for a transfer. It was turned down. Put in again for transfer, it was turned out. So I set down and wrote a letter to Admiral Emory S. Land.”

The last letter did the trick. He was sent to the 382nd  Military Police Battalion in Bremerhaven, Germany.  He “put in” the next three years in the MP Corps in Europe, the New York First Army, and the San Antonio Fourth Army. Henson had some fascinating memories there.

“While serving in the 382nd in Germany, with… an O.D. (Officer of the Day) , I saw two sides of this man. He always carried a Thompson sub-machine gun when on O.D. duty. One night, while I was on duty and part of the emergency squad of six men, I was relaxing at the booking station.” Henson said. “We suddenly got a call of a shooting at a local carnival the people of the city were giving for the children. We had a list of wanted deserters to look for; MP on duty at the carnival spotted one of the soldiers who was wanted for desertion. When challenged, the deserter fired at the MP on duty. The MP fired back but missed – and hit a little girl who was at the carnival. Fortunately, she survived. The deserter ran into one of the bombed-out buildings and locked himself in the bathroom, lined with tiles. In Europe, buildings had very little wood – construction was different, and they used much more tile and stone. We, at the station, responded to the call. Upon arrival, the MP on duty showed us where the deserter was. This O.D., a first Lieutenant, walked up within ten or twelve feet of the door. He demanded the deserter come out. His reply: ‘You come get me!’ The Lt. never said another word. He slung that Thompson and fired the entire magazine of 32 rounds of 45 caliber bullets into the door, making an ‘x.’ Then the Lt. said, ‘Drag his ass out of there.’ Well, you can imagine what those 45 slugs did to him as they ricocheted off the tiles – and into him. This was the one side of that First Lieutenant O.D. About a month later, in the dead of winter, we responded to a call to the railroad yard. Civilians were taking coal from the fuel dump. There was snow and ice everywhere, and old women and barefooted children were trying to keep warm. I ask the Lt., ‘What do you want us to do?’ After a few minutes, he said to me, ‘Not a damn thing. Let them have it or they will freeze.’ This was the other side of the same man – compassion. What memories.”

Henson’s story is undoubtedly very powerful; it shows that those who do not remember their history are doomed to repeat it. After seeing oppression in such a forceful, personal way, Henson’s mission is to warn Americans of what could very well be there fate if they don’t take action.

Involved politically and following issues, Henson wants to awaken the slumbering citizens around him. They haven’t seen what tyranny is like yet. One way Henson gets his message across is writing down his memories of war, bigotry, regulations, big government, concentration camps, and the incredible effects that the government has on family, children, and education. Wartime Germany – or in fact, Germany at any stage of Hitler’s rise to power – was not pretty. His firsthand experiences illustrate this well.

“All of the history you can study and read about what happened to other countries can happen here. And is. We feel safe. Don’t you? ‘Here in the United States, we’re the most powerful country in the world.’ We were…In a way it’s good that young people have this feeling of protection. But don’t ever forget that the only thing that you have that’s for sure and concrete is faith. Faith in God that He meant what He said. The people of Germany didn’t realize this. One day we sailed into Hamburg, Germany. This was before the war. Hitler was just beginning a speech to his own. And he was ‘blah blah blah’ on these loudspeakers attached to telephone poles up and down the street. All you could hear was Hitler ranting and raving about ‘Deutchsland Deutchsland uber alles!’ That’s ‘Germany, Germany over all.’ Today Germany, tomorrow the world. That was his ambition. I was still just a kid, but I’d followed my fellow crew members into a sort of German bar. If I remember right, there were five of us. One of them was the boatswain, he had like a foreman’s job. I don’t drink, never have drank, and never will drink. But I enjoyed going and seeing, you know, all these things and sights. So I had a soft drink and the boatswain was leaning back in his chair, and Hitler was talking. Talk, talk, talk, talking. We saw these two guys come in who they referred to as the brownshirts, what they call storm troopers. What they were was Hitler Youth ranging from 18-25, and they were dressed in the boots and tan trousers, and the brown shirts. And the first thing Hitler did was to take over, however he did it, the children in schools. A child as you well know, when it’s born, in one sense, is a brand new computer. And whatever you program into that child’s head is going to be there, from now on. They call that brainwashing, brainwashing you into believing something that isn’t true. That’s what Hitler did to these young men. As they graduated, they became Storm Troopers. Now these guys were very vicious. They were absolutely vicious. Meanwhile, the boatswain was leaning back in his chair, and these two guys had come in and were standing at the bar looking around. They carried, besides their pistol, a nightstick, a rubber nightstick about this long, called a truncheon. Hitler was still talking over the loudspeakers. The boatswain said, uh, a profanity. ‘Won’t that *** shut his ***** mouth?’ One of the brownshirts looked up, and he started walking over to our table. One the way over to our table, he undid his truncheon and backhanded the boatswain upside the head and across the mouth. Knocked all his front teeth out, split his lips. He was on the floor and of course there was blood flying everywhere. And the brownshirt said to the rest of us, ‘Take him back to the ship.’ That’s just an example of how you control people, once you get the power to do it. Anyways, that was just one of my experiences. This was before we got in the war.”

History has a way of repeating itself. Henson’s quest is to prevent his beloved America from becoming the next victim of totalitarianism.

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Walking Through the Mud

Rachel Clark : February 24, 2014 5:47 pm : Rachel

Adults who claim that teenagers should "get involved" are so busy mudslinging, hurling personal attacks, making rude quips about my age, and proliferating profane comments that they do not notice that they've lost my generation.

Adults who claim that teenagers should “get involved” are so busy mudslinging, hurling personal attacks, making rude quips about my age, and proliferating profane comments that they do not notice that they’ve lost my generation.

At political forums, at Republican clubs, at leadership conferences of all types, on radio talk shows, on blogs from around the country, on news websites galore, in motivational books and speeches, and even in churches, I hear that young people need to get involved. 

I cannot agree more with this statement, which is why it is important that other teenagers are encouraged to become involved in both the legislative process and the political sphere.

Many young people are far too occupied with media, parties, friends, or unnecessary hours at a public school for them to have a chance to effectively prepare for their career, whatever that may be. Far too often I watch my peers use the best years of their lives for an exercise in futility.

However, I have discovered that many of the people who instruct their younger counterparts to start “doing something” either fail to “do something” themselves or refuse to allow young adults or children to learn from them or work alongside them.

Perhaps it is an issue of pride, or perhaps it is an issue of fear. (I, for one, would probably have trouble overcoming the worries that a young apprentice might mess something up.)

Although teenagers may be apathetic, maybe this careless attitude is at least partly attributable to the sort of negative feedback and comments I have received,  calling me a “positively ridiculous” “spoiled teenager.”

According to mature voters and seasoned politicians, I am nothing more than a “bratty little kid.” They hope I “fail at everything” I ever do. They want to know why anything I say can be trusted, because after all, I’m just a stupid high school student. This is not an isolated case, it must be noted.

In addition to attacking the very generation that they swear should “get involved,” they attack each other constantly with slander, lies, out-of-context rumors, all manner of mud, and incessant backstabbing sprinkled with a flavor of espionage.

This is what even calm, clean campaigns generally do on a very broad level. But what would motivate leaders and politicians to backstab their own constituents, fellow opinionated citizens, and potential voters with very personal attacks and lies comprised of nothing much else than insults and name-calling?

I will leave it at this:

Adults, if you want to attract my generation, our votes, or our loyalty, please quit acting like toddlers.

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How Was School?

Rachel Clark : February 24, 2014 4:36 pm : News, Politics, Rachel

Government's role in education is changing for the worst. Choosing leaders carefully is essential to prevent this catastrophic transformation.

Government’s role in education is changing for the worst. Choosing leaders carefully is essential to prevent this catastrophic transformation.

How was school?

That traditional question mothers and fathers ask whenever a student arrives home from a long day at school is a question that voters should start asking themselves, particularly in the race between David Bradley and Rita Ashley for the State Board of Education (SBOE).

With ever more government involvement in education, parents—in other words, concerned citizens with a massive personal stake in the state of public schools—should evaluate what and how schools are teaching their youngsters. Disruptive and controversial leftism infiltrates even small, rural schools, spoon-feeding blatantly liberal social concepts as fact to trusting elementary-age children.

The advent of C-SCOPE and Common Core coupled with the disappointing mistreatment of the Kountze Cheerleaders in 2012 and the 2013 Lumberton Burqa incident brings these issues closer to home. Throughout the United States and throughout Texas, children are forced into politically correct molds designed by leftists for leftists.

No matter if they are bound for the local school board or the United States Senate, leaders wield enormous influence in whether schools will produce revolutionaries or educated graduates; thus it is imperative to choose a trustworthy candidate who can vouch for your child’s rights and your local school’s independence from central planners.

One crucial election concerning education features long-time conservative David Bradley against the out-of-place, left-leaning Rita Ashley. Even Texas liberals recognize that Bradley is a major asset to the average Texan parent: “Losing David Bradley would be a huge blow to the conservative bloc…” (Houston Chronicle 12/23/2013)

While Bradley, endorsed by Texas Right to Life and other pro-life organizations, has a consistently pro-life record and advocates for such a stance in public schools, Ashley is closely linked to and supported by Wendy Davis’ biggest fans. The rigidly anti-life curriculum and worldviews currently in public education are catastrophes that Ashley would not only refuse to oppose, but perpetuate.

Bradley is a liberal’s worst nightmare and a student’s advocate: rather than edging closer to leftist teacher’s unions, Bradley has faithfully fought for Christian students, beneficial standards, stronger curriculum, and a true atmosphere of free speech in schools rather than politically motivated academic oppression.

On election day, March 4, 2014, ask yourself, “How was school?”

Think hard, and ask your child too—it probably wasn’t very good, and it probably was not to your satisfaction. Public education’s many obvious problems can either be perpetuated or solved, and a vote for the latter will be a vote for David Bradley.

 

report card COLOR 2014A copy copyWho else supports David Bradley? Check out his endorsements: 

Conservative Republicans of Texas

Gun Owners of America

Texas Alliance for Life

Texas Home School Coalition

Texas Right to Life

Young Conservatives of Texas

U.S. Congressman Randy Weber, District 14

Robin Armstrong, Texas Republican National Committeeman & former Vice Chair,

Republican Party of Texas

Cathie Adams, President, Texas Eagle Forum; former Chair, Republican Party of Texas

David Barton, of WallBuilders, former Vice Chair, Republican Party of Texas

State Board of Education Chairmen:

Chase Untermeyer

Don McLeroy

Gail Lowe

Barbara Cargill, present chair

Cynthia Dunbar, former SBOE member from Fort Bend County, Liberty University Advisor to Provost

 

For more information about David Bradley, visit BradleyforTexas.com

 

 

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Old Glory: McDaniel’s Error

Rachel Clark : February 22, 2014 5:08 pm : Columns, Lumberton Gazette, News, Politics, Rachel

It is one of the most precious emblems of freedom in the world; the embodiment of our spiritual heritage; the representation of our historical sacrifices for liberty; a tribute to the men and women who gave the ultimate price for freedom: the American flag. Yet today it is cheapened—nay, mocked—as an attention-getting political device upon which Wayne McDaniel, candidate for Hardin County Judge, hangs his offensively-placed campaign signs.

Wayne McDaniel's disrespectful use of the American flag as an attention-getting apparatus to hold political signs.

Wayne McDaniel’s disrespectful use of the American flag as an attention-getting apparatus to hold political signs.

Old Glory, as it is sometimes called, is more than just a piece of cloth. It is blood, sweat, toil, and tears, justice, freedom, equality, and loyalty: no matter who is in the White House and no matter what party controls Congress, the American flag still represents these sacrifices and ideals—something that cannot be changed.

Respecting the flag sometimes seems silly, perhaps even trivial. However, flag etiquette is far from arbitrary: when the flag is displayed or handled, it is the physical representation of America and lives lost in its defense. That is something easily understood, and hopefully, easily remembered.

Occasionally our flag is disrespected or burned: a deliberate show of hatred not necessarily against America, but what the flag historically stands for. Occasionally the flag is forgotten outdoors: usually a careless misunderstanding or apathy. Occasionally the flag is misused, as it is made to represent ideals that it does not, parties that it cannot, or people that it is not meant to represent.

This is why Wayne McDaniel is wrong.

The flag code (Title 4, United States Code, Chapter 1, Section 8, i) bars the use of advertisements on a flag pole or halyard that is flying the American flag, which is one reason why McDaniel is inconsiderate in his using the flag’s halyard as a mere campaigning contrivance.

Hoisting McDaniel’s cheesy red and white campaign signs to the same halyard as Old Glory is false advertising. McDaniel’s sign does not represent blood, war, and courage. It does not stand for justice and freedom. The white outlines of the letters do not stand for purity. Most of all, it does not, and cannot, stand for America. Likewise the American flag does not represent the McDaniel campaign.

McDaniel’s breach of flag etiquette may have been unintentional, but it takes only common sense to understand that using the flag for advertising purposes is improper. McDaniel, a bureaucratic administrative officer in the Sheriff’s office, should understand flag protocol, making his disregard of etiquette even more blatant and appalling.

On election day, remember: the flag represents the blood of soldiers, the courage of patriots, God’s justice, America’s blessed freedom, and a special sort of governmental purity that is hard to remember and even harder to live up to. Make sure that your vote reflects what our flag represents.

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Dangerous Pest Infestation Threatens Beaumont

Rachel Clark : February 20, 2014 11:20 am : Politics, Rachel, Spoofs

BEAUMONT – A reporter pit has been discovered in a vacant local building, a revelation that has worried both pest exterminators called to address the situation and local residents.

The reporter pit, which the journalists called the “hideout”, was characterized by excessive drinking, pity parties, and Organizing for Action campaign events. Investigators noted that the pit was an extremely dangerous place for conservatives or political candidates in general to enter.

“We found the bones of several campaigns discarded outside, including the Romney 2012 campaign and the Ron Paul campaign for president,” said a law enforcement officer, “There are signs that the victims were beaten brutally in editorials and headline news.”

The reporter pit is constantly buzzing with activity, and in this picture, is "packed out" with "standing room only."

The reporter pit is constantly buzzing with activity, and in this picture, is “packed out” with “standing room only.”

“I always knew that the Beaumont Enterprise had problems,” said a Beaumont local, a reader of both the Houston Chronicle and the Enterprise. “Now I understand why all of the local television journalists and talk show hosts always acted like they were drunk.”

“These pests are harder to get rid of than mice, sting more than a wasp, and they can hide like snakes. They’re a real problem,” said a professional exterminator called to address the situation.

“This election season has provided a perfect climate, the perfect atmosphere, for this pit to thrive. I can only hope that a conservative victory will drive them away, or at least make them a tad less confident,” said the exterminator.

The reporter pit is expected to remain, and the stolen building may have to be demolished if the pit continues to thrive. Exterminators working in conjunction with the owner of the property have found it difficult to vacate the captured building-turned-saloon, mostly due to the excessive flashes, cameras, tripods, computers, and printers preventing them from entering safely but also because of the pests’ tendency to plaster updates about the attempts on every media outlet within reach.

“But the upside is, if a political candidate is annoying you, just toss a forged campaign document in there, close the door real quick, and watch them have fun. Just like a little kitten or something, playing with its prey,” continued the exterminator.

The pit is said to have a negative effect on Southeast Texas journalism, but experts note that there are such pits throughout the United States. In fact, the hideouts have become particular problems in New York.

Law enforcement officers have not made a statement on the hazardous pit, but did mention that cautious citizens should have nothing to fear.

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Reaping What You Sow

Rachel Clark : February 10, 2014 7:23 pm : Columns, Lumberton Gazette, Rachel

What one gets at harvest-time depends on what one plants.

What one gets at harvest-time depends on what one plants.

Meghan is my pal, and I’m proud of that fact. She befriended me the very first time she met me; I cherish her friendship.

She is much younger than I am, but that matters little. I’ve never given much thought to my friends’ ages, much less chosen them because of their ages. For most of my life, I’ve adopted friends older than I am (sometimes old enough to be parents or grandparents).

My pal Meghan holds the same convictions about age. Imagine my delight when she presented me with a most precious gift, a Barbie-doll coat hanger, among other things, and a plastic zebra. It brought a smile to my face because I clearly recall giving similar gifts to my older friends when I was around her age. As my toy animals were very important (big emphasis on very) to me, it gave me an idea about how much this gift meant. Probably more than most things she could give.

It occurred to me that I’m reaping what I sowed—seeing the returns on my long-time investment, so to speak. Although my harvest will not be entirely good, it does bear witness to the fact that the little things come back to you. In my case, it came back to me on earth.

“You reap what you sow” is usually a solemnly interpreted phrase, something likely mentioned when a father corrects his son for misdeeds or irreparable harm has been inflicted on a friend.

I’ve noticed that the phrase has an almost universally negative connotation. The Bible has much to say about getting what you earn (check out Galatians 6:7, Job 4:8, Luke 6:38, Mark 4:24, and Proverbs 22:8, for instance). These verses are far from negative, although for some deeds and for some words, it can be taken as a warning.

Seemingly insignificant things, like baking cookies for a friend, sending a hand-written card in the mail, making a point of talking to someone, or giving gifts for no reason will not only make someone’s day, but will one day make yours–just like Meghan made my day.

 

 

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The Great Divide: the Final Verdict

Rachel Clark : February 2, 2014 12:42 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

After a thorough examination of the detrimental gap between fiscal conservatives and social conservatives, as well as what should be done to rectify this ideological mishap, the final verdict must be recapped.

 

  • Churches should talk politics. Politicians should talk church. The right to free speech is an important one, and it can’t be curtailed for fear of “offending” someone. This unspoken social law is one that we should ignore; it is contributing greatly to our current desperate leadership situation as well as the “great divide” itself.
  • Christians should realize that the church’s duty – caring for the poor – cannot possibly be relayed to the state. From a Biblical perspective, this is not desirable; from a fiscal conservative view, it is unconscionable. The remedy to this confusion is simple for Christians: talk politics and examine everything from a Biblical worldview.
  • Most of all, it’s important that fiscal conservatism rests firmly on the principles of social conservatism. One without the other is like a bird with one wing – functional to a degree, but unable to get off the ground. Without the acceptance of Natural Law (based on the existence of God and a conscience), fiscal conservatism is meaningless.
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Dream of My Forefathers

Rachel Clark : February 2, 2014 12:18 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

The American Dream has been around for centuries -- and signing this Declaration was something done to preserve the principles of that dream.

The American Dream has been around for centuries — and signing this Declaration was something done to preserve the principles of that dream.

“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires,” leftist author John Steinbeck noted. Steinbeck’s portrayal of the optimistic and hardworking attitude characteristic of Americans bears witness, albeit negative, to the phenomenon known worldwide as the American Dream. Demonstrating a profound steadfastness to individual liberty, the United States’ founding paved the way for a culture of mind-boggling multifariousness—a melting pot of nations and races, as British playwright Israel Zangwill denoted of his metaphorical cousins in the United States. Elements in the melting pot are always adding new traditions and holidays to the mix. Jewish immigrants brought Hanukah, Catholics from Europe introduced Mardi Gras, and the Irish presented the States with another increasingly prevalent custom, Halloween. Every American has a different opinion on holidays and their accompanying traditions, but all Americans have one custom in common. The melting pot Zangwill described created possibly the only aggregate tradition of the United   States: a fire that a craving for liberty ignited, the American Dream is the greatest and most widespread tradition in the nation.

The American Dream predates the United States itself. A spiritual predecessor to the lofty aspirations later citizens and immigrants would enthusiastically accept, the seemingly modest hopes that explorers and colonists had for this continent encompassed the Old World. Offering endless possibilities, this newly discovered plot of earth attracted adventurous folk and persecuted sects from Europe and beyond. Despite the likelihood of death and disease, former farmers and merchants turned courageous trailblazers trekked into desolate stretches of wilderness where common sense mandated that none venture. No settlers were waiting to escort them to a new home, no army existed to protect them, and little else but hardships and personal tragedy were anticipating their arrival on this million-mile swathe of unknowns. Hopes for freedom for children, grandchildren, and generations to come drew them to the shores of what others dubbed a hardscrabble dernier cri. The first wave of explorers, settlers, and colonists died away. The Dream they left behind lived to become the oldest American tradition.

No matter the synonyms for the American Dream, the inspiration is the same: an innate desire to do what one was born to do, to accomplish that lifelong purpose with felicitousness, and to execute one’s goals uninhibited. Evidenced by its prosperity, the United States promised the chance to work towards one’s dreams. Foreigners with hopes became Americans with a reality. Unlike the gradually accepted St. Valentines Day, Christmas trees, or Easter eggs, immigrants harbor the American Dream long before they make the United States their home. The poorest of the poor can afford this tradition, a heritage not physical or ancestral. Distinctly universal, the American Dream has something for everyone.

The Dream of the first Americans was a burning desire for a free and independent nation. Tyranny and persecution, the plight of unfortunate millions flocking to the States, did not stifle a longing for adventure and success. Persecution strengthened the longing. For others, America’s only worthy offer was an abundance of precious metals and land. The nature of the American Dream is forever the same, but the manifestation of the Dream is always changing. Every man, woman, and child cultivates a unique Dream: owning a business, attending college, marrying, buying a house, or becoming a scientist, for example. Rather than merely nebulous, the American Dream is more individualized than any other tradition on the face of the planet.

Young children oftentimes insist that the best tradition is gift-giving on Christmas, fireworks on New Year’s Eve, or candy on Halloween. These children have yet to learn that the American Dream, one of the most glorious guardians and motives of liberty, the most individualized and numinous of all customs worldwide, and the most universal habitude in this nation, is the greatest and most beautiful American tradition. But to preserve this inherently American custom, we must defeat totalitarianism, the enemy of all hopes and all success.

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Why Government Exists

Rachel Clark : January 21, 2014 8:09 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

supreme court

 

Government exists. Why it exists is a question that is not only difficult to answer, but difficult to ask. With the various philosophies, worldviews, religions, and economic systems that make up how a government operates and what it does, the actual meaning of government’s creation is lost in the hugeness of the debate and the variety of opinions.

 

Left-leaning respondents are likely – because their entire policy is shaped around this assumption – to explain that “government exists to take care of the least fortunate.” (Actually, a drawn-out “uuuuuummmmmmmm….” is the most predictable reply.)

 

Extremely left-leaning answerers will probably claim that government’s purpose is to end class warfare, end income inequality, and create standards of justice and “fairness.”

 

Authoritarian, right-leaning replies may include, “To provide a police force and military and to establish regulatory agencies to enforce standards that will provide for a smoothly-operating society.”

 

But in reality, neither of these responses can be considered entirely correct. (“Ummmmmm….” comes the closest, I would think. )

 

The entire reason that government exists: to protect rights. Our government has entirely lost sight of its function, chasing any false trail and yelling “Squirrel!” at the mention of any possible new objective. Government does not exist to make life easier or society harmonious — although that is an after-effect of what good government does — good government exists merely to protect the fundamental rights of the individuals who truly can make life beautiful and comfortable.

 

The federal government has adopted as its own functions caring for the poor, entertaining preschool-age children, bailouts, energy subsidies, public utilities, healthcare clinics and financial assistance, paying millions of dollars to funding robotic squirrels – you see what I mean now when I mentioned that bit about the tree rodent – and who knows what else.

 

Through the regulatory fog and bureaucratic jungle, the U.S. government has rid itself of the function and the purpose that justified its existence. Washington is working together to forget about its mission entirely, and in recent years has apparently been successful: life, liberty, and property are by no means secure – especially if you are an unborn child, a military veteran, or a small business owner.

 

After 1973, there was essentially no reason for the government to exist after the implementation of Roe v. Wade. The right without which none others are possible was demoted to the rank of government privilege – a judicial whim, a politically-correct move that allegedly signified something-or-other about rights, ironically.

 

The government has forgotten about the sanctity of life, thus it is time to alter or abolish this government, as the Founders declared should happen in such cases.

 

Pain and heartbreak – the eternal hole in the lives of would-be brothers, sisters, fathers, and mothers – is not worth the leftist status symbol of abortion on demand.

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The Great Divide: Part Four

Rachel Clark : January 21, 2014 6:06 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

The Liberty Window -- Christ Church, Virginia

The Liberty Window — Christ Church, Virginia

The old adage don’t talk religion or politics has for decades been accepted as words from the wise – advice worth heeding – in social circles, family gatherings, and public settings of all kinds. However, despite leftists’ efforts to make this backwards philosophy, occasionally useful as a peace-keeping tool, the law of the land (lest you offend someone) religious and political discussions comprise many, perhaps most, earnest conversations. Strangely, however, when religion or politics pop up in an after-dinner deliberation or in a casual confabulation, the topics refuse to surface together. American government, churches, and culture despise conjoint symposia of religion and politics as if this activity’s aftermath could be worse than the black plague, universal insurrection, and an earthquake rolled into one incredible catastrophe.

 

Alas, the leery reaction the inseparable questions of religion and “politics” receive in public settings is uncalled for, overly dramatic, and in the end, ludicrous. Churches should talk politics, and government and citizens should talk religion: the two issues are strongly connected and when properly functioning, even depend on each other. This aversion to conjoint religious and political discussion is merely another contributor to the widening chasm between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives – but even more so in the ever-polarizing politics felt on an omnipartisan level.

 

First of all, the churches’ refusal to discuss politics and the public sphere’s denial of religion itself is a problem that has led to a death spiral in national character, culture, and government.

 

At a time when a fledgling nation overcame the world’s foremost military power at the time (the British Empire), politics and religion were closely connected: American clergymen left to fight the war, and the clergymen that were left “talked politics” immediately from the pulpit. The American Revolutionary War was disputed, tumultuous, and one of the most outstanding reasons that the United States is in existence today; but there is a side to the war that few Americans – few people, no matter where they live, in fact – have learned or realized: its religious implications and motivations. If the current prevailing cultural “mandate” had been instituted in the 1770s – don’t talk about politics in church, or religion in politics – one can only guess where the world, and this continent and its inhabitants in particular, would be this year. Marxists love this policy, and they hate – hate with all their might – the preachers who say a word or two about political issues whether social or fiscal.

 

When churches and social conservatives refused to acknowledge the corrupt powers that gnawed at their right to exist as Christians, the very foundations of the republic began to disintegrate. The foundation is continuing to fracture. It is the duty of Christian leaders to educate their congregations on political events and what these events mean for freedom — whether speech, religious, or financial freedoms. It is also the duty of the congregation and the individual to heed the truth, as well as seek out more of it on their own. The Black-Robed Regiment, the patriotic fighting clergymen, truly angered the British. As Bibliotheca Sacra, a British periodical, noted in 1856, “If Christian ministers had not preached and prayed, there might have been no revolution as yet – or had it broken out, it might have been crushed.”

 

This is the predominant reason why social conservatives should become involved in more than just social issues: fiscal progressivism, even in moderate forms, eventually means socialism – and socialism means no religious rights to speak of, much less to protest about their absence.

 

Likewise, government has the right and need to acknowledge religion. For the past hundred years or so, plentiful nonsense has been circulating that the “separation of church and state” disallows any religious involvement in government. Period. Prayer even in local public schools is effectively illegal, thanks to political correctness. Suppression of conservative Christian non-profits is the norm, and if Congress opens in prayer, be sure that “in Jesus’ name” will never be tagged on the end – although just about any other god will be permitted. (You know, for diversity.)

 

The reason that the First Amendment specifically says what it says is so that government officials, the government itself, schools, citizens, organizations, and churches could freely express their religious beliefs, not so that any and all religion would be stamped out to avoid “offense.” Establishment of religion is far from what leftists are now claiming, it must be noted; and the Founders themselves left the American people far from subtle clues as to what they intended the First Amendment to mean. Prohibiting religious speech in public meetings or public property is a gross error on the part of lawmakers. If one problem with the U.S. government should be fixed, it would be the burdensome restraints on religious liberty imposed on both the public sphere and its property and the private sector and its churches.

 

The United States’ churches’ only course is to focus on the public sphere and current events in general; to make aware the slumbering churchgoers, who are blind to the very force that dissolves their rights; and to first and foremost ignore the apparently unofficial consensus that to talk politics in church is an aberrant and even offensive practice. It must be done. And who but you to do it?

 

In street conversations, or over Thanksgiving dinner with family members, not talking religion or politics can be a good thing. In the pulpit, however, it is left up to the pastor, preacher, leader, or teacher to talk religion and politics, and for the congregation to listen and delve into details on their own – otherwise, the United States will continue in this path that Russia, China, numerous European countries, and all “progressive” experiments have led before: a place entirely devoid of religious rights — a government built purposefully, deliberately without God and without any room for Christianity or Christians.

 

It is yours to decide: will you bridge the Great Divide?

 

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The Great Divide: Part Three

Rachel Clark : January 20, 2014 10:51 am : Columns, Politics, Rachel

Social conservatism doesn't agree with government funding of Planned Parenthood. Well, neither does fiscal conservatism.

Social conservatism doesn’t agree with government funding of Planned Parenthood. Well, neither does fiscal conservatism.

Christianity is famous for its religious instruction to financially assist the poor, feed the hungry, visit prisoners, aid widows and orphans, and provide relief – spiritual and physical – to people around the world. An ideal world is a world where everyone who is able participates in such charity. Occasionally believers adopts worldviews that endorse government charity, entitlement programs, and even state-run fine arts programs. However, forced charity completely misses the Christian goal, and good intentions don’t pass the test in the religious sphere or the financial sphere.

 

The difference between intention and reality is of the utmost importance in all discussions, but in this discussion particularly: feeding hungry children is a worthy goal, but whether or not the government can actually feed the children is another matter altogether. The very first reason that Christians should not support government poverty relief programs is that these programs are nothing more than failed experiments. Trying the same thing and expecting different results is a famous definition of insanity, it must be noted.

 

From a more theological stance, Christians should also refrain from establishing government programs because this is Jesus’ order to the church, not the state. Although other organizations relieve poverty, provide food, and offer shelter, the idea that the church could utilize the government to accomplish this unique mission is absurd. The state is a vehicle that will eventually seek to snuff out charitable “competition” and religion. Government programs are constantly sucking funds from private sector ventures that would have sought, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to end the poverty problem had the money remained in the grip of dynamic market forces and job creators rather than the currency-plumbing apparatus of the tax collector. Even if the government could feed hungry children, should it?

 

Although religious leaders all likely realize that weaponry and war are necessary at times, Christianity is a tranquil religion that frowns upon the use of violent force. Government is force. In fact, government is violent force. When the state is more like Santa Claus than an accumulation of force in existence merely for the protection of rights, immorality is sure to seep into the welfare system: funding for abortions and incentives for fracturing families are two government policies that Christians cannot in good conscience fund. Refusing to pay up leads to a harsh punishment that could include lifetime in jail.

 

Reality is a much less simple world than the intent-fueled fantasy that leftists use as basis for their policy, and government can’t feed hungry children effectively or efficiently no matter what it does. It is left up to the church and other private sector charities which cannot fully accomplish their mission when government is involved. Theologically, caring for widows, orphans, and the poor is a church duty which Christians cannot and should not hand over lock, stock, and barrel to government goons. Even if the government is involved in poverty relief, the Christian’s only course is to continue to provide aid. Lastly, welfare programs are extremely vulnerable to special interests – which are likely in conflict with religion itself. Since paying taxes is not optional, Christians should remain wary of any type of public welfare programs. It is clear that adherents to social conservatism have no option but to combine forces with fiscal conservatives.

 

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The Great Divide: Part Two

Rachel Clark : January 8, 2014 12:43 pm : Politics, Rachel

What should the position of the church be in matters of "politics"?

What should the position of the church be in matters of “politics”?

Capitalism has long been portrayed as greedy: Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life and Mr. Bedloe in Petticoat Junction are iconic characters that might come to mind when “corporate greed” is mentioned. The 1980s, a decade of economic recovery and booming enterprise, are also known as the decade of greed. Big businesses are automatically considered to be voracious monsters bent on exploiting the public. This bourgeoisie institution should be taxed, leftist howler monkeys conclude. Christians are occasionally apt to dismiss the entirety of the free market system as merely a necessary evil; or even worse, as an unnecessary evil that should be eradicated.

Freedom’s only alternative, of course, is excessive government: interventionist or socialist, it makes little difference. (As Ludwig von Mises noted, middle-of-the-road viewpoints lead to socialism.) Although other followers of Christ or adherents to the church are opinionated that social welfare programs are a moral must, it is still socialism behind a mask of Bible-based euphemisms. Christians that consider utilizing the government as means for fulfilling their religion or deem the free market as greedy are in dangerous theological ground, and are inherently incorrect in these assumptions.

First and foremost, the alleged greed of capitalism is disproved when the very nature of free trade is shown: mutual benefit, since providers want money more than a product and you want a product more than money. Government is by its very nature coercive and exploitative. Its uninterpretable whim is your command, whereas the free market can only do its best to make you want to buy its product or sign on the dotted line.

Governments have the power of signing your name on the dotted line for you, whether that means military service, death, immense legal costs, jail-time, a failing business, or loss of property. Although the free market can seem cheesy, obnoxious, or a bit like the Wild West, imagine the seriousness and morbid mandates of Soviet Russia. Big government advocates can’t beat the power of individual choice (which, by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with the abortion debate). Every human holds a deep incentive to act in his own self-interest, whether this human works in government or in the private sector. The difference is in how he can fulfill his self-interests: by the sword or by the advertisement?

Greed is much less intimidating when it is not in a centralized executive position or in bureaucracy backed up by the nation’s military and law enforcement officers. Whom do you fear, Wal-Mart or the Internal Revenue Service? Perhaps too easy a question. Wal-Mart’s policy is likely not Bible-based, but at least you can choose whether or not you shop there; the IRS will, first of all, have no sympathy, and second, will not share your beliefs as it enforces its illogical, money-sucking mandates.

Secondly, social welfare advocates have long tugged at the most instinctive heartstrings of the American people. Generosity is a piece of cake, so long as the other fellow’s money is at your disposal. By the Bible, which makes a strong argument for property rights, this would be known as thievery.

It may be true that it is not just for children to go hungry, or for homeless people to freeze in the streets. Christians know this as an important function of the church, and other religions or social causes also adopt this cause as their own. The elderly have long been disputed as needy, young adults have seemingly forever been described as requiring assistance for their growing families or college funds.

However, caught up in the business of handing money to the elderly, minorities, growing families, the homeless, college students, preschoolers, small business owners (ahem), disaster-stricken areas, single mothers, disabled folks, and unemployed workers, governments have entirely forgotten about the taxpayer.

Awarding disadvantaged — which, by the way, truly is a relative term — parties with the public purse can only lead to a national death cycle by election for the democracy, and a constant devaluation of currency and certain death by debt for the dictatorship. The taxpayer, meanwhile, always suffers: eventually money is needed to bail out the taxpayer, who is in turn taxed to pay for his own bailout. Then government takes a chunk out of his paycheck simply to return some of the paycheck.  This is basically the essence of socialism. (Although a discussion about property rights is in turn, it will not be delved into at the moment.) The idea that compassion is giving 90% of a stolen dollar  designated for social welfare to bureaucrats and a measly 3-10% to the needy is a misinformed revision of generosity.

Additionally, the Christian faith stands for a core set of values incompatible with big government. Big government (interventionist or socialist) is, by its nature, a power that considers itself higher than God. Ronald Reagan’s simple truth — that if America is no longer one nation under God, it will be one nation gone under — says more than an entire book on the subject might cover.

Socialism is a governmental economic system that denies God; without God, there is no justice and no moral code whatsoever. Thus, socialism assumes that government is the world’s supreme power. The idea that government is “it” implies a dark, dark reality in Communist countries: there are no rights except what the state allows. In this world, justice is not absolute, it is what the Communist state says right and wrong is.  It surely seems that the socialist state is a faraway occurrence; yet socialism is a creeping vine that quickly overtakes even a healthy republic.  It is true that Jesus ordered believers to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, but  He likewise ordered  believers to worship Him and Him alone. When government considers itself God,  continuing to support that government may be tantamount to  worshipping at  another altar.

The principles of the blasphemous governing power of socialism are poorly disguised in the modern Democrat Party; in fact, the press releases of the Communist Party and the Democrat Party are difficult to differentiate. Government without God is closer than previously realized. It is offered by the same down-home political party that offers social welfare programs, aid to the poor, and a crackdown on those greedy capitalists  – all of which at first glance seem like Christian goals.

The next time that you mutter under your breath that prices are too high and people are poor thanks to those selfish souls like Bedloe and Potter, perhaps you should remind yourself that the only alternative is more of the same thing that is driving prices up already: interventionist government. Bedloe may be a tree-worshipping cult member and Potter may be an atheist; but never fear, the the free market is here. (In a way.) Just don’t shop from them. You should, however, be concerned when these greedy, miserly villains become the brainpower behind your government.

 

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The Great Divide: Fiscal Conservatism, Social Conservatism, and Christianity

Rachel Clark : January 4, 2014 6:13 pm : Columns, Politics, Rachel

This structure, intuition tells us, has nothing to do with the unassuming (and sometimes modest) buildings that host our churches. But such is not the case.

This structure, intuition tells us, has nothing to do with the unassuming (and sometimes modest) buildings that host our churches. But such is not the case.

Ever widening, growing more bitter by the minute, and morphing into a pretense for ridicule, the gaping gulf between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives baffles, bewilders, and splits the conservative vote. This “great divide” of sorts is a serious problem from a theological stance. The problem has manifested itself in a more disturbing form in recent years, as unwitting Christians, whether covertly or unabashedly, advocate the very expedient by which religious liberty is snuffed out and liberty is eradicated.

 

Whether bystanders, involved citizens, or active participants of the public sphere, Christians are typically outspoken on issues including abortion, traditional marriage, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. Perhaps it is a mixed blessing that Democrats get everything wrong, thus providing social conservatives an obvious choice come election time. But aside from that, marginally uninformed Christian voters have little incentive to adhere to fiscally conservative ideals.

 

Although libertarian economists and free market advocates constantly prove and demonstrate the benefits of laissez faire economics, many Christians have either not embraced the idea of free markets or have openly accepted its opposite, commonly for three reasons.

 

  • First and foremost, capitalism has long been portrayed as greedy. Leftists have misused scriptures to further this mistaken view: the Israelites’ ideal economic setup and Jesus’ instructions on aiding the poor are ripe for misinterpretations and misapplications. Christian principles have no correlations whatsoever with socialist talking points, but with with enough twists and turns and unclear definitions, leftists manage it. In the eyes of a new convert or an uninformed Christian voter, capitalism — the basis of fiscal conservatism — pales in comparison to the alleged assistance the left offers.

 

  • The intentions of sincere big government advocates can be nothing but charitable aspirations of justice and balance. Christians, although moderately fiscally conservative, sometimes adopt policies leaning towards interventionism. Yes, feeding the world’s hungry, ending poverty, and spreading “democracy around the world” seem like noble causes. Followers of Christ are all too eager to accept that the best means for accomplishing these goals is through jack-booted federal agents carrying tasers, guns, and piles of legal nonsense.

 

  • Too often, Christians have little or no understanding of basic economics, local politics, or even the workings of government. It is occasionally the fault of pastors and teachers for ignoring these topics altogether, but more often than not, individuals refuse to hear what their church leaders say. Many insist that matters of public policy should never be mixed with religion, and vice versa, a demand that has in essence introduced a deadly strain of apathy and ignorance in the church. This has resulted in vast undereducation in the area of policy, which clearly leads away from fiscal conservatism.

 

These are the reasons why a progressive tax system is at first quite appealing, why redistribution seems righteous, why authoritarian government somehow makes sense, and even why the death penalty can seem unwarranted. A master of demagoguery and a famously false “Christian” who interprets the Bible like he interprets the Constitution, President Barack Obama has utilized stretched scripture numerous times. For instance, at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast, the President claimed that progressive taxes were endorsed by God himself; he tied it in with a faked-out, vague example found in Luke 12:48, claiming that in the area of taxes, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”

 

Big government in theory is utopia; in reality, it is the IRS, a place that can only be described as the opposite of heaven on earth. The worst part of this calamity is that, just like the place that it apparently tries hard to imitate, bureaucracy is one of the closest things to eternal life that we will ever see on this earth. Christians usually stress matters concerning their religion, accepting ideas or customs that do not seem to conflict. Dollars and cents and obscure federal agencies offer the illusion of complete separation from religious matters. In reality, government and religion are inseparable. This is the main reason — a reason that leads to many other reasons — why Christians should automatically be fiscal conservatives: big government’s concord with Christianity is a skin-deep guise employed by leftists to capture votes.

 

The idea that the state is superior to man and above God Himself, the basis of all big government, is against the intrinsically Christian values of equality, independence, property rights, and justice. While there was over a half-century long period in which churches largely ignored public policy, a glimmer of hope is on the horizon. Sadly, this glimmer is like a sunrise on the day of your execution. Increasing hostility towards Christianity mandates that Christians become involved in protecting religious liberty. Neglected rights are disappearing more quickly than snow melts in Houston.

This topic of fiscal conservatism, social conservatism, and their relation to Christianity is one that must not be simply mentioned. It must be expounded upon; thus this is the first in a five-article series explaining the interaction between Christianity and public policy in our present day, and what must be acted upon immediately.

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The Good Old Days: why now is better anyway

Rachel Clark : December 30, 2013 8:27 pm : Columns, Rachel

Some things never change. Disease, starvation, drought, death, and war are as prevalent today as in the past. Friends and family members succomb to cancer, painful diseases, and tragic accidents; unfortunate souls in countries around the world die simply because they have nothing to eat or drink; widespread drought ruins farmers and their communities, causing nations to lose their ability to cope with the hunger, thirst, and disease that proliferate under such conditions. Add to these troubles the problem of war — meaning the absence of dearly loved fathers, brothers, and sons — and reality is well represented. For most of man’s existence on earth, threatening conflicts, needs, wants, and diseases have marred the beauty of our planet and the marvels of life itself.

But welcome to the 21st century. There are still diseases, hunger, and definitely wars — but the innovation and brilliance of individuals have diffused through the world via the free market, changing the way we deal with these problems. In fact, the problems themselves have changed.

 

Certain aspects of puzzles mankind has faced for millennia have been eliminated altogether. In the past, bright ideas would fade away, improving or impacting the lives of only a single village or city (and then, on a small scale). Better infrastructure and communication have changed to such a degree that an invention or idea can spread around the world in five minutes, meaning even better infrastructure, communication, and amenities.

The genius of men including Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein would have been utilized to the fullest with the communication of our day (which these men pushed towards realization). People make use of tools the free market has provided to spread good news, great ideas, and budding inventions.

It's no problem to get in touch with a friend who has a cell phone--a technological advance that children in the 60s only imagined was possible in comic books and television shows.

It’s no problem to get in touch with a friend who has a cell phone–a technological advance that children in the 60s only imagined was possible in comic books and television shows.

First the advent of the telephone, then the cell phone, texting, and internet — bringing the likes of email, Skype, Facetime, Facebook, and online news sources — have changed the world and its people a million times over. If a friend is backpacking through the middle of nowhere, contact can be made through a “push of a button,” but even that has changed: touchscreens are even speedier.

 

If your kidneys, lungs, or heart stop functioning, you might can get a new one. Medical knowledge has blossomed, despite setbacks from government interference. 3-D printers are changing the field a tad more, with doctors and scientists experimenting with the likes of printed windpipes. Laser, screening, and nano technologies have likewise improved in leaps and bounds.

 

At a local grocery store, it is a simple task to locate products from Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. In the past, consumers were confined to local products and producers. Needless to say, fruits and vegetables do not last long without refrigeration or modern preservation methods: even in the past decade, agriculture has exploded with innovation and technology.

 

Now is the best time to be alive in the history of the world, as far as the potential and accomplishments of free markets go and the ease and length of life. We have plenty of clues that it will get better in the near future. The free market, and the free market alone, is responsible for the snowballing technological improvements that are enhancing lives and slowing the effects of disease. Government regulations are merely slowing the process and hampering the power of freedom, evidenced by the difference between 19th century America and and 19th century Russia. Laissez faire economics, although never attempted in entirety, have given the human race as many useful ideas and products as intrusive governments allow. The “good old days” are gone anyway, and they are of the sort which will hopefully not return; now the only course is, naturally, to fully embrace private space travel, digital communication, and the economic system of freedom that allowed for these advances.

 

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Babies Are Liberal Part 2

Rachel Clark : December 11, 2013 10:54 am : Columns, Rachel

 

20121219 1300 Playmobil Christmas concert

“From now on, any dissenters will be placed in the tickle tube.” declared Emperor Whoopee, “And all math teachers who teach long division will scrub grout in my castle.”

 

The quote was typical of the fictional ruler of Whoopeetopia, a country of small figurines ruled by a two-inch Emperor.

 

As many children do, my brother, my sister, and I had dreamt up a peculiar world populated by these plastic people. The Emperor was a supreme dictator, oftentimes brutal – evidenced by his above comment about dissenters going to the tickle tube – but he also had a soft side. He built a Stuff-Mart on the table once. He sometimes imported soda and cake from other parts of the house. Every year, he allowed citizens to use their weapons during lovebug-hunting season.

 

Just like many modern dictators, he had amenities that none of his subjects could claim for their own: a bathroom, a trash can, a mailbox, a house, a convertible, and a bed. Hundreds of people lived in the small Whoopeetopian Empire, yet there were only four houses in the land. It was not due to his restricting the luxuries, but rather to a socialist economy that was so dysfunctional that nothing was available in the first place.

 

The little people would have lived a dismal existence due to the economic policies that Whoopee – who did whatever we told him to do – enacted throughout his reign.

 

Whoopeetopia was a creation solely of three young siblings, who had yet to understand a word of Marx. Yet the Empire that we designed was governed by a dictator, suffered through a strictly socialist economy and massive shortages, and with law enforcement and an army that resembled Nazi brown-shirts more than anything else.

 

Authoritarian and centralized, the governmental structure of the Empire was more stable than Washington (even toddlers and young children can come up with something more peaceful than that) but provided next to nothing as far as individual liberty goes.

 

Leftist adults choose what they do or do not support in nearly the same manner as we did. Welfare programs, environmental regulations, heavy taxes, and interventionist economic policies are catching to empty brains, it seems. Children and leftists think alike, as far as economics go.

 

Strangely enough, the socialist Empire collapsed. It is a shadow of its former self. Even in a fantasy land on the coffee table, socialism doesn’t work and has no potential for succeeding. Children and leftists both fail to realize this.

 

 

 

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The Curse of Pudewa

Rachel Clark : November 30, 2013 9:31 pm : Columns, Rachel

The thesaurus is a habit-forming book.

The thesaurus is a habit-forming book.

Every home-educated individual can commiserate with my affliction. As an inchoative litterateur, I eagerly commenced with the studious business of disquisitions and causeries, prolegomenons and Promethean commentary. Delving into the macrocosm of “-ly” words and the imperative nature of numerous adjectives and varied sentence structures, carefully I absorbed what a digital writing teacher assured me was the ticket to literary acclaim amongst even the most erudite professors and authors.

 

It was not to be. Like an unshakeable addiction or an insolvably resolute ritual, my unacceptably wordy habits fiercely and unforgivably cling to my brain. It is an infamous curse, with millions of mutations and millions of carriers.

 

My ailment is specific. To many self-help writers suffering from Logorrheic Grandiloquence, it is informally known as the Caliginous and Stygian Plague. To the unfortunate family stuck with Logorrheic Grandiloquence carriers, it is simply known as the “Grammar Nazi Syndrome.” (Other mutations include the Oratory Flatulence Contagion and the Multisyllabic Incoherence Disorder.) To me, this disorder is known as the Curse of Pudewa.

 

Andrew Pudewa never meant to teach students what I learned from him, I take it. My interpretation and strict adherence to a banned word list and a minimum requirement of modifiers propped up my writing, perhaps wowing my peers and teacher friends in second or third grade, but it eventually formulated a habit that was the worst for the career that I aspire to in journalism and commentary.

 

He barred me from using the word said. Whenever I write an article, I type at forty words per minute — my brain moves faster. When I edit an article, I read at sixty words per minute — my brain moves faster.

 

Whenever I face the obstacle of a quotation, everything comes to a stop. Said? I can’t say said. Said is banned. My subconscious demands that I choose anything but that four-letter word that Pudewa told me to hate. Explained, noted, stated, exclaimed, shrieked, added, implored, questioned, snarled, cried, snored, snapped. Is there anything else you can do? I conduct a crazed mental search. I employ a couple online thesauruses and at least a stack of printed tomes, but nothing aids my addiction to words. Yet consciously I acknowledge sure, said is fine. I need to use said.

 

I fight this Curse constantly. I have managed to tone it down some, but you understand. You’ve read my writing. Words that previously only I knew and regularly used (“kerfuffle”, “flapdoodle”, “sesquipedalian”, and “honorificibilitudinitatibus”, for example) have seeped into the household vocabulary. Writing a hard news article is like writing in a foreign language for me.

 

I recommend that you cease from resting your eyes upon the cursed vocabulary that you will see here. It is possible, contrary to the popular consensus, to become infected through a screen or page. Beware the Curse of Pudewa. You will never be rid of it.

 

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Life With a Windows 8 Operating System

Rachel Clark : November 26, 2013 9:43 pm : Columns, Rachel

Most people take for granted the lives they live as human beings, never stopping to consider what their plight might be if it had so happened that instead of the flesh-and-blood sort of man, God had made humankind like computers with Windows 8 operating systems. The life this sort of man might lead would be incomprehensible, to say the least.

 

If you were like a computer, for instance, you could never read a book without carefully saving the information to your brain every five minutes. Losing a file would be pretty bad, considering that the book would have to be read again. Cooking may even be a trickier feat.

 

Every day of your entire life, you would live in fear that the power might go out – in which case, your brain would be wiped out. Assassins wouldn’t shoot you, they would just pull the plug. If you wanted to go hiking, make sure that you bring plenty of batteries and that you stay close to a cell phone tower.

 

Instead of reading a book about herbs when you want self-help for a virus, you would read a book about programming and coding. (Being careful to save your progress every five minutes, of course.)

 

When you might think too hard, are stressed, or are faced with a dilemma, your functions may freeze up. With all the energy that you have left, you will put your head, twist your ear, and lift your right leg: it’s your “restart” button.

 

History lessons might be more fun – you could just download the memories and experiences of other people. Not to mention that if somebody else has a function, like inspiring oratory or musical talent, all you would have to do is buy the same program or learn their coding secrets.

 

You wouldn’t sleep, but you would have habits that closely resemble narcolepsy when you are ill. Throughout the day you would crash to the floor in bewilderment, your eyes glazed over in bright blue with error signals flashing through your eyes. A whimsical “frowny face”  will appear on your visage. This is how most men would die.

 

Of course, instead of conquerors or dictators like Alexander the Great, Napoleon, or Hitler, the greatest programmers and computer gurus would be the ones to take over. Not through violence, but through the all-powerful keyboard.

 

The all-powerful keyboard ...

The all-powerful keyboard …

This is ridiculous something to think about on Thursday’s upcoming holiday, but be thankful that Bill Gates is not our creator.

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1998

Rachel Clark : November 11, 2013 3:29 pm : Columns, Rachel

I was born in 1998, a mid-term election year. I’m sure that as in every election since 1973, the right to life was a hot topic. Congressmen and Senators vowed, as they still do, to ban abortion. At the least, conservatives claimed they would institute more regulations. If the candidates leaned left, they promised to give more federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

1998

As a curious spectator and a marginal participant in the 2012 elections, I observed the some of the same provocateurs inciting a hullaballoo over the same issues as in the November 3, 1998 elections. Those pro-choice rabble-rousers have kept alive a continual political donnybrook since 1998.

 

I often stop to think about the many babies that would have been born in 1998, but whose lives were cut off before they had a chance to prove themselves because of special-interest incendiaries. Lobbyists proclaimed a “woman’s right to choose” in 1997, 1998, and throughout the three decades before. Because of their efforts, many fell in a tragic trap that they have regretted for the last fifteen years. But the murdered babies that would now be teenagers like myself are the true victims of this political artifice.

1998 election

How many of those 1998 babies would have been my friends or acquaintances I will never know. Perhaps one or two of them, when I was a young child, would have played with me. Perhaps we would have attended the same pre-school. Perhaps we would share the same passion for writing and reading.

 

At the very least, I know that a few of these 1998 babies would have grown up in my hometown. The child that lost his or her life lost an irreplaceable treasure, but so did the world that instigated such an action.

 

The number of future presidents, congressmen, inventors, actors, innovators, scientists, mathematicians, writers, musicians, actors, soldiers, fathers, and mothers that we lost to the abortion industry in 1998 is incalculably large.

 

A man who surely changed the world, Abraham Lincoln said, “If there is anything a man can do well, I say let him do it. Give him a chance.” One of the most powerful things that you can give to any person is a chance.

 

In 1998, in the United States alone, over 1,319,000 children were denied a chance at life. There are few parallels one can draw from 1998 to 2012, but one parallel that can be drawn is certainly that the right to life is still under attack.

 

Until I too leave the world, I will be left wondering how my life would be different, and how the world would be different, if in 1998 those children had been spared.

 

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It Can and Will Be Morning in America Again

Rachel Clark : November 7, 2013 1:06 pm : Rachel

 

One year has passed since the fateful 2012 elections, in which Republican nominee Mitt Romney lost miserably. Republicans barely maintained a majority in the House – 234 Republicans to 201 Democrats, compared to a previous division of 242 Republicans and 193 Democrats.

It can and will be morning in America again.

It can and will be morning in America again.

 

On November 6 last year, the Democrat-controlled Senate merely strengthened its leftist ties: the 112th Congress boasted 51 Democrats to 47 Republicans, but the 113th Congress had a division of 53 Democrats to 45 Republicans.

 

Since then, numerous alleged crises have occurred. The “fiscal cliff” showed up at the end of 2012, and 2013 has been no less financially disastrous. Budget problems, debt ceiling annoyances, minor spending cuts, Obamacare glitches (What can be expected?) and a sixteen-day government shutdown made a combination resulting in a dissatisfied nation. Most voters prefer cockroaches to Congress. A rising deficit and a debt so large that even the government doesn’t know its size are looming problems, but hope should remain in the hearts of Americans.

 

On November 9, 1620, after religious persecution, time in prison, outright deception, and a miserable sixty—five day voyage in crowded, squalid conditions, the pilgrims arrived in the New World. The worst was yet to come. Over half of the assemblage would die from illness and starvation. With heavy hearts, they cried out to God for help and guidance. Suffice to say, these Pilgrims of Leyden did not expect good to come of this endeavor that had proved fatal to so many of their loved ones.

 

On April 3, 1865, Richmond, capitol of the Confederate States of America, was in flames. After a grueling war of four years, Union forces had captured the city. Over one million men died for this moment, but that was only half of the tragedy. The war was over. Tensions would remain – for almost another hundred years. It was not simply divided, but hopelessly shattered. Newspapers’ predictions were less than optimistic. Much of the nation was starving or in desperate need of supplies. The economy was plunging into a panic. Just a week after the Union victory for which he had so faithfully fought, President Lincoln was assassinated. Things were looking worse every minute, and many decided then that there was little hope for a brighter future.

 

On October 29th, 1929, began more than a decade of hard times and poverty. Leaving many without means of supporting themselves, the stock market crash – considered the worst economic downfall in the history of the United States – left a rich nation poor and prosperous families destitute. No matter what economists or theorists or scientists predicted or blamed as a cause, the harsh reality remained. Escaping the financial quagmire was difficult. Before America found a way out of the map, it had been plunged into a war that claimed over sixty million lives worldwide.

 

Tragedy after tragedy defines the history of the world. Here and there, one must admit, are a few good times. Here and there are some years when the world was at peace. Before the founding of our great nation, those years were more difficult to find. The world didn’t coin the term American Exceptionalism because they thought American people were somehow mentally or physically superior, but because Americans tried harder than the rest. It was because they tried, with all of their might, to preserve their rights and at the same time to acknowledge why they were rights. Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges, America found a way to grow, to prosper, and to right its wrongs.

 

On April 30, 1789, General George Washington became the first President of the United   States. His administration experienced difficulties – in fact, many difficulties. Unlike the violent and corrupted elections in democracies or republics forming in modern times, a peaceful vote decided the leader. Our fledgling country began to prosper. With a strong Constitution and an even more strong-willed people, America was acknowledged as a blessed nation.

 

On October 29, 1879, Thomas Edison created the first operational incandescent lamp. After a considerable stint of what others labeled as failure, he noted that he had not failed. He had found “10,000 ways that won’t work.” He explained, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Edison remains one of the greatest examples of American ingenuity and true American Exceptionalism.

 

On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man in history to step foot on the moon. In more ways than one, America had accomplished what the rest of the world had only dreamed of. Despite the complexity of the mission and its scientific significance, the moon landing was nothing compared to the Americans who had paved the way and the free country in which they lived.

When America realizes that the blessings of small government and strong military outweigh the exponential detriments of superficial and Machiavellian “benefits” offered by a sprawling state and decaying defense, America can recover. Until the mindset of the United States truly changes – not merely swayed in the short-term by sleazy election ads or a scandal on the left – nothing else can change.

 

Whether one examines the year of 1776, 1876, or 1976, America has faced what appeared to be insurmountable challenges: a tiny colony taking on the world’s most formidable military; the impossible task of bringing back together an estranged nation ripped apart by war; or facing the Carter Administration’s catastrophic foreign relations, the self-inflicted “energy crisis,” and a dismal swamp of national embarrassment. The latter bears a striking resemblance to our current problem.

 

Perhaps the solution will likewise resemble President Reagan. He knew that “for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.” In 2016, “hope and change”, at least, will leave lives and liberty alone. Although nobody knows for sure what challenges America faces in the future, everybody knows that the darkest hour is just before the dawn.

Victory is not effortless, nor will victory excuse you from the effort; but one day soon, it can and will be morning in America again.

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Babies Are Liberal

Rachel Clark : October 27, 2013 5:08 pm : Columns, Rachel

Children are born with a sinful nature, as evidenced from their behavior. From the moment they are physically capable, babies and toddlers disobey their parents. If it is convenient, they may lie — and sometimes they may invent a mistruth for the fun of it. Even the best of toddlers occasionally throw temper tantrums or fits. The majority of children grow out of the tantrums, lies, and physical violence, excepting politicians and liberal journalists.

 

Children are born, however, with more than a basic sin nature: man’s entire way of thinking is corrupt from the start. Lacking basic thinking skills or logic, youngsters are inherently liberals.

 

Although perhaps a sense of social morality exists in young children (until or unless their parents or schools teach otherwise), their economic theories will be surprisingly similar to the ideas set forth by the democrat party. Big government and bureaucrats are easier to grasp for the young mind than the “invisible hand” that Adam Smith, the father of capitalism, described. Because of ignorance and innocence, children will assume that laws will be followed to the letter — thus laws against cigarettes, road-killing kittens that are crossing the street, or (in my case) misspelling would be the end to a problem.

 

When I was much younger — probably in pre-school or kindergarten — I spotted a sign for a business with a deliberately misspelled word. I asked “why in the world” would someone be allowed to misspell in an advertisement. I was given the answer that it was “creative.” Replying with a tone that only kindergarteners can muster, I said that such misspellings should be banned.

 

Back when I was a liberal.

Back when I was a liberal, in 2003. 

Even when I was older, seven or eight, I sneered at the idea of having two fast food restaurants so close together in our town.

 

“It is such a waste. People could do better with just one. And what if one goes out of business?” I naively said. My statement reveals the mindset of a true leftist, who not only disapproves of tough competition and market innovation, but who also thinks that subsidies and bailouts might be appropriate.

 

At age nine or ten, despite having taken a logic course, I still could not think straight: I was swerving left at every turn. I despised “rich” people who had “so much money they don’t know what to do with it.” Driving through a wealthy part of Beaumont brought out the jealousy in me. Just like a democrat, I growled that the wealthy did not deserve their hard-earned wealth. At the same time, I longed that I was in their position and owned such a house.

 

My mind has obviously been redeemed since then. Nevertheless, it goes to show that all conservatives were once liberals. It also shows why liberals reason as they do: a desire to own without work, a desire for automatic success for everybody no matter what or how they act, and the nature of a control freak that manages to back up petty preferences with the state.

 

The idea that government can collect money and redistribute it fairly sounds so wonderful to the young mind. The idea that big businesses are “out to get you” and are all corrupt from the core can sound very plausible. The idea that government is a simpler and smarter solution than the “greedy robber barons” seems like a true statement when one lacks any sort of logic or critical thinking skills — as is the case with most children aged six or seven years.

 

Liberals are like children without the innocence (plus they are nowhere near as cute as an average three-year-old). Liberals throw temper tantrums, too, but instead of pouring out their wrath by banging their head on the floor or by throwing plastic toys, liberals will bash others, throw insults and filthy rhetoric. They always finish by calling for more government in any given situation.

 

It is part of a human sin nature that we are born as liberals. Staying a kid at heart is fine; having a child-like faith is something one should have. However, shun the examples of the likes of Nancy Pelosi and John Maynard Keynes: learn how to think and never stop thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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