ISSUE 08 | MARCH 12
amer IcaN REVOLUTION YOUNG
YOUNG AMERICANS FOR LIBERTY
My First-Hand Look at Occupy Wall Street michelle fields
The State of the Conservative Movement jack hunter
Year of Youth Training Feature abigail alger
MORE THAN JUST “N PE”
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an excerpt from sen. jim demint’s new book on the hard road ahead for limited government
2 March 2012
Contents February 2012 / Issue 08
Ron Paul and the State of the Conservative Movement By Jack Hunter
The Texas Republican is a force to reckon with in 2012
Blame Corporatism, not Capitalism By Benjamin Levine
Big government plus big business equals big trouble
The Tea Parties Bold Plan for Budget Reform By Matt Kibbe
What if we made a budget plan by actually asking Americans what they want?
Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse
20 The ‘Silent’ President By Bonnie Kristian
Calvin Coolidge’s Lessons for the Modern GOP
22 Life and Liberty By Marian Ward
Fighting for the unborn the legal and practical way: Without DC
The Evolution of Liberalism
An artist’s argument against federal patronage
By Caitlyn Bates Top-down approaches don’t help Africa
Year of Youth Training Feature
36 In America, the Law is Not King With Liberty and Justice for Some… by Glenn Greenwald
By Abigail Alger How to build, maintain, and use a mass email list
When Bigger Isn’t Better
A Reporter’s First-Hand Look
By Jeremy Davis Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse by Jim Demint
At the Occupy Wall Street Protests
By Joseph Diedrich
By Jayel Aheram
By Jeff Frazee
30 Government and the Arts
Moving Forward with a New Generation
An excerpt from Jim DeMint’s newest book
By Devon Downes Now, this is the story about how a word got flipped, turned upside down
By Michelle Fields
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38 Precepts and Operation By Brian Beyer
The Founders’ Key: The Dive and Natural
Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution
Moving Forward with a New Generation
Managing Editor Bonnie Kristian
Editorial Director Daniel McCarthy
Deputy Editor Edward King
Matthew Holdridge Krystee Miller
Illustration Shane Helm
Justin Page Wood Contributing Editors
Jack Hunter, W. James Antle III, Wes Messamore, George Hawley, Trent Hill, Andrew Sharp, Mark Thoburn Young American Revolution is the official publication of Young Americans for Liberty (www.YALiberty.org). Subscriptions are $50 for one year (4 issues). Checks may be made out to Young Americans for Liberty and sent to PO Box 2751, Arlington, VA 22202. Young American Revolution accepts letters to the editor and freelance submissions. Letters should be between 50 and 300 words. Submissions should be between 700 and 2400 words. Letters and submissions may be edited for length and content. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or PO Box 2751, Arlington, VA 22202. Young Americans for Liberty grew out of the 2008 presidential campaign’s Students for Ron Paul. Since then, our network has grown to more then 300 chapters, 3,800 dues-paying members, and 26,000 activists nationwide. The mission of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) is to identify, train, educate, and mobilize youth activists committed to “winning on principle.” Our goal is to cast the leaders of tomorrow and reclaim the policies, candidates, and direction of our government. We welcome limited government conservatives, classical liberals, and libertarians who trust in the creed we set forth. Opinions expressed in Young American Revolution are not necessarily the views of Young Americans for Liberty. Copyright 2012 Young Americans for Liberty
Photo by M. Holdridge
ere at Young efforts by President Americans for Obama and the Super Liberty, our mission Committee to rearis to identify, train, range the deck chairs educate, and mobilize as the Titanic begins youth activists comits descent. mitted to “winning on Hunter examprinciple.” Our goal is ines the state of the to cast the leaders of modern conservative tomorrow and reclaim movement and the the policies, candirole Representative dates, and direction of Ron Paul’s presidenour government. tial campaigns have Thanks to your played in changing support, in 2011 YAL YAL Executive Director Jeff Frazee the conservative diamade great strides in logue. He argues that reaching these amit remains to be seen bitious targets. In fact, YAL is now the whether the central purpose of the conlargest, fastest-growing, and most active servative movement will remain in flux, liberty youth organization in the country! swayed by opinion polls and the ideologiThe publication of Young American Rev- cal movements of the left. olution (YAR) is an important facet of our The supporting articles delve further educational programs. into this issue’s central question: What YAR serves as a primary outreach tool does it mean to support limited governfor the 289 YAL chapters spreading the ment today? Do modern libertarians and liberty message nationwide. It also offers conservatives stand for more than opposia venue for up-and-coming writers of the tion to President Obama and congressioliberty movement to hone their craft, their nal Democrats? If so, what does that look articles featured alongside the leaders of like in practice? the liberty movement. This eighth issue of Keep reading for an exploration of the YAR accomplishes both of those goals. historical and philosophical roots of limOur headliner is an excerpt from Sena- ited government in America—as a well as tor Jim DeMint’s new book, Now or Never. detailed looks at what it may mean to supWith Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee, port liberty in light of corporate bailouts, Sen. DeMint is part of a small but dedi- Occupy Wall Street, abortion, and foreign cated cadre of principled representatives aid. YAR Issue 8 also includes reviews leading the fight for limited government in of three important new books, a Year of the Senate. Now or Never showcases De- Youth feature article on practical politics, Mint’s commitment to ultimately eliminat- and a profile of humorist Dave Barry. ing the national debt and returning fiscal And when you’re done, come visit YAL sanity to Washington for the first time in at www.YALiberty.org to keep tabs on our 100 years. He leaves no sacred cows on campus and campaign activism nationthe table, reminding his fellow conserva- wide—activism in which we hope you’ll tives that overseas wars inevitably cost join us. money—and lots of it. For liberty, Sen. DeMint’s arguments are complemented by pieces from FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe and YAL’s own Director of Outreach, Jack Hunter. Kibbe Jeff Frazee tackles the task of explaining the sweeping Executive Director but careful cuts of the Tea Party Budget proposal, which far outstrips more timid
4 March 2012
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6 March 2012
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Ron Paul and the State of the Conservative Movement The Texas Republican is a force to reckon with in 2012—will the rest of the GOP come his way? Jack Hunter
Photo by Gage Skidmore
have been as guilty of contributing s of this writing there are three to big government as the president Republican presidential frontthey criticize. runners. First is former MassachuDuring the periods when consetts Governor Mitt Romney, who servatives find themselves not dein addition to being on both sides of fending big government Republimost issues, supported TARP and cans and instead choose to stress gave Barack Obama the blueprint the need for limited government for national healthcare. There is forand constitutional fidelity, they mer Pennsylvania Rick Santorum, of echo the sentiments of Ron Paul. whom The Washington Examiner’s The difference is Paul never changTimothy P. Carney writes: “As a es his sentiment. member of Senate leadership, SanWhen conservatives are not torum literally was an agent of the defending big government RepubGOP establishment during passage licans and instead choose to talk of No Child Left Behind, the exabout the need to eliminate debt pansion of Medicare, and the overRon Paul speaking to supporters at a “victory rally” following the and deficits, they are repeating the spending of the Bush era.” philosophy of Ron Paul. The difAnd then there’s Ron Paul. What- 2012 New Hampshire Republican primary in Manchester, New Hampshire. ference is Paul never changes his ever happens by the time this is pubphilosophy. lished, the only candidate that still matters will be Ron Paul. This Paul’s conservative consistency remains has remained true, is not an advertisement or endorsement for Paul’s presidential even when—and perhaps especially when—his fellow conservacampaign. It is an admission of the current state of conservatism. tives disagree with him. When conservatives attack Paul for his When Paul ran for president in 2008, polls showed that Amernon-interventionist foreign policy views, the Texas congressman icans-at-large were worried about an increasingly bad economy, is quick to remind them that it is mathematically impossible to angry at Washington for bailing out Wall Street and weary of the reduce the debt or deficits without addressing Pentagon spending. Iraq War. Yet GOP primary voters found themselves defending a Cutting NPR, Planned Parenthood and earmarks will do nothing Republican president (Bush) who was on the unpopular side of to effectively reduce the debt, no matter how much each might all three issues, supporting a Republican nominee (McCain) who excite conservatives emotionally. Likewise, ignoring the need for agreed with him, and having to choose from a Republican field military spending cuts will continue to help sustain and grow the of candidates virtually indistinguishable from their president, their debt, no matter how emotionally attached some conservatives are nominee and each other, except one (Ron Paul). in their support for maintaining the status quo. Polls today show that Americans at large are most worried Obsessing over Obama’s birth certificate might have been fun about a bad economy; Obama’s high negatives indicate a persistent for some conservatives—but it only distracts from the United distrust and disgust with Washington; and this president’s expanStates’ economy’s impending death certificate, says Paul. Excitesive foreign policy remains as unpopular as his predecessor’s. In ment over a reality TV star with a bad comb-over like Donald 2008 independents broke big for Obama. In 2012, independents Trump may hold conservatives’ attention for the moment—anare mad at Obama for making us broke. other moment wasted, says Paul, by not addressing the stark real2012 GOP primary voters have mostly found a field of candiity that is our collapsing dollar and economy. Many conservatives dates willing to bash the White House for basically doing the same draw a battle line between Republicans and Democrats. Paul draws things these candidates once defended a Republican president his line between those who support limited government and those doing. In fact, most of the potential 2012 Republican nominees
8 March 2012
in both parties who consider it unlimited. Indeed, Ron Paul is the conservative constant in US politics. To the extent that the American Right is consistently conservative, it is generally in line with Paul. To the extent that the American Right gets distracted from conservative principles—typically in the name of Republican partisanship or some emotional attachment to a particular aspect of statism conservatives generally like—it finds itself at war with Paul. In 2012, the Right has been significantly less at war with Paul. Reported Time last year: (Paul) is still defining the GOP race… When Republican heavies like Newt Gingrich and (Rick) Perry bash the Fed’s monetary policy, he mocks them as latecomers to his party. “Who would have thought the former Speaker of the House would come out for ‘Audit the Fed?’” Paul says to deafening applause in Concord. “Now we have a Southern governor. I can’t remember his name” — a wry reference to Perry, who suggested it would be almost “treasonous” for Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke to pump more money into the economy — “[who] realizes talking about the Fed is good too.” The Christian Science Monitor noted the “Ron Paul Effect”: So what, ultimately, might be The Ron Paul Effect? For one, he’s already changed the conversation to a degree – in Republican debates and beyond. “The candidates talk more like [Paul] on taxes and government than they did in 2008,” says Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote, an advocacy group in Takoma Park, Md… Paul has campaigned on cutting $1 trillion in federal spending – something that has perhaps upped the ante on how aggressively other candidates say they’ll cut. Several polls have asked about whether likely GOP primary voters have a favorable view of returning the US monetary system to the gold standard – a reflection of how much Paul has championed this idea. He’s also brought to the fore more scrutiny of the Federal Reserve. Paul has also tapped into deep-seated dissatisfaction with the cost – in dollars and human life – of the past decade’s foreign wars… The CSM added: For young potential voters – frustrated with student debt, unemployment, and gridlock in Washington – Paul is the buzz these days… Of the under-30 vote in the Iowa caucuses, 48 percent supported Paul… He’s also winning over some people with tea party roots. One of Paul’s recent endorsements in New Hampshire came from Jane Aitken, co-founder of the New Hampshire Tea Party Coalition… When people suggest Paul is too extreme to be president, her response? “If you are on an extreme collision course you need extreme correction.” The American Conservative Editor Daniel McCarthy put Paul’s revolutionary influence into context after the Iowa Caucus by noting not only the ideological shift happening in the GOP, but also how that shift is generational: Five years ago, no one, not even Congressman Paul, would have imagined that 21 percent of voters in a hotly contested Republican caucus would support the Texas
congressman’s brand of antiwar, constitutional conservatism and libertarianism. Paul didn’t just improve on his 2008 showing last night, he’s brought his philosophy from an asterisk in the Republican Party of George W. Bush to as much as a fifth of the vote in the GOP of 2012… More significant than the overall percentage Paul claimed in Iowa, however, is the 48 percent he won of the under-30 vote. This augurs more than just a change in the factional balance within the GOP. It’s suggestive of a generational realignment in American politics. The fact that many of these young people do not consider themselves Republican is very much the point: Paul’s detractors cite that as a reason to discount them, but what it really means is that the existing ideological configuration of U.S. politics doesn’t fit the rising generation. They’re not Republicans, but they’re voting in a Republican primary: at one time, that same description applied to Southerners, social conservatives, and Reagan Democrats, groups that were not part of the traditional GOP coalition and whose participation completely remade the party. Which brings us to the current state of conservatism. As McCarthy notes, Paul is unquestionably remaking the Republican Party whether the party establishment likes it or not. With an overarching concern for limiting government and eliminating the debt, the now widespread conservative condemnations of “Keynesian economics” and attacks on Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve would’ve been unthinkable in 2008. Today, more Americans than ever seem willing to accept substantive entitlement reform and even oppose raising the debt ceiling, reflecting popular sentiments noticeably more radical than anything that could have been conceivable just a few years ago. Not all conservatives are in agreement with Paul’s foreign policy views, but they are significantly more open to them, especially within the context of criticizing a Democratic president’s seemingly foolish interventions and the absurdity of borrowing money from China to pay for them. In 2012, Paul’s poll numbers have equaled or exceeded those of the perceived major potential candidates, his fundraising abilities equaled or exceeded those candidates and the once perennial political outsider has now become a household name. More importantly, when it comes to the issues—most conservatives and perhaps most Americans are finding themselves increasingly in agreement with Paul. Ron Paul is the conservative constant in American politics. Paul does not change; the conservative movement does. The current state of American conservatism cannot be understood without understanding Paul and his influence. Paul’s GOP critics haven’t understood conservatism in any substantive sense for a long time. To the degree that the Republican Party understands, accepts or acquiesces to Paul is to the degree that limited government could become a reality in our time. Jack Hunter (also known by his moniker the “Southern Avenger”) is a columnist for The American Conservative and assisted Sen. Rand Paul with his book The Tea Party Goes to Washington.
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Blame Corporatism, not Capitalism Big Government Plus Big Business Equals Big Trouble
cannot begin to count the times that I have heard my peers blame capitalism for the our current economic crisis. Blame the wealthy, blame business, blame greed, they argue. Of course, some of the wealthy, some businesses, and some greed contributed to where we are in America today. However, in a deep contrast to the claims of many statists both in Congress and Zuccotti Park, this did not occur in the context of a free market. Rather, it was in a crony capitalistic atmosphere where Washington was sleeping with Wall Street, where banks were “too big to fail,” and where the middle-class got stuck paying the bill so those with ties to the federal government could emerge unharmed. Make no mistake, this was not capitalism. This was corporatism. And we are still living in that environment. Corporatism is not all that difficult of a concept. Essentially, it is when those in government use their power to make laws that systematically favor certain businesses or industries over others. Often this operates in a quid pro quo manner: You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours…with taxpayer’s credit cards. Though I don’t wish to conjure unwarranted bogeymen, this not a far cry from fascism—and it is increasingly a cornerstone of the American political economy. This corporatist environment, however, is nothing new. In fact, it is almost as old as our country: Big business and big government have long worked together to ensure their power does not fade and their wealth does not diminish. The relationship blossomed most significantly under a president who is now revered as one of the greatest to ever serve, namely Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In The Roosevelt Myth by John T. Flynn, a contemporary of FDR who initially supporter the president only to later reject his central planning, America’s relationship with corporatism is stated in no uncertain terms: “The United States boasts one of the most significant corporatist arrangements in the world in its alliance between the Federal Reserve and the big banks.” It is undoubtedly true: The power of the Federal Reserve to act as a virtual ATM for corporations embodies our modern corporatist America. To be sure, this Rooseveltian tradition has been upheld by every president since he died in office. This inevitably corrupt relationship, so far from the free market as to make conflation of the two laughable, is the source of our economic woes.
While it is true that subsidies to corporations and unfair tax breaks are both key aspects of corporatism, they are often times masked with a “capitalistic” approach. Washington makes it seem like these types of investment or relief are actually “pro-market” or at least “pro-business.” That is not an honest measure in the slightest. Yet one does not need to search behind the cloak of government’s free-market rhetoric to see how Washington practices the immoral system of corporatism. Indeed, within the past few years our federal government has been so bold as to explicitly define their corporatist policies as such. Before pointing out the obvious instances of corporatism in America, I want to draw a brief analogy. In a classroom, the students that work the hardest, study the hardest, and, of course, who have the natural ability to learn usually earn the best grades. It would be extremely unfair if at the end of the semester the teacher told her classroom that because one student’s parents are good friends of hers, he’ll be getting a high mark. In no way would this be considered an acceptable way to delegate grades. Rather, honest hard work and results should dictate how students fare in the classroom. This is an imperfect analogy, as all analogies eventually are, but it accurately encompasses the corrupt spirit found in corporatism. The national mythology of America dictates that if an individual works hard enough and puts forth his best effort then almost anything is possible. Conversely, some individuals, whether through bad luck or error, will strike out only to fail. When this happens, they must pick themselves up—hopefully with the help of their willing community—and get back at it. Yet the 2008 bailouts were the antithesis to this “American spirit,” revealing that it is fast becoming little more than myth. As was reported immediately after the first decision to bail out American International Group Inc. (AIG) with $85 billion (that figure grew to roughly $170 billion), the Wall Street Journal’s online edition ran an article that stated rightly, “[T]he government decided AIG truly was too big to fail.” Yes, the government decided this, but it is far from the truth. Are we to believe that this is capitalism? I hope we are not that naïve. Rather, this was the epitome of big business and big govern-
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ment working together to prolong their statuses as elites. Why is it that when a middle-class family falls down they are not bailed out? They feel pain at least as much as CEOs. It is not surprising that the Occupy Wall Street protests of Fall 2011 drew so much sympathy: While the protesters’ proposed solutions were often lacking in economic sense, their anger on behalf of the victims of corporatism was well-justified. Deeming a business or bank too big to fail and hiding behind the fallible theory of Keynesian economics is a complete distraction from the true motivation for the government’s bailout decisions. Perhaps the real driving force behind the bailouts was that twenty-seven members of Congress reported owning stock in AIG in 2007, just a year before the bailout. Senator John Kerry reportedly owned roughly $2 million in AIG stock during that same year. Take a wild guess as to whether he supported the bailouts. It should likewise come as no surprise that Senators Chris Dodd and Max Baucus, chair committees who oversaw AIG and the insurance industry at-large, were the first and third biggest recipients of AIG contributions in 2006. This is just the tip of the iceberg; banks and businesses that received bailouts give plentiful donations to campaigns because they are investing in corrupt advantages. The lesson to take away from this is not to increase regulations on private industries or to reform campaign finance laws. That would only exacerbate the problem because, as it can be seen
clearly, Washington should not be trusted with interfering in the private sector. Rather, what we should derive from this discussion is that Washington needs to be stripped of its power over the private sector. The federal government should not be able to bail out a company when it fails, no matter how big it is or how much it contributes to Congresspersons’ election campaigns. In fact, the sole reason why these businesses give so much money to campaigns is because they know how much they will get in return. If Washington did not have the power to unfairly benefit corporations and bail them out, those businesses would not have a dirty incentive to donate to their campaigns. The problem is not the type or extent of regulations currently in place; the problem is that as long as these regulations exist, they will be available for purchase to the highest corporate bidder. We need less government involvement in the private sector to defeat corporatism. Then and only then will we begin to experience and, if needed, critique the free market. Until that point, let’s aim our criticism at the real target, the corporatism which continues to lurk in the shadows, sucking life from the remaining productive parts of our economy. Benjamine Levine student at Drake University who is pursuing a major in both politics and history with a minor in military science. He is the current President of the YAL chapter at Drake.
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The Tea Party’s Bold Plan for Budget Reform What if we made a budget plan by actually asking Americans what they want? Matt Kibbe
merica needs bold action, that much is clear. Strong, aggressive policies are the only way to restore the American economy. While some of the Republican primary candidates have put forth a courageous plan here or taken an audacious stance there, it’s clear the American people demand a comprehensive plan that pulls no punches and protects no sacred cows, even when that means taking a serious look at defense spending. The sentiment is reflected clearly in the findings of the Nov. 17, 2011, Tea Party Debt Commission report, a bold plan to get Washington’s rampant spending under control. The Commission consisted of 12 volunteer members from all over the country, mirroring the structure of the Congressional Super Committee. Unlike the Super Committee—the bipartisan group created by Congress with a goal of slashing the budget by at least $1.2 trillion—the Tea Party Debt Commission actually accomplished its goal, slashing an amazing $9 trillion and balancing the budget in 10 years. The Tea Party budget proposal was created to provide a grassroots solution to the budget crisis—using the novel approach of actually finding out what the people wanted. Results were gathered through an online crowd-sourcing survey that asked voters to choose between specific cuts they would like to see in the budget. Field hearings were also held across the country to gather direct input from the grassroots on budget cuts, entitlement reform, and economic freedom. This plan puts everything on the table, including the traditional Republican sacred cow of defense.
Necessity Doesn’t Justify Excess Establishment Republicans have become entangled with a massive defense contracting network muddled by lobbying and plenty of campaign cash. For too long they’ve received a pass because national security, unlike so many of the pet programs of the left, is a clear responsibility of the federal government. Irresponsible spending has been justified by claiming that cuts to the defense budget are unpatriotic or would weaken America’s strong, global military presence. It’s true that we must protect our freedoms and all of the functions of government, not hurt them. But the debate was falsely framed as a choice between cutting military spending or keeping America’s national security
strong. However, you don’t have to be a pacifist to see, as many in the Tea Party do, that spending across the board has gone out of control and must be reined in. The Tea Party Debt Commission report acknowledges the importance of balancing responsible spending with keeping America safe. It reflects Americans’ recognition that there is an incredible amount of waste in the defense budget that must be eliminated. About $1 trillion of the Debt Commission’s savings come from defense cuts but focusing on three approaches: 1) cut wasteful spending, such as duplicative purchases of Pentagon supplies; 2) eliminate or move from the Pentagon’s budget all programs that have nothing to do with national defense; and 3) prefer specific cuts over across-the-board reductions or sequesters. The sequester instated by the Congressional Super Committee’s failure to reach a compromise requires across-the-board cuts, including defense. This act of Congress is a “meat-ax” approach to spending cuts that could severely weaken our defense to a dangerously unacceptable level. The Tea Party Budget Commission looked deeper and found where the cuts in defense are needed, saving the strength, size, and development of our military without compromising on fiscal responsibility.
The Sagging Social Safety Net But the Tea Party’s proposed budget doesn’t focus exclusively on defense spending. Of course, comprehensive budget reform must include significant entitlement reforms, and the Tea Party Debt Commission showed that Americans expect our elected officials to grab the third rail with both hands to begin breaking down the Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and ObamaCare behemoths. Progressivism has ushered Americans into an entitlement mindset, making programs like Social Security incredibly touchy subjects, even among so-called conservatives. However, we can no longer afford for politicians to dance around the issue. In 1936, the government made a promise to American workers: “Beginning November 24, 1936, the United States government will set up a Social Security account for you... The checks will come to you as a right.”
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In spite of that promise, the future looks grim for young people who will be supporting the Baby Boomer generation. The Heritage Foundation estimated that by 2017 Social Security will pay out more in benefits than payroll taxes bring in. In 1940, 42 taxpayers supported each retiree. Now, it’s only 3.3 taxpayers per retiree. That means Washington will have to raise taxes for the working class to support retiring Baby Boomers. In fact, 25 years from now Social Security will only have enough funds to pay for 75 percent of promised benefits. Even more daunting are the future costs of the program. Social Security has upwards of 60 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities—numbers that Washington doesn’t share with the Tea Party rally in DC on 9/12/2009 American people. The Tea Party budget supports a private account approach that has previously been implemented by Chile and many counties in Texas. Chile adopted a private account system in the early 1980s and the results were phenomenal: people were given the freedom to shop around for a program that best fit their needs, chose their own retirement age, and received higher retirement payments than the public system. Also, the effect on the economy was enormous. GDP growth was explosive and unemployment fell below 5 percent. The Tea Party’s budget proposal adopts a modified approach to Jeff Flake’s SMART Act. This plan allows new workers born after 1981 to invest one-half of their payroll taxes in a SMART account. These accounts build on compound interest. The funds generated to provide for retirement and health care are expected to be much greater than the current public system. This plan provides people with more control over their own accounts, provides an increase in benefits through the power of compound interest, and does not touch the retirement age. However, the option of staying in the current system is still available. Medicare, the second-largest government program, representing 13 percent of the budget, is also on the block for reform under the Tea Party budget proposal. The program is growing at an unsustainable rate of 7 percent a year, presenting itself as one of the biggest road blocks to a future balanced budget. The program is too bureaucratic, top-down and governmentcentric. Patients do not have the freedom of choice or control over their benefits. Rather than focusing efforts on patient benefits and preventing fraud, the bureaucracy focuses on controlling medical costs—and fails to do either. Medicare has also been used as a piggy bank to create ObamaCare—another unsustainable government-provided entitlement program. President Obama’s plan is to take money from Medicare and reduce reimbursement rates to doctors, hospitals,
and other health service providers. The meat-ax policy reduces access to care, decreases efficiency, and increases growth in underlying costs. The Tea Party budget provides an answer that stops Medicare’s unsustainable growth without limiting patients’ access to care or stifling medical progress and innovation. After 2013, Americans will have the choice to stay in the current program or to opt into the successful Federal Employees Health Benefit Program—the same program enjoyed by current and former members of Congress. By relying on private, competitive insurance companies, waste and fraud problems will be eliminated—saving $450 billion in the annual budget alone. This approach also makes the system more patientcentered, giving individuals more options at lower costs. Medicaid, the third-largest federal program, which provides health care to the poor, is leading the states to bankruptcy. The system has transformed into a middle-class entitlement program that provides low-quality care to poor families. In fact, the system is so unstable that around 40 percent of physicians will not take new Medicaid patients. The Tea Party’s proposal relieves the financial and medical burden by issuing block-grants to the states. The allocation of scarce resources gives the States the incentive to determine who truly needs help.
Not-So-Super Congress The professional legislators on the Congressional Super Committee failed to come up with a relatively paltry $1.2 trillion in budget cuts. The across-the-board cuts in defense and nondefense discretionary spending that are impending as a result of their failure don’t even begin to address the underlying issues of our budget crisis, and don’t put us on the right track toward reform. In making it clear that there are no longer any sacred cows and finding $9 trillion in budget cuts, the Tea Party has once again shown the politicians of the Washington establishment how do their jobs. More importantly, it provides Washington with a clear and bold plan for getting our finances back in order and putting us on the path to recovery.
Matt Kibbe is the President and CEO of FreedomWorks. He is a well-respected national public policy expert, bestselling author and political commentator and has been called “one of the masterminds” of Tea Party politics.
14 March 2012
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15 Young American Revolution
Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse An excerpt from Jim DeMint’s newest book
Photo by Gage Skidmore
merica now dangles on the edge man explains: of a fiscal and economic cliff. We The argument for collectivism, have changed our original vision from an for government doing something, is individualistic and decentralized society simple. Anybody can understand it. to a collectivist and centralized political “If there’s something wrong, pass a structure rife with waste and corruption. law. If somebody is in trouble, get Federal policies now have the governMr. X to help them out.” The arment owning or controlling a large and gument for voluntary cooperation, unprecedented part of America’s ecofor a free market, is not nearly so nomic activity—a condition more akin simple. It says, “You know, if you to socialism than capitalism. allow people to cooperate volunThe more we learn and assess, the tarily and don’t interfere with them, more disturbing it gets! indirectly, through the operation of Consider this: the federal government the market, they will improve matis now the nation’s largest property ownters more than you can improve it er (Washington holds the deed to nearly directly by appointing somebody.” one-third of America’s total landmass). That’s a subtle argument, and it’s By taxing us, our government “owns” hard for people to understand. over one-third of the profits of all busiMoreover, people think that when Senator Jim DeMint speaks at a rally in Erlanger, Kennesses and more than one-third of the tucky for then-candidate Rand Paul. you argue that way you’re arguing incomes of most working Americans. for selfishness, for greed. That’s utWashington controls and restricts the deter nonsense. velopment of America’s energy resources. Government controls Unlike America’s Founders, who understood well the dangers the majority of education and health-care services in America. It of centralized power, today’s voters are not as familiar with these owns the primary retirement income plan for most Americans lessons of history. Being less suspicious of centralization than (Social Security). And government—through a burdensome reguearlier generations makes the average voter more susceptible to latory system and direct interventions into the financial markets— the utopian promises of big government. Politicians understand effectively controls a significant portion of the nation’s economic this and exploit citizens’ fear and insecurity—typically born of development and business activity. Washington’s numerous contrived crises—to herd the masses into How did this happen? How did America change so quickly more dependency on big-government programs. from the “shining city upon a hill,” the beacon of individual freeIf Americans are convinced they are unable to survive and sucdom, and the world’s model for free enterprise economic prosperceed on their own, they will demand that big government protect ity to a nation on the brink of economic collapse? them and make them more secure. It was Benjamin Franklin who The siren song of socialism that has lured Europe and almost told us that any society that gives up liberty to gain security will every other nation in history now has America in its trance. Politideserve neither and lose both. Losing individual autonomy and cal salesmen for collectivism are irresistible; their pitch is always drive kills the soul and diminishes the individual initiative required more attractive to uninformed voters. Economist Milton Friedto build strong nations.
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Collectivism is anathema to freedom and prosperity. All initiative, creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, productivity, faith, love, and charity begin at the individual level. The philosophies and policies that have imperiled America are those that have diminished individualism while centralizing federal power and forcing citizens into dependency on collectivist government programs. What makes America exceptional is the individual spirit—what makes us less exceptional is when we damage this important philosophical heritage.
The Philosophies That Changed America For nearly a hundred years prior to the Civil War, the United States resisted the European trend toward socialized economies, large central governments, and collectivist social programs. But the destruction and human tragedy of the Civil War led to federal actions that planted the seeds for more centralized federal power. As most Americans know, the Civil War started in 1861. That was also the year of the first American income tax. To start, Congress placed a flat 3 percent tax on all incomes over $800, but later modified it to include a graduated tax. The Civil War also precipitated the first national pension program to assist poor and disabled veterans. Congress later repealed the income tax in 1872, but the seeds of federal entitlements and the ease of paying for them with an income tax had set the stage for the unrestricted expansion of the federal government in the future. A mere century after America declared her independence from an oppressive government in far-off England, the seeds of dependence on big government at home were already being planted. In 1894, as part of a tariff bill, Congress once again enacted a 2 percent tax on annual income over $4,000. But the tax was immediately struck down by a 5– 4 decision of the Supreme Court. This new interpretation by the Court—that an income tax was unconstitutional— created an obstacle for a growing Europeanstyle “enlightened” progressive movement in America. Progressives knew that centralized, so-called progressive policies would fail unless the federal government had the ability to tax personal income and business profits. The Founders intended for American government to be limited. To be more like the Europeans, progressives knew it must be virtually unlimited. The progressive dream of limitless federal spending was soon accomplished with the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which allowed a federal income tax. An unlikely chain of events caused this to happen with the unwitting assistance of conservatives in Congress. As written in the Milestones Documents in the National Archives: The Democratic Party Platforms under the leadership of three-time Presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, however, consistently included an income tax plank, and the progressive wing of the Republican Party also espoused the concept. In 1909 progressives in Congress again attached a provision for an income tax to a tariff bill. Conservatives, hoping to kill the idea for good, proposed a constitutional amendment enacting such a tax; they believed an amendment would never receive ratification by threefourths of the states. Much to their surprise, the amendment was ratified by one state legislature after another,
and on February 25, 1913, with the certification by Secretary of State Philander C. Knox, the 16th amendment took effect. Yet in 1913, due to generous exemptions and deductions, less than 1 percent of the population paid income taxes at the rate of only 1 percent of net income. This document settled the constitutional question of how to tax income and, by so doing, effected dramatic changes in the American way of life. Before the income tax, the federal government was limited to transactional taxes derived from tariffs, excise, and sales. These taxes were generally visible to the public because everyone paid them—and this visibility in turn made any tax increases susceptible to significant public resistance. Transparency meant the revenue raised to fund the federal government was limited—which in turn kept the role of the federal government equally limited. This was how the Founders’ system was supposed to work. But with the advent of the income tax, federal politicians were given almost unlimited power to spend and grow government. It effectively gave the federal government an ownership share in every citizen’s labor and a percentage of the profits from the entire American economy. Such levels of government intrusion would’ve been beyond the wildest big government dreams of King George III. Proponents of the income tax promised that the tax would never exceed 1 or 2 percent of income, but as is typically the case with politicians’ promises, this soon changed. It wasn’t long before Congress began to raise taxes on businesses and upperincome workers. This kept the political backlash to a minimum, since most workers did not see their taxes increase. This practice also gave birth to the often immoral and duplicitous use of class warfare strategies employed ad nauseam by progressives who pit different segments of society against each other for their own political gain. Sadly, this rhetoric continues to be front and center in so many political debates today. The income tax and World War I (1914–1918) were catalysts for the growth of federal power, and they facilitated the initial successes of progressive philosophy in America. Not surprisingly, the implementation of the income tax and World War I coincided with America’s first progressive president. President Woodrow Wilson (1913–1921) was the first American president to actively work against our original, decentralized, republican form of government. He started the modern practice of disregarding the Constitution for his own political ends. Fox News legal analyst and television host Andrew Napolitano explains how Wilson’s progressive legacy has contributed to our current economic crisis as it relates to the abuses of the Federal Reserve: “Since World War I, since the advent of the Federal Reserve, since the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, the federal government has never been out of debt, and it has never wanted to be. Prior to the Wilson era, when the government borrowed money, it paid it back . . . It was truly a pernicious time for freedom. But free money is what Wilson left to his successors, and they all were seduced by it.” Napolitano adds: “The Constitution states that the Congress shall coin money and determine the value of it. For the first 125 years of the nation, that’s what the Congress did. But Wilson persuaded Congress a hundred years ago to give that power away to
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a private bank—the Federal Reserve; thereby letting the bankers who ran it, not Congress and not the free market, determine the value of money. And these bankers, who became fabulously rich by doing this, appealed to the weakness in every president from President Wilson to President Obama—free money.” Once again, for progressives, unlimited government and having the unlimited power to tax and spend is a necessity. Similar to many European secularists, Wilson was heavily influenced by Charles Darwin and believed that governments, like humans, must constantly evolve. He opposed the “Newtonian” view— similar to the law of gravity theorized by Sir Isaac Newton—that government should have an unchanging constitutional foundation. President Wilson argued that government should be “accountable to Darwin, not to Newton. It is modified by its environment, necessitated by its tasks, shaped to its functions by the sheer pressure of life. . . . Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice.” In other words, the Constitution should mean simply whatever Wilson and his fellow progressives think it should mean—a concept President Obama and his party would readily recognize today. This progressive and supposedly evolutionary thinking began to untie the moorings of constitutional limited government in America during Wilson’s presidency, and it fed a growing secularist movement that affected every area of American life. Sociologist and author Marvin Olasky writes: Evolutionary thinking influenced not only Social Darwinists but socialists like H. G. Wells who thought it was time to advance beyond competitive enterprise. (Karl Marx in Das Kapital called Darwin’s theory “epoch making” and told Friedrich Engels that On the Origin of Species “contains the basis in natural history for our view.”) Many books and articles have linked Darwin’s thought to Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, and Hitler: Darwin is obviously not responsible for the atrocities committed in his name, but evolutionary theory plus his musings about superior and inferior races provided a logical justification for anti- Semites and racists. Though secular-socialist philosophies began to take hold among political and academic elites in the early 1900s, this new thinking did not begin to significantly shape political policies until World War II and the decade-long Great Depression (1929–1940) frightened Americans into the arms of the federal government. The Great Depression shook America’s confidence in individualism and free market capitalism. So of course politicians were quick to come to the rescue. Despite populist fears about capitalism that were often fed by progressive rhetoric, the Great Depression was more likely caused by protectionist trade policies and the mismanagement of our currency by the newly formed Federal Reserve— printing “free money,” for example, as Napolitano explained— not by a failure of the free market. But politicians are loath to allow any crisis to pass without using it as an excuse to grow government. The Washington political class and the media convinced the American people that the Depression was caused by greedy corporations and a lack of federal control. This should sound familiar. Today we hear that the housing bubble and current economic crisis were caused by too little government regulation— completely ignoring the Federal Reserve’s complicity in artificially lowering the interest rate, thus allow-
ing people who could not afford homes to buy them. “Greedy” capitalists took advantage of a situation created in large part by the government—which we are now supposed to believe can be solved by even more government intervention. Thomas Woods, author of Meltdown: A Free Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked and Government Bailouts Make Things Worse, writes: “As several economists have noted, blaming the crisis on greed is like blaming plane crashes on gravity.” Woods also notes that through the Federal Reserve there “were more dollars being created between 2000 and 2007 than in the rest of the republic’s history.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt used the “crises” of the Great Depression and World War II to move America toward European collectivist social policies. The American worldview changed dramatically during this unprecedented era of government expansion. FDR’s successor, Harry Truman, inherited a nation with an outlook very different from our Founders. This was the pivotal point in American history, when we took a sharp left turn from a free republic and headed down the road toward a social democracy. Conservative author Andrew J. Bacevich explains the political shift that occurred under Wilson and Roosevelt and how American government was significantly transformed post-Truman: “FDR’s predecessors had presided over a republic. Central to the functioning of that republic was a set of checks and balances designed to limit the concentration of political power. Truman’s successors presided over a system defined by the concentration of power in Washington and, within Washington, in the executive branch.” Bacevich has noted that these vast expansions of centralized government power coincided with some of the most significant wars in American history (the Civil War, World Wars I and II). As FDR would state bluntly, “War costs money.” The dominant trend among conservatives in the early twentieth century was to oppose massive foreign interventions due in large part to a recognition of the centralizing effect of wartime politics and economics. This was the same reason the Founders so vigorously opposed America becoming involved in “entangling alliances.” In retrospect, we now know defeating fascism and communism was the right thing to do, but the correlation between war and big government is certainly as true as the Founders once warned. True to his progressive form, President Wilson would say that America went to war to “make the world safe for democracy,” while, perhaps ironically, doing great damage to our republic at home. The most high-profile conservative politician of his time, Senator Robert Taft—known as “Mr. Republican”—had a much different, and much more sober, take on our two world wars. Taft, known as the most vigorous opponent in Washington of Wilson and FDR’s progressive policies, rebuked Wilson’s progressive foreign policy vision in 1946, saying we went to war “to maintain the freedom of our own people . . . Certainly we did not go to war to reform the world.” This is an excerpt from NOW OR NEVER: Saving America from Economic Collapse by Senator Jim DeMint. Copyright © 2012 by Jim DeMint. Reprinted by permission of Center Street. All rights reserved.
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The ‘Silent’ President Who Talked His Way Toward small Government Calvin Coolidge’s Lessons for the Modern GOP Bonnie Kristian
Exemplifying this posture, at the close of he presidency of Calvin Coolidge is of2011 President Obama signed into law the ten ranked as one of worst in American National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). history, and stands in the modern mind as the One section of this law allows, contra the most recent example of a do-nothing presiFourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments, indefident. nite detention of American citizens without Overwhelmingly rated poorly on counts of charge or trial. Worse yet, the requirements for inactivity, lack of flexibility, and low prestige, detention are so vague that a humanitarian reCoolidge is seen as a president who tended to lief worker who accidentally gave aid to some“be acted upon” rather than act, as Michael one with terrorist connections could theoretiNelson put it in The Presidency and the Political cally be detained. Yet both houses of Congress System. overwhelmingly voted in favor of the NDAA However, despite being remembered mostand Obama signed the bill on New Year’s Eve, ly as “Silent Cal,” and depicted as taciturn, a Saturday, ensuring that the decision would resour, or even rude, the quiet man who would ceive minimal attention. ultimately become Ronald Reagan’s presidenThe indefinite detention measure of the tial inspiration got results while in office and Coolidge on October 22, 1924, holding a cerNDAA is not law because the Constitution alwas extremely popular in his day, especially at emonial hat of the fictitious Smoki Indians. lows this type of legislation. It is law because the grassroots level. Though Coolidge’s liberthe executive and legislative branches realized tarian conservatism has been rebranded as lasthey could get away with it. And it is not at all the only bill of its situde, his strictly constitutional model of governing is one from kind. One need look no further than the legislative agenda of the which Washington—hardly awash in popularity, let alone effectivetime period during which the indefinite detention provision was ness—would now do well to emulate. passed to find the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which gives the Limit, Not License government dangerous powers of internet censorship. Google cofounder Sergey Brin has said that passage of SOPA would “put us “[T]he President exercises his authority in accordance with the on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world.” A wider Constitution and law,” Coolidge wrote in his autobiography. While acknowledgement of the “great limitations” of the Constitution is most inhabitants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue take the Constitumuch-needed indeed. tion’s grant of executive power “as an authorization to take any action which the Constitution, or perhaps the law, does not speA Friendly Administrator cifically prohibit,” Coolidge found that “[f]or all ordinary occasions the specific powers assigned to the President will be sufficient to Just as Coolidge looked to the Constitution for limits on his provide for the welfare of the country. That is all he needs.” authority, so he looked to its authors and their contemporaries for a In practice this philosophy meant that Coolidge would not atpresidential paradigm. Coolidge subscribed to the old Whig undertempt to do whatever the Constitution did not explicitly forbid, but standing of the presidency, which denoted the president a simple instead contented himself with what it explicitly allowed. President administrator and placed primary emphasis on Congress as the maduring an eminently ordinary time, one marked by peace, prosperjor representative organ of the federal government. ity, and a lack of significant turmoil, Coolidge was left unchallenged The strict view of the presidency which Coolidge maintained by most of the more serious temptations to constitutional deviderived at least in part from his acceptance of the natural law theoance. Yet it seems likely that even a more turbulent time in office ry so popular among the Founders. A lawyer by training, Coolidge would have left him with a similarly constrained view of his consticontended that in the Constitution the citizens of the United States tutionally granted powers: Of himself Coolidge said, “I suppose had found the “aptest” representation of natural law that could be I am the most powerful man in the world, but great power doesn’t hoped for, and as such obedience to the document was “the expresmean much except great limitations.” His attitude toward presidension of a moral requirement of living in accordance with the truth.” tial leadership was one of constraint, not enthusiasm. Despite this moralistic understanding of the law, Coolidge was It is an attitude which is rarely imitated today. The question is no not interested in attempts to dictate morality through legislation. longer “What am I allowed to do?” but “What can I get away with?” Although he would ultimately fulfill his role as executive in admin-
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istering Prohibition, for instance, Coolidge condemned laws of that sort, explaining that government endeavors “to regulate, control, and prescribe all manner of conduct and social relations” were both very common in the history of government and completely inimical to an ostensibly free nation such as the United States. It is in this sentiment that Coolidge finds himself abandoned by his admirer Reagan, as well as much of the modern Republican Party. While Coolidge followed the more consistent path of wanting to keep the federal government out of such personal as well as financial choices, Reagan notably ramped up the War on Drugs in the 1980s, significantly increasing both mandatory sentencing and federal funding for the project to the tune of millions. He declared, “We’re taking down the surrender flag that has flown over so many drug efforts; we’re running up a battle flag.” The battle flag did indeed go up—and with it incarceration rates of nonviolent offenders who are disproportionately minorities— not to mention federal police authority and spending. The U.S. government now spends more than $15 billion per year combatting the drug trade, but drug use rates remain essentially unaffected by historical and international comparisons. This modern prohibition is most certainly a government endeavor “to regulate, control, and prescribe all manner of conduct and social relations,” and it should not surprise supporters of limited government that it has been gallingly unsuccessful. The systematic racism of the war on drugs is itself striking. Michelle Alexander, a civil rights litigator and professor at Ohio State University, has extensively documented an effect of the drug war which she calls the “new Jim Crow”: Despite the fact that studies reveal a higher percentage of white Americans using and dealing drugs, black Americans are arrested and incarcerated at far higher rates, controlling for the severity of each group’s drug activities. Reagan was right that a battle flag needed to fly, but wrong in his selection of which flag to hoist. Rather than the flag of increased government intrusion in private lives, of arrests and jail time for nonviolent consumption and business transactions, the flag which the supporter of liberty must raise is one of consistent opposition to government interference in the private sphere. Coolidge’s declaration on state programs created to control social conduct further notes: “There is a danger of disappointment and disaster unless there be a wider comprehension of the limitations of the law…. There is no justification for public interference with purely private concerns.”
The Results of Principle Constrained by his focus on the limitations of both the law and the presidency, Coolidge took a remarkably conservative approach to economic matters, even for the 1920s. The federal income tax amendment had been ratified just a decade earlier, but already the highest income tax bracket allowed taxation of up to 60% at the time that Coolidge’s Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon took office. Coolidge cooperated with Mellon closely to maintain a balanced budget while severely cutting the income tax and reducing the national debt, a project which was perhaps his most significant pursuit of a policy goal as president. Constantly attempting to limit government expenditures, Coolidge once comically told a press conference that the government had many departments, “and a little saved in each one, each division, in the aggregate amounts to a very large sum. I don’t know
whether I have ever indicated to the conference that the cost of lead pencils to the Government per year is $125,000.” The tax cuts the Mellon plan gradually got through Congress eventually lowered the progressive income tax to the point that 98 percent of the population paid no income tax at all in 1928. Meanwhile, on the coalitional front, Coolidge provided a new direction for the Republican Party, transforming it for the first time from a party premised upon authoritarianism and state-building to an organization that favored free-market principles and small government. He was responsible for introducing a new emphasis on individualism; whereas the older wing of the GOP associated individualism with greedy and loose behavior, Coolidge considered it a key aspect of freedom, locating all rights in the individual rather than the collective. This libertarian strain in Coolidge’s ideology was new to the Republican Party, which previously had been the party of Lincoln, standing for nationalization and serving the interests of big business in a sort of neo-mercantilism or plutocracy. As Colleen J. Shogan put it in “Coolidge and Reagan: The Rhetorical Influence of Silent Cal on the Great Communicator,” Coolidge paved the way for “nothing less than a fundamental rethinking of American conservatism.” Coolidge’s progress in economic policy is today undoubtedly demolished as the national debt stands at $15 trillion. But what of his guidance of the GOP? Here, perhaps, all is not similarly lost—but even the most optimistic assessment puts the Republican Party at a crossroads. After eight years under a Republican president whose decision to abandon “free market principles to save the free market system” resulted in economic plans which can only be described as serving the interests of big business in a sort of plutocracy (sound familiar?), we’ve plunged into four years of a Democrat with exactly the same crony capitalist ideas. Not only has much of the GOP returned to preCoolidge statism, but in doing so it has found itself mirroring the Democratic Party, albeit with a few different preferences for exactly how huge sums of borrowed money should be spent. But the younger generation—the voters who will, in two decades or so, compose the majority of the electorate—expresses a clear preference for a return to Coolidge’s remodeling. A September 2011 Reason/Rupe poll found that Americans 18-29 are more likely than any other age group to support federal spending caps, a balanced budget amendment, and spending cuts to resolve the national debt. They are also the most likely by far to argue that the government should not promote any particular set of values, and to describe themselves as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal”— a descriptor which might well be applied to the governing philosophy of Coolidge himself. The youth are overwhelmingly going the way of liberty. And if the Republican Party wishes to reestablish itself as a vehicle of limited government—if it wishes to remain viable as a new generation takes the reins—if it wishes to commit itself to more than a shallow, hypocritical chant of “Nope” in the general direction of Obama et al.—it must take Calvin Coolidge’s lead once more. Bonnie Kristian is the Director of Communications at Young Americans for Liberty. Her personal writings may be found at bonniekristian.com.
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Life and Liberty Fighting for the unborn the legal and practical way: without DC Marian Ward
hat does it look like to be Murder Most Ignored both principled in support “Abortion is murder,” declares for limited government and effecthe bumper sticker, but most protively pro-life? These questions lifers fail to realize the legal and pocontinually plague those of us litical ramifications that this (true) with a bent toward social conserstatement has for working against vatism but limited by strict Conabortion at the federal level. stitutionalism. Treason is the only crime even Personally, I am first and forementioned in the U.S. Constitution. most a Christian and my beliefs If the 10th Amendment (the current as a Christian absolutely influence favorite of Tea Partiers in their opmy political beliefs—but it’s cruposition to Obamacare) is to be uncial not to confuse the two. No derstood at face value, “this means issue but abortion seems to have that there is no constitutional justhe murky waters to exist between tification for Congress—or the Suthese two sets of driving core valpreme Court—to rule on any other Despite years of marches on Washington DC Roe v. Wade remains ues in American society. criminal activity without a constituMeanwhile, despite their gran- the law of the land. tional amendment to make a spediose speeches and thumping cific allowance. Thus, if abortion is of the pro-life and/or pro-women plank on the campaign trail, murder, and murder is a crime, and the federal government is conneither major party has shown real progress toward reaching a stitutionally limited to only dealing with one crime—treason—then humane solution on the question of abortion—not to mention the federal government has no authority to legislate on abortion. reining in fiscal policy or preserving the principles of liberty enEnd of story. shrined in our Constitution. So how do we prosecute crimes? Constitutionally, this is a job The issue of abortion is rife with emotion on both sides, and strictly limited to the states. There has never been an outcry for a rightfully so. It strikes at the core of what it means to be human. federal legislation answer for any other crime, and I would suggest It is, however, imperative not to set these emotions aside, but to that practically and legally speaking such an outcry is equally inaptemper them with a practical focus on the real goal: to protect propriate for the pro-life movement. A constitutional amendment the lives of the unborn, surely the most vulnerable individuals banning abortion is technically possible, of course, but I suspect among us. we can all agree that pro-lifers simply do not have the national So, what can be done to realistically protect the lives of the levels of support necessary to pass one in the foreseeable future. unborn? Many pro-lifers—most, in fact—have pushed since Roe So, what do we as constitutionalists and lovers of both liberty v. Wade was handed down for federal legislation to overturn this and life do to protect our most vulnerable? disastrous SCOTUS decision. National-level nonprofits abound There are two quite powerful weapons available in our arsenal with ending abortion at a federal level as the foundational plank once we realize that a federal approach is both impractical and, in their platform. The pattern of many of these groups is mimbarring an amendment, unconstitutional. icked by many of well-meaning pro-life politicians as well. The One successful weapon has been and continues to be statetransition from “real” America to Washington, D.C. has created a level legislation. Changes in various state laws and amendments haze around this issue, obscuring the serious problems with these to state constitutions have provided the largest strides made to federal solutions. protect life since Roe v. Wade, thanks in large part to the smaller In fact, almost 40 years and 40 Marches for Life later, it’s time scale on which these changes must be made. It goes without sayfor us to honestly assess where we are in pursuing this ideal and ing that it is easier to persuade, say, 20 million people to support what we haven’t accomplished. The frank answer is, a federal anlife than 300 million. swer has been unreachable at best and would be downright unAccording to the website for Americans United for Life constitutional at worst. While some small advances have been (AUL), “While much of the attention of pro-life Americans is on made, Roe v. Wade is more firmly entrenched than ever. If we hope Congress and the [federal] courts, laws are enacted and enforced to stop abortion in our lifetimes, it is time for new tactics. at the state level. […] In 1992 the Supreme Court clearly opened
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the door for states to put legal limits on abortion in the decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey.” AUL’s efforts have taken this approach since 1971. Their work has paid dividends by providing court-tested model legislation for 40 different potential bills. Every year, AUL produces a “Life List” which ranks states according to their measures for the protection of the unborn. AUL’s most recent “winner,” Oklahoma, topped the list for successful passage of the Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act, which astonishingly seems to be named for what it actually does. This law permits women to use force Marian Ward to protect their unborn children from criminal assaults. In doing so, it creates important legal precedent for treating the unborn as humans. Likewise, several states have passed bills called ultrasound laws (requiring women to have an ultrasound before they will be provided abortion by a physician) that have withstood court scrutiny. According to MSNBC, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the state of Texas’ version of this law as recently as January 10, 2012. Kentucky, North Carolina, Florida, and several other states have passed similar measures in recent years. These laws may not make abortion illegal, but they mark much more significant, practical progress than decades of picketing again Roe v. Wade have ever seen. Some creative Ohioans are showing promise in their lobbying for what they’ve coined as “The Heart Beat Bill” in an effort to establish viability of an unborn baby at the point of a detectable heartbeat, which the American Pregnancy association places at 5 ½ to 6 weeks of development. Again, this is not a bill which will end all abortion everywhere. But it is an important step for Ohio—and it could be an important step for your state too.
Your Personal Fight for Life The second approach for the pro-life constitutionalist strikes at the heart of the abortion matter: At its very core, abortion is a social issue and therefore will never be legislated out of existence. Even if abortion were illegal tomorrow, some women would still seek the dangerous procedure, convinced that they have no other options. Since the matter of life is actually social in nature, protecting the unborn must ultimately take place at a social—not po-
litical—level. This is the part where I encourage pro-lifers (myself included) to put their money where their mouths are. Literally. Put down your protest sign with bloody pictures of aborted babies on them and donate actual funds to a crisis pregnancy center in your area or a respected national network of centers. Help these centers provide the ultrasound machines that have helped to change the hearts and minds of so many women. Maybe start small and donate a pack of newborn diapers. The warm fuzzies alone are worth a few dollars. One shining example of a great, compassionate organization is Care Net (www.care-net.org). Donations to Care Net and many other centers are tax deductible as well, and it is always more fun to provide those funds to a charitable organization that, unlike the IRS, underwrites honorable activities. You can also help by supporting organizations providing private adoption and foster care, services such as Catholic Charities USA. Then, consider going a step further. If you know someone considering abortion—especially a young mother, scared and unprepared for her new situation—reach out to her personally and offer the help she needs to get through the pregnancy, care for or offer the baby up for adoption, and move on with her life. If you are committed to protecting life, ask yourself which is more important to you: Whether you are inconvenienced by having to give a mother-to-be a few rides to the doctor or letting her stay in your spare room, or whether her baby is given a chance to be born. Don’t have any extra funds? Volunteer for a local organization. Donate gently used baby clothes from your own children. Host a baby shower. Those of us who describe ourselves as libertarian or conservative often extol the virtues of private charity, but how many of us test the theory? It can’t hurt to try, right? We may even save a few actual babies. Marian Ward, personally an adoptee, considers herself a staunch pro-lifer. She has been involved in both libertarian and social conservative politics and is a former Congressional Liaison for Concerned Women for America, one of the country’s largest women’s organizations.
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The Evolution of Liberalism Now, this is the story all about how a word got flipped, turned upside down Devon Downes
he modern conception of liberalism is most often centered on one idea: The use—and typically expansion—of the state for the benefit of society as a whole. With its attendant focus on social welfare programs, “ humanitarian” wars, and a mixed economy, this modern liberal movement is often the epitome of C.S. Lewis’ “tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims,” unending because it finds hearty approval in the tyrants’ heart. American conservatives, libertarians, and other anti-statists rightly denounce modern liberals for their expansion of the state. Between the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the New Frontier, the Great Society, and now the era of “Hope and Change,” modern liberalism has done little to recommend itself as a philosophy productive of liberty or equality, whatever its claims to those principles may be. Indeed, on most counts I whole-heartedly agree with the critics of liberalism. Where I disagree, however, is the notion that these policies are liberal. The garden variety American statist may have laid claim to the liberal title, but he does not possess its philosophical pedigree.
Origins of a Great Tradition “There was a time,” writes author and activist L.K. Samuels, “when liberalism was the undisputed philosophical underpinning of Western Civilization.” Consider the first liberal: John Locke’s ideals freed the world from kings and tyrants and their arrogant self-righteousness that assumed the citizenry was put on earth just for them to command. The forces of liberalism changed the authoritarian paradigm, leading people to believe that consensus was more important than accidents of births. When Locke established liberalism as a quite literally revolution-
ary philosophy in the late 17th Century, his meaning would never have been conflated with one thing: Support for a powerful, central government charged with the benevolent management of society. Indeed, it was exactly the opposite. Classical liberalism in its simplest sense meant advocacy of limited government permitted only to fulfill its role of protecting life, liberty, and property. Locke’s ideas in this vein were further developed by thinkers such as Adam Smith in the 18th Century and Frédéric Bastiat several decades later. “When these men’s ideas jumped the pond to fuel the American revolution, they were perhaps most strongly supported by Thomas Jefferson, who so despised centralized government that he expressed in an 1821 letter that the new American government was already too illiberal: When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated.
From Epiphany to Epithet So how could “liberalism,” a word representative of so anti-statist a philosophy, come to represent such a very different prescription for government? How did the term lose its history as a great liberator in the history of ideas and, among many on the American right, become little better than a slur? Even more significantly, why did this etymological reversal occur? The answer lies in the development of another new political philosophy: Progressivism. As Mises Institute scholar Ralph Raico puts it, progressivism is “a vague term, but one that connote[s]
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a new readiness to use the power of government for all sorts of grand things.” Originating in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, progressivism was soon found in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Championed by the likes of Teddy Roosevelt and William Jennings Bryan, it advocated an amalgam of political positions similar in many respects to the platform of the modern liberal. But American progressivism’s rejection of the classical liberal tradition of limited government would really get its start with Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, who welcomed the notion that society could be successfully planned by the political elite with open arms. Wilson won the 1912 presidential election thanks to the Republican vote splitting between former President Theodore Roosevelt (then seeking a third term as the candidate for his Bull Moose Party) and incumbent President William Howard Taft. As the heir to the Hamiltonian cause of a big-centralized government, Wilson shredded the Constitution at every turn. He set a new precedent of economic interventionism which would later prove so useful to FDR and intervened in World War I without necessity and against the will of the majority of Americans. (This latter act was especially ironic given that his successful 1916 reelection campaign slogan was “He kept us out of war.”) On the home front, any individual who dared to publicly criticize Wilson’s policies was harassed by the government, and in some cases imprisoned—for the good of society, of course. Wilson’s newly-revealed progressive internationalism was resoundingly rejected by the electorate unready to abandon their liberal heritage, and Republicans took Congress in 1918 and the White House in 1920 running on an anti-Wilson platform. But progressivism was nonetheless here to stay. By the 1930s and ‘40s, as FDR entered the presidency, progressivism had fully infiltrated the ranks of the Democratic Party. The New Deal’s monumental expansion of government scope and scale cemented the fact that Progressivism was alive and well. It was around this time that the adherents of progressivism took for themselves a new name which has stuck to their ideas to this day: Liberal. Progressives controlled the terms of the debate, and went on to control the agenda that followed. As progressive philosopher John Dewey wrote in his Liberalism and Social Action in 1935, “measures went contrary to the idea of liberty” as defined by Locke and Jefferson “have virtually come to define the meaning of liberal faith. American liberalism as illustrat-
ed in the political progressivism of the early present century has so little in common with British liberalism of the first part of the last century that it stands in opposition to it.” This change effectively camouflaged what were in many ways very new ideas (progressivism) in a very old American tradition (liberalism)—and it was a camouflage which would make its wearer stronger. Yet as Dewey himself admitted, “a small band of adherents to earlier liberalism” still remained. Among them were libertarian icons Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, and Milton Friedman. Refusing to accept philosophy on their progressive opponents’ terms, these economists maintained that their free market views were, and always would be, liberal. Mises explained in the introduction to 1944’s Omnipotent Government: The Rise of the Total State and Total War: [W]hile the humanitarians indulged in depicting the blessings of this liberal utopia, they did not realize that new ideologies were on the way to supplant liberalism and to shape a new order arousing antagonisms for which no peaceful solution could be found. They did not see it because they viewed these new mentalities and policies as the continuation and fulfillment of the essential tenets of liberalism. Antiliberalism captured the popular mind disguised as true and genuine liberalism. Today those styling themselves liberals are supporting programs entirely opposed to the tenets and doctrines of the old liberalism. They disparage private ownership of the means of production and the market economy, and are enthusiastic friends of totalitarian methods of economic management. They are striving for government omnipotence, and hail every measure giving more power to officialdom and government agencies. Were Mises alive today, he would find his battle for the meaning of “liberalism” lost in most lexicons. But though operating under a different name, his fight Lockean liberalism remains alive in libertarians and their philosophical neighbors. In 1975, Ronald Reagan said, “I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.” At their best, these and other anti-statist philosophies share a heart of classical liberalism—a flame of liberty which no amount of renaming can put out. Devon Downes is a student at Warren County High School and is a member of the Warren County Teen Republican Committee.
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A Tikar family in Cameroonâ€™s Northwest Province. Photo by Elaine Pearson
26 March 2012
What Develops? Top-down approaches don’t help Africa Caitlyn Bates
ontrary to what Lil’ Wayne and Keynes might claim, “making it rain” is not legitimate public policy. That’s right: The sphere of international politics is not a nightclub and the US is not a famous rapper—if it were, CSPAN would be interesting. But, in the true spirit of pop culture, the government refuses to be fazed by reality, facts, or basic math in its greater pursuit of a gangster paradise, so throwing around some money to gain a little power—after dropping a few bombs—is just how it rolls. “Get ‘er Done” military interventionism is the favored strategy, but when the government wants to seem compassionate, the highly sophisticated “Just Throw Money At It” aid policy is a girl-next-door kind of interventionism that the whole family will love. Unfortunately, foreign aid doesn’t drive development for the same reason your kitten can’t balance a checkbook: The warm and fuzzy factor has no effect on efficacy. The media’s portrait of starving, poverty-stricken peoples— poverty porn, if you will—has burdened the continent of Africa with what has long been the West’s response to those not made in its image : low expectations and financial “compassion.” But while Americans gorge themselves in front of their televisions, waving away guilt by sponsoring a child or giving to ONE, some developing economies—completely inconsistent with the civilized world’s mental construct of the developing world—are, in fact, developing. Former President Clinton proclaimed, “It’s the economy, stupid!” and since then—at the risk of looking stupid—Americans reiterate that sentiment, despite widespread ignorance of the diseases underlying the symptom of underdevelopment and, perhaps even more problematic, the appropriate treatment. The nuances of individual countries and economic policy itself seem to elude well-intentioned donors, those who oversee aid disbursement, and economists who construct complicated and ill-fitting Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) for the world’s needy nations. Interventionist foreign policy of state and non-state actors from the West often fail to realize that African nations are not simply different from the developed world—a difference which receives, with little benefit, the bulk of attention—but Africa itself is composed of countries that are politically, economically, and culturally distinct. And it is these nuances which determine the direction of progress and, similarly, the degree of development. Most economists are guilty of relying too much on pretty graphs, color-coded spreadsheets, and regressions generated from financial data. Partially out of laziness, but also a tragic result of poor socialization, economists frequently have a poor grasp of common sense—see Krugman, Paul. They plug-and-chug these indicators in a vacuum, absent any consideration of actual human beings—of whom, after all, their awareness is likely minimal. But to those who have experienced the world outside of the subterranean, windowless offices of most economists, it should be obvious that
there are various interdependent economic and structural elements that can affect development. Humanity does not exist in a vacuum. Studies on development, especially in Africa, offer more rain than sunshine—to be fair, abject poverty is pretty depressing—but when it comes right down to it, endlessly modeling failure does not, nor will it ever, save lives. Analyzing and comparing the coherent overall systems—market structures within political landscapes—of successful and unsuccessful countries contributes more to a functional understanding of development, reducing the risk of inflating the effects of specific variables and distorting or ignoring important qualitative factors. So let’s compare two representative case studies, both from Africa, but economically very different indeed.
Meet the Contestants Mauritius In 2007, Mauritius surpassed Botswana with the highest overall ranking in sub-Saharan Africa on the Index of Economic Freedom and in 2011 ranked 12th globally with 76.2 points (out of 100), including an impressive 88 in Trade Freedom and 90 in Investment Freedom, though still struggling with Freedom From Corruption and Property Rights. Mauritius also ranks in the top 30 most competitive countries, making it the only African country to make this list. The World Bank ranks Mauritius 20th in the world and 1st in Africa for overall Ease of Doing Business in their 2011 Doing Business report, ranking 12th in both Starting a Business and Protecting Investors. Mauritius’ unemployment rate in 2010 was 7.5%, while the US struggled at 9.7%. Mauritian politics are characterized by coalition-building, centrist parties, and a general support for democracy and open economic policy enabling a strong private sector.
Cameroon Cameroon is the ugly cousin. In 2011, Cameroon ranked 168th (out of 183) for overall ease of doing business, reporting a Paid-in Minimal Capital of 191.8% for starting a business (as a percentage of income per capita) and a staggering Contract Enforcement time of 800 days and costs of 46.6% of the claim. Property Rights are rated as “repressed” in the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom and Freedom From Corruption; Cameroon’s rating for overall economic freedom was 51.8, placing it in the ranking of 136th globally. While once one of the most prosperous countries in Africa, economic mismanagement of the decreased commodity prices of principle exports in 1980 led to recession and a host of other economic problems. In 2009, Cameroon’s real unemployment was around 13%, while underemployment was at a staggering 75.8%.
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Cameroon’s government is erratic, with an strong executivedominated central government which curtails virtually all checks and balances and grants the president total immunity from prosecution for crimes committed while in office—a term which, since April 2008, is unlimited. Censorship is prevalent and rights of assembly, association, press, speech, and freedom from discrimination are routinely abused with no accessible or effective courts with which to seek legal recourse.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & AID IN AFRICA
Viva La Difference Mauritius is a prime example of a rapidly developing, uppermiddle income country in a region largely considered developmentally stunted and worthy of pity and aid from the developed world. The statistics on Mauritius indicate a fairly open economy, but fail to say much more than that. And far too many economists stop there. But there is much more to the Mauritian economy than simple numbers; economies never stand alone and while capitalism and representative government are not synonymous, there is undoubtedly correlation and interconnectedness between a country’s economy and its general state of political and cultural well-being. Generally speaking, Mauritius has a fairly and democratically elected government which is integral to its economic liberalization, performing principally regulatory—as opposed to participatory— roles in the economy. Mauritian citizens are largely entrusted to discern how to best conduct themselves in the international marketplace and are able to take part in the gradual opening of markets, a process which was transparent in that it took place amidst a national discourse, rather than behind closed doors in talks and contracts with the IMF or another country. SAPs have frequently made efforts that appear to liberalize economies, but which all too often result in the stripping of resources, little substantive investment, and the fragmentation of government legitimacy with the rest of society. However, there is an important distinction between liberalization and corporatization of markets : SAPs enforcing exclusive contracts granting monopolistic power to otherwise uncompetitive corporations from donor countries are actually in opposition to economic liberalization. The governments of these countries lose the exclusive decision-making power over their countries, yet are still held accountable for the negative repercussions of the SAPs, because governments must answer for all policy decisions—regardless of origination. When SAPs fail, the problems are twofold : The country accrues debt and fragmentation, due to the citizens’ loss of trust and feeling of inclusion in the government. This process is cyclical, as the damaged economy and citizens’ loss of desire to participate in the volatile system leads to movement out of the formal economy and into the informal economy, which further reduces legitimate government income, such as taxes, and distances the country’s politics from its economy as well as its people from its politics. The government ultimately becomes and is perceived as not only ineffective, but also irrelevant, as it is unable to effectively respond to the actual concerns of its people, because so little economic activity is conducted in the legitimate, visible realm and therefore cannot be taken under consideration in the government’s decisions; no matter how good its intensions, policy will fail to reflect actual grievances. Transparent and accountable democratic governments, such as we find in Mauritius, benefit from the cooperative nature of their citizen-government relationship, as there is ample communication and government accountability is ensured through electoral
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MAURITIUS Highest overall ranking in sub-Saharan Africa on the Index of Economic Freedom Ranked 12th globally on the Index of Economic Freedom Mauritius also ranks in the top 30 most competitive countries, making it the only African country to make this list The World Bank ranks Mauritius 20th in the world and 1st in Africa for overall Ease of Doing Business Mauritius’ unemployment rate in 2010 was 7.5%, while the US struggled at 9.7 %
CAMEROON Property Rights are rated as “repressed” in the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom Cameroon’s rating for overall economic freedom ranked it 136th globally in the 2011 Index of Economic Freedom A staggering Contract Enforcement time of 800 days Cameroon ranks 168th (out of 183) for overall ease of doing business In 2009, Cameroon’s real unemployment was around 13%, while underemployment was at a staggering 75.8%
processes and promoted through cultural values. Though Mauritius continues to suffer from corruption, it is among the least corrupt in in its region and above world average. Cameroon, by contrast, has a dysfunctional government and unstable, heavily monopolistic and nationalized economy largely at the mercy of international prices for its primary commodity exports: petroleum, cocoa, cotton, and coffee. This institutionalized high dependence on primary commodities results in high instability, perceived—not falsely—by citizens as being a failure of their government to act in their best interest. Such action which would entail a degree of protection from—or at least not the facilitation of— external shocks, such as the recent global economic crisis, which resulted in stagflation for the Cameroonian economy.
Decentralizing the Rainmakers The problematic nature of development research and solutions, such as Structural Adjustment Programs, is that they target the economy using tunnel-vision, without treating the system as an integrated whole. By examining the attributes of countries holistically, it is apparent that development is subject to a wide array of factors, all of which play an important role in contributing to growth. The rapid successes of the democratic and economically liberal Mauritius, contrasted with stagnation of the authoritarian, economically distorted, and monopolistic Cameroon, indicate that liberalized, unimpeded, open markets and legitimate market-conducive institutions reinforce each other and enable cohesive multi-sector growth necessary for substantive long-term development and that this development paradigm is universally applicable, providing renewed hope for Africa.
New York University’s William Easterly frequently publishes on the destructive and often self-promoting idealism of the West with its overly-ambitious and expensive goal to definitively “fix” Africa; this obsession with unrealistic goals is dangerous because it dooms Africa to being perceived as nothing more than a grand problem, one which Africans cannot solve themselves. Easterly has also discussed the differing efforts of planners and solvers, detailing the disappointing prospects of large-scale economic planners who prescribe expensive, one-size-fits-all projects versus the greater promise of small-scale, potentially life-saving creative solutions which the “feet on the ground” solvers formulate to alleviate people’s day-to-day struggles—i.e. those which actually help people. Alternatives to the current system exist, but the central problem is the overabundance of interventionism in African affairs by external institutions—primarily of the developed world. This severely complicates internal solvency, by necessitating acquiescence to the policing nations of the world acting through international financial institutions, who typically refuse to step down in “nation-building” efforts. One feasible alternative is private loans through organizations like the Grameen Bank—to and from individuals, rather than nations—which could be used as capital to establish and grow local small businesses, a more substantive privatization effort which empowers communities, rather than reinforcing dated, neocolonial power structures. But when politicians “make it rain,” all you get is wet. Caitlyn Bates is currently studying Economics at the University of Texas and leads the UT chapter of YAL. Outside of politics, she is also involved with local nonprofits GENaustin, Austin Pets Alive!, and Mixed Breed Rescue.
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Government and the Arts An artist’s argument against federal patronage Joseph Diedrich
want the National Endowment for the Arts to be abolished. That statement is usually met with scorn—either I am mindlessly regurgitating Republican propaganda or I have no respect for the arts. But then it is revealed that I am a fine arts student, that I am a music major, and that my future livelihood depends on the wellbeing of the arts. The admonishment is quickly reformulated into bewilderment. Don’t I—and all of my friends and colleagues, not to mention the artistic audience who reaps a benefit from the toils of my friends and colleagues—benefit greatly from the NEA? What needs to be understood, first and foremost, is that artists are entrepreneurs in the purest sense of the word; they continually seek to produce (create) newer, better, and more diverse products (works of art) for consumers (audiences) to enjoy. While we can rightfully argue about the relative worth of artists (for example, artists are scarcer than car salesmen) and their comparative contribution to our standard of living (and therefore how much they should be valued), that argument is erroneous to this particular discussion. What matters is, regardless of the importance of art in society, should the federal government be involved in the propagation of it in any way? There are practical arguments for a lack of governmental involvement in the arts. The federal government is running absurdly high budget deficits, and because of that, everything from the military to entitlements to extraneous programs such as the NEA (regardless of the fact that its budget is small in comparison to other programs) need to be reduced in size or eliminated. In addition, the Constitution lays out no provision for the funding of the arts, and thus any such authority must be relegated to the states and the people via the oft-forgotten Tenth Amendment. These two assertions could easily be enough to thoroughly denounce the NEA, but the most damning arguments against the organization have yet to be discussed. According to a report from Americans for the Arts, private citizens donate approximately $13 billion per year to the arts, a figure that doesn’t include the sales of tickets, paintings, sculptures, albums, etc. The NEA, which operates on a budget of only a couple hundred million dollars, actually contributes only a small amount in comparison. It is not the raw monetary values that matter, however. Art should be an unadulterated expression of the artist, and any artist who wants to sell his or her artwork must also respond to the preferences of society. When government, rather than consumers, chooses who receives money, it creates an artificial distortion of preference in both artist and consumer. Thus, it is not the preferences of society with whom artists coordinate their efforts, but rather the preferences of government.
Artists are supported and rewarded based on the whim of the politicians in power, and this can undoubtedly lead to the censorship of some art and the encouragement of other art, most dangerously in the form of political propaganda. Of course the NEA assures us that their grants are “competitive” and are based on merit, but it must be remembered exactly who judges merit in such a situation. The NEA has turned art into a subsidized special interest essentially no different from any other corporation, organization, or individual receiving welfare from the government. The citizenry is forced to pay for art that they might not otherwise be interested in and also for art that they might find offensive or sacrilegious. Artists who might otherwise fail because of a lack of interest or support for their particular ideologies become cozy in the womb of the federal government and are “propped-up” just like GM and AIG. The NEA cannot make the artistic community as a whole better off; at best it can make certain artists better off, and even this is only achieved at the expense of every other artist and at the expense of the arts in general. Government welfare—just as is plainly seen in so many other societal spheres—creates a disincentive to progress in the arts. In a world where the consequences of failure are reduced, there is less of an incentive to push a particular craft forward. This is perhaps the scariest thought of all to me, as an artist myself: that the government’s well-intentioned plans to support the arts may inadvertently be preventing the arts from growing as fast and as wide as they otherwise would in the absence of intervention. The artistic economy is no different from our economy as a whole. To truly flourish, artists must be left alone to respond to incentives and to the preferences of the consumer audience. As mentioned above, the NEA contributes very little to the artistic community as a whole. But it’s not about the overall contribution. It’s about the necessarily arbitrary taxpayer-funded gift one theatre company or painter receives over another; it’s about freeing artists from the chains of government welfare; it’s about returning art to the free market where the best art can truly be rewarded and advanced. When the unconstitutional costs of such an organization are factored in, the only logical position one can take is for the elimination of it. I am an artist. And I am against the National Endowment for the Arts. Joseph Diedrich is a Music Composition student at the University of Wisconsin—Madison and Treasurer of the UW-Madison Chapter of Young Americans for Liberty. He plans to teach composition at a conservatory or university.
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Year of Youth Training Feature How to Build, Maintain, and Use a Mass Email List Abigail Alger
our email list can be your most efficient, affordable, and effective way to mobilize your supporters— if you keep a few tips in mind.
Use your segments to separate out different test audiences. You do not use the exact same language in emails to your professor, your parents, and your friends— even Why build an email list? if you are making the same point in all three emails. Do Communication among your active members is hanthe same favor for your email dled easily in a Google group list: use email segments so you (http://groups.google.com), can “talk” to different groups Facebook group, or email listof people in the tone and lanserv provided by your college guage most natural to them. or university. The informal, Effective list segmentation back-and-forth exchange keeps MailChimp’s “forever free” plan is a great place to start when choosing a is the deciding factor between you all in touch between meet- email provider. good and great email marings, and helps you plan your keting. Don’t think of your next activities. emails as mass communicaBut what about new members? Members “on the fringe,” who tion, a “blast email” (perish the term!) to be sent to every unforattend one or two meetings a semester? Other campus groups? tunate soul you know. Think of your emails as mass one-to-one Supporters and donors off-campus? The media? How will you communication: relevant, personalized, and targeted messages communicate with them? based on list segmentation. You’ll be rewarded. They don’t belong on your private list, but if you want a diHow to build your email list rect line to these people—and just the facts on who’s interested— then you need to build your email list. Right now. First, collect email addresses at every event your group hosts. On sign-up or sign-in sheets, add a line for receiving news from Your toolbox your group. Some people may be suspicious of spam or sharing Your tools are neatly contained in one toolbox: your email their email address. You can assure them that they’ll only receive marketing solution. The differences in features among major prorelevant, interesting updates (and then work hard to make good viders like iContact, Constant Contact, or MailChimp are not subon that promise!). Also make clear that they can unsubscribe with stantial for what your group needs. Test-drive their user interfaces one click at any time, for good. in free trials and decide what is easiest for you. Second, add email sign-up forms to your website, blog, and/or With that said, strongly consider MailChimp’s “forever free” Facebook fan page for your group. The forms should be promiplan as you start building your email list. For up to 2,000 subscribnently featured. If possible, advertise a bonus to entice people to ers and 12,000 emails sent per month, there’s no cost for you and sign up, like a special download, a ticket to an event, or a promise your group— and you still get access to a generous number of of regular, interesting content. email marketing tools. Your email marketing platform will provide you a simple, copyUse your email marketing platform to manage all your conand-paste template for your website and blog. On Facebook, you tacts. Your email “list” contains all the people whose email admay have to install a simple app. Either way, no technical knowldresses you have. That entire list is then broken down into subedge will be required. sections, called segments. Segments can be defined in two ways: Third, if other groups offer to help build your email list, contact category (e.g. media or donor) and subscriber action (e.g. compose an email to their list that directs recipients to your signpeople who opened your last email). up form. Interested people can then sign up for your email list
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through that form. This process is known as “opting in;” it’s the gold standard. Always resist the temptation to beg, borrow, or buy email lists from other organizations. That tactic may cause you to violate email spam laws and have your account frozen by your email marketing platform. Plus, in the long run, an email list composed of people who opted in to your updates is always much better than an email list of people who unwittingly receive your news.
Composing effective emails Your emails will fall into two broad categories: an update or an ask. An update shares information, highlights successes, and generally cheers the email recipients. They know you’re doing a good job, and they’re happy they’re involved in your work. An ask requests that the recipient take an action, whether that’s watching a video, clicking a link, or attending an event. Plan ahead your email schedule— you can even call it your “editorial calendar”— to mix your asks and updates. Don’t send more than one email to recipients per week, though, unless it’s an extraordinarily exciting situation. You can break down each email into two parts: the content and the “header,” an unofficial, loose term that groups together the recipient, sender, subject line, and send time. The principles of good email content are straightforward. Be clear. In general, one email should convey one message; if you cannot condense your point to one sentence, you’re trying to say too much. (The exception is, of course, a newsletter that briefly highlights multiple events.) Be concise. Make sentences direct, make paragraphs short, and make the body of your email brief as possible. But remember that short does not mean sparse, stilted, or half-finished. Channel Ernest Hemingway or even the authors of the Constitution. Make every word count. Be compelling. Your recipient must understand why your email matters. Are you working toward a common goal or defeating a common enemy? Your recipient must understand how this tiny puzzle piece fits into the whole. Be reasonable. Don’t overuse emotion or urgency; reserve those for emotional or urgent times. Respect recipients’ time by sharing important, relevant news, and they’ll reward you by reading your emails. Once your email content is prepared, format your email online by logging into your email marketing provider. In general, you’ll produce two versions of every email: an HTML version (with colors, images, etc.) and a stripped down, plain-text version. Recipients will see the version suited for their email program; for the majority, this will be your HTML version. At the bottom of every email, include a link for recipients to unsubscribe from your updates. Your email marketing provider should provide clear, step-by-step instructions, or will automatically include the information for you. You must then select your “header” details: Recipient: Select the segment(s) that will or will not receive your email. An email intended for inactive members should not
go to donors, for example. Sender: Choose the name and email address from which the message will originate. Follow an individual name with your group name (e.g. John Smith, Duke Young Americans for Liberty or John Smith, Duke YAL, depending on the recipients). Make sure the sender’s email address will be monitored, too, as some recipients may reply directly to the email you send them. Subject Line: A good subject line, like a good newspaper headline, will draw in recipients to read your email. Make your recipient curious or excited, but avoid cutesy tricks and false advertising. Send Time: Monitor the results of your email to determine the best time to send emails to your target audience. You can use this feature to schedule emails in advance as well.
Analyzing your emails The most powerful and humbling component of online communication is real-time analytics, the hard numbers that tell you who’s reading your content and how they respond to it. This information is free marketing research for your group; treat it as such. The most useful statistics for your emails are: Open rate: This is the percentage of your subscribers that open your email. The higher the rate, the better; a respectable rate is between 20% and 30%. Click-through rate: This is the percentage of your subscribers that clicked on links in your email. You can review the clicks on individual links to gauge the effectiveness of your calls to action or to determine which stories were most interesting. Unsubscribe rate: This is the percentage of your subscribers that unsubscribed from your email list. Watch this number very carefully. Bounce rate: This is the percentage of emails you sent that “bounced” or did not reach your subscribers’ inboxes. This occurs due to incorrect email addresses, full email inboxes, or being marked as spam. The lower this rate, the better. If you see these statistics presented as “unique open rate” or “open rate,” judge your email by the unique open rate. The unique rate treats each subscriber as an individual; the general rate just counts actions. For example, when one subscriber opens an email three times, it is counted as one “open” for the unique open rate, but three “opens” in the general open rate. As you build and contact your mass email list, you’ll learn what does and doesn’t work for your particular list. Be sure to pass along this institutional knowledge to your fellows and successor in your organization. With careful attention to detail, a willingness to try new tactics as needed, and a consistent dedication to quality content, you’ll find your mass email list will become a valuable asset to your campaign or campus activism. Abigail Alger is the Director of Digital Communications for the Leadership Institute. She previously worked as a New Media Strategist for Terra Eclipse and as a Junior Associate for the David All Group.
33 Young American Revolution
When Bigger Isn’t Better Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse Sen. Jim DeMint, 453 pages, Hachette Book Group, 2012 Jeremy Davis
he bigger the government, the greater the spending—an obvious and unfortunate fact of political life. And you can be sure that with a national debt of over $15 trillion, the size of our federal government is assuredly one of epic proportions. In fact, spending and accumulating massive debt is just about the only thing Washington, D.C. does well. There are too few within Congress with a genuine interest in cutting spending and are serious about reducing America’s monumental debt. Of those few, Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina stands out as a voice for restoring fiscal sanity in a town where such a thing is a scarce commodity. In his book, Now or Never: Saving America from Economic Collapse, Senator Jim DeMint offers up several truly conservative answers to America’s economic woes. In warding off the complete and total ruination of America’s economy and restoring prosperity once again, Americans must hold politicians accountable in getting spending and the national debt back to levels within the limits of sanity. Washington, D.C.’s continuing tradition of flagrantly conjuring up new schemes of wasting tax payer money must end. Uncle Sam’s fouled economic logic that a reduction in new levels of spending represents a cut in total spending, as Congress and the president made the case during the most recent scramble to raise the debt ceiling last year, can no longer be deemed acceptable. One solution that Senator DeMint discusses at length throughout the book is a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution – otherwise known as the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” act. This proposal, which gained traction among many of the more traditional conservative Tea Party favorites but was ultimately cut down, was meant to serve as a more viable compromise in the debt ceiling debacle. The acts’ supporters, among which included Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and Senator Jim DeMint himself, sought to cut spending for the next fiscal year, establish spending caps on the way to balancing the budget, and ultimately pass an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require Congress to maintain a balanced budget by law. However, such solutions are rendered moot if they lack broad appeal and popular support among the people. Perhaps the greatest roadblock in making any meaningful cuts to the federal government rests with the fact that more than half of all Americans are dependent on the federal government in one form or another. A key factor Senator DeMint points to in putting the reigns on govern-
ment spending is dealing with the overgrown dependency on the federal government that so many Americans have grown accustomed to. Generations of Americans have been raised into a culture of dependency on the government due much in part to Uncle Sam having his creeping hands in everything from welfare programs and entitlements such as Social Security to health-care and public education. With so many reliant on the federal government in their daily lives, it makes it all the more difficult to make the necessary cuts to get our economic mess in order. Such a heavy dependency on government, argues Senator DeMint, has withered away American individualism and our “spirit of independence.” Once upon a time, Americans cherished limited government through a constitutionally decentralized system of government that valued individualism. It was this spirit of self-independence that made America one of the freest, strongest, and most prosperous nations in world history. Eliminating our deeply rooted dependence on the federal government by restoring these principles is something we must do, Sen. DeMint contends, if we are to restore freedom and individualism in limiting government power. And just as Washington, D.C. has proven time and again, most of what it touches turns into disaster. The long standing tradition of expanding the federal government through constant centralization has created many of the problems we are now faced with. Rather than live under a once size fits all policy from Washington, D.C., Sen. DeMint advocates relocating certain political powers back to the individual states. Decentralizing many wasteful federal programs dealing with welfare or education back to the state and local levels will allow for better management of these programs and would be a critical first step in reducing big government. Getting Washington, D.C. out of the way and allowing each individual state and the people to handle these problems is a solution that most closely resembles the intent of our republic in its founding. A renewed emphasis on localism and individualism is something Senator DeMint describes as a rightful solution to the inadequacies of the federal government. As demonstrated by the rise of such popular movements as the Tea Party, many Americans are indeed waking up to the flagrant spending habits of Washington, D.C. The elections of strong limited government minded candidates such as current Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul proved that a change in Washington and the Republican Party is deeply needed.
34 March 2012
The rise of these two Tea Party favorites, both of whom were endorsed by Senator DeMint during their respective campaigns, represents a necessary change in the Republican Party itself. For too many years, both the Democratic and Republican parties have been guilty of succumbing to the temptations of big government. Getting the Republican Party back in line with its small government, constitutional roots, writes Sen. DeMint, is the only way to battle back against the big government types that haunt Washington, D.C. The days of Republicans compromising with Democrats in expanding government and restricting freedoms must stop. As Senator DeMint puts it, the Republican Party is in the process of being rebuilt around our country’s founding principles. Restoring a constitutionally limited government, restrained by the small government principles enshrined in that very document, is the only viable way for the American people to chain down the Washington behemoth. Of course none of these proposed solutions to cut wasteful spending, reduce the national debt, and shed off our dependency on Washington, D.C. can occur without a severe reassessment on the proper role of the federal government by the American people. The more people expect from government, the larger it must become. Sen. DeMint recognizes that in order for America to be prosperous again, the federal government simply needs to do less, not more. Phasing out federal programs that are either unnecessary or unmanageable by stripping them down to a workable size or handing their functions over to the states is perhaps the only meaningful solution. And not only do we have to alter our perspective of the proper function of government on the domestic front, but abroad as well. Echoing a much more traditional non-interventionist foreign policy, Senator DeMint suggests that rethinking the role of the United States around the world is a must if we are actually serious about re-
building our economy. No longer can we continue being the world’s policeman and no longer can we afford to intervene in every corner of the globe. If we are truly sincere about eliminating wasteful spending and getting the economy back on track, then establishing a more affordable foreign policy while remaining strong in defense is a necessary and unavoidable path. The Senator’s willingness to take on this issue as a prominent member of the Republican Party—so long unwilling, as a whole, to consider any defense cuts at all—distinguishes him from his GOP colleagues whose much-vaunted fiscal principles stop at the Pentagon’s door. Cutting wasteful spending, balancing the budget, overturning Obamacare, localizing education, achieving energy independence, pursuing a sane foreign policy, reforming the tax code and federal entitlements, and generally shrinking the federal government simply cannot be done overnight. Overturning decades of government growth and intervention will take some monumental effort on the part of each and every American. Electing individuals who can be held accountable in keeping government small and following a strict interpretation of the Constitution is the first step in restoring not only the economy, but our freedoms as well. The overriding message throughout the pages of Now or Never is that America is standing on the edge of a cliff and can only be saved if we stand up and join the fight to restore what once made America great. “We can win this fight” remarks Senator DeMint, “but only if those who love and understand America are willing to fight. It is up to you. It is up to all of us. It really is now or never.”
Jeremy Davis is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a BA in Political Science. He currently serves as the Ohio State Chair for YAL and is a frequent contributor to the YAL blog.
YAL CHAPTER BUILDING GUIDE www.YALiberty.org/resources/guide
35 Young American Revolution
In America, the Law is Not King
With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful
Glenn Greenwald, Metropolitan Books, 304 pages Jayel Aheram
ust a week before the year ended, 26-year old single mother Patricia Spottedcrow spent the holidays in prison. It was her first Christmas away from her children—now ages 2, 4, 5, and 10—after receiving a 12year sentence for the first-time offense of attempting to sell $31 worth of marijuana to undercover police officers. If Spottedcrow had been a former president, an influential administration official, a Hollywood celebrity, or a hedge fund manager for wealthy investors, the single mother might have experienced leniency and compassion from the criminal justice system. In fact, she might not have even seen the inside of a courthouse for worse crimes. Instead, like most powerless victims of this country, the rule of law will be stringently enforced with all the impartiality and dispassion the criminal justice system could muster. While the heavy hand of the law is used to incarcerate an increasing number of the poor and sentenced for increasingly long periods for even the most petty of crimes, this same rule of law is repeatedly abrogated in the name of protecting the very powerful of this country: the political and financial elites. That this twotiered justice system exists—one tier to protect powerful from any culpability in high crimes committed and the other to severely punish the powerless for the most minor of offenses—represents the deposition of law as king in America, according to Glenn Greenwald in his latest book With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. Greenwald convincingly illustrates the existence of a twotiered justice system in America and recounts the systematic efforts to dismantle the rule of law as it applies to powerful beginning with Gerald Ford’s presidential pardon of Richard Nixon to the current Obama administration’s self-serving refusal and aggressive prevention of all efforts to investigate the Bush torture regime. In his introduction, Greenwald lists the crimes he lays upon the elites: the “global torture regime” of the Bush administration, the “plundering by Wall Street” that led to the still-ongoing economic recession, the “obstruction of justice” by administration officials, and the widespread fraud that characterized the home foreclosures by the largest banks. In every instance, Greenwald claimed that “the perpetrators were shielded from any legal consequence.”
This is in contrast to the aforementioned Spottedcrow or other non-violent offenders like her, whose negligible “crimes” are so inconsequential compared to the criminal destruction by the financial elites of the wealth of this nation’s middle class and the prolonged suffering they continue to endure. According to Greenwald, this decadeslong undermining of the rule of law not only denies justice for those most aggrieved—in this case, the American people who have been spied on, plundered, tortured, and under the current Obama administration even assassinated—but also perpetuates the chronic lawlessness from the very institutions Americans have entrusted to protect them and provide ever more incentives for the elites to commit even greater injustice against the American people. Greenwald rose to national prominence as a blogger in 2005 when the first controversies regarding the National Security Agency’s illegal domestic wiretapping were disclosed by the New York Times. Not surprisingly, the most compelling chapter of his book is devoted to this saga of flagrant violations of the law by the Bush administration and the ensuing scramble by officials to secure immunity for the telecoms who cooperated with the administration in law-breaking and shield them from any legal consequence. That the telecoms were acting under the orders of the president is irrelevant according to Greenwald, when the law explicitly forbids telecoms from “intentionally engaging in electronic surveillance unless authorized by a court.” Greenwald argues very forcefully that the administration’s demand for retroactive immunity for the telecoms “makes complete mockery of the rule of law,” contending: [T]he United States is not supposed to be a country where private actors are permitted to commit crimes and violate laws whenever the president tells them that they should. The president has no greater power to authorize others to break the law than he does to break the law himself. Greenwald also argues that the president—far from the idea of an imperial presidency with unchecked powers to bend or break laws as he sees fit, as advocated by many prominent members of the Bush administration—is bound by Article II of the Con-
36 March 2012
belong in the private or public sectors—are above the law. stitution to faithfully execute laws. Greenwald puts it succinctly, Yet Greenwald reserves his strongest polemics in the chapter “lawbreaking is still illegal even if the president says it should be devoted to the Obama’s administration refusal to prosecute the done.” criminals responsible for the Bush Indeed, the warrantless spying torture regime. In that chapter, Grecase perfectly illustrates how comcollaboration between enwald details the aggressive prepletely entrenched the idea among “[The] vention by the Obama administrathe powerful elites that certain members of this exclusive group, the financial elites guilty of tion of all efforts to investigate the war crimes committed by the previsuch as the president and members of his administration, are complete- plundering the country and ous administration. Obama went as far as pressuring the Department ly unbound by the rule of law and immune from the requisite justice political elites we entrusted to of Justice to not initiate criminal proceedings, which Greenwald conthat would be reasonably applied amounts to transforming the if the laws were properly executed. protect us further entrenches the tends Justice Department from an “indeThis is then extended to the private pendent law enforcement agency companies who cooperated in the law-breaking. In return for their si- idea that the powerful — whether into a political arm of the White House.” lent complicity, the telecoms breakCiting the need to “look forward ing the law were amply rewarded they belong in the private or public not backwards,” Obama echoed the with multi-million dollar contracts very same spurious reasoning that generating huge revenues, and then sectors — are above the law.” Ford used to justify the pardoning afterwards were granted complete of Nixon. This hostile unwillingness immunity from prosecution that to enforce the law and prosecute crimes of the previous administheir law-breaking would normally demand. This mentality is not tration is self-serving; after all, the Obama administration’s refusal the domain of one political party, but has become a bipartisan to prosecute the Bush torture regime is in itself a crime. Greenconsensus as evidenced by the Democrat-controlled Congress’ wald laments that the Obama administration’s resistance to any eventual passage of the law that granted retroactive immunity to sort of accountability and lack of desire to prosecute wrongdothese law-breaking telecoms. ings ensure that the bipartisan “culture of impunity” will continue This idea is also shared by many outside the Capitol, with many from one administration to the next. of the more vocal calls for full-scale immunity originating from “In the long run,” he says “immunity from legal accountability influential voices in the corporate media. Greenwald condemns ensures criminality and corruption will continue.” the immunity law as “one of the most striking pieces of evidence Wholly depressing in its inarguable citation of facts and recent that the royal Beltway court and its corporate partners placed history, Greenwald’s book is a breathless and damning indictment themselves above and beyond the reach of the law even for the of the bipartisan effort to abrogate of the rule of law and eviscermost blatant transgressions.” ate the very American principle of equality under the law. GreenIt turns out that this bipartisan repudiation of the rule of law wald convinces that the neutering of law to shield the elites from continues from one administration to the next regardless of party justice leads to the creation of a two-tiered justice system that affiliation. In the chapter “Too Big to Jail,” Greenwald details the protects the favored and punishes the oppressed. Obama’s administration’s sidestepping of the rule of law to shield Just as Thomas Paine once did, Greenwald rightly worries that the very financial elites responsible for the economic crisis. Aca society that forsakes the rule of law will inexorably lead to tyrcording to Greenwald, President Barack Obama went as far as anny. His argument for the rule of law and for it to be applied elevating these same elites from Wall Street to positions of power equally is an acknowledgement of the harsh reality we live in: that that will enable them further control over the economy’s machinagiven the opportunities that immense power provides—from the tions. He argues that the appointment of Timothy Geithner as his unchecked accumulation of ill-gotten wealth to the complete abTreasury secretary was precisely because of Geithner’s close ties rogation of justice—only the objective, impartial, and equal enwith Wall Street. Because Obama “had been a major beneficiary forcement of the supreme laws of this land will serve as effective of Wall Street’s largess,” there is an expectation that this friendlichains against the natural tendency of men to tyranny. ness will be return in kind. Otherwise it would be that in America, law is not king. Greenwald strongly condemns the Obama administration’s collusion with the very financial elites responsible for the wholeJayel Aheram is a student journalist, Iraq War and Marine veteran, sale destruction of this country’s economy, calling it a “rancid internationally-published photographer, artist, and polymath. He is a state of affairs” and “the hallmark of lawlessness and tyranny.” blogger at Young Americans for Liberty, RedStateEclectic, and CopyfasThe resulting collaboration between the financial elites guilty of cism Watch, and a sometimes contributor to RT International. plundering the country and political elites we entrusted to protect us further entrenches the idea that the powerful—whether they
37 Young American Revolution
Precepts and Operation The Founders’ Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It
Larry P. Arnn, Thomas Nelson, 224 pages Brian Beyer
isregard for the Constitution was fashionable for much of the 20th and 21st centuries--think the New Deal, Great Society, the post-9/11 Surveillance State, etc.—but contempt towards one of America’s founding documents is no longer being left unanswered. Thanks to the Tea Party, Americans are once again scrutinizing the actions of government and the constitutionality of those actions. Dr. Larry P. Arnn, president of über-conservative Hillsdale College, set out to remind Americans that it’s not only the Constitution that deserves a closer look, arguing that the Declaration of Independence is inextricably tied with the Constitution and equally deserves the liberty activist’s attention. This “divine and natural connection between the Declaration and the Constitution” is essential if one wishes to maintain the America that was fought for over 200 years ago. If these two documents and the glue that binds them are forgotten, Arnn warns that the America of yesteryear will be lost and forgotten in his newest book The Founders’ Key: The Divine and Natural Connection Between the Declaration and the Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It. Arnn contends that the history of the United States is one influenced by the meaning of America’s birthday, the occasion on which the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence: On the one hand, it is a specific day, marked in memory of specific things done by specific people in a specific place. On the other hand, it is a day for the ages and for everywhere. The lessons learnt from this document are both timeless and time specific, universal and relevant only to one country and people. It is the job of the Constitution, Arnn argues, “to institute and to guard this combination.” American history has generally been defined by the ebb and flow of those who have “endeavored to embrace” this combination, and those who have “endeavored to escape it.” Arnn rightly attacks those who have “endeavored to escape,” but notably exempts those on the right from his criticism. Most of his ire is directed towards Obamacare, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the “administrative state,” Cass Sunstein, and Nancy Pelosi. This criticism is undoubtedly deserved as “an evolutionary standard of rights” was never envisioned by the Founders. Nevertheless, Arnn devotes all of his attention to the overuse and abuse of positive rights while not once mentioning the egregious infringement of negative rights during the post 9/11 era. The American surveillance state, an alphabet soup of notoriously secret government and private agencies, has powers that “are both sweeping and
sealed off from accountability to the people.” Americans are quite literally watched day and night by cameras, wiretaps, algorithms, and all other sorts of oppressive technology. Arnn says of the administrative state, “The whole system is arbitrary, complex and shrouded in mystery.” While it would have been impossible for him to chronicle every abuse of the administrative state, his omission of the surveillance state is noteworthy and regrettable, lending a partisan air to an otherwise apt critique of government abuses. For all of his gripes about government gone wild, Arnn concedes that government is not alien but necessary. The Declaration was concerned with peoples, “who have a standing in nature…it is natural for people to form peoples.” So while it is natural for people to want to rid themselves of a bad government, it is equally natural to want to establish a just government. The Declaration lays the general rules for that arrangement. Those rules, states the Declaration, are to be found in the “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God,” the natural laws of life, liberty, and property (or the “pursuit of happiness” as it is termed in the Declaration). The crux of natural law is that all men are created equal and endowed with the same rights. Arnn clarifies “equality” in an exceptionally clear and vivid manner. Clearly, an NFL offensive lineman does not seem equal to most men his age, just as an undergraduate studying Elizabethan poetry would seem to excel beyond her college aged peers. Despite these seemingly gaping inequalities, Arnn argues that it is rationality that brings all humans together. This entitles men to “govern the nonrational parts.” But what of the rational parts—other men? It is only with written consent that the “virtuous” of society can lead. And it is the principle of equality that provides for such a system, since, as Madison said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.” A medium was found. Slavery and racism, however, left an ugly mark on American history. Black people and other minorities had no rights and could not choose their own leaders. White men were able to rule over what they saw as “nonrational parts.” Hence an important question: Were certain Founders, who held slaves while preaching about the wonders of individualism, hypocrites? Arnn makes a flimsy case that they were not. Even though Jefferson had slaves of his own, he actively fought against slavery in his writings and career in government. His work for the cause of liberty outweighed his own personal misgivings. But, even by Arnn’s own definition of “hypocrite”
38 March 2012
(“a man who pretends to virtues he does not have”), Jefferson fails the test. Arnn is quick to note, though, what happens when the Declaration and equality are forgotten or ignored. People such as John C. Calhoun and other pro-slavery figures used the concept of inequality to push their agenda of prosperity for ostensibly superior people at the expense of the supposedly inferior. This gross injustice is the product of the abandonment of the “principles and institutions of the Revolution.” But even as hopeless as it may seem in this day and age, Arnn wants to preserve these principles and institutions rather than abandoning them. The relationship between the Constitution and the Declaration is “a question of the meaning of the nation.” If they are both “necessary” and “mean different things,” then the United States has never really been a united nation. Arnn does a masterful job of explaining this relationship and its repercussions. James Madison, during the Constitutional Convention, justified the Constitution itself by citing the right of the people to “abolish or alter their governments” as they see fit. He also reasoned that republicanism, which is enshrined in the Constitution, was the only system of government compatible with the Declaration’s principle of self-government. Perhaps the most interesting parts of the book are the comparisons between the Constitution, the Virginia Constitution and the Massachusetts Constitution. Arnn, clearly a student of history, remarks on their incredible similarities in style, substance and language. The point that Arnn makes is simple, obvious and powerful: All levels of government must be constrained, and the people subjected to its power must be treated as equal individuals. Such is the foundation of American government. The crux of Arnn’s argument can best be conveyed in his own words: The central precepts of the American government are found in the Declaration of Independence, and they encompass the inseparable conceptions of nature, equality, rights, and consent. To know the purposes of the United States is to understand these terms. Constitutional rule operates in service to these principles. Its genius is its ability to deploy but also restrain the use of power and to capitalize on voluntary action to advance the public good. This vital connection that has done so much, says Arnn, is the “Founders’ key.” Dr. Arnn undoubtedly finds the principles and consequences of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution worthy of admiration and defense, especially at such a critical juncture in American history. He is not alone, of course. Many other noble men and women are now fighting to restore the American republic to its principles of liberty. But no matter how well-intentioned and well-written the Constitution is, with all of its protections against the evils of big government, America is still burdened with Obamacare. And the PATRIOT Act. And endless wars. And business-killing regulations. Is the Constitution still worthy of all this devotion? Arnn seems to say yes, but my own answer is not so certain. After all, a parent who gives rules and boundaries to his children but doesn’t enforce them would never be asked to be on the cover of a parenting magazine.
Brian Beyer studies Arabic and French at the University of Buffalo.
39 Young American Revolution
Profiles in Liberty
The Jester of Libertarianism - Dave Barry Trent Hill
in a military capacity during Vietnam very single year the ball drops in War by claiming conscientious objecNew York City’s Times Square, tor status. Barry certainly has no love people sing Auld Lang Syne all over for that conflict, calling it “a terrible the world, and Dave Barry puts out his mistake,” but emphasizing that his Year in Review. It’s a literary moment “beef is with the politicians, not the many people, including this writer, soldiers, who only did their duty.” Realook forward to every year. New Year’s sonable enough. Day has not arrived until Barry’s Year Dave Barry is a libertarian both in in Review has been published. jest and in his most serious moments. Barry is a Pulitzer Prize winning Nor is his commentary about the inhumor columnist who from 1983 efficiency (read: stupidity) of governuntil 2005, approximately a thousand ment aimed only at certain sectors. years by my math, wrote a column for Of the Department of Education, the Miami Herald which touched on he noted that, “The more billions of subjects like the atmosphere in Washdollars we give to the Department of ington D.C. and getting a colonoscoEducation, the worse our educational py—Okay, he writes about trudging system becomes.” When asked if there through excrement, you say, but what was any particular issue, department, else? Exploding poptarts, Barbie dolls, or program that he felt was off-limits, and incredibly stupid government he answered matter-of-factly, “No, I programs. Barry brings a certain irthink pretty much everything the govreverence to any topic he writes about. ernment does is fair game.” His aim is certainly not to offend; he Much of his commentary centers simply does not care whether or not on the national government, not besomeone is offended in the process cause of a political agenda, but because of his making a joke or two. Indeed, Dave Barry at the 2011 Washington Post Hunt “local governments are subject to the Barry argues that everyone is offended same problems, but their budgets are by something someone says. To have smaller, which prevents them from blundering on the scale you to avoid offending others would be an exercise in futility, not to see in Washington.” This is certainly true—it is the difference mention a severe restriction of speech. between seeing someone fall off of their bicycle and watching Dave Barry’s humor eviscerates the mystery, seriousness, and someone tumble from a ten foot tall pink unicycle. mythology surrounding government at the local, state, and esOkay, so he makes fun of government and he avoided the pecially national level. His caustic wit does not come from some War in Vietnam, that alone does not make him a libertarian or a fundamental understanding about how government works (or defender of liberty. This is true, but Dave Barry, whether through does not work), but rather from his simple observations. In an his humor or his occasional serious commentary, is someone who interview with Reason Magazine in 1994, he said, “I don’t have any identifies as a libertarian, though he noted in the interview that insight or understanding on anything about the government. All I he does not “participate in any organized libertarian activities”— think is that it’s stupid.” Sure sounds like a libertarian. stating that he thinks “organized libertarian activities” might be Barry attended high school and college in the radical 1960s, so an oxymoron. When asked, he will admit to having voted in resome might argue his petulance against government programs is cent presidential elections, but will not share whom he voted for partly inspired by that period of radicalization. Being the son of a because, well, “I don’t think that’s anyone’s business.” Presbyterian minister and attending school at a Quaker-affiliated Still not convinced of his libertarian bona fides? Every libercollege, Haverford College, helped Dave Barry to avoid serving
40 March 2012
tarian has a “come-to-Jesus” moment, but not everyone can claim that the editor of Freeman Magazine was the man who converted them. Barry can. He credits Sheldon Richman with his conversion to a libertarian mindset when they were both reporters in Philadelphia who covered the same beat and ended up at many of the same events. Barry remembers, “I use to argue with him a lot; I thought he was crazy”—Sound familiar?—“...the more I got to see the workings of government up close, as a journalist, the more I got to see his point. It took me a couple years to come around, but I did, and eventually I wrote Sheldon a letter telling him he was right.” As a longtime journalist, author, and columnist, Dave Barry has been a part of the media world for decades now. Does the media have a bias against libertarian ideas or personalities? Barry did not think so: Not so much bias as cluelessness. I think the media tend to lump libertarians in with Republicans, or conservatives in general. That’s OK when you’re talking about cutting government spending, but not when you’re talking about military interventions, drug laws, gay marriage and many other issues. Barry cuts right to the heart of the issue, showing that while libertarians are sometimes identified with the Republican Party, they are hardly the same group of voters and thinkers as conservatives or run-of-the-mill Republicans. Does Barry get negative feedback from his libertarian-themes? “I generally don’t respond. If people disagree with me, that’s fine. I will say that when I mock big government, I get a lot more positive responses than negative
ones.” For several elections now, Dave Barry has continually run a mock-campaign for President as a libertarian. He wants drugs legalized, gay marriage to be permitted, and a more sensible foreign policy. His mock campaign is more respectable in many ways than a number of actual campaigns that come to mind. Barry doesn’t strike one as a person who actually wants to run the federal government—I alleged that he might just be angling for the personal fashion allowance the President receives and Barry quipped, “Of course not. I also want the jet.” Barry also used to promote an $8.95 tax plan in conjunction with his mock campaign, which you might notice seems a lot like a certain “999” plan promoted by one Herman Cain. When questioned about this, Barry said, “He stole it from me. He also groped me on a number of occasions.” Well, who hasn’t been grabbed a few times by the Godfather of Pizza, right? Dave Barry is never going to be confused for a political philosopher, a serious candidate for President, or a political commentator of repute. He is the jester who keeps us entertained. In the process he points out that the emperor has no clothes, that the emperor isn’t all that great and benevolent, that the emperor seems to be downright detrimental to the average citizen—and he does it all while making us laugh. Trent Hill is a freelance writer and blogger working in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He recently graduated from Louisiana State University.
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RESOURCES PAGE for Liberty Activists www.YALiberty.org/resources 41 Young American Revolution
A Reporter’s First-Hand Look At the Occupy Wall Street Protests Michelle Fields
I have a two-year old in the back. All I’m trying to do is go home. I mean seriously, guys—can we use some common sense please?!” I caught these words on camera while covering the Occupy DC protests of Fall 2011 for the Daily Caller. The speaker’s apparent offense was ownership of a luxury SUV, which he was attempting to drive past the convention center housing Americans for Prosperity’s Defending the American Dream Summit. Occupy protesters had surrounded the convention, forming roadblocks through which only inexpensive cars were allowed to pass, re- Michelle Fields citing “We are the 99%” as Summit attendees attempted to enter and exit the conference building, and chanting “F-ck the Daily Caller” at my camerawoman and me. The chaotic atmosphere made it unsurprising that at least one elderly attendee of the Summit took a dangerous fall on the steps outside the building, while the protesters were in turn outraged when a driver who ran over two Occupy members was not apprehended by the police. A month later, I traveled to New York City to cover the Occupy movement’s central protest, the camp in the financial district’s Zuccotti Park, for their “shut down Occupy Wall Street” event. The atmosphere in NYC was equally chaotic, but it was apparent that the police were instigating the violence, not the protesters. My camerawoman captured footage of a young woman face down on the sidewalk. A protester from the West Village filled me in on the back story: [The police] slammed that girl’s face into the pavement…I mean this is our taxpayers’ dollar paying their salaries, and this is what we get. We can’t even—we can’t even stand on the sidewalk and voice our opinion anymore at the place where [Wall Street bankers] drove this country into the ground. Protesters accused police officers of punching a protester for no reason and screamed: “What do your children think of you? How do you look at your children?” A bloodied 20-year old protester named Brandon Watts was held, crying, in police custody as his fellow protesters screamed that he be let go and given medical assistance. Meanwhile, the denizens of Wall Street showed up for a counter-protest, carrying signs suggesting Occupiers “get a job,” or “occupy a desk.” One Wall Streeter inquired: Since when did it become time in America that we get punished for pursuing excellence? We’re supposed to be chastised for being in the 1%? Our parents taught us to go after being in the 1%. You want to be in the top
1% of your class. You want to be in the top 1% of the wage earners. You want to excel; you want to be great. We’re getting chastised for trying to pursue the American dream and being great. He went on to suggest that the money spent on security and sanitation for the protests could have been used to maintain bus services for New York City middle schoolers, implying that the Occupiers’ protests were doing more harm than good, even for their own cause. As reports of police brutality, Occupier vandalism and lack of hygiene, and a still-stagnant economy not buoyed by Wall Street bailouts and other stimulus spending continued to roll in throughout the latter months of 2011, it’s not hard to be a little sympathetic with both the OWS protesters and some of their opponents. As the protests continue and the smoke (or rather, pepper spray) gradually clears, however, three things are certain: 1. Occupiers need to shape up if they want to be effective. As Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist pointed out, the Occupy Wall Street movement going to damage its own message if it continues “to annoy middle class Americans.” He’s right. If Occupiers want to gain a friendly ear for their message and put the better parts of their anti-corporatist, anti-bailout message to good use, a change of tactics is likely in order. 2. Support for police brutality isn’t conservative. While many conservatives justifiably condemn much of the Occupy movement, it is vital that they don’t make the further leap to supporting brutal actions by the police against protesters. It’s true that these protesters are far rowdier and less concerned with the rule of law than are Tea Partiers, but it’s also true that they are Americans and we must, like Voltaire, “defend to the death” their right to say things we disapprove of. 3. Occupiers shouldn’t blame the free market, they should blame Crony Capitalism. In December 2011, unemployment rates were the lowest they’d been in almost three years. Good news, right? Well, not when you realize that the December rates only bring us back to March 2009, hardly a time of prosperity. This lack of economic improvement in the face of so much government intervention in the economy in those three years should make it more than obvious by now that the Occupiers and their strange bedfellows, fiscal conservatives, are very right about the fact that bailing out the government’s friends on the taxpayer’s dime is neither moral nor effective.
42 February 2012
Michelle Fields is a reporter at The Daily Caller.
Published on Apr 3, 2012