The first Earth Day in 1970 came to pass with a plethora of statements from the usual alarmist suspects (e.g., Paul Ehrlich, Dennis Hayes, U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson, et al) that, in hindsight, should make any sane person laugh out loud. The fact making these a lot less funny is that similarly outrageous statements are being made today by the likes of Al Gore & Co. A sampling of the 1970 stuff appears at the end of this commentary.
The fatal fault underlying much said by these disciples of Thomas Malthus is their apparent ignorance of history. Thus, they are oblivious to the wisdom in a metaphor coined, I think, by Sir Isaac Newton, circa 1675, while writing to another giant of science of his day, Robert Hooke: "If I have seen further (than you and Descartes) it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants."
The Malthusian conceit leading to such as 1972's The Limits to Growth is that human progress cannot continue beyond the present so behavior must now be strictly controlled to avoid the disasters conjured up in the Malthusians' vivid imaginations. One might put it, "We midgets cannot contribute to growth of the giant on whose shoulders we stand (all accumulated human knowledge), so we must retreat."
A contemporary example I like to cite is the story of natural gas supply today vis-à-vis 1978, when Congress enacted, and Pres. Carter signed, the National Energy Act. That act comprised the Powerplant and Industrial Fuel Use Act and four other acts. The fuel use act commanded a rapid switch to coal, considered necessary mostly on account of imminent depletion of natural gas availability to zero (as well as the need—surprise, surprise—to reduce oil imports!). We now have a glut of natural gas on account of drilling and fracturing techniques undreamt of by the 1978 crowd.
This Malthsian scarcity stuff is manna for the socialist one-world government types. "Sustainability" is their code word of choice. A fairly extensive discussion of that appears here on my website.
Colorado's flagship public university at Boulder, like hundreds of other institutions of purportedly higher learnng all over the country, is all in to "sustainability." But don't ask for a working definition. I have, and the Chancellor's office either cannot, or is afraid to, provide it.
1970 Earth Day Predictions
“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.” • Kenneth Watt, ecologist
“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” • George Wald, Harvard Biologist
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” • Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“By… some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.” • Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist
“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.” • Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day
“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.” • Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University
“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….” • Life Magazine, January 1970
“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.” • Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.” • Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist “By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’” • Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.” • Sen. Gaylord Nelson
“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” • Kenneth Watt, Ecologist
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My wife volunteers with a ministry to those almost homeless along Colfax, the main east-west road through Denver before the interstate went in. At both the east and west ends of Colfax are a string of old motels built in the 40s and 50s. Most are now filled with people who have fallen through the cracks of life. They aren’t yet living on the street, just struggling in little hovels which used to be motel rooms, trying to survive and keep up with the rent. Many get a pay check or social security, but are broke and hungry by the end of the month.
Most have jobs but at minimum wage, or take day labor in an economy where their labor is hardly needed. Admittedly, most have made mistakes somewhere along the line: dropping out of high school, becoming a teen-aged mother, using drugs or alcohol, getting sent to jail, losing a job, etc. Others are just living the marginal lifestyle in which they were raised, never able to rise above just barely making it.
Mean Street Ministry was started by businessman James Fry in 2000 and has volunteers from several evangelical churches. It has a food bank, provides information on jobs, public services, places to get legal aid or counseling, churches which offer free meals on various evenings during the week, even support groups like AA to help them improve their lives.
While my wife visits folks on Colfax nearly every day, I go with her about once a week. One evening, while delivering food from the food bank, a family pulled into the small motel in a van. The dad and mom were crying and their 12-year old daughter seemed in shock. Their home had been repossessed earlier that day. All they could take was jammed into their van. The dad had a job stocking shelves graveyard shift at a grocery store, and barely had enough money for a few nights rent. We were worried for them, as that motel was no place for a 12-year old girl. We left food and referred them to the ministry, who found a more suitable place to live a few days later.
Last week I met a new resident, who was just released from jail. His parole officer had found him a room in the motel and a job where he had to report each day. He had accepted Jesus in prison, and didn’t want to get back into his old crowd. When I found that he had been raised Lutheran, I connected him to a Lutheran church that supports the ministry. They offer a free meal each Thursday evening, and a church bus even comes by to give rides.
Last week we revisited a woman who needed more food from the food bank. We found that four other “friends” had moved into her one person room, and they were hungry too. She took in homeless people, even though she had almost nothing.
Last month we left a bag of food on a doorknob of an elderly man who had requested it, but hadn’t answered the door. It was still hanging there a couple days later. He had passed away and, had it not been for the bag on the door, nobody would have known.
Often we encounter battered and abused women who need out of a bad situation, and we help them get relocated into a group home for women. We also encounter young couples barely out of their teens, already with several babies. Usually the dad has a minimum wage job, while mom cares for the babies in a tiny rundown hotel room. The ministry provides diapers, day old baked goods, canned goods, and friendship. Surely the people we meet have made poor decisions early in life, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be helped out of the pit they have fallen into. Our goal is to help them find good jobs, good churches, and healthy relationships.
I haven’t seen big government liberals on the street ministering to those in need, and I haven’t seen any occupy-wall-street radicals either. These groups use the poor to promote their own agendas, but don’t actually help the poor they claim to care about. It is easy to talk about helping the poor, or say that the government should do something, but few actually do something about it themselves. Mostly I encounter other evangelicals helping on the street. They have told me, that they don’t put faith in politicians to solve the problem of poverty. What is needed, they insist, are people who care, investing their own time in the lives of others.
Last month I met the leader of an atheist organization in Denver. I asked him why the atheists weren’t out there helping the poor. His response was that the only reason we are out there was to make converts. In reality, we are convinced that the only way to make a real difference is for souls to be transformed. Government gives food stamps and a welfare check, but that only promotes dependency. We give canned goods and information on where to find help, but this is to build relationships which can lead to improved lives. The food bank can only feed folks for a day, but if they are transformed, they can feed themselves for a lifetime.
Liberals turn this duty over to the government, but neither liberals nor bureaucrats care enough to do what is really needed. Conservatives often judge the poor for their failures and preach free market policies, which have worked for many, but not for those who can’t see their way out. What they need is real hope and real change, and that comes from people who will get out on to the street and invest their lives in others.
(Centennial Fellow) I disagree with what you eat but I will defend to death your right to eat it. Okay, maybe I won’t take a bullet for your food preferences. Let’s hope the food police don’t make breaking their laws a capital crime.
It may come to that. NYC Mayor Bloomberg just announced that he plans to ban the sale of soft drinks in cups larger than 16 ounces at the city’s delis, fast-food restaurants, and sports arenas. Six years ago the mayor went after cooking oil—banning the use of trans fats in bakeries and restaurants. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, a ban on foie gras, a type of goose liver pate, is about to go into effect in California.
For the record, I generally avoid soda and I never eat foie gras. In fact, I don’t eat fried foods, potato chips, donuts, cake, fast food or most sugary drinks because they don’t taste good to me. I consume loads of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats because I like them. I would eat them if they turned out to be toxic, fat producing, brain damaging garbage. As for foie gras, I’m not comfortable eating it or veal because I’m not comfortable with the farming methods used to produce the meat.
I’m one of those free range chicken owning, beekeeping, organic gardening girls who works out every chance she gets. I’m also a libertarian and am appalled by the idea of illegal food. The hand wringing over obesity craze has gone too far. You know—the patronizing speeches, the cable network specials, even the use of the word “epidemic” as if pie was an airborne pathogen. How is anyone’s weight anyone else’s business? How is this not about thin people jeering at fat people. Suddenly I’m back in a junior high locker room.
We should be free to eat what we want and be as active or inactive as we prefer to be. It’s your life, your liberty, and your pursuit of happiness (and all things delicious) that’s at stake. First they came for the hotdogs but I didn’t eat hotdogs…then they came for my sprouts. Be alarmed.
Bloomberg justifies his soda size limit saying “We're not taking away anybody's right to do things. We're simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup.”
Forcing us? He’s right about one thing, only government has recourse to force. Your mom can give you the “Do you really need that second helping?” look but she can’t levy a fine against your family deli. She can’t shut down your restaurant for selling supersized soda, trans fat French fries, or foie gras du jour. Only government can make food illegal. In a free country, that’s just wrong.
(CCU Student) Americans have created a culture where we don’t like to be pushed around, where we value our ability to make decisions for ourselves. This ideal is reflected heavily in popular culture, where our most well-known characters are rugged individuals that forge their own path (i.e., John Wayne). But if this is the case, then why are we allowing such expansive legislation to pass in Congress such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)? Why do we sit back and watch as the government adds thousands of pages of regulations to the books that have a direct impact on every facet of our lives – from the very food we eat in restaurants to the type of light bulbs we have in our homes and businesses? And how in the world did we get to where we are today?Many people think of the New Deal as the first real push to expand the federal government. But in reality, the big push came much earlier than that. The true beginning of big government came with the triumph of progressivism from 1890-1920. The goal of every progressive was, as Bob Moffit of The Heritage Foundation said at a luncheon I attended, “Seek first the political kingdom, and all the rest will come to you.” Major initiatives of progressives were focused on civic reform – for example, implementation of an income tax, direct election of senators, Prohibition, and the expansion of suffrage – the 16th-19th Amendments. The way to achieve this reform was through the government. But progressivism instead sowed the seeds for its own contradiction: it valued a democratized society, yet ultimately, the major decisions on how everything was to be run would be made by unelected experts who applied social science to all situations. The people should be freer, except in those areas in life where they do not know enough to make informed decisions about. Once this philosophy becomes ingrained in the government, it slowly dissolves the ideal of a free society, one where everyone has the power to make their own choices about their own lives. Government becomes the major solution for everything.America has become infected by progressivism, though it is not as obvious as it was in the early twentieth century. Instead, it manifests itself in Congress. Congress is the only branch with the constitutional power to legislate. There are checks and balances, of course, but the Congress is the only branch that has the power to initiate, debate, amend, and repeal laws. With the growth of the administrative state, this power has been given to the “fourth branch,” the bureaucracy. Instead of passing clear, concise laws that specify actions and consequences, many laws now are vague and delegate the details of decision-making to agencies and unelected officials. Essentially, Congress has given up its very special legislative power to those who are held accountable to no one.Take Obamacare for example. The bill directs the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to act over 1500 times in 2700 pages. It creates 159 new agencies within the federal bureaucracy – although that number is essentially unofficial, as the bill also gives sweeping authoritative powers to the Secretary of DHHS to create more if “necessary.” This kind of arbitrary power is unprecedented, to speak nothing of the questionable constitutionality of such powers.
The American Revolution was fought for a reason. It was not fought over a three cent tax on tea; it was not fought due to any particular incident of quartering soldiers in private homes. The Revolution was fought against an arbitrary government, one whose power had far overreached its proper limits. The Revolution was won because American colonists believed in such limited government, and they founded the world’s first successful republic on such principles. The America of today has lost that ideal. We instead have allowed the government to sneak into our very private lives and regulate everything. The government of today looks nothing like what the Founders envisioned their beloved country to look like.Congress MUST wake up to their constitutional duty – and authority – to legislate. Too much power has gone out from them, and it will be a long road getting it back. But in order to have a more balanced, limited government, the power must go back to Congress. It’s not just a matter of reducing the size of government – there needs to be a change in how the government makes its decisions.
As conservatives, we feel that we are right. We feel as though the leftist agendas have been practiced to failure, exhaustion, and are not even viable solutions. However, many conservatives lack the ability to communicate with those of opposing viewpoints. I have been to countless conservative speaking-engagements, summits, think tanks, classes, et cetera, but these venues shed a “preach to the choir” ambience. What about those who are different, who vehemently disagree with conservative policies, and/or who label us evil, bigots, fear-mongers, callous, immoral, and barrages of other words? If conservatives’ pervasive trait of “realism” is to be tapped, we must realize these are the real people who need to be reached—and the way we communicate with them is crucial. Now, in the wake of a climacteric political race, conservatives need these skills more than ever. I write this not to accuse conservatives, because all of us are different in many ways, but merely bring some thoughts to attention that may help augment our platform.
First, know that tone and listening are two invaluable communication tools. I once had someone tell me, “You have two ears and one mouth. Do the math.” Listening twice as much as you speak and keeping your tone to an acceptable, “non-threatening”, and un-condescending volume is a great way to carry yourself throughout a dialogue with a Leftist. Just as the left seems to enjoy discerning faults in the world, they also will find fault in your communication if done improperly or “threateningly”.
Second, understand what differentiates Left from Right. Conservatives believe in less government whereas the left believes in more. This is simple but must always be consciously remembered.
Third, be ready for an isolated example. Leftists consistently highlight the unfortunate scenario of a small number. For example, people in favor of Obama-Care, socialization of healthcare, and/or other variances of healthcare entitlement programs often use the “cancer-ridden homeless man” story. Essentially, there is a homeless gentleman who is diagnosed with cancer and goes to emergency rooms (since he cannot be turned away) regularly for some sort of panacea because he cannot afford an oncologist (which is what he needs). Two things are routinely pulled from this story by the left: (1) thousands of dollars are being spent treating the wrong problem and (2) this is an atrocity no one should have to go through. The conservative generally responds in a manner viewed as callus and insensitive in the leftist’s eyes—therefore, how can we, as conservatives, avoid less of these unsuccessful conversations? The answer is simple: articulation, tone, and engagement.
Thomas Lock’s “Second Treatise on Government” suggests that no civilization will ever be perfect as a result of the fall of man—sin. Sin corrupts all humanity. Therefore, if two humans cannot exist in a perfect Utopian society, how can 320 million? Bring something like this to the Leftist’s attention using tone and calmness and ask, “What do you think about this?” Leftists will generally respond uniquely, since, let us be honest and genuine, every person has a slightly different worldview, another detail that must be kept in mind.
All differences accounted for leftists will generally not find it moral to allow the “atrocity”. Maybe then suggest what NGO’s can do for these people and why pry at why this has to be the government. From here, use discernment and follow similar principles. Not using leading questions only, per se, but helping the leftist see how many of these Utopian dreams are merely unfeasible and that conservatism seeks to implement what works best as nothing will ever be “perfect”.
Fourth, strive to instill a sense of trust of humanity as opposed to the government. For absolute power corrupts absolutely. Always keep an understanding that leftists are going to consistently be compassionate, Band-Aids to the broken, and speaker forthe unspoken-for. Leftists may have a stronger desire to be humanistic, humanitarian, and philanthropic than many conservatives. Although this is not true in most cases, it helps going into a dialogue with a leftist assuming that is their perception; helping the Left understand that conservatives consistently fund non-profits but merely prefer the right to choose where their money goes if the next step. Leftists routinely argue that “corporate greed” will prevent money from being distributed and that humanity’s proclivity to sin inhibits our giving, hence why the government is needed. Here, I suggest the theories of expectancy and dependency. For example, a teacher wrote into the O’Reilly Factor saying (paraphrased), “I had a student today respond to what he wants to be when he grows up with, ‘live on welfare and get free healthcare’”. Unfortunately, the “hard-worker” who receives entitlements becomes lost amidst those who treat it as free-money, entitlement, and eventual dependency. Perhaps continue this conservative-leftist dialogue by catechizing a leading question such as, “Obviously this is not right, yes? What would work better?”
Last, as a conservative, you already feel as though self-responsibility is becoming a disappearing attribute of the common man and is being juxtaposed with a nurtured sense of entitlement and being “owed something”. Face it! We are owed NOTHING except life, liberty, and the ability to pursue happiness. Entitlement comes with an innate sense of “owed”, and entitlements breed dependency more often than not. The government of the United States of America was not established with the mission statement of granting happiness to all.
Fellow conservatives, when you return to your lives, embark with a sense of understanding toward the Left. Understand they want to help, fix, provide, and save but many their ideas are simply unrealistic. Telling them they are unfeasible is impractical and ineffective—as is throwing accusatory statements or putting them on the defensive. When Pilate accused Jesus, Jesus did not respond with the ferocity of the common-Roman-man’s perception of Him. I rest my case in that it is not what you say, it is how you articulate, engage, word, and say it.
(Centennial Fellow) David Mamet, a novelist, screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, has come out of the closet as a conservative, and in his milieu of Hollywood's unrelenting liberalism, this is so astonishing a development that both the Wall Street Journal and New York Times Magazine have interviewed him on the revelation.
My thanks go to both newspapers. To Mamet, I'd like to say it was amusing to read your thoughts, not least when you talked in the Journal about liberals always finding something "bad, bad, bad" -- trans-fats, maybe, or global warming or hydrogenated vegetable oil -- and then making their nonnegotiable demand: "And something must be done!"
They mean it must be done by the government, federal, state or local, though the federal coercers are preferable to them because they can have at everyone of us and are oh, so much smarter than you and me, not least of all the bureaucrats who are always jamming up the traffic in Washington and something else in the nation.
These supposed giants among Lilliputians are jamming up normal lives with abnormal infringements, and they are getting so thorough at it that we may each eventually have a federal guardian following us, instructing us, fining us, sometimes arresting us if need be. Before that happens, we have the likes of Michelle Obama telling restaurants they must start serving smaller portions to her fellow Americans.
Funny, but I always thought that matter was between customers and the restaurant, not some distant third party, and while I get it that the First Lady is dreadfully concerned about people like me getting obese, my scales and I have achieved a mutually appreciative relationship, thank you. If I ever do want to eat like a horse, I still want Michelle Obama to stay out of it, though I am pretty much a doggie-bag kind of guy. What does she want as her legacy -- an end of doggie bags as a source of tomorrow's lunch?
Maybe, you say, this White House occupant is non-governmental, but if she did not have the political heft of a husband who is president, you think the National Restaurant Association would have met with her advisers? I doubt that group would meet with my wife's advisers, even if she had advisers, or that she could get the attention of some in Congress and several federal agencies.
Something else in the news lately -- the misuse of Title IX to say that if college women do not want to enter sports in the same numbers as men students, that's too bad for the men at those schools. It's got to be equal. Some schools, in order to accommodate the more eager fellows, have lied about the number of women participating, and The New York Times, which broke the story, is in an editorial snit, saying this may be illegal.
The law was instead written to deny federal funding to schools that didn't afford women desired opportunities in sports because too much of the available resources were being spent on the men. Most schools had already begun altering old practices because our culture was changing., and the law’s goal was not meant to be close to strict sameness in numbers until the bureaucrats began throwing their weight around.
Interpreted their way -- cut off heads to make everyone the same height -- it's a bad law that breeds disobedience, and while I do not intend to go on the record in favor of lying, I can promise you that I have talked to business operators who have told me there is a sure way to go broke. Heed all the stupid regulations.
I'd like to cite more examples, but I would need something like 450,000 pages to be exhaustive, because, as Jeffrey Tucker of the Ludwig von Mises Institute has observed, that's the probable size of the 2012 U.S. Code when published. Obviously, some of these laws are needed, but as Tucker notes, this is "as elaborate and detailed as any set of laws that have ever governed any society in the history of the world."
As Mamet said, liberals keep finding things that are bad, bad, bad, and as I would add, our lawmakers keep making them worse, worse, worse.
(Centennial Fellow) Give at least this much credit to the liberals "progressives" (LPs) in the Democratic Party: they don't let little things like losing 63 seats in Congress discourage them.
For LPs, a Robin Hood tax policy – one that extracts higher taxes from the successful and industrious and spends it on expensive social welfare programs for the slothful and underachieving – is an article of faith that cannot be compromised.
(No one in the political mainstream disputes the need for a "safety net" to help those who are disabled and truly in need, but for LPs, turning the safety net into a hammock is political strategy, not an economic one. If more people depend on government, then more people will vote for the party of dependency.)
Showing for the first time a Clintonesque inclination to put his desire for re-election ahead of his desire to transform America into just another declining economy run aground by bloated social welfare programs, President Obama recently agreed to forestall for two years a return to Clinton-era tax rates. The LPs came completely unhinged.
OK, even more completely unhinged.
MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, the goofiest man in America with a microphone, sanctimoniously blathered to his infinitesimal audience of economic illiterates that the erstwhile messiah is not simply wrong but "g**-d***** wrong."
Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee said, Obama "has shown a complete refusal to fight Republicans throughout his presidency . . . and millions of his former supporters are now growing disappointed and infuriated by this refusal to fight."
Refusal to fight? Perhaps Obama doesn't fight well or doesn't fight smart, but from the perspective of anyone to the right of Howard Dean, Obama certainly doesn't appear to pull many punches.
He ignored public opinion to ram ObamaCare down our throats. Before the election, he told Hispanic voters, in unpresidential fashion, to "punish their enemies" (read: vote against Republicans). Even after reaching agreement to extend the current tax rates, he referred to Republicans in Congress as "hostage-takers."
Now the LP faction that propelled him into office muses about a primary challenge in 2012. This is all just so much talk. Democrats will oust the first black President about the same time the Nobel Committee honors Sarah Palin.
Obama, they say, is "demobilizing the troops and demoralizing the public" – still ignoring that "the public" isn't whacko liberal – because he's finally recognized that he'd better knock off the bigger government, higher taxing, more intrusive, debt-exploding poppycock if he has any desire to salvage a second term.
It's hard to say who is more devastated: the Left, by Obama's compromise with political reality, or Obama, by the realization that even he can't sell the Left's socialist agenda to mainstream Americans.
For the Left, class warfare is a rare battle worth fighting. The evil rich – job creators, entrepreneurs, investors – must be punished by higher tax rates that take money away from job creation and innovation and give it instead to government bureaucrats.
So many liberal progressives make a career working for government or for nonprofits that rely on government, they fail to grasp that the middle class cannot prosper without someone creating middle class jobs – not on yet another extension of unemployment benefits.
They ignorantly seem to believe that the evil rich stash their cash under a mattress. Any other investment – whether in a bank account, the stock market or back into their business – generates more jobs and, hence, more tax revenue.
If growing government truly bolstered the economy, then our economic engines would be roaring after the trillion-dollar stimulus enacted by Obama and the Democrats in February 2009. Instead, job creation is stagnant as employers cautiously weigh impending tax increases, direct and indirect costs of ObamaCare, and uncertain implications of the Federal Reserve's Monopoly money policy.
As Ronald Reagan said, "The problem with our liberal friends . . . is that they know so much that isn't so." Fortunately, the rest of us still have a vote.
Centennial Institute Fellow Mark Hillman served as Colorado senate majority leader and state treasurer. To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com.
(CCU Faculty) In 2004 I taught Western Civilization and U.S. Foreign Policy as a Fulbright Scholar in Eastern Europe. My primary duties were at the largest state university in Belarus, as well as at their Institute of International Relations. While there I was contacted by George Soros’ Invisible College. It is one of several Invisible Colleges in European capitals, each funded by the Soros Foundation. It allowed students from both the State University and the Institute of International Relations to take courses and transfer them back to their other schools. Several of my students at the other institutions were at the Invisible College and one of them likely recommended me to them. I had the feeling that the students at the Invisible College were there by special invitation, being groomed for a particular purpose in the field of International Relations.
I was asked to repeat a presentation, which I had given at one of the other colleges, on how Globalization could bring prosperity to their country. My primary metaphor was that the stones in the wall which had divided East from West during the Cold War could be used instead to build bridges between East and West. That this country, which stood at the crossroads between East and West, could benefit by being a center of trade between Russia and the West. I encouraged the students to be more international in their scope and find some way in which they could help raise the standard of living in their country. It was received well by the Invisible College, and I was invited to return.
I was not assigned a topic for my second presentation, but when I suggested the foreign policy of George W. Bush they were interested. Apparently, I agreed with them on the importance of economic globalization, but I was soon to discover that we disagreed on the Global War on Terror. In that second presentation the following week I stressed the importance of America’s role in both Afghanistan and Iraq, that the world needed a police force, and that neither the U.N. nor the E.U. were up to the task. Since tyranny should not be tolerated, and there should be no safe haven for terrorism, America had to remain strong and vigilant in order to insure global peace and stability. At the end of my presentation I was ushered quickly out the door and was never invited back.
Over the past few years I have often reflected on my visits to the Invisible College. At the time I only knew Soros as a wealthy and successful currency trader, but wondered why he was so interested in spending so much of his fortune training young people for the new global economy. I have now become convinced that he has a broad reaching agenda for the world, and that he is training a cadre of young scholars for a specific purpose. What that purpose is, I am not quite sure. That is why I had resisted publishing anything on the topic. However, Glenn Beck has recently focused on George Soros, and has his own ideas on what Soros wants. All I can do is add my own experience to the public discussion.
(Stowe, Vermont) When a mix of personal and professional responsibilities had me traversing the East Coast from D.C. to Vermont, I seized the opportunity to don the cloak of undercover investigative reporter and spy on the liberals who abound in these precincts, get an update on why Barry Goldwater wanted to saw off this part of the country and “let it drift out to sea”, and generally get some insights on why the Lefties in our dear country are so discouraged, depressed, confused and cantankerous. So I said goodbye to my wife, sent loving e-mails to my children, packed a full suitcase of L.L. Bean gear, sharpened my grating Boston accent, dialed up my most reliable sources from back in the days when I-like Ronald Reagan- was a Democrat, and stowed my lucky “Ted in ’62” campaign button. This awesome devotion to journalism would involve arduous duty like lurking the lobby of the Willard (D.C), leaning on the bar at Sardi’s (NYC), lunching at Locke-Ober’s (Boston), a farm show in Maryland, and best of all a Barney Frank rally in Newton, Massachusetts where I am a taxpayer in good- if unhappy- standing. To further my research I promised myself I would watch MSNBC at least as much as Fox since Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow are as good a guide to the loony left as one could hope for. I faithfully read those other bastions of objective reporting- The Washington Post, New York Times, and Boston Globe, sampled lefty alternative papers- Boston’s Phoenix, NYC’s Village Voice and perused local sheets like Newton’s Tab or the Stowe Reporter. I even acquired a copy of Bob Woodward’s Obama Wars which every liberal seems to have in his briefcase these days. A particular hour of illumination occurred when I visited my old home along the banks of Chesapeake Bay in southern Maryland’s Calvert County and attended an event that used to be a political “must” in my time as County Superintendent- The Fall Farm Exhibition. When I approached an elderly bib overalled farmer of my acquaintance and asked how my old Congressman Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer was doing he laconically allowed as how he “hadn’t seen much of Steny lately-‘cept on television”. Amazingly other locals felt Steny might be in for a “surprise” come November. I‘ve saved the best for last- The Frank Rally! Barely a hundred people there at the Community Center, but to my practiced eye these were “hard core” liberals. Twice I was asked “Who are you with?”, when I blurted out “Newton Taxpayer Association!” I was immediately the object of several suspicious gimlet eyed stares. During the informal coffee hour (darn I was expecting white wine and brie) that preceded Barney’s remarks I was tempted to approach him and say “ I knew you back in the sixties when you were the funny fat guy who worked for Boston Mayor Kevin White and I remember the night you Blank, Blank, Blank” but figuring I would probably get a visit from the IRS within 48 hours I opted instead to sit at the rear and take notes on the back of a hand-out I got at the door listing Barney’s fabulous accomplishments on behalf of his constituents( no mention of Fannie or Freddie however). After Barney’s remarks making clear that everything wrong with the country was the fault of George Bush, greedy bankers, Rush Limbaugh and Fox news there followed a surprisingly contentious questions and answer session. Remarkably not one person expressed concern about Deficits, Debt or Spending. Two did speak against Obamacare, but only to insist, it didn’t go far enough, and was a failure because it lacked a Public Option. After Barney rushed off to another event I stayed on and artfully engaged the Public Option advocate in some conversation by expressing concern at the prospect of losing so many Democratic seats.” Yes, we’ll lose a lot of seats”, he said, “but there is a silver lining”. He felt the Democrat party would be “purged” and “purified”. The losers would be those “spineless” Blue Dogs who had been such a “dragging anchor” on the Obama agenda all along. So, there you have it. The true believing liberal knows November 2nd is going to be bloody, but he’s in denial about the reasons why. He thinks its bad people, not bad policies. The poor Blue Dogs are at least in touch with reality. They may be in the wrong party, but the true believers are in the wrong country.
William Moloney is a Centennial Institute Fellow, and former Colorado Education Commissioner. His columns have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, and The Baltimore Sun.
(CCU Faculty) “We won’t have any trouble about inventors under Socialism, for there won’t be any.” So wrote F. G. R. Gordon “agitator and author,” in a letter to the editor of the New York Times in 1909. “The non-competitive system will tend to discourage genius.”
Entrepreneurs, inventors and innovators are found to varying degrees in virtually all political economies around the world. In the past they have been referred to as capitalist pigs for various reasons. This human livestock is responsible for the creation of every single technological disruption caused through virtually every innovation and invention that mankind has put into use. How many resources have been wasted in the failures of those who tried and lost? How many jobs have vanished?
Have the last 100 years of relative free markets in the western world really been a “positive for the people”? Is the world really a better place with all this destructive inventing by loose cannons and uncontrolled selfish mavericks? Imagine if there were no technology. Work would be so much more organic - focusing on the basics of daily living – everyone walking around equally and free from the constraints and requirements of technology (fig leaves for clothing perhaps? – no wait, that would be innovation too).
Well, why do we have clothes anyway, do we really need them? Do we need houses? Computers? Cell phones? Cars? Heat? Let alone food from a grocery store? Wouldn’t you prefer a simpler life, say in a plain cement block house - the same for everyone - where you were provided for? Wouldn’t that be Eden? Well no, wait, cement blocks are technology going way back to some early Roman entrepreneur – they should have stoned him (pun intended).
Yes, in fact wouldn’t it be preferable and so much less destructive if we all lived in caves? That’s more equal! Of course how do we get the caves all the same size…? Well, don’t worry, the way things seem to be going in the U.S. now, maybe we will have true equality like that very soon and we can figure that out!
Proponents of free markets and entrepreneurship point to so called evidence showing that where entrepreneurial activity occurs in abundance, where it is valued and promoted, economies are stronger and healthier, more jobs are created and more wealth is more efficiently distributed across populations, than with any other economic system in modern history, and quite probably in world history. But up until recently these economies just didn’t have the highly developed, efficient and smart government systems that we now have in place.
All we really need now is for the smart people at the top to figure it all out, tell us what we need to do, and voila, we have solved the inequality and greed problem caused by free markets and entrepreneurship! Then everyone can get down to really enjoying the simple pleasures in life like digging up wild roots for a snack to share or at lunchtime catching trout with their bare hands – yum sashimi!
It is a topic for another day perhaps, but eventually maybe we wouldn’t even need offices any more or artificial forms of energy to run our manmade machines that destroy the planet.
We know that there are always ongoing changes in the world and it seems that where there are people, some form of entrepreneurship happens regardless of socio-
political economy. We can see however, that particularly where there is the rule of law protecting private property and voluntary exchange, entrepreneurs are found creating opportunities (or trying) with whatever resources seem to be at hand. What we must do then, is remove (or at least handicap) the rule of law that protects private property rights and voluntary exchange that seem to be at the heart of the entrepreneur capitalist pig phenomenon.
As for the creation of wealth, another so called result of entrepreneurship and free markets, what we really need to do is to simply pick those ideas that are going to work and put everyone’s money into them. Again, we just need a few smart people at the top to figure it out and pick the right ideas. Our government for example!
After a little trial and error experimentation, with more regulation to control the selfish entrepreneur/inventors from running wild, and with more taxes and fees to distribute that wealth a little more equally, we can be certain to finally have the right government solution.
One hundred years after F.G.R. Gordon spoke those words, we are in the U.S. again in a position to create a non-competitive system that discourages such “genius” as invention. Maybe this time we can rid the world of this inane free market movement; roast the entrepreneur capitalist pigs and have them for dinner. Once that problem is taken care of...,
…wait now -- where’s the next meal coming from?