Saturday, January 18, 2003

THE MORALITY OF LIBERTY: An excellent article from LP News on the "morality" of the libertarian movement.

What do Americans want from politicians?

Surprise: They want moral values, says a survey taken before the 2002
elections.

According to a Greenberg, Quinlin, Rosner Research, Inc. poll (July 9-
14, 2002), 16% of Americans said "moral values" would be among the
most important issues they considered when voting for Congressional
candidates.

To put that in context, more Americans say moral values are a
defining issue than say taxes are important (12%), or federal
spending (9%), or the environment (8%), or crime and illegal drugs
(7%).

In a related question, 11% said moral values should be a top priority
for Congress and the president.

The poll results are somewhat ambiguous, since they don't make a
distinction between Americans who want politicians who are moral
(the "impeach-Bill-Clinton" crowd), and those who want politicians to
impose morality on others (the "run-Pat-Buchanan-run" crowd).

In fact, voters probably want a bit of both.

Americans look at government, and they see politicians tarred by
scandal -- from Richard Nixon caught not being a crook with the
Watergate burglars to Bill Clinton caught not having sexual relations
with "that woman."

And they see a nation beset by social problems -- crime, teenage
pregnancies, broken homes, intergenerational welfare, school
shootings, drug abuse, corporate malfeasance, and "vulgar" pop
culture.

What do those problems have in common? They're caused by a breakdown
of what many Americans see as traditional moral values: Decency,
chastity, honesty, commitment, and hard work. Americans yearn for a
simpler, more decent time, when crack was something that happened to
your windshield, XXX was a winning strategy in tic-tac-toe, and
Eminem was a candy.

So it's not surprising that 11% say moral values should be
a "priority" for Congress and the president. It's not surprising that
Americans see morality as a political issue.

Despite this, Libertarian candidates have been curiously silent on
the subject. As a result, some critics have charged that Libertarians
don't care about morality. Or, pointing to Libertarian positions on
abortion, pornography, and drugs, they charge that Libertarians are
immoral libertines.

Joseph Farah, editor of WorldNetDaily.com, echoed this all-too-common
assessment when he wrote on June 18, 2002: "Libertarians fail to
understand the moral dimension so critical to self-government. Too
few [Libertarians] comprehend a laissez faire society can only be
built in a culture of morality, righteousness, and compassion. A
libertarian society devoid of God and a biblical world view would
quickly deteriorate into chaos and violence."

Farah is wrong; most Libertarians do understand the moral dimension
of liberty. They embrace "morality, righteousness, and compassion."
And they certainly don't want a nation beset with "chaos and
violence."

But Libertarians view morality differently than Farah -- and
differently than most liberals and conservatives.

"Many libertarians are Œsocially conservative' in the sense that they
believe in traditional moral values like monogamy and two-parent
families," noted the introductory libertarian website,
Libertarian.org.

"But a libertarian believes that moral values must be freely chosen.
If someone else doesn't agree with your morality, you may avoid them,
argue with them, or verbally condemn them, but you should not
physically control them."

In other words, Libertarians see morality as intensely personal or
religious -- and outside the scope of government. That's one reason
why so many Libertarian candidates have been reluctant to talk about
morality.

And Libertarians pride themselves on being tolerant, so they are
loathe to impose their views of morality on others.

However, since many Americans see morality and government as
intertwined, it may be time for Libertarians to end their
squeamishness -- and start using the "M" word in campaigns.

In fact, it's past time for Libertarians to proudly extoll the link
between morality and freedom. Here are some points they can make:

* Giving the government the power to impose morality is dangerous.

Getting politicians to impose your vision of morality has a seductive
allure -- but it is a fool's game, argued 1996 and 2000 LP
presidential candidate Harry Browne in The Great Libertarian Offer.

"When a politician promises to raise moral standards, it's easy to
think he's referring to the moral standards in which you believe,"
wrote Browne. "You think you've found someone who's going to use the
force of government to impose your moral values on others.

"But when government acts, the values imposed won't be yours and they
won't be mine. Moral values will be set by whoever has the most
political power -- people like Teddy Kennedy or Newt Gingrich."

That's a sobering point. Consider:

If conservatives control the levers of power, we face increased
censorship, new laws against gays and lesbians, an escalation of the
War on Drugs, and mandatory prayer in schools -- all in the name
of "Christian" morality.

Conservatives want to use government to make sure you're not bad.

If liberals gain power, we face mandatory racial sensitivity
training, greater redistribution of wealth, more anti-hate crime laws
(read: "thought crimes"), and more affirmative action programs -- all
in the name of "compassionate" morality. Liberals want to use
government to make you good.

The moral agendas of liberals and conservatives are quite different.
But they have one thing in common: They both know what's best for you.

In his 1996 book, Moral Politics, George Lakoff wrote that
conservatives hold a "Strict Father Model" view of government.
Liberals, he writes, have a "Nurturant Parent Model."

But in both models, government is the parent. You are the child.

That could be why Rev. Robert A. Sirico of the Acton Institute wrote
that Americans make a serious mistake when they "suppose that virtue
is something that can be enacted by politicians and implemented by
bureaucrats."

Sirico is right. When government dictates morality, your morality is
at the mercy of whatever amoral gang is in power that day.

* There is a profound difference between individual morality and
politicians who use the power of government to do "moral" things.

Former LP Executive Director Steve Dasbach touched on this in a 1997
press release commemorating the death of Mother Teresa.

"The life of Mother Teresa was a rebuke to everything politicians
stand for," he said. "Mother Teresa reached into our hearts -- while
politicians reach into our wallets."

The difference is even more clear, said Dasbach, when you compare the
typical politician to the Nobel Peace Prize-winning nun.

"Mother Teresa kissed the hands of dying lepers, she slept on a thin
mattress, and she picked maggots from the wounds of Calcutta's
homeless," he said. "By contrast, politicians make speeches in the
air-conditioned luxury of the Capitol Building, they attend $5,000-a-
plate dinners, and they spend other people's money on political
causes that will get them re-elected."

Maybe, speculated Dasbach, "that's why politicians are held in such
contempt, while Mother Teresa was revered by millions of people."

And maybe that's why Jimmy Carter gained far more respect when he
wielded a hammer for Habitat for Humanity than when he wielded the
gavel of power as president of the United States.

Individual morality is about investing your time, spending your
money, and demonstrating your values. Government "morality" is about
casting a vote, spending other people's money, and posing for a photo-
op. It's not the same.

* Many government programs subvert morality -- usually by undermining
personal responsibility.

In his 1996 essay, "The Rise of Government and the Decline of
Morality," James A. Dorn of the Cato Institute argued that government
has "weakened the nation's moral fabric."

The most obvious signs of that decay, he wrote, "are the prevalence
of out-of-wedlock births, the breakup of families, the amorality of
public education, and the eruption of criminal activity. But there
are other signs as well: the decline in civility [and] the lack of
integrity in both public and private life.

"One cannot blame government for all of society's ills, but there is
no doubt that legislation over the past 50 years has had a negative
impact on virtue. Individuals lose their moral bearing when they
become dependent on welfare, when they are rewarded for having
children out of wedlock, and when they are not held accountable for
their actions."

In the past, when government was much smaller, "family and social
bonds were strong, and civil society flourished in numerous fraternal
and religious organizations," wrote Dorn.

Today, after the government has spent over $5 billion on welfare
programs, "Self-reliance has given way to dependence and a loss of
respect for persons and property," he wrote. "Virtue and civil
society have suffered."

What's the solution?

"If we want to help the disadvantaged, we do not do so by making
poverty pay, by restricting markets, by prohibiting school choice, by
discouraging thrift, or by sending the message that the principal
function of government is to take care of us," wrote Dorn. "Rather,
we do so by eliminating social engineering and welfare, by
cultivating free markets, and by returning to our moral heritage."

* Ultimately, liberty and self-responsibility are the only way to
promote a truly moral nation.

Laws can't make people moral.

"In the arena of peaceful behavior, morality and compassion mean
nothing when they are the product of force," argued Jacob G.
Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation. "They are meaningful
only in the context of voluntary, willing choices of individuals."

Exactly, agreed Harry Browne. "Only free people have an incentive to
be virtuous," he wrote. "Only people who bear the consequences of
their own acts will care about those consequences.

"A free society rewards virtue and punishes irresponsibility.
Government does just the opposite. We need to do only one thing to
induce people to act more responsibly: Set them free."

According to the polls, Americans want politicians to do something
about morality. Libertarians can respond with a simple equation:
Freedom plus self-responsibility equals morality.

It's not a perfect formula. Some people will always make immoral
decisions. The free market will still produce products that some find
offensive. And Republican and Democratic politicians will continue to
wallow in scandal.

But without freedom, there will never be morality.

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Hate cannot
drive out hate; only love can do that."

Similarly, government force cannot drive out immorality; only freedom
and self-responsibility can do that.


"Morality" as many Americans know it as, has only eroded since the expansion of government. Only the erosion of government will people truly take responsibility for their own actions. And with responsibility comes "morality".
BROADCASTING FROM LONDON: I'm here in London and must say it's a beautiful city. I haven't experienced any "culture shock" yet but it certainly is different. As promised, I will posting and updating the site whenever possible when I'm not out and about in the city.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

LONDON: Many will ask, "Phil! Why did you post so damn much today?!?" Here's why. I am unfortunately (for you, not me of course), departing to London to study abroad this semester as of tomorrow. And in doing so, my posting will be light there. Internet cafes ain't cheap ya know! However, please continue to visit the page and have a great spring to all of my core readers!

Both of you.
BOMB TEXAS!: Here is one of the finest Victor Davis Hanson pieces I've ever read. It's long but worth reading every word. Here Hanson explains the roots of anti-Americanism:

Eschewing any reference to truths of this kind, adherents of postmodernist relativism assess morality instead by the sole criterion of power: Those without it deserve the ethical high ground by virtue of their very status as underdogs; those with it, at least if they are Westerners, and especially if they are Americans, are ipso facto oppressors. Israel could give over the entire West Bank, suffer 10,000 dead from suicide bombers, and apologize formally for its existence, and it would still be despised by American and European intellectuals for being what it is--Western, prosperous, confident, and successful amid a sea of abject self-induced failure.

One is bound to point out that as a way of organizing reality, this deterministic view of the world suffers from certain fatal defects, primarily an easy susceptibility to self-contradiction. Thus, a roguish Augusto Pinochet, who executed thousands in the name of "law and order" in Chile, is regarded as an incarnation of the devil purely by dint of his purportedly close association with the United States, while a roguish and anti-American Castro, who butchered tens of thousands in the name of "social justice" in Cuba, is courted by congressmen and ex-presidents even as Hollywood celebrities festooned with AIDS ribbons sedulously ignore the thousands of HIV-positive Cubans languishing in his camps. Kofi Annan gushes, Chamberlain-like, of Saddam Hussein, "He's a man I can do business with," while the ghosts of thousands slain by the Iraqi tyrant, many of them at his own hand, flutter nearby; for this, the soft-spoken internationalist is lionized.

Few have exploited the contradictions of this amoral morality as deftly as Jimmy Carter, who can parlay with some of the world's most odious dictators and still garner praise for "reaching out" to the disadvantaged and the oppressed. As president, Mr. Carter evidently was incapable of doing much of anything at all when tens of thousands of Ethiopians were being butchered; but as chief executive emeritus, he has managed to abet the criminal regime of North Korea in its determination to fabricate nuclear bombs and lately, having been rewarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for peace, has brazenly attempted to thwart a sitting president's efforts to save the world from the Iraqi madman.


And perhaps most interestingly of all, Hanson describes the mindset of many of the anti-American crowd:

Among some of our new aristocrats, the realization has dawned that their own good fortune is not shared world-wide, and must therefore exist at the expense of others, if not of the planet itself.

This hurts terribly, at least in theory. It sends some of them to their fax machines, from where they dispatch anguished letters to the New York Times about the plight of distant populations. It prompts others, more principled and more honorable, to work in soup kitchens, give money to impoverished school districts, and help out less fortunate friends and family. But local charity is unheralded and also expensive, in terms of both time and money. Far easier for most to exhibit concern by signing an ostentatious petition against Israel or to assemble in Central Park: public demonstrations that cost nothing but seemingly meet the need to show to peers that one is generous, fair, caring and compassionate.

As if that were not hypocrisy enough, those who protest against global warming, against shedding blood for oil, or against the logging of the world's forests are no less likely than the rest of us to drive SUVs, walk on hardwood floors and lounge on redwood decks. Try asking someone awash in a sea of materialism to match word with deed and actually disconnect from the opulence that is purportedly killing the world and its inhabitants. Celebrity critics of corporate capitalism neither redistribute their wealth nor separate themselves from their multinational recording companies, film studios, and publication houses--or even insist on lower fees so that the oppressed might enjoy cheaper tickets at the multiplex. Jessica Lange and Alec Baldwin so hate George W. Bush that they threaten to leave our shores--promises, promises.


I commented on this phenomenon in a previous post, "The Susan Sontags Among Us". Many of those who hate America keep threatening to leave it...and yet they don't. I know why. It's because their rights are guranteed here and because the money's good.
EU NOT HELPING OUT: This comes as no surprise. After all, when was the last time Europe, besides our great ally Great Britain, did something right for a change?
THE STUPIDITY OF THE ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT: I tend to be on the fence with the war on Iraq. There is certainly strong evidence that Saddam does have the ubiquitous "weapons of mass destructions" and that he either needs to disarm or be forced to disarm. We know he had biological and chemical agents in 1998, as reported by UNSCOM. We know he has fostered terrorism by rewarding suicide bombers against our ally Israel. We know he has not complied with UN resolutions and perhaps it's time we started enforcing them. We know he hasn't let Iraqi scientists speak with UN officials about their weapons programs. If he's got nothing to hide, then why not let his scientists speak to UN officials? One can also make the case that we must prevent Saddam from gaining weapons because North Korea now has the ball in their court after Clinton appeased them in 1994 with his ridiculous appeasement proposal. If history has taught us anything, it is this: Never appease a tyrant.

However, the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank I greatly admire has 10 good reasons why we should not go to war. These are the issues that should be debated. Unfortunately the anti-war movement has been inundated with idiots. Sheryl Crow recently posited recently at the American Music Awards:

"I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."

War has never solved anything? Tell that to the 6 million Jews that died in the Holacaust.

And maybe after we stop having enemies and we're all friends, we can all drink hot choclate together and play with puppies and rabbits. One begins to wonder if Ms. Crow and some of her posh Hollywood friends have even heard of North Korea and Iraq.
DIVERSITY DOES EXIST: However, despite my previous post, diversity does exist. It does not, however, need to be shoved down our throats. An interesting study has found that traditionally white cities are rapidly integrating minorities, not because they were forced to, but simply because there was incentive for minorities to move to these cities.

And which of these cities is integrating most rapidly? Milwaukee, Wiscounsin! Why is this not a coincidence to me? Simple. Milwaukee was the first city to have instituted the voucher program, or "school choice" program. Now that many minority families have been given the opportunity to use their own money to choose a school that is best for their children, rather than a government bureaucrat forcing them to attend their local government, err, "public" school, diversity has been achieved.

And it wasn't forced diversity either.
NAZI-LIKE TOLERANCE: I found this force fed "diversity" on The Best Page in the Universe, a website I highly recommend which exposes all holier than thou organizations like PETA for the hypocrites that they are. This Nazi-like force fed appreciation of "diversity" is flat out stupid.

This kind of forced diversity was also hilariously parodied in South Park, in which the kids were sent to a Nazi like "Tolerance Camp" where "intolerance will not be tolerated" after they were disgusted by their teacher shoving a gerbil up his "partner's" ass (you can't make this stuff up). I highly recommend seeing the episode for those who have not yet done so. It only exposes the true hypocrisy of this "diversity" liberal agenda, because liberals will never tolerate all individuals, only the ones they see as "victims". When was the last time you saw a liberal sticking up for smokers or gun owners? You don't, because they don't like smokers or gun owners.

Monday, January 13, 2003


Confronting Yankee-phobia on the Left will be Tony
Blair's toughest task yet


Tony Blair appears to have set himself his toughest task yet.
Neither reforming public services nor maintaining economic
stability compares in difficulty to the mission he took on
yesterday. For a Labour politician to confront anti-Americanism
is to set himself up in opposition to the dominant ideology of the
contemporary Left.

Knocking America off its superpower pedestal has long
supplanted taking control of the commanding heights of the
economy as the idea which holds the Left together. Forget
Clause Four. That was a dead red letter. It’s opposition to Uncle
Sam which is the glue in the Left coalition, the brew which
puts fire into bien-pensant bellies, the opium of radical
intellectuals. And the crack in Osama bin Laden’s pipe.

Anti-Americanism provides the drumbeat for the protesters
who march at every significant left-wing rally. Whether the
protest is nominally against war, global capitalism or
environmental degradation, the real enemy is Washington.
Every significant Left intellectual, from Harold Pinter through
Dario Fo to Gore Vidal and Noam Chomsky has made criticism
of the American imperium his defining belief. But
Yankee-phobia now extends far beyond the protest march and
the academy.

The German Social Democrats and Greens put opposition to US
foreign policy at the heart of their, successful, re-election
strategy last autumn. The Liberal Democrats here have made
criticism of US policy towards Iraq the single biggest dividing
line between themselves and the Blair Government.

The cultural popularity of anti-Americanism, particularly among
Britain’s intelligentsia, is striking. The surprise publishing hit of
last year was Why do people hate America? by Ziauddin
Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, a work which set out to
reassure readers that hatred of America was more than a
rising sentiment, it was a moral duty. The top of the UK
bestseller list is Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men, a furious
polemic against US foreign, domestic and economic policy by
one of its own citizens.

The widespread prevalence of anti-Americanism, the cachet
accorded to its advocates, the reflexive sniggering triggered
by any favourable mention of America’s President, all make
opposition to this trend unpopular. But vitally necessary. For
Yankee-phobia is, at heart, a dark thing, a prejudice with ugly
antecedents which creates unholy alliances. And, like all
prejudices, it thrives on myths which will end up only serving
evil ends.

It is a myth that America is a trigger-happy cowboy state
over-eager to throw its weight around, a myth that America
seeks to use its undoubted military power to establish an
exploitative empire, and a myth that America thrives by
impoverishing and oppressing other nations.

A trigger-happy starter of wars and provoker of enemies? The
truth is that the US has been painstakingly slow to involve itself
in foreign conflicts. It hung back from involvement in Bosnia
and Kosovo until it was clear that Europe could not manage
alone. It refrained from dealing properly with al-Qaeda when
that network attacked US embassies in 1998 and, even after
9/11, it waited until a huge international coalition had been
assembled before striking back. In Iraq, it refrained from
finishing off President Saddam Hussein in 1991 out of
deference to its Arab allies. And with North Korea, it has
practised diplomacy in the face of nuclear provocation since
1994, out of respect for its regional allies. Even now, in dealing
with the dangers posed by Iraq and North Korea, the diplomatic
route is followed out of deference to others.

An imperial exploiter? The truth is that America seeks to
disentangle itself from anything which smacks of neocolonial
occupation. It is anxious to bring the boys back home from the
Balkans and Afghanistan. The real criticism of weight is that
the US should do more on the ground to help failed states
rebuild, as it did in Japan and Germany after the Second World
War.

Which takes us to the myth of America the locust state, the
predator on the poorest nations of the Earth. The truth, as the
US writer Charles Krauthammer has pointed out, is that
America’s influence for good in suffering states is directly
measurable in three very different examples. After the Second
World War three devastated nations were divided. In each
case one part of a culturally unified nation fell under America’s
political influence. And in each case — South Korea versus
North, West Germany as against East, Taiwan as opposed to
Communist China — the territory which took the American path
enjoyed greater freedom and prosperity.

Why then do the myths of America the Hateful take such
powerful hold? Because anti-Americanism provides a useful
emotional function which goes beyond logic and reaches deep
into the darker recesses of the European soul. In centuries
past those on the Left who wished to personalise their hatred
of capitalism, who sought to make it emotionally resonant by
fastening an envious political passion on to a blameless
scapegoat people, embraced anti-Semitism. It was the
socialism of fools. Which is what anti-Americanism is now.

It should not therefore be surprising that those on the populist
Right who share the Left’s antipathy towards the US are
those, like the Austrian Freedom Party or the French National
Front, who are heirs of anti-Semitic traditions. Nor should it be
remarkable that the other tie which binds these allies of new
Left and old Right together, the thread linking those such as
George Galloway and Jörg Haider, is their hostility to Israel.

Both America and Israel were founded by peoples who were
refugees from prejudice in Europe. Europe’s tragedy is that
prejudice has been given new life, in antipathy to both those
states.
EVIL MICROSOFT: For some reason, my web browser decided to stop working for the last couple of days, and I have no idea why. I was able to download Netscape and use it as a web browser. However, I am unable to link any stories on Blogger for some reason unbeknownst (spelling?) to me.

I want to throw this computer out the window.