(Centennial Fellow) Conservatives and libertarians fight about social issues so routinely that we assume the differences are insurmountable. Most everyone on the center-right is dubious of big government, but when it comes to protecting the unborn or preserving the traditional definition of marriage, we are divided as to government's proper role.
Yet when the threat of big government grows so ominous that it overshadows all else, a "freedom coalition" emerges, as is now happening in response to the reign of Obama, Reid and Pelosi. Inevitably, however, infighting resumes once the threat subsides.
If freedom truly is our unifying principle, then it alone is the non-negotiable standard that can build lasting bonds on the Right without asking anyone to forsake principle.
That's the message of the National Freedom Initiative, brain child of Kevin Miller, former dean of business at Colorado Christian University, now headed by former U.S. Senator William Armstrong. [Editor's note: Both Kevin Miller and Mark Hillman are also fellows at CCU's Centennial Institute.]
Miller is a committed social conservative who concludes that "virtue politics" not only has failed to achieve the goals of social conservatives but that it's been co-opted by the Left to expand intrusive government into micromanaging health care, energy and the environment - just for starters.
"Once you agree to virtue politics, then everyone can play," Miller says. "It's a matter of raw political power because (politicians) get to define virtue."
By advocating "freedom nationally, virtue locally," NFI challenges conservatives to apply their energies to social causes locally where they can change hearts and lives.
"Christians are extremely good at virtue locally," Miller says. Crisis pregnancy centers, family ministries, food drives and prison outreaches change hearts and lives regardless of who wins elections. By changing hearts, Christians can save unborn lives, strengthen families and change the culture.
Such a strategic shift challenges Christians to define ourselves by personal ministry more than by political activism. That's a shrewd maneuver to counter the tendency by liberals and media to claim Christian conservatives are more interested in power than in people.
More importantly, practicing virtue locally doesn't rely on or expand government and isn't undermined when the human frailties of politicians are exposed.
"Virtue and righteousness comes through a changed heart, not compliance with rules," Miller adds. "Christians know from the New Testament that virtue is not accomplished even by biblical law. How much more powerless is civil law?"
Practicing virtue locally doesn't imply surrendering to the liberal political agenda. Rather, it establishes a solid foundation of liberty that unites social and fiscal conservatives, as well as libertarians.
"I don't want to concede one bit of territory to liberal or progressive values," Miller says. "The goal here is that (we) band together to 'just say no' to all virtue politics enacted at the federal level."
Laws that define crimes against persons or property are necessary to preserve freedom, but not every biblical injunction against sin requires a corresponding law - much less a federal law.
NFI offers no Solomonic resolution for abortion policy because it turns on the unresolved question of when an unborn child's life merits basic constitutional protection.
Miller simply suggests that others in the freedom coalition respect the pro-life voters' belief that abortion constitutes a crime against a person. Meanwhile, pro-life voters must remain mindful that big government threatens freedom in ways that, to others, are more readily discernible than abortion.
"God intended for us to have free will; that's why Christianity isn't coercive," he adds. "Likewise, the Constitution is a freedom document. Preserving that freedom must be the highest priority of the national government."
Today, the threat to freedom is urgent and requires all hands on deck.
By promoting "freedom nationally and virtue locally," the National Freedom Initiative proposes a win-win strategy that responds to the current threat and could become the cornerstone for a "new birth of freedom."
('76 Contributor) There is only one way out of the mess we are in: to face the truth of how we got into it and apply the proper medicine. How did the United States, the leader of the free world, get on to the road to a totalitarian system financed by American tax payers?
Most Americans do not have a clue what a totalitarian system is. Let me tell you from experience: it is a godless society where there is no justice. The totalitarian leaders are always right while the opposition is always wrong. Rules are based on lies forced upon people by godless and corrupt functionaries. Totalitarian systems grow out of immorality. Immoral people can be manipulated; moral people cannot. Protest, and you will be sanctioned. We will experience the end of freedom and the rule of the lie. Founding Fathers will be presented as greedy capitalists. There will be multi-religious “faiths” which includes watered down Christianity. We had that in Germany. The “German Christians” promoted National Socialism in religious language.
You will be told by our president Barack Obama and the godless bunch of politicians what to believe. In the global ideological battle for the role of God in human society they stand contrary to our Founders. They are neither Christians nor patriots but enemies of God and the Constitution. They aim at replacing God’s commandments by making people believe that they know how to solve every crisis. We are not in a battle between socialism and capitalism. That is only superficial. The real battle is between God and almighty man, between truth and lies.
A free and strong America stands in the way of the global rule of the lie. The trillion dollar projects are not meant to resurrect the American economy, I believe, but to destroy it. Marc Faber, better known as Dr. Doom, compares US financial policy with Zimbabwe’s. There you paid 100 billion Zimbabwe dollars for three eggs in March of 2009. In the twenties, my mother went to my father’s office every day with a big suitcase to pick up the salary which filled the suitcase. Even today I do not understand how people with a fixed salary lived. After WWII, on weekends, hundreds of thousands of city people poured into the agricultural parts of Germany to exchange their valuables for food.
Nazi Germany failed because of godlessness. When I began to figure out how the Nazi atrocities could happen I noticed that many people, including church-going Christians, lived as I had done: for myself and not bothering about what went on in government. I realized that as I am so is my nation. I was a liar who lied for small personal advantages, and if all German people were like me, it was no wonder Hitler could get away with his atrocities. He lied for big political stakes. With my lies I, who detested the Nazis, was closer to Hitler than to Jesus Christ. Going to church did not make me a Christian.
Godlessness is denial of God’s commandments. There is the personal denial, for instance somebody who lies or commits adultery. And then there is the national denial, the organized abandonment of God’s commandments in the form of laws or other legal means, like abortion or holocaust, making murder legal. What is evil becomes legitimate. These procedures begin with a lie to oneself. One convinces oneself that this lie is necessary for the good of the nation. But in reality it is for the advantage of the liar. After lying repeatedly the liar doesn’t realize what he does and he cannot distinguish any more between right and wrong. And that is the moral position of most politicians today. If not addressed, not trillions of dollars will make a difference.
Human nature is the same around the world. Every person has in his heart the voice of evil and the voice of truth. Evil does not present itself as such but as beautiful and tempting. Without a moral guideline men or women will follow the easy path of appeasing what is evil and will become part of it. Every society, including democracies, will end in a totalitarian system. No wonder that those Democrats who want to sell us into totalitarian slavery are also the vanguard of immorality. They should be sent home.
In these days we celebrate in Christian America the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of God, our savior. Europeans who followed Jesus made God’s commandments the basis of our Constitution. It led to a rich society and the most powerful nation in the world. However, a considerable part of citizens have forgotten its roots. Our policies are the damnable manipulation of other people for their own advantage. May God have mercy on this nation. May America find a national rebirth in Jesus Christ, the only way out of the mess.
('76 Editor) Good news. Death is on defense this week. That’s a big reason for the excitement about Christmas and Hanukkah. It should make these holidays welcome even among people who don’t share the biblical beliefs they represent. And it should humble the believers themselves. Civil harmony would benefit. “Merry Christmas” and “Peace on Earth” are still annually proclaimed in lights on the City and County Building, after Denver’s mayor decided against substituting something generic a few years ago. Following a similar bout of hesitation, small-town EnGolden still has its menorah display. We all ought to cheer if we love life.
The Christian faith, along with the Jewish tradition from which it grew, has enlivened our civilization through the centuries with a message of unshakable hope for the human future. The Old and New Testaments argue for an eternal reality in which the grave is not the last word. America as we know it is more humane, dynamic, and purposeful as a result. That’s well worth a celebration every December.
Long before Jesus or Moses, of course, rituals of rebirth were observed at this time of year as the life-giving sun starts its comeback and the days lengthen. So if you prefer a winter solstice festival, fine. Solar cycles will always be with us. But they don’t put death on defense as Christmas and Hanukkah do.
“Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” says the fatalism that believes bodily existence is all there is. Scripture contradicts it. Economic guru John Maynard Keynes gave the modernist version when he shrugged, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” Don’t be so sure, say the faithful.
Hope of immortality through their descendants was already a given for the Jews among whom Jesus was born. Many also believed in a bodily resurrection. Christ’s followers were sure of it. Correct or not, that meant conducting themselves in this world so as to be worthy of the next. Moral seriousness grew. All of society felt the gentling effect.
If death cancels life, period, why shouldn’t might make right? Why shouldn’t ethics begin and end with “if it feels good, do it”? It’s different if eternal punishment awaits brutality and tyranny. New incentives come with expecting we’ll have to live forever with the consequences of how we treat each other. This was the awesome force of good that arrived with the baby in the manger.
The Romans who ruled Bethlehem, like the Magi who brought gifts, idealized justice but never knew its author. Knowledge of “the Supreme Judge of the World,” as the Declaration of Independence calls him, is uniquely the Judeo-Christian contribution to history. The result was a vast increase in motivation for achieving peace on earth through goodwill to men.
Peace and justice are far from realized, as each day’s headlines attest. But infanticide, genocide, slavery, and the subjugation of women, once accepted, are now condemned. Freedom and democracy, once rare, are spreading. Heartless death-dealing and all kinds of living death are lessening in our world because of the Hebrew girl’s son who was “born that man no more may die.”
Think about it. Every news story about economic relief or homeless shelters or animal rescue bespeaks a life-affirming ethos that is the very opposite of Lord Keynes’s “dead in the long run” callousness. We’re that way partly because of a faith tradition that sees past death.
As for the so-called Christmas wars, isn’t government or commercial sanction of Jesus’ birthday a false issue? He asked for nothing of the kind. He did ask us who follow him to be more childlike, less demanding. Faithful and unfaithful alike need to lighten up. After all, many believe the light of the world is here – and they don’t just mean the solstice.
As Christmas comes, reactions abound. Since the fourth century AD, when Roman Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity, church service attendance in Western Civilization is greatest at Christmas and Easter.
Prior to Constantine, Christianity was illegal and thus did not attract people who were not deeply committed. Ironically during this period of intense persecution the number of Christians grew at a phenomenal rate, with an organic underground-style network of small home-based churches (much like China has been experiencing since the rule of Mao Zedong). That amazing growth, before Constantine, laid the foundation for Christianity’s widespread acceptance leading to a more organized Christianity.
Yet in many ways organizing Christianity stifled the life-transforming power that grew the earlier organic Church. And in more recent decades the spike in attendance at services for Christmas and Easter has decreased, while critical reactions toward or around these two special Christian days has increased in both number and intensity.
The name CHRISTmas forces most people to consider at some level: Who was Christ and why should his living two-thousand years ago make any difference to us today in our hectic modern life where we are bombarded with ideas trying to answer life’s most basic questions?
Many find this season warm and joyous. Yet others respond from indifference to an outright repulsive reaction to Jesus Christ’s claim to be God, the creator, sustainer and restorer of humanity and the world.
Some reject Biblical moral boundaries, while other rejections are connected to horrific acts done in the name of Christianity, or at least by self-identified Christians. While it is important to acknowledge such acts as horrific, it is just as important to ascertain if such acts are condoned or condemned by Biblical teaching, lest we throw baby Jesus out with the filthy and corrupt bath water.
As Americans, does the Christmas story have anything to do with: our freedom to think and express ideas; our freedom of religion; the equality of people; or even ideas like the size and reach of government?
Clearly the individual rights and freedoms that have long-defined America are not because of where America sits on the globe, but rather they fall directly from a worldview that sees humanity as unique and special and worthy of protection. And Christianity, which teaches that people are created in the image of God and that God came in human form and gave his life to provide a means for every person to have a restored and harmonious relationship with their Creator, puts a value on human life that is arguably much higher than that of any other set of ideas.
Cultures, which have embraced the Biblical value of humanity, have delivered the greatest level of individual liberty. While not all American founders embraced orthodox Christianity, they did embrace the Biblically-based view of human nature and that every person is created equal “with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The American experience, just like our own life experience, has had its struggles putting these profound ideas into practice. Yet had these ideas not sprung from a real foundation the American experiment in liberty would have been a futile effort, like every other culture that does not value humanity.
In recent decades some in America have been pushing America away from its foundation, with the result being increased chaos. Chaos has been answered by increasing the size and reach of government, leading to a decrease in personal liberty and making our personal and national future much less secure. We would be wise to look at the results of godless national experiments before we take the leap.
If atheism or any other set of ideas is true then by all means let us live life accordingly, but let us not take that jump without first investigating the idea which arguably has most radically and positively changed the lives of people and civilizations: Biblical Christianity.
Granted Biblical Christianity, unlike most other sets of ideas, does not align well with human logic, where might makes right, or utopia is achieved through personal effort. Does that not suggest that Biblical Christianity is not a human creation, but more likely revelation from our Creator? Even apart from the continual historical and archeological validations of Biblical history, Biblical teaching on human nature, the human condition, and the path to restoration, ring incredibly true with human experience.
Humanity is creative and desires to express that creativity. True faith cannot be forced upon someone. Vast power (control of resources) invites corruption, whether in business, politics, government, or religion. Left unbounded by inner moral guides or external militant guides, people and cultures self-destruct. Incredible transformation and healing does result when people bond with their Creator. Indeed these human experiences align with the Biblical presentation of humanity.
Ideas do have consequences. Ideas that ring true with life experience yield better results for us individually and for cultures. This Christmas, consider investigating genuine Biblical Christianity directly from its source document and resting your future in ideas that ring true and truly transform.
Mark Shepard writes from Vermont, where he formerly served as a state senator.
(CCU Student) When asked to write on big things that college has taught me, I contemplated what I was going to write on. I thought about everything that has happened to me in the past three months, which entails many successes and heartbreaks simultaneously. In the end, I was reverted to the three themes from our University’s symposium: Family, Faith, and Freedom. I concluded that those three elements are vital to my everyday life and have taught me more than any textbook ever can.
Family. For a college freshman like myself, many students choose their college to either get away from or stay close to their family. It is often times a very impacting factor in the college decision process, as it was for me. Personally, I flew 2,000 miles to come here for college to attain self-reliance and independence. I have been reminded numerous times that this is indeed a mixed blessing; and while I have flourished in my new environment and taken advantage of my new freedoms, at the end of the day, I find myself phoning home to keep in touch with my parents. I’ve been taught that family is something that is irreplaceable and unique, something that through the thick and thin lasts for a lifetime.
Faith. This is a concept that I have grappled with for the past three months, but always found myself at rest when placing my life in Jesus Christ. Coming to Christian college, you expect to reach your fullest potential spiritually, as you are provided two chapels a week, Bible class, and Sunday morning church. But in my case, I became so involved and overwhelmed that I became numb to God for a period of time. I woke up one day and realized that I had forgotten which order my priorities truly belonged in. From there, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing, but I have realized that placing my complete life in God’s hands is the best way to live an effective life on earth.
Freedom. For eighteen years, I have never valued my freedom as extensively as I do now days. Never in my life did I imagine the government taking control of the banking, automobile, and healthcare industries. Who is to say within the next year that they won’t be telling me which football team I can cheer for? I am beginning to realize that I need to stop taking even the simplest of civil liberties for granted; and to trust that God has a plan through all of this.
College is nothing like I had ever imagined; is both good and bad ways concurrently. I have been blessed with people placed in my life who have guided me for these past three months and mentored me into a Godly young adult. I have also learned the hardships of self-management, which prove to seldom provide time to sit in silence and listen to what God has in store for me. When these times become tough, and things appear to be crumbling, I always look to Isaiah 43:19, which states: See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
Drew Goorabian is a CCU freshman from Clovis, California, and a member of the Centennial Institute Program Board.
(CCU Student) The general concept of attending college originally was presented to me in high school as a way to spend an exuberant amount of money in order to obtain a degree and practical life skills, all of this in order to potentially obtain a job sometime in the future. When it came down to choosing what college to attend after high school, I had good enough grades to where I could reasonably get into just about any college short of an Ivy League school. While I am not trying to downplay the importance of a good education, I wanted a college that was going to teach me more than just how to make money or be successful in an office setting. I wanted to nurture my faith and become a better man of God. Because I made the choice to go to CCU, I learned three important lessons that I learned not necessarily in the classroom, but through the people and social environment God has placed around me The first of these is that my education at CCU (or anywhere for that matter) is going to be what I make it out to be. I feel like anytime I talk to a graduating senior, their advice to me is that even though I can go to class just to get a good grade, the more I put into my education the more I will get out of it. I see this idea as a parallel of my spiritual life. God can provide me with the best church, friends, and environment, but when it comes down to it, I will get a lot more out of my relationship with Christ if I am willing to make it a priority and put more into it. Likewise, I can be getting the best education in the world but if I am not learning and growing as a man in Christ or if I am just attending class to make a good grade, it is going to be harder for me when I get out of school. However, if I am involved in a good church and am actively participating in a good Christian environment, then it will likely be easier for me to maintain my faith. While at the same time if I am presented with the best education and good job opportunities it will be easier for me to be successful. The second lesson I already knew to an extent, but grew to solidify and establish within my own life. I learned that I want to live life with God as my here and now reality, and not as some distant inference or philosophical ideal. While I believe I maintained a healthy relationship with Christ prior coming to college, I, like many Christians today, lived more through Biblical legalism then through a relationship with Christ. While I still have no overcome this completely I have come to realize that God’s word is not just a handbook of laws sent by some distant omnipotent being, but a guidebook sent by a loving Father who sincerely wants to see His children live up to the potential He created them to be. Like my father on earth, God wants the best for me and is there every day when I need Him. I know this may sound somewhat cliché at first, but recognizing that God and His word is not just some distant philosophy but the here and now reality was a huge step for me in my walk with Christ. The most important lesson I have taken from college so far is that the most significant way I can invest my time is in people. I see this as a very counter-cultural idea especially for anyone high school-college age group. Our entire lives up to this point have for the most part revolved around us. We need to get our grades up so we can get a good job or get into a good school, and we need to pad up our resume with our accomplishments in order to impress somebody in power. It is not difficult to see why living this way it can be easy to focus solely on yourself. I learned however that even if I do work hard to get the best internships and great grades, I simply will not be as fulfilled if I do not invest my energy in other people. Like most other parents in America, my parents would always have me finish my homework before hanging out with my friends. Now that I am in college, I realize that I need to set aside time and make it a priority just to see how life is going for somebody else. In no way am I advocating failing classes and skipping out on your extra-circulars just to see people. I am simply stating that when you are always on the go, it can be hard to make time for what is truly important at any stage in your life, and that is the people God has placed near you. Do not read this and think to yourself that a formal education is pointless and that you need to quit your job in order to hang out with your friends. I just have learned personally in my life I cannot live life solely trying to obtain my next goal such as an internship or good grades. When I look back at my college experience, I do not want to see someone who lived legalistically and whose main focus was to be as productive as possible, but someone who was able to affect and possibly completely change the lives of others.
JT Weinroth is a CCU sophomore from Sedalia, Colorado, and a member of the Centennial Institute Program Board.
(Denver Post, Nov. 22) Were you as shocked as I was to read in the paper last Sunday that Frontier Airlines’ new boss prays for his employees and sees them as made in the image of God? The very idea. Who would want to work for a man like that? It certainly cast a pall over my Thanksgiving season.
One of those offended by Bryan Bedford’s faith-based capitalism was Buie Seawell, a DU ethics professor and Presbyterian minister. Since principles such as respecting co-workers are “universal values,” scolded Seawell, “God would be pleased if we did that without doing it in his name.”
But the right reverend is wrong. The equal dignity of every individual is NOT a universal value. Ask the billions who live under Islamic, Hindu, or Marxist oppression. It matters whether we’re regarded as endowed by the Creator or evolved from slime. So acknowledgment of the Author of our liberties has been understood by great men from Washington and Lincoln to FDR and Reagan as being essential to the preservation of those liberties.
America’s tradition of Thanksgiving, first proclaimed by President Washington, is integral to this. When leaders in business and media, education and science, the military and the arts, as well as political leaders, reverence higher authority at this or any time of year, they ennoble themselves and all of us. Of clergy who rebuke them for it, the less said the better.
On this day in 1963, Nov. 22, two of the most influential men of the century died. One, of course, was John F. Kennedy, slain in Dallas. Remember his pledge that the United States would “pay any price, bear any burden, to ensure the survival and the success of liberty”? If our sense of purpose is less certain now, perhaps it’s from forgetting a truth asserted by another voice that was silenced the same day, C. S. Lewis.
“I was not born free,” insisted Lewis, the Oxford don and Christian apologist. “I was born to obey and adore.” Much as Washington, Wall Street, Hollywood, and Rev. Seawell might bridle at this idea, countless God-fearing Americans including Frontier’s Bedford would cheerfully assent. None of us is self-made or self-sufficient. Yet many of us forget it’s so. Only those who remember are fit for freedom. Thanksgiving Day is about the remembering.
Indeed at our house, as mentioned earlier, we try to make this a gratitude season, Thanksgiving month. Some of the markers are communal, others are personal. Some are celebratory and others somber. Day by day, regardless, it’s possible to say with Lincoln’s Second Inaugural – quoting the Psalms, after four years of war and only days before his own death – “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” During this present November, for example, only the ingrate could fail to lift up thanks on the 3rd for our voting rights, on the 9th for our Berlin Wall victory, and on the 11th for our brave veterans. Even in mourning the jihadist massacre at Fort Hood on the 5th, we had occasion to be thankful for our country’s compassion to victims, its justice to evildoers, its resilience in adversity. My family rejoiced in birthdays for a grandson on the 13th and a daughter on the 18th. What have been your family’s gratitude moments this month?
It was also on Nov. 22 back in 1858, notes historian Tom Noel, that our pioneer forebears organized Denver as a city. Achieving statehood 18 years later, they took the motto Nil Sine Numine, “Nothing without the Spirit.” It’s inscribed on the chairs, the stairs, and even the doorknobs in our State Capitol, reminding all who enter there to reverence higher authority. May we as Coloradans be not forgetful but mindful on Thanksgiving Day 2009.
('76 Contributor) As any visitor to Cuba will tell you, slogans like "Hasta la victoria siempre" (towards victory, always) or "Socialismo or muerte" (socialism or death) are dotted here and there all over the Caribbean island for fear that the long-suffering local population might lose sight of the ill-fated goals of the communist revolution that took place there under the leadership of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1959. The way things are going in France right now, pockets of little Cubas are very likely to sprout up all over the country as the summit on climate change in Copenhagen next month looms larger and larger. I personally know of one such Cuban-like ideological treadmill: the High School in Lyon, France’s second-largest city, where I am completing my third year as a teacher of Anglo-American Studies. About two months ago, straight from the French Department of Education came a diktat to the effect that all public schools in the country had to organize teaching activities aimed at promoting so-called environmentally-friendly sustainable development, i.e. socialism. I have been asked to participate. Needless to say that I have sustainably declined.
One of the ideas some of my colleagues have come up with though is to translate the speeches President Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown are expected to make in Denmark next month, and to flash up bits of the speeches on large TV screens dotted here and there all over the school for fear that the students might lose sight of the ill-fated goals of the green revolution that is currently taking place in France under the leadership of President Nicolas Sarkozy. With so much hot air coming out of the screens, I guess temperatures will rise exponentially all over the school and melt what little critical thinking is left in the French education system. As the episode illustrates, descriptions of President Sarkozy as a conservative are misleading. On global warming, as in many other policy areas, Sarkozy is just about as conservative as Newt Gingrich sitting on a couch with Speaker Pelosi touting misguided bipartisan efforts to save the planet. The green revolution currently going on in France is being every bit as destructive of individual freedom and responsibility as the ominous events of 1789 there, or, for that matter, those in Cuba more than 150 years later. In other words, welcome to the new land of scorching propaganda, brainwashing, intellectual goose-stepping and, I almost forgot, youth duly decked out in Guevara accessories and apparel as the latest fashion dictates. Are you sure you want to be next, America?
The author is a French citizen with a PhD in political science who formerly lived in Colorado.
(CCU Faculty) My conservatism is not due to either nature or nurture. Neither my parents nor my grandparents were religious or conservative. In fact, everyone in my family was Democrat until the Reagan administration, yet now none of them are.
My conversion to Christ came in the early 70s after four years of college as a history major, specializing in ancient history. I became more and more fascinated with how the Bible fit into history, how archeology seemed to confirm events in the Bible, and how Christianity so effectively described the human condition.
My conversion to limited government came in the mid-70s while stationed with the Army in Berlin. I lived near the wall and spend my time listening to the phone calls of Communist East Germans. In the late 70s I began a graduate program in Modern European History at a campus of the University of California, where I specialized in totalitarianism (specifically Fascism, Nazism, and Communism). In 1976 I voted for Jimmy Carter, but by 1980 my enthusiasm for big government solutions began to wane. In 1984 I tried to convince my grandmother to vote for Reagan instead of Mondale. She replied that she was a Texan who had never voted Republican, and that to vote for one would be to disgrace her ancestors who were all from the South.
My conversion to free market economics came in the 80s, after teaching high school several years on the east side of LA. The state of California passed legislation requiring that every high school senior take a semester of economics. In less than a year an economics teacher had to be found for every high school in the state. My principal discovered that I was the only member of the faculty who had taken several economics courses as an undergrad, so he told me that I would teach the new course. Unfortunately, I had attended a Cal State campus, where my professors were Keynesian and taught economics is a manner which seemed incomprehensible. I told my principal that I was not up to the challenge, but he informed me of a summer program at UCLA run by the Academy for Economic Education, where I could be adequately equipped to teach the course. My instructor was an economics professor from Pepperdine, who convinced me that free market economics was vastly superior to what I was taught at Cal State. Over the next several years as I taught the course, the superiority of the free market was confirmed by how Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan had transformed their economies.
There are still a few conservative ideas which I have a few problems with, but in every case they seem to be far better than the liberal or socialist alternative.
('76 Contributor) Rhetoric often manipulates our understanding through bias-laden misuse of language. We all have encountered this. "Progressive, " for example, suggests innovative, visionary and benevolent. But most "progressive" policies merely regurgitate antiquated notions that were disproved decades ago. A principal contemporary example of outdated "progressive" policy would be the flurry of big-spending, big-government legislation being touted by this Administration, merely repeating the failed economic policies that worsened and prolonged the Great Depression.
Conversely, "conservative" has come to signify stingy and contrary. Actually, there are two distinct forms of conservatism: fiscal and social. Fiscal conservatives believe that spending should be restrained, not over-taxing the public, especially during this economic downturn. Conservative fiscal restraint limits government spending just as people must limit their home budgets. Social conservatives believe in traditional interpersonal values, such as integrity and responsibility.
"Benefits" implies improvement. Properly used, the word denotes the favorable outcome for which we must commit some expenditure of time and resources. When used by the government, though, some people expect the proverbial "free lunch" free for them, paid by someone else.
"Government-funded" has no meaning whatsoever. At any level, no government has any money except ours. Taxes and debt are the only sources of government funding. That is, WE pay for "government-funded" projects. If a politician promises to deliver yet more benefits (see above) at no additional cost, that money must then be taken from some already-funded program.
Impassioned rhetoric should instantly signal the need for wariness, carefully assaying the logic and validity of the speaker's or writer's words. Bias-laden buzz-words especially trigger our alarm bells, protecting us from their misleading damage.