Thursday, July 3, 2014

Despotism Light

Clyde Warren Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute has an excellent piece in Forbes on what he calls despotism-lite: Barack Obama's use of executive orders to circumvent the legislative process.  What is the difference between a dictator like Saddam Hussein's giving an order that's obeyed without question and Obama's giving an executive order that's obeyed without question?

Warren refers to Obama's imperious style, and he lists a number of major executive orders whose execution usurps Congressional authority.  These include executive orders concerning work-life programs, student loans, and establishing a quadrennial energy review.

Besides these programs' being useless crap, the pattern confirms that the federal government is neither a republic nor a democracy: It is an authoritarian dictatorship that lacks legitimacy.

Red States versus Red, White, and Blue States

According to Wikipedia the Today Show introduced the terms "red state" and "blue state" during the 2000 election.  A quick look at the Today Show's website suggests that they have some great-looking babes working there, but I do not think that the Today Show's crew of televised mannequins ought to influence my or anyone else's political terminology. 

"Red" refers to socialism or communism. As Wikipedia also points out, the color red is linked to communism through its red flag and red star.

The Today Show is on globalist NBC, and they seem to have accidentally on purpose switched the meaning of "red" in keeping with a longstanding globalist theory of convergence.  One of the longstanding tactics of the descendents of the German historical school of economics and of Hegel, i.e., what might be called social democrats or members of the totalitarian Democratic Party of the United States, has been to confuse discussion by reversing symbolism.

For example, they have long called themselves "liberals," although they are not at all liberal; they are the reverse.  Having incurred public enmity toward the term "liberal," which never occurred when it was used to refer to libertarians, the social democrats then started using the equally deceptive term "progressive."  There is nothing progressive about their big-government ideas; government is the policy of stagnation. The social democrats advocate medieval policies, policies that were associated with centuries of the absence of progress.

The use of the term "red" to refer to backward, communistic states like New York and California is another of the Hegelians' word games. 

I don't see how anyone can use the term "red" to refer to freer states and "blue" to refer to the communistic states.  Rather, "red" should apply to New York, Illinois, California, and Michigan, and "red, white, and blue," the colors of the flag, should apply to the free states.

Scorecard of Brooklyn Dodgers v. New York Giants Game on the Day I was Born

On the day I was born, May 29, 1954,  my father and my cousin attended the Brooklyn Dodgers v. New York Giants game in the Polo Grounds in Manhattan. My father was a Dodgers fan, having grown up in Brooklyn.  My cousin posted this scorecard on my Facebook timeline.  He recalls Peewee Reese's and Gil Hodges's home runs in the sixth and seventh innings.  Willie Mays, who 12 years later tossed my friends and me a baseball when we were at Shea Stadium, also hit a home run. The Dodgers won.  Little did they know that within a few years both teams would move to California. 

Howard Stern: Democratic Party Is Communist

In 2008 Howard Stern was right (also see discussion on Bizpac Review): The Democratic Party is communist.  As Americans confront the failure of their political system, many are unable to assess that this is a gangster-ruled land.  Stern had the imagination, but only when the government directly affected his own dealings concerning the merger of Sirius Communications and XM Radio.  The Cato Institute subsequently pointed out that the FCC's authority over mergers should be ended; the communists in Washington lack the competence or honesty to regulate economic behavior.  The merger that the FCC later permitted had so many requirements that the new technology will likely be impeded for years.

Like the Germans under Hitler, Americans are not yet suffering from tyranny that they have put in power.  The Germans changed their minds about totalitarianism when they lost the war, and their own lives and futures were sharply reduced. It is when their own interests are directly threatened that Americans may decide that liberty is preferable to communism. Until then expect declines in the American economy and standard of living.  Stern states that he had voted for Hillary Clinton and Al Gore; it wasn't until his own interests were harmed that he questioned his pattern of voting for totalitarians.

Because of the might of the once-free American economy, the ill effects of American communism have taken the form of stagnation rather than decline.  Over time, though, stagnation will become decline.

The dollar may strengthen in the coming weeks, and there may be a decline in the stock market, but I don't think that the stock market will fall sharply in the near future.  The reason is that due to monetary expansion interest rates may take years to increase, and inflation awaits a shift in global support for the dollar. That also may take years.  Eventually, there will be dollar depreciation--inflation--and real wages will decline rather than stagnate. The massive stimulus that nourishes the current anemic American economy will ultimately turn into monetary inflation.  The increasing population will not be able to proportionately expand its output.

At that point I see either more extreme totalitarian steps or a call for more freedom.   There is little reason for optimism.  Ultimately, ownership of hard assets may protect Americans, but there is no reason to feel safe becaue the future America will likely be one where private property is not safe.  Franklin Roosevelt used government violence to take possession of privately held gold; there is no reason to think that private property, especially outside the private property of government cronies, is safe in the United States.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Supreme Court Finds That Illinois' Public Employees Lack Free Collective Bargaining

George Leef posts in Forbes about the case of Harris v. Quinn, which was recently decided in favor of the workers and against the union.  The case involved home health care workers who own their own tools, or whose employers own their own tools, but receive healthcare dollars from the USSA. The Service Employees' International Union struck a deal with now criminally convicted Governor  Rod Blagojevich and later Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois to force the private sector healthcare workers to join the SEIU.  The SEIU, Governor Quinn, and Illinois had no interest in whether or not the employees wanted to join a union; they were happy to sign a law to compel them to join, undoubtedly in exchange for the SEIU's contributing to Blagojevich's, Quinn's or some other Democrat's campaign coffers.

The court overturned this authoritarian arrangement.  In deciding the case, the court addressed Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, which held that public sector employees who do not wish to join a union can be compelled to pay an agency fee although they must be refunded monies spent for political and ideological purposes unrelated to the union's workplace responsibilities.

The Supreme Court seems to have brought that entire approach to public sector union dues paying into question. Under the union contract at CUNY, for example, nonmembers of the union are compelled to pay an agency fee equal to the dues. Since the dues are 1.05% (1% for part-timers), there would be a significant reason not to join the union if the agency fee were to be eliminated. The court seems to say that the agency-fee arrangement is a First Amendment issue:

Preventing nonmembers from free-riding on the union's efforts is a rationale generally insufficient
to overcome First Amendment objections...and in this respect Abood is something of an anomaly. The Abood court also failed to appreciate the distinction between core union speech in the public sector and core union speech in the private sector, as well as the conceptual difficult in public-sector cases of distinguishing union expenditures for collective bargaining from those designed for political purposes. Nor does the Abood Court seem to have anticipated the administrative problems that would result in attempting to classify union expenditures as either chargeable or nonchargeable. 

The time may be ripe to reopen the question of compulsory agency fees in the public sector.

More on Brooklyn College

My piece on the refusal of Dean Willie Hopkins to consider a multimillion dollar grant proposal that supported AACSB accreditation because he was too busy pursuing AACSB accreditation (which requires funding for faculty that the college cannot afford) appears in the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy website at .

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Income Inequality Is a Bogus Cause That Covers Up Wage Stagnation Due to Government

Recently, the media and a wide range of crackpot academics have been banging the income inequality drum. Charges of income inequality have been fundamental to socialism since its inception. When that inception was is subject to debate; Karl Popper claimed that it goes back to the ancient Greeks.

The Spartans had a communistic society based on the village's raising children, common dining, common schooling, and shared equality.  There was no room for individual expression or self-actualization. The chief reason the Spartans are remembered today is their wars.  The movie 300 celebrates their victory against Xerxes in the Battle of Thermopylae.  More so, they are remembered for their leadership of the Peloponnesian League of Hellenic states against Athens in the Peloponnesian War.  Although Athens abused its power, it was a quasi-liberal democracy; Athens invented democracy along with liberalism, science, philosophy, rhetoric, law, and theater.

Athens was a precapitalist society based on serfdom and slavery--as was Sparta--but it recognized private property.  There was a considerable degree of income inequality in Athens, and Aristotle spoke of the importance of magnificence, what today might be called corporate social responsibility.  The Greeks had a primitive view of private enterprise, but Aristotle began to see that private economic transactions are based on equivalent value; he saw such economic transactions as the foundation of human civilization.  He did not, however, understand that technology can replace slavery as a source of value.  That understanding began with capitalism in Europe, especially in 17th century Great Britain.

Communism sees all wealth as due to labor; hence, it discourages progress.  Innovation under communism occurs through imitation of capitalist progress.  If there is no capitalism, as is occurring in healthcare, then there will be no innovation because there is no reward for innovation. Marx saw no value as coming from innovation.  He lifted this fallacy, the labor theory of value, from classical economist David Ricardo, but it is also consistent with Aristotle's philosophy, which Marx admired. Marxism, like Progressivism, reflects a medieval world view in which the universe is static and human intellect can grasp all knowledge.  Marxism presses this superstition further by claiming that the dictatorship of the proletariat can run a command economy.

There was perfect equality among the citizens of totalitarian Sparta. In contrast, there was considerable income inequality among the citizens of Athens. Sparta is remembered for its warrior skills. Athens is remembered for innovation.  Income equality is code for totalitarianism coupled with violence.

The Spartan economy was appropriate for its time; it was the Athenians who were well ahead of their time. The classicist Michael Rostovetzeff claims that in the fifth century BC the Hellenic colonies in Italy achieved a standard of living not again equaled until the 19th century.

All progress requires inequality.  At the same time, inequality often occurs where there is no progress. Private ownership is necessary but not sufficient for innovation.  The periods of great innovation, in fifth century BC Athens , 14th century AD Florence, and 19th AD America, were characterized by income inequality. Sparta had a much more equal society than Athens did, much as North Korea and Cuba have more equal societies than we do.  The claim that there needs to be income equality is a claim that there needs to be suppression and exploitation.  Such suppression and exploitation will benefit those who live off government: academics, investors, Wall Street executives, corporate executives, government officials, and public employees.

The issue these special interests must deflect is the stagnant real wage. This has been caused by government policy, regulation, and monetary expansion, for wages lag inflation.  In the late 19th century, during the gold standard period, Americans could save.  In the post-1970 inflationary period, Americans have slaved, not saved. Americans have become the serfs of bankers, corporate executives and public employees.